• Manual & Vault: Balhannoth

    This picture is from 3.5! Copyright 2006 Wizards of the Coast.

    The first of the Bs! The Balhannoth is a Large Aberrant Magical Beast (blind). “Blind” here is a keyword with some rules attached: blind creatures cannot be blinded (obviously!) and are immune to gaze attacks and other effects that rely on sight. They rely on special senses such as blindsight or tremorsense, but can’t make Perception checks beyond the range of these senses. I’d interpret that to mean they can’t make visual Perception checks.

    A level 13 elite lurker, the Balhannoth has a slug-like body that menaces with spikes, five clawed tentacles, and a huge eyeless maw for a face. I’m told they first appeared in the Monster Manual IV for 3.5, but this is my first personal contact with them. They’re only on the Monster Manual and have no Vault version.

    The Lore

    There isn’t much here. Balhannoths are indiscriminate ambush predators who live in the Underdark. Barely sapient at Int 3, they understand Deep Speech and are Chaotic Evil. Balhannoths might tail their chosen prey for hours, waiting for the best moment to strike.

    The evil worm-things rarely associate with others of their own species (except perhaps to reproduce), but sometimes they can be trained to obey commands by other sapients. Telepathic creatures have an easier time of it and can “tame” captured adults. Non-telepathic trainers must train a balhannoth from birth if they are to have any hope of success.

    In short, they’re pretty much tailor-made mind flayer pets, and would likely be used like guard dogs and advance forces during a raid. The flayers get the brains, the balhannoths get the rest.

    The Numbers

    Being blind, balhannoths are immune to gaze attacks and illusions and have Blindsight 10 from ESP. They’re relatively slow at Speed 4, but with spider climb they can pretty much move in three dimensions inside the Underdark. Their main mode of movement, though, is the Reality Shift, a type of teleportation that twists the surrounding space and has a 10 square range.

    When balhannoths teleport, anyone standing next to them at the point of departure is dazed, and anyone next to them at the point of arrival grants combat advantage for a turn. They attack with tentacles, and can whip those tentacles around to hit everyone on a Close Burst 3 around them and slide anyone their hit freely within this area of effect. They also do increased damage against targets granting CA and can become invisible at will.

    So yeah, this is how they hunt. They’ll sense you through walls using blindsense, teleport to the middle of the party while invisible, and use Tentacle Whip to hurt everyone and ruin your marching order. Then they’ll teleport away and do it again.

    The suggested encounters are level 13: 1 balhannoth and 3 grimlock berserkers, or 1 balhannoth and four kuo-toa. The first are likely all servants of a mind flayer, the others had to train their pet ninja slug the hard way.

    Final Impression

    There’s not much there lore-wise, but I found the mechanics pretty cool. The concept of a teleporting ninja slug has a certain something to it. Level them up to 17 and they’d make good aboleth pets too.

  • Where I Read the 4e Monster Manual: Azer

    Copyright 2008 Wizards of the Coast

    To close out the As, we have another classic, the Azer. I remember them from D&D 3.5 as basically dwarves that are on fire. Here we get a tiny bit more background tying them to the Fourth edition cosmology.

    The Lore

    Way back at the dawn of time, dwarves were all slaves to the giants. Eventually they rebelled against their masters and escaped into the world, where they would proceed to build their own civilization. Well, most of them did.

    Those that stayed behind were mutated by fire giants and transformed into azer. Some of those broke free later, but some remain enslaved as laborers and guards. So if you’re raiding the castle of the fire giant king, you’re going to run into troops of azer before you start seeing giants. They’re Unaligned and about as intelligent as regular dwarves, so you might be able to negotiate with them and foment rebellion.

    Azer don’t have a Monster Vault counterpart.

    The Numbers

    As inhabitants of the Elemental Chaos, 4e Azer are paragon-tier opponents. We get several stat blocks for them here. The signature Azer traits are Resist Fire 30 and Warding Flame: each enemy that starts their turn adjacent to 2 or more azer takes 5 fire damage. They are not particularly vulnerable to cold.

    The Azer Warrior is a Level 17 Minion, useful for padding out encounters involving fire giants or azer regulars. They attack with warhammers that do fire damage and a tiny bit of ongoing fire damage.

