Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Revisions Uploaded

I've posted revised versions of both the Burnt Offerings compiled conversion and The Skinsaw Murders compiled conversion.

You'll notice that I also removed the Player's Guide elements from the Burnt Offerings conversion. These are now located in the Pathfinder Adventures Character Elements document, along with other options from the Curse of the Crimson Throne Player's Guide. This new document will serve as a collection of options that should be made available to players at the beginning of a 4th Edition Pathfinder campaign. I am considering moving all player options to this document, including options presented in the adventure path itself (things like the lyrakien familiar, for instance). Let me know what you think about that idea.

As far as other changes go, I've added new rules elements from the Desna article in The Skinsaw Murders. You can now play a Spherewalker in 4th Edition. I've largely divorced the paragon path from the starknife, though its encounter power does require a weapon with the light thrown or heavy thrown property. It retains its dream-associated abilities, and its connection to Desna, and is intended for multiclass (either martial/arcane or martial/divine) characters. I'm anxious for feedback on the paragon path, as its my deepest foray into player elements design yet. You'll also find new rituals for the two spells presented in the Desna article. I think they translated to the new edition very nicely; both spells fit the ritual mold solidly to begin with.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tangent: Long Live Korvosa

I've begun a second conversion campaign, which will receive the same treatment as Rise of the Runelords has.

My Curse of the Crimson Throne 4th Edition conversion can be found at Long Live Korvosa. Conversion notes will be posted there starting next week.

Monday, October 12, 2009

B7a & B7b (Enga and the Redcaps)

Enga's purpose in Mokmurian's forces might be tough for the players to discover normally, but if they encounter her during one of her regular trips to demand tribute from the local redcap tribe they'll have some idea of the part she plays.

In introducing this encounter, describe a short conversation between the kobold and the fey - her demands for gold, their reluctant, begrudging compliance, and so on. Unless the party is taking care to hide (with Stealth checks), Enga notices them nearby and orders the redcaps to attack (as though they needed the encouragement). I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 4,600 xp (Level 14 Encounter)

If the party has fallen behind in terms of treasure over the course of the adventure (by failing to recover stolen Scarnetti goods, for instance), this is a good place to give them a boost. Simply include some of the missing gold as part of the redcaps' tribute to Mokmurian.

Stat block:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A4 (Deathweb Cave)

If the mere sight of the deathwebs isn't enough to deter the PCs from coming through this way, they've got a whole lot of spider to deal with. The beasts display some rudimentary teamwork, overlaying swarm attacks to ensure that all enemies are dazed and covered in biting spiders. They lunge forward and retreat, depending on the size of their swarm aura; those who have lost their aura move to the rear of the fight to recover. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 4,800 xp (Level 14 Encounter)

Among the mundane goods caught up in the webbing at the back of the cave are treasure parcels 2 and 4 from level 13.

Iron Peak Patrols

This is a straightforward encounter, though it can prove troublesome for the PCs if the giants are allowed to escape back to Jorgenfist. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 4,300 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

The Storval Stairs

When constructing the terrain for this encounter, do make use of the illustration pointed out in the original adventure (located in the Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide). Position a boulder pile in each square at the top of the Stairs. Until the giants feel comfortable engaging in melee, they spend their actions shoving boulders towards the party. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,700 xp (Level 12 Encounter)

The stash of treasure here breaks down as follows: the anklet is worth 1,400 gold pieces, the jeweled eye patch is worth 1,250 gold pieces, the mammoth bone statue is worth 1,000 gold pieces, and the pile of coin holds 7,500 silver pieces (altogether treasure parcel 7 from level 12).

The jeweled gold crown can be identified properly with a History check (DC 20), and if returned will net the party 9,500 gold pieces (treasure parcel 5 from level 13). Give the PCs a minor quest to return the the dwarven crown to Janderhoff if they identify it. If they fail to identify the crown, it can still be sold for 4,000 gold pieces.

Note: This encounter makes use of terrain powers, introduced in the Dungeon Master's Guide 2. Terrain powers are features of the terrain that can be interacted with in concrete ways by the PCs, the monsters, or both.

Stat block:

Ogre Cattle Rustlers

This encounter should be something of a flashback to the events of The Hook Mountain Massacre - more ogres, this time raiding the Varisian farmlands. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,800 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

The barrels of brandy and silver-filled chest are worth exactly as much as they were in the original adventure (treasure parcel 10 from level 13).

Tangent: Treasure and Leveling in Fortress of the Stone Giants

This is where all information on experience point totals, level marks and treasure parcels for Fortress of the Stone Giants will go. This post will be updated as the adventure is converted.

Treasure Parcels for Level 12:

  • Parcel 1 is found with Teraktinus.
  • Parcel 2 is found with Teraktinus.
  • Parcel 3 is allocated in The Hook Mountain Massacre.
  • Parcel 4 is allocated in The Hook Mountain Massacre.
  • Parcel 6 is allocated in The Hook Mountain Massacre.
  • Parcel 7 is found on the giants at the top of the Storval Stairs.
  • Parcel 9 is the reward for exposing the Scarnetti connection to the mill arsons.
  • Parcel 10 is the reward for thwarting the theft of the Scarnetti goods.

Treasure Parcels for Level 13:

  • Parcel 2 is found in the deathweb cave.
  • Parcel 4 is found in the deathweb cave.
  • Parcel 5 is the Lost Crown of the Pallgreves clan.
  • Parcel 10 is carried by the ogre cattle rustlers.

Journey to Jorgenfist

Provide the PCs with a major quest to scout out the situation at Jorgenfist. The trek is a lengthy one, but it can be made shorter if the PCs are in possession of the rune pattern of the teleportation circle at Fort Rannick, and swifter if they employ travel magic or fast mounts.

Plan ahead when using the following encounters during the journey. The trip will probably take more than a single day, and PCs who refresh their allotment of daily powers and healing surges after each wilderness encounter will find the fights much less challenging. Consider arranging all three encounters within the space of a single day - the ogres just before the party reaches the Stairs, the giants guarding the Stairs themselves, and then the stone giant patrol soon after the party reaches the top of the Storval Rise.

The Prisoner

There are a number of potential ways for the PCs to discover the location of Jorgenfist. Interrogating a captured stone giant is just one. If the PCs choose to take a different route (using rituals, tracking retreating giants, etc.) absolutely allow them to do so, and if they prove successful award them experience as though they successfully completed the skill challenge.

Skill Challenge: The Prisoner

Setup: As the skill challenge progresses, the giant can reveal minor details or tangential information following each success. Have the PCs ask questions to go along with some of the skill checks, and tailor the answers to the results. Successfully completing the challenge causes the giant to divulge the location of Jorgenfist. He will also answer any other questions the PCs pose to him after that point. Use the list of example questions on page 15 of the original adventure as a guide for what sorts of hints to provide for successful Insight checks.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


At some point, the raid on Sandpoint will end. There are a number of possible ways this can happen.

First, Teraktinus and Longtooth can both be slain or driven out of town forcibly, before the giants can retrieve a stone from the Old Light. In this case the PCs have little reason to pursue these particular giants unless the fleeing raiding party has taken prisoners or valuables. Award the party experience for completing all encounters in the raid, as well as extra experience equivalent to a level 14 minor quest (1,000 xp).

Teraktinus and his raiding party can be forced to retreat after they recover a suitable stone. In this case the PCs might express interest in tracking down the giants in order to discover why they were after such a superficially trivial trophy to begin with. Award them experience for completing all the encounters, and assign them with a level 14 minor quest to track down the fleeing giants.

Finally, Teraktinus can prove victorious. If the PCs are prevented from dealing with all the giant threats before Teraktinus sounds the retreat of his own accord, the giants escape with a hefty score of prisoners and valuables. Only award the PCs experience from encounters they completed. Assign them a level 14 minor quest to track down the giants and rescue their stolen goods and prisoners. If they succeed in doing so (presumably defeating the remaining raiding party giants in the process), award them all the remaining experience from the raid encounters.

