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So you are asking if it is OK to allow the party to play up to the 4-5 subtier despite the fact that their average level would not already allow them to do this? Or are they in between tiers and have the choice to play up or down?
Two issues here. Can they play up legally, and should they play up. Let's actually start with should they play up. You are correct that this adventure is pretty tame. The spot where I would feel leery is when the spriggans get large sized. They hit harder, have 10' reach and combat reflexes. It could go south quickly with a non-optimized party who get mixed up in melee. You know your players better than anyone, but personally I have a horrible track record when it comes to assessing the risk of playing up. "You guys should be fine" are the famous last words for many adventures where I encouraged the players to go for it.
I'm going to quote the Guide to PFS Organized Play just to make sure you understand the rules. "Determining Subtiers In order to determine which subtier a mixed-level group of PCs must play in, calculate the group’s average party level (APL). Divide the total number of character levels by the number of characters in the party. You should always round to the nearest whole number. If you are exactly at 0.5, let the group decide which subtier they wish to play.
"For scenarios written in Seasons 0 to 3, when the APL is in between subtiers, a party of six or seven characters must play the higher subtier. Parties with four or five characters must play the lower subtier. In the fringe case where there are no players that are high enough to have reached the subtier level (such as a party of six 3rd level characters), the group may decide to play down to the lower subtier."
Now can they play up despite the rules for Determining Subtiers explaining they cannot? I would say there's one exception. I would allow the party to play up under these conditions:
I hope that helps you make a decision.
Mike's on vacation until September 23. I'm not sure if he has to give the web monkeys direct instructions to award the 5th Star, but it is not automatically done in the system. We learned that after SessionGate earlier this year. Has Auke sent in the DNA sample to make sure that you aren't Dragnmoon in disguise? That could be the holdup ;)
Here's the key text from the Community Use Policy: "You may not use artwork, including maps, that have not been published in the blog, although you may create your own interpretations of material presented in our artwork and maps, provided that your interpretations don't look substantially similar to our materials."
So 'substantially similar' is the key phrase. It is also subjective, so Paizo has the final say. I think you are OK since you created the map from scratch instead of simply cutting and pasting it before adding digital enhancement. You can add whatever credits you want, but in the end if Paizo says take it down, we take it down.
I ran this last night for the first time. Knowing how confusing all the NPCs are with foreign names & motives, I made handouts with some portraits from the scenario and other images from Google. There are 8 key NPCs to keep track of. I wish we were allowed to share work like this, but it is not covered by the Community Use Policy.
I fortunately had a table of 4 players. Having more face-time to share with the GM helped to keep them engaged. It was 3.5 hours of role-play before we ever rolled init. They enjoyed themselves but it is tiresome to think on your feet that long.
When I played this scenario, we straight-up murdered Shirin outside of the tomb. We were convinced that she was behind it all and would have ended it sooner had the GM not stopped us and explained how the plot was supposed to go. We were so frustrated by the time we got to the graveyard, we didn't give her a chance to talk. We ran up and started hacking her to pieces. We laughed about it afterward--what if she turned out to be innocent?
It made me think about how to avoid a replay of this when I ran it last night. First, don't put down a flipmat and place minis on it. That is like ringing the bell for Pavlov's dog. Players are going to go right into tactical mode. Just keep the atmosphere casual like the graveyard is a red herring and you're going to read them boxed text to lead them to the next clue. Describe "Umut" dragging herself away from the opened tomb looking like death warmed over. Let the players accuse her or make threats, but don't tip your hand. Have a good story rehearsed so it sounds smooth and natural. Every good lie contains a kernel of truth.
Umut: [moans] "Don't come closer! .... You have to get away, warn the others .... she's in there!"
In my game there were two inquisitors and a cleric of Sarenrae. Thanks to some favorable rolls, the encounter worked like the author intended. They did consider she was setting them up, but there was enough doubt in their minds they ended up getting hit from behind after they went down to fight "the necromancer in the tomb".
