Preservers of Immortal Lore - Mummy's Mask Adventure Path

Research in Tephu
Why do Librarians Always Wear Glasses?

I think this deserves its own post since the likelihood of anyone checking the comment section after my original Shifting Sands post is very low.

So, the primary focus of this leg of the PIL’s journey is to learn as much as possible regarding Hakotep I, The Mask of the Forgotten Pharaoh, and the Cult of the Forgotten Pharaoh. What fun would such research be without a little role-playing? None, that’s how much!

“First, there are a few rules regarding research in the Great Library” Ptemenib starts to explain. “The library is open from dawn to dusk. The curators will allow you to conduct research within the library provided you meet a few simple requirements. First, the price of research is 50 GP per day, per researcher!” While this may seem high, Ptemenib continues “The curators have also agreed to allow each researcher 2 assistants – at no cost, that may aid in their studies.” Zaroola quickly deduces that this means there will be skill checks and aid another is beneficial! “Precisely, Zaroola!” Ptemenib proclaims as Zaroola looks at him oddly, wondering how that just happened. Meera then asks, “so how does this research work?” “It is quite simple, actually…” Ptemenib replies, as he goes into a rather easy to understand, 14-point description of the process, followed by a summary of the 14-point description, which is all summed up below. Simple!

1. Pay your fee (50 GP per researcher, per day), then you are allowed access to the research area. There are some areas that do not necessarily require a fee, but donations may be considered appropriate (say, 10 GP). Some areas may require other means to obtain entry besides merely paying a fee. All options are available, though some are dangerous.

2. For each specific section in which you will be conducting research, there is an associated complexity rating and knowledge points. Complexity represents the DC of the skill check required to glean information within that section. Knowledge points (KP) indicate the amount of information that can be obtained/learned.

3. Each section likewise has an associated subject area represented by the type of knowledge check that provides a bonus to research for that day. They all have more than one, though not all are the same.

4. Each day, each primary researcher is allowed to make 1 research check against the section complexity DC using either a generic 1d20+INT+generic knowledge skill bonuses (, or a relevant knowledge skill.

5. Similarly, assistants make a DC 10 aid another check (1d20+INT+generic knowledge bonuses) adding +2 to the primary researcher’s roll on success.

6. All of these checks may be made untrained, though you cannot take 10 or 20.

7. Each section has a specific bonus if a proper knowledge skill is applied – I will let you know which skills are relevant.

8. Each day of research results in a cumulative +1 per day bonus for each section (the longer you research, the more likely you are to find the right information or path of study).

9. A successful check results in “damage” to the KP, indicating progress toward your goal. For Bards, a successful check results in a 1d12 + INT modifier reduction in KP, for other “scholastic” characters, a successful check results in a 1d8 + INT modifier reduction in KP, and for all others, a successful check results in a 1d4 + INT modifier reduction in KP. This implies your best primary researchers are Zaroola, Meera, and/or Anck, with everyone else in support roles.

10. Exceeding the check by a significant margin results in additional KP reduction, with a natural 20 doubling the KP reduction – you stumbled upon the exact book you needed first thing in the morning, without much effort, and managed to connect it perfectly into the path you were studying.

11. A natural 1 will increase the KP of the library section by 1d8 – you found a Harry Peshhead book and decided a nice leisurely romp through a pesh-filled adventure was better than research that day, causing you to waste your time and effort.

12 Once the KP for a given section are reduced to 0 (which I will track), you have learned all you can and may move on to the next section (or, more likely, act on the intel you have gathered).

13. You are allowed 1 check per researcher per day, and if you can access a section at night, you are allowed an additional check per researcher (though nighttime access is not always possible, and sometimes not advisable).

14. Osiriontologist bonus to knowledge skills may apply (depending upon the topic in a given section), but Archaeologist’s Luck will not (not unless you can figure out how to make it work for 12 hours)! For each section, I will let you know what your specific bonuses are.

