Converting RETURN to the Tomb of Horrors [AKA CO Diary - Dungeonmastering Return to the Tomb of Horrors] (Senevri)

Endarire

First Post
Originally posted by Senevri:

*edit*
Okay, seeing as how I've been blabbing here, and the fact that I'm also running this game, I guess I should call this a
CO Diary - Dungeonmastering Return to the Tomb of Horrors

or something.
Related Threads:
CR 11-15 encounters
Statting the Black Academy

*original* Okay, semi-appropriate place, seeing as how 3.5 parts of the forums are mostly barred, smoking craters or sunken into the sea here. Since my PCs have already beaten the tomb once, I'm reworking it quite a bit towards more modern meatgrinder-deathtrap while keeping it fair.
I'm currently looking at the 4e conversion someone did, for inspiration. I'll probably use the Demilich Construct from the original 3e conversion.

QUESTIONS: - What is The Vestige?

- Negative Energy Elementals?
- Negative Fundamentals?
I'm starting the PCs out at lv 10, since they seem to be facing CR 10 encounters in the beginning of the adventure. I'm willing to give the players as much help as they want... ... outside of the game.
In-game, it depends on how the dice fall. We're using at least Fighter and Rogue from pathfinder, since they're just plain better. I've done most stuff upto the city and some stuff in there, TBD before Tomb includes Mistress Ferranifer and other Academy teachers, and the idiot trio -- er, the Dim Triad.

The Dim Triad is my current woe -- I think all three of them together should be around CR 15 as a challenge, but I'm not at all sure how to build them. No primary casters, at least, so... Rogue, Swordsage, Bard? Maybe? After I have them, I can run the module up until the PCs enter Skull City.
Sort of vacillating between Dread Necros and Focused Specialist Necros for academy folk and Mistress Ferranifer. I think I'll use Dreads for lower-level ones, but FS for Ferranifer.

In any case, she'll be a Vampire Lord. ...Er, lady, in this case, I guess. Anyway, there's scaling levels up and down, and reworking various things and whatnot.
- Stone Giants instead of MM2 Mountain Giants. Drd2 for the Shaman.
- Dark Nagas from MM
- Bone Naga template from a Serpent Kingdoms excerpt
- Flameskull from Lost Empires of Faérun
- Moilian Zombies were in Libris Mortis under the name... Bleakborn, I think.
- Greater Bone Golem = Greater Stone Golem with /bludgeoning DR, shatter vulnerability and... Weird SLA. o_O;

I'll probably have to make a toned-down Winterwight instead of using the epic one. I'm currently looking at quick level scaling, with PCs being close to 20th near the end.

Stuff:: Grunther is a BSF NPC who may accompany the PCs. Frankly, I was surprised how good an attack bonus he has for his elite-array ftr-13 unoptimized build. Ninjas, zombies... Need moar pirates and dinosaurs. We get Robots in the City that Sleeps.

*edit* Hey everybody! Editing old posts kills formatting! Isnt' that just dandy!

Grunther
[sblock]
[UNKNOWN=pre]: Grunther (CR 14)
Male Human PF Fighter 13
NG M Humanoid
Init +2; Senses Perception +1
Languages Common

AC 15 touch 12 flat-footed 13
HP 118 (13 HD)
Fort 10, Ref 6, Will 7 (10 vs. Fear), reroll fear, charm

Speed 30 (6 sqr)
Melee +30, Elsie, +3 greataxe 1d8+19(x3) +1d6 acid
vs. undead: +32, 1d8+21(x3) +1d6 acid, +2d6 untyped

Atk Options Robilar's Gambit, Power Attack, Great Cleave
Base Atk 13; Grp 20 CMB 20
Combat Gear Elsie, +3 undead bane greataxe, studded leather armor, eversmoking
bottle, Lesser Acid Assault Augment Crystal (adds +1d6 acid damage on a weapon of at least +1
actual enchantment)

Abilities Str 24, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 11
Feats WF, GWF, WS, GWS: Axes, Blind-Fight, Power Attack, Combat Reflexes ,
Improved Toughness, Endurance, Cleave, Iron Will, Melee WM(Slashing), Indomitable Soul, Great
Cleave, Robilar's Gambit
Skills Survival +17, Knowledge:Dungeoneering +10, Handle Animal +6
Possessions combat gear plus Belt of Giant Strength +4

Hook One-armed BSF

[/sblock]

Dim Triad, final: Show
[sblock]
[UNKNOWN=pre]: Blaesig, Absalom, Harrow, the Dim Triad (CR 14 each)
Male Vampire pf Rogue 5/Shadowdancer 1/Swordsage 5
CE Medium Undead (Augmented Humanoid)
Init +11; Senses Perception +26, Hunter's Scent, Darkvision 60ft (12 sq)
Languages Common + 4

AC 24, touch 18, flat-footed 16 (+5 dex, +3 wis, +6 nat)
HP 89 (11 HD) Fast Healing 5, DR 10/silver and magic,
Immune undead immunities
Resist and SR Resist Cold, Electricity 10, +4 turn resistance
Fort 2, Ref 15, Will 11
Weakness Vampire weaknesses

Speed 30, fly 20 with gaseous form.
Melee +13, 1d4+2 and +13/+8, 1d4+5, 2 MWK daggers and +6 slam 1d6+5 and 2
negative levels.
Ranged +13
Atk Options Sneak Attack, Assassin's Stance, Maneuvers, Vampire powers,
Discipline Focus
Base Atk +7; Grp +12, CMB +12
Special Actions Vampire Powers, Maneuvers, Hide in Plain Sight,
Combat Gear MWK daggers,

Abilities Str 21, Dex 20, Con -, Int 15, Wis 16, Cha 14
SQ Alternate Form, DR, Fast Healing, Gaseous Form(+20 hide in Mist), Turn Resistance,
Resistances, Trapfinding, Evasion, Hide in Plain Sight,
Feats Dodge, Mobility Extra Readied Maneuver, Two-weapon Fighting, Alertness,
Combat Reflexes, Lightning Reflexes, Spring Attack, Whirlwind Attack
Skills Perception, 26 Stealth, 26 Bluff, Sense Motive, 22, 24 Acrobatics +18
Possessions combat gear plus Wearing or carrying
Maneuvers Readied:
Stances: Hunter's Scent, Assassin's Stance, Child of Shadows
Strikes: Shadow Blade Tech, Hand of Death, Flesh Ripper, Obscuring Shadow Veil,
Strength Draining Strike
Boost: Sudden Leap, Shadow Jaunt,

Hook Vampire Ninjas. Double std treasure kept by Ferranifer. HiPS anywhere.

[/sblock]

Originally posted by BloodDragon:

QUESTIONS:
- What is The Vestige?
- Negative Energy Elementals?
- Negative Fundamentals
The Vestige as in Acererak's Vestige for the Binder Class?
It is more or less a class feature for Binder that allows them to bind the fallen soul Acererak to their own soul to gain some measure of power. Located in the Tome of Magic Source book.
If you are reffering to Vestige in some other fashion then I do not know.

Negative Energy Elemetals: Would be "Shadow Elemental" I believe also from the same book Tome of Magic under the Shadowcaster's Section.
Ofcouse there are so many "evil" elementals out there, you can take your pick. Taint Elementals (Heros of Horror) for example would fit the bill just nicely and your players would hardly know the difference between the two.

Negative Fundamentals? Do you mean Shadow Fundamentals? Just following the theme here...
Edit: Oh some form of 2nd Ed Swarm Creature. There is a converted version of it here.

Originally posted by Senevri:

The Vestige is some sort of wandering critter in The City That Sleeps that even Acererak didn't want to mess with - he still managed to bind it to use as a guardian of sorts.

I considered using something like a Hunefer, but I'm not sure....

I'll check Tome of Magic's critters, they might work. Thanks.

*edit*:
Focused Specialist Necromancer /Tainted Scholar/Dread Witch for M.Ferranifer? Hmm.

Originally posted by Senevri:

Got players!

Went with 5d6 drop 2 lowest and 1 free LA for non-pathfinder races.

45 point buy, effectively.

We have thus far,

at L 10

1 PF Dwarven Fighter, with very basic line of feats - focuses, specialization, mastery, power attack, cleave

1 Drow Wiz5/WB1/JPM3, although his gear and feats are still in flux.

1 Aasimar Archivist 8/Combat Medic 2 of Saint Cuthbert.

I tested their combat abilities vs. a cave troll and a mountain troll in a pretty straightforward melee, and the result was that fighter and gish can, thanks to rather spiffy boosts from the archivist, deal 40+ damage on a hit... but the Gish is bit of a glass cannon right now (as he went in the encounter unfinished, with an AC of 14).
Died once but was revivified.