First encounter: "In the higher subtier, a pair of skeletal hodags also emerges from the woods as the zombie owlbears turn to attack the PCs." A suggestion: since the hodags have a burrow speed I start them underground and out of sight. After the melee types have engaged, I have the hodags approach the back ranks of the party like the gopher in "Caddyshack", leaving a channel of disturbed earth in their wake. It makes for a suspenseful encounter when the PCs don't know what's coming until it bursts from the ground.
Dave Setty wrote:
EDIT: @Doug Miles: the circle suppresses her spell resistance.
Thank you for correcting me Dave. I was looking at the ghaele stat block and not reading the scenario text. I stand corrected.
Steeldraco, if you GM long enough these situations can arise. You made a snap decision. You are not alone. I don't expect we'll have a group therapy session here, but I think every GM has decisions they look back on and cringe. Did the players have a good time, or was there mistrust created as a result? That is how I would reflect on the episode. Learn from it, and move onward.
I think you made a mistake, but you recovered from it in an acceptable fashion. You could of had the ghaele ready an action to defend herself against anyone who tried to hurt her, while asking who the PCs are and what are their intentions. If you want to get technical, ghaele have no ranks in Knowledge (Religion) so she could not have recognized a cleric of Asmodeus. Back up further and consider she's got SR 25 vs infernal healing affecting her. I think you over-reacted, but once you commit it is not easy to back down. The scenario speaks of her being too weak to help the PCs, save for a heroic effort to banish the demon if it has been freed. All you can do is reflect on what you would do different if the same situation happens again.
The call for volunteers went out on March 3rd. The Tier 1 and 2 GM berths fill up fast, usually within a week of the announcement. With so many volunteers scrambling for a limited amount of positions, Mike Brock (the Global Campaign Coordinator) can be picky if he wants to. One way to stand out from the herd is to earn some GM Stars by running PFS events locally. If I were Mike, I would be leery of giving an at-first-glance green GM a Tier 1 or 2 slot.
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Man, that was a lot of typing!
Kyle never asked for a goblin boon, but he couldn't let something so precious go to waste. He loved Garble like only a father could (despite Kolossal Ego's inexhaustible jealousy), and in his heart he knew that this was going to be Garble's fate. He just had to come across the right GM armed with the right opponent. An epic death should be celebrated. [cue slow-motion montage of Garble Facechomper chewing on various foes scored to Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better".]
What were Garble's last words, Harold?
If it makes sense to you to disregard the tactics because they are illogical or ineffective, that's your prerogative. You're also responsible for the consequences, good or bad. If you're looking for a green light, that's as much of one as you'll get. You're the GM & it's up to you to bring the fun. Historically, Paizo doesn't go back and correct errors or omissions in scenarios. You have to make the decision.
I have always run it that starting the captivating song ability is a standard action, and maintaining it is free. It's how I have always understood it, and it makes perfect sense considering her tactics. She attacks at a distance anyone who does not fall prey to her song. She can deal with the playthings later. I understand there has been debate over how the ability works. I don't feel any confusion over it, and I'm not one for academic arguments.
Tony Lindman wrote:
What URL are you using Todd? I found this one for a free version of Nitro Reader 3. There doesn't appear to be a trial period for use.
I was able to recreate the error, so it's not just on your end. I would report it to firstname.lastname@example.org. After I recreated the error, I went and tried to report a table without In Service to Lore selected. There's a reporting option that allows you to "Show All Scenarios" when you report a session, so you don't necessarily have to check In Service to Lore when you build the event to actually report In Service to Lore. You can work around the bug, but Paizo should be notified to they can fix it. Make sense?
