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Since I got a non-standard group size (six players), it's upgrades all around for the opposition. Also, by a twist of fate only three backgrounds traits were chosen, evenly divided between the six players, so I plan on meshing some of them together (Exposed to Awfulness with Stolen Fury and Child of of the Crusades with Riftwarden Orphan, while leaving Touched by Divinity alone. Chance encounter is too difficult to work in after the fact, but the characters who took Touched by Divinity have the best backstory, anyway, so they don't need further story added to that). That should make for a bit more of an exciting personal storyline than the short vignettes we get for each individual trait.
As for hex exploration, I'll skip it and give out quests.
Peter Stewart wrote:
Well, then we are getting into the territory if AP design is done how it should be. But unless I misremember his statement, JJ said that the writers are not shooting for a "beginner" baseline, but rather for "moderately experienced" gamers. And, as I said quite a few times already, at high levels the encounters don't hold up to that.
For the three initial modules (so in a normal AP, levels 1-9) a lot of groups seem to struggle with AP's, with difficult encounters killing characters and even causing TPK's. You don't hear that from the second leg of AP's (levels 10-18) very often and more often you hear the contrary. There is a good question why that happens. And the answer should be beyond "because few groups play AP's all through".
Peter Stewart wrote:
Even with that assumption it very often feels like monsters are wielding nerfbats against real weapons. Aside from the odious single opponent fight, many encounters between important bosses (what I like to call "trash mobs", because I've been playing WoW since day one ^^) consist of multiple "party CR-2" (or -3), which very often are just a tedious waste of time. They barely can inflict a few points of damage and, if players are even a bit smart, cost almost no resources.
And those encounters are really just there to fill rooms, because otherwise it'd look strange if the giant cathedral is almost empty aside from a few boss monsters. But unlike MMO trash, playing through even those "monsters have no chance in hell of winning" encounters takes at least an hour if you set up the tactical map.
So, what I guess I am saying again is that the designers wield the nerfbat way too much when writing their high-level encounters. And that, as far as I can see, they do very often not present that actual challenge.
Peter Stewart wrote:
Of course you are able to judge encounter design for your players better than designers. By the same token my regular GMs are much better able to judge the strength of our parties than designers - which is why one has to rebuild pretty much every single encounter or challenge regardless of which adventure he is running for us and another will likely have to do so before long as well. It goes with the territory. If you want to run things out of the book or with marginal adjustments then you and your parties need to collectively agree to demilitarize as it were on the optimization front.
And I disagree here. AP's should be written for at least moderately competent players which know how the rules work. I am not saying "they should be written for powergaming twinks", either, but the goal, as stated by JJ, is to target "moderately experienced" players. I disagree with him what "moderate experience" means, but at the very least he says that Paizo does not write the AP's for complete beginners.
And, as I pointed out above, the lower level modules corroborate that. They very often include pretty damn harsh encounters. It's only at the high levels that the challenge falls by the wayside and as far as I can see, that doesn't come because the writers suddenly lose their competence as developers, but because the baseline they write against is not adjusted correctly to the actual power adventuring parties have at that level of play.
Peter Stewart wrote:
Again, I'd like to see those characters at level 14 ( and 16 and 18) with their full level-appropiate equipment. Then we'd have a comparison point how the developers compare to what I consider normal high-level groups.
I guess for this AP specifically we would have to see how their high-level mythic characters look like, but I got a sneaking suspicion that nobody in the Paizo office has so far played WotR at high levels. ^^
Peter Stewart wrote:
And to take the discussion back to mythic gameplay, here is our fundamental disconnect in regards to that ruleset. I think mythic rules allow even non-optimized characters to multiply their power far above to what the designers suspected. I did that as soon as I saw the monster section of the Mythic Adventures book. The problem here is that all the good options are in two section (three for spellcasters) of the same book and they are really not very hard to miss. To boot, in the case of mythic feats they are not really "new" options, but rather upgrades to the staple feats people already always take (and, yes, I think every strength based melee guy takes Power Attack sooner or later and archers take the archery feats).
