D&D Pathfinder Rise of the Rulelords Table Top

Rise of the Rulelords: Play It Again, Ghost

Yikes, I’m way behind. Life has not been kind. Still, no one cares about any of my plight. Let’s get to the ghost piano!

Before we get to the ghost piano, we must first pick up where we left off. We ended things in the previous session at a farm house purportedly attacked by scarecrows. At this point, we are confident they are just people with ghoul fever dressed up as scarecrow. The ol’ ghoul fever in a scarecrow suit trick. Why would you take the time to dress them up as scarecrows? There is a lot of really questionable behavior going on here, but it’s scarecrow-dress-up sticking with me as the most deranged behavior yet. Sure, innocent farmers are being murdered for a devil cult. I’m not necessarily onboard with it, but pretty often these things have their own twisted logic. Scarecrow-dress-up? I’m not finding a lot of sound reasoning there.

This farm house had been ravaged by the ghouls, who were still present! We found a young woman who as yet appeared unscathed, though traumatized, or maybe I cured her. I am pretty sure I whipped out my holy symbol and lesser restoration came to save the day. Let’s go with the heroic Lance Granite outcome. All the ladies, and some dudes, would. Anyway, after making sure she was ok, we checked the main farm house, only to see horrific undead bodies inside. Alton, John, and Jaya decided to launch themselves through windows in true 80’s action hero fashion. Lance took the front door and walked in calmly. The other three had varying degrees of success, but eventually luck, and lots of violence, saw us clear.

It was just about then we heard the great creaking of the barn, and saw more of the creatures coming straight for the woman we saved. Jaya and John went to engage first. Jaya was having a night of extremes. He was either exploding things, or dropping radiant energy balls on his own feet. I’ll interrupt the story here to say the GM is using a chart of variant critical fumbles. So far, I’ve only seen effects damaging the player in question. I’m not a big fan of this sort of implementation. I can get behind situations placing the player at a disadvantage, if everyone is onboard, but simply just damaging the player? No thank you. In general, I’m much more of a stunt enthusiast, and having a critical failure create temporary stunt fodder inconveniencing the players until they use it? I’m much more in favor of an implementation along those lines. It happened multiple times during the session, with different numerical results rolled to generate the effect. It is probably too small of a sample size to state one thing or the other, at this point. I’m going to keep my eye on it.

After a grueling encounter on the farm, we escorted the rescued woman to safety. She wanted to know about her family, and asked after her brother, giving us a vivid description. Now, I am not saying we did see her brother was killed and turned into ghoul, but I’m not saying we didn’t just tell her a comforting lie. Lance has many virtues, giving people bad news isn’t one of them. She wandered off down the coast to look for her brother. I’m sure it’s fine and this won’t come back to bite us in the keister. Once this task was done, we continued on to Devilham Manor.

This isn’t the name of the place, but I am so late to the campaign, and I’m refusing to write anything down, as Lance would never deign to keep notes, I am having a really hard time with names. I should probably remedy this situation by just writing down proper names, but I think having a hard time remembering names and people fits with his self-centered nature. It could also just be an excuse on my part. Let’s not be too hasty to rule anything else out. Anyway. We finally make our way to Foxthorn Devilham Manor. There is a lot of time spent examining an old well in a burned out husk of a building. There is a tunnel below, and everyone was hell-bent on getting down in the tunnel, but I wisely asked why we were doing this. There was a full-fledged manor with a front door and everything. Also, we had a key to the place, retrieved from the ghouls at the other farm we just defended.

Surprisingly, the party went along with this and we found ourselves in a manor. Now, Devilham manor has a sad history, I discovered. Lord Devilham went crazy and killed himself, burned down the house, and his wife also committed suicide. Except, I’m pretty sure Lord Devilham killed Lady Devilham. Inside the house, we find the place as we would expect. It’s gross and falling apart. Also, it’s apparently filled with asshole ghosts. This entire place is cursed. Here, things get a little frowny.

I’m never a big fan of things punishing exploration. You want your players to interact with your world and your setting. Punishing them for touching something you are either leading them towards or not forewarning them about? Fmeh. However, the adventure path does just such a thing in this circumstance. Immediately, the monk started hearing piano music, and knowing the sad history of the place, attempted to play the piano in hopes of shedding some light the mystery. Instead, the piano attempted to kill him, and all of us. DAMN YOU, GHOST PIANO!

Escaping the cursed keys of the Ghost Piano, we checked out the rest of the house, opting to start at the top and work our way down. We found the master suite, where a ghostly figure was disturbing the dust in the room. We attempted to interact with the ghost, but the ghost tried to kill us all. DAMN YOU, GHOST! I think we got some visions confirming the wife was murdered, on this one, actually. Overall, better than Ghost Piano.

As we inspected the lower floors, we found a strange staircase depicted in a rug, or something like a rug. It’s still a little unclear, as we triggered an alarm, and had to deal with the resultant situation. Again, this bell was just part of the set decoration. It looked like we needed to pull the bell to trigger the staircase, but it was a trap. I can get behind traps, of course. However, everything seems to be a trap. This is how you get people to not touch or look at anything. I don’t blame the GM or anything. He’s running the adventure path, after all. It’s just a weird series of moments in an otherwise fun romp.

This is where the left it, and we’re eager to get back to the game. 5e continues to thus far be a smooth transition, though there have been a few comments of “oh, this isn’t in the game?” or “wait, why does it work this way?” Mostly this was around charging and charge attack. Opportunity attacks have caused a little consternation, as well. Weapons with reach are a little difficult to get your head around, but no more so than any other edition. At least, in my opinion. However, there are more reactions these days, so it gets a bit more complex.

In regards to charge and charge attack, it got made into a feat. Seeing how everyone ALWAYS tried to charge, because it was so good, I’m not too disappointed by this. I would have been up for some creative reworking, but I’m fine with the way it is published. Lots of people are not, but I feel most people just want it the way it was before and then ALSO get all the new stuff. I am not saying this is necessarily bad, but charge was one of the less fun parts of older editions, and most abused. In my eyes, anyway.


  1. They’re ghoul pranksters! Pranking ghouls! Don’t you want to fight ghouls whimsical enough to take the extra time to make ghoul scarecrows?

    I think the Haunt mechanics have always been one of Pathfinder’s strangest choices, and they haven’t changed much since they were first introduced in this adventure. Not sure how your GM is running them for 5e, but the default mechanics in Pathfinder essentially make it extremely unlikely that you’ll find them unless someone is continually detecting undead (and maybe evil?). To “disarm” them, you have to win initiative and then turn undead/channel positive energy (basically you only have a slightly better than 50/50 shot of having any chance to disarm unless your Cleric is one of those rare Dex-heavy ones). So they’re supposed to be traps that are solved by your Cleric/Paladin instead of your Rogue. But they’re way more restrictive than regular traps, which aren’t that fun anyway. And also your Cleric probably does not want to disarm traps, else he would have played a Rogue.

  2. Are they pranksters? Huh. Sure, I suppose they could be pranksters. I am not sure what is going on, but it’s through no fault of the GM. I joined mid-adventure path. I will ask him about the Haunt mechanics. I think he found some Rise of the Runelords conversions online and is just using those.

    At first blush, with no further inspection, those mechanics seem really weird. I am all for magical traps and everyone contributing to the dungeoneering, but this is just strange.

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