I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 16

October 30, 2019
I've been working on a couple different components of my adventure path at once: the pieces that are urban and focus on the devil activity. This is something of a side quest; the main thrust of the adventure path is about evil fey and demons, after all. But a devil-focused, urban, intrigue-based subplot allows players who really like that type of adventure to shine, and gives the whole adventure path some variety.

I've been specifically working on the 5th-level adventure (which introduces the cult of the "Red Crown," the primary devil scheming in this) and the 17th-level adventure (in which the heroes face Red Crown himself). Both have been very different, from an adventure design perspective. For the former adventure, I found I have too much content I wanted to jam into a single level, so I've expanded that a bit; look for my solution there in my next blog post, which will be extra long. For the latter adventure, I've found that I have not enough monsters to work with, and too few encounters to drive a whole level's worth of story.

I finally hit a place where I need to make up a new stat block, which should be something I can use at least a few times. It'll be a mortal follower of the Red Crown, and a powerful one--sort of a cleric type. I'll call them Red Tyrants, and they'll be the most senior devil cultists who come in to drown the city in evil and fire. But what level should a Red Tyrant be, to give me the most, best use?

My adventure is 17th level. A moderate encounter will be 2 of these Red Tyrants if the Red Tyrants are 17th level. But that maybe doesn't give me a lot of variety in encounters if the heroes are just fighting a pair of these over and over (you may note, from my adventure so far, that I'm trying hard to not duplicate any fights in this adventure path). If a Red Tyrant is 18th level, then I can pair one with a Level 15 creature for a moderate encounter, and I can use two Red Tyrants for one of my severe encounters. That seems pretty useful. What Level 15 creatures pair well? Demiliches! Ooh, that is visually awesome: a devil-worshipper with a gem-studded skull at the end of a chain, like a prisoner/damned soul/spellcasting ally. Level 18 it is. And since a demilich casts some powerful spells, my Red Tyrants should be less about spellcasting and more about melee combat. And have only a one-handed weapon, so they can hold the chain with the demilich at the end of it in the other hand. (...time passes...) And here it is: the Red Tyrant stat block I'll use a few times in my 17th-level adventure:

Red Tyrant                             Creature 18

Rare, LE, Medium, Human, Humanoid

Human diabolic executioner

Perception +29; greater darkvision

Languages Common, Infernal

Skills Acrobatics +30, Athletics +34 (+36 to Trip), Devil Lore +26, Intimidate +30, Religion +29, Society +26

Str +6, Dex +4, Con +3, Int +0, Wis +5, Cha +2

Items +1 striking composite longbow (40 arrows), +2 greater resilient full plate with a red crown design incorporated into the helm, +2 greater striking greater flaming temple sword

AC 42; Fort +33, Ref +27, Will +30

HP 335; Resistances fire 15

Tyrant’s Retort [reaction] Trigger A creature within the red tyrant’s reach critically misses with a melee Strike; Effect The red tyrant makes a melee Strike against the target. On a hit, the target is enfeebled 2 until the end of its next turn (enfeebled 4 on a critical hit).

Attack of Opportunity [reaction]

Speed 25 feet

Melee [one-action] temple sword +35 (magical, trip), Damage 3d8+16 slashing plus 1d6 fire plus tyrant’s smite

Ranged [one-action] composite longbow +35 (deadly d10, magical, propulsive, range increment 100 feet, reload 0, volley 30 feet), Damage 2d8+13 piercing

Divine Innate Spells DC 40; 9th divine wrath6th dominate (undead only); 2nd death knelldetect alignment (at will, chaotic or good only); Constant (9th) true seeing

Rituals DC 40; infernal pact

Crush the Fallen The red tyrant’s damage dice with its melee Strikes increase to d12 when making against prone targets.

Tyrant’s SmiteThe red tyrant’s melee Strikes cause wracking pain in good creatures, dealing an additional 2d10 persistent evil damage. If a red tyrant critically hits a good creature with a melee Strike, the target is slowed 1 for 1 minute.






 

Sparwell Lodge is Here!

