Dragon!

People were finally able to drag themselves away from their computers. So we managed to have another session. And there was much rejoicing.

We sort of had two activities for this session:

  • Founding a new settlement, Harborjoy, on the very border of the hex containing encounter J. We fudged the hex borders a bit, but nothing major. My players also talked about actually having a canal dug from the river to the actual settlement.
    This settlement is intended to open the way for trade between House Lebeda and Carchost. I think someone also mentioned looking for Drelev, but I’m not actually sure. However, getting involved in trade on the Hooktounge or the East Sellen River, will lead to contact with Fort Drelev. Which is fine, but I’m not really there yet. So I pushed for the other activity for the evening.
  • The King of the Forest. By now, the party are rather more capable than they were the last time I thought about introducing the King of the Forest. So I went for it.
    It turns out that a level 10 party absolutely can defeat an adult Green Dragon. Especially when they get to prepare a little bit (so that they can get a lot of Acid Resistance set up!). Having a paladin helps mind you, even more so when said paladin maxes Charisma. Not having to deal with a whole lot of other encounters in the same day helps too.
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Yeah…

We had another missed session. 😦

I’d planned to post about what had happened with Carchost itself. … and I’ve messed up my notes. Sorry.

The short version is that:
They built a palace in Tuskfort and claimed the plains between the northern Narlmarches and the East Sellen River. This was the area explored via edict a while ago.
Here they built a small settlement with a Stockyard and little else, for consumption purposes.
Calling the place “Tumbleweed” didn’t exactly scream “High Priority”, did it now?

And… we cheated. But since I was the DM and I underwrote it, it wasn’t really cheating, right?

There’s a hex that never fully touches the East Sellen River. I think it’s the sixth hex west of the hex containing Olegton (Oleg’s Trading Post). We extended it west just a little bit, to actually make contact with the river in the south-west corner. Why? Because my players wanted that sweet river access – and access to House Lebeda.

Of course, knowing (as I did) what was to come – both with the absorbation of Varnhold and with the comming of Drelev’s army, I saw this as the perfect opportunity.

Skranitish

The re-skinned fiend that I’d build from an Advanced Fiendish Giant Troll mentioned recently:

CR 8
Chaotic evil Huge Outsider (Chaotic, Evil)
Init +4; Senses Darkvision 60, Darkvision 60ft, Low-light Vision, Scent; Perception +13
DEFENSE
AC 20, Touch 13, flat footed 16
(+4 Dex, +8 Natural, -2 size)
hp 87 (6d8+60);Regeneration 5 (acid or fire)

Fort +13, Ref +6, Will +5
Damage reduction 5/ good, Resistance to cold and fire 10, Spell Resistance 11

OFFENSE
Speed 30
Melee
Single Attack: Claw +11 (1d8+9)
Full Attack
2 Claw +11 (1d8+9),
Bite +11 (1d10+9)
Space 15ft.; Reach 15
Special Attacks
Smite good 1 per day add +6 damage,
Rend
STATISTICS
Str 29, Dex 16, Con 31, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 10
Feats
Intimidating Prowess: Add STR mod to CHA mod for intimidation check,
Iron Will: +2 on will saves,
Skill Focus (Perception): +3 perception
Skills: Intimidate 18, Perception 13

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Rend:If it hits with two or more natural attacks in 1 round, a creature with the rend special attack can cause tremendous damage by latching onto the opponens body and tearing flesh. This attack deals an additional amount of damage, but no more than once per round. The type of attacks that must hit and the additional damage are included in the creatures description. The additional damage is usually equal to the damage caused by one of the attacks plus 1-1/2 times the creatures Strength bonus.

Scent: See Bestiary.

… Something might be wrong here, but those are the stats I used …

Varnhold Vanishing – V – part 4

I advanced Vordakai.

WW, p. 50 explicitly explains how the “Atrophied Lich” means that “In Vordakai’s case, his effective wizard level has
declined from 20th to 9th. Note that these are not negative
levels—Vordakai must earn back the lost XP normally.
“.
I’d considered actually tracking XPs for whatever havoc Vordakai inflicted. But in the end – with the density of our gaming situation (all of VV in a single extended session) meant that I had to give that up. Not a chance that was happening.
So I winged it. As best I could.

Giving the big V level 10 wasn’t actually a big deal. Yeah, sure – a level always matters, and level 10 as a wizard even provides an extra Feat (or a Discovery). But that’s small potatoes compared to Level 11, granting access to level 6 spells!

Now, I’m not exactly terribly experienced with playing Arcane casters in Pathfinder. And I’ve only played characters with access to higher level spells.
Now, I know that 6th level wizard spells have some nasty Save-or-Die spells. But what I was actually looking for, was Planar Binding, since it had quickly become apparent that the Lesser version just didn’t do it (ref: Are Paladins OP?).

