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PFS#37 The Beggar's Pearl [SPOILERS]


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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Qadira *****

James MacKenzie, what happened?! I really enjoyed Our Lady of Silver but this one was like eating cold Chinese food. As always, my impression may change after I run this scenario a few times. We played it last night at tier 1-2 with three 1st level playtest classes at the table and wrecked it. I think all totaled we took under 20 hp damage spread over six PCs (plus an eilodon). In retrospect we should have played up to tier 3-4 but the GM thought we were going to have more problems than we did. I will try to be more helpful with what I did and did not like about this scenario:

Spoiler:
First, compliments; The maps were great. Our GM took a page from the Doug Doug School of Cartographical Excellence and pre-drew his maps in full color and striking detail. The scenes in the laboratory and in the Gallery of Wonders were imaginative and crunchy. [Side note, I chose my eilodon's aspect to be that of a goat-man. It was pure coincidence that the derro were doing experiments on a mountain goat's cadaver. It was emotionally traumatizing for poor Guidon to behold.] However, a lot of apprehension was lost due to the way we cruised through the fights.

The gripes: The creatures & tactics did not take advantage of the difficult terrain and much of the area appearing on the map was never used. I admit this is a no-win complaint because people will complain if not enough of the complex is mapped out. I am always wonder where they go to the bathroom in the complex...

I liked my faction missions (Cheliax) but there was no difficulty check. One was walk-into-the-room, pick-up-the-item(s). The other was the same, only talk to a person. Two gimmes. The Qadiran faction mission needs to be edited, in the mission it specifies that the pixie being sought can be identified by the necklace it wears. There's no sign of the necklace anywhere in the scenario although a pixie body is found.

I am not sure what is intended to happen in the Gallery of Wonders. I haven't read the scenario through and my post is hasty. We are running this scenario on Sunday for our gameday players and I want to get some conversation going on how to make their experience better. It seems like there should be some penalty to spellcasting due to the cacophany of music in the room. Although there might have been another way to approach the encounter, our party just told the GM to roll init as soon as he was finished describing the room. If all the creatures would have been a part of the combat it could of gone very badly, but we were confident and the Lady may have lived 'til round three.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

I really enjoyed this one, especially the final battle. I haven't read it, only played, so I don't know how much was my GM and how much was the scenario, but it was a truly haunting set piece and a challenging, unsuspected BBEG. We thought we had her creamed until her fh kicked in.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Doug Doug wrote:
James MacKenzie, what happened?! I really enjoyed Our Lady of Silver but this one was like eating cold Chinese food.

I'm sorry that the scenario wasn't more enjoyable for your crew.

Beggar's Pearl needed several changes over the course of development: My original version would have run way too long. Josh Frost put in a lot of work to ensure the scenario would run smoothly. Unfortunately, we were forced to sacrifice some details "for the greater good".

Quote:
First, compliments; The maps were great. Our GM took a page from the Doug Doug School of Cartographical Excellence and pre-drew his maps in full color and striking detail.

Please thank your GM for me. I tried hard to produce a credible map with interesting details. (By the way, feel free to add chamber pots if anyone questions the dwarves' lack of a garderobe chamber.)

Spoiler:
I did get some feedback suggesting that I went "map happy". If your group is likely to waste time wandering around the Gallery, Torvic's fragmented memories may congeal enough for him to give them directions toward their next goal.
Quote:
The creatures & tactics did not take advantage of the difficult terrain and much of the area appearing on the map was never used.

The complex's layout is meant to give the PCs some tactical options when it comes to approaching the final battle. They try to sneak up the secret passage from the kitchen or ascend the shaft from the workshop, gaining some degree of surprise over Lady Morilaeth. A direct approach up the main stairway gives her the chance to hide herself and buff before the party spots her: With her excellent darkvision and the chaotic lighting in the area (dim, red torches flung around by inebriated derro), she's likely to move among the party before they realize what she is.

I'm surprised that the creatures weren't able to use the terrain more effectively. The mite trapmaster sneaks and scampers among the piled debris of the workshops, using it for cover and concealment. Sadly, most of his traps were cut from the final version, as he had riddled the area with snares and deadfalls.

To use the torture-sage effectively, keep careful track of where the party members' light sources may be. His darkness may not produce absolute blackness, but most groups will accidentally leave some pools of inky dark, more than 20 feet from their torches or lanterns. Have him target characters with light sources or use his minion to keep them from easily moving to engage him.

Quote:
I liked my faction missions (Cheliax) but there was no difficulty check. One was walk-into-the-room, pick-up-the-item(s). The other was the same, only talk to a person. Two gimmes. The Qadiran faction mission needs to be edited, in the mission it specifies that the pixie being sought can be identified by the necklace it wears. There's no sign of the necklace anywhere in the scenario although a pixie body is found.

I'm not overfond of requiring rolls for roleplaying scenes. One Chelaxian mission was meant to pose a moral qualm: If Lyrehawk returns to Cheliax, a dire fate awaits her. If I recall correctly, the items to be recovered were written in an unusual language, so some PCs may have difficulty recognizing them. Since most PCs grab everything on general principles, that's unlikely to be major issue, but it could trip some up.

In the original draft, the pixie was alive and chained to the wall, the malevolent agent of sinister fae powers. The PCs were expected to coerce it into blocking Andoran trade in fae-crafted items of alchemic silver. If you wish to let the thing live, I recommend that the vicious creature wants nothing further to do with humanity, blaming their carelessness for its capture. The PCs task then becomes one of convincing it to aid Qadira despite its anger.

Qadira *****

Thank you for the excellent responses! Like Mark I have played this one and haven't yet run it. I think the GM who ran us through it missed some of the tactical advantages and mission details you described. Other things were out of your control. I will be running this several times over the coming months, so I should lighten up once I give it a proper read-through.

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sir_Wulf wrote:
Doug Doug wrote:


** spoiler omitted **...

About the Cheliax mission:

Spoiler:
Neither the GM who ran it nor the mission itself (I'm prepping to run it myself in a couple of weeks) gives any real indication that the NPC is in danger from returning to Cheliax. At least, not to someone who is convention sleep-deprived. The way it's all written makes it seem like, if she cooperates, she's still useful. Yeah, Cheliax is evil but you might want to be a little more blunt next time.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The true problem actually comes from the second Qadiran mission, and needs major attention ASAP.

The mission tells the PC that an escaped slave is guilty of murder and you need to bring something of his back.

The scenario tells the GM that the PC must find out that the slave is innocent of the crime through Diplomacy.

Why would the PC randomly question the word of his Faction Leader and bother to care whether or not he's guilty of the crime?

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Spoiler:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Why would the PC randomly question the word of his Faction Leader and bother to care whether or not he's guilty of the crime?

I anticipated that Qadiran PCs would likely interact with Merisc, trying to determine whether he was inded the murderer they sought. He's one of Torvic's group and the PCs' information claims that he's a cold-blooded killer; some cautious questioning is appropriate.

If they don't question their faction leaders' wisdom, do they share what they have been told with Torvic and his allies? His party would argue that Merisc wasn't that sort of person.

If the PC make no real effort to verify that Merisc was indeed the fugitive slave, just assuming they have the right guy ("He's in the scenario: He must be the one!"), they haven't done all they should have.

