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RPG Superstar 2015

The Starry Mirror


Shackled City Adventure Path

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Ladies & Gentlemen,

1) How easy was it for your group to get through the Starry Mirror? Would you have done anything differently to make the puzzle easier/harder?

2) Not mentioned in the book, but if a PC wanders around inside the SM for a while first, does he/she have to "walk the pattern" (heh heh ... Zelazny) starting from whatever color she/he happens to be standing in at that time, or from the color originally entered?

3) What's your favorite color? Red? NO, BLUE! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhhhhhhhh

;^D

Thanks,

FM


Forever Man wrote:

Ladies & Gentlemen,

1) How easy was it for your group to get through the Starry Mirror? Would you have done anything differently to make the puzzle easier/harder?

2) Not mentioned in the book, but if a PC wanders around inside the SM for a while first, does he/she have to "walk the pattern" (heh heh ... Zelazny) starting from whatever color she/he happens to be standing in at that time, or from the color originally entered?

3) What's your favorite color? Red? NO, BLUE! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhhhhhhhh

;^D

Thanks,

FM

My party did not figure out the starry mirror. They weren't even close. I had to have an NPC figure it out. I also know someone else who ran it, and his group was baffled too. He was of the opinion that The Starry Mirror was ridiculously hard.

I haven't read it in a while, but I don't think you have to start from the first color...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

My party figured it out after about 20 minutes. The puzzle contains plenty of clues. A propper discription, as well as the handout so thoughfully provided should get your players to solve it.


The mirror is only hard if the players have no idea about their clues. The handout of the tablet was really the key. As long as the DM properly emphasizes the importance of the giant's tablet it shouldn't be impossible to figure it out (unless your players are not so cerebral and more monster-smashy).

Just emphasize that the clue is the key and one of their attempts should eventually be the correct one.

When me and my party experienced this puzzle, we spent a good 20 minutes experimenting before I managed to stumble onto the correct answer.


My group made a number of attempts, and one person ended up being "off by 1" on the puzzle. Eventually, the cleric cast Divination which got them through.

Everyone agreed that Alek had more than enough reason to be driven mad by the end of it.


Forever Man wrote:

1) How easy was it for your group to get through the Starry Mirror? Would you have done anything differently to make the puzzle easier/harder?

2) Not mentioned in the book, but if a PC wanders around inside the SM for a while first, does he/she have to "walk the pattern" (heh heh ... Zelazny) starting from whatever color she/he happens to be standing in at that time, or from the color originally entered?

1. For my group, the challenge was just right. Not totally obvious, but they were able to decode it. Two of the players each solved about half the puzzle, and once they put their heads together - bang. Oddly enough, one of those players is color blind. After i labeled each color with text, he was all over it.

2. The combination is a circular pattern, so it matters not from which color a character begins. As long as each move takes them to the next color in the combination, they get out.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Thank you, gentlemen.


The group I run is not really into the whole puzzle thing. We used a combination of figuring out the puzzle and a variety of skill checks. I let them work at it until they started getting frustrated and then added some skill and/or ability checks to throw some clues their way. It worked out pretty well that way.


Shadowcat7 wrote:
The group I run is not really into the whole puzzle thing. We used a combination of figuring out the puzzle and a variety of skill checks. I let them work at it until they started getting frustrated and then added some skill and/or ability checks to throw some clues their way. It worked out pretty well that way.

I am a firm, FIRM believer that there should always be more than one way to bypass a "puzzle" encounter. I have had some bad experiences with exchanges like:

DM: You see a magic sword sitting at the end of a hall. There are some poles lining the path between you and the sword. There's a poem that says [details not important].
PC 1: I walk over and pick up the sword.
DM: The poles shoot out some kind of energy and kill you.
PC 1: Do I get a save?
DM: No.
PC 2: What kind of energy? Maybe I can cast Protection from Fire on the next guy.
DM: It's not fire, just energy.
PC 3: I throw some rocks at the poles and try to break them.
DM: The poles are invulnerable.
PC 3: I try to tunnel through the floor.
DM: The floor is protected by a wall of force.
PC 2: I summon a jann and get him to travel etherally to the end of the hall and pick up the sword.
DM: There's a dimensional anchor effect in place.
PC 2: I dispel it.
DM: It didn't work. Guys, just read the poem and figure it out...

(Etc., etc. -- the details have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.)


I gave my group color copies of the rooms with the numbers and the tablet. The players figured that the tablet was the key to the puzzle but couldn't get through it. They enjoyed the puzzle initially, but grew frustrated. After an hour, one member used the last of her Divination raisins (three had been acquired a long time ago).

I let the spell get them through the maze, but I didn't explain how it worked. They were even more frustrated at that! They really wanted to know how the puzzle worked. I didn't budge; told 'em I might want to use it again. They told me I had better use it again! They wanted another crack at it.

It has been a few years, I think I'll wheel it out during the Savage Time.


Mykull wrote:
It has been a few years, I think I'll wheel it out during the Savage Time.

(Assuming you mean "Savage Tide")

Spoiler:
In Chapter 3: Here There Be Monsters there's a mirror puzzle near the end of the chapter in the boss' dungeon. From experience and comments, most people dislike this puzzle, so replacing that one with the Starry Mirror could be the perfect setup for you. Just don't forget to parcel out those clues again before they get to it!

Liberty's Edge

Crowheart wrote:
Mykull wrote:
It has been a few years, I think I'll wheel it out during the Savage Time.
(Assuming you mean "Savage Tide")

Is this the AP about chronomancy? :D


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The PCs in my campaign have just entered the Starry Mirror. They did not take the tablet nor have they taken any notice of the floor pattern prior to the maze. We finished the last session with the PCs individually in the Starry Maze. I'm not sure how they're going to figure it out without these clues.


While my players agree that SCAP was the most fun they had in a campaign, they all seem to agree that the starry mirror was one of the least fun experiences.

The player who had the hand out kept looking at it and telling the more puzzle loving members of the party that there was nothing on it that would help and then would walk away from the table in frustration. It was tough since another player who normally sits patiently through that players role-playing sessions but doesn't really participate LOVES puzzles and really wanted to figure this one out but was denied all the clues by his own party.

Finally the puzzle was solved through the use of divination magic. But while the cleric was quick to say he was resting to rememorize, two other party members kept trying to brute force a pattern out of it... which means the 8 hours of rest approached real time.

Anyway... didn't work well for my party. Lots of frustrated players and the one who would appreciate it most was denied the chance.

Sean Mahoney


RidTrouble wrote:
The PCs in my campaign have just entered the Starry Mirror. They did not take the tablet nor have they taken any notice of the floor pattern prior to the maze. We finished the last session with the PCs individually in the Starry Maze. I'm not sure how they're going to figure it out without these clues.

I would suggest coming up with a series of skill checks that they can make to figure it out. Or if they will do that type of thing use divination magics to give them the answer.

Whatever you do, don't let it drag out too long.

Sean Mahoney

Dark Archive

Having run the Starry Mirror puzzle past two different gaming groups that both solved it within 15 minutes I'm always confused when I hear that it gave people lots of trouble. I wish the Shackled City had a few more neat puzzles like it.


Sean Halloran wrote:
Having run the Starry Mirror puzzle past two different gaming groups that both solved it within 15 minutes I'm always confused when I hear that it gave people lots of trouble. I wish the Shackled City had a few more neat puzzles like it.

I've found that it's hard to predict whether a given party will find a puzzle to be too easy or too hard. (Well, sometimes it's obvious when it'll be too hard...) I've been on both sides of that one (as DM and as player).


I figured the hags would have been trying to figure it out as well at some point in history. So with the quarterstaff /alakast/ I included some crumpled up notes. These notes included a rubbing of the silver plate, just the numerical portion, and a bunch of lists of colors in various orders. Next to the lists, I wrote names of people and observations, like the hags were scientists watching a rat solve a maze "subject becomes distressed and bangs on the wall repeatedly." Then I crossed out the ones that didn't work. I ripped up the pages, crumpled them up and gave them to the players.

Another thing I did was cut up pieces of construction paper. When a character was in a room of a particular color, I put the mini on that color. As they moved from room to room, I placed a trail of papers.

Some players put the notes together and had fun with that. One player recognized the numbers, but didn't know what it meant. Some players tried a random walk through the maze. The players with the notes called hints "from red, don't go to green, that didn't work for Pywicket..." Eventually the table was covered with colored papers. When the color pattern was discovered, the players back-solved to understand the numerical notations and how it related to the floor.

It took about 30 minutes. And it never occurred to them to use magic.

@Ridtrouble - maybe one player can run across some crumpled notes next to a skeleton of a failed maze traveler? (search check!) And the colored papers worked out well. When a player got to a color another player had been in, they could see the previous choices that hadn't worked. If you are clever and lucky, you can even have the papers connect so they step onto a paper someone else used. Then they can travel through it like a maze.

Good luck!


We did the Starry Mirror last night and I, at least, had a good time with it. Some of the players are frustrated, but most will ultimately be happy when they figure it out. They spent about a half hour poking around outside of it and a bit more than an hour inside. They didn't quite figure it out by the end of the night, though afterwards, one player e-mailed our list with the correct solution (which he hasn't tried yet).

After they wandered around inside for a bit, I had them start making Fortitude checks, DC 15 and increasing by 1. Failure makes a character increasingly sleepy and they fall asleep at 3 failures. I did this so that the cleric could pray for Divination and also so the group could be fully rested for Nabby.

They had figured out a lot of the nature of the place on their own. Divination* was the only hint they needed: it pointed them at the plate. One of the characters said, "Hey, wasn't there some detail on this thing the DM said the printout was too low res to show?" (I had mentioned this a month ago.) They tried mapping the numbers directly to colors, which didn't work. That's where we wrapped up. Later, over e-mail, one character said, "Wait a second, these numbers only go to 5, not 6." And then he figured it out.

*The divination was pretty funny. Our cleric has a great back-story: he's the first cleric of the demi-god son of St. Cuthbert, who is basically a divine trust fund baby. The cleric was talking about casting Divination a bit earlier, so I wrote a limerick for that and then just changed the last line, since he was actually in the Starry Mirror:

There once was a p'ladin named Tercival
Whose absence was felt quite erstwhile.
He got trapped in a mirror
To his utter terror,
But he made it out even without a fancy plate.

The cleric started looking at the plate, which he was carrying. He then mused, "Perhaps the message means that if Alek Tercival can make it through without the plate, so can we." His god added, "That's not what it means." heehee!

Liberty's Edge

My party did the Starry Mirror last session. They spent 20-30 minutes trying to figure out the pattern. They got it eventually but were stumped by the inscription code. They could count to 6 but apparently, not to 5. I kept laughing at them and they got more determined to figure it out. They knew most of the pattern but were stuck on the middle color.

In all, the puzzle was challenging but not anything that derailed play.


Two of my party members came very close to mutiny when confronted with the puzzle. While the other two did there best to use the trial and error method, one PC almost had it, but had the starting point wrong. After numerous comments about people hating puzzles, I just gave it to them. Disappointing for me, as I had been looking forward to it for weeks. We were also dealing with online play, via chat, and so things can get a bit confusing at times. It was in danger of getting ugly. Id grade this puzzle out high for RL play, but online (at least this one time) it was a bit of a flop in my game.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well we finally got together and played through the Starry Mirror. It took a couple of hours but they were enjoying the challenge. After several failures, the cleric cast some divination magic and that gave them enough of a clue to solve it themselves. Thanks for the advice from everyone.

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