Locating the giants (and Jorgenfist) is another matter. The next section will deal with how to handle revealing Jorgenfist and Mokmurian's army to the party.

Looting Scarnetti Manor

This encounter gives the PCs a chance to solve one final local mystery before they head off to Jorgenfist. If the giants have left by the time the party arrives on the scene, they find few lingering valuables (all of which are owned by the Scarnettis) but can uncover the letters from Jubrayl Vhiski with a Perception check (DC 23).

If the giants have not retreated by this point, they can still be found here looting. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,400 xp (Level 12 Encounter)

As this is chronologically the final encounter of the raid, the party should have a chance to rest after it is resolved. As such, no special objectives are provided here.

If the theft of the goods from the Scarnetti Manor can be prevented, the PCs are awarded 1,000 gold pieces by the grateful family (treasure parcel 10 from level 12).

If the PCs choose to expose the Scarnetti connection to the mill arsons that have been plaguing Sandpoint, they are awarded a further 2,000 gold pieces (treasure parcel 9 from level 12).

Mill Pond

I have essentially eliminated the "Beer or Death" encounter from this conversion. It's just more of the same, and doesn't really serve to advance the story beyond providing a bit of comic insight into how stone giants operate. Teraktinus and his squad are still present, and the party ought to encounter them at some point in order to get their curiosity piqued as to the raid leader's true mission. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,900 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

PC Objectives

  • Humiliated: If Teraktinus is bloodied before any of the other giants, each party member gains an additional use of their second wind this encounter.
  • Too Big for this Town: If the encounter is completed before the end of the fifth round of combat, each PC regains the use of all encounter powers with the Healing keyword.
  • Thwarted: If Teraktinus is prevented from acquiring a suitable stone from the Old Light before he retreats from Sandpoint, each PC regains the use of up to two expended encounter powers of their choice, and may spend a healing surge (even if unconscious).
If Teraktinus retreats and calls off the raid, the party may or may not have time to deal with the final stone giant threat located at the noble manors across the creek from the town proper.

If Teraktinus is defeated, the PCs find treasure parcels 1 and 2 from level 12 among his equipment or personal trophies.

Stat block:

Dragonfire Inferno

I'm made a couple changes to a typical red dragon adult for this fight. As one of the monsters originally designed for the Monster Manual, it has some pretty steep defenses, even for a soldier. Its hit points are also at quintuple that of a standard monster, rather than quadruple. I've reduced both of these qualities to make the dragon more manageable, in addition to dropping its level to 14. I then added the phantom image power to add some variety.

Longtooth fights only as long as he thinks is necessary against the PCs. If he is bloodied, he retreats back to Jorgenfist, figuring he's done enough to delay the party's defense of the town. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 5,000 xp (Level 14 Encounter)

PC Objectives

  • Dragon Slayer: If Longtooth is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, each member of the party gains an extra action point and an additional use of a daily magic item power.
  • Dragon Dodger: Whenever Longtooth misses a target with his breath weapon, that character can regain the use of an expended encounter utility power. If the target takes no damage from the attack, the character instead regains the use of any expended encounter power.
  • Defenders of Sandpoint: When the encounter is completed, each PC regains the use of up to two expended encounter powers of their choice, and may spend a healing surge (even if unconscious).
Stat block:

Chaos at Tanner's Bridge

If the party took more than five rounds to wrap up the fight at the gate, consider having the giants here already lugging around a sack or two of prisoners. For some added dramatic tension, have one of the dire bears menacing a villager up against the wall of a building as the PCs arrive.

The stone giants do their best to work in tandem with the bears, flanking PCs whenever possible to boost the bears' poor attack bonus. They try their best to mark targets the bears have grabbed so that they can make use of their Hardened Threat power when the hero shifts after escaping the grab. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 2 Stone Giants
  • 2 Dire Bears
Total: 4,400 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

PC Objectives

  • Slain Masters: If the stone giants are reduced to 0 or fewer hit points before either of the bears is defeated, the bears retreat if they are left alone. Each PC regains the use of an expended daily power and may spend a healing surge.
  • Efficiency: If the encounter is completed before the end of the seventh round of combat, each PC regains the use of all encounter powers with the Healing keyword.
  • Thankful Townsfolk: When the encounter is completed, each PC regains the use of up to two expended encounter powers of their choice, and may spend a healing surge (even if unconscious).
At the conclusion of this encounter, the PCs should start noticing signs of Longtooth's appearance: fires, cries of "Dragon!" and even the beast himself diving towards the garrison or cathedral.

Tangent: Fortress of the Stone Giants Bestiary

Fortress of the Stone Giants contains the Deathweb, Redcap, Hound of Tindalos, Taiga Giant, Scanderig, Shining Child of Thassilon and the Runeslave template. I am also including additional giants to round out some of the early encounters. Stat blocks will be posted as they are used in the conversion.

Stone Giant Scout:

Stone Giant Strongarm:


Spriggan Dunter:

Spriggan Redcap:

The Northgate Siege

The guards positioned here are caught off-guard by the attack, and some have already been injured or killed by the time the party arrives. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 2,900 xp (Level 11 Encounter)

PC Objectives

PCs who complete one of the following objectives during this encounter gain the listed benefit.

  • Squad Leader: When the Stone Giant (not the Strongarms or Scout) is reduced to 0 hit points or fewer, each PC regains the use of an expended encounter power. In addition, the PC who dealt the final damage regains the use of a second expended encounter power.
  • No Distractions: If the encounter is completed before the end of the fifth round of combat, each PC regains the use of all encounter powers with the Healing keyword.
  • The Guards' Cheers: When the encounter is completed, each PC regains the use of up to two expended encounter powers of their choice, and may spend a healing surge (even if unconscious).
By the time the fight concludes, the party begins hearing sounds of stone giant mayhem coming from Tanner's Bridge. Their next encounter lies there.

The Raid Begins

This series of encounters challenges one of the basic assumptions of 4th Edition adventure design: the short rest. With the entire raid originally designed to take place in the space of three minutes (the conversion won't hold itself to so rigid a timetable), there is no time for the party to spend catching their breath between combat encounters. They still need a way to recover their encounter powers and heal up after a fight, though. The DMG2 actually makes a number of suggestions for dealing with this situation.

Each encounter during the raid will include a number of PC objectives. Accomplishing one of these objectives will impart a benefit to the party as a whole. These boons will help the party deal with the attrition of this rapid-fire series of encounters. They will range from the relatively minor, such as regaining a single encounter power, to rewards comparable to a free short rest.

During these encounters, make extensive use of the map of Sandpoint provided in Burnt Offerings and the Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide when setting up the encounters. Each of them occurs in a different area of town, but there's no set precise location where the PCs must fight each group of raiders. The map will help a great deal with helping you visualize the terrain.