I want to avoid giving hints, as the module is also about testing the PLAYERS, but maybe I should suggest the Gish looks at immunity to melee spell -- that is, mirror image.

Amusingly enough, the difference in base to-hit chances between the fighter and the gish is a rather staggering 12 points - Fighter has 4 more STR, +4 from various foci, 4 more BAB and +2 from the PF fighter fix thing.

Originally posted by Senevri:

The Vestige is a Dream Vestige, or rather THE dream vestige, from Libris Mortis. It seems every critter in RtToH is in Libris Mortis... except the epic ones.

Fourth player: Half-fiend Paladin 5/Dread Commando 3.
Rolled low stats so got two LA for free. Rolled good HP.

Got a bit of a too good a deal with LA, but he's a non-optimizer so it should be okay.

Ran him, the BSF and the medic vs. some Worg, then 4 Ogres - both pretty trivial. Then had them ambushed in a narrow pass, by 2 Ogres, 1 Ogre Barb and one Ogre Mage straight from SRD. Ogre Barb was an actual thread, and Ogre Mage, while alone isn't much, is quite fun otherwise... even if I traded Polymorph for Haste - forgot Haste was third, while Polymorph is at fourth.

Ogre Mage needs a revamp, since it's a bit of a mess, IMO. All it can do is drop SLAs and run away.

Half-fiend gets use out of Darkness SLA, thanks to Archivist casting Ebon Eyes on him. He gets to hide, to activate Sudden Strike.... Frankly, it'd probably be better to just continue with pure Paladin, but I'm not helping them to optimize this time.

...I probably should point him towards Telling Blow.

In any case, the final encounter actually worked well enough - few of them took some damage, and were actually threatened by the situation.

I completely ad hoc'd flying, though - the Half-fiend only has 20ft. fly speed usually, which isn't much of a problem. I had no idea how to use fly skill, I basically ad hoc'd something balance/climb-like DCs. Need to read up on that.

The first encounter should be interesting - wights are smart enough to flank, and visibility is merely 5 ft... and they level drain on hit! Scary!

Originally posted by Senevri:

Return to Tomb of Horrors START!
Okay, PF Turn Undead is SO much simpler... but half of the wights didn't make their save, so even with the miss chance, there weren't enough for decent flanking action, so the fight was pretty trivial...

So I dropped a single Drowned there, from MM3. Those things are nasty. They have a lot of HP for their CR, and use Drowning mechanism as their attack. It didn't hit anything in melee, though.

Wandering wights speeded up communication with the guards, albeit at the cost of a poor NPC's life. Alas, poor Geaorg No-name, we... really didn't know ye.

After hearing the Sage's wages, they decided to go dragon-hunting -- Something I had hinted at, as they had been under-WBL'd, in fact they're still missing about 20K, but they also haven't gained 11th level yet -- so I set them up against a single Sskvalor. Trivial challenge, but did the job of giving them some treasure.

Oh, by the way -- the Gish picked Death Mark, for a strike --- and promptly caused some rather unfortunate NPC commoner deaths with it, oops. He's using most of his spells on Arcane Wrath. His spell choices do often suck quite a bit. Oh well.

Anyway, they headed for Desatysso's stronghold, and lucked out on survival and k:geography, and didn't even face any random encounters -- it was getting late, so I was fast-forwarding a bit, so I skipped a couple rolls, admittedly. The two hill giants and the two after them, did quite a bit of damage on them - Even though the Medic activated Mass Sanctuary, I made the will saves about half of time. They're currently just outside the stronghold, with three wounded giants inside,

Giants are probably the best melee smashers for their CR, a Hill Giant is CR 7, but has +16 to hit with a greatclub, Vs best AC on the bunch, which is 28, or 12 to hit. That being said, the damage is slow enough, but a dedicated healer/buffer is quite useful.

The actual power of the party varies quite a bit - with buff time, they trample appropriate encounters, without they still manage, but spend a lot more of, especially of the healing resources.

The thing that makes this campaign deadly is really the combination of favorable environment + appropriate critter. The Swamp should be interesting, I think.

That being said, I did sort of expect to them have hit L 11 before the stronghold, due to random encounters, at least, but they're still missing a few thousand points.

Free LA is wonderful. It makes people use more exotic races, which I like. The power level difference is most of the time pretty trivial, too. Admittedly, you'll notice things like SR and ability to fly...

Interestingly, the Fighter is the damage king, by far, with ability to hit most of the time with 10-point 2-h power attack. The Gish isn't far behind and the situation may change, if he snatches up Power Attack. Admittedly, the only one who knows anything of optimization is playing the archivist-combat medic... and all three frontliners do rather decent damage with Righteous Wrath + Dark Knowledge activated.

Originally posted by Senevri:

Desatysso's Stronghold Complete.
Summary:
- Fought with almost everything they could, showed decent prowess with the 16HD fire elemental, two remaining hill giants and four stone giants. Sprung every trap by basically walking into them. The CR10 auto-hit crushing wall was fun, but not as fun as the Can't-Stop-The-Rock moment, even if the Dwarven Fighter's keen detection allowed everyone else to climb to the roof (Two have spider climb and one has wings.)

- They didn't really even try to look at things. When I mentioned you could rotate the handle on the tower doors, they just went for directly disabling the trap instead of looking at the handle.

The battle at the terrace went almost okay. I should have tried throwing the Combat Medic overboard, and I'm sure I could have used the shaman better - Get him in combat faster, entangle them and throw rocks from the other edge. Even with bad hit chance, I've managed to hit - even with the hill giants - several time with rocks.

Rolling Boulder:
Instead of an attack roll, I made this a CR 10, ref dc 15 halves, 20d6 bludgeoning effect, due to the fact the PCs get 1 round and a chance to completely negate the effect if they're clever.

Observations:
Party can sometimes take up to 20d6 damage. Well, some of them, anyway.

High crit weapon + Dolorous Blow + Blood in the Water = works.
The Jade Phoenix Gish definitely started working. I had some serious trouble hitting him due to Greater Invisibility, too.

A Dedicated healer makes playing significantly safer, although it's hard to say, as he's not doing BFC... but, definitely, the ability to get the melee tank back from single-digit HP when there's a giant ready to full-attack next to them, is very valuable. Taking the giant out would'a worked too.

CR 7 accurate hitters definitely make for suitable encounters vs. ECL 10 party. Without a lot of healing, there would have been several deaths, already, and the rather decent attack of +16 of hill giants or +17 of stone giants is enough to hit even AC 30 for DM's purposes. Hit points are a bit on the light side for MM1 critters, admittedly.

The easy part is officially now over. As the party had some serious chargen advantages in high stats and free LA, I would recommend using a ECL 12 or even ECL 13 non-optimizer party if running this adventure - at least if your conversion is similar to mine.

For an optimized party, I think ECL 10 would still be about right, but without the freebies.

My decision to track WBL I've given is a good one, I think. It gives me confidence I'm not giving too much or too little loot.

Decisions:
I'm going to avoid random encounters and random treasure as much as possible - figuring them out on the spot just takes too much time. So, at worst, I shall pre-roll and prepare few pseudo-randoms before next session.

I'm also going to take a look at pre-swamp encounter spots, and pregenerate a few swamp encounters

Originally posted by Senevri:

Encounter building
I recently remembered the re-built Ogre Mage after having used it myself, so I tuned it up to be more like the Ogre-mage of old:
OGRE MAGE CR 9 (custom)
Large Giant
Init +6; Senses darkvision 90 ft., low-light vision; Listen +11, Spot +11
Languages Giant, Common

AC 22, touch 11, flat-footed 20
hp 61 (10 HD); Regen 5(fire, acid)
Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +6

Speed 40 ft. (8 squares), fly 40 ft. (good)
Melee greatsword +11/+6 (3d6+7/19–20); or
Ranged longbow +7 (2d6/x3)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Base Atk +6; CMB +12
Atk Options sneak attack 2d6
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th):
3/day— invisibility; darkness
1/day—lightning bolt (DC 18), cone of cold, gaseous form, swift invisibility (Spell Compendium page 125).

Abilities Str 21, Dex 14, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 17
SQ deceptive veil
Feats Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (greatsword)
Skills Concentration +11, Disguise +10 , Intimidate +10, Listen +11, Spot +11
Possessions greatsword, composite longbow, +4 chain shirt

Deceptive Veil (Su): As per the spell disguise self, save that the ogre mage can appear to be up to one size smaller.
(+20 vs. spot, will save DC 16 if interacted with)
Flight (Su): An ogre mage can cease or resume flight as a free action. While using gaseous form it can fly at its normal speed and has perfect maneuverability.
Sneak Attack: As the rogue ability from the Player's Handbook.
Now, this + Skullcrusher Sergeant + two Skullcrusher Ogres, too much?