In general, complexity is armor class and knowledge points are hit points. As you knock KP off of a particular library section, I’ll give you more and more information. There are several sections (not all actually in the library proper) involved with this information gathering expedition. You can work out the details regarding researchers among yourselves and you can change daily if you wish. Not every section has the same knowledge requirements, so a small amount of strategy is a good idea determining which character should be primary and which should be assistants (there are obvious choices most of the time). As noted previously, some sections require additional work just to gain access, and some require… well, you know.

Finally, researching occurs from dawn to dusk, so if you are either a primary researcher, or an assistant, you only have 4 hours per day to do other things. All of the sections can probably be fully researched by a Bard (with assistance) within a week (at most), if no 1s are rolled.

To get you started, the first section you will research is the Outer Sanctum of the Great Library. It has a bonus applied if you use knowledge (local), knowledge (history), or knowledge (nobility). Osiriontologist applies to this one as well since its topic concerns knowledge from ancient Osirion to date. Complexity is relatively low, as are KP. With assistance, and some planning, Zaroola could possibly clear this level alone in 2 days, 3 at most (assuming no 1s are rolled).

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Shifting Sands (Act 1)
The Undead Rising is Defeated (subtitled: The Fourth Wall Must Die and Empty Graves has Ended)

Has it been 3 months already? Is Zar really returning to the fray? Has the new dog completely shattered the lives of the GM and his family? Find out all of this and more on the next episode of Soap!

Oh wait…

ROLL FOR INITIATIVE!

When last the PIL met, before venturing off on a tangent plane involving giants and other strange creatures (giants are obviously stranger than the tekenu, right?), they had just defeated Nebta-Khufre in the Sepulcher of the Servant. The undead rising is quenched, order is restored, rest is on the menu for the first time in well, probably only a few days, but still… rest is on the menu!

As Anck-Su-Natari pulls the heretofore unidentified mask from Nebta’s head, she is overcome with power she had never felt before. “This must be the mask that we have been tracking!” she shouts. “Ptemenib will need to see this, with any luck, the church will understand its true powers!” replies Zar. It is indeed very powerful, the stuff of legends and of gods. Bumi looks around, “is there anything else to punch?”. “NO!” comes a shout from somewhere unknown to the PIL. “YOU MUST RETURN TO THE CHURCH OF PHARASMA.” “Damn GM, always getting in the way of our fun.”

So back to the church for the merry band of adventurers (OK, so they aren’t merry, they nearly died, they’re rather tired, very ticked off, and ready for some payout since it WAS PROMISED). “Yeah, yeah, I hear you” the voice shouts. Meera mutters something about shutting up and getting to the chase…

As the PIL come walking up to the church stairs, Ptemenib is already leading a ritual to lay waste to the remaining undead (word travels fast in fantasy settings). He immediately rushes up to the party once finished, congratulating them on their success. “The stores and shops should be open as normal by morning, it looks as though you have have some bargaining to undertake then?” he quips, aware that the PIL are ready for a change of pace. “Sebti, Nakht, and some of the church elders would like to talk to you about the source of the undead rising.” Anck agrees without hesitation, handing the mask over to Ptemenib, since it clearly had an impact on her when she first peeled it from Nebta’s head.

After a few hours have passed, a nice bath, a good lunch, some unmentionable relaxation techniques, Ptemenib summons the PIL back to the church for dinner and drinks while discussing the Mask of the Forgotten Pharaoh (his words exactly). Upon arrival, the PIL are immediately seated and given the necessary background…

There is very little information regarding the Forgotten Pharaoh, or Hakotep, or the Sky Pharaoh. However, it is believed that Hakotep I ruled Osirion as pharaoh in the very distant past, but all records have been lost. His name survives on cartouches found in an ancient network of earthworks now known as the Slave Trenches of Hakotep. The Sky Pharaoh is apparently not connected to Hakotep whatsoever, though a later pharaoh, Menedes I, did claim the title but the two seem to be unconnected as well.