If the party only found the Derros' victims in the last moments of the scenario (when they're too rushed for much roleplay), I'd give the Qadiran PCs a break, allowing a Sense Motive to guess that Merisc doesn't seem capable of cold-blooded murder. That might inspire a few quick questions about what's really going on.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My character, the ever so uncharismatic one, asked the GM to closely examine each captive, specifically looking for signs or marks that would indicate a former slave.

Should the PCs expect that if one of these three were a mass murder, that they would confess?

"Excuse me everyone, before we free you, do any of you happen to be an escaped slave guilty of killing an entire family? No? Ok!"

The GM identified the Dwarf as bearing marks of former slavery, and that plus the ivory handled swords made it highly likely this was the man. Taking swords, that closely matched information provided by my faction leader, seemed exactly what I needed to do. Hell, I even took the clothes off his back!

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Kyle Baird wrote:
Taking swords, that closely matched information provided by my faction leader, seemed exactly what I needed to do. Hell, I even took the clothes off his back!

Fair enough. I guess that I should have left some other clue that not all was as it might appear.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A more detailed account:

My character bashed open the door to the room, and investigated the room while the party was attacked by the mite(?).

I wasn't even thinking that an escaped slave would be now be a recaptured slave, so it wasn't until we found the ivory handled swords (mentioned in the mission), that my character got sucipicious.

She examined the slaves for clues (w/o directly interacting with them, so as not to raise suspicion from the captives). The GM pointed out that the Dwarf bore marks that would be consistent with a former slave. (Not sure if that's in the scenario)

She then made it known the party (away from the captives) that she was seeking a murderer, and that she believed the Dwarf was her man and would need to bring the swords and his personal effects back to Absalom for aid in proving his guilt.

She took the swords, stripped him of his clothes, and put a sword to his throat (while he was still bound (and gagged?)), and told him he'd pay for what he had done.

The GM did at this point prodded me to talk with him ("Is there anything you want to ask him?" (A few times)), but my character felt as she had dutifully carried out her mission, which, according to the handout, she did.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Regarding the torture-sage (the guy with the pixie?):

Our party was split up at this point (I blame Doug Doug and his Goat). My 2nd level fighter and a 1st level Inquistor encountered the Torture-sage and his buddy on our own.

I had light on my greatsword at this point, so lighting wasn't an issue. We tried to investigate the goat remains and were ambushed by these guys, but the fight only lasted one round. :(

The best part about this area though, was indeed the dead goat. My character took the remains in her bag, and after the final encounter, surprised the Goat-like Eilodon with it. :)

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Kyle Baird wrote:

Our party was split up at this point (I blame Doug Doug and his Goat). My 2nd level fighter and a 1st level Inquistor encountered the Torture-sage and his buddy on our own.

I had light on my greatsword at this point, so lighting wasn't an issue. We tried to investigate the goat remains and were ambushed by these guys, but the fight only lasted one round. :(

I'm amazed things went so well for your characters. Two PCs dropping a 25 hp foe and his wimpy minion in one round is quite a feat. If the dice had gone against you, that fight could have taken out both PCs.

Qadira *****

I ran another table of this scenario last night. I’ve run it once before and there were no Qadirans at the table. This time there were two. The players were frustrated because they fulfilled the letter of their mission. The mission said get some personal property from him and return it to the faction. Guilt or lack thereof was not even part of the task. The players kept their mission secret and collected what they needed without letting anyone realize what they were up to. It’s not that it was too hard to determine if Merisk is innocent. Even if they discovered he was, consider that the players wouldn’t pass it on since their mission was to return the personal property. I didn’t give the Qadirans their point because it would detract from the accomplishment of a player who does figure it out despite the odds against them. I do think I handled the encounter less-than-satisfactory but I had forgotten about the complexity of this particular mission.

The scenario went fine even though they played Tier 3-4 with one 1st and five 2nd level PCs. This was an experienced group who consistently play together and use good tactics. After saving Torvic they did an end-around to the fight with Morilaeth. The rogue stealthed behind the “derro” seated on the throne and spiked her with alchemist fire, then the rest of the boys charged in the room and started hacking into the mites and derro. This is such a surreal encounter because the PCs should think “There’s no way we can take all these bad guys!”, but the meta-gamers say to themselves “There must be something going on here that will give us a balanced fight within our tier, let's go in there and mix it up!”. I think it’s utterly silly that all the baddies would run away, and there should be consequences for using brawn over brains. Call me what you will, but my rule was if a reveling mite or derro is attacked or threatened they break out of their fugue and become combatants. However, I did not stick all the derro and mites in the encounter out on the map. I only have seven derro figs... What resulted was a long fight that ate up a lot of resources but was a lot of fun for the players. Morilaeth ended up color sprayed and unconscious, then was induced to vomit, gagged and died per the drowning rules (more proof that gnomes are evil).

Afterward they could rest safely because Morilaeth was dead and subsequently steamrolled through the remaining encounters. Every time I run a scenario I learn more. Now I feel like I’ve worked the kinks out and I’m looking forward to running this next weekend at BASHCon in Toledo.

**

Wow, thanks Doug! I always enjoy reading your reports.

Andoran ***

I got to run this one a couple times recently and I'm surprised the feedback so far has been how easy it has been for others. I'll focus on two of the combat encounters running at Tier 1-2.

1. Tnarat the derro - what are the best options for a 1st-level party to deal with the darkness spell? Maybe I was running it incorrectly, but once that darkness is up most of the PCs didn't have much they could do. This wasn't a particularly difficult encounter, just one that slowed down the pace as players could not figure out how to deal with an encounter in the dark.

2. Final ecnounter - assuming Lady Morilaeth is able to see the party first she has the upper-hand. How does a 1st-level group deal with two DC 14 fear auras? This alone can easily take half the party completely out of the combat. Also, where are the fear auras detailed in the stat-block?

In addition - she has regen 5, dr 5 and ac 21 along with quite a few other nifty things. She seems pretty tough for Tier 1-2.

Grand Lodge

Ran through this at GenghisCon a week ago and I wouldn't say it was all that easy. Of course, this was the Sunday morning slot and we ended up with a table of four, 3 1st level and 1 2nd, one of whom couldn't keep awake, unfortunate as he was our cleric. I will also say the dice just weren't with us that day.

Spoiler:

The trapmaster took me down quickly with his sneak attack darts, getting his surprise round and going first in 1st normal round. The GM didn't make use of the cover/concealment offered to him so he got pounded flat fairly quickly after that.

We went up the back stairs after that right into Morilaeth, where the fear got our druid. We had no silver or good aligned weapons, so it quickly got to a point where she couldn't hit us but we couldn't do enough damage to her to take her down. Our cleric did wake up at this point to counter her channel negative energy, but we were still going at it when we ran out of time.

It was fun but a bit frustrating, however that was mostly due to the lack of anyway to damage her effectively given the slapdash manner of Sunday morning sleep deprived groups.

I've gotten this scenario to infl.....er, run other people through so hopefully much fun should be had. :) On that note, Doug, the color spray shouldn't have worked on Morilaeth as she's immune to illusion spells and effects.

Qadira *****

DR-C wrote:


I've gotten this scenario to infl.....er, run other people through so hopefully much fun should be had. :) On that note, Doug, the color spray shouldn't have worked on Morilaeth as she's immune to illusion spells and effects.

Great point, I missed that and the fear aura too. Dang! If she were still alive she'd be pissed at me!