    The Azer Foot Soldier is a regular version of the warrior, a Level 14 Soldier with 141 HP. his equipment and attack (singular) are pretty much identical to the Warrior’s, aside from having normal rolled damage for their level.

    The Azer Rager is a totally metal Level 15 Brute who has 181 HP. She attacks with gauntlets that menace with spikes of fire (and cause ongoing fire damage). When bloodied, she can call upon Chains of Flame, which cause fire damage in a Close Burst 5 around her and immobilize enemies who were already on fire from other attacks.

    The Azer Taskmaster is a Level 17 Controller (Leader) attacks with a scourge that menaces with spikes of fire (and does a mix of physical and fire damage). Once per turn it can cause a nearby enemy who just took fire damage from any source to also take ongoing fire damage. This guy is probably an exception to the negotiation bit - he likely gets special privileges in exchange for keeping the other azer in line.

    The Azer Beastlord is a Level 17 Soldier (Leader) or, in other words, a hellhound wrangler. His basic attack is a battleaxe that mixes physical and fire damage, and marks on a hit. The real attraction here are his other powers, though. He can make an allied elemental beast recharge one of its encounter or daily powers as an at-will minor action, and once per encounter he can hand out a free attack to every allied elemental beast who can see him and is flanking an enemy.

    The suggested encounters are:

    • Level 14: One pair of azer footsoldiers and one pair of salamanders. These poor sods escaped the fire giants only to be enslaved by salamanders.

    • Level 15: 6 warriors, 2 ragers, and one immolith demon. These poor sods have it even worse.

    • Level 17: One taskmaster, one beastlord, 8 warriors and 1 firebred hellhound. These could be free azer! You should totally swap the warriors for another 2 hellhounds.

    Final Impressions

    Dwarves on fire! The foot soldier is a bag of HP with a single melee attack, so it’s quite boring on its own. The others are a bit more interesting, though I feel like the taskmaster should have a ranged attack of some sort. In fact, the azer lineup in this book is very lacking in ranged firepower, so they need some external artillery support. They also suffer from the classic “fire monster in a fire dungeon” problem, where any smart party will prepare themselves to resist much of their damage.

    The most fun of the lot is definitely the Beastlord, particularly when associated with a pack of hellhounds or even other, non-fire elemental beasts.

    If your previous exposure to Azer was the low-level stat block in the 3.x monster manual, seeing them as mid-to-late paragon tier creatures might be a bit jarring. Their abilities are simple enough that you could comfortably reduce their level by 10 or so to make them appropriate for heroic tier games without changing what they do in combat.

  • Where I Read the 4e Monster Manual: Archons

    Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast

    Like Angels, Archons in 4e are significantly different from the monsters bearing the same name in earlier editions. In most of those they used to be Lawful Good angels, but here they are elemental creatures who made up the bulk of the Primordial armies during their war with the gods.

    Back at the start of the Dawn War, the Primordials primarily used giants and titanic elemental beasts against the gods. These were powerful but few in number, and so effectiveness against the countless angels and exarchs of the divine host was limited. Eventually the Primordials would learn to forge archons from “raw” elementals, putting both sides on a more even footing.

    Archons are militaristic and well-versed in tactics despite being Chaotic Evil, which can easily be explained by two important traits of 4e’s alignment system: 1) “chaos” here means ruin instead of randomness and 2) Chaotic Evil is the alignment of Team Primordial, and these beings are definitely still on Team Primordial. These days they can be found serving as muscle for a variety of similarly-disposed elemental beings, or protecting sites of importance to the imprisoned primordials.

    Like Angels, Archons are paragon-tier monsters. The Monster Manual presents fire and ice archons, but also says there are a bunch of other types. Earth and Air are obvious, but you also have more “exotic” types like Slime, Storm, and Crystal. A typical archon force is composed of a jumble of different archon types, though without strong leadership they’re prone to infighting.

    The Monster Vault text further stresses their leadership skill and tactical prowess, and pictures them as less prone to infighting than what the Monster Manual said. It contains four Archon stat blocks: Earth, Fire, Water and Ice.