I had already used darkness and Cone in a previous encounter, and the k:check revealed Regeneration, so I put them back in. SLA invisibility is actually quite useful for leader-role: Turn all your companions invisible for ambushes. With limited SLAs, you can't do that quite as well. So, tuned up, looks okay for CR?

I'm thinking that it'll approach the players disguised, and lead them into a trap.

Originally posted by Senevri:

The Dwarf Fighter dropped the Ogre Mage in a single round. The ogres wern't even really a challenge.
What I did was have the Ogre Mage spend it's Invisibility SLAs to turn the ogres invisible, after which he lured PCs next to a crevasse, and the Ogres tried to bullrush them down there, after which it would have been cones, bolts and rocks fall. Except that CMBs for the Ogres wern' all that impressive, after all.

I ran an XP-giving subquest for them, with two relatively straight-forward Iron Golem encounters and a single Dread Wraith.

Golems were "Easy", although near the top of what meleers could hit, and the gish needed to use touch attacks, but the wraith with it's 25 touch and incorporeality, and especially it's 1d8 con drain, was particularily deadly.

The Combat Medic is definitely of neutral-type alignment, and the JPM Gish has some cruel traits.... Well, he's a drow. *shrug*

The Paladin/Dread Commando is definitely a bit behind right now. Any suggestions on a level 12 item or lower to drop for him? He's St. Cuthbert - sponsored, which has it's own limitations. I was thinking of a Sun Blade drop, even... but that's probably overkill.

Originally posted by Senevri:

Okay, so after a bit of shopping, Grunther managed to recall where Sather lived, they had a curb-stomp battle with Shadow Mastiffs in the False Prince's tomb. I used Shadow Mastiffs instead of Hellhounds, but now I wonder if that was actually sub-optimal - even lower-cr opponents work, if they have any sort of an attack which auto-hits an opponent.

The players hit L 12 - or 10, 11, 12 respectively, with remaining LA in. No level up for the Dwarven Fighter yet, as the player was away, so his character was a yes-man, together with the rather delightful Grunther.

I momentarily lost my encounter notes, so they managed to pass the mountains without encounters, towards Pitchfield. They rested in an inn a bit past the mountain range, and I gave them an option between elves and orcs. Elves took a road toll for allowing safe passage through their lands, so they went for the Orcs.
The Orc Barb 4s and their leader I statted up were a credible threat - Orc4s had +16 to hit on charge, and d12+18 or so on damage, and around 60 HP while raging. Enough to hit the best AC on a roll of 12, and taking anything from one fifth to one third of a character's HP. The leader had +22 or so to hit, and with Battle Leader's Charge and Bard Song going, did about +23 damage on hit, although his main point was boosting the others.

So, what happened was, I had a lousy init, the PCs had Grunther open up Eversmoking Bottle, which more or less ruined the charge. The next round, Grunther and the dwarven fighter ganged up on the leader, and both managed a single crit. With axes. While power attacking.

*sigh*

The situation deteriorated from there.

Anyway, they went through Molnar to Pitchfield, where they rebuked some of the Wights away, and killed the rest, and Progressed the Plot.
Some fun RP happened, but man, Desatysso's journal entries are a pain to read.

Next time, they'll be assaulted by wights. Individually, in their rooms. Inn ambushes are fun.

I'll probably drop the swashbuckling highwayman on them on the way to the swamp. For the swamp I have the following planned, roughly.

- Bog Imps
- Chuul
- Will 'o Wisps (potentially nasty)
- Blackscale Lizardfolk. I've caused a TPK with those things before, though... but back then, they didn't really have strong frontliners.
- If they really push it, a CR 14 black dragon.
- A fey (grig) tribe for non-combat. A friendly nixie has been kidnapped by the Bog Imps (who owe servitude to the black dragon, probably.)
And then, of course, the Dim Triad.

Any ideas for non-combat, or on how to modify the tactical situation for these critters, using swamp/marsh/bog type areas?

Originally posted by Senevri:

I can't believe they're all still alive!
Okay, the wisps are nasty, but the half-fiend was guarding, and has electricity resistance of 10. Otherwise, went about as good as expected.

They have high HP damage dealing potential, which helps a lot. I dropped a 12-headed hydra on them. The thing got one round in, and was decent, except that I chose to aim at different characters with each head.

First night, vs. the dim triad - The vampire went for the Archivist (scent + blindsight give a decent detection ability even in a fog cloud.), who made his save vs. CdG. Hindsight, I should've gone for the grapple+blood drain thing. Ability to hide as a move action is nifty, but it's effectively visible 'til it's next turn. I also forgot many of the abilities i'd put into the build (like the 3 dice sneak attack - that would have made a much more difficult CdG save.)

Oh well. Still, the party gained quite a few negative levels...

And chose to hustle through the night, progressing hardly at all, but at least all were awake and armored. So, after a nighttime "random" encounter, they were assaulted by all three. However, three corporeal vampires, despite being rather nasty stealth attackers, didn't have that good a chance, as they were in full attack range of three full BAB meleers.... The archivist used Daylight, and I ruled that it gave a larger visible area in the natural fog, and then the drow dropped faerie fire on the three.

Come round three, they'll be taking the slow approach - hit someone with a strength - and level draining strike from stealth, then return to stealth, attacking about once every two rounds. As long as the players run out restorations and heals.... Heh.

The grig tribe requested their help, to rescue their leader from the Bog Imps (who served a mature black dragon, who demanded sacrifices from them.) Some very fun roleplaying was had there, as this Bog Imp had a tribal rule that they would drown anyone whose favorite color wasn't green.

So, they had an arrangement, where the sacrifice would hang from a tree for five hours (bare minimum), then go inside the big skull. Rest of the group volunteered the dwarven fighter.

Anyway, I ran the encounter as "easy" more or less, although nobody escaped unscathed - The dragon arrived in plain sight before nightfall, and didn't suspect much, until the PCs attacked, after which it did some biting and used it's breath weapon, and dropped a 70ft. darkness on the area... which got promptly negated by the Daylight racial ability of the Archivist. First time it's been useful, really.

DRAGON: "I c wot u did thar!"

Anyway, it could have gone much worse, but I made the "mistake" of wanting to get just one round of full attack in, instead of flying away (with the archivist snatch'd in it's mouth ) and waiting for it's breath weapon to recharge - probably could've managed a TPK that way, but, y'know, dragon. Arrogant.

And thus, it fell underneath.... the half-fiend Paladin's Rapier, actually. As he could fly, he was the only one who could hit the hovering dragon reliably. Admittedly, it was only 15ft. from the ground, which was enough for it's bite... but even that effectively negated full attacks, and the Pally had had trouble hitting it before.

So...

To summarize, there could have been deaths, but partly due to luck, partly due to my - both intentional and unintentional - mistakes, everyone is still alive. Even if the Archivist is casting 5+ restorations practically every day.

Originally posted by meth0dical:

I can't offer any suggestions on converting the rest but I thought I would let you know this CO diary is very fun to read. Keep at it.

...

I may have to run a converted Tomb of Horrors sometimes soon.

Originally posted by Senevri:

In comparison to many other diaries, this one is barely readable.

Here's the dragon I used.
As you can see, the fight could have been a lot tougher.

In any case, they spent some time in the Grig village crafting, and to speed things up, I didn't have much happen there...

On the way, there was a semi-trivial Gray Render zombie encounter. As an observation, though, those guys are pretty good at hitting, so a bunch of them may actually be a decent challenge ( if a totally contrived and unlikely one. )

Grunther told that they could reach the Tomb just around nightfall, or they could spend the night and arrive before midday.

I am regretting giving Grunther max ranks on survival, at this point. There's been very few chances of giving them marshland terrain challenges.

So, they finally arrive where the Tomb is supposedly located:

GRUNTHER: "Okay, let's turn around. We're lost."

After all, twenty years ago, there wasn't a freakin' CITY there.

So, over the quaking bog;

CR 3 Ghasts vs. ECL 13+ PCs.... well, there was a minor chance of nat 20s, but, no. Especially after the Archivist cast Mass Draconic Might (custom 7th spell )

They first tried going over the wall, but went for the main gate after the Nagas warned them off.

So, the gate did it's thing, and asked, "What is the sign?"

Now, Waaaay back, Ahrens the sage TOLD the PCS the only thing he could discover was "The Sign of the Devourer". I guess I could have hammered it in a bit more at Molnar... and they could have huddled and considered the question a bit, and so forth.