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Githzilla wrote:
Tnarat the derro - what are the best options for a 1st-level party to deal with the darkness spell? Maybe I was running it incorrectly, but once that darkness is up most of the PCs didn't have much they could do. This wasn't a particularly difficult encounter, just one that slowed down the pace as players could not figure out how to deal with an encounter in the dark.

To make this encounter move more quickly for a 1st-level party, you may want to have Torvic yelling his fool head off as he attacks the derro, giving away Tnarat's position. Also, Darkness is cast on an object: I'd let the PCs spot Tnarat casting, so they may be able to move or cover the item and shut down the spell.

Alternatively, Tnarat has little love for Morilaeth. If a party is ill-equipped to fight him, you could encourage them to parley with the disgruntled derro. Tnarat has no burning desire to battle an entire party of armed surface-dwellers and might be convinced to betray his nightmarish leader. Of course, such negotiations would require the party to restrain Torvic from assaulting his former tormenter.

Githzilla wrote:

Final encounter - assuming Lady Morilaeth is able to see the party first she has the upper-hand. How does a 1st-level group deal with two DC 14 fear auras? This alone can easily take half the party completely out of the combat. Also, where are the fear auras detailed in the stat-block?

In addition - she has regen 5, dr 5 and ac 21 along with quite a few other nifty things. She seems pretty tough for Tier 1-2.

She can be. A 1st-level party had better be careful dealing with her. If she gets the upper hand, they may be forced to retreat. She and her allies will stabilize characters left behind, as new playthings or slaves are always appreciated. Fortunately for the party, Morilaeth's followers will remain disoriented and sickened for hours or even days: She won't be able to organize systematic pursuit.

In such a case, she could follow the party herself, her eerie voice echoing through the fungus-infested tunnels as she hunts those who fled from her twisted feast.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

This scenario is missing some important details regarding Lady M's fear aura and Frightful Presence. This info is in the Advanced Bestiary, but really should have been included here for DMs.

Fear Aura (Su) Any creature within 60 ft of Lady M will need to make a Will save. Failure = shaken anytime the target is within 60 feet of Lady M for the next 24 hours.

Frightful Presence (Ex) When the creature charges, makes a surprise attack, or makes a DC 15 Intimidate or Perform check all creatures within 30 feet must make a Will save or become panicked for 2d6 rounds. Success = immunity for one hour.

I don't own the Advanced Bestiary and so as I prepped the game I looked up both Fear effects in the PF Bestiary which give different details. I ended up matching the Fear aura to the Fear spell as the PF Bestiary suggests since no details are given in the scenario. This makes the result of a failure "panicked" and is much stronger than the intended "shaken" effect. Frightful Presence as described in the PF Bestiary has none of the conditions for using it that are given in the Nightmare template in the Advanced Bestiary and lasts 5d6 rounds instead of 2d6.

For a Tier 1-2 table these are significant differences. It made her nearly unapproachable for those level one guys until I just stopped using the aura and presence. If I had known these details the final scene would have gone much differently.

Andoran ***

ithuriel wrote:


For a Tier 1-2 table these are significant differences. It made her nearly unapproachable for those level one guys until I just stopped using the aura and presence. If I had known these details the final scene would have gone much differently.

Wow, I was using the same assumptions as you were since they are not described in the stat block. It becomes more clear why I found this adventure overpowering at Tier 1-2.

**

Fear Aura and Frightful Presence are universal monster rules from the PRPG Bestiary. Since this is a PRPG scenario, we use PRPG rules (even though it's using the nightmare template). This comes into play with both of the above-mentioned abilities. They function as their PRPG Bestiary universal monster rules components.

Universal monster rules were designed so that we didn't need to constantly reprint these rules. Since we consider the Bestiary to be among the Core Assumption, we don't reprint these rules.

Yes, this is a tough encounter and I'd argue that a DC 14 is a rather low save target.

**

1 person marked this as a favorite.
ithuriel wrote:
It made her nearly unapproachable for those level one guys until I just stopped using the aura and presence.

And this is an absolutely acceptable use of GM fiat to insure the players had a good time without mopping the floor with them. :-)

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Well that is good to know. Not so good for the Tier 1-2 guys, but good to know how these things are supposed to work as a general rule. The Universal Monster Rule regarding Fear aura is a bit vague though as it refers you to the creature entry for details. Because it mentions it may work like a fear spell I went with that as a default. EDIT: I guess it doesn't refer you to the creature entry after all. More like this:

prd wrote:
Fear Aura (Su) The use of this ability is a free action. The aura can freeze an opponent (as in the case of a mummy's despair) or function like the fear spell. Other effects are possible. A fear aura is an area effect. The descriptive text gives the size and kind of the area.

I liked this scenario, but this bothered me regarding her tactics. I don't see any reason why Lady M would stay to fight the second she felt overwhelmed. Seems to me she would shadow walk away possibly taking a single PC with her when she crossed over and then hunt the others in their dreams one by one. That doesn't make a great scenario of course- though she'd make a nice recurring villain if it were a home game. Still it felt like playing her stupid to stand and fight to the death. She did feign death and then shadow walk to safety when I ran this. It was just a mystery that they never knew about as to why she didn't dream stalk them.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

ithuriel wrote:
Still it felt like playing her stupid to stand and fight to the death. She did feign death and then shadow walk to safety when I ran this. It was just a mystery that they never knew about as to why she didn't dream stalk them.

There are several reasons why Morilaeth might not haunt the PCs: A sinister creature of faerie, her caprices may be quite alien to more sane minds. Bizarre fungal drugs and hallucinogenic rituals might leave her uncertain about her targets' true identities.

More rationally, she might simply be afraid to tangle with a group that's already demonstrated the ability to defeat her. If she targets their dreams but fails to finish them off, they may hunt her down again and finish her off this time.

Qadira *****

So I ran this for the third time last night and I think I *almost* got it right this time. It certainly felt a lot more relaxed while running it. Morilaeth gave my players a very stiff fight, she certainly is a handful when the fear effects are properly applied. Use of the copycats, flight and regeneration make her a frustrating opponent to take down. There was actually some discussion of withdrawing from the fight after she frightened off half the party. On top of that, no one could metagame what the heck she was, so that made it more fun for me. I was actually worried she was going to overcome the PCs, but they doggedly battled her and eventually she dropped, only to be brained with silver ingots(!).

There were two gnomes in the party, so I had nice soft targets for my mite trapmasters in the workshop. Good use of darkness and stealth (for a change) kept the players reeling and prolonged the encounter to a respectable number of rounds. It helped that the front rank of tanks walked right into the pit trap and spent most of the encounter making climb checks.

I have revised my review of this scenario, and I look forward to running it again and finally nailing it.

Andoran ***

Doug Doug wrote:
she frightened off half the party.

This is what I have seen as well. One of those fear effects basically takes you out of the combat if you fail it, which is not a very satisfying encounter for anyone that fails it.

How did your players manage to deal with half of them running in fear?

Qadira *****

Githzilla wrote:
How did your players manage to deal with half of them running in fear?

I used her frightful presence in round one, and one PC failed. I agree about the Bestiary rules for fear effects being unclear. The PC who failed ran away frightened never recovered until the fight was over (21 rounds running away, 21 rounds running back...). The fear aura kicked in the next round, and two PCs failed and ran away. As the fear spell, they ran away for 2 rounds. Like I said, I *almost* got it right. They should have run away for four rounds due to her nightmare spellcasting. Fortunately the two out of three PCs who stuck around were savvy opponents and knew their roles. They took a beating but stuck in there and eventually they all nailed her in a round and she succumbed.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

They shouldn't have to run away for the full duration. Both Panicked and Frightened conditions allow you to act as you want as soon as you can no longer see/hear the object of terror. It doesn't let them round a corner and waltz back in, because the duration is still in effect and will auto trigger if the source of the fear shows up again.