    Archons generally look like humanoids sculpted out of their element, wearing fancy (and spiky) military gear.

    Fire Archons

    Fire Archons are quite fast at Speed 8, are immune to disease and poison, and have Resist 30 Fire. That last bit means you can theoretically pull a Dark Schneider on them and prove your awesomeness by killing them with fire. Also of note is the fact that none of them are particularly vulnerable to cold.

    Fire Archon Emberguard

    This dude is a Level 12 Brute clad in plate and wielding a greataxe. They have 151 HP and somewhat subpar non-armor defenses. They have an aura that causes fire damage to anyone adjacent to them. Their attacks appear to suffer from some editorial issues, as they’re even less accurate they than should be by the early monster math. In any case, they have a basic axe strike that does a combination of physical and fire damage with the High Crit property, and a Recharge 3-6 version that also causes ongoing fire damage.

    I addition to fixing their accuracy and damage, I’d suggest just adding the ongoing fire damage to their basic melee attack.

    Fire Archon Blazesteel

    These Level 19 Soldiers are the shock troopers of the primordial armies, and can also be found working for efreets and fire titans. They have 182 HP, and their Will is substantially weaker than their other defenses. Blazesteels (weird name) fight with flaming scimitars that deal physical and fire damage and mark enemies they hit. They don’t have any powers that exploit the mark, but they do get to make two attacks and deal extra fire damage against enemies that grant them combat advantage. This means they do well in a team that includes skirmishers who are good at flanking.

    Oh, and they blow up once bloodied and once again when dead, catching everyone in a Close Burst 2 in the ensuing conflagration and dealing ongoing fire damage.

    Fire Archon Ash Disciple

    The ash disciple is a Level 20 Artillery archon, who is a bit odd in that all its ranged attacks are encounter powers. There’s a Rain of Fire that deals ongoing damage (or half damage on a miss); a Flame Wave that pushes and deals 10 ongoing fire damage; and a Cinder Burst that blinds. It’s only at-will ability is a funky teleport that makes it appear out of a nearby fire creature (like another fire archon).

    Once its encounter powers are gone, the ash disciple will have to join the melee with its weak fists, and be content in the knowledge that it will blow up when it dies with an explosion similar to its Cinder Burst. This will happen fairly fast, because as an artillery monster the flame disciple has only 150 HP.

    I’d strongly consider adding an at-will single-target ranged attack to this monster.

    Monster Vault Fire Archon

    Being the sole fire archon in the Monster Vault, it doesn’t have a fancy name. It’s a level 13 skirmisher with 130HP and only Resist 20 fire, which leads me to think we can lower the resistance of the MM archons to that level. Also unlike the MM archons, this one is vulnerable to cold: taking cold damage prevents it from shifting for a turn.

    It attacks with a scimitar that does fire damage, can shift up to half its speed as a move action, and has a Blaze Step encounter power where it shifts its whole speed and leaves a trail of fire on the ground. This trail deals 10 fire damage to whoever crosses it and lasts until the end of the fight.

    I like this one. A simple monster that feels fiery and skirmisher-y.

    Ice Archons

    Like fire archons, but with ice. Speed 6 with ice walk, immune to disease and poison, and with Resist 30 to cold.

    Ice Archon Hailscourge

    A plate-clad icy ninja who hops around throwing ice shuriken. Level 16 artillery. It can throw two of those shuriken on its turn, or it can conjure a Recharge 5-6 hailstorm that has a variable area burst radius and does half damage on a miss. If a PC tries to tag it with a ranged, close, or area attack it can summon an ice shield once per encounter that will negate 20 damage from that attack.

    Simple but interesting. The only thing preventing it from being cool are the usual math issues and the archon-specific editing problems. Be sure to correct for those if you want to use it.

    Ice Archon Rimehammer

    A level 19 Soldier who fights like a Brute. His huge ice maul slows on a hit, and deals extra damage to slowed targets. Its most soldierly trait is an aura that freees the ground around it and makes it difficult terrain to enemies.

    I feel the rimehammer would work best as a brute, since its arsenal is pretty similar to that of the Aboleth Lasher, who is a brute. In fact I’d say the rimehammer is less dangerous than the lasher, despite being 2 levels higher.