You don't need to be a heavy or even slight optimizer to notice that half the mythic abilities are really, really good and the other half really does not do much in comparison. So while I am far away from saying that every mythic character will look the same, I see very few of them which won't at least choose the same base set of abilities, because they are obvious and easy to find. Mythic Power Attack, Fleet Warrior, Mythic Rapid Shot/Manyshot, Wild Arcana and so on and so on.
And as an addendum: According to JJ, those "moderately experienced" players are supposed to mainly use the CRB. But this AP already has them using another hardcover with very powerful rules (one which, btw, refers back a lot to the other additional rules hardcovers, especially in the feat and spell section), so maybe the encounters should have taken that discrepancy into account.
And just to make it again crystal-clear, I love Wrath of the Righteous storyline (aside from book three, half of which is kind of a disjointed mess). The problem is that the mythic rules are making the already difficult-to-balance high-level gaming even more unstable and difficult to get right. I seriously think that mythic has the potential to ruin this AP for a lot of groups, when it should, in terms of storyline, be in the top tier of AP's.
Peter Stewart wrote:
Hm, yeah, I made a mistake here in not checking back to Seannoss original argument. However, you are invalidating your own argument at the same time here, Petey. If Sean has 30 years of experience, you calling him out on his lack of AP knowledge sounds kinda stupid, especially since he mainly is taking the Mythic system to task. Also, you being a self-avowed "evil American" has nothing to do with my argument, either, so I have no idea why you are bringing this up.
Kain Darkwind wrote:
You redesign and adjust encounters, and they still get rofl-stomped? You must not be very good at it then. At a bare minimum, you ought to be able to provide a mirror encounter that has an equal chance of rofl-stomping their dopplegangers. On the other hand, I don't like encounters that either side just blows through, so I design them against that parameter.
What can I say, I still have some of that naive belief in me that the encounters, as designed by the writers, are actually supposed to represent an actual challenge. So, when I, as I did in the past, simply combine four of them into one, it should make for an epic fight. And it very often still doesn't. I've gotten better at divesting myself of the illusion that high-level AP encounters are actually challenging and have often gotten better at putting them together in a challenging way, but I also still get caught on the wrong foot.
My (admitted) inadequacies as an encounter designer aside, I still seem to able judge them better than the people who professionally write modules. Which makes me sad. In my defense, I am trying to working with the baseline we were given by them via the CR system and APL.
Kain Darkwind wrote:
They have to do with baseline expectations, as was pointed out, fairly clearly by Peter. If the designers' characters look horrifically unoptimized at 4th level, that divergence will grow greater in high level. The bottom line is that the APs aren't written for even moderately optimized parties. And your idea of 'optimization' is not the same as that of the designers.
I think that is a wrong-headed assumption. Low-level characters often can and do look horribly unoptimized, because money is scarce and late-game abilities haven't kicked in. If we'd see 14th level versions of those characters (which were not built to combine classes which don't synergize well... after all I thought making single class characters attractive was one of the main goals of Pathfinder design?), most of those bad statistics will have disappeared.
Peter Stewart wrote:
So lets see, Magnus admits (give him credit) that he thinks APs as a whole are too easy.
Which they are.
Peter Stewart wrote:
Seannoss admits that this is the first AP he's played, and thus that he has no basis for comparison.
But, oh noes, doesn't that disprove your assertion that these AP's are built for beginners and they should be fine?
Peter Stewart wrote:
Here's the reality. All APs are going to be too easy if your party is relatively (not even highly) optimized and you run them out of the box.
We are not running them out of the box. I for one am constantly adjusting and combining encounters as soon as the high levels hit and those encounters still get ROFL-stomped to a degree which can't be easily explained with "experience" and "non-standard group size". Something is off about assumed high-level balance and "expected encounter design".
Peter Stewart wrote:
Mythic only further contributes to what is an existing problem in the same way that higher levels contribute, because the more options you have available the further you can separate from what is considered by designers to be baseline.