There's no standard. The Campaign probably prefers the rebuild but in the cases where a GM is running cool/cold (little-to-no prep) the quick rule needs to be an option. You could also save yourself some work by using the GM Shared Prep site rather than re-inventing the wheel ;)
Doug Miles wrote:
Inquisitor, I know who killed Dancel and Johan. Two nights ago I was on the north road when I heard such a frightful noise that I dove in the ditch to hide myself. Soon after I heard strangely accented voices speaking of ‘completing a ritual’, needing ‘more flesh of innocents’ and that ‘the stars will not wait’. From my concealment I witnessed two dwarves and a halfling pass going north, away from Dawnton. They were covered in blood and the dwarves carried a large bundle between them wrapped in canvas. I thought them hunters until I heard what happened to Dancel yesterday. Like other decent folk here I try to keep my nose out of other peoples’ business. I needed to be certain before I leveled an accusation. When I found out those three were Pathfinders, I became even more fearful. That nefarious organization has a far reach and those who cross them always weep bitter tears. By happenstance I again came across the three of them in the village last night, just after word of the second murder. They were at the Heath & Harvest. The halfling appeared angry and the dwarves anxious. Considering the mood in the common room, this behavior did not seem amiss. However, I knew they were the ones behind the killing. I listened in as the dwarves asked around if anyone had seen who committed the murder. People said that Oleg didn't get a good look at the guy. They all seemed to relax. I heard the halfling say that they'll 'try again tomorrow'! As I write this I know my life may be forfeit if I make my knowledge public. By The Inheritor, these Pathfinders must not be allowed to get away with another murder! I know you have the courage to stand up for Dawnton. Please protect our village!-A Concerned Citizen
Alex McGuire wrote:
Favorited. Though I'd prefer a way to reward the GMs who make the location I organize a success.
I like this idea also. When a local organizer has reported as many sessions as a major convention generates, it would be nice to have a way to thank the GMs who make the organizer's life easier (and entice them to continue volunteering).
I'm working on the 3rd letter, but wanted to post this for critique:
Jorsal of Lauterbury at the Starrise Spire:
Pathfinders of Nerosyan,
Slacker, if it's any consolation you are not alone. This scenario made me feel very conflicted. The first time I ran it, I had a similar experience as yours. The players were overwhelmed and should have been hosed. I relented and softballed it after dropping 4 out of the 6 PCs. Afterward, I was disappointed in myself for going easy on the players. They were all adults and a game without the risk of death is not very entertaining. The next time I ran it, I resolved that I was going to run it strictly as it was written, whatever the consequences. That result was a TPK and the characters were unrecoverable (lack of gold/PP at that level). A few upset players posted reviews venting their feelings. Either way I handled it, it was a poor outcome.
What should you do next time? Well, I recommend reading the reviews before deciding what scenario to run your players through. There was a lot of warning about Day of the Demon. Sometimes players need to learn the hard way, but Day of the Demon is a vicious lesson.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
For the free RPG modules it never made sense to me why they were +2 GM credit when they took only one slot to run. If that is Paizo's intention I wish they would just announce that and give the reasoning behind it.
I agree that it does not make sense. Probably what happened was all "modules" got folded into the same category when the campaign manager asked the website team to give x2 credit for modules. After the Free RPG Day issue was recognized, the manager either A) didn't want to strip away the extra credit that had been granted, or B) didn't want to bother the swamped website team with another request. This was likely part of the system that Mike inherited.
Last year at GenCon the campaign arranged We Be Goblins! & We Be Goblins Too! in 2.5 hour mini slots, expecting volunteers to sprint the players through the adventure in half the time it normally takes. None of the volunteers were enthusiastic about it, but imagine if you did this for 10 slots. You'd go from zero Stars to 2 Stars (40 sessions) in the space of 4 days! You'd probably go crazy and start a fire in your hotel room before the con ended ;)
January Call for PaizoCon Volunteers wrote:
Squeaky wheels get the boon. At a local con the organizer might have time to talk to all the volunteers and make sure they received everything they were entitled to. At a con the size of PaizoCon, you have got to speak up or you won't be recognized.
DM Beckett wrote:
This question has to be ignored because it undermines the entire scenario if you think about it too much. So, prior to Ekira and Dalton arriving in Dawnton, the highest level NPC was the sheriff who couldn't even fend off a dretch. Really. And what about Otto's Farm? The guy lives alone 5 miles away from town and he owns a sling for defense. Doesn't even have a dog?! Maybe if he had a dog people wouldn't hang skinned corpses on his trees. Anyway, great question Beckett. Hopefully the players never raise it.
The next time that I run this I think I'll run the entire scenario without dice until Encounter 4. We'll just role-play through everything. Several times during the scenario I felt like it was forcing me to pound square pegs into round holes. By removing the arbitrary DCs and NPC attitudes I think the scenario will feel more organic and enjoyable.
I love it, too. I ran this today for a group of GMs. It was difficult to have NPCs remain stubbornly convinced the Pathfinders were guilty in the face of such flimsy evidence. The players had connected most the dots, but the dice failed them at a crucial moment.
I enjoyed the 5th level barbarian with the 21 CON who stood there and allowed the local tough to punch him a half-dozen times for a d3+1 non-lethal, just staring at the kid and not showing the slightest amount of discomfort. "You hit like my grandma". After the kid got tired out throwing haymakers and getting nowhere, he suddenly got embarrassed and walked away.
Without someone to flank with, the rogue was simply annoying. That was the only time we rolled init the entire scenario.
This scenario was better than The Horn of Aroden, in that the plot was more enjoyable for both the GM and the players. It still suffers when exposed to the slightest degree of scrutiny, but it doesn't make the players as angry.
I had some trouble wrapping my head around the omissions in this scenario. Likely the author had included the details but they were removed by the editor for the sake of word count. A lot is left up to the GM to pull out of thin air when the players start asking questions. There's nothing about who the victims were. The evidence against the accused Pathfinders is laughable. Why wait so long to hang a trio of murderers if the case was so open-and-shut? It should help to play up the village residents as prejudiced and unconcerned about that 'cityfolk' concept of a fair trial. Here are some ideas I jotted down:
Day 1 Ekira arrives in Dawnton
Day 7 Krunne arrives in Dawnton
Day 14 Krunne sends letter to VC Jorsal
Day 17 VC Jorsal receives letter, summons first PF team
Day 19 PF team departs Nerosyan
Day 21 Krunne commits first murder
Day 22 PF team arrives in Dawnton and begin to survey the environs, Krunne places victim's body on Otto's farm,
Day 23 Tovril steals dagger from Dakota Spire, Krunne commits second murder, drops Spire's dagger on the scene, Krunne sends anonymous letter to Ekira, PF team arrested
Day 24 PF team tried & sentenced to be hanged, Krunne sends next letter to VC Jorsal
Day 27 VC Jorsal receives next letter, summons PCs
Day 29 VC Jorsal briefs PCs, PCs depart Nerosyan
Day 32 PCs arrive in Dawnton at dusk, begin to investigate
Day 36 First PF team executed at dawn if not cleared of the murders
Dancel Parsipp, farmer, 20 years old. Was returning home from Dawnton in the early evening when killed by Krunne. Skinned in a hidden location, then carried to Otto's farm where he was hung up within sight of the farmhouse. His body was identified (dental records?) by his family and buried on their land a mile away from Otto's Farm.
EDIT: I'll add this also; it won't be hard for the PCs to undermine the evidence against the arrested agents. The key will be proving it. Likely no one in the village will accept the PC's 'expertise' until they can prove who DID in fact commit the murders. Throw the Pathfinders' reputation as murderhobos in the players' faces. Refer to the massacre in Ravenmoor as an example. The point is that Dawnton is not under the same laws as a modern country. They had a village meeting, an Inquisitor of Iomedae spoke passionately to the Pathfinders' guilt, the villagers had a vote and the majority believed the accused were guilty. To these people, that's justice. Now they wait twelve days to hang 'em ;)
The Ruby Prince will invoice any Risen Guard PCs for the cost of the free Raise Dead they received. They have one week to pay up, as well as return all Guard uniforms and accessories, or the claim will be sent to The Pickled Imp collections agency for recovery.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
I have yet to see a player compelled to prove his or her GM star count at any table. Like many things in this game, we are under the honor system. In light of the current glitch, I would be stunned if a GM refused to believe a player's bonus to the reroll since 99% of the GM population has been affected by it.