    Ice Archon Frostshaper

    Like Elsa, but evil. A Level 20 Controller (Leader), it has a large aura that gives Regeneration 10 to any cold creature inside and turns the ground into difficult terrain for enemies. Its basic melee attack is an ice blade that does cold damage, and it throws ice javelins that slow for a turn. It also has an Icy Burst area attack that slows on a hit but still does half damage on a hit, and recharges whenever the frostshaper hits with a melee attack.

    This suggests its strategy should be to mostly fight in melee and use bursts to interfere with more distant fighting.

    Monster Vault Ice Archon

    This level 13 soldier has 135 HP, a cold resistance of only 20, and takes a -2 penalty to all defenses for a turn when hit with fire damage. It attacks with an mace that does cold damage on a hit and applies a mark to everyone within 2 squares whether it hits or not. If a marked enemy tries to flout the mark (i.e, make an attack that doesn’t include the archon as a target) it gets smacked with an attack that does cold damage and weakens.

    Now that’s a proper soldier monster.

    Other Monster Vault Archons

    Earth Archon

    This level 12 brute has 149 HP, earth walk, tremorsense, and is immune to petrification in addition to the usual disease and poison. If it takes thunder damage, it’s slowed for a turn.

    It attacks with a stone warhamer for Brute damage, and has a powerful Avalanche charge that does more damage and knocks the target prone even on a miss. This last one recharges once it’s bloodied.

    Water Archon

    A level 14 controller with 140 HP, a swim speed, and 20 acid resistance. It’s slowed for a turn if it takes cold damage.

    Its staff slows the target for a turn on a hit, and it also has an at-will Whirlpool power that can hit everyone on a Close Burst 3 and slide them up to 3 squares. It’s an hilarious way to mess up the party’s carefully orchestrated formation.

    Archon Encounters

    There’s only one Monster Manual section with suggested encounters for all archons. The general theme is “pair fire archons with other fire monsters” and “pair ice archons with other ice monsters”.

    I say it might be more interesting to mix up the elements, and have a mixed-archon force face the PCs. That way it will be harder for them to protect against all the types of elemental damage involved. The Monster Vault bears this out with its presentation of a multi-element sentai team of similar levels. There are no “suggested encounter” sections in the MV, but it’s obvious you’re supposed to meet all four of its archons together.

    Final Impressions

    I find archons to be serviceable minions of the Primordials in concept, but the Monster Manual batch seems to suffer from issues beyond those that can be explained by early monster math. All of their attacks are too inaccurate, and they generally work in a somewhat odd manner (like the ash disciple lacking an at-will ranged attack). I’m guessing these were some of the first monsters written for Fourth Edition.

    Comparing the archons from both books side by side makes the MM ones seem particularly janky, since the Monster Vault gives us a well-oiled elemental sentai team where each archon has a very simple stat block that nevertheless showcases what its role is supposed to be all about.

    The one thing I prefer in the MM archons is their lack of vulnerability to their opposiing element. It makes sense that they wouldn’t be vulnerable to each other if they’re meant to work together, and it lets you spring a little “gotcha” moment on PCs who think they’re clever for thinking fire pokemon are weak against ice.

  • So I've watched a bit of Critical Role...

    …and I gather it’s kind of a big deal. There’s quite a few “Actual Play” streams following the same format, and I’ve seen a few posts by different people commenting on how it brought a large influx of new players to the RPG hobby in general and to D&D in particular.

    The tone of these posts has varied. A couple were all about how the show sets somewhat unrealistic expectations on new players because the cast and game are so awesome. One, by a genuine scion of the Old School, went the other way and lamented that the hobby was truly damned if Critical Role is what Kids These Days consider a good game1.

    I guess I’m somewhere in the middle? I’ve been at this long enough to know every group is going to have its own style, and I’ve been burned by enough flame wars to accept that a given style isn’t bad because it’s different from mine.

    For example, I’ve come to accept that uncut videos of 5-hour game sessions aren’t my preferred medium for following other people’s games. Give me a well-written and well-summarized text report any day of the week! Still, the videos I did watch did provide me with at least one take-away I can use in my own games: do the voices!