However, the Archivist confidently replied, "The Skull" as the necromancer they had encountered previously had had one tattooed into his forehead. ( a very simple and easy encounter in the swamp, which I seeded to give them an opportunity to learn about safe entry procedures to the city, which the PCs almost completely wasted. )

In any case, all the Golem could do was laugh at such a reply.

Bone Golem, Greater
[sblock]
Bone Golem, Greater (CR 17)
N Huge Construct
Init -2; Senses Perception +0, True Seeing, Low-light, Darkvision
Languages Common

AC 27 touch 6 flat-footed 27 (-2 size, -2 dex, +21 natural)
HP 271 (42 HD) DR 15/bludgeoning
Immune Magic Immune, Construct:
Saves Fort +14, Ref +12, Will +14

Speed 30
Melee 2 slams, +42, 4d8+13/x2

Atk Options dread laugh (as spell Weird DC 19 every 3 rounds, sonic-based)
Space/Reach 15/15
Base Atk 31; Grp 52, CMB: 46

Abilities Str 37, Dex 7, Con -, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 1
SQ

Dread Laugh(Su): As the spell Weird, but sonic-based, useable after a 3 round delay. A Silence spell thus blocks the effect.
Immunity To magic(ex): A Bone golem is immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows spell resistance. In addition, certain spells and effects function differently against the creature, as noted below.
A Shatter spell removes the DR and makes it take double damage from bludgeoning weapons.
A Mending spell or a repair spell removes the effects of the Shatter spell.
[/sblock]
and

GRUNTHER: *dies*.

The Jade Phoenix failed it's Will Save, but not it's fort, so he lost one round.

Ookay, this may be exiting. With +42 to hit, the thing only misses on a nat 1.
Anyway, damage is dealt both ways, and the Golem is actually a credible melee threat, for a change! Too bad it has no feats, so only 1 AoO per round and no power attacking.

The Archivist, for a change, rolls poorly on his Dark Knowledge, only granting 1 extra die of damage and only learning general features of the thing. Well, he drops a Mass Cure, which takes out the remaining Ghasts and helps a bit, and gets Righteous Wrath of the Faithful running.

Third round, a single Dark Naga arrives from the wall, and magic missiles a bit. I think I was trying NOT to kill anyone by that point.

It starts defensive fighting as it's taken nearly it's total HP of damage, three rounds into the fight, raising it's AC to 29. The Fighter's Robilard is definitely working, and his turn is just before the golem's as it's Dread Laughter has recharged. The Archivist summoned some Celestial Large Monstrous Spiders, which Webbed stuff, but my monsters made their saves.

FIGHTER: I'm going to power attack for...
ARCHIVIST: No! Don't power attack! It must be nearly done! Just hit it!
FIGHTER: ... for TEN POINTS! XD

He rolls, a total of 28, nat one, 28 and something not enough.
And the Golem's AC had just gone from 27 to 29 thanks to defensive fighting.
Then, Dread Laugh.
The Fighter and the Mage fail their will saves,
and then their fort saves.

Ookay. More Nagas are coming right now, the Paladin has lousy damage output, the Archivist is effectively a non-combatant, Grunther is dead, The JPM Gish is dead, and the Dwarven Fighter is dead. Also, as the Archivist discovers, Delay Death doesn't help vs. fort save deaths. He has two revivifys, but can only cast one.
I am already plotting having the PCs trapped in a dungeon whilsts corpses are carried off for some examination. It's still doable, plus there's the whole Escrier's guild ripoff ex machina, to explain new PCs arriving.

Archivist revivifys the Fighter, who has by far the best damage output, taking a single AoO on the way.

At this point, I go easy and the Nagas use Vampiric Touch on the spiders instead of nuking the PCs.

So, the fighter is alive at -1.
Next round, the paladin moves to the Fighter and Lays on Hands on him, taking an AoO in the progress. Fighter gets up and attacks, provoking an AoO, but I just spent that on the Paladin. Archivist drops a Heal on himself - he still has a single revivify remaining, but if he's dead...

Nagas start using Scorching Rays, and I'm fudging dice like there's no tomorrow - I ignore one critical hit, and I'm giving them only a single ray instead of two, which I think they would have by level 7. The Golem Slams the Archivist, who squeaks by.

The Fighter Power Attacks for five points... and misses.

An amazing moment, you had to be there.

To recap, the Archivist has maybe twenty, thirty HP remaining, the fighter has 29 HP from the Lay on Hands, the Paladin has maybe twenty, JPM Gish and Grunther are dead, there are two fresh Dark Nagas, and two injured for about twenty points, and the Bone Golem has 9 HP remaining.

Next round... I forget the most, but the Golem slams the Fighter, but actually misses with one slam, only dealing about twenty points of damage.
Then, the fighter attacks -- and power attacks, although just for three points, and gets two hits in. Still enough, and the Golem finally collapses. Now there are just some ******-off Nagas around, but they dropped one Scorching Ray on the Paladin and three on the Archivist - who I think again healed himself last round. Everyone survives, just barely.

Then, on a round during which the Golem could have used it's laughter again, the Fighters start on the Nagas. Naturally, the Dwarven Fighter drops the one he charges, which is enough to send the Nagas fleeing, for reinforcements. ( they did have Fog Cloud and Invisibility, though, and I really should have used Invis. Hindsight, ah. ) One of them falls from an AoO, rest slither away.... and Morrow is only moments away, at this point. (although it's still a minute or so 'til the vampires arrive.)

Morrow, Dark Naga Matriarch
[sblock]
Morrow, Dark Naga Matriarch (CR 10)
LE Large Aberration
Init +2; Senses Perception +13, Darkvision, detect thoughts (cl 9 dc 15)
Languages ? Common

AC 18, touch 11, flat-footed 15 (-2 size +3 dex +7 nat)
HP 104 (11 HD)
Immune Poison, Mind Reading
Saves Fort 8, Ref 8, Will 10, +2 vs. charms

Speed 40ft (8sq)
Melee Sting +11, 2d6+6 + Poison
Atk Options Poison, Spells
Space/Reach 10/5
Base Atk +7 Grp +17 CMB +11
Special Actions continuous Detect thoughts
Spells Known (CL 9th): 4th(4/day) – dimension door, phantasmal killer (DC 19)
3rd(6/day) – displacement, lightning bolt(DC 18)
2nd(8/day) – fog cloud, invisibility, scorching ray
1st(8/day)– expeditious retreat, magic missile, ray of enfeeblement, shield, silent image
0th(6/day) – daze, detect magic, mage hand, open/close, read magic, ray of frost
Spell-like abilities (CL 11th) At will – detect thoughts (DC 15)

Abilities Str 22, Dex 16, Con 20, Int 16, Wis 16, Cha 20
SQ darkvision, guarded thoughts, immune poison, resist charm
Feats Alertness, Combat Casting, Eschew Materials, Lightning Reflexes
Skills Bluff +9, Concentration +13, Diplomacy +7, Disguise +5 (+7 acting), Intimidate +5, Listen +13, Sense Motive +8, Spellcraft +12, Spot +13
Poison (Ex) Injury, Fortitude DC 19 or lapse into a nightmare-haunted sleep for 2d4 minutes. The save DC is Constitution-based. [/sblock]

The Paladin and the Fighter grap Grunther and the JPM Gish, and they make for the city. I allow them to enter one of the abandoned huts just past the cemetary (they're just running so I don't tell them much of their surroundings anyway... ) and we take a break.
After cooling down, the Archivist remembers he has Divine Insight stored, and they use that to boost their stealth, so I allow them to hide from searches for at least 8 hours.
After all, nagas ran away, and they left a single spider at the gate, so the confusion should give a plausible enough explanation --- plus, the Nagas probably won't enter the city without permission.

Now, they're in the skull city - which is aware of the intruders, and whilst most might not care, at least the vampires will be searching....

Now I've got a city to stat, and an adventure to read further...

What I need, besides various CR 1-8 necromancers, which I'll probably snatch from DM-tools or the NPC wiki, is a very nasty CR 15 or 16 fighter to guard the Academy entrance, and various necromancers - Instructor Ngise at CR 13-14, Academician Drake (who probably has some undead-ish template at this point) at CR 17-18, and Mistress Ferranifer, who's a 18th-level Vampire Lord or a Master Vampire Necromancer.

I'll have to upgrade the Tomb's challenges to around CR 14-15 too, and maybe drop some treasures there.

Originally posted by Senevri:

I haven't had the time or the enthusiasm to crunch most of Black Academy, but I've actually played two sessions. One's DMing muscles atrophy FAST if one doesn't play.