October 25, 2019
My second Pathfinder Second Edition product with Rogue Genius Games is now out! You can get it right here. It's called the Ghosts of Sparwell Lodge, a haunted-house adventure for 4th level characters. This is a reworking of my Pathfinder 1st edition adventure Six Griffons Haunt (my first Run Amok Games product!), which is itself a reworking of a D&D 3.5 edition adventure I wrote called The Haunted House of bin-Khadij. Each time the adventure has grown and been refined a bit more, and I'm very...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 15

October 24, 2019
So, I've now got my first three adventures done, and they do sort of what I wanted when I outlined this; the heroes are getting their first taste of troubles, and relying on NPCs a lot (in particular, the scholar Gendal). I ended that by pointing to a place called the Wailing Grove, and someone named Nelthek Sharpleaf (which isn't a very viking-themed name, so I'm already planning to change it to Njoln).

Looking back at my outline, I see that levels 4 to 7 were the ones where I want the heroes...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 14

October 22, 2019
So, I've got the 1st level adventure, and I've got the 3rd level adventure. Now I need to connect them by filling in the 2nd level adventure. I look at how the first adventure ends (an arboreal has killed a duergar from the Wastingdeep Mine, the scholar Gendal is kidnapped) and how the third adventure begins (upon returning to Fallinghollow with Gendal, stuff happens) and see that the second adventure is about rescuing Gendal from duergars. That seems like a dungeon crawl to me, and having th...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 13

October 17, 2019
Last time, I presented the first adventure in the adventure path I'm writing. Today, I want to talk about how to end it. I haven't yet put this together, because I think it will depend a lot on how the 19th-level adventure goes, but I want to put down some thoughts about the 20th level finale of this campaign.

* It need not have 12 encounters. I've been building every chapter with 12 encounters to make sure there's enough experience for the heroes to level up for the following chapter. Since t...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 12

October 10, 2019
Okay! Here is the entire 1st level adventure. This is how the Heartwood Blight Adventure Path will kick off!

Chapter 1: Raiders of Fallinghollow (1st level)

The heroes all begin in the town of Fallinghollow, a small community in the Northfells of about 1,000 people. It’s best if the heroes have some connection to this town, such as by being from there, or having recently moved there. They might be connected to Headman Sigrir, the town’s efficient and no-nonsense mayor; Sheriff Arskej, who i...


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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 11

October 8, 2019
Now that I'm 11 posts into this project about writing an entire Pathfinder Second Edition adventure path, I'm ready to start! That is, I'm ready to take a look at how I'm going to design the first adventure, which will launch this adventure path right. The start of an adventure path needs to do these things:

* Establish the Theme. The way the adventure path feels should be established in the first adventure. If the adventure path is going to be a gritty, urban, noir theme, the first adventure ...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 10

October 3, 2019
Okay! Now that I've got some names I can plug in, let me finish up the 16th level chapter I outlined earlier. This is a bit long, 1,600 words rather than 1,500, but I can trim it up a bit when I ensure it's connected to the 15th level adventure that comes before it and the 17th level adventure that comes after it, which I already know is going to be an urban adventure culminating against the pit fiend Balzzevarian, which I set up here.

Chapter 16: Monastery of Frozen Stone (16th level)

The hero...


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Name Checks

October 1, 2019
I'm taking a quick step away from my lengthy blog series where I'm writing an entire adventure path to talk about names. More specifically, I'm talking about how you check them. Here's what I do, whether I'm writing something myself or developing an adventure for someone else. At some point near the end of the writing/development, you're going to want to run your document through a spellchecker. Have a Google window open at the same time. For each proper name you find, before hitting "Accept,...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 9

September 26, 2019

So I’ve been throwing out names as they come up (for example, the town in Chapter 3 is Fallinghollow), but I now want to be a little more definitive about this. What is the region going to be called? What will the towns be called? And, perhaps most importantly, what is the entire adventure path going to be called?

Naming adventure paths is hard. Here at Paizo, adventure paths are almost all my small team does, and all of us agree that finding a good, evocative name for an entire adventure pa...


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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 8

September 24, 2019
Let me get right to it: below is my entire 3rd level adventure for my adventure path! I'm 1/20th of the way done! It's right near 1,500 words, and therefore my target length. I dropped this text into my layout program (a free product called Scribus) and see that it's just a few lines shy of 3 pages. That seems perfect. Here it is!

Chapter 3: The Cat’s-Paw Deception (3rd)

The heroes returned the missing scholar Gendal to his home in Fallinghollow, but the forest town of Fallinghollow has troub...