So if you were feeling nice they might be able to assist in a cowardly manner while hiding out of sight... summoning monsters or maybe ranged buffs come to mind.

prd wrote:

Frightened: Characters who are frightened are shaken, and in addition they flee from the source of their fear as quickly as they can. They can choose the paths of their flight. Other than that stipulation, once they are out of sight (or hearing) of the source of their fear, they can act as they want. If the duration of their fear continues, however, characters can be forced to flee if the source of their fear presents itself again. Characters unable to flee can fight (though they are still shaken).

Panicked: Characters who are panicked are shaken, and they run away from the source of their fear as quickly as they can, dropping whatever they are holding. Other than running away from the source, their paths are random. They flee from all other dangers that confront them rather than facing those dangers. Once they are out of sight (or hearing) of any source of danger, they can act as they want. Panicked characters cower if they are prevented from fleeing.

Qadira *****

ithuriel wrote:
They shouldn't have to run away for the full duration. Both Panicked and Frightened conditions allow you to act as you want as soon as you can no longer see/hear the object of terror. It doesn't let them round a corner and waltz back in, because the duration is still in effect and will auto trigger if the source of the fear shows up again.

Fantastic point! I had never noted that wording before. The players will definitely appreciate that kind of leeway the next time around.

Osirion **

So I don't often talk about my PCs escapades in Society games, despite how many I run, but I figure I'll start now. This one was kind of a bittersweet experience, and I will explain why.

First of all, the introduction. We played in Tier 1-2, with myself as DM, and the following players:

Elf Sorcerer (Air Elemental Bloodline) 1 (Taldor)
Half-Orc Oracle (Lore, Haunted) 1 (Osirion)
Elf Rogue 4 (Andoran)
Human Barbarian 1/Fighter 1 (Cheliax)

The short version: The game was great until the 'final boss', which was horribly long and just annoying to deal with.

The long version:
The initial mission, everything up until the boss fight (Hours 0-3)

Spoiler:

So the PCs found mister dwarf and dealt with the mite/ant easy enough, although the poison unfortunately did 3 points of str damage to the rogue which hurt for the rest of the mission. No one could heal it and they didn't want to bother resting. They had fun talking to the dwarf, I played up the crazy memory and it was a nice RP thing to have throughout the mission. The rogue also got him to reveal the tablets and left them there to get later.

After escorting him to the main dungeon, they spotted the glowing mold and chest of silver easily enough, sending a guy down to tie it up and bring it up top. The rogue then found the trap awaiting them and was easily able to disable it, getting somewhere in the 25 area. Afterwards they boldly headed on in, first heading south-ish to the derro torturer and his goblin buddy. The dwarf charged, as did the rest. The battle was nothing special. The derro taunted, the goblin goofed around, the party fought. Darkness was in effect which only caused one to miss, and it otherwise ended up being short. Afterwards, the oracle found the lorebooks he was looking for, but the barbarian did not realize the importance of the torturer's papers. I am not sure if I should have played up them more, I explained they were in aklo and had weird pictures on them, but not much else. They were ignored since no one had Linguistics (at all) or the language.

The party found the dead pixie, ignored it, then the rogue scouted upstairs. She saw the immense party going on and wisely decided to avoid it until they had more thoroughly explored downstairs.

The party next went into the large room with the mite rogue, which was a fun encounter. He was very dodgy and the barbarian was incredibly surprised that it lived after one hit. They chased it around the area, and it even climbed the wall near the trap, causing the rogue to almost fall in. One high damage javelin from the barbarian later and he finally went down. The party looked around, found the prisoners, and healed Lyrehawk (couldn't heal the others). The barbarian gave her the note and left Torvic with them to wait things out while they finished exploring.

They then explored the rest of the lower level, a couple of them barfing in the horrible smelling kitchen, and fought the giant ant in the caverns. Sadly the rogue took another 2 str damage, giving him a -2 penalty for the rest of the game. This wasn't horrible since he had Weapon Finesse, but did reduce his damage.

Anyhow, the PCs went up the ladder and through the secret doors into the bedroom. Technically this is when the oracle spotted the fresco and got the bonus, but I forgot about it so didn't mention it until the very end. He still got the point, but should have got it here. They heard the noise on the other side of the bedroom and avoided bursting in, just searching the bedroom and heading back downstairs through the cavern.

Now, what I didn't tell them is I did have the boss lady make a perception check or two since they were just on the other side, and got a natural 20 on one of them. They *were* Stealthing but it was enough to hear them, even though I imposed a penalty on her for being distracted by the noise. So she disguised herself as a bigger derro and hung out in the dance.

Then they spent about a half-hour discussing a plan. They wanted so bad to lure the huge crowd of derros and mites downstairs, even went so far as to set up a minor trap on the western staircase with caltrops, oil, and readied alchemist's fire. The barbarian went upstairs, chuck a javelin at the mite, and was a bit surprised as only the nearby ones fled in fear, the others still dancing. He then went back downstairs and said they should just go up and try to scare them away. This they did, making intimidate checks, throwing the occasional javelin, and scaring all but a couple mites away (the two guards that stuck with their lady). Then, the pain started.


The horrible horrible boss fight (hours 3-5)
Spoiler:

Initially, after her burst, two failed the Frightful Presence check and two succeeded. The two that failed ran around the corner (where the fear stopped) and hid there, as they found that peeking around just made them scared again. The other two failed on the Fear Aura check and ran. We then had a bit of stop and go as the Fear Aura only lasted two rounds and the guys went back, but they all eventually decided to flee downstairs and re-plan things.

Oh, the mites were also killed in the small fight. One channel negative that the Lady hit with and another one took a javelin to the face. So we were down to just the Lady.

They eventually went back to fight, but this battle took forever. They won, in the end, no deaths, but it took them almost 50 rounds of combat. Here is why:

1. The Frightful Presence didn't come up again. One of the guys (the sorcerer) who failed only came within 30 feet one more time (and he did fail again, which put him out of the fight for another 12 rounds or so). He decided to head down to the kitchen and try going up from that path in the stairs. So anyhow, besides him, the Presence never came into play. The other guy that failed made his next save, no worries, cool. This probably shouldn't be on the list of why it took so long, but whatever.

2. The lack of weapons. The fear aura makes them panicked, which makes them drop anything they hold. So they hardly had any of their normal weapons to work with since they kept dropping them. And they dropped them a LOT because of:

3. That bloody fear aura. That stupid stupid stupid fear aura. 60 foot range, and it acts as the fear spell. I saw that it was only a shaken effect in the Advanced Bestiary? I wish so bad that was noted in the text, as it would have made this battle infinitely better. Still challenging, but not nearly as annoying. As it was, I went from the Bestiary text, which says it acts as a Fear effect. And trust me, it happened a LOT. it only lasted for two rounds, sure (I ruled that her Nightmare thing on doubly didn't apply since that says it only works with Spells, and this is a supernatural effect that mimics a spell) but still. It happened all the freaking time. The barbarian's Will was only a +3 or so after raging, the rogue had a +2 or +3 will, and the oracle had a +3 will. Nearly all of them had a 50% or less chance of making it. And they usually had to make it twice just to get back to her, since she was in the middle of this large room. They'd run around the corner out of sight, wait there until it ran out, then run back in, usually having to roll another time before they could actually hit her. Even if they DO, well, we come to 4.

