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My group faced Xanesha last night - Lots of spoilers - for GM eyes only.


Rise of the Runelords

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Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I GM RotRL in a Pathfinder group of 5 players, a Rogue, a Ranger, a Wizard, a Paladin and a Cleric, every other monday. Two weeks ago, the group finally came to the Clocktower, in pursuit of Ironbriar and with the city guard hot on their tails, as Ironbriar had them framed for the Skinsaw Murders. They quickly disposed of the Scarecrow and Ironbriar, and rushed up the tower. they had no idea what was waiting for them, but had heard some vague spoilers on the forums about a horrible party-killer. The faceless stalkers sprung their bell-trap, which forced the wizard to use his only Feather Fall, but the abarrations were soon turned to mushy goo. The players, however were bruised and lacking essential spells as they climbed the scaffolding to the top floor of the tower.

They had prepared a Silence spell on a weapon held by the Wizard's Mage Hand and stealthed in slowly. The room seemed empty, but a soon as the rogue advanced on Xanesha's nest, she suddently appeared and turned him to stone. The paladin charged the monster, used a Smite Elvil, and happily announced that he'd hit AC 32. His face grew a bit long when I told him he'd missed. The wizard sent his silenced weapon forward, and his face was the next one to grow long when I told him that the area he was standing in was still silenced. The ranger advanced, and failed to hit, and the cleric moved out of the silence zone, cast doom, and failed to penetrate Xanesha's spell resistance. When Xanesha next hit the Ranger with all her three attacks, for a total of 45 dam, the players began to realize the horror of the situation. 4 rounds later, they were sucking HP fumes, and the only on who'd actually damaged Xanesha was the Paladin's mount who'd crittet her with a hoof for 16 dam. We called it a night.

My players spent the next two weeks talking about what characters they were gonna roll up next, and how to keep the adventure going after a TPK.

Last night, we met up again. I had prepared for a swift end of the combat, and a way to get them raised by a friend for the money from the reward on Ironbriar. They just had one last plan, they told me, a long shot, but at least a shot. First off, the wizard, who'd spotted the twig that Xanesha had cast silence on, threw it off the roof and cast Web on her. With a +18 ref safe she easily avoided getting stuck. They rest retreated to the scaffolding, and the rogue lobbed a Tanglefoot bag at her. A tanglefoot bag just happes to be a touch attack with no safe, and for the first time the gods of dice-luck smiled at him. She wasen't however, glued to the floor, as she was flying. On her turn, she tries to advance on the group, and roll a 1 on her ref save to get through the web. She's stuck!

The players move to the bell room and the wizard pulls out one of the spellbooks he's found earlier, but before they can get to the stairs, a goo-spattered and angry Xanesha Dimension-doors into the room. To my surprise, all the players delay their actions, and then on the count of 3 they all jump into the hole in the ground where the fallen bell had been. on the way down, the wizard uses Feather Fall from the spellbook as a scroll. She casts scorching ray at them down the hole, and I rule that they crash burning through the roof of the floor room of the tower, but take no falling dam. As they brush of the dust, smoke and debris from the crash, a voice booms; "Hold it! Drop your weapons!". They are surrounded by the City Guard who chased them here.

Suddently, Xanesha appears in the middle of the room with a poof and a "... Door!". As she impales the first city guard, the others quickly figure that perhaps the PC's are not the real enemy. She quickly manages to get both the Paladin and the Ranger to negative HP, but the guard keeps her distracted while they get healed back up, and whittle away at her Mirror Images at the same time. Suddently the dice luck changes entirely. Another tanglefoot bag and a few crits and she's at 45 HP. Most of her spells have worn off, and she's down to 27 AC. She decides to Dimension Door away, casts defensively and rolls a 1! The ranger hits her, the rogue backstabs her, and finally the Enlarged Paladin lobs off her head with a crit from a Zweihander.

With clever thinking, and a lot of dice luck in the end, they actually managed to off Xanesha without a single player kill.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Tales Subscriber

Wow - beautiful work by your party!

My group managed to bring some guards *with* them (who managed to roll quite a few 20's on attacks before doing Aid another's on the party members). That's what swung it around enough to make Xanesha retreat via Dimension Door - not realizing her fly had been dispelled... [splat]

Andoran

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Good post! They are encountering her *THIS SATURDAY* and I am a little worried about how it will go.

Taldor

Great! I'm glad your party survived this very tough encounter!

Good luck to those soon attempting it :)


This post is pure awesome! Way to go Entropi!

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hehe. More than a month later, it turns out that my players still think I foiled the dice to let them beat Xanesha.

Contributor

Curses!


Richard Pett wrote:
Curses!

Don't worry Richard, in my campaign Xanesha showed up after the PCs got chewed up and lost over half their number to the Scarecrow, when the party wizard fled upstairs and set off the bell trap.