It's possible (perhaps even likely) for the raid to end without the PCs engaging in every encounter. The raid is called off if Teraktinus and Longtooth are defeated, or after Teraktinus completes his mission by retrieving a stone from the Old Light. If the PCs successfully force the giants to retreat, they receive experience for all the encounters in the raid. If the PCs are defeated or are unable to deal with all the threats before the giants pillage the town, do not reward them experience for missed encounters until they are able to track Teraktinus or Longtooth down later.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tangent: Dungeon Master's Guide 2 and this Project

The DMG2 is out, and I picked it up this weekend. After reading through it, I'm going to be making a number of revisions to the first few adventures (and adopting these changes going forward as well) based on new rules and advice offered in the book. Here is what I'm planning:

  • Companion Characters: Shalelu, from The Hook Mountain Massacre, will be changed from an NPC into an optional companion character. She will be able to fill the role of an extra party member, if needed. I will include information on how to increase her level as the adventure progresses; she can reasonably be included in the party through the entirety of the module. The surviving Black Arrows (Jakardros, Vale, and Kaven) will remain NPCs. For information on what companion characters are, see the official excerpt on the Wizards website.
  • Terrain: I will be making additional notations on terrain in encounters in the conversion write-ups. Some terrain features (and possibly some hazards or traps) will instead become terrain powers. For information on the role terrain powers fill, see the official excerpt on the Wizards website.
  • Traps & Hazards: As mentioned above, certain traps may become terrain powers, as appropriate. Others may see slight revision to fit better with some of the trap standards included in the DMG2.
  • Skill Challenges: Some skill challenges may be revised, though I have been making revisions to skill challenges as I learn more about good design. Hopefully few such revisions will be needed. Samples of the skill challenge advice offered in the DMG2 can be found in the official excerpt on the Wizards website.
  • Monsters: There will only be a handful of changes to monsters I've designed. Off the top of my head, I'm considering applying the Goblin Allies monster theme to some of the non-goblin creatures found in Burnt Offerings.
Expect to see these changes implemented in the next published version of each adventure conversion.

On a related note, I very strongly recommend purchasing a copy of the DMG2. It is one of the strongest tools a DM - new or experienced - can have to draw upon. I guarantee that you will find something in the book that will improve your game.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Stones Over Sandpoint

To begin the adventure, the PCs need to return to Sandpoint - probably after being called back by Shalelu. She makes use of the Animal Messenger ritual to contact the party if they're not easily reached. The message she sends is one of urgency: giants may be headed for Sandpoint, they could arrive at any time, and the town is likely doomed without the PCs' intervention.

When the PCs return to the town, give them a short while to effect preparations before springing the raid on them. If they want to be cautious and engage in a little strategic planning, let them. There is no way for them to know that the true target is an unassuming bit of rubble from the Old Light.

Provide the PCs with a level 13 major quest to defend Sandpoint from attack.

Fortress of the Stone Giants

The fourth adventure in the Rise of the Runelords campaign centers almost entirely around a single, fantastical location: the fortress of Jorgenfist and the library that lies beneath it. Not only is this the adventure where the PCs will begin to encounter things truly beyond the ken of mortals, but it's where the overarching plot of the adventure path is revealed, along with the personal introduction of its main villain.

In terms of conversion details, I will design the encounters to bring the party to 16th level by its conclusion. In addition to the normal bestiary conversion, I'll also be creating a few new giant stat blocks to help flesh out what would otherwise be some fairly repetitive encounters. These will appear in the bestiary conversion.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Hook Mountain Massacre Conversion PDF v0.1

And finally to go along with today's rather enormous update, the compiled conversion document for The Hook Mountain Massacre. I'm going to try to release the PDF version at the same time I finish the adventure conversion from now on. We'll see if that continues to work out.

Note that the file linked to is a zip archive containing a PDF of the conversion document and individual PDFs for each quest card. This is the format that will be used from now on.


The Hook Mountain Massacre Conversion v0.1

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Secret Chamber

When the tremor subsides, a new passageway is quickly discovered behind the collapsed north wall of the keep's prison. It leads to a stairway descending downward into darkness.

In this conversion, a hidden portal to one of Karzoug's many vaults lies beneath the keep. None of the Black Arrows were aware of its existence, but the quake has revealed its entrance. Now the undead charged with protecting the vault wait for anyone brave enough to test the runelord's defenses.

This short side trek draws heavily upon Dungeon #169's Hall of the Snake God for inspiration. The maps provided there are great for these two encounters, with a bit of alteration. The first map's entrance should be a staircase leading down, not an entrance from the outside, and the snake trap should be removed from the pit in the lower chamber (though the pit is still present, courtesy of the quake that reopened these chambers).

These encounters also make use of some of the monsters found in the published adventure's bestiary, converted to 4th Edition. They are both fairly straightforward.

For the upper chamber, I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,250 xp (Level 12 Encounter)

For the lower chamber, I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,550 xp (Level 12 Encounter)

Neither of these chambers contains any treasure, but at the rear of the lower chamber is a glowing yellow portal surrounded on the ground by two alternating sets of blue and green runes. A Perception check (DC 25) notes that some of the green runes are sitting above small cracks in the ground, likely caused by the tremor. An Arcana check (DC 25) determines that the portal's condition is tenuous; by the time the PCs can examine it, only two minutes remain before the portal collapses completely. Looking through the portal, the party can see a room beyond filled with treasure but without doors or windows of any sort. Within the vault on the other side of the portal is a massive pile of Thassilonian coin worth 8,500 gold pieces, as well as a shining gold breastplate bearing runic markings - purely ceremonial, worth 6,500 gold pieces (these are treasure parcels 5 and 7 from level 11 and parcel 6 from level 12). The vault also contains treasure parcels 3 and 4 from level 12, sitting neatly in the room's corners.

The party does not have long to retrieve everything, and may need to employ some quick thinking to move nearly 200 pounds of coinage out of the vault in two minutes. When the portal collapses, the vault's contents are lost and anyone still on the other side is trapped with no clear exit. The green set of runes on the ground fades and disappears, but the blue set remains. This is actually a permanent teleportation circle, and allows a party with access to the Linked Portal ritual to memorize the rune set in order to return to Fort Rannick's basement whenever they wish.

If the party successfully explores the secret chambers, they receive three victory points.

Who You Gonna Run Screaming to for Help?

If the PCs dealt with the crypt (B15) in the secret caverns behind the keep during the retaking of Fort Rannick, this event does not take place; the PCs receive three victory points automatically. Otherwise, a servant or member of the staff who wandered back into the caves bursts into the main hall of the keep shouting about ghosts. This should lead the PCs to investigate the crypt in earnest.

Run the encounter in area B15. If the PCs successfully defeat the specters, they receive three victory points.


Allow this event to play out naturally over the course of a few in-game weeks as described in the original adventure. Continue to allow the steward of the fort to roll checks for weekly events. The PCs will eventually want to get rid of the local hero. They have any number of options to accomplish this (deception, pleading, threatening, etc.) but, as with the snake oil salesman event, as long as he leaves Fort Rannick the PCs receive a victory point.

Silas Tor and His Wondrous Trinkets

This event should play out as described in the original adventure. Using the Arcana skill to sense the presence of magic (DC 25) reveals the dwarf's trinkets as frauds, and Insight checks (DC 27) uncover the deception as well. You can allow the PCs to try and calm the crowd down and disperse them before driving Silas away, but as long as the dwarf leaves before causing too much trouble the PCs earn a victory point.

Stalking Monsters

Reports of marauding humanoid monsters on the roads demand that the Lord or Lady of the fort act, lest they be cut off from the rest of the world. The monsters are not difficult to find - they are, after all, attacking travelers on the road. The culprits are a band of lycanthropes - werewolves - and their worg pets. They attack the PCs on sight, sending the worgs in first and following close behind. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • Werewolf Lord
  • 3 Werewolves
  • 4 Worgs
Total: 4,250 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

Their banditry has netted them 3,000 gold pieces worth of loot, which can be found on their bodies (treasure parcel 8 from level 11).

Dealing with the monster threat provides the PCs with two victory points.

Filth Fever Outbreak

If this event arises, the fouled water supply causes many of the keep's occupants to become sick. The party must build a new well at a cost of 75 gold pieces and a week's worth of work. If a new well is not built, no other construction projects are completed due to constant illness (and perhaps even a few deaths among the staff). Building the new well gives the party a victory point.

Fire in the Fort!

In the middle of the night, a fire breaks out in the fort's stable. Putting it out is a skill challenge, outlined below.

Skill Challenge: Fire Brigade

Setup: The PCs must organize a bucket brigade or come up with some other way to put out the fire before it destroys the affected structure and spreads to other buildings. In addition, they must attempt to rescue a groom trapped inside the burning stable before he dies of smoke inhalation.