4. Holy crap AC. 21 is pretty high against 1st level PCs. The barbarian had the best chance, but his attack roll was always lowered since even if you *save* against a 'fear' effect, you're still shaken! So the party was almost always running away or shaken. The only time they had a break was just after the fear ran out, before she could do it again. If they could get to her then, they had one small shot. Anyhow, the AC. They barely hit her, and even when they DO hit her:

5. DR 5/good or silver, which no one had anything of. So the damage was always lowered, and usually regenned before the party could deal more (since they were constantly running away).

6. Regenerate, which... well, it just adds insult to injury. Even if they *did* deal damage, it almost always healed up right away.

Anyhow... that's it. A combination of all of the above meant that the b**** took nearly 50 rounds to go down. Thankfully her attack bonus wasn't great, so even though she spent nearly all her time just shooting arrows she missed more than a few times, and the party had plenty of healing (which they had plenty of time to apply, fleeing so much).

And when she DID it was a freaking miracle. The oracle tied some rope around him while he was hidden, then ran up to her and started CMB. Over the course of 5 rounds he made every Will save (which was lucky in and of itself) grappled her, pinned her, then tied her up. He then failed the next one, but was tied to her so he didn't run far. After that it still took 10 rounds (since the fear aura and regen still were there!) for the party to get around her, make an attack every so often, and slowly wittle her hit points down. In the end they finally got one coup-de-grace on her (because of the low damage they were dealing, even with coup-de-graces, she had made her Fort saves on a previous two attempts). Even dead she technically would regen later, but it gave them enough time to loot the bracer with the pearls, finish up, and GTFO.

Before that combat, it was about 3 hours in. That one battle took a little over 2 hours. I am so happy it was not at a con, I have no idea what I could have done. It was just ridiculous, and they had more than a right to be upset at it. The dropping of weapons, the DC 14 every turn Will save or run (or be shaken), the high AC, the DR, the regenerate. It was just a mess.

I've run a *lot* of society missions and I have to say... if the mission had ended with a different boss *or* before the boss? Fun scenario. But because of this one stupid woman, this probably ends up being the worst experience I've had with a mission.

I don't think it was really anyone's fault either. I have to imagine that the author initially went for the fear aura from the advanced bestiary that only makes them shaken, which would have been fine. But as a result of not including that specific text, it ends up defaulting to the PRPG Bestiary which is a Fear spell, and much much worse. As it was, this is what I call a "Runelord Quasit" encounter. Just a plain annoying encounter with something that doesn't do much offensively but takes FOREVER to put down. I think they all would have preferred a boss that maybe killed one or two of them but they could take down in less than an hour than this woman.

Anyhow... that's it. Everyone got their 1 XP, Andoran got 2 Prestige, Osirion got 2 Prestige, Taldor and Cheliax each got 1. Cheliax player didn't see the importance in the derro papers and the Taldor player mistakenly read his mission and ended up putting the papers in a backpack he bought for the one rescued merchant, instead of planting them on a trail. He kind of had a facepalm afterwards.

Osirion

I seriously, and honestly would have prefered to be remaking a character in that time. Then again I would prefer to be having a root canal done by myself, on myself, with no pain medication, with a rusted and disease ridden paperclip rather than fight an encounter like that again.

If I had happened upon this module my first time playing a society game, I probably would not continue. If i ran into this type of module at a convention, I would be looking away from society games for entertainment during the con.

Only one thing I hate more in Pathfinder than this fight in this module, and I seriously had to debate this one.

I hate the 'Unluck' ability from the Pugwampis more, but just barely.


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Thanks for the hard-hitting info all,

When I see a thread that starts with concerns that a mod is too easy and ends that it’s too hard, it makes me wonder if maybe it hasn’t hit that mythical target range.

More importantly, for me though, I am actually rather keen about the idea of a prolonged fight. I’m rather old school I suppose, but some of the most memorable fights I ever participated in were drawn out – combat is one of my favorite parts of the game.

I love it when you have time to develop some respect for your opponent and have to question whether you would be wiser to call it a day while you still can; but you just barely eek it out, and the table cheers. These days it seems if you haven’t dropped the BBEG by round 4, he’s probably dropped you – particularly at the higher levels. (Though I do appreciate that at a con you typically have big tables and artificial time restraints to be mindful of.)

In any event, this is all to say I am rather interested in the idea of a low-offence/high-defense style of opponent. (That and 'Torture-Sage'? That is a great name. Who came up with that?)

Anyways, I haven’t had a chance to pick up a scenario to GM for a while now and I thank you guys for giving me an idea as to which one. I probably shouldn’t comment more until I’ve actually read the thing.

Osirion **

I think it's actually a fine mission, but only *if* you play Tier 3-4 or 6-7. The fear aura doesn't scale up that much, so the PCs should be able to handle it much easier.

If you have a Tier 1-2 group I would strongly strongly recommend against playing it. The fear aura, as designed, makes the boss almost entirely unapproachable. Her DR, regen, and high AC make it hard to damage her as well, and both combined make this a horribly frustrating encounter. Unless your players enjoy monotonous repetition then I can't see them enjoying this encounter. If they are able to kill her in round 1 before she can act... well, that's the only way I can see this encounter being ok. That's rare, however.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Karui Kage wrote:
If they are able to kill her in round 1 before she can act... well, that's the only way I can see this encounter being ok. That's rare, however.

That's what we did, but her regeneration brought her back up to give us quite a fright when she "disappeared" while we weren't looking.

Osirion **

yoda8myhead wrote:
Karui Kage wrote:
If they are able to kill her in round 1 before she can act... well, that's the only way I can see this encounter being ok. That's rare, however.
That's what we did, but her regeneration brought her back up to give us quite a fright when she "disappeared" while we weren't looking.

I think if our barbarian had been able to hit her right off the bat it would have been fine, he could do 20+ damage with power attack and rage. As it was, she won initiative, him and the rogue dropped their weapons when they ran, the other two fled from the presence, and hell just broke loose. :(

Andoran ***

Karui Kage wrote:
As it was, she won initiative, him and the rogue dropped their weapons when they ran, the other two fled from the presence, and hell just broke loose. :(

Those Will saves are not easy at 1st level. They tend to send characters running.

Osirion **

Githzilla wrote:
Karui Kage wrote:
As it was, she won initiative, him and the rogue dropped their weapons when they ran, the other two fled from the presence, and hell just broke loose. :(
Those Will saves are not easy at 1st level. They tend to send characters running.

In truth, I think it would have been much easier had the room also been smaller. As it was the Lady just held out in the center of the room for the most part, occasionally moving to a different side if the majority of the group was on the other side. Because of this, it usually took them a double move to get back, which meant they were always subjected to a fear effect before they even got a chance to attack. :(

If it's errata'd so that the fear aura only makes guys shaken, even just on tier 1-2, that'd be so much better. I'd have no complaints about this mission then. The rest of it really was fun. Derro, mites, the confused dwarf, all great times. The boss fight was the bad cheesecake at an otherwise great dinner.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Karui Kage wrote:
If you have a Tier 1-2 group I would strongly strongly recommend against playing it. The fear aura, as designed, makes the boss almost entirely unapproachable. Her DR, regen, and high AC make it hard to damage her as well, and both combined make this a horribly frustrating encounter. Unless your players enjoy monotonous repetition then I can't see them enjoying this encounter. If they are able to kill her in round 1 before she can act... well, that's the only way I can see this encounter being ok. That's rare, however.