    Sure, the Critical Role group is entirely composed of trained voice actors, but even if you’re not one of them you can still add a little something to every NPC. Perhaps a simple but distinctive mannerism, or a slight change in pitch. Tiny changes that anyone can do and which might be enough to make your characters more memorable. I used to do that a lot more in the past, and now that I see how effective it can be for people on the receiving end I’m going to start doing it again.

    If you’re a player, then you can do the same for your own PC. At the very least it will help others to know when you’re speaking in and out of character.

    Watching the videos themselves is kinda fun: you can see that this is a well-oiled group that has been playing for a while. They obviously enjoy each other’s company and are very much into the game. Watching them in action sometimes kinda makes me want to join the group, impossible though it might be. I don’t often get to be a player.

    I get why people say it feels railroaded, though I don’t necessarily agree with them. You’re watching a full game happen but have neither any input on how it develops, nor any access to the GM’s notes. There’s no real way to know how much material2 goes unused, nor how much is created between sessions or improvised on the spot in response to player’s decisions.

    Of course, my inner grognard can’t help but notice that while Matt Mercer is very skilled, he does have a different style from mine. I can’t help but think there are a few things I would do differently if I was in his position.

    The first is that when a PC attacks an enemy he describes everything himself, from the PC’s actions to the monster’s reaction. The only exception seems to be when a PC takes down a boss. Years of playing Exalted have hardwired me to always let players describe their own actions, thankyouverymuch.

    The second is that he interprets every hit in combat as resulting in physical wounds, which leads to some quite gory descriptions at times. Sometimes I actually start to pity some of the high-HP monsters they fight. I like systems such as GURPS or Dragon Heresy because they make a clearer distinction about what’s a wound and what isn’t.

    There’s a third thing, but you didn’t pass your Perception check for this paragraph so you don’t see it.

    In the end I guess I’ll probably resort to things like this recap site when I want to keep up with the Critical Role campaign. It’s not quite the same thing, but it does the job of conveying what happened in a session a lot faster.

    1. For of course there is only one correct way to play RPGs and it is the scion’s. 

    2. “Material” here includes those complicated 3D combat maps. 

  • Let's Read Hell's Rebels: Turn of the Torrent, Part III

    Welcome back to Let’s Read Hell’s Rebels! This post will cover Part 3 of the second adventure, Turn of the Torrent. Part 2 had the PCs help out Octavio Sabinus rescue his captured men, in addition to performing several other missions that improved the standing of the Ravens in the eyes of the population and rewarded them with favors from other groups.

    Following the format of the first adventure, in Part 3 we get back to a big ol’ dungeon raid. There’s not much direct opposition to Thrune here, but successfully clearing this place out will secure a bigger hideout for the Ravens, increasing the organization’s maximum power.

    Part 3: Lucky Bones

    The dungeon in question lies beneath the ruins of a gambling hall called the Lucky Bones. Thirty years ago, the Torrent Knights found out was a front for gang of thieves named the Grey Spiders. The Spiders worshipped Norgorber1 and were into a whole lot of bad stuff, from drug running to kidnapping to slavery.

    The gang assassinated the leader of the Order in an attempt to keep them at bay, but it backfired. The Knights raided the hideout and took the Grey Spiders down. Afterwards the Torrent’s new leader sealed the place up without further investigating it, an unorthodox decision. Turns out he and a few cronies intended to go back to the place at a later time and take all of the Spiders’ loot for themselves. They were found out and arrested for corruption before they could act on this plan, but the Order never unsealed the Lucky Bones out of shame for the whole episode. The casino has long become a ruin, but the complex beneath it remains sealed to this day.

    Lictor Octavio will share this story with the PCs if they get on his good side by completing the rescue mission without causing too much chaos.

    Lucky Bones: Overview

    The dungeon beneath the Lucky Bones is quite large and complicated when compared to the Fantasmagorium in Adventure 1. Pathfinder’s writing style is verbose and so am I, so I’ll take a page from Gygax’s manual of style and make an effort to condense things as much as possible here. It will still take multiple posts to cover the whole dungeon, but I hope you’ll end up with a fairly complete idea of what lies inside.