Stat block:

Brigands Attack Fort Rannick

Rather than turning this event into a siege as described in the original adventure, a group of bandits takes advantage of the poorly-defended state of affairs at Fort Rannick to try and take it for themselves. They have hired a skilled alchemist to fashion an explosive device to breach one of the fort's curtain walls.

The bandits arrive without warning, setting the explosive device and waiting for it to go off. The PCs are alerted to their presence by the fort's staff, and must choose to either engage them on the other side of the wall in an effort to disarm the device before it explodes, or wait for it to blow a hole in the wall and fight them within the grounds.

The combat encounter is mostly identical regardless of where the fight takes place, except that if the PCs take the fight to the brigands they can engage in a skill challenge to disarm the explosive device. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 4,100 xp / 4,600 xp (Level 13 / 14 Encounter)

The bandits have a combined 2,000 gold pieces worth of assorted coin and valuables on them (treasure parcel 9 from level 11).

Successfully repelling the attack before the wall is breached awards two victory points to the party. No victory points are awarded if the wall is damaged.

Stat block:

Weekly Fortress Events

A number of events are possible over the course of the two months of the PCs' stay. The original adventure required Charisma checks each week to determine what happens during that period. This conversion uses similar checks, though with a different results table to account for the shifted math in how ability checks are made (and to adjust a few of the events themselves).

At the beginning of each of the PCs' first seven weeks at Fort Rannick during the winter, have the PC appointed Lord or Lady roll a Charisma check and compare it to the table below.

  • 1 - 7: Attack. The fort is attacked by brigands. See the section entitled Brigands Attack Fort Rannick for details on running this event.
  • 8 - 9: Fire. A structure within the fort catches fire. See the section entitled Fire in the Fort! for details on running this event.
  • 10: Fouled waters. The keep's old water source becomes contaminated. See the section entitled Filth Fever Outbreak for details on running this event.
  • 11 - 13: No event. Nothing noteworthy happens this week. The party receives an automatic victory point.
  • 14: Stalking monsters. Bloodthirsty humanoids threaten roads near Fort Rannick. See the section entitled Stalking Monsters for details on running this event.
  • 15: Snake oil salesman. A traveling con artist appears at the fort. See the section entitled Silas Tor and His Wondrous Trinkets for details on running this event.
  • 16 - 17: Hero problems. A local legend decides to grace Fort Rannick with his presence. See the section entitled Earthbreaker for details on running this event.
  • 18 - 20: Haunted crypt. One of the fort's staff discovers the ghost problem in the fort's caverns. See the section entitled Who You Gonna Run Screaming to for Help? for details on running this event.
  • 21 - 27: No event. Nothing noteworthy happens this week. The party receives an automatic victory point.
  • 28 - 30: Beneficial travelers. A group of merchants, performers, nobles or other helpful individuals arrives at the fort. The party receives two victory points.
  • 31+: No event. Nothing noteworthy happens this week. The party receives an automatic victory point.
If the same result is rolled more than once (note that each of the three "No event" results can be rolled once) move down the chart to the next highest result.

On the eighth (and final) week of the party's stay at the fort, a tremor uncovers a hidden passageway previously undiscovered beneath the keep. See the section entitled Secret Chamber for details on running this event.

Rebuilding the Keep

The first order of business ought to be the reconstruction of important areas of the fort. During the ogre assault, the occupation, and then the reclamation of Fort Rannick, many key defenses and buildings were damaged or destroyed. Mayor Shreed is happy to provide the fort's steward with 200 gold pieces worth of credit per month to go towards any reconstruction efforts (and appoints a clerk with overseeing the appropriate use of those funds). Use the following rules for dealing with such projects.

Two elements are necessary to complete any construction project within the fort: time and money. Time is measured in weeks, with most projects requiring one or two weeks to complete. The available pool of laborers and skilled craftsmen in the region is limited, and thus construction is limited to a single project at a time. Each project has an associated cost which represents the purchase of raw materials and the hiring of workers to complete the job. The party may use either credit provided by Turtleback Ferry for this purpose or their own funds, should they run out.

The following construction projects can be completed during the PCs' stay.

  • East Gate: The ogres all but demolished this gate during their attack on the fort. Restoring its hinges and replacing the door takes a week and costs 50 gold pieces.
  • Old Guard Tower: Regardless of whether it was knocked down during the reclamation of the fort, this tower is not fit for use and needs to be rebuilt. This takes two weeks and costs 100 gold pieces.
  • Cook House: Much of the equipment in here was destroyed by careless ogres, and the interior requires a lot of clean up. Restoring it takes a week and 40 gold pieces.
  • New Barracks: Even if it survived the reclamation, the barracks are too much of a hazard to see use. They need to be cleared and rebuilt. This takes two weeks and costs 125 gold pieces.
  • Keep Entrance: The door to the keep itself needs repair, and much of the keep's interior was damaged in ogre occupation. This work takes a week and costs 50 gold pieces.
Each completed construction project awards the party a victory point.

Keeping the Keep

Use this series of notes should the PCs decide to spend time at Fort Rannick following the conclusion of the events of The Hook Mountain Massacre.

The first order of business in taking up residence at the fort is to have a PC take up the mantle of Lord or Lady. Whoever is chosen for this position will be responsible for overseeing the fort's restoration and upkeep. Give the party a minor quest reflecting their charge, requiring them to leave the fort in a strong, defensible state before they depart.

This conversion makes use of the victory point system seen in a number of 4th Edition adventures. Consult the following table to determine the number of victory points the PCs accumulate during their stay at Fort Rannick:

The total accumulated victory points at the end of two months determines the outcome of the PCs' stay.

  • 0 - 10 Victory Points: Fort Rannick is in terrible shape by the time the PCs depart. They fail the minor quest to look after the fort, and their stewardship is stripped from them.
  • 11 - 17 Victory Points: Fort Rannick is restored to its former glory. The PCs have completed their minor quest to look after the fort.
  • 18+ Victory Points: Fort Rannick is in better shape than it has ever been. The PCs have completed their minor quest to look after the fort, and their reputation as stewards grants them a +2 bonus to Diplomacy checks made in Varisian settlements.

The End of The Hook Mountain Massacre

The threats to the region have been dealt with, for the time being. Fort Rannick is reclaimed, and no organized ogre tribe remains to challenge it. Turtleback Ferry stands, the plan to flood it and claim its villagers' souls unrealized. Myriana's undying wrath has been appeased. The PCs can settle down for the winter and enjoy a rest from the trials of an adventuring life.

The original adventure contained a chapter entitled "Keeping the Keep" in which a number of possible events are outlined that might occur during the PCs stay at Fort Rannick during the winter. A full conversion of that chapter follows.

Regardless of what happens during the intervening period, by the time winter eases up on Varisia, the PCs are made aware of the new danger to Sandpoint, and ultimately to all Varisian civilization. Fortress of the Stone Giants is up next.

D7 (Circle of the Sisters)

The party's true goal is found here. They must defeat Lamatar in order to take a portion of his body back to Myriana's ghost.

The three hags located here are each distinct from one another. Larastine is a bog hag, Briselda is a briar hag, and Grelthaga is a night hag. Their three auras need to be monitored carefully during this fight. Thanks to Grelthaga's aura, PCs lacking low-light vision or darkvision will have to deal with concealment penalties for most of the fight. See page 262 of the Player's Handbook for more information on light categories. Briselda does her best to engulf the entire cavern in zones of briar over the course of the fight.

Lamatar's proximity to the powerful covey ritual engulfing the region in a supernaturally heavy winter has turned him into an icewight. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 3,800 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

Treasure parcel 1 from level 11 can be found here, either on Lamatar's body or in the hags' possession. In addition, some extremely valuable reagents are left unused from the hags' ritual: 500 gold pieces each of alchemical reagents and rare herbs (treasure parcel 10 from level 11).