I'm sorry that your experience was so grueling. She's supposed to be tough to finish off, but 50 rounds?! Egad!

Spoiler:
This scenario was composed before the Pathfinder Bestiary's release, and as others have commented, her fear-based abilities are both more powerful than originally envisioned.

Adding confusion to the mix, the descriptions given for each ability in Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary are quite different from the Pathfinder versions. To bring things closer to the original, you may wish to use the following descriptions for these abilities:

Fear Aura (Su) Any creature within 60 feet of Lady Morilaeth must succeed on a DC 14 Will save or become shaken, half-remembered nightmares rising unbidden in their minds. This condition applies whenever the creature comes within 60 feet of Lady Morilaeth within the next 24 hours. Creatures that save are immune to her fear aura for the next 24 hours. This aura is a mind-affecting fear effect.
At the high tier, the fear aura's save DC rises to 16. The "fear" description in the Pathfinder Bestiary allows that in addition to freezing an opponent or acting like the fear spell, "other effects are possible". I recommend making this an exception to the more common effects.

Frightful Presence (Ex) When Lady Morilaeth makes a surprise attack, charges, or succeeds on a DC 15 Intimidate or Perform check, her unnatural presence fills her victims with nightmarish terror. All creatures within 30 feet must succeed on a DC 14 Will save or be frightened for 2d6 rounds. Success makes the creature immune to this effect for 24 hours. Frightful presence is a mind-affecting fear effect.
At the high tier, her frightful presence's save DC rises to 16. The original effect caused victims to be panicked rather than frightened, but this version is more consistent with the description given in the Pathfinder Bestiary.

Osirion **

Thanks for the fix. At the very least it will help anyone else who runs this scenario turn it from a boss mess into an enjoyable mission. :D

Cheliax *** Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Stroudsburg

Hi. I had a chance to play this with my regular group (experienced players, most pc's have played together in Pathfinder mods, large percentage of Chelaxians with Quadira and Ossirion well represented). And then to run it at a con for a group of four strangers (2 Andorans, 1 Quadirian, 1 Osirion). It is a great mod and a lot of fun. From the main entrance all the way through it was an interesting mix of encounters.

Doug Doug wrote:
I ran another table of this scenario last night. I’ve run it once before and there were no Qadirans at the table. This time there were two. The players were frustrated because they fulfilled the letter of their mission. The mission said get some personal property from him and return it to the faction. Guilt or lack thereof was not even part of the task. The players kept their mission secret and collected what they needed without letting anyone realize what they were up to. It’s not that it was too hard to determine if Merisk is innocent. Even if they discovered he was, consider that the players wouldn’t pass it on since their mission was to return the personal property. I didn’t give the Qadirans their point because it would detract from the accomplishment of a player who does figure it out despite the odds against them. I do think I handled the encounter less-than-satisfactory but I had forgotten about the complexity of this particular mission.

This too was one of the issues I had with this adventure. I have seen the problem with a few mods prior to this as well. The wording on the faction mission handout does not match the blurb at the end of the mod the DM gets. It inevitably leads to a "discussion" on what constitutes success or failure for the mission. This discussion can be "boisterous" at times, to be nice about it.

I won't give away points to players that make no effort, sleep through the mission or are oblivious to something staring them in the face. (And I will drop a hint before it's to late).

But, my decision as a DM is that if the Handout disagrees with the information the DM has on the mission, the Handout wins. It is extremely unfair to hold a player to a standard he is unaware of when he follows the rules he is handed at the beginning of the game. And that unfairness leads to folks having a bad taste regarding Pathfinder. Not the desired outcome, I think.

Doug Doug wrote:
Call me what you will, but my rule was if a reveling mite or derro is attacked or threatened they break out of their fugue and become combatants. However, I did not stick all the derro and mites in the encounter out on the...

I agree with you on this one, that is a good idea. I think the reason the mooks run so easily is because of their altered state. I assume they auto fail any save they would have gotten.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Tom Carpenter wrote:

I won't give away points to players that make no effort, sleep through the mission or are oblivious to something staring them in the face. (And I will drop a hint before it's too late).

But, my decision as a DM is that if the Handout disagrees with the information the DM has on the mission, the Handout wins. It is extremely unfair to hold a player to a standard he is unaware of when he follows the rules he is handed at the beginning of the game.

Gamemasters like you are just what every group needs. You're the guy on the scene: You make the decisions that make adventures rock.

Spoiler:
That mission assumes that the faction leader giving the orders just isn't aware of the true situation. The mission's challenge is to discover that the situation might not be as it first appears. Since that feels unfair to you, go with your gut and give them credit for their loyal efforts.

Tom Carpenter wrote:
I think the reason the mooks run so easily is because of their altered state. I assume they auto fail any save they would have gotten.

Spoiler:
Due to the drugs in their systems, the intoxicated celebrants either flee or are too messed up to provide meaningful resistance. You may choose to have some linger in the chamber, too disoriented to flee from the fearful aura of their Lady. Unable to distinguish their nightmarish hallucinations from actual attacks, their panicked swings hit only air (and each other) and they automatically fail any Reflex Saves.
Cheliax *** Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Stroudsburg

Sir_Wulf wrote:
Spoiler:
That mission assumes that the faction leader giving the orders just isn't aware of the true situation. The mission's challenge is to discover that the situation might not be as it first appears. Since that feels unfair to you, go with your gut and give them credit for their loyal efforts.

While that point should be obvious, I wish that was pointed out for the DM in the mod. It would remove any need for us to have a discussion on the intent of the mission. And prevent player/GM disagreements at the table after the game. It makes a lot of sense though.

Taldor

Although I do like where this mod headed I feel it did not scale well. For tier 1-2 and 3-4 it seems pretty well balanced to be challenging. However at tier 6-7 the party I DMed walked through the adventure. Unfortunately the module writer did not scale up most challenges from 3-4 to 6-7 well. They simply add a few more mobs in most rooms but they are the same HD as 3-4. I feel the Mites and Derro should have scaled up more instead of add a few more. Also Lady M. should have had a little more offensive capability IMO. Her defensive powers and spells do not scale up well to defend her at the 6-7 tier. DMing this at least once does make for a better played (DMed)second round for sure.

**

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Second attempt at this...dang forum timed-out my post and ate it. This one is being composed in Notepad and then cut and pasted into the Forum.

I ran this scenario at 3-4 tier yesterday for the Seattle Mob Game Day.

Party Composition

Spoiler:
Dwarf Cleric 5
Dwarf Ranger 2/Barbarian 2
Human Cleric 1/Rogue 2
Human Rogue 2
Half-elf Witch 2
Human Rogue 1

Sadly I didn't read this thread closely enough prior to judging the scenario...some of my problems might have been mitigated.

Below are my observations, comments, and in some cases complaints...

1. The slot prior the characters all played through Assault on the Kingdom of the Impossible, I really played up the exotic, humid (even fetid) nature of Jalmery's jungles -- the nasty winter weather of the Aspodells was a nice counterpoint. It would have been interesting to have some cold weather effects at the start of the module -- though I understand word/time constraints don't always permit this. The module was begging for it though.