She turned invisible, realized that only the wizard and the elderly cleric were still alive, and started the death poking with her spear. It was only my second TPK of my GMing career.

Contributor

KnightErrantJR wrote:
Richard Pett wrote:
Curses!

Don't worry Richard, in my campaign Xanesha showed up after the PCs got chewed up and lost over half their number to the Scarecrow, when the party wizard fled upstairs and set off the bell trap.

She turned invisible, realized that only the wizard and the elderly cleric were still alive, and started the death poking with her spear. It was only my second TPK of my GMing career.

Huzzah!

I mean, oh dear. Good job I didn't get my original, tougher ending into this adventure then...

Good to hear you're having fun.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Richard Pett wrote:

Good job I didn't get my original, tougher ending into this adventure then...

Good to hear you're having fun.

Yeah, I've started recommending to all my RotRL GM friends that they buff Xanesha considerably, to make her more of a challenge ;)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Richard Pett wrote:
I mean, oh dear. Good job I didn't get my original, tougher ending into this adventure then...

Please share all the juicy details...

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Entropi wrote:
Richard Pett wrote:

Good job I didn't get my original, tougher ending into this adventure then...

Good to hear you're having fun.

Yeah, I've started recommending to all my RotRL GM friends that they buff Xanesha considerably, to make her more of a challenge ;)

Not just that. She needs some "back-up" to keep the party from concentrating all their resources on her.

It can be rough being a single "boss mob" vs. an entire party of heroic adventurers.

Spoiler:
And after the resulting TPK, I can move on to recruiting new players for a Sci-Fi or Superhero campaign.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Richard Pett wrote:


Huzzah!

I mean, oh dear. Good job I didn't get my original, tougher ending into this adventure then...

Good to hear you're having fun.

I certainly hope you gentlemen are joking. I don't know if this has been addressed yet, but there is a mistake in the module. In the Before Combat section of the module it says: Xanesha casts fly, mage armor, and shield on herself. It goes on to say: These effects are incorporated into her stats. This is completely false. Note that she has a +1 armor bonus to her AC (this is due to her Snakeskin Tunic) and no shield bonus. And she starts off with an AC of 26, which is already very hard for an average 6th level party to hit. When you buff her as the module suggests, she gets another +3 to her armor bonus and a +4 shield bonus. So she is supposed to begin the fight with a 33 AC (34 once she hastes herself)! This is a ludicrous target number for a 6th level fighter to hit, let alone characters with average/poor BAB progressions.

Think about an average 6th level fighter. He has a BAB of +6, lets give him a Strength of 18, which adds +4. I'll assume that he takes Weapon Focus in his chosen weapon (the fighter in my game didn't btw), and has at least a +2 weapon (once again my fighter only has a +1). This gives our average 6th level fighter an attack bonus of +13. Wow, so our intrepid fighter has the same chance to hit Xanesha as every other member of the party: he only hits on a nat 20. Considering that she has 142 hit points; this is a guaranteed TPK, unless the DM employs deux a machina tactics or the party has exceptional, ungodly luck.

I know that Paizo is renowned for killer dungeons, but this is ridiculous. I don't see how my party can get past this obstacle without serious dice doctoring on my part or a severe rewrite of her spell list. Bottom line, she is an end boss. I could see a 26 AC or perhaps at most a 28. But with 142 hp, the fighter should be able to hit on a 15 or better, not only on nat 20s.

Any ideas on how I can avoid the TPK running this fight as written (without cheating)? I love Rich Pett, Nick Logue, Steve Greer and Greg V; but guys, this end fight is seriously broken (and not in favor of the PCs. I'd love to hear a rigorous defense of the difficulty of this end fight, and perhaps some ideas on how an intrepid party could defeat it as written.


dmchucky69 wrote:
Richard Pett wrote:


Huzzah!

I mean, oh dear. Good job I didn't get my original, tougher ending into this adventure then...

Good to hear you're having fun.

Any ideas on how I can avoid the TPK running this fight as written (without cheating)? I love Rich Pett, Nick Logue, Steve Greer and Greg V; but guys, this end fight is seriously broken (and not in favor of the PCs. I'd love to hear a rigorous defense of the difficulty of this end fight, and perhaps some ideas on how an intrepid party could defeat it as written.

I posted about this fight many months ago just after I ran it. If you run Xanesha as the tactics say, there's very little a party can do to beat her. My group beat her due to two reasons; First, I changed her tactics, made her grossly overconfident and she 'toyed' with the party giving them time to try things. Secondly, a very lucky roll with dispel magic removed her fly spell while she was zipping around outside the tower.

But as written and sans extremely lucky rolls, she would simply spear an entire party to death in a few rounds.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Tales Subscriber

The solution I used was presented elsewhere on the boards: swap Xanesha and Lucretia. While nominally the same CR, Lucretia's a tad easier.