Stat block:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Burnt Offerings and Skinsaw Murders PDFs Updated

Wizards of the Coast released their Dungeons & Dragons fan site policy (and accompanying fan site kit) earlier today, and I've updated the blog and both completed conversions to reflect that. The new versions incorporate a couple minor changes, but the new policy compliance is really the only major change. This project now operates under fan site licenses from both Paizo and WotC, which is what I had hoped to eventually do since I began it.

Burnt Offerings Compiled Conversion PDF v0.7

The Skinsaw Murders Compiled Conversion PDF v0.2

Monday, August 3, 2009

D9 (As the Dread Kings of Old)

In this conversion, Barl originally arrived with three stone giant henchmen. Two remain.

Barl avoids wading into combat himself, much preferring his ranged powers. Should a prime opportunity present itself to catch most of the PCs in a blast or burst, he isn't above catching his bodyguards in the area. Be mindful of the giants' stone bones power. If you're not careful you'll start forgetting to make use of it every round. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 4,000 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

If Barl is killed, any remaining stone giants make a run for it, trusting in their long stride and ability to navigate mountainous terrain to see them through.

Barl has a Sihedron medallion around his neck. Give it the powers of a level 14 magic item (treasure parcel 2 from level 11).

Stat block:

D6 (The Clanhold)

In keeping with this conversion's theme of Barl creating horrid undead to cement his control over the Kreeg ogres, a spirit devourer created to keep a threatening watch over the slaves in the mining tunnels returns to the clanhold just as the party arrives. Terrified by the foul thing, the ogres - even the Kreeg taskmasters - fight especially bravely. While the PCs might be able to kill them, what the spirit devourer is capable of is far worse than mere death.

The spirit devourer attempts to trap the most obvious user of radiant energy, or the party defender. If it feels it can get away with it, it uses devour spirit three times each turn in order to maximize its chances of consuming a soul (and giving it a steady flow of hit points). A creature that enters or starts its turn in a forge pit takes 6d10 points of fire damage. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 8 Ogre Thugs
  • 2 Ogre Savages
  • Spirit Devourer
Total: 3,200 xp (Level 11 Encounter)

Be sure to use the Monster Manual version of the Spirit Devourer - the version displayed in the D&D Compendium has incorrect text for the devour spirit power.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Tangent: Monster Builder First Impressions

I've had a chance to fiddle around with the Monster Builder. It's a fantastic tool, on par with the Character Builder in terms of utility (this time for the DMs out there rather than players), and I'll be getting to know it a lot better in the coming months.

That said, I won't be using it for my monsters for a couple reasons. Primarily, the Monster Builder remains in beta. It is missing a few features that would need to be able to include in my monsters (immunities, for instance, are not present in the Monster Builder; it's a known issue, and they're working on it). It also needs to be more flexible. As it stands, not enough of the fields are customizable.

When these issues are fixed, however, I will very strongly consider posting packages of custom monsters for each adventure so that DMs who wish to make use of the Adventure Tools suite in their own games can get the most use out of this conversion project. I will probably stick to the stat block format I've been using for the actual compiled conversions, as it suits my needs perfectly (namely, fitting into the OpenOffice Writer layout I use).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tangent: D&D Insider Monster Builder Upcoming Beta

Word is that the new Monster Builder application (part of the D&D Insider Campaign Tools suite) will see a beta release tomorrow for all subscribers. I like the look of the tool a lot, and everything I've heard so far describes it as extremely powerful and flexible. I'll need to see what the options for exporting finished stat blocks are, but it's possible that I will eventually switch over to that format. It won't happen immediately, though. I want to wait for similar tools to be made available for the creation of magic items, traps & hazards, skill challenges, etc. so that the formatting remains coherent throughout my finished compilations.

That doesn't change the fact that I may occasionally make use of the tool to build monsters in the meantime, since it takes care of much of the math for you. I may also release packages of all my custom stat blocks in whatever proprietary format the Monster Builder saves its monster files as. I'll have a lot more information available once I have a chance to fiddle around with the tool tomorrow evening.

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tangent: Savage Tide

Yet another conversion project has been started over at The Chronicles of Abysm, this time dealing with the pre-Pathfinder Savage Tide adventure path. While it's still in the planning phase, what has been posted so far looks excellent. There's a lot of foresight going into the project, which is a very helpful foundation to have. I'll be following the blog, and you should give it a look too.

Tangent: 4th Edition Divine Domains in Golarion

Divine Power was released this past month, and it reintroduces domains to 4th Edition, including new domain feats and domain-specific Divinity powers. While the domains for the core 4th Edition pantheon are listed, other campaign settings will need to determine for themselves which domains are appropriate for which deities. Where Golarion is concerned, an effort should be made to make these options available to PCs worshiping the requisite deities. With that in mind, the following is a list of the most prominent Golarion deities (as listed in the Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide) and their updated 4th Edition domains.

Erastil: Life, protection, wilderness
Iomedae: Justice, sun, war
Torag: Creation, earth, protection
Sarenrae: Hope, life, sun
Shelyn: Love, luck, skill
Desna: Change, freedom, luck
Cayden Cailean: Change, freedom, strength
Abadar: Civilization, earth, justice
Irori: Civilization, knowledge, strength
Gozreh: Sea, storm, wilderness
Pharasma: Death, fate, life
Nethys: Arcana, destruction, knowledge
Gorum: Destruction, strength, war
Calistria: Luck, trickery, vengeance

These new domains will appear in the next update to the Burnt Offerings and Player's Guide conversion PDF.

D5 (Chokepoint)

A small force of ogre soldiers guards the interior of the clanhold from here, acting as the last line of defense before the more vital caverns are breached. Barl is, by now, aware of the intrusion as the sound of combat echoes through the clanhold's caverns. He summons and sends forth an undead creature of shadow - an Oni Souleater - to halt the PCs' progress. It arrives and rolls initiative at the beginning of the third round of combat. All of the ogres are startled by the creature's presence, but quickly conclude that Barl sent it and fight on, reminded of what befalls those who fail to please their new lord. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 4 Ogre Savages
  • 4 Ogre Skirmishers
  • Oni Souleater (see Open Grave)
Total: 2,900 xp (Level 11 Encounter)

D1 (Entrance)

When Barl made an example of the sleeping guard ogre, he decided to try out a new necromantic ritual - one that would flay the skin from the ogre's corpse and then animate it. The result is a titan shell, a gruesome display of the sort of thing Breakbones is capable of. Its presence unnerves the other ogres stationed here, which suits Barl just fine. Even if they didn't expect to suffer the same fate if they doze off, none of them feel comfortable trying to sleep with the undead skin of one of their clansmen hanging around. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • Titan Shell (see Open Grave)
  • Ogre Warhulk
  • 2 Ogre Skirmishers
Total: 2,600 xp (Level 10 Encounter)

The Sihedron medallion hung around Gargadros' neck in area D3 will magically resize itself to fit the neck of any creature who wears it. Give it the powers of a level 12 neck slot item (treasure parcel 4 from level 11).

At the bottom of the sacrificial pit in area D4 lies an unharmed magic item, buried amongst the ash and bones (treasure parcel 3 from level 11).

Harrowing the Hook

Scaling a miles-high mountain in the middle of a supernaturally strong blizzard knowing that a clan of bloodthirsty ogres is waiting at the top is absolutely a skill challenge-worthy scenario.

Skill Challenge: Harrowing the Hook

Setup: The Kreeg clanhold lies a half-mile from the top of Hook Mountain's 10,000-foot peak. The PCs would be served well by some (perhaps magical) climbing gear. Don't forget to reward creative thinking; if the PCs can come up with a good use for one of their daily utility powers, for instance, don't hesitate to give them a free success or significant bonus to a check.