Sebti and Ptemenib have requested that the PIL investigate the origins of the mask, as well as the strange cult (the Cult of the Forgotten Pharaoh, apparently as hard to investigate as Hakotep) and their intentions. The Grand Mausoleum is tapped out at the moment (imagine that), so Sebti advises (requests) that the PIL travel to nearby Tephu to consult is rather extensive library. Perhaps there is more information to be found in the ancient tomes contained within? Our story begins anew as the PIL steps off the boat (literally a few hours after departure, Wati and Tephu are called sister cities for a reason). The church has agreed to give the PIL the Mask of the Forgotten Pharaoh, for now, in hopes that they will be able to uncover its true power.

I will update with other notes in posts attached to this log entry.

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Empty Graves (Act 2)
Searching for the source of the undead rising!

Roll for Initiative!

After a tense week (6 days) of daily treks throughout Wati attempting to clean up the city streets, the PIL were finally ready to begin their search for the source of the undead rising. It seemed easy enough: Nakht Shepses pointed them toward a cult of Lamia’s, Sebti the Crocodile pointed out the location of no less than five elegiac compasses (designed to locate the source of necromantic energy), and Ptemenib even forwarded them to some dark folk contacts he is associated with.

What could go wrong?

For starters, Velriana Hypaxes apparently did not survive her incarceration and was revived when the wave spread across Wati. Unfortunately, the not-so-uncommon practice of taking hardened criminals’ eyes out had been performed (which led to her demise) blinding her permanently. Rising as a Revenant, Velriana blamed the PIL for the fate she had to endure, and immediately found them at the exit of the Smugglers’ Tunnels.

After dispatching Velriana the Revenant, things failed to improve. Of the three compasses already visited, only one was operational, and enabling it required a rather distasteful duel with an angry crystal dragon. Shardizhad was most displeased with the PIL and immediately set upon them (never blow a diplomacy check with an impatient dragon). Fortunately, the fates were playing favorites and the PIL managed to overcome the petulant dragon allowing them to at least narrow their search to a line running through the middle of the city of the dead.

Along the way, the PIL also managed to dispatch the Lamia cult (though only one was present, and she was saved) and save the dark folk tribe from the defector, though gaining very little other than a few rumors and a seemingly worthless star chart (without any context, it could mean anything).

The PIL are currently holed up in the Cenotaph of the Cynic, former home to the Lamia cult. Zar and Meera are busily searching through the various documents (nearly a full day of effort is required) for any clues to the source. Next up are the two remaining compass locations: the Ghoul Market, and the Tomb of Menket Maatya. Hopefully at least one of these will provide some more insight… searching every building, structure, or hole in the ground along a 1000 yard line through the middle of the city of the dead is not a preferred plan.

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Empty Graves (Act 1)
Your purpose revealed?

Roll for Initiative!

When: 15 Rovah (Toliday), 4715
Where: Wati, the living city ending at the Grand Mausoleum

Our story so far…

The band of intrepid adventurers embarked on a mission to rescue one of the Priests of the Church of Pharasma, Ptemenib, from the clutches of the Silver Chain Gang (SCG) early the next morning. After a good night of rest – punctuated by the frequent howl of assorted undead at the nearby gates, and a light breakfast, they hit the road with a final destination of the Bright River Brickworks in The Veins district of the living city. On their way they managed to dispatch a group of esoboks that were attacking a trio of zombies. By themselves, the zombies were not much of a concern, nor were the esoboks, except that a local baker Liri (I did not give her a name previously) was caught in the middle of the fray. The zombies wanted her meat and the esoboks preferred the meat of the dead, but the esoboks were not above creating dead from the living in order to meet their desires.

After cleaning out the Bright River Brickworks and rescuing Ptemenib, the PIL discovered that someone else had a vested interest in uncovering the source of the recent undead uprising. A competitor. Based on the response from their local leader, Ekram Iffek, the competitor was not likely to be someone to aid the PIL in their endeavors, particularly after the PIL killed Ekram unceremoniously in his quarters. Furthermore, it would seem that Ekram had sent notice of what was occurring in the city (PIL’s presence, or just general information could not be determined) through the use of a bird feather token. Perhaps support would arrive through the entrance to the smuggling tunnels in the back of Ekram’s quarters it would appear the SCG (or someone) had recently used?