Specifically, my habit of going way easy on the players kicked in again. T_T

Events:

Bought a scroll of raise dead + a bunch of diamonds from the black market at double cost, Rez'd Grunther.

Checked Black Academy, didn't want to become a member OR fight their way through, so they went in through the roof, entering at auditorium. Search check in the fourties discovered the hidden path to Ferranifer's chamber.

Side note: Maximized Retributive Blackfire is CRAZY AWESOME!

They now possess Ferri's half of the Amulet of the Void.

The trapped hallway of sarcofagi: Nothing special, I didn't have it prepared, lots and lots of improvised rulings.

They broke through the western end of the hallway to the dungeon where the Live Ones were kept, and freed them. However, as the PCs weren't inclined to guide them back to safety, they opted to staying put for at least a while, until a couple of the braver ones could scout the place a bit.

Then, the PCs activated the Flesh-to-Stone huge-cloud-of-gas trap on the other end of the hallway. At least the former captives are relatively safe now.

The Dwarf BSF was hit by an Imprisonment trap, so I allowed the archivist to research a seventh-level "Free Known Ally From Imprisonment" spell, since Freedom is 9th level and such... Jokingly it's now called "Free Dwarven Fighter From Imprisonment" spell.


Originally posted by Senevri:

They've entered the tomb. Using both 1e, the 4e conversion and pathfinder, as well as various sources, I'm in the process of converting the dungeon - I've played through the wizards conversion, which is probably too faithful. Using the 4e maps as a base.

Originally posted by Senevri:

WoTC's mutant 4-armed gargoyle upgraded:
Show
[sblock] MUTANT FOUR-ARMED GARGOYLE CR 16
CE Large humanoid (earth) War 6
Init -1; Senses Listen +12, Spot +12
AC 21, touch 8, flat-footed 21
hp 308 (27 HD); DR 10/—
Fort +20, Ref +7, Will +8
Speed 40 ft. (8 squares), fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee 4 claws +30 (3d8+11) and
bite +28 (3d6+5) and
gore +28 (3d6+5)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Base Atk +15; Grp +29 CMB +26
Atk Options rend, Awesome Blow, Cleave, GreatCleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Improved NA, PF Toughness
Special Actions freeze, skills
Abilities Str 32, Dex 8, Con 24, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 10
Feats Alertness, Awesome Blow, Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Sunder, Multiattack, Power Attack
Skills Listen +18, Spot +18, Hide +9*
Possessions gem-studded collar
Rend (Ex) If the four-armed mutant gargoyle hits with two or more claw attacks, it briefly latches onto the opponent’s body and tears the flesh. This attack automatically deals an extra 2d8+22 points of damage.
Freeze (Ex) A gargoyle can hold itself so still it appears to be a statue. An observer must succeed on a DC 20 Spot check to notice the gargoyle is really alive.
Skills Gargoyles have a +2 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, and Spot checks. *The Hide bonus increases by +8 when a gargoyle is concealed against a background of stone.
Treasure: Around the creature’s neck is a collar studded with huge, gleaming gems (blue quartz stones of 100 gp value each, ten gems total). Hidden in a secret compartment of the collar is a slip of parchment with the following written on it in magical runes that require a read magic spell to understand:

Look low and high for gold, to hear a tale untold. The arch-
way at the end, and on your way you’ll wend.
—A.
[/sblock]

This...

Okay, they all went to the blue mist portal in the hallway with the demon head, without disturbing the gargoyle (which was transferred to the hallway and triggered through breaking anything), and triggered the lever trap.

I threw in a couple of features, where a certain combination dropped a nalfeshnee next to them for a bit, and another threw everyone into the astral plane. I'm throwing a lot of hints about how much the place is run through demonpower and hard work.

So, they find the treasure vault, with it's tiny viper swarm. In the chest there's two Shadesteel Golems instead of the scimitar slashers - a rather decent fight. Then, they find their way back to the green demon hallway.

I haven't mentioned it yet, but the tomb hates Grunther. Due to luck of the dice, he's yet to make a single save, or to avoid being the target of anything that hits things. He was also possessed by Ferranifer.

So, Grunther goes through the chute, falls directly into the pit trap (cr10 from dmg), the dwarf fighter spider-climbs on the wall to help him up... and gets awesome blow'd into the pit by the gargoyle.

The gargoyle proceeds to whup both fighters almost effortlessly, Grunther dies and loses a level, Dwarf goes to -3 but gets Heal'd... An awesome fight all around. Four arms + Rend = nice.

So, hallway with the spheres - First they spend three gems out of the ten in the first gargoyle's collar on the statue (the hint there is basically that the gargoyle has the gems for the gargoyle statue to crush.) Then, all three idiots march through the blue mist portal and lose all their gear.

This even with them possessing the Guild communicator-thingies. Idiots.

Half-fiend paladin lost it's Disguise Ring thingy. So, the dwarf attacked him - although without getting past the DR. Situation resolved quite fast, all in all. Still, fun.

So now, sans equipment, they make their way through the secret door passages - adding a lightning trap + having the doors close made it a lot more intense than the 3.5 one from last time.
I had the STR DC at 15 and a 25 break DC.

Eventually they discover the illusionary passage to the Temple. I added a Minor Death (entropic reaper) summon, and used the 1 Con burn /ingest poison from DMG. Without equipment they were TERRIFIED. Good times.

Second time around, they were so heavily boosted, they made short work of the reaper, although the Archivist hit it with a Slime Wave, which was sorta pointless - I made it take damage as an object.

I had a large-ish loot drop here, since they lost all their gear. A winged shield in the orange mist. Despite knowing bad things would happen, the Archivist went for it, changing sex and alignment on the way. He made a second trip, changing back to original alignment but getting hit with a Harm spell (pathfinder trap), and chose not to try a third time - which of course, would have fixed hi--- er, her.

Then, they were kind of lost on what to do 'til they found the ring slot. I had a ring drop among the loot (as well as a periapt of proof vs. poison).

Aside, I think I'm getting the hang of the dungeon - The lava dip had a chest with potions of endure elements and a necklace of fireballs. Item drops which are ironic and useful if immediately noticed are the order of the day. They dug their way to one of the false exits from the lava trap, and then we stopped.

The mists effectively are a misdirection - a character is a willing target for a spell if they enter a mist - act of entering the mist equals con.... what's the word for "agreeing to conditions?"

Next, maybe Ngise, some way to allow them to progress to the second half of the Tomb. False crypt, embalming lab and so forth. Need to add deadly, yet short and sweet fights, as well as ironic puzzles.

Originally posted by Senevri:

Out of steam:

I'm up to the bit with the siren and the stone juggernaut, but I'm not sure what to do there. I guess I could use a Slaughterstone construct in the stone juggernaut's place... Not sure what to do about the siren business.

Originally posted by Senevri:

I made a couple of mistakes.

Slaughterstone Behemoth was a GREAT replacement for the stone juggernaut, I highly recommend it.
I used a Lilitu instead of the Siren - it detects as good, can Raise Dead and could easily be bound as a "Help" there. However, I made it disappear the moment the PCs touched the money bag, instead of having it try to plead with them and triggering with removal of the bag from the pedestal. If I had done it that way, there'd been more RP, and I could've bait-and-switched the treasure from several tens of thousands worth to a few thousand's worth once the PCs spurned the lilitu for the treasure. I didn't have any other effect in the 'lair', which... was probably okay, all in all.

Then,

I ad-hoc'd the sleep mist to daze mist. I should've gone with a waves of exhaustion effect, which would have been equally debilitating, but left the PCs still able to fight. I added a weapon storage storing all types of swords, three of each. I should have probably just put in three swords.

I already ad-hocced the slots in the adamantine door to be of a more generic shape, since due to not having any gear, the PCs only owned one sword. Now it seems highly probable they won't figure out they're supposed to put a sword into each slot. I am wary of dropping too many hints, since I'm a monty-haul sort of DM by nature, still, and while I've killed most of them a few times in this campaign, since it hasn't stuck, they're still proceeding in a very kick-in-the-door fashion.

I dropped an arrow of construct slaying for them, but they didn't identify it.

I would like to hammer in the place's nature as something that is being maintained by a demonic horde a bit more, and I think I need to drop a couple of more hints for them.

The person who does the 'leading' most of the time is basically trying to rush the people through, since they lost all of their gear, in an attempt to find it. This is a bad choice in many ways, since they are all running around NAKED in the dungeon, and the only thing they've eaten in the last twenty hours is some roasted slime mold.