2. The battle at Torvic's cave was sort of lopsided. The party had little problem dealing with the mites. More ants would have been better. I really had a lot of fun role-playing the insane dwarf. It wasn't clear where the passage at the back of Torvic's cave went -- so I just had it lead to the Candlestone Caverns.

3. The GM (me) miscalculated the weight of the silver ingots at the bottom of the crevasse. Based on the value of the ingots and the value of a 1 lb. ingot -- I calculated that there was around 300 lbs. of silver. I forgot to deduct the value of the masterwork stone carvers' tools from the total value for the "encounter". My bad. It didn't make a big difference...the party just left them there and picked them up on their way out.

4. I really liked the various molds, fungi, and slimes in the dungeon. I filled the air with spores and strange fetid smells. Even though they had no game effect it kept the party pretty paranoid about breathing in the various things.

5. It seemed odd that the workshop would have a wooden floor. Given the age of the caverns and the fact it was built by dwarves...wooden floors seemed weird. The party (which had two dwarves) thought it odd as well. I liked the varied difficult terrain, but again the mites were not much of a match for party. The only difficulty was party induced as the 1st level rogue decided to play scout and got jumped by the mites away from the rest of the party.

6. I had some real difficulties figuring out the room text for rooms 8 and 9. The room 8 text refers to stuff being in the room in the southeast corner...which would seem to be room 9...yet why would the text refer to something in another room...yet still it would make sense for those items to be in room 9. I was confused and decided that the treasure was in the mite nest under the floor boards. I think next time I run this I'm going to skip the wooden floors, but make the entire area difficult terrain with sections that act as grease areas. The mite nests will be in the abandoned kilns and furnaces -- maybe with vents and ducts for the mites to scuttle through overhead.

7. Again I made another mistake in interpreting the dungeon. I thought that the ballroom level was beneath the workshop level. So the shaft made a handy way for the party to interrupt the party and surprise the guests without going though the Macabre Laboratory. We had already been playing for four hours...so I was pressed for time anyway.

8. The frolic in the ballroom was a pretty cool idea. I liked that the whacked out derros and mites simply reacted by running away from any conflict. It would also have been interesting to have them just get in the way of combat, but not actually attack anyone.

9. I'm not real keen on the fear effect generated by Lady Morilaeth. This turned what might have been an interesting combat into a fiasco. Only one PC made his save (the dwarf cleric), everyone else failed (even all of her bodyguards). I adjudicated the fear effect as fear/panicked from the fear spell, so everyone who failed dropped everything they had in their hands and fled at random for 2 minutes. (Note: This was a mistake on my part, it should have only been 2 rounds --- GAH!! I am so stupid to have misread this.) All but one of the fleeing party members fled up (or what should have been down) the stairs to the workshop level. The dwarf cleric was soundly resistant (he made his WILL saves) to Lady Morilaeth's spells and feeble negative energy bursts, yet he couldn't do sufficient damage to get through her DR most of the time, and could only watch as she regenerated all the damage he did. The combination of AC 21, DR, and regeneration grafted to an otherwise feeble opponent (tier 3-4 she is still a cleric 2) made for an uninteresting and farcical combat.

The GM Cheats

Spoiler:
I got tired of having five players at the table spend all their effort running while the cleric ineffectively flailed at the final bad guy. As soon as the first party member reached Room 3, on the Entrance Level, I had Torvic (whom the party had left behind with the rescued prisoners) tackle her (overcoming her CMD) to the ground and force a quasi-magical fear-dispelling fungus polyp into her mouth. With her assistance and more magical fungus they tackled and force-fed the rest of the fleeing PCs (all save the one PC that really would have been effective against Lady Morilaeth, the dwarf ranger/barbarian, who was cowering in one of the alcoves in the ballroom). They all ran back to assist the lone cleric.

10. Even with five PCs attempting to do her in, Lady Morilaeth was still more than a match for the party -- none of whom had silver or good aligned weapons or the ability to do more than 5 hit points of damage. Most couldn't even hit AC 21 (the party wasn't exactly balanced nor did they have a arcane damage dealer). After the party finally managed to hit her with a ray of enfeeblement Lady Morilaeth simply shadow walked away to safety. I'm not actually sure, given this ability how the party could have defeated her.

11. Given we had played for 5+ hours (yes over an hour on the last combat) I called an end to the adventure. The party never did get a chance to explore the Macabre Laboratory -- so not every faction earned their second Prestige Point. They also failed to get quite a bit of the monetary reward having failed to kill Lady Morilaeth or the critters in the Macabre Lab. I ruled that they had more or less succeeded in the mission to help Torvic, but with Lady Morilaeth still out there she would continue to haunt his dreams and drive him further insane.

12. Overall I think this was a fun and enjoyable adventure. It really could have stood to be expanded slightly and turned into a double-slot (eight hour) scenario though. It had too much stuff for a single four hour slot, yet not enough to fill eight-hours. And stuffing it into 4-hours does this adventure a disservice -- it could have really rocked!! I liked the mix of combat in interesting spaces, unusual monsters, unique end boss, and role-playing opportunity. For 3-4 tier though it could have used less mites (or more tough mites) and more derros and giant ants. I liked the fungal fey wonderland feel and I thought overall it was well written and fun to GM.

CJ

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

thelesuit wrote:
It wasn't clear where the passage at the back of Torvic's cave went -- so I just had it lead to the Candlestone Caverns.

Exactly right! The ant had wrenched apart Torvic's improvised barrier on that side of the cave to get in from the narrow passage.

thelesuit wrote:
...the party just left them (the ingots) there and picked them up on their way out.

In an earlier draft, the ingots were explicitly alchemical silver, to ensure that a desperate or ill-equipped group would have some way to shut down the Lady's regeneration if needed. "Improvised weapons FTW"

thelesuit wrote:
It seemed odd that the workshop would have a wooden floor. Given the age of the caverns and the fact it was built by dwarves...wooden floors seemed weird.

I envisioned the dwarves storing materials and equipment below, removing floorboards when needed to hoist their gear into the work area. For the encounter, I wanted the PCs to worry about potential threats coming from below and the possibility that rotting floorboards would collapse while they fought.

thelesuit wrote:
The mite nests will be in the abandoned kilns and furnaces -- maybe with vents and ducts for the mites to scuttle through overhead.

Sounds good! Ideally, the little pests will crop up whever the PCs don't want them...

thelesuit wrote:
I thought that the ballroom level was beneath the workshop level. So the shaft made a handy way for the party to interrupt the party and surprise the guests without going though the Macabre Laboratory.

That's why I put the shaft there: To give PCs a way to "crash" the party if they wanted. I just made them climb a bit.

thelesuit wrote:
I liked that the whacked out derros and mites simply reacted by running away from any conflict. It would also have been interesting to have them just get in the way of combat, but not actually attack anyone.

I originally planned to keep some of the "guests" in the area, but there was some concern that could result in a less-than-heroic massacre of the befuddled creatures. If you prefer to keep some drug-addled derro and mites wandering through the battle, feel free.

thelesuit wrote:
I'm not real keen on the fear effect generated by Lady Morilaeth. This turned what might have been an interesting combat into a fiasco.