Ptemenib is the local SCG authority, so his information is likely as true as can be. He explained that Ekram was a recent infiltration into the SCG, and unlikely to be an actual member of the gang itself. This information squared nicely with the response of the two captives accompanying the PIL back to the Grand Mausoleum, as well as the apparent desertion of others at the docks and the presence of several cultists that Ptemenib did not recognize. The letter from Meret-Hetef found on one of the cultists merely sealed the deal. Indeed, it would seem that Ekram’s position of leadership was obtained by killing the existing leader (to whom the gang members owed their true loyalty).

Upon arrival at the Grand Mausoleum the PIL were treated not to accolades (though Ptemenib and Qasin were extremely thankful themselves), but an argument between Nakht Shepses, the leader of the militant wing of the church known as the Voices of the Spire, and Sebti the Crocodile, leader of the church itself. It would seem that Shepses intended to launch a wave of psychopomps on the city to manage the dead. Sebti, the wiser of the two, quickly pointed out that doing so will only serve to increase the level of panic in an already frightened populace. The PIL, she said, were making a difference ALREADY! After a few rounds (presumably officiated by Ptemenib), the PIL stepped in and offered to help even further.

Shepses reluctantly agreed, but on one condition… they must beat his best warrior in combat. “No problem” Meera retorted, right as Ajin Ra Baqa, a tall, skeletal creature with wings wearing a vulture-like mask and carrying a scythe – eerily similar to the grim reaper himself, teleported in with a few of his cohorts… “Fine, more esoboks” shouted Bumi, “Yeah, but, what the hell is that thing!” Lux replied. “Just a vanth,” Shepses said with a sly grin, “Good luck.” Given the tattered state of the PIL at the time, Shepses allowed them an opportunity to prepare for the battle, and, with a little help from Ptemenib and some well-timed luck, they managed to defeat the vanth and his esoboks (though Shepses did revive Ajin before his death, as he would have any PIL members that fell).

“Find the source of this uprising!” came the immediate response from Sebti, with an obvious sigh of relief. Of course, Shepses was still in shock over the defeat of his champion, as evidenced by his jaw hanging down for several moments after the battle ended. His only response was “but, but, but…” followed by a rather sincere apology. His greatest concern is the safety of Wati, and if the PIL are the best agents for the job, then so be it. He is not so proud that he cannot admit this.

After these events, your Panic Level is “Unsettling Times.” The events that unfolded this day, through the battle with Ajin, leave us near dinner time (say 4:00 p.m.), so further adventuring will require a night of rest, though there are some planning discussions that likely need to occur, perhaps over dinner at the church (probably not as fancy as at the Canny Jackal, but better than you’ll find at the Tooth and Hookah). Note that even though you did manage to drop the panic level, the economic effects are not immediate: it is late in the day after all. Shops will be open tomorrow (16 Rovah, Wealday), with purchase prices only slightly modified (110% to buy, 45%/90% to sell). I will post treasure in the forum. When we start back up, I’ll explain what is happening next.

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Empty Graves (Act 1)
Panic Level Descriptions

Panic levels and their descriptions are listed below.

Mass Exodus: The town is experiencing a mass exodus. Expect a significant portion of the population to leave every day. Spellcasting services are unavailable; goods are only available at many times their standard value; base value has been reduced significantly (this is the availability of magic items); expect frequent random encounters anywhere in Wati.

Ghost Town: This is your current panic level! The streets of Wati are virtually empty. Most shops are closed; most services are unavailable resulting in goods pricing at a few times higher than their standard value; base value is reduced noticeably; temples can only provide 1st level spellcasting; expect frequent random encounters anywhere in Wati.

Civil Unrest: Few people are on the streets, and most are very edgy, constantly on their guard. A few shops are open, but merchants are wary of everyone due to the undead as well as living looters. Spellcasting services are limited to 1st and 2nd level; all goods are marked up to twice their normal value; base value is reduced slightly; expect frequent random encounters anywhere in Wati.