If it hasn't been noted yet, I've replaced all the fake door spear traps with the black lotus one from Pathfinder, and I'm using the 50-ft CR 10 pit traps from DMG. I've allowed them to find most doors with a succesful perception check - if they've been searching, specifically.

They missed the golden key, by the way.


Originally posted by Senevri:

Stat blocks
False Acererak: Show
[sblock]Human lich necromancer 11/monk 4
NE Medium undead (augmented humanoid)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., life sight*; Perception +24
Aura fear (60-ft. radius, DC 18)
Defense AC 26, touch 17, flat-footed 24 (+4 armor, +2 deflection, +2 Dex, +5 natural, +2 wis)
hp 137 (11d6+55 plus 15 false life)
Fort +9, Ref +10, Will +14
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4, evasion; DR 15/bludgeoning and magic;
Immune cold, electricity, undead, traits
Offense

Speed 40 ft.
Melee touch +7/+7 (1d8+5 plus paralyzing touch plus stun) ki: +7/+7/+7
ki pool 4
Special Attacks grave touch* (9/day), paralyzing touch (DC 19), stunning fist 3/day, power over undead* (9/day, DC 18)
Spells Prepared (CL 11th) 6th—circle of death (DC 22), globe of invulnerability, maximized fireball (DC 19)
5th—cloudkill (DC 21), cone of cold (DC 21), quickened magic missile, waves of fatigue
4th—dimension door, enervation, fire shield, wall of ice (2)
3rd—dispel magic (2), fireball (DC 19), suggestion (DC 19), vampiric touch (2)
2nd—darkness, extended mage armor (already cast), false life (already cast), scorching ray (2), see invisibility, spectral hand
1st—magic missile (3), ray of enfeeblement (2), shield (2)
0—bleed (DC 16), detect magic, ray of frost, read magic Prohibited Schools illusion, transmutation Statistics

Str 10, Dex 14, Con —, Int 22, Wis 14, Cha 16
Base Atk +8; CMB +8; CMD 28
Feats Craft Wondrous Item, Defensive Combat Training, Extend Spell, Improved Lightning Reflexes, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Maximize Spell, Quicken Spell, Scribe Scroll, Toughness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge
Skills Craft (alchemy) +20, Intimidate +17, Knowledge (arcana) +20, Knowledge (planes) +20, Linguistics +20, Perception +24, Sense Motive +24, Spellcraft +20, Stealth +24; Racial Modifiers +8 Perception, +8 Sense Motive, +8 Stealth[/sblock]

Acererak's Earthly RemainsShow
[sblock]
incorporeal Undead Humanoid 20
LE M humanoid
Init +1; Senses perception +18 (darkvision 60)
Aura dc 28 Fear aura vs. Frightened 20 rounds
Defenses AC 22, touch 22, flat-footed 21 (5 deflection, +6 charisma + 1 dexterity
HP 138 (20 HD) 20d8 + 48
Immune immunity to poison; acid, cold, electricity, undead immunities
Resist and SR fire resistance 10; DR 15/bludgeoning and magic, SR 31, 50% miss chance
Fort 6, Ref 8, Will 10
Speed flight 30ft perfect
Melee corrupting touch 20d6 aging(fort DC 28 halves) +1d8 +10 negative
Base Atk 10; CMB 11, CMD 22
Abilities Str 13, Dex 13 , Con -, Int -, Wis 17, Cha 26
SQ DC 28 fear aura[/sblock] Advanced Demilich Construct: Show
[sblock] NE Tiny construct
Init +0;
Senses blindsight 60 ft.
Defense AC 37, touch 12, flat-footed 26
hp 199 (17 HD); DR 20/keen or vorpal weapon
Immune magic (as golem; see below), construct immunities
Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +5
Speed fly 20 ft. (4 squares)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Base Atk n/a; Grp n/a
Special Action soul suck*
Abilities Str 10, Dex 10, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 1
Special Qualities construct traits
Immunity to Magic (Ex): The demilich construct is immune to all spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural effects, just as if the attacker had failed to overcome spell resistance, except as follows. A command spell “forget” causes the skull to sink down without sucking a soul. Each shatter spell thrown at it deals 10 points of damage if it fails its saving throw. A power word kill deals 10 points of damage if it fails its saving throw. An eyebite spell deals 10 points of damage on a failed saving throw. A dispel evil spell deals 5 points of damage. A holy word pronounced against it deals 20 points of damage on a failed saving throw.
Soul Suck (Su): In lieu of regular attacks, the demilich construct makes a soul suck attack each round. The skull rises into the air 5 feet and attacks one of the characters by attempt ing the draw the soul of the target from his or her body and trapping it within one of the jewels set in the skull. (The skull preferentially targets those who deal it the most damage.) To resist the soul suck attack, a character must succeed on a DC 23 Fortitude saving throw. If foiled, the construct attacks again the next round. If successful, the soul is sucked into a gem that gleams wickedly, while the soul-sucked body of the character collapses in a mass of corruption and molders in a single round—totally gone. The skull can suck a total of eight souls—in any 24 hour period. *If foes remain once the skull is sated, it begins uttering blasphemy (page 205 Player’ s Handbook), one per round, with a caster variable caster level each round equal to 6+3d6. [/sblock]

What do you think the CR should be? How would you tweak these?

Originally posted by Senevri:

Back in Black
Academy, that is.

Previously, the players had gotten stuck in front of the Adamantite Door, which had three vertical slots.

I provided a simplified map for them of the tomb. There's a bit of fatigue situation, right now.
In any case, the Archivist's player quickly figured out that SOMEthing needed to be inserted into the slots, but doesn't know what. They've been given one hint, in that after defeating the Slaughterstone Behemoth, they discovered a hidden compartment, holding several types of swords. Three of each.

Outside that, there doesn't seem to be any hint available in the dungeon itself. Academician Drake knows how to pass the door, and it's possible Mistress Ferranifer does too (although she's residing in the amulet half in the final crypt, right now.)
It's likely she can also communicate psychically with the three vampires (Who were dust, but more on that later)

They fought the False Acererak, and thus gained a Spellbook (there's probably a second where the hidden phylactery resides). It was okay-ish, although the Paladin Fiend Commando got paralyzed - I allowed the paralysis to end when the lich's body was destroyed.

In the meantime, Academician Drake had become aware that something was going on in the tomb, thanks to the property damage in the hallway of the Sarcofagi and the prisoners-turned statues in the Live One holding cell. He'd set a permanent Alarm spell, as well a Cadaver Golem to guard here.

I made a mistake here, I had intended to throw in some Moilian Zombies (Bleakborn) here, but I forgot and just used regular ones.

Despite the level being 15ish, the Fighter is still the major damage dealer. The Paladin is falling way behind.

In the Hallway of the Sarcofagi, they encountered Drake and the three stooges - er, vampires. Drake set an ultimatum - surrender and be spared, or die - the Archivist cast Mass Sanctuary and tried to walk past. Six negative levels later, combat was joined.
Which was interesting as I still didn't have stats for Drake. Right now I'm tempted to make him an Archivist, but I dunno...

How are the vampires walking around as they were dusted? Revive Undead or just lot of blood sacrificed, perhaps.

Mass Sanctuary has been quite effective - it works about half the time, and often means that meleers charge right next to the PCs, then completely fail to do damage, leaving them at full attack range.

I played the vampires idiotically, and they were wasted by the Fighter, leaving Drake alone. We ended with Drake's line of "Er, perhaps we could come to a mutually beneficial agreement?"

Notes:
Long Dungeon is Long. I'm worried about the City That Sleeps. I think Exemplars of Evil had some stuff about it there.
Fighters are good at dealing damage vs. monsters in actual gameplay, unlike conventional optimization wisdom assumes. That being said, none of my players are that optimized.
Re: Healing. Combat Vigor heals 48 points for the fighter per combat, the Paladin can Channel Energy 3d6, some 6-8 times per day, the JPM Gish has a 3 die healing strike. All this is necessary as the Archivist is effectively out of spells as well as naked.
Pathfinder's "Advanced" template is fun, fun, fun!

Originally posted by genuine:

This is a fun diary to read - keep it up.

Originally posted by Senevri:

Thank you for your kind words.
Incidentally I found a rather nifty conversion of Tomb of Horrors from Thealexandrian.net
Unfortunately I'm so far along that I probably won't be able to use any of it myself.
well, maybe NEXT time... although I'll probably be wanting to step out of the DM chair a bit after this one's done.
Trying out Alexandrian's Statblock (or my perversion of it) on an advanced HoH bloodrot:
Show
[sblock][SIZE=small][/SIZE]BLOODROT CR 10
Large Undead
Initiative: –5 Senses: Perception -5; Blindsight 60 ft.