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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 7

September 19, 2019
Every writer hits a point of "Oh, crap. Word count!" at some point. Sometimes it's that you're done with a project and don't know how to fill the rest of the words you've been assigned. Much more often, it's when you realize that you have many, many more words than your word count allots to you. This latter problem isn't so bad; it forces you to refine your presentation, picking only the best and clearest words. It's really hard to kill words, but being forced to do so makes for better projec...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 6

September 17, 2019
Last time in my series of posts about designing a whole Pathfinder Second Edition adventure path from scratch, I worked out a robust outline for the 3rd chapter, which amounts to an adventure for 3rd level characters that will get them to 4th level. I'm now doing the same for 16th level, because I wanted to jump into this for a low-level adventure and a high-level adventure.

The 16th-level thinking and ultimate outline is below. But I don't want to bury the takeaway of this exercise at the bot...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 5

September 12, 2019
Welcome back! My last post described one adventure in my adventure path, Cat's-Paw Deception, for 3rd-level characters. That outline isn't quite yet done, because the adventure doesn't yet have any treasure. Fortunately, the Pathfinder Core Rulebook makes choosing treasure easy. Page 509 provides that a 3rd-level adventure should give out a total of 500 gp of treasure. This breaks down as 2 Level 4 permanent items, 2 Level 3 permanent items, 2 Level 4 consumable items, 2 Level 3 consumable it...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 4

September 12, 2019
Okay! Enough of the overview planning and such. Let me tackle a couple of the 20 adventures in this adventure path (one level's worth of encounters) to see what that takes. I'll pick, semi-randomly, Level 3 and Level 16. This gives both a low and a high level, and both levels work fine in isolation--that is, I'm far enough away from the Level 1 start of the adventure path and the Level 20 conclusion of the adventure path that I don't need to worry quite so much about the details of the meta-p...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 3

September 9, 2019
I'm continuing the adventure path design! With a powerful villain now in play, it's time to think about lesser minions and lieutenants that will serve as the foes for lower levels, leading into the final fight against Treerazer. 

So let's think about sub-villains, and the foes the heroes will face at lower levels.

I've already boxed myself in a bit with my super-short word count, as I can't rely on lots of lengthy stat blocks for villains with class levels--or, as Pathfinder Second Edition uses...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 2

September 3, 2019
More planning for my adventure path! I'm not thinking at a high level about art and maps. These are both important to any product, but they require separate skills; people who can do both well are rare and should be treasured. They both have some wildly different costs.

Art comes in two general types for the third-party publisher: custom and stock. Custom art is made to your specifications, and is a lot more expensive. You'll get exactly what you need in art, and your art piece will be unique...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 1

August 29, 2019
I've had a lot to say about writing adventures, but I want to think a bit bigger. I'm going to write a Pathfinder Second Edition adventure path. Sort of. Over many posts. In this first post, I'll provide some thoughts about the framework. Later posts will get into the details. I hope talking through this is helpful for mapping out your own large RPG projects!

Let's think about scope. A Paizo-type adventure path is about 300 pages long. A hardcover campaign book for other systems would also be ...
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Things You Haven't Noticed About Pathfinder Second Edition

August 19, 2019
This blog is probably Part 1 of multiple parts, as I'm still learning the new edition, but here are a few things that weren't immediately obvious to me:

1) Touch spells don't require an attack roll unless they say so. In First Edition, any spell with a Range of "touch" required you make a touch attack roll against your foe to hit it. That's not the case now. Now, plenty of spells have a Range of "touch" but don't require any attack roll. The spell text says if it does. For example, chill touch...
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Mother of Monsters Super-Adventure for 5E D&D!

August 16, 2019
I've had the privilege of contributing adventures to an exciting upcoming product: an entire adventure path for 5E D&D called Mother of Monsters. This is a fantasy Greek-themed adventure path set in a vibrant world with a lot of adventure opportunity. It's Kickstarting now, and you can back it right here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zagoragames/mother-of-monsters-the-awakening-of-naehurdamia

Several things really impressed me from the beginning with the way Adrian set this up. He'd ob...
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Intrepid Heroes Take Flight!

August 15, 2019
I've done a LOT of gaming in my time, but I'm doing something totally new now. My Starfinder group--which recently finished Dead Suns to the great enjoyment of all--is starting up the Dawn of Flame adventure path. This time, though, we're podcasting it! You can check out our episodes at IntrepidHeroes.net. Each one is around 45 minutes to an hour long.