Unsafe at Night: By day, Wati is relatively safe, but not so much at night. Half of the shops are open; prices are marked up to compensate for protection services; spellcasting services are limited to 1st through 3rd level; expect occasional random encounters anywhere in Wati during the day, and frequent encounters at night.

Unsettling Times: There are still pockets of danger throughout the city, but life is beginning to revert back to normal. The city’s base value is normal; prices are still marked up slightly; spellcasting is now available for 1st through 5th level.

Rest in Peace: Panic has been successfully quenched.

What causes an increase in panic level? Several things:
1) Inaction. Do nothing and watch as the city collapses. This is a daily check and results in significant increases.
2) Acts of evil or questionable morality. Yes, this is about doing things that calm the citizens of Wati. Taking part in looting, harrassing (killing) townsfolk, or even turning a blind eye to injustice will only increase their fear and thus, increse the level of panic.
3) Passage of time. Regardless of what you do, panic levels go up every day, though this effect is not as significant as doing nothing (consider inaction to be “in addition to” this).
4) Mission failure. Failing to complete a mission can (potentially) result in an increase in the panic level.

What causes a decrease in panic level? Solve problems, and do so quickly with as little collataral impact as possible. Everybody is scared, even some of those doing things they shouldn’t be doing… (though true criminals do exist).

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Empty Graves (Act 1 Post-Auction)
Panic!!!

Roll for initiative!

The story so far…

After successfully quelling the initial uprising of dead near the Canny Jackal, the PIL party was “invited” by the Church of Pharasma to aid in calming the residents of Wati as well as suppressing the undead rising. It was clear that whatever caused the uprising is affecting both the living and dead halves of Wati and must be stopped in order to restore order. Not willing to turn down an opportunity to aid the city (for a variety of diverse reasons, not all of which are noble), the party agreed in return for (limited) free healing services.

During their initial journey to the Morning Sun as escorts for several of the auction attendees, Kur noticed that the undead trail to the Canny Jackal actually originated from an overturned cart the party encountered along the way. After dealing with the remaining zombies, a silver chain was discovered on the driver, recognized by Natari as an indicator of the Silver Chain Gang: infamous cadaver traders and otherwise rather nasty folk (though not drug dealers). Additionally, the party came across a rather excited nosoi psychopomp named Qasin that explained (sort of) that her friend Ptemenib had been captured by the Silver Chain Gang after following an agent out of the Canny Jackal (thus explaining several strange aspects of his behavior that evening as well as previously). Qasin directed them to an area of the city known as the Veins, and, in particular, to an abandoned shop formerly known as the Bright River Brickworks.

The party agreed to help Qasin after first taking care of some church business. Ptemenib is a priest of Pharasma after all, and the best lead to what is happening in the city. Qasin happily agreed to follow along, singing her rather haunting (but beautiful), melody as she flitted about (there were bonuses from her song, btw, but it didn’t matter).

After rescuing Bal Themm at the city gates, the party decided to rest for the evening due to their proximity to the Tooth and Hookah, and the late hour. The story continues at first daylight the next morning with a (presumably) short trip to the Bright River Brickworks to (hopefully) rescue Ptemenib from the clutches of the Silver Chain Gang.

GM Note: the current panic level is “Unsafe at Night.” This means that there is still enough unrest to result in a few random encounters during the day, higher than normal prices at shops (and nearly half of the shops are open), and only level 3 spellcasting. The Church of Pharasma has deputized the party, so their services are free, however (but still limited to level 3).

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Empty Graves (Act 1)
Purchase list

Since I started the Zombie invasion before asking what items you wished to purchase, here is the list of what is readily available. Don’t worry, it’s still there, I just didn’t feel like working through the rigmarole of you buying stuff since there was no real “role playing” to be had (other than the trade you worked). I could have built it in, but as we progressed the other night it seemed pointless.