AC: 5 (–5 Dex), touch 5, flat-footed 5
HP: 130; Hit Dice: 20d8 +40 damage reduction 10/—,
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +1, Will +5

Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares), climb 20 ft.
Melee: Slam +8 melee (1d8+7 plus blood fever) + grab and constrict 1d8+7
Space: 10 ft. Reach:15 ft.
Base Atk: +10; CMB +16; CMD 21

Abilities: Str 20, Dex 1, Con —, Int —, Wis 1, Cha 14
Special Attacks: Blood fever, constrict 1d8+7, improved
grab, sanguineous mount
Special Qualities: Blindsight 60 ft., damage reduction 10/—,
immunities, split, track infected, undead traits
Skills: Climb +21
Feats: —
Environment: Underground or urban
Blood Fever: Contact SU disease Fort DC 23 incubation 1min damage 1d6 Con 1d4 Cha; Break Enchantment/Remove Curse.
Sanguineous Mount: Touch infected to hide in body up to 24 H. DC 20 fort, Remove disease or heal + dc20 caster check expels.
Split: if 10+ hp, slasing/piercing hit splits to two, half HP round down.
Track Infested: 10 miles, not in AMF.[/sblock]

This campaign and Pathfinder's OGL release have re-kindled my interest towards D&D, which is probably fortunate. Also the change in preparation methodology - Instead of writing everything by hand into notebooks, I'm using OpenOffice and printing out just the bits I need and keeping it in a folder.

Maybe I just have such a bad handwriting that it's better if I don't have to read it.

Atlas Games' Penumbra module, "Thieves in the Forest" won me over a bit back, too, as it's probably the best module a newbie DM could start with - Or one you could play if you were to be caught sans monster manual. The layout is superb.

Originally posted by Senevri:

R.I.P, Healbot
Okay, what happened today: The Archivist went all "Dude, where's our gear?" and Drake, who has effectively completed the Tomb, told it's in the very last chamber. Now, He was relatively confident, seeing as he had a contingent harm, he'd explode if he'd die and had a couple of nice swifts, but also ethereal jaunt and invisibility. Still, the group contains a dark elf and a fiend, so he's not all 'zomg goodie-two-shoes'.

Let the record show the Gish and the Paladin weren't actually present today.

He asks about mistress ferranifer, and The Archivist fails a bluff... So, now he's thinking either they don't know, or they killed her.

Drake's not that fond of Ferranifer concerning the whole blackfire IP issues, and these guys are going to loot the treasure in the final chamber - and Drake knows that'll arouse the Demilich's remains. So, he agrees (at axe-point) to guide them to the last chamber.
It should be mentioned, "when you don't know, it's 50-50 chance" is a great DM's tool.

The part where the PCs are idiots
They don't rest. Archivist has Touch of Healing, but chooses not to use it, or Restoration - while he's at -6 negative levels. They just trounce to the Embalming Chamber.
This is where I'm an idiot - Drake's lacking in utility spells, so he digs out the key from the acid at axe-point and warns them of the bloodrots in the last vat. He can't disintegrate, since that might destroy the key, and it'll take weeks for the demons to get to repairing it.
So the Archivist casts mass lesser vigor excluding Drake, which aggravates the Bloodrots.
Now Drake casts a Disintegrate, and takes out 120 out of 170HP for one of them.
The Archivist activates the Rod of the Python - python's a decent PF grappler, and did okay against one of the three bloodrots. Then, the Archivist, the Python and the Dwarf get engulfed.

I completely forgot PF Necromancers get Rebuke equivalent ability.

The whole CMB thing is very useful, even when calculating CMBs and CMDs on the fly from MMI

The Dwarf gets away from the pudding, but the Archivist can't and just starts healing the thing - he still has few cure serious and a few cure moderates remaining.

The Archivist yells at the dwarf

I'm completely unsure what Drake'll do since he's a bit insane, but there's this whole allied victory vibe going. I roll D20 for reaction for 1-10 being bad and above that being good - and roll a natural 20. So, Drake's clearly caught up in the moment, charges almost into the bloodrot, and tries to Greater Dim.Door them out of there - despite the fact that'll almost certainly cause some demonic retribution.

The Archivist resists, and makes his will save, so now Drake's out of the Tomb along some demons, but he has good spells for getting away. The Python is constricting the Bloodrot successfully.

The Archivist does manage to destroy the bloodrot, but then remembers he's down 30 HP from the six negative levels and promptly drops dead.

The Dwarf manages to get to the spiked pit and climb 10ft, at which point we end, and agree that the Fiend Paladin flies the survivors out of the place.

Now, if you still recall, the PCS are part of a "prevent-end-of-the-world" guild who uses magical talismans for communication, keeping everyone up to date where which danger is rising, so a new guild member has been on the way a couple of days now, probably.

In other words, the Archivist player is rolling a Gnome Sorcerer (Dragon Bloodline). I think there may have been some fatigue playing the character, so it _might_ have been something of a suicide, and having someone who has gear will be helpful. The Fiend Paladin has spells despite lack of books, The Gish can get some books in this Necromantic Academy, plus he's an initiator and the Dwarf... power attacks.

In other news, PF can actually play 0-level characters easy enough.
you get Racial feats, 6+Con HP, and.. either int or 2+int skill points, up to a maximum of 2 ranks (Cross-class doesn't cost extra points in PF).

Originally posted by Senevri:

New NPC, to ease the lack of healbot:
Show
[sblock]
[UNKNOWN=pre]: Ghelbot (CR 13)
Grig (heroic) Adept 12
CG Tiny Fey
Init +5; Senses Perception +21 (Low-light vision)
Languages Sylvan, Common

Defenses:
AC 24, touch 20, flat-footed 18 (+2 size +2 natural, +2 natench, +2 deflection +5 dex +1 dodge)
HP 78HD (12D6+6+15feat+12con) DR 5/Cold Iron
Immune Any immunities (energy, poison, sleep effects etc)
Resist and SR SR 17
Fort +6, Ref +9, Will +12
Weakness Light sensitivity, vulnerability to damage type

Actions:
Speed 20ft (4sq), fly 40ft (8sq) poor
Melee +14/+9, mwk short sword 1d3-2, 19-20/x2
Ranged +16/+11, +3 longbow (1d4+1/x3) (+1 atk, damage within 30ft)
rapid shot +14/+14/+9, +3 longbow 1d4+1/x3
Atk Options Point Blank Shot
Space: 2 1/2 ft
Base Atk +6; Grp +2 CMB +2; CMD +17
Special Actions Touch of healing: Heal 3x highest cure spell in memory in damage up to half max hp
Combat Gear efficient quiver 1800gp, 60 arrows

Spells Prepared (CL 12th, base DC 14, CL 13 conjuration[healing])
1 4th: Cure Critical Wounds
3 3rd:2x Cure Serious Wounds, Remove Disease
4 2nd: 2xCure Moderate Wounds, Invisibility, Mirror Image, Web
4 1st: Protection from Evil, 2xCure Light Wounds, Obscuring Mist
3 0th: purify food and drink, stabilize, create water

Spell-like abilities (CL 9) 3/day—disguise self, entangle (DC 12), invisibility
(self only), pyrotechnics (DC 13), ventriloquism (DC 12). The save DCs are Charisma-based.

Statistics:
Abilities Str 6, Dex 20, Con 14 , Int 14, Wis 18, Cha 12

SQ Spellcasting, Summon Familiar
Feats Dodge(b), Weapon Finesse(b) Improved Initiative, Toughness, Scribe Scroll, Point blank
shot, Rapid shot, Touch of Healing[reserve]
Skills Craft (Woodworking) +4, Escape Artist +8, Stealth +31, Acrobatics +22, Perception +21 ,
Perform (string instruments) +6, Heal +21, Fly +5
Possessions Ring of Protection +2, Amulet of Natural Armor +2, Ring of Recall*

Spellbook Adept Spell List
Adepts choose their spells from the following list.
0 Level: create water, detect magic, ghost sound, guidance, light, mending,
purify food and drink, read magic, stabilize, touch of fatigue.
1st Level: bless, burning hands, cause fear, command, comprehend languages, cure light wounds,
detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law, endure elements, obscuring mist,
protection from chaos, protection from evil, protection from good, protection from law,
sleep.
2nd Level: aid, animal trance, bear's endurance, bull's strength, cat's grace, cure moderate
wounds, darkness, delay poison, invisibility, mirror image, resist energy, scorching ray, see
invisibility, web.
3rd Level: animate dead, bestow curse, contagion, continual flame, cure serious wounds, daylight,
deeper darkness, lightning bolt, neutralize poison, remove curse, remove disease, tongues.
4th Level: cure critical wounds, minor creation, polymorph, restoration, stoneskin, wall of fire.
5th Level: baleful polymorph, break enchantment, commune, heal, major creation, raise dead, true
seeing, wall of stone.