I even considered giving him a version of the Soul Drinker prestige class (version 1 or 2. Of these two, version 1 (the older one) would have required the lesser re-working of big V as written.

Either way, I decided against it, because at least half of the reason I was even considering this whole level of extra complications, was access to level 6 spells, such as Planar Binding and Create Undead, and making him a Soul Drinker would delay that.

In the end, it mattered a good bit during the “Scry’n’Fry”-periode af the scenario. But once the PCs actually faced Vordakai, it mattered little.
Probably because I’m not experienced enough using high-level or arcane magic.
It really just turned into about 12 extra XPs, which meant next to nothing.

Varnhold Vanishing – V – part 3

This is mostly a collection of random stuff and thoughts. Sorry.


Was I worried about Vordakai being a Lich and as such having DR 15/bludgeoning and magic? Not in the least!
The party’s main damage dealers are Lucerne and (perhaps even more so) Darvan. But!

  • Lucerne are always using her hammer. Or, her appropriate hammer by now. So that’s always a magical bludgeoning weapon. And by the time they got to actually fight Vordakai, she had a Hammer with Bane(Undead). Which worked quite well.
  • Darvan, being a paladin, simply used Smite Evil, which says that:
    Regardless of the target, smite evil attacks automatically bypass any DR the creature might possess.

So yeah.


I’ve mentioned that I’d given Vordakai access to Lesser Planar Binding. But 6 HD monsters aren’t much of a threat to a level 7+ party. So how to fix that? How about templates?
In particular, I’ve had some fun with Skranitish, a re-skinned fiend that I’d build from an Advanced Fiendish Giant Troll. 6 HD, CR 8. Of course, I had to change his Type to Outsider – which for some reason Fiendish doesn’t. :-/
Also: Venedaemons.


But that still didn’t fully do it. So I had to think of something else. And I did.

Varnhold Vanishing – V – part 2

I was essentially turning Vordakai from an undead coach potato to an aggressive “Scry’n’Fry” – or at least “Scry and call over some ‘friends'” – style alpha villain.

Vordakai – the big V – is a cyclops, a level 9 necromancer* wizard, and an atrophied Lich. That’s not nothing!.
Still, I decided to give him the magical knack trait. As a cyclops, Vordakai’s HD is obviously 10 greater than his wizard level, at least.

I had a bit of a hard time deciding on necromantic spells for Vordakai’s expanded spellbook. He’s a necromancer, so obviously there should be some necromancy in there. But more specifically than that? Some of my thoughts included:

  • Possess Object or Magic Jar – a pair of amazing spells, especially for a “Scry’n’Fry”-style character, who jumps in, wrecks as much havoc as possible, and jumps out. With his “soul” in a foreign host, that character can continue for even longer, because “If the host body is slain, you return to the magic jar, if within range, and the life force of the host departs (it is dead). If the host body is slain beyond the range of the spell, both you and the host die. Any life force with nowhere to go is treated as slain.” Something like this would have been my initial go-to spell for the big V, except he’s already a lich! So he already had something like this (perhaps even better!) build in. Or at least would have, if he hadn’t allowed himself to atrophy (gaining the Atrophied template). More on that later.
  • There’s Torpid Reanimation. It’s essentially a conditional Animate Dead – meaning it can be an excellent trap. And Vordakai has plenty of bodies to use for animation as zombies! To quote: “One important bit that I forgot to consider with the larger Varnhold: where is Vordakai putting these thousands of bodies while he raises the army? I didn’t want them sitting out in the open, as that would have been a poor reveal for the players, and also make them easy targets for aerial fireballs. Shortly before this session, I hit upon the idea that, hey, they’re dead, they can just be in the water weighted down with rocks or something. Hidden in almost plain sight. But I had to distract the players from the river until I could I could pull off this more dramatic reveal.
    But Vordakai’s Caster Level is still only 11 (9 due to atrophy, +2 from magical knack), meaning he can control no more than (4×11=) 44 HD of animated corpses – 22 standard human zombies – and another 11 HD via his Power over Undead class feature. Still fun – it went into the book. 36 Zombies are not really much of a threat to a party by this level, but it makes for a nice trap, and can certainly cause some concern in a village or mine somewhere.
  • Then I found this little gem. Seeing how it’s maybe a bit too pirate-themed, and Vordakai is very cyclops-themed, I decided to re-skin it a bit.
    So instead of a hovering (but mostly non-descript) black spot above the target, I changed it into a single dark eye, staring evilly at the target.
    The perfect curse for the Ruler of Carchost! Infact, I made such good use of it, that at her 8th level Lucerne used her Alternate Favored Class Bonus to pick up Remove Curse. It went in the book as well.

* I clarified this to be the Undead subschool.