Stat block:

Mountain Pass Ambush

As the PCs approach the base of Hook Mountain, they are engulfed in a snowstorm. The Kreegs have set an ambush ahead in the anticipation of an investigation of the Hook. They wait for the adventurers' arrival in a canyon fortified with a pair of long-abandoned stone watchtowers.

The ogre thugs arrive in two waves of six. The first wave descends upon the PCs from the other end of the canyon while the Overlord watches from one of the canyon walls above. When the first wave is demolished, he orders the second group in and leaps down to join the fray himself. The ogre in charge (possessed of some shamanistic power in addition to his brute strength - here, an Oni Overlord) is demanding an abusive of his slave troops. His interaction with the ogre minions is going to be the star of this encounter. He can hand out 5 temporary hit points each round, but deals 5 damage to any nearby ally who misses with an attack. Play this up. He rewards success with temporary hit points, and those who fail him have the life crushed from their throats at a distance by his aura (unless, of course, they've earned his approval previously, in which case they might be allowed one slip-up before he decides to kill him). In all likelihood, the Overlord will be responsible for nearly as many deaths among his men as the PCs are. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • Oni Overlord
  • 12 Ogre Thugs
Total: 3,200 xp (Level 11 Encounter)

The Overlord has a tome of rituals slung over his shoulder. Assign roughly 4,000 gold pieces worth of rituals to this book, including a couple your PCs might have been talking about looking into, and a couple they haven't considered but might find useful. The ritual book is treasure parcel 6 from level 11.

Note: This encounter was designed to take advantage of Paizo's GameMastery Flip-Mat: Mountain Pass map. The canyon side provides the perfect ambush site for the ogres. The encounter runs just fine without it, but if you want to add some exciting map artwork to your game this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tangent: Playing Dragonborn in Pathfinder

Dragonborn have an interesting (and very recent) past, in terms of their attachment to the Dungeons & Dragons game. Their first appearance in 3.5 was as a transitive race made up of those who willingly underwent a process by which they were reborn into new, draconic bodies out of dedication to their god. It wasn't until 4th Edition that they saw an incarnation as a "true" race. They lack a clear place in Golarion. I will try to offer a few ways for you to establish dragonborn history within your Pathfinder campaign.

As draconic demihumans, it's clear that however they are incorporated they ought to have some connection to true dragons. It needn't be as direct as the result of a breeding process, but the clear influence of dragons in their physiology needs to be explained somehow. They also need a place of origin, and a place of refuge in the modern world. Here are a few suggestions on ways to insert dragonborn into Golarion:

  • The gold dragon Mengkare, ever in determined pursuit of societal perfection, experimented briefly with instructing a handful of his people to breed with him (or with other dragons he recruited for the purpose) in order to study the offsprings' worth. Though capable humanoids, he eventually determined that this new race would not move his society closer to perfection. Abandoning the project, he sent the dragonborn away from Hermea, scattering them to the nations of the inner sea. If you use this option, dragonborn have an extremely short history, and no personal culture save a shared bitterness at Mengkare's treatment of them (or their parents, if they are descended from those exiled by Mengkare).
  • During the height of Thassilon when the Runelords' magic might was at it's strongest, Karzoug the Claimer hatched a twisted plan. Though he numbered many dragons among his followers, their conniving minds prevented him from placing much trust in them. On the other hand, while he could easily cow and subjugate the human population, they lacked the might and ferocity of his dragon allies. In a moment of terrible insight, he realized that if he could combine the two he might create a race with the ferocity and cunning of a dragon, but without the force of will that made them impossible to utterly control. Using his powerful transmutation magic he was able to fuse dragon and humanoid together, creating a new race: the dragonborn. They served their master well, proving stronger than his human troops. But after the fall of Thassilon and the loss of their master, the dragonborn scattered. Some joined those humans who would eventually become the Shoanti tribes, others devoted themselves to the dragons, and more still traveled as far away from Thassilon as they could, making their way to other countries. (Credit to Eldim for this suggestion)
  • In the forming of the world, as Apsu and Tiamat created the gods themselves, they instilled a tiny portion of themselves in creation. During the Age of Darkness, hidden far away in the unexplored regions of the Mwangi Expanse, the dragonborn carved out a place for themselves in the endless jungle. Infused with the barest spark of divinity, dragonborn shaman foretold a rise to greatness in the Age of Glory to come. In preparation, a number of dragonborn were sent into the rest of the world to take stock of what they were certain would eventually become their domain. When word of the sundering of the magics of prophecy reached the ears of dragonborn civilization, however, scores of disillusioned tribesmen abandoned the Mwangi Expanse to try and bring about what they considered their destiny the old-fashioned way: by earning it.
Dragonborn in your Rise of the Runelords campaign might come from a rich tribal history, or enter play with a complete lack of personal heritage or identity. Here are some ways to give dragonborn a special relevance to the events of the adventure path:

  • As the progeny of a race that once belonged to the personal army of a Runelord, Thassilonian lore has seeped into dragonborn culture as legend and fable. Runes might have developed special significance for the dragonborn people, and the PC might find disturbing similarities between familiar dragonborn motifs and his increasing exposure to the ruins and remains of ancient Thassilon.
  • The PC took up a life of adventuring in order to embrace an imagined personal or shared racial destiny unmade at the advent of the Age of Lost Omens. As his adventures earn him more prestige and glory, he might become increasingly hopeful that the key to that destiny lies within reach. The prospect of uncovering the mysteries of ancient Thassilon only serve to fuel this drive.

Burnt Offerings Conversion Updated to v0.6

I've made a few changes to the Burnt Offerings compiled conversion document. Most notably, I've added area C27 - the bunyip encounter. My playtest group neglected the encounter on their way through Thistletop, but for the sake of completeness I feel it should be included.

I have also made some minor changes to the Divinity feats presented in the appendix, both to bring their power levels more in line with other Divinity feats, and to update a couple to reflect newer rules material (Arcana of Nethys, for instance, was written back when holy symbols were the only divine implement; it now properly works with all divine implements).

You can download the conversion document here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Emerging from Whitewillow

As one final reminder of the state of supernatural decay Whitewillow suffers from, the party runs afoul of a pack of drakes and their naga handler after they meet with Myriana. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • 2 Portal Drakes (see Draconomicon)
  • 3 Scytheclaw Drakes
  • Guardian Naga
Total: 3,900 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

Assuming you use the suggested initiative rules in the Dungeon Master's Guide, the portal drakes can use their catch a ride ability to piggyback on each other's teleports, effectively doubling the distance they can move each turn and still attack. Their portal bursts can be used to position characters in the middle of swampy difficult terrain. The rest of this encounter is fairly straightforward.

Once the PCs arrive back at Turtleback Ferry, they have nothing left but to ascend Hook Mountain and put a stop to the Kreegs once and for all.

Heart of Sadness

There is little necessary conversion work for the PCs' meeting with Myriana. If the party decides to fight her, or angers her in a way that causes her to attack, this is where you ought to consider a bit of restraint in pulling out the battlemat. She cannot be permanently destroyed, and would prefer not to kill any of the heroes herself, so I suggest running any such combat as a quick free-form encounter. If the PCs decide to destroy her, they ought to succeed in doing so. Though she is a creature of vengeance and capable of bending the swamp to her will, she isn't really a match for the adventurers if they work together to defeat her. However, if you feel it's appropriate given the specific circumstances of your game, you may get the chance to stop an overzealous PC in his tracks with her gaze. If this happens you can play it as a bargaining chip against them - it illustrates that Myriana has power, and that she might become a real threat to any nearby civilization if she isn't appeased.

Assuming the party eventually agrees to retrieve Lamatar's corpse, give them a major quest to reflect their task.

Into Whitewillow

As the PCs begin to explore Whitewillow, they are set upon by a band of harpies, led by an undead harpy they continue to revere and obey in its current state. In addition, the dead pools described in the original adventure make an appearance here as a pair of haunted hazards. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 4,200 xp (Level 13 Encounter)

The dead pools each occupy a 10-foot by 10-foot space, and should be placed with some distance between them. In all likelihood, combat will gravitate towards one or the other, but that doesn't mean that both won't see action in this encounter.