    Before describing the dungeon itself, the book gives us some background on the three former leaders of the Spiders: a tiefling sorcerer named Baccus, a halfling rogue named Lorelu, and a wererat cleric named Hei-Fen. The first two died during the raid, while Hei-Fen managed to escape to the neighboring city of Vyre. She still lives there and will make an appearance as a villain in the next adventure.

    The Lucky Bones consists of a surface building and two basements. The surface level holds nothing of interest. The upper basement actually consists of two “sub-levels”, separated by the Torrent seal. One is currently occupied by a cult of Mahatallah2 made up of changelings (who in Golarion are the children of hags and mortals, and not the shapeshifting people from Eberron). The other is behind the seal and haunted by the restless spirits of the people who died there.

    The lower basement is completely submerged. Its current occupants are a team of skum sent by an aboleth necromancer to spy on the city. They have several sort-of-tamed underwater monsters helping them out, and have captured a squad of sea elf rangers who came here to search for their missing ally Shensen3. There’s a magical pump in here that can be reactivated to drain most of the water, but doing so requires clearing the dungeon first. In other words: yay, underwater adventure!

    The PCs could learn about the Lucky Bones as soon as they complete the rescue mission from Part 2, which means Part 3 could happen concurrently with the other Part 2 missions.

    But before they go there, they might get ambushed!

    A Drunk in the Slums

    The leader of that changeling cult happens to be Luculla Gens, a regular of the Tooth and Nail tavern whom the PCs might have already met (she’s described in the same section that describes the tavern). Luculla frequents the place to fish for information and is likely to overhear any plans the party discusses in the tavern’s common room. If she overhears Octavio talking about the Lucky Bones or otherwise comes to think the PCs are a threat to her, she will send an assassin after them.

    The assassin is a Faceless Stalker named Maglap. Faceless Stalkers are like doppelgangers but stronger, with good grappling skills and a blood-draining attack they can use on people they’ve grappled. Maglap will approach the PCs looking like a drunken sailor and use the element of surprise to attack. Interrogating the stalker is only possible with some form of magical compulsion. He knows a few details about the cultist-occupied parts of the dungeon and about Luculla’s true identity.

    Learning about her early gives the party a XP bonus. Maglap also offers an alternative way for PCs to learn about the Lucky Bones if they manage to alienate Octavio.

    Lucky Bones: Surface

    The surface level of the Lucky Bones has nothing interesting in it. PCs can find a trail through the rubble with an easy perception roll, leading to a fireplace. That fireplace contains a secret passage that requires a very hard Perception check to find, though hearing the story of the raid from Octavio (or interrogating Maglap) gives a big enough bonus to make it easy. The passage leads into a sort of basement anteroom (C1) that’s filled with disgusting trash and guarded by three teenage mutant ninja othyugs. A trapped and locked door leads from here into the hideout proper.

    Lucky Bones: Cultist Hideout

    The Cultist Hideout occupies the southern half of the level 1 map. Ceilings here are 8 feet high on average. The walls drip with moisture, and the doors are all swollen with it. They no longer lock, and opening or closing them requires a Strength test. The changelings just leave them open all the time.

    This level is also completely riddled with secret doors, which are in much better condition. Spotting them from the concealed side is almost impossible, so the cultists don’t know most of them exist. They mostly link rooms that can be reached by more obvious paths, and will become a lot more useful when the PCs take over the place and have to defend it.

    There is pretty much no way to explore this place stealthily. The “brutal raid” approach is preferred, and the enemies here should certainly react as if that’s what the PCs are doing.

    C2. Living Quarters: Accessible from C1. Four cultists are lounging around and will immediately attack the PCs when they get here from C1. They’ll attempt to capture the PCs alive using wands of hold person and nets, and when one of them falls the rest will use potions of invisibility to run towards the temple in C8 and warn their mistress. Six other cultists are currently offsite - if the PCs retreat before clearing the hideout, those six will be recalled as reinforcements and they’ll barricade the door to C1.

    C3. Maglap’s Quarters: Accessible from C2. Pile of rags on the floor, lots of clothing (for disguises) hung on the walls. Among them is a cloak of the manta ray. If the party didn’t meet Maglap before, he will be here and will help the cultists on C2 in case of a fight.

    C4. Pit Trap: Accessible from C2. A 20-foot deep pit lined with shards of broken glass. The pit is open and obvious but the ledges around it will swing down 6 seconds after anyone steps on them, dropping victims into the pit. Hidden switches in the hallways to either side can be used to deactivate trap if found. A secret passage leads to the bottom of the pit in C13.

    C5. Guard Post: Accessible from C4. Elgadazum (advanced bearded devil) is bound to guard this place and is bored out of his beard. The devil will strike up a conversation with any PCs until they either attack him or try to open the door to C6 (from which muffled knocks and cries can be heard). Elgadazum warns Luculla telepathically when a fight starts and teleports to her when severely injured.

    C6. Cell: Accessible from C5. Two frightened teen boys await sacrifice here. Secret passage leads to C8. Rescuing the prisoners brings a XP reward and enhances popular support for the Ravens. Luculla and bodyguards will arrive here through the secret passage to move the prisoners to C9 30-60 seconds after Elgadazum runs away from C5, so the boss fight might happen in this cramped 10-by-15-foot room if the PCs linger here. Fun(TM)!

    C7. Sealed Door: Accessible from C4. Huge iron door, locked with a complex mechanical lock and an arcane ward. Leads to the Haunted Opium Den, which we’ll discuss next post.

    C8. Temple to Norgorber: Accessible from C4. Pillars, sacrificial altar, walls covered in creepy prayers. Luculla and two cultists work to rededicate this temple to Mahatallah. They will be joined by any survivors from the previous rooms for a last stand. If the party bypassed Elgadazum, he’ll likely teleport here after the fight has started.

    C9. Luculla’s Chambers: Accessible from C8. Glyph of warding trap on threshold. Cot with furs and feather mattress, desk full of books and scrolls. On the desk are also a basin made from a gold-plated skull and filled with unholy water, and a statuette of Mahatallah with a secret compartment containing a scroll of raise dead. The statuette also has some monetary value. If Luculla managed to move the prisoners without running into the PCs, they’re also here.

    Notes On Opposition and Treasure

    Each cultist is a Cleric 1/Rogue 2. They wear leather, fight with nets and their claws, and know a few minor healing and defensive spells. More dangerous are their magic items: each carries a wand of hold person with 10 charges and a potion of invisibility. For a GURPS conversion, you could start with the Skirmisher template and add the necessary Power Investiture and cleric spells, along with Sharp Claws and likely a bit more Striking ST.

    Elgadazum is a by-the-book Bearded Devil, with increased attributes. Generic Universal Eggplant has a version of that monster here, though it should probably be further beefed up for Dungeon Fantasy.

    Luculla is a level 7 cleric, wearing +1 protective gear (armor, ring of protection, cloak of resistance). She has a bunch of healing potions and a scroll of glyph of warding, which means she’ll set a trap if she knows the PCs are coming. She also wears a mundane but valuable ceremonial mask (which might be a power item in DF). Luculla is quite weak in melee, but her spell loadout includes summon monster IV along with a bunch of curses and healing spells. For Dungeon Fantasy, start with the Wizard template, replace Magery with Clerical Investment/Power Investiture and layer on as many curse-like spells as you can fit.

    Closing Thoughts

    Pathfinder characters are supposed to be about level 6 when they get here, and depending on how large the boss fight is they might need that scroll of raise dead right away. Dungeon Fantasy delvers are less likely to need it, though by now the fights should be getting challenging for them as well.

    Clearing the hideout in one run still leaves the six changeling cultists who weren’t there. The book doesn’t really say what happens to them. The way I see it, the most likely outcome is that the surviving cultists eventually figure out what happened and run away. They’ll either not be a problem anymore on this adventure, or might end up linking with other infernal-themed opposition further down the line. It’s not like there will be a lack of such groups in this adventure path.

    1. Golarion’s god of greed, murder, secrets and poison. 

    2. A demigod-level devil whose portfolio includes deception, thievery and undead. So like Norgorber, but a devil. 

    3. The opera singer who disappeared before Adventure 1. 

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