|David Harrison Venture-Captain, England—Cambridge aka Wintergreen|
Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Society® / Pathfinder Society GM Discussion
I have other things to talk about later, but since the game is starting soon, I have a problem with one statblock.
In Act 4, it lists a +1 Composite Longbow on the Tier 8-9 Harpies. When you look at the damage it's a 1d8+4. Given the +1 quality, that would make it a +1 to hit and damage (1d8+1). However, the Strength seems to be listed in it, giving it +3 to damage. Is this intentional?
If so, wouldn't it be a +1 Composite longbow (+3 Str Max)?
The third harpy has a Javelin of Lightning, but in the statblock, it's a standard javelin...which is it?
Yep, you are correct. They are composite longbows, so the (+3 Str) bit should be there.
She does indeed have a javelin of lightning, and javelin is listed in the ranged section in case she wanted to use it as a normal weapon instead of expending the magic (and consuming the weapon). It's not ideal to use it in that way, but if she wanted to, the calculations are presented.
One other thing...
Tylaca 8-9 has a +2 full plate. That gives a Max Dex Bonus of +1. Her armor training raises her Max Dex to +3. Unless there is something really special with the full plate, her AC is 1 too high.
When are you running it? Be very careful with the first act as it likes to merge with the second. In two sessions of running this, I've killed 3 people, and taken several to dying. (had killed only 2 *real* characters prior in a few dozen mods)
Daigle, I'll post a more thorough review after I recover from Origins.
So I've had plenty of time to give this one some thought.
EXPLOSIVE HARPY GUANO!
Now for the real review :)
This mod presents something (nearly) unique in that it the players know the bad guy's ruse before the encounter starts. It really opens up the options to role play with the players, giving them one outlandish lie after the other.
Having the shard buried by the shrine is odd. Daigle told me that it used to be in the house, and I wish it would have stayed there.
As fun as this act is, I believe it has a major flaw as written. The PCs are told:
"Pretend to be fooled by her disguise and try to get her to tell you where the other fragment is—she likely knows more about the history of the sword and I’d prefer if you didn’t kill her.”
Then the Hag's motives are explained:
"She hopes to be brought along with the PCs so she can be there when the ghost of her sister attacks them—then she might join in, slay them, and appease the soul of her sister so that she might stop haunting her for her crimes."
Each time I've run this mod, I've roleplayed the Hag's desire to continue up the river with the party. Each time they've recited amonst themselves what their Venture captain told them, and agreed to let her go with them.
I love bringing the room to a complete stop as Gresaril manifestation screeches out.
I also really enjoyed the tactical setup of this battle. A flying incorporeal ghost freely moving about in the thick underbrush of the River Kingdoms. Druids and Rangers (and Fey Sorcerers) will be happy to have their woodland stride!
Unfortunately, since every time I run this the Hag is there, this encounter turns deadly, fast. GM's need to be aware that if the party isn't set up to handle a ghost very well, that they will likely need to pull a few punches (the 10d6 touch attack type).
I love this encounter too (getting old yet?). It's not tactically challenging for the players, but it's not supposed to be. It's hard to explain a straight up fighter as being a "sword sage" but a good GM can take care of that. I've had one group so far kill him (very poor player. The rest of the party was trying to finish him with non-lethal damage, but he got bored or stupid and threw an empowered 8d6 scorching ray at him after he had already taken a bit of lethal damage...)
If the harpies take the air, this fight gets really interesting depending on party make up. I've heard of (entire) parties sneaking up on them before they can take to the air, but I've never seen a party that didn't have at least one character with a massive armor check penalty. Fellow GM's, remember it's likely the players that have ear plugs in, not the harpies!
My biggest problem with this encounter is that the high tier harpies have three different stat blocks. It makes it much more of a burden to keep track of AC, bonuses, abilities, etc. Yes it's nice that all three are a bit different, but an encounter with three flying creatures that are all just slightly different is annoying from a GM point of view.
I've run this act on the back of act IV each time, as when the last harpy dies, the BBEG rises up out of the catherdral. Seeing something with brightly colored feathers clad in full plate take to the sky is jaw dropping for the players.
What's with the potion of invisibility at the high tier? I mean I used it, and it worked very well (from the BBEG point of view), but seems a bit out of place. Her tactics assume she stays in the bell tower and fights.
"The bell tower stands 30 feet high and it’s belfry is open to sky."
Why would a winged creature stay on the ground and fight to the death instead of taking to the air? Lame sauce (extra chunky!)
Despite being very DEADLY for characters playing up, I've taken a liking to this scenario and will be running it again at MichiCon the weekend after Gen Con. I was actually quite disappointed that it's not available for Gen Con itself, but that's probably because of Adam's sordid affair with Josh's sister. (seriously Adam, what were you thinking?!) ;-)
Kyle, thank you for the review. I’ve been checking this thread pretty regularly waiting for your feedback and I really appreciate the thought you put into this scenario. I’m glad you enjoyed most of the encounters because I had fun writing them and