Not a LOT easier, mind you. My PCs went out and bought a fly spell to hit the top of the clock tower first, so their resources weren't drained by the Scarecrow, and she didn't have a lot of warning to buff with. Even so, there was one PC death.

Any way you slice it, Matriarchs are nasty ladies. Consider having an "out" prepared, in case it goes very poorly for them. Perhaps she'll want to take them alive for interrogation, then Sihedron execution? One PC should have a Sihedron medallion, that's certain to draw her attention.

How do they escape? Maybe instead of execution, she uses charm monster on them to use as replacements for her dead assassins, and you fudge the saving throw against your bluffiest character and hope he's smart enough to "play along."

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Everyone who has posted reports ot these messageboards of their groups beating Xanesha sans Deus ex Machina (Me and Lise Stevens, I think) tell that they did it by thinking, not by rushing in. That is indeed the sollution to this encounter, but how do you get your players to realize this if they've beaten everything else head on for the first two books.

One sollution is to let someone, perhaps Ironbriar, brag that the heroes "can never stand a chance against his Wanton Mistress of Nature's Pagan Forms in combat"! That should put them on their toes, an make them look for other sollutions.

Another sollution is to pull the most senior player in your group aside between games and hint to him that he might want to try and convince the group to try out other tactics than brute force.

Or, you could just plan for a TPK. It can be great for your game, and will keep them on edge for the rest of the campiagn, knowing that you play hardball.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
evilvolus wrote:

The solution I used was presented elsewhere on the boards: swap Xanesha and Lucretia. While nominally the same CR, Lucretia's a tad easier.

Not a LOT easier, mind you. My PCs went out and bought a fly spell to hit the top of the clock tower first, so their resources weren't drained by the Scarecrow, and she didn't have a lot of warning to buff with. Even so, there was one PC death.

Any way you slice it, Matriarchs are nasty ladies. Consider having an "out" prepared, in case it goes very poorly for them. Perhaps she'll want to take them alive for interrogation, then Sihedron execution? One PC should have a Sihedron medallion, that's certain to draw her attention.

How do they escape? Maybe instead of execution, she uses charm monster on them to use as replacements for her dead assassins, and you fudge the saving throw against your bluffiest character and hope he's smart enough to "play along."

Okay, I think I fixed it. I liked your idea of switching them, except that Lucretia could get her AC pretty much as high as Xanesha and it's the ridiculously high AC (for a 6th level party) that is my problem. So what I did was trade 2 of her magic items for another one. I got rid of her snakeskin tunic and her ring of protection +1 and added in a ring of the ram (pretty close on the gp values there). I also dropped her natural dex back down to the standard lamia matriarch in the Bestiary of that PF (which is 18).

Now she will sit normally at a 22 AC and at a 31 when fully buffed. The +13 attack bonus of my typical fighter can now hit her on a 9 when she is unprepared, but he still needs an 18 plus to hit her once she is buffed. Let's also remember that she has a mirror image going and 142 hp. So she should last a good 10-12 rounds if not longer. My party is kind of gimped in that they don't have a rogue or a caster. They all started with fighters, and then one switched to monk and a new guy joined our group as a cleric. I think that at the last game, they realized how badly they need skill/caster classes represented in the party. Pure tankage can only get you so far; but I as a DM don't believe in forcing a party structure on my players (play what you want is my mantra). The pure class fighter just took the Leadership feat, so I sense a rogue, wizzy or hybrid rogue/wizzy in their immediate future.

On a totally unrelated, but humorous note: we lost our "break the game, uber-build" player last week. This is the kind of player that maps out his character totally before rolling the dice, has a character using every optional rule he can find, and builds a character with at least 3 base classes and 3-5 prestige classes. In other words, he is a DM's nightmare and annoying to an extreme. Both he and his uncle had missed the previous game, but I ran their characters as "kinda there, kinda not" NPC's. We needed them to be represented, mainly because this guy's character held the lion's share of sins for the haunts to fire off of and I want all the PCs to stay close on XP. Well, he walked in with his uncle at the beginning of this game and of course the other players had to rib him about how his PC would have died had he been there the previous game (I could have killed the character, but took a pass, since I don't like killing absent players characters). Well this guy does a 180, and just leaves. The most diplomatic person in my group (one of my ex-college professors) follows him outside and tries to talk him out of bailing. To no avail, the guy just leaves anyway. Man, I hate babies (meaning college age players that act like 4-year olds). I doubt if the guy is coming back (and I really don't want him to, to be honest).

The best part, was how the dude's uncle reacted. He just said, "Don't worry about it; he's a baby. He most likely won't come back." The uncle wasn't mad and thought the whole thing was funny. Man, if I had only known. The main thing keeping me from tossing the player was the fear that I'd also alienate his uncle. Hilarious.