Hook
Grigs can leap great distances. They have light blue skin, forest-green hair, and brown hairy
legs, and usually wear tunics or brightly colored vests with buttons made from tiny gems. A grig
stands 1½ feet tall and weighs about 1 pound.

[/sblock]
Missing a familiar,
though.

*edit*
Oh, and pasting directly to the HTML works, slap in pre/pre tags and... yeah, it's manageable.

Originally posted by Senevri:

I say, Hello!
So, looking at it, I immediately noticed that it's actually more like CR 11, and in the interest of having Raise Dead available, I pushed it to 17th level adept. Meaning, There's two, three feats available. Also, I gave it Scribe Scroll, thinking of the Archivist... who's dead, so that can go.

What would be good feats for a support character?

Also, has anyone thought of using a Merciful bow with Spell-storing arrows for healing?

Originally posted by Senevri:

Guest star: Big Stupid Minotaur Barbarian. We had some extra time, and the visiting player didn't want to play the blue beetle. Maul of the Titans, Levitation Boots, Haste Armor.

The Sorcerer is... mostly stupid. Fiery burst, ray of flame, scorching ray etc. A ray specialist. Lots of debuffs, including antimagic ray, though.

I ran a CR-appropriate test vs. War Trolls. The PCs ended up running away. War Trolls seem a bit under-CR'd.

Okay, so, worried, our new characters travel to the Skull City, picking up a Grig Adept from the fey village, and make it safely to the city, under the protecting hand of the DM. There, they quickly discover a naked dwarf shopping for clothes in the market.

I forced the survivors to exit the tomb and the academy, to get the group back together, and to get the PCS to put some clothes on. The paladin chooses not to.

The Drow JPM Gish convinces our new arrivals that he's very cleverly disguised as a drow to avoid suspicion in this evil city. He also takes the time to read the lich's spellbook.

I'm not sure, but I think the paladin is... not happy with how the game works for him. His most useful ability has been his ability to channel, thus far.

So, as they walk in to the academy - since only Ngise remains of the named characters, the access has gotten quite loose - as they pass the side door to the auditorium, the paladin peeks in and...
What follows is actual dialogue.

Paladin: "Detect evil"

"You detect evil."

"Smite Evil"
...

So, he charges the podium where Ngise is speaking, in front of thirty or so necromancers and smites him. It doesn't sound much, but at the time it was HILARIOUS.

What follows was a short, bloody encounter leaving twenty or so dead. The Minotaur discovered they joys of getting hit by a maximized ray of enfeeblement, evil was smitten and some magic was thrown.

I completely and utterly forgot to use the BONE NAGAS here. They should have rushed in, as the combat began. Oh, well...

The PCs did not, in fact, loot anything, just gathered the surrendered and herded them onwards. They were dismayed to find out, the students weren't allowed anywhere near the actual tomb.

To get some fighting in, I allowed for the Gargoyle to have been reset in the meantime. Beyond that, it was embarrasingly clear that outside the Archivist - now Sorcerer - player, others had little idea what all the tricks of the tomb were. And the Sorcerer had naturally never been there before.

So, anyway, they now have a heavily-damaging maul-wielder with them, so the Bloodrots aren't a problem and they get the Golden Key.

They still haven't figured a way through the adamantine door, so I'm going to give them a lot of opportunity - I'll have a clumsy Demon appear, whom they can try to apprehend and question, as the caretaker Demons know all there is to know about the tomb. If that fails, I'll probably allow academician Drake to return.

Observations:

The PCS have been stuck with the tomb for a long while now... but it's starting to get so familiar, instead of becoming weary, I think there's starting to be a sense of... being at home, around now.

the Pathfinder Barbarian is hardly different from the old Barbarian. Rage powers are mostly neat, and Rage as rounds/day is a good idea, although requires bookkeeping and trusting the player not to cheat.

Our new sorcerer.. doesn't know sorcerers. In the end, he took Fey line - and the biggest bloodline choice is in fact, which one gives the feats you want. Outside that, bloodlines are practically trivial.

I hate Beer. Specifically, I hate my players drinking beer. It's not an issue in a 3-4 hour game, but this time, the session ran for six hours, and in the last two hours... well,

As you may recall, I ended up using shadesteel golems instead of scimitar slashers for the snake room. These have the Golem magic immunity.

The Sorcerer started out with a Orb of Fire, dealing decent damage. I congratulated him on a good pick. We went over the whole magic immunity thing.
Next round, he tried a Scorching Ray. T_T

THEN he used an Acid Arrow, which, at least, would have worked. But whatever happened to the ORB OF FIRE?

*sigh*

Originally posted by Senevri:

New session!
I ruled Grunther un-rezzable, since he's been dead for more than a few rounds, and there's the demilich construct there. (I've been lenient on the whole die-and-lose-soul issue in the tomb, generally).

I dropped in a nalfeshnee next to the adamantite door, who was somewhat upset what with the PCs extended demolition of the tomb, and the fact they keep on breaking the stuff the demons repair.

Surprisingly, they went for diplomacy, and suggested that if the demon told them how to get past the adamantite door, they wouldn't need to go through rest of the dungeon again. Since the door's been a problem for a while, I went with it. Forgot an actual diplomacy roll, though. Shame.

So, the throne room: a giant ruby (actually a transformed, but cognizant Balor), strong wind effects, two teleporters, three doors and the throne, two crowns and a two-headed scepter.

They figured they'd use a rope to anchor themselves to each other to keep from getting blown away, which... I thought would probably work, so I went with it. This meant they brute-forced themselves to all the three rooms - there was very little loot to be found, although I did drop in Strongarm Bracers, just because.

The twelve reth dekala I replaced the swords and shields with, weren't much more than a speedbump, although they did deal about 100 points of damage around everyone, and I did intend them to be an easy encounter.

In the end, they had the minotaur (now an NPC) use the Gem of Cursed Wishing to "Gain the knowledge on how to reach the next room". I couldn't really figure out on-the-spot ruling for how to twist that wish horribly (how it originally went, instead of just exploding), so I gave the correct information... after which the minotaur promptly died, the twist being that while the minotaur knew the answer, none of the PCs did.

Nice.

Unfortunately, really, in order to prevent another game-halting problem, I wussed out and allowed the NPC healbot to use one of the three Raise Deads he can manage (enough diamond dust for three raises) to get the Minotaur back onto it's feet. So I guess there's a 28-hour limit 'til the soul is lost in my Tomb.

They could figure out the crown and touching part, but for some reason they missed - and kept on missing after repeated hints - the sitting-on-the-throne part.

Puzzles are problematic.

Next, it's AMF, an Efreet, and the bleeding door, I guess.

Originally posted by Senevri:

They beat a hole to the bleeding door by using antimagic to temporarily negate the blood. It was clever, so I ruled 'fair enough'. They were remarkably uninterested at looting in the false crypt. Acererak's earthly remains (dust of the lich body)

[UNKNOWN=pre]: Undead Humanoid 20
LE M humanoid
Init X; Senses perception +18 (darkvision 60)
Aura dc 28 Fear aura vs. Frightened 20 rounds
Languages

AC x, touch x, flat-footed x (5 deflection, +6 charisma +
HP 138 (20 HD) 20d8 + 48
Immune immunity to poison; acid, cold, electricity, undead immunities
Resist and SR darkvision 60 feet; fire resistance 10; DR 15/bludgeoning and magic, SR 31
Fort 6, Ref 8, Will 10

Speed flight 30ft perfect
Melee corrupting touch 20d6 aging(fort DC 28 halves) +1d8+10 negative
Base Atk 10; CMB 11, CMD 22
Special Actions Any special attacks that the creature can use on its turn in place of making attacks

Abilities Str 13, Dex 13 , Con -, Int -, Wis 17, Cha 26
SQ DC 26 fear aura

So, yeah. They did manage to beat it, although it wasn't exactly too easy. I set up so that the skull and the ghost-with-numbers-filed-off were in separate locations. Now, I'm having some trouble how to oomph the final battle, yet keep it from become 'fail-a-save-and-die'

Originally posted by Jimjams:

How did your gqme finish? i'm about to run this campaign as a 5th ed conversion which looks alot easier than the 3.5/pathfinder one you had to do(thank god!!) I'm starting the pc's at level 13 as, like you, the Dim Triad are giving me alot of concearn. If you have any ideas or advice then feel free. cheers
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top