The ghost harpy is the star of the show here. She uses her spirit call as often as possible to draw multiple PCs to the dead pools, organizing them adjacent to the pool itself in order to maximize its impact. The other harpies run interference, fending off melee characters as necessary.

Stat block:

The Haunted Heart

As the PCs are lured to Whitewillow, you have a couple decisions to make. There are a number of suggestions in the original adventure on how to drive home the idea that this area of the Shimmerglens is fundamentally wrong. The author advises putting away the battlemat for this portion of the adventure. At the same time, I think it would be a shame to pass up the chance at some ghostly combat in the middle of a corrupted swamp, so I'm setting a single combat encounter on the way in, and a single encounter on the way out. If you want to maintain an extended period of map-free roleplaying, run the combat encounter on the way in before anything else in Whitewillow.

I advise against using the ghostly revels as a hazard for the PCs. Describe it in as much detail as you wish, and perhaps mention that the PCs feel deathly cold as the spirits pass through them. If you feel like it's necessary to threaten them with getting caught in their path, an attack against Will (at +14) targeting each PC which drains a healing surge on a hit should suffice.

The mysterious derelict holds the book of music (now worth 6,500 gold pieces) and the goblet (now worth 500 gold pieces). Together these are treasure parcels 5, 6 and 8 from level 10.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tangent: One Year

As of this past Friday, Tales from the Rusty Dragon is now a full year old! I'd like to give a huge thank you to everyone who has followed the project, made suggestions, pointed out issues, spread word of mouth or run the converted adventures for their own groups! Hopefully by this time next year I will be finished with or nearing completion of the entire Rise of the Runelords adventure path.

Though not necessarily related to hitting the one year mark, I have decided to convert D2: Seven Swords of Sin to 4th Edition. This will happen concurrently with the ongoing Rise of the Runelords conversion. I'm not sure when that project will start, or in what format it will appear (though there will definitely be a compiled conversion PDF), but when I do have more to share I'll post it here. Seven Swords of Sin is a solid one-shot dungeon crawl adventure that happens to explore a couple facets of the campaign lore touched upon in Rise of the Runelords.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tangent: Curse of the Crimson Throne and Legacy of Fire

It's been a slow couple of weeks as I try and gather my regular group together over the summer. I have some material ready to go, but I'd like to run as much of it by my group as possible before I publish it to the blog. As soon as that happens, there will be a sizable update.

A couple of other enthusiasts have started their own conversion projects. John (Tales from the Three Rings Tavern) began his Curse of the Crimson Throne conversion blog this last month, and Craig (Blog Under a Wanderin' Star) has started in on the first adventure of the Legacy of Fire adventure path. It's fantastic to see others try their hand at this sort of thing, and I'll be following both projects closely.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tangent: Playing Revenants in Pathfinder

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of posts containing advice for integrating 4th Edition races into the Pathfinder universe. While I personally have never encountered a problem with accommodating a player who wants to try out a race that isn't outlined in the campaign guide, I understand that others might have players who want to understand more about where they came from, and who would rather not work out the details of their race's background themselves.

My strongest advice when faced with a player who wants to try a new race out is to let the player decide what that race's place in Golarion ought to be. Not only does this save you, the DM, the effort of coming up with yet another history, but it invests the player even further in his character. Of course, this assumes the player is willing to write the history of his character's race. Not everyone is up to that challenge. If that turns out to be the case, don't penalize the player by preventing him from playing the character he wants to play. Either come up with a history yourself, or hand-wave it and run with the assumption that the character is just another odd creature in a world populated by odd creatures. Over time, as the game plays out, the race's backstory will begin to naturally develop as the character becomes more fleshed-out.

If you take the above approach, you don't really need any of the advice that follows. Your game's world doesn't exist beyond your own table, so if it works for your group then you're doing just fine. If you're hunting for inspiration or aren't too concerned about tailoring a race's history to your particular campaign, considering some of the suggestions that follow.

Revenants are a new, D&D Insider exclusive player character race. In the core D&D 4th Edition mythology, they are servants of the Raven Queen, reincarnated into a half-living embodiment of her will. They have vague memories and flashbacks from their previous lives, but they owe their current existence to divine intervention, and have a new purpose.

Revenants in Pathfinder are undead created when a humanoid is murdered and an undying need for revenge remains. They are animated to enact this vengeance, and ceaselessly pursue their killer until they are destroyed or the one who wronged them is dead.

The question that needs to be resolved is how these two similar but distinct conceptions of revenants can be reconciled with one another to create a version well-suited as a player character race. I'll be outlining some suggestions on how to accomplish this.

First, it's clear that simply taking the Pathfinder revenant mythology and applying it to the revenant 4th Edition race will not produce a suitable PC. Not only are revenants incredibly single-minded (and thus ill-suited to working with a party unless the party also happens to be single-minded in its pursuit of the revenant's killer), but they cease to exist once their only goal has been accomplished. The revenant entry in The Skinsaw Murders includes advice on revenant PCs, but it's clear that the advice in question is intended to apply to a PC who would be extremely limited in action and involvement in the campaign.

Here are a couple ideas (select one of the following, or combine bits and pieces of different choices to create your own envisioning of revenants):

  • Revenants work as explained in The Skinsaw Murders...usually. Occasionally, Calistria sees fit to allow a particularly motivated revenant to continue its unlife past the death of its quarry. In such a case, the revenant's existence before its murderer's death is a kind of initiation into its new place in the universe. Following its killer's death, the revenant undergoes a final transformation into a half-living being. Though it still has a drive for vengeance and ties to its former life, its purpose can be much more diffuse - perhaps targeting a religion, kingdom or other organization rather than a specific individual. Within the framework of Rise of the Runelords, for instance, a PC revenant might find itself driven to pursue the larger forces at work in the campaign if those forces had a hand in manipulating the PC's killer to commit its crimes. These PCs might not understand why they continue to exist, or even who they are destined to hunt, but such creatures are driven by curiousity to discover these things.
  • PC revenants are not the same creatures as the revenant monster outlined in The Skinsaw Murders. Though many mistake them for the same (due to the confused nature of rumors surrounding revenants, and their superficial similarities), they are distinct, fundamentally different sorts of undead. While true revenants (the revenant monster) are revenge-loving hunters, the revenant race has a (mostly) free will. If you use this suggestion, revenant PCs work almost exactly as explained in the Playing Revenants D&D Insider article, except where you will need to substitute certain campaign-specific information (the Raven Queen doesn't have a hand in Pathfinder's revenants, for instance). Including Pharasma in your revenant's background has a lot of potential story material to work with; though she opposes undead, revenants represent a grey area between life and unlife - the creation of a revenant is equal parts death, birth, and animation. Their potential as tools of fate and prophecy might entice her to create one occasionally to maintain the proper order of things.
If you include revenants in your Rise of the Runelords 4th Edition campaign, here are a couple ideas for potential backgrounds:

  • The PC was one of Chopper's victims during the Late Unpleasantness. After Chopper killed himself, the PC discovered that his purpose lay elsewhere - his true enemy is the unseen influence of powerful forces that drove Stoot to his madness. The PC might be the infamous "ghost of Chopper" who supposedly haunts Chopper's Isle.
  • Pharasma, acting on foreknowledge of Mokmurian's actions and the deaths that would result from his bringing about Karzoug's return, brought the PC into being in order to ensure that the runelord's ultimate fate is realized. Each time the PC spies the Sihedron rune, an inkling of purpose or guidance tickles the back of his thoughts.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Burnt Offerings Conversion PDF v0.5

I missed the Runewell of Wrath skill challenge when I went through the first time and updated the skill challenges to the stat block format. It is now fixed and slightly revised. I also changed Malfeshnekor to be more in-line with the Barghest presentation in the Monster Manual 2.