The problem with mythic is that it takes what is already an unbalanced system (high-level gaming) and then applies several multipliers to the whole deal. At the same time, mythic monsters do not get abilities which appear up to par with what mythic PC's get. One of the problems with this AP is that the designers again insisted on placing single opponent encounters everywhere, of which should be clear after so many years of writing and feedback that they do. not. work! Unless you apply some tricks to diminish the importance of action economy, that is.
Peter Stewart wrote:
So, your examples cite three 4th level characters and a 12th level multi-class character, with classes which do not synergize very well. How exactly does that have anything to do with high-level gaming or mythic?
Bullpucky. While I frequently complain about AP difficulty, a lot of people here who have turned up to complain about the mythic difficulty of this AP are people I have not seen complain about general AP difficulty before. The problem is that high-level mythic gameplay has elevated the power curve way more than the designers realized when writing the system.
And there have been at least a few GM's who went into this AP with a standard or deliberately nerfed party and still come back telling us that their group walked all over the AP. So your first paragraph also is wrong.
And that's my somewhat brief rundown of my experience in WotR. Let me know if you would like any more specifics.
More specifics are always fun to hear about (I personally would be most interested in how Baphomet, Deskari and Areelu went down and if they managed to put up a good fight on the way. Also how the Xanthir Vang fight went), but the short version also already serves as another data point on how mythic is too good for the PC's.
That isn't how DD and daylight work btw, they are touch spells so basically impossible to counter each other. When brought into conflicting radius', they negate each other temporarily, making the light level go back to what ambient lighting was (I think regular darkness)
Yeah, but to be honest I didn't want to screw over the party too badly. Without Daylight countering Deeper Darkness, the best they could have done is the two spells cancelling each other out and them still having to fight in total darkness. I thought the fight was okay as it went.
After he ran out of meatbags to occupy (or better said, daily magic jar uses), the combat was over pretty soon. The party is well supplied with melee/ranged types with good to-hit numbers and know how to flank and support each other. Since Eustoyriax did not have something like blindsight or tremorsense, using a hit-and-run tactic with his pounce ability was not feasible.
I could have let him fly around and use some his Shadow Conjuration/Evocation spell-likes or pounce from the air, but the ranger with her excellent firepower would have made that a short exercise, too. So I let him stay to follow his orders and fight to the death and that at least gave Irabeth her last blaze of glory, making for a good coda of her following the party into the heaviest combat areas of the campaign. After this, she'll be more in the background (at least in terms of actively going with the party) and it'll be Arueshalae's turn to shine. Or so I presume. ^^
Session of April 15th 2014:
Five of six players in attendance. Again a one-fight session, with some trap avoidance at the beginning and some celebration and important RP at the end. The fight was against Eustoyriax and his two shadow demon entourage.
The plan, highly successful at the beginning, was to keep the room permanently in Deeper Darkness and let Eustoyriax do his thing. The two shadow demons alternated in casting DD against the Daylight casts of the two arcane casters and the cleric. Eustoyriax possessed the barbarian and began whaling on the nearby party members.
Anyway, Irabeth was the one who landed the killing blow and since she will be staying Drezen from now on, instead of accompanying the party, I gave her another mythic tier and level 7. ^^ The party was pretty much empty on mythic power at the end of the fight, but then again they are also done now for days or weeks with fighting.
Module three awaits next week and we'll see how the party looks like after they had time and opportunity to equip themselves with items of their own choosing.
Well, I simply made an RTS style build queue, because I frankly don't want to deal with the whole thing in the first place. ^^ The rewards will be a city with better base value and base limit, which also gives some bonuses on knowledge checks and the like. If the entire deal would have had any sort of purpose in the later part of the AP (and, no, the attack on Drezen in module six doesn't really count for me), I probably would have invested more energy into this. Since it doesn't, I'll save everybody involved a lot of time and we can get on with the story proper.