We're looking to fill a particular niche here: actual gamers at play. I've seen a lot of the "actual play" genre get overwhelmed with professio...
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RIP Blake Wilkie

August 14, 2019
I just learned that one of the artists I used for several Run Amok Games products, Blake Wilkie, passed away yesterday. The look of Run Amok Games products wouldn't be the same without Blake, and I regret I didn't have the opportunity to express my appreciation before his passing. My favorite cover art he did for me was the cover of The Underdelve Menace, but his distinctive comic-book style shows up a lot. RIP Blake.
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How I Redeemed Lawyers

August 9, 2019
Here's a quick story about my hand in the creation of Pathfinder Second Edition.

There are a lot of backgrounds in the book. Backgrounds give you, among other things, training in a skill and a specific skill feat. These skill feats map to the skills: you might get the Medicine skill and the Battle Medic feat, but the background shouldn't grant a mismatch between a skill and a skill feat. In reviewing the backgrounds, though, I noticed precisely one mismatch: the Barrister background gave you t...
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Second Edition Tips!

August 7, 2019
I'm back from GenCon, and one of the best things about it was being able to finally talk, in full and unvarnished detail, about the new Pathfinder rules. No more saying, "wait and see," as it's now here! If you're an adventure author for Pathfinder Second Edition, here are a bunch of things, in no specific order, to keep in mind when working with the new system.

* New XP. There's a new method for calculating experience points, and it's entirely based on the level of challenges compared to the ...
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Teeth of the Storm - for Second Edition!

August 2, 2019
Great news! Pathfinder Second Edition launches today, and I've partnered with Rogue Genius Games to present (on launch day!) a Second Edition update of my popular 1st level gothic horror adventure, Teeth of the Storm. No simple conversion, this is rebuilt and re-imagined from the ground up with Second Edition in mind. Teeth of the Storm is the perfect way to kick off a new Pathfinder Second Edition campaign--if your heroes survive! You can get it here!



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My GenCon Schedule!

July 26, 2019
Hey, I have my GenCon schedule finalized at last! Generally speaking, you can find me at Paizo's booth in the Exhibit Hall during Exhibit Hall hours, talking about our new edition. I have lots to say about it, so come by!

I'm also presenting in three panels. These are all in ICC:212, the Paizo seminar room (which is the same seminar room as last year).

Thursday, August 1st
In the Exhibit Hall pretty much the whole time it's open. There will be long lines for our new book!

Friday, August 2nd
Dungeo...
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Feeding the Fandom

July 23, 2019
When you're writing an adventure, don't think of yourself as writing a book for a casual reader (despite the fact that many of your readers will, in fact, be casual readers). Instead, think of yourself as writing for your fandom: a group of people who will dissect everything you provide, question it, review it, and build on it all on their own. This means you should keep a few things in mind:

* Make motives crystal clear. When an NPC does something, spend the words to make sure you're clarifyi...
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Converting Adventures

July 19, 2019
I've done a fair amount of adventure converting this year, to and from Pathfinder First Edition, Pathfinder Second Edition, Starfinder, and Dungeons and Dragons. I thought an overview about how I approach an adventure conversion would be helpful. I've broken this into nine steps. I'll use "native" for the original rules set and adventure, and "target" for the new rules set and adventure you're producing.

First, read the whole thing. Mark it as you go along for strange things that were expressl...
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Map Duplication

July 16, 2019
I now have a couple projects in the works that use the same dungeon map twice. Earlier in an adventure (or in an earlier adventure), the heroes go through the dungeon. Later, they come back to it, and go through it again. Why on earth might I do such a thing? A few reasons:

* Familiarity. A reused map takes away some of the burdens of exploration (in the parlance of my prior blog post, the heroes jump right to phase two), allowing more focus on the events at hand.

* Encourage In-Game Thinking. ...
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Three Phases of Dungeon Exploration

July 12, 2019
I've said for a long time that there are three phases of dungeon exploration as a player:

First, you are just entering the dungeon, and you don't have any solid information about its scope, denizens, or dangers. (This is the phase when players tend to be the most paranoid, checking carefully for traps, and so on.)

Second, you have a sense of the scope of the dungeon, but you haven't yet "mastered" it; there's still several unknown areas and, most importantly, you haven't yet encountered the "bo...
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About Me


I'm Ron Lundeen, developer for Paizo, Inc., active gamer, and RPG freelancer. I've recently had products in print for Paizo, Wizards of the Coast, Raging Swan, Open Design, Headless Hydra Games, and Rite Publishing. I'm still taking freelance writing assignments, but also focusing on writing for Run Amok Games.


 

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