The translation of her abilities from the 3.5 'Nightmare Creature" template to Pathfinder made her fear effects rather brutal. I recommend using the weaker effects I posted earlier in the thread. That makes it possible for the party to overwhelm her and finish her off before the fight turns into a "grind".

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I have to run this one again sometime...

It has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but I think I was not fully prepared for it.

The Big bad is very complicated and hard to run, next time I will need to have a closer look at her to figure her out.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Illinois—Decatur aka TwilightKnight

I was very excited to run this scenario. While most of the combat encounters we under-whelming, the BBEG seemed like she would be a solid challenge. Little did I know that four of the players would present 1st level PC's, including two brand-new PC's. No one had any silver or good weapons, spells to simulate either effect, and their only healer was an Oracle/1 with the life mystery (for channeling) but chose inflict spells. The rest of the party was Alchemist/1, Ranger/1, Dwarven Fighter/2, Sorcerer/2, Wizard/1. Looking back, I really wish I had read the thread on this mod before running it. I will not make that mistake again. And if I get a chance to run this again, I'll be better prepared. I do like the fact that this mod was a challenge to both the players and the GM.

spoiler:
Despite mostly ignoring the scrolls and pearl, the mod started out in their favor. The initial battle was over in 1-1/2 rounds with both mites falling before acting, and the ant missing it's only attack. After a little effort, they gained useful info from Tovic and continued down the corridor. With some substantial perception checks, they discovered the runes and the pressure plates on the mosaic. The dwarf fighter blindly tried to solve the order, AND SUCCEEDED. My math may be slightly off, but I think that's 1 chance in 3125. Amazing! They also recovered the chest with the ingots.

Entering the complex, they determined that the fungi must be bad and did everything to avoid it. They traveled left down the long hallway. The chapel seemed to hold little purpose. It would have been nice to either have an encounter inside (optional?) or some scenario specific details for foreshadowing. Next they checked the main hall. They were so scared of the wooden floors collapsing, that they left without entering past the hallway!

They continued on to the kitchen. Another largely encounter-less room, although there was an alchemist in the party that decided to examine the pots. He failed his fort save and was nauseated for a while. This served as more humor than a game-impacting event. And it served to reinforce that they wanted no part of the fungus growing all over the complex. They briefly investigated the mushroom cavern, but the ant was no match for the ranger with a greatsword that climbed down.

On to the lab. They were surprised by the derro/goblin and after a well-placed darkness, the derro was able to get in a couple sneak attacks. The party had Torvic hidden well back in the hallway so he never had the opportunity to interact with Tnarat. They discovered the remains of the pixie, but that fueled a mis-direction as they deduced that BBEG would likely be fey-based and therefore cold iron would be needed to overcome DR. An error that caused problems later. Since the entire hallway leading to the main workroom was covered in fungus, they decided to skip it and follow the noise up the stairs.

I had access to the advanced bestiary and was not sure if the fear aura and frightful presence qualities were missing from the stat block on purpose or not, but I decided to use them. When the party entered the room, Lady Morilaeth was sitting on the throne on the other side of the room observing the revelers. The oracle earned a nat 20 on a perception check, so I allowed her to see the amulet of Lamashtu. After that, the group charged in hoping to avoid most of the mites/derro and get to her. Fortunately, the mooks largely ignored them due to the drug, but as they approached her, most failed their save vs the fear aura and were shaken. Over the next two rounds, she dropped the Bane (most failed the save) and Cause Fear (failed). By then, she was flanked by the ranger and fighter. Since everyone else was within 30ft, she started using channel negative energy to great effect taking out the alchemist. Unfortunately, despite the flanking bonus and neutral alignments, neither the ranger nor the fighter could hit her. The sorcerer was able to do some damage with magic missile, only to see it healed. The oracle and wizard, using ranged weapons were hitting, but were ineffective against the DR. They started to meta-game thinking that most mods provide a weapon to overcome a creature's DR. Using the dead pixie as evidence, some of the players started searching for a weapon made of cold iron. By the time Lady Morilaeth intimidated using her frightful presence causing the Oracle and wizard to flee, they felt the battle was lost. The remaining characters fled and we ran out of time. Between poor attack rolls, jockeying for position, and useless searching for cold iron, the battle took 1-1/2 hours. In the end, she had full hit points, was out of spells and channels, and suffering from a ray of enfeeblement. Had they regrouped and attacked again, after a round or two, she would have been forced to shadow walk away.

So everyone missed at least one faction mission and failed to defeat Lady Morilaeth (I did award them the XP). This may not have been a big issue, but the week prior, they had nearly a TPK (five of six players) in Devil We Know part IV against the earth elemental. Two consecutive weeks of defeat has left a few players a little miffed. Having run our weekly event since November with only a single fatality (pregen), I don’t have much sympathy, but it still irritates me a bit if the players feel the challenges are not “fair.” Hopefully, next week will turn out better for them.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

These gm threads are a great resource to see how things have gone for others and give you a clue as to what issues might pop up. Your players were half right in their meta gaming, but picked the wrong item type. As Sir Wulf pointed out somewhere in this thread the silver ingots would bypass her DR if used as an improvised weapon. For a first level character though taking a -4 and trying to hit 21 isn't a great option. Between a wizard, sorcerer, and an alchemist I'd think they would have enough DR bypassing energy to whittle her down. This boss has a lot of leeway in how tough she is depending on how you want to play her. For example if you had her flying and hitting them with channel and her longbow... first level guys basically have no chance. You'll know better how to handle her if you run this one again at some point to give the PCs a run for their money without crushing them. Having her shadow walk to an escape isn't a bad idea either if you want them to pull out a victory once both sides have nearly exhausted their resources. In that case her cowardice is a large part of her long lifespan ;)

They didn't get all the rewards, but they made it out alive with partial gains. Seems ok to me. The rare stalemate isn't such a big deal and it is expected that you won't catch every prestige point. Hope they are the kind of players who tough it out and come back for another round.

Shadow Lodge ****

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

We just finished playing this scenario, and it is easily on the "easiest scenario I've played" list. Our group consisted of six players (three 5's and 3 6's) we played at Tier 6-7. I think the total damage dealt out to the group was roughly 30 points (almost all to one character due to a critical) and we never really felt challenged.

Afterward though we talked about it, and I really think that it's designed well for low magic, but once you get a couple efficient mages in the party the whole thing becomes too easy because the environmental hazards (darkness and the like) are so easy to beat. The final encounter was soundly beat by a sorcerer in the group having invisibility which allowed us to set up a surprise round ambush with our rogue. By the second round of combat she was staggered, and she was dead on the third. The only things done by the party were: surprise round sneak attack, rest of party move into position, second round she channeled, followed by a second rogue sneak attack, wizard glitterdust, and a bard shooting two arrows. She was done at that point. One derro was dead by his action because the barbarian and sorcerer decided to make it a bit more of a challenge and "waste" their action on the only non-blinded dero to give her a chance; the other two were blinded the entire fight. We realized that had we come up the front entrance unstealthed the encounter would have been very different, but a sneaky approach with good tactics made the encounter trivial at best.

I liked the mood of the module and it was one of the best dungeon crawls to date, but overall it was just too easy. Way, way too easy (mites at tier 6-7?).

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm just curious - did you actually kill the final enemy?

Spoiler:
You need a blow with a Silver or Good weapon, if you didn't accomplish this, she's supposed to retreat to a more secure location that it doesn't sound like you found and ambush you from there.

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