The building list is quite useful and I am modifying it for my purposes, but I must admit that I can't make head and tails of how exactly you organized the downtime resource generation and how the different modifiers played out ultimately in that RTS queue you were talking about. ^^
Thanks, porridge, I had trouble finding your post where you first recounted how your AP went.
And while advanced templates help quite a bit early on, I'll take you on your word on how they don't help so much in the later modules.
In any case, with your pre-nerfed PC's and the need to still use the upgraded versions of the opponents, it should be pretty clear that the "it's your fault, because you are not using pre-gen characters power levels" argument is pretty bunk.
As for Magnus: if skills are more important then so will the Display of mythic abilities. I mentioned this to the paladin in my group so now he can achieve diplomacy DCs of 65+. Whew....so now all these diplomacy encounters are easy (depending on what he still says in character)
Well, okay. I didn't put mythic into my thought process here. But I think nobody in my group will take those, since there are so many better ones.
Had a GM once who gave everybody the opportunity to use 20 point buys, but said that for every attribute that under 10 you had to forfeit a trait.
That's one method. I personally don't want players to start with a natural attribute above 16 (before racials) and not more than one below 8.
Yeah, good tactics are easy to learn and they almost never need much adjusting after you know them.
From another thread, magnus has it correct that RP challenges seem to be a much better way to go...as long as dice aren't involved as PCs can easily hit DC60 to 70 at level 12.
Luckily I haven't had to deal with this ever, although DC's of 30 really are easily beatable at around level 10-12.
And I truly doubt that the game is that fine tuned that 5 extra points ruins the whole game. What it does is prevent my PCs from burying a stat that isn't likely to come into play.
Yup, same thought process here. Okay, if you allow your players to absolutely min-max then it giving them five points makes it only easier for them. But if you give them the option of getting 5 more points and in return accept some restrictions on ability allocation, then it really helps out with rounding out their characters in inoffensive ways.
Sorry, forgot to post the link to the journal. Here it is.
They haven't even begun the AP proper yet and Mikaze has already written what appears to be half a novel. ^^ And it's great writing, as usual.
As to the first part.... I think that's part of the problem - the encounters in AP's are designed for people who take Timmy feats - my current group does this - and I've played with people in the past where half the feat selection is Timmy feats. I personally like well built characters (and I don't mind ones that are sub-par - but built poorly bugs me) - Mythic makes it much easier to take Timmy feats and still be well built - perhaps that's the problem.
I think one of the big problems here is also that it is almost impossible to miss the good feats and abilities in the book. They are all in one place and they are really that good.
The other half of the problem is that combat gets crazy complex at higher levels - the power jump at level 12 is not easy to adjust for.
It's that the designers don't seem aware that this power jump exists in their AP design what frustrates me. It's not the same game as the lower levels, even in normal play.
TPK's are very unlikely to happen in this campaign after they hit the end of Sword of Valor. Dead party members are not good until the end of book two, though, since it is only then that they will have access to ressurection magic and because they are too far out and on a schedule, which makes it very difficult to bring a dead comrade to a location where you can find a divine caster able to do resurrections.
Story Archer wrote:
Yes, that encapsulates my feelings to a point. Which hopefully explains why I have been getting more and more irritated in the last days about the topic. Man, I hope that GM's who are running this AP are quick on their feet. Mikaze is in a WotRC campaign right now and keeping a tremendous campaign journal. I'd hate to see that campaign flounder and disappear because their GM can't deal with all the problems mythic throws at them. :-/
Not to mention the worries I have for later levels in my own campaign.
He's suggested to magnuskn for his group to go in with possibly a 10 point buy and apply the advanced template twice to each monster - I dunno how that would work out, but if you feel underwhelmed it's really up to you to convince your GM to either play the enemies up with better tactics - or to make them tougher. Just remember the GM can kill a PC if they want at whim - it's not always easy to figure out what is 'fun' for the players and what is a drag.
Getting your characters killed is pretty surely in the "drag" category, especially if it seems arbitrarily done by the GM.
Also, while I didn't do the 10 point build JJ wanted, someone else did. And the players still stomped all over the campaign.
As Seannoss has already pointed out, the iconics are built with 20 points. And even then they are sometimes built in a way which can't be explained outside of "because so that their stats represent Wayne Reynolds picture". That isn't normal character building, that is building a character to do justice to something they are predisposed to be. Most of them are decently built, though, with some weird stuff which has to be there for "make the stats fit Valeros image" on top.
And you are pretty much off in regards to the Wizard/Seoni comparison. The stats are mostly right, I can only see some additional points put into Wisdom and Charisma, which are not the most important stats to a Wizard in the first place. That the character apparently has better equipment than Seoni also shouldn't be any surprise, Paizo threw ludicrous amounts of treasure at the players and mythic rules make crafting magic items easier by a ton, too.
Kain Darkwind wrote:
It doesn't matter why your character is higher than the iconic build, just that your character is. The iconic is the baseline. If you exceed that baseline, you shouldn't be surprised at the lesser challenge.
Oh, BS. The iconics are built on the basis of their character pictures as done by Wayne Reynolds. They never have been touted as some sort of baseline against which player characters have to be measured and you just pulled that right out of your tuchas.
James Hebert wrote:
Magnus, I would be interested to see your writing. What do you have so far?
Not really very much. Only a very rough campaign outline. I am adamant on integrating Rasputin Must Die! from Reign of Winter into an urban campaign set in Oppara in Taldor and that has taken up most of my thought processes dedicated to this (still very far off) campaign for the last month and a half. By now I think I got the story twist necessary for it worked out and have by now thought up a rough structure on how to get from point A to Z.
So until I got anything worth looking it, it'll be a while.
Since it is obvious that you are not playing mythic nor this AP, I think people who are actually doing so have a better idea how it goes in practice than you do.
I can't speak myself yet for how the last three modules are going to go, but the GM's/players who already did so are posting in unison extremely discouraging stuff in terms of game balance. And at least one of those groups started the AP already very nerfed in regards to the baseline on purpose and still stomped all over the AP's official writing.
Karui Kage wrote:
Oooh, I like Seannoss's idea too. Recovering 1d4 might be too limiting for a party of four, but recovering based off the surge bonus (1d6 at 1-3, 1d8 at 4-6, 1d10 at 7-9, and 1d12 at 10) could be a nice way to scale it.
It's too much. The whole point of limiting mythic power is to make the resource scarce enough that players have to seriously think about using it. If your mythic power is 10 at tier 7 and you can recover it in one go with a good roll, then what was the point of having a limited recovery mechanic in the first place?
Also, given the pacing of the AP, I think the last module would be the only place in the last four modules where the group would have such a time crunch that they can't take off a few days to recover fully. So if they really want to be at their peak, they can limit themselves. Most groups would probably want to press on as soon as possible, though, so that is where limiting mythic power by reducing it and making recovery harder will reign in their power level.
BTW, stuff like Ambrosia and the mythic power draining spells should of course be proscribed, lest this whole exercise becomes futile.
captain yesterday wrote:
okay, write an adventure then! if its so easy and they are so bad then why get them?
I am writing my next campaign, because I am getting tired of a lot of the AP formats downfalls. If I can write a better story or make all encounters challenging is rather another question, given how I am an amateur writer and encounter designer.
But that doesn't change that professional writers should know better than to design an adventure which allows player characters to serially nova encounters. Or if the nature of the adventure is as such that "few encounters per day" absolutely has to be the norm, they should design the encounters in a way which expects player characters to expend most of their resources in a single fight and builds the opposition in a way which still makes those kind of fights challenging.
Another problem is that random encounters don't add anything to the story. They usually are just there to soak up time, there should be a better answer.
This. I don't want to add another two months of sessions just for encounters which are completely non-relevant to the story. Also, the AP's should be frankly written better, so that we GM's don't have to cover for the writers shortcomings as an encounter designer. Seriously. :-/