The potions may be broken up if you prefer. I included 2 scrolls of breath of life from the Sunburst Market Representative, which covers Steve’s request. Also, if there are any special items that you are interested in, the limit is 10,560 GP (75% rule still applies). Anything that you purchase is assumed to be in your possession at the start of the fight.

The Dog Soldiers (“Mad Dog” Marrn, male halfling barb/ranger): +1 composite longbow (STR +3), 2700 GP; oil of keen edges, oil of greater magic weapon +2, potion of barkskin +3, 3x potion of cure moderate wounds, 3450 GP;

Sand Scorpions (Black Kiss, female half-elf alchemist): ghostvision gloves, 4000 GP; wasp nest of swarming, 1000 GP;

Daughters of the Desert (Sigrun Firehair, female human bard): trapspringer’s gloves, 4000 GP; boots of elvenkind, 2500 GP; ring of spell knowledge I, 1500 GP;

Cryptfinders (Falto, male human rogue): heavyload belt, 2000 GP; daredevil softpaws, 1400 GP;

The Four Lanterns: amulet of mighty fists +1, 4000 GP; ring of protection +1, 2000 GP;

Sunburst Market Representative: potion of mage armor, 50 GP; potion of owl’s wisdom, 300 GP; potion of displacement, 750 GP; 2x scroll of cure light wounds, 25 GP each; scroll of align weapon (communal), 375 GP; 2x scroll of breath of life, 1125 GP; scroll of raise dead, 1650 GP; 2x slaying arrow (undead), 2282 each; wand of burning hands (50 charges), 750 GP; wand of aid (CL 3, 50 charges), 3750 GP; minor selective metamagic rod, 3000 GP; +2 chain shirt, 4250 GP;

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Empty Graves (Act 1)
Auction

Roll for Initiative!

When: 14 Rovah (Moonday), 4715 (this will be our reference date moving forward)
Where: The Canny Jackal, Wati

The story so far…

While happily enjoying a bevy of delectable treats such cheese-stuffed figs, hard-boiled peacock eggs, onion bread, onion-stuffed squid, assorted fruits, spiced wine, and 2000 year-old honey from one of the tombs (which, incidentally, improved Meera’s oratory skills upon tasting), the party managed to meet each of the auction VIPs as well as several of the rival (well, not so rival as the Scorched Hand) adventuring crews. The auction commenced as planned and the party (Preservers of Immortal Lore) managed to score multiple bidders on at least a few lots, improving its financial position by a modest amount. In the process, they also managed a near even equipment trade with the Cryptfinders for a nice belt and a fine pair of boots (a few rounds at the Tooth and Hookah at a future date will settle the difference).

Unfortunately, there’s always an unfortunately, just as they were beginning to bid on gear from the other crews, a strange surge of energy washed across the Canny Jackal, felt by everyone. This surge was sickening (fortunately, not incapacitating), and the result was not unexpected, almost as if it could be felt: the dead are rising. Loud pounding was heard on the doors and two servants opted to open them to see what the clatter was about. They apparently never listened to the ghost stories they heard in summer camp as children. Just as Ahteb and Hamapetra reached for the doors, several hungry zombies burst through, splintering the doors in the process and knocking the two servants unconscious (and dying).

Outside, the horrified cries of townsfolk can be heard as their limbs are being torn from their bodies. Many of the other adventuring crews had stationed their members outside to guard their respective hoards; hopefully they are aiding the helpless commoners to safety. “Mad Dog” immediately downed an unknown potion then bounced out the door past the zombies (with his dog in tow) shouting “find me later, I’ve got to help my friends!” as he left. At least his priorities are straight: fight undead first, sell loot later. Most (all) of the VIPs ran to the back wall or cowered in the corner, largely unwilling (or unable) to aid in the looming battle. While annoying, this is hardly surprising, these people attend auctions to acquire loot. They don’t raid tombs. They don’t fight undead.

Whatever caused this apocalyptic event was clearly not natural. An investigation surely must be held, but first… here there be zombies.

Thus begins the first part of Empty Graves: And Lo, the Dead Shall Rise!

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Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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