Burnt Offerings Conversion v0.5

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

C16 (Infernal Engines)

This is now the location of a critical skill challenge. Turtleback Ferry's survival hinges upon the party's ability to get the dam operating properly once more.

As in the original adventure, Avaxial is too weak to pose a threat. If the party decides to slay him, they do so without difficulty.

Skill Challenge: Powering Skull's Crossing

Setup: The process that operates the dam operates very similarly to a skill challenge now. Like some rituals, its use requires a supply of healing surges. If more power is needed than the creatures in the circle provide, it saps their life energy, weakening and potentially killing them. The mortal danger involved in participating in the ritual is more severe than it was in the original adventure - instead of simply losing a level, the PC could be killed outright. Their own investigations and Avaxial can provide some insight into how to operate the dam with some degree of protection, though.

Stat block:

Apologies for the compressed nature of the skill challenge stat block. Blogger doesn't like images that long. It'll look just fine when I release the compiled conversion document.

Monday, June 1, 2009

C13 - C15 (Observation Pool)

Grazuul is a solo threat. My scrag design is merely a re-tooled troll incorporating some close powers stolen from another creature. Take heavy advantage of the water - if things look particularly bad for Grazuul, consider having him leap into the water to spend some time regenerating. He has the advantage over the party in an aquatic environment. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 2,500 xp (Level 10 Encounter)

If he does manage to put an enemy to sleep, he is better off not spending a standard action attempting a coup de grace. A sleeping PC (ideally the party's defender) is best left alone so that Grazuul can go after some of the easier targets hanging back.

Treasure parcels 2 and 4 from level 10 can be found in these areas, whether on Grazuul, underwater, or in one of the side rooms.

Stat block:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Skinsaw Murders Conversion PDF v0.1

Apologies for my tardiness in posting the last week's update. I'll publish those posts as soon as I'm able. In the meanwhile, I've put together all of the material from my conversion of The Skinsaw Murders into another compiled PDF like the one posted here for Burnt Offerings. It's a first draft, of course, but take a look at it anyway and let me know if you find anything that needs to be changed.

The Skinsaw Murders Conversion v0.1

Monday, May 18, 2009

C7 - C12 (Skull's Watch)

The trolls have bunkered down within Skull's Watch. They leap into battle as soon as someone enters the room. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 2,600 xp (Level 10 Encounter)

The trolls are a versatile bunch, and they know their strengths. They keep as close as possible to each other in order to maintain their regeneration while under attack. If someone begins consistently using fire or acid attacks, the trolls unite their efforts to bring that character down.

You should consider increasing the size of area C7 to provide more room for the fight to play out in. Making the room a couple squares wider and longer ought to do the trick just fine.

Area C9 contains the following treasure: the cracked emerald worth 400 gold pieces, the behir comb worth 900 gold pieces (both together treasure parcels 9 and 10 from level 10), and treasure parcel 3 from level 10.

C6 (Ogre Demolition Crew)

The exhausted ogres here are simply minions. Their weary state has weakened their resolve to the point where they shouldn't pose more than a passing threat to the party. Make each of their deaths appropriately dramatic, though - send them tumbling over either side of the dam when they die, for instance. Malugus, on the other hand, is itching for a fight. He charges the party eagerly and represents the most significant threat of this encounter. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • Malugus Kreeg (Ogre Warhulk)
  • 10 Ogre Thugs
Total: 2,700 xp (Level 10 Encounter)

Monday, May 11, 2009

C1 - C5 (Gorger and Chaw's Lair)

Gorger and Chaw now keeps a pet dire bear. It will be difficult for the party to enter this cave without being heard by its occupants, so surprise shouldn't be an issue unless the party is employing special means of entering undetected. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • Gorger and Chaw (Ettin Spirit-Talker)
  • 1 Dire Bear
Total: 2,600 xp (Level 10 Encounter)

Consider perching the bear just behind the lip of the cliff the party must climb up to enter the cave. Its reach allows it to make opportunity attacks on opponents who pull themselves up onto the ledge. Gorger and Chaw can do the same, if he feels it's safe to engage them in melee. He uses his Spirit Call to send enemies flying off the small cliff, hoping to deal falling damage and forcing them to climb back up in order to continue fighting.

The ettin's treasure consists of the following: six 100 gold piece pearls, the scroll tube worth 300 gold pieces, two ritual books and two ritual scrolls (two 9th level and two 10th level - tailor these to the party, but good suggestions include Detect Treasure, Magic Map, Consult Mystic Sages, Detect Object and Chameleon's Cloak), and 1,000 gold pieces worth of coin. All of this treasure makes up treasure parcels 5 and 7 from level 9, and treasure parcel 7 from level 10.

Skull's Crossing

When the party is asked to go investigate Skull's Crossing, provide them with a major quest to prevent Turtleback Ferry's destruction.

Quest card:

Black Magga Rises

I didn't pull any punches when designing the Mother of Oblivion. She's an epic tier solo monster, with everything that entails. The party should not be capable of beating her. Impress upon the party that the monster is terrifying; make it clear that winning in a straight-up fight is probably impossible. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 2,000 xp (Level 10 Encounter, experienced reduced to account for the length of combat)

Black Magga has three rounds of actions to spend in combat before making her departure. Her first action after being engaged is to use Breath of Madness. The following round she uses Bloodfury and Agents of Oblivion if enough targets are within range, and on the third round she spends an action point to use bloodfury twice. Until she retreats, she should never move away from the church.

If Black Magga is ever without a PC to attack within her reach, she spends her turn using Bloodfury on a number of those helping the elderly and sick within the church. She thrusts her extradimensional tentacles through the walls of the church and kills four of the people inside. The PCs probably can't see what's happening inside the church, so describe the massacre as a number of sickeningly loud thumps coming from within as Black Magga slams their lifeless bodies against the walls.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Burnt Offerings Conversion PDF v0.3

Another update to the compiled conversion document.

This one fixed a couple of minor discrepencies, changed the column layout slightly so that the document is easier to read, and (the biggest addition) revamped all the skill challenges using the skill challenge stat block format featured in the SRD. Skill challenges should now be easy to understand and run.

A note going forward: posts made to the blog should be considered rough drafts. While every post here goes through a revision process before it even gets published to the blog in the first place, they are far from finalized. The compiled PDF of the adventure conversion should always be considered the most up-to-date source.

This update clears the table of things I wanted to change about the first adventure's conversion. With that template established, I'm going to be moving onto publishing a compiled document of The Skinsaw Murders (as well as proceeding with the conversion of The Hook Mountain Massacre as normal). With luck, the second adventure's conversion should see the light of day before I'm finished with The Hook Mountain Massacre.

Edit: This post is now out of date. I have released another update to the Burnt Offerings PDF because I missed the Meditation Chamber skill challenge when I went through and revised them before putting up the previous update.

Version 0.4 of the Burnt Offerings compiled conversion document can be found here.

Edit 2: This post is now doubly out of date. Version 0.5 of the Burnt Offerings compiled conversion document (found here) is the most recent.

Saving the School Children

This point in the story is ripe for a skill challenge. A giant turtle-shell ferry trapped up against the side of a building in the middle of a raging flood with children in mortal peril while aquatic beasts threaten to eat everyone is just totally awesome. I included two different creatures to complicate the encounter. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

Total: 2,800 xp (Level 11 Encounter)

The skill challenge will often cause one of the beasts to be marked by the PCs. This is to encourage the party to feel as though they are luring the monsters away from the children as they work to rescue them. This is a good place to encourage unorthodox thinking to solve the skill challenge. Reward creative solutions with automatic successes on the challenge.

Black Magga enters the scene when the skill challenge is complete, or when the monsters in this encounter look like they're about to be slain.

Stat block: