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RPG Superstar 2015

PFS # 47: The Darkest Vengeance [SPOILERS]


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

This is what I suggest: If the player successfully makes the Perform check, the little doll begins to sing as if reliving her glory days on the stage of the opera. It moves from behind the organ into full view, perhaps levitating atop the contraption. As long as the PC maintains the performance, the doll will sing. If the music is interrupted the doll throws a fit and slaps the PC with the inflict serious wounds. The damage it can do with that attack will alarm most PCs who have no way of knowing that it's a 1/day ability. The encounter is mostly to up the creep-factor. This was the first appearance of a soulbound doll in a PFS scenario, so most players couldn't metagame its limited offensive capabilities. Don't worry about this encounter challenging the party, just mess with them as much as you can get away with and then let them have their revenge .

Again, this is a suggestion. As long as the PC keeps playing the organ or otherwise musically accompanying the doll it will remain passive, just singing it's little non-heart out. If the PCs figure out that the doll came out of one of the cases spilled on the floor, they could try to trap it back inside with a combat maneuver.

Shadow Lodge ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

thanks

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've just been through this as a player. Here's how the memorable enounters went.

Entering the Lodge:
One of the squatters survived (knocked into negatives). The party stabilized him, and then my bard hit him with a Charm Person. He was happy to answer questions. The answers made the faction mission easy for the Tengu, who now knew just where to look for the body he needed to find.

Opinion: The paladin needed a little convincing, but my bard explained that we (pathfinders) are only breaking into our own house (a pathfinder lodge) to displace some squatters. Once it was put that way, he was fine with it. The encounter itself was about what you'd expect, and provided some useful tanglefoot bags for later.

Down the Stairs:
My bard was going to go examine the organ until the GM remarked about all the blood. Then the Diva put the vast majority of the party to sleep. The unaffected ninja began rousing his sleeping party members while the evoker wizard (higher level playing down) scorching ray'd the organ, mistakenly believing it to be the cause. The awakened fighter stands and rushes the organ, only to have grease cast on him causing him to fall prone. The ninja awakens another party member (the cleric). The Diva, driven out from behind the organ, gets herself force missiled by the evoker. The fighter manages to stand and close on the Diva. The cleric fails his save vs the Diva's suggestion. He will spend the rest of the fight attempting to extinguish the fire in the organ. Cornered, the Diva attempts to use her inflict spell, but fails the cast defensively check ! The fighter who doesn't realize how lucky he is to be alive finishes the doll. My bard slept through the entire battle.

Opinion: The blood on the organ spooked my bard enough to not even go near the thing. Also, perform(keyboard) isn't her bit. I have no opinion on the inflict spell, because in our game the Diva couldn't get it off, and once it was gone, she was out of spells and could do little.

Prototype:
We had someone who could cast comprehend languages, but that only lets you understand the shadow creatures, not ask them questions. My bard has smoked glasses, so she and the paladin who has some sort of halo that helps against blindness were not affected. The note we found in the desk implies that the builder intended to install a kill switch, but could find no evidence of one. It also says something about switching two of the rods is what caused the overload, but also implies it's possible to get the thing to explode. Logically, switching those two rods BACK to the original configuration should return the machine to normal operation.

There was a scroll of tongues in the desk that we used to converse with the two dark creatures. They really didn't have any useful information. We did warn them that we believed that it's possible the machine might explode if tampered with, but they chose to stick around anyway.

My bard was the only character with disable device, but it's not her main schtick. Even with a really good roll, the DC25 check only shut the machine off. I was hoping to simply turn it down to "normal" sunrod strength. Afterwards it was easy to switch the sphere (faction mission) for the one we were given. Of course, the two dark critters elected to attack, but since they were in the other room, they were dispatched before the bard was done messing with the prototype.

Downshaft:
We elected to use a knotted rope as there are several low-strength party members unable to use the self-powered lift.

Landing:
IVORY gondolas ? WTF ? And only able to carry two persons each ? How in the world did THOSE get down that shaft ? And how did the machine get carried across this lake ? Must have been in pieces.

Optional Encounter:
We were out of time so this one didn't happen. Good thing too, because I don't see how alchemist's fire would have helped us since you can't cause it to break on the surface of the water, can you ? I don't think the evoker had any AoEs either.

Final Room:
Since the door's locked and my bard is the only device disabler, I elected to take 20. Upon opening the door, we can see a figure strapped to the machine, but we were given the mistaken impression that it was a body and no indication that the machine was similar to the prototype upstairs.

For all we knew at the time, this might not be the final boss. With no attempt at dialoge, the other figure in the room (who was also not described to us) casts his deeper darkness. The paladin's halo stops working, my bard's dancing lights fail, etc. Holy Carp !

Since you can speak out of turn, a quick consensus was that we must fall back or be defeated piecemeal. A complication is you must move at half speed when blind or risk a fall, but we all made it out of the room and shut the door. We began examining our resources for anything that might help us as well as making spellcraft/knowledge arcana checks to realize that the spell was deeper darkness as well as how long it was likely to last.

At this point the GM pipes up with "You don't think the man strapped to the device has long to live without intervention." We responded with "Wait a minute, you said there's a BODY strapped to the device. We took that to mean DEAD BODY." Now the Paladin insists we must attempt a rescue.

I wanted to go get the prototype from upstairs, get it working again, dismantle it, bring it down, reassemble it on a boat and float it over here, but that was vetoed because we'd been given the impression that it would be next to impossible to even get it functioning again. This made us disinclined to even attempt to get the machine in THIS room functioning as we were completely unsure given our fleeting glimpse of it that it was even intact.

We settled on having everyone delay until the worst initiative and then moving in formation to the machine, grabbing whoever was on it (we weren't even sure who it was) and then retreating. When we first opened the doors, light functioned normally until the BBG's turn when he put up DD again (rats, we were hoping it was limited).

We managed it only because the cleric was channeling, my bard was casting heal on whoever sung out "I'm hit", the paladin laying on hands and the GM was forgetting about the extra sneak attack damage. We never did twig to the fact that he's using lunge to attack from two squares away, what with everyone attacking the darkness.

As we bundled the unconcious but still living target of the rescue mission into a gondola, the problem is now that we won't all fit in the boats, to wich the GM sings out "Oh, but you can if you treat him as cargo (i.e. he lays in the bottom of the boat). Our response "Why didn't you tell us that earlier when we were trying to use fewer boats !?" The strength damaged Tengu ninja and the useless evoker begin paddling madly with the rescue-e.

Meanwhile, the two strongest party members are trying to hold the doors while the BBG is trying to force them open. Whenever he temorarily gets one open a bit, a motley collection of alchemists fire, tanglefoot bags, etc. are hurled until the third strongest member of the party throws himself against the door to reclose it.

After a few rounds of this, a round goes by with no attempt by the BBG to open the door. After a brief whispered conference we break for the boats and never look back.

Shadow Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

I've run this one twice at the lower sub-tier and think it's a really fun, flavourful adventure that would be perfect for around Hallowe'en. It is potentially deadly.Notwithstanding JJ Frost's comment earlier about the Diva's ILS being once per day, it can still easily take a first level character from full HP to negative con in one go. That's fine - just not for someone playing PFS for the first time :)

Likewise, the final encounter can be dealt with despite the deeper darkness - I do wonder if a humanoid chain would work - but it is challenging.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Wisconsin—Green Bay aka Slamy Mcbiteo

Not a good mod for a party of level ones....also not a good mod to intro people to pathfinder. It is confusing and has fights that require one specific type of attack. Definitely not what I not what I expected from a Pathfinder mod....it sort of reminded me of the mods we hated in LG.

This is not a mod to play on the low end of the tiers at all...personally the end of this mod needs to be looked at for level 1s

* Star Voter 2013

It's a good idea to read the spoiler thread and especially the reviews before running anything. Your experiences Slamy have been written many times.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jason S wrote:

It's a good idea to read the spoiler thread and especially the reviews before running anything. Your experiences Slamy have been written many times.

Indeed. And I still say that, run properly, this scenario is an excellent scenario. If the GM is doing his job properly, no scenario is as bad as what you described, Slamy. Part of that job is reading the GM advice threads and the reviews.


DLandonCole wrote:
Likewise, the final encounter can be dealt with despite the deeper darkness [..]

Don't forget the exploding bad guy, too...

:-/


I am about to run this scenario and as I was reading, each faction mission has two objects to complete. So is there a possibility of getting 3 prestige award? 1 for the scenario and 2 for the faction missions.

And what do I get for running? Do I get all 3 prestige award?

* Star Voter 2013

In seasons with 2 faction missions, the 2 faction missions count for prestige points, the overall Pathfinder mission doesn't count for prestige. It's written in the organized play guide.


I reread the prestige in the guide and I understand now, thanks.

Silver Crusade *

Thanks for the advice one and all. I will be running this in about 4 hours time at my FLGS.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Mesa aka TriOmegaZero

Had a real good time with this one today. Power creep has worn away the danger however. Between a gunslinger and zen archer getting a pinpoint on Zoathrias and my tiefling alchemist with see in darkness making his way to the machine nothing really threatened the party overtly.

*** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka RainyDayNinja

So I just ran this at the 4-5 tier, and all the fights were ridiculously easy up until the final fight with Zoathrias. That one was comfortably difficult, right up until the lights from the machine came back on. I decided that Zoathrias would use his elemental gem to back him up when he didn't have the benefit of deeper darkness.

BIG MISTAKE!

A CR 5 large earth elemental is way too tough for a tier 4-5 party that's already been devastated by darkness and sneak attacks. I could have easily dropped 1 PC every round, but I declined to use power attack, and had the gem end after just 3 rounds. The party was just barely able to bounce back after that.

Dark Archive *

I have yet to run this but finally played it yesterday; we were on low tier. It does seem like it would indeed be a party-killer for most.

Final encounter spoiler:

In the final encounter we lucked out with a full five rounds from a timely pyrotechnics SLA on an alchemist's bomb, thereby negating precision damage within the cloud, and decided that evacuating the room while carrying Miregrold and slamming and jamming the door shut was better than facing Zoathrias in his native element even though we had been lucky enough to land 12 points on him. It seemed like a chancy think at best!

*

The scenario requests the Diva to cast a suggestion scroll to force a character to play the piano for her.

For me the suggestion spell by itself is not clear about what happens when the combat breaks out, so I opened the following discussion in the rules forum.

Just in case anyone comes to same doubt, I came up with thinking the suggestion does not dominates the target will, so he can still react and take decisions.
Compared with the hold person spell (same level), it is clear the suggestion cannot prevent the target from taking actions without even a save check. Thus I finally think the better course of action is to:
1) Allow the target to defend when attacked by the Diva
2) If combat breaks out between the doll and the target's party, allow the character under the suggestion to act normally after the doll first harms an ally (if she inspires courage, charms, etc... the character shall continue playing)
3) Once the combat is done, the character continues playing the piano until the end of the spell's duration. If properly persuaded that continuing to play is not a good suggestion, with good RP and diplomacy/intimidate/bluff checks, I would also suggest to allow a new Will save.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

The suggestion was to play a somber dirge on the organ. If the PC fails the save, he or she attempts to play a 'dirge'. The diva gets upset and attacks if the PC performs poorly. The suggestion has been fulfilled. The diva doesn't designate how long the dirge must be. After the suggested action is complete, the target may act freely. Roll initiative :)

*

I also don't know what to thing about that.
Is the perform check to be done only once and then stop? Or is the character under suggestion to keep performing each round until he fails and the doll attacks him.

The scenario fails to provide any advise on what happens if there is no fail at all, or the suggestion spell fails. Does the doll try to convince them to play through other means, does she get aggressive? Why?
What if let's say a bard with a +10 perform starts performing, he can keep there fulfilling the doll desires until he gets tired of it.

I somehow feel the scenario should have provided some opportunity for the encounter to end with good perform and RP and not just killing the doll in one way or another.

Does the doll even try to follow them if they go out of the room?

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

I have run it seven times, and it's much ado about nothing most of those times*. On occasions that the PC succeeds on the Perform check the diva stands on top of the organ crooning along with the instrument until the song is over. Then I have her reminisce about the 'good ole days' at the opera and, if treated politely, eventually lose interest in the PCs. It doesn't need to be a combat encounter unless the PCs trigger it.

When the scenario doesn't cover those corner cases, use your judgment as the GM to improvise something. You can create some unique memories for players in these situations. Imagine if the bard and the diva hit it off and make a deal to take the act on the road after the mission is over.

*I did slap an inflict serious on a 1st level PC once and he failed his save against pretty hefty damage--dead right there. I was able to pull a Faction shirt out of my bag and he succeeded, sparing me from a lot of guilt! The other six times the diva doesn't have much firepower after delivering the inflict.

*****

I know, I feel guilty when I hurt the PCs too.

Liberty's Edge ****

TriOmegaCupcake wrote:
I know, I feel guilty when I hurt the PCs too.

I suspect it is the nature of it being a save or die for low level PCs. I know I was ... nervous ... when I ran this scenario, a while back. Managed to roll crappy on the d8s, though. I think I did 7 whole points before the Will save.

3d8+3 is a potentially nasty amount of damage. Average is still 16.5 points of damage, if the save is failed, and, if the d8s are "lucky", it caps at 27 points of damage. That is enough to get most builds, other than the anti-Ledford builds.

On the "up" side, she is tiny, so has to enter the PC's square to use the effect on him. She is bright enough, though, to either pre-cast it, or cast defensively. Her AC is nothing spectacular, but between her DR and her HP, she will probably still be able to deliver that touch. On the one hand, her melee touch to hit is only +1, but it is a held spell, so she can try until she gets destroyed, or she hits.

Her tactics, at least at sub-tier 1-2, don't make a lot of sense, since she only has a one-shot ranged attack, and then she is just a hovering target for the PCs.

Also, given a knowledgeable player, or someone wearing a Take 10 T-shirt, since she targets the PC with the highest Charisma, and there is nothing that appears to be preventing it, the PC could take 10 on the perform check, and, unless the highest Charisma is a 9 (ugh!), automatically succeed at playing the dirge....

*

kinevon wrote:
Also, given a knowledgeable player, or someone wearing a Take 10 T-shirt, since she targets the PC with the highest Charisma, and there is nothing that appears to be preventing it, the PC could take 10 on the perform check, and, unless the highest Charisma is a 9 (ugh!), automatically succeed at playing the dirge....

But players don't know the DC is 10.

Sovereign Court ** Star Voter 2015

She's a flavor encounter. She adds some nice Ustalavic creepiness, and she can make people waste resources.

Her weird tactics can actually be even more off-putting, especially since the PCs will likely have no idea that she can only do the inflict once.

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