I welcome comments about my solution to the Xanesha problem. I know Rich isn't going to like it; but I don't consider myself a killer DM. I just want my group to feel challenged, but have fun.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A final advice before I head off to Roskilde Festival: Be prepared for a Total Party Kill.

One option would be for Sheriff Hemlock and his x friends (Where x is the amount of players) to stumble into the group while in Magnimar on official buisness, and follow them to the Clocktower to keep waych at the base (it IS a dangerous neighborhood). This would allow for a whole new group to pick up the story.

Good luck. Can't wait to hear how it goes when I get back


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My group should be facing her next weekend. I really want to see how they play it
I made two changes gave the party of wand of dispel magic level 10 and moved the Scarecrow to the Sawmill so we shall see

Taldor

I think that if as a DM you're afraid that she will TPK your group, the simplest option is just to rework her stats and make her less powerful. That's what I would do if I were to run this adventure again.


My group had a tough scare but no deaths.
Before climbing to the roof they heal themselves full with a magic wand and cast every available buff.. they suspect that the boss is at the top of the tower.

They climb up the scaffolding and see the major image demon Xanesha casted as a diversion, the cleric opens with a targeted dispel magic that only dispels the image.

Xanesha attacks the cleric with her petrifying gaze. A certain death if it hits, but the cleric makes the save, then rushes her and attacks rolling a 32, his confidence wavers when I tell him "you miss". Then the paladin strikes her and does only one hit for a decent damage but she full attacks him and drops 3/4 of his Hp. She also finds herself on a zone of silence, but the sorceress keeps a safe distance

The sorcerer casts a maximized magic missile that bounces on her Shield and she gets an Empowered Scorching ray as an answer. She drops the silence spell as the main caster is staying away anyway.

They are really scared by this time but they press on. The paladin presses on swift heals himself (the Pathfinder paladin can take insane amounts of damage) and recieves a very hard full attack that could have dropped him to negatives, also the sorceress gets a quickened magic missile salvo.

The sorceress maximized scorching ray bounces against SR but the cleric lucks out with a targeted dispell and debuffs the poor lamia.

A much-easier-to-hit Xanesha is victim of a couple of sneaks attacks by the rogue and slashes by the cleric. The paladin smites her for a lot of damage and even the sorceress gets lucky with an empowered ray of enfeeblement dropping like 10 STR points.

The tide is turned so Xanesha turns to flying and exchanges a couple of ranged attacks with the party before fleeing.

Neither side knew that the paladin had only 5Hp left, the Sorceress around 10Hp and Xanesha left alive only because the dispel magic didn't dispel her sihedron medallion false life.

CONCLUSION> I played a wholly buffed Xanesha, I used her metamagic feats to improve the effects of her spells and even then the party surivived whole.


P0L wrote:

My group had a tough scare but no deaths.

Before climbing to the roof they heal themselves full with a magic wand and cast every available buff.. they suspect that the boss is at the top of the tower.

They climb up the scaffolding and see the major image demon Xanesha casted as a diversion, the cleric opens with a targeted dispel magic that only dispels the image.

Xanesha attacks the cleric with her petrifying gaze. A certain death if it hits, but the cleric makes the save, then rushes her and attacks rolling a 32, his confidence wavers when I tell him "you miss". Then the paladin strikes her and does only one hit for a decent damage but she full attacks him and drops 3/4 of his Hp. She also finds herself on a zone of silence, but the sorceress keeps a safe distance

The sorcerer casts a maximized magic missile that bounces on her Shield and she gets an Empowered Scorching ray as an answer. She drops the silence spell as the main caster is staying away anyway.

They are really scared by this time but they press on. The paladin presses on swift heals himself (the Pathfinder paladin can take insane amounts of damage) and recieves a very hard full attack that could have dropped him to negatives, also the sorceress gets a quickened magic missile salvo.

The sorceress maximized scorching ray bounces against SR but the cleric lucks out with a targeted dispell and debuffs the poor lamia.

A much-easier-to-hit Xanesha is victim of a couple of sneaks attacks by the rogue and slashes by the cleric. The paladin smites her for a lot of damage and even the sorceress gets lucky with an empowered ray of enfeeblement dropping like 10 STR points.

The tide is turned so Xanesha turns to flying and exchanges a couple of ranged attacks with the party before fleeing.

Neither side knew that the paladin had only 5Hp left, the Sorceress around 10Hp and Xanesha left alive only because the dispel magic didn't dispel her sihedron medallion false life.

CONCLUSION> I played a wholly buffed Xanesha, I used her...

It's been a while since I've run this fight, but...

As I recall, the Silence effect covered almost the entire top of the tower and was placed near the entrance. How did the cleric get off a Dispel at the beginning? I'm not sure why Xanesha would drop the silence spell when it was still keeping two casters (cleric and paladin) from doing their thing.


I modified the rooftop map to have a little more room, and the silence spell didn't cover the initial part of the scaffolding (the wizard stayed there). As for dropping it, I don't remember if I did that or the cleric got out of range to cast the dispel. I remember that I dropped the effect to cast the empowered scorching ray at the sorceress.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Entropi wrote:

The room seemed empty, but a soon as the rogue advanced on Xanesha's nest, she suddently appeared and turned him to stone.

...two weeks ...

They rest retreated to the scaffolding, and the rogue lobbed a Tanglefoot bag at her. A tanglefoot bag just happes to be a touch attack with no safe, and for the first time the gods of dice-luck smiled at him. She wasen't however, glued to the floor, as she was flying. On her turn, she tries to advance on the group, and roll a 1 on her ref save to get through the web. She's stuck!

Sorry, I couldn't resist asking. How did the petrified rogue retrieve and throw a tanglefoot bag? Or do all those sneak attacks?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

My group got here a few weeks ago.(read BZ's RotRL in the character journals threads if you want to read about it.) The cleric cast the groups' ONLY dispel magic at her...and managed to take down 4/6 of the spells I had on her. They then surrounded adn beat her down with flanking and other boosts. She was still a tough customer.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber

My group had a tough, but managaeble fight. Their advantege was in having a Binder, whose abilities are Su and don't require VSM components, so he could go all out without worrying about silence and AoOs. Still, she was a tough cookie. In the end, when the got the upper hand she jumped the tower and cast feather fall.

She went on for a rematch during Hook Mountain Massacre, where she fought my players twice.

Dear Sir Pett, please don't feel ashamed for this hard-as-nails "boss", she was one of the more memorable villains of RotRL and when centuries will pass and sun will set on the British Empire, people will remember her alongside of Karzoug and Nualia as the most famous AP enemies. Good job !

Contributor

Gorbacz wrote:

My group had a tough, but managaeble fight. Their advantege was in having a Binder, whose abilities are Su and don't require VSM components, so he could go all out without worrying about silence and AoOs. Still, she was a tough cookie. In the end, when the got the upper hand she jumped the tower and cast feather fall.

She went on for a rematch during Hook Mountain Massacre, where she fought my players twice.

Dear Sir Pett, please don't feel ashamed for this hard-as-nails "boss", she was one of the more memorable villains of RotRL and when centuries will pass and sun will set on the British Empire, people will remember her alongside of Karzoug and Nualia as the most famous AP enemies. Good job !

Sun set, Empire - the idea!

I still think Paizo could have run with the tougher ending:)

Rich


Richard Pett wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:

My group had a tough, but managaeble fight. Their advantege was in having a Binder, whose abilities are Su and don't require VSM components, so he could go all out without worrying about silence and AoOs. Still, she was a tough cookie. In the end, when the got the upper hand she jumped the tower and cast feather fall.

She went on for a rematch during Hook Mountain Massacre, where she fought my players twice.

Dear Sir Pett, please don't feel ashamed for this hard-as-nails "boss", she was one of the more memorable villains of RotRL and when centuries will pass and sun will set on the British Empire, people will remember her alongside of Karzoug and Nualia as the most famous AP enemies. Good job !

Sun set, Empire - the idea!

I still think Paizo could have run with the tougher ending:)

Rich

The hard bosses are generally the most memorable. And if all else fails, sickos like me can take Mr Pett's baddies and make them far, far worse. ^_^


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I ran her as is with 7 characters at 5th level. Monk died, but the cleric, bard and wizard finally took down her defenses with 2 Dispel Magic spells, and a wand of Dispel Magic with 2 charges.

That allowed the dwarf *cough* tank, the archer and the rogue to finally hit her hard enough to bring her down.

It was a joy, however, before her defenses were down to see the dwarf fighter announce that he hit AC 31 and started rolling damage dice when I told him, he missed! Jaw, meet table!

-- david
Papa.DRB


Papa-DRB wrote:

I ran her as is with 7 characters at 5th level. Monk died, but the cleric, bard and wizard finally took down her defenses with 2 Dispel Magic spells, and a wand of Dispel Magic with 2 charges.

That allowed the dwarf *cough* tank, the archer and the rogue to finally hit her hard enough to bring her down.

It was a joy, however, before her defenses were down to see the dwarf fighter announce that he hit AC 31 and started rolling damage dice when I told him, he missed! Jaw, meet table!

-- david
Papa.DRB

Such moments are priceless. :)

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think all these histories of easy victories over Xanesha (*cough, *cough, Pusssy GMs, cough*) clearly indicates the urgent need to buff her, as she is clearly not up to par.


Entropi wrote:
I think all these histories of easy victories over Xanesha (*cough, *cough, Pusssy GMs, cough*) clearly indicates the urgent need to buff her, as she is clearly not up to par.

I know you're joking, however...

My group re-ran this fight the following week so I could show them how bad it could have been. They went in fully buffed (Cleric of Gorum that was enlarged, bull's strengthed, etc). They knew silence would be in effect and lead with a detect to find and remove it. Even with all the preparation, the party was dead in about 6 rounds. I have no doubt, if you play her ruthlessly, you will kill some or all of your players. I have no problem with characters dieing in sessions as a result of unlucky dice rolls or bad decisions. But having characters die in a situation that seems harshly stacked against them rarely leads to a happy gaming group. Yes, there are people that thrive on this sort of thing, but they go in knowing it and asking for it and shouldn't be surprised when they get pushed beyond their means... but they're a minority of the groups out there I think.


My first group (PF-beta) just encountered Xanesha last night.
They are 6 PC’s of Level 5, I toned Xanesha down a bit (just two attacks at +19,+13, AC 26 not more, didn’t use the Despair effect of the spear).
The group got in buffed, they had a lot of Prot fr. Evils in place, so her Deep slumber and suggestion spells didn’t work.
The fight was really hard, all PC’s survived just only just, the Ranger was petrified, the Bard was out (can’t remember why, right now) the Barbarian and Rouge really low on HitPoints. Not one of the 4 melee combatants managed to hit her in the first 3 rounds, only the sorceress made any damage with orbs of acid.
Then they rolled quit good and brought her down in HitPoints fast (as she did to them) when she decided to flee, the rouge scored 2 Sneaks (Two weapons) with extra Damage from a Blades of Fire Spell and one was a Crit.
Xanesha was dead.

It was a memorable fight and a great ending of a great adventure.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Entropi wrote:
I think all these histories of easy victories over Xanesha (*cough, *cough, Pusssy GMs, cough*) clearly indicates the urgent need to buff her, as she is clearly not up to par.

You know, I hope he's joking too. It kind of bothers me to see a lot of these 'killer DM' kind of comments sometimes. It seems that to these kinds of DMs, it becomes their goal to kill as many PCs as they can and then brag about it. I could be missing the sarcasm or maybe they are just kidding, but a lot of these threads seem to be pretty honest.

I've been DMing for 26 years (and playing for 31); I like to think of myself as a non-Monty Haul, non-pushover type of DM. I've had players groan at some of my callings, and have been accused of liking my monsters too much, and pushing tough encounters to the limit. I love Paizo adventures and the fact that they tend to be more difficult and rated well on the high edge of the level ranges they are designed for.

Having said all that, I also remember that I am not the enemy of my players; I am SUPPOSED to be on their side. In the end, the party should be bruised and bloodied, drained of most or all resources, shaken and stirred. And victorious. Yes, the players are supposed to always win. Always. Granted, stupidity should be rewarded with negative results (even death). I have killed more than my fair share of PCs. Last week, I killed two in my AOW campaign, and 2 in my ROTRL campaign. But I take no pleasure in doing so; it doesn't reflect my uberness as a DM that I did so. It was just the breaks for the party. But guess what? In AOW, they killed Bozal Zahol and were able to raise the two dead characters. In ROTRL, one character was god-called back to life, and the other remains dead and is bringing in a much-needed rogue-type and they succeeded in killing Xanesha.

Maybe we should re-examine what the definition of a DM is. You are there to keep the game fair. You are there to also keep the game fun for the players. Hey, if your players like rolling up new characters every game; more power to you. But I think that the vast majority of players want a fair shake. They want to see how high they can get their characters and how uber they can get them, and they want to see the story play out and be heroes. They didn't sign up to be fodder in your own personal demolition derby.

Xanesha is ridiculously overpowered for the level of adventure she is in, even for an endboss. She doesn't need to be powered up; she needs to be neutered. And Richard Pett, who I admire and respect, needs to re-examine this encounter and realize that it is too damn tough as it stands. Anything more difficult in all seriousness, is just plain asinine. Period.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Quandary wrote:
dmchucky69 wrote:
Entropi wrote:
I think all these histories of easy victories over Xanesha (*cough, *cough, Pusssy GMs, cough*) clearly indicates the urgent need to buff her, as she is clearly not up to par.
...stuff...
Yeah, I'd probably say there was just a little tongue-in-cheek behind that comment. You might have noticed the very post of this thread (by the same poster you're quoting) ends in his delight that his players made it thru a brutal encounter (as written by the module author, not due to DM malevolence). chill...

You are probably right. However, this doesn't change the fact that there are killer DM threads elsewhere on these boards as well as other places in this thread where other posters have made comments alluding to the joy of destroying characters in the pursuit of DM dominance.

Personally, I don't think the chill comment was needed. My post was well-intentioned, not too confrontative, and made valid points. Sometimes it needs to be reaffirmed that the DM is only another player. And that the point of the game is to allow ALL the players to escape reality for awhile. It's not meant to be a chess match between DM and the other players.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
dmchucky69 wrote:
You know, I hope he's joking too.

Lol. Rest asured, I am. Thought my sarcasm was easier to read, but that's the Interwebs for ya.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Entropi wrote:
dmchucky69 wrote:
You know, I hope he's joking too.
Lol. Rest asured, I am. Thought my sarcasm was easier to read, but that's the Interwebs for ya.

No worries. This is something that has been eating at me for awhile; your post seemed like as good a place as any to put my often unwanted opinion into the mix. I just keep waiting for James Jacobs or Richard Pett to make a serious post admitting that the Xanesha encounter is really too difficult for the level range of the module (and maybe they already have and I have just missed it). But this shouldn't be taken as a slight against Paizo; their stuff is heads above everyone elses.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I really like these challenging encounters RORL seems full of encounters that push the PCs to the limit. In scanning all the APs after this one It doesnt seem like there are encounters like these

My reasonings for thinking this about the other APs is there have not been a bunch of DMs complaining about an encounter being to difficult.

I rather have the encounter pushed to the limits and have to lie on a die roll or two then to have all the encounters pushovers if I dont cheat for them


Joey Virtue wrote:

I really like these challenging encounters RORL seems full of encounters that push the PCs to the limit. In scanning all the APs after this one It doesnt seem like there are encounters like these

My reasonings for thinking this about the other APs is there have not been a bunch of DMs complaining about an encounter being to difficult.

I rather have the encounter pushed to the limits and have to lie on a die roll or two then to have all the encounters pushovers if I dont cheat for them

In general, I'm not opposed to encounters of this sort either. I've created some myself. However, in a published module I'd expect a nice little note attached for the less experienced DMs that might not realize exactly what they're throwing at their party. I know that's just another detail that steals from the word count, but if the encounter is going to be that difficult, I think it is warranted. In fact, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing a Standard and Difficult tactics section next to each other, but that's a lot of space to dedicate to something of that sort.


dmchucky69 wrote:


You know, I hope he's joking too. It kind of bothers me to see a lot of these 'killer DM' kind of comments sometimes. It seems that to these kinds of DMs, it becomes their goal to kill as many PCs as they can and then brag about it. I could be missing the sarcasm or maybe they are just kidding, but a lot of these threads seem to be pretty honest.

I've been DMing for 26 years (and playing for 31); I like to think of myself as a non-Monty Haul, non-pushover type of DM. I've had players groan at some of my callings, and have been accused of liking my monsters too much, and pushing tough encounters to the limit. I love Paizo adventures and the fact that they tend to be more difficult and rated well on the high edge of the level ranges they are designed for.

Having said all that, I also remember that I am not the enemy of my players; I am SUPPOSED to be on their side. In the end, the party should be bruised and bloodied, drained of most or all resources, shaken and stirred. And victorious. Yes, the players are supposed to always win. Always. Granted, stupidity should be rewarded with negative results (even death). I have killed more than my fair share of PCs. Last week, I killed two in my AOW campaign, and 2 in my ROTRL campaign. But I take no pleasure in doing so; it doesn't reflect my uberness as a DM that I did so. It was just the breaks for the party. But guess what? In AOW, they killed Bozal Zahol and were able to raise the two dead characters. In ROTRL, one character was god-called back to life, and the other remains dead and is bringing in a much-needed rogue-type and they succeeded in killing Xanesha.

Maybe we should re-examine what the definition of a DM is. You are there to keep the game fair. You are there to also keep the game fun for the players. Hey, if your players like rolling up new...

I agree with dmchucky69. With the exception of the Xanesha part, (which I can't comment on seeing how I haven't run it), the rest of it I completely agree with. I could continue on but that is for another thread.

Just my 2 cents.(keep the change);)


I think some are forgetting that a BBEG like Xanesha is easier to "tool down" than "tool up" as befits one's own game table.

By all means Sir Pett, keep up with the big ol' baddies. ^_^


Turin the Mad wrote:
I think some are forgetting that a BBEG like Xanesha is easier to "tool down" than "tool up" as befits one's own game table.

Ha! I was going to say the exact opposite (i.e., it's easier to beef up a BBEG by giving him/her a couple of potions to buff with, or giving maximum HP).


hogarth wrote:
Turin the Mad wrote:
I think some are forgetting that a BBEG like Xanesha is easier to "tool down" than "tool up" as befits one's own game table.
Ha! I was going to say the exact opposite (i.e., it's easier to beef up a BBEG by giving him/her a couple of potions to buff with, or giving maximum HP).

Well, yes, that is my preferred approach. IIRC, Xanesha has stuff that can be removed to soften her up (as it were), making her easier to take down without having to put sticky notes on everything. ^_^

Contributor

dmchucky69 wrote:
Entropi wrote:
dmchucky69 wrote:
You know, I hope he's joking too.
Lol. Rest asured, I am. Thought my sarcasm was easier to read, but that's the Interwebs for ya.
No worries. This is something that has been eating at me for awhile; your post seemed like as good a place as any to put my often unwanted opinion into the mix. I just keep waiting for James Jacobs or Richard Pett to make a serious post admitting that the Xanesha encounter is really too difficult for the level range of the module (and maybe they already have and I have just missed it). But this shouldn't be taken as a slight against Paizo; their stuff is heads above everyone elses.

Hello DMChucky,

there have been several discussion about Xanesha on these boards, some groups seem to handle her relatively easily, other DMs tamper with her a bit, and by the looks of things no two experiences are exactly the same- which is splendid as it shows the incredible diversity of the way groups play such encounters.

In writing adventures one of the key things is to make a memorable encounter and I think the battle with Xanesha on the top of the clocktower is that. She may be a little tough for some groups, she may be easier for others, and I'll give you an example of that.

Whilst playtesting the Crucible, which is an adventure I'll be publishing myself in due course, I have run two playtest - one with my own group and one at a recent convention - my own group struggled hugely with the final encounter, whilst the con group simply dealt with it by a very clever use of a spell. In all adventures different groups will have different takes - some players (like mine) love to play less powerful flawed characters, whilst others love to meta game - theres no right way or wrong way of doing it and in every case it is up to the DM to decide how to run things - and if the encounters need toughening up or weakening.

Again however the issue is a memorable experience, and whilst I don't like to think of anyone thinking the adventure is too hard I don't want to make it too weak either. I also look at the passion that comes across from these fine boards for an adventure which was published some time ago now and that makes me very happy that clearly it sticks in player's and DM's memories.

However, you may be interested to know that James did indeed tone down my ending, which had a very scary sting in the tail.

Rich

Contributor

Turin the Mad wrote:

I think some are forgetting that a BBEG like Xanesha is easier to "tool down" than "tool up" as befits one's own game table.

By all means Sir Pett, keep up with the big ol' baddies. ^_^

My Dear, Mad, Turin

I think you may find the endgame of Sixfold Trial interesting:)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber
Richard Pett wrote:


In writing adventures one of the key things is to make a memorable encounter and I think the battle with Xanesha on the top of the clocktower is that. She may be a little tough for some groups, she may be easier for others, and I'll give you an example of that.

The Shadow Clock was made of awesome as far as my group is concerned.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Richard Pett wrote:
However, you may be interested to know that James did indeed tone down my ending, which had a very scary sting in the tail.

Imagines Lamia's with a poison tail attack. Runs with horror and glee.


Richard Pett wrote:
Turin the Mad wrote:

I think some are forgetting that a BBEG like Xanesha is easier to "tool down" than "tool up" as befits one's own game table.

By all means Sir Pett, keep up with the big ol' baddies. ^_^

My Dear, Mad, Turin

I think you may find the endgame of Sixfold Trial interesting:)

I look forward to it with great anticipation Sir Pett! :)


Richard Pett wrote:
some players (like mine) love to play less powerful flawed characters, whilst others love to meta game

I have been reading this thread quite closely as I will be running this encounter on Saturday. I am a bit worried how my players will do, but I think I am going to leave the encounter unchanged.

However, what actually moved me to post is Richard's quote above. Someone making a character who is good at what they do and playing them well is NOT meta gaming. That would be like saying that someone who took pre-law classes in college just to get into law school is meta-lifing because you are working the system to your own ends.

The rules in the game are the realities of physics that the characters have to deal with. All of us are fine with imagining our characters practicing and practicing when they are in their down time. Really? It is playing outside of the game when you have a character who is good at what they do? A wizard sits there are works on the theory of spell craft, works on understanding the spells that he can cast and how he might be able to push them to the limits of what is possible... and then uses that knowledge in combat. Seems a pretty darn good in game reason to me? Is there any reason to disparage the player who is actually playing his character well for doing so?

Frankly the player who runs a wizard who has no clue what his spells do despite his 18 intelligence is running his character poorly. He should indeed spend some time learning his character so he can do things well...

<sigh>

Ok... I think I have worked that out of my system for now.

Sorry for the threadjack.

Sean Mahoney


Just posting in support of dmChucky's outlook towards GMing, and the role of the GM is to provide challenge but not necessarily be adverserial.

The role of GM as Judge too easily gets blurred with the concept of the GM as Prosecutor.

*********************************

EDITED: I replied to Rich Pett.. it was polite and friendly (I thought) but I just decided to retract it. I'm not sure it wasn't just a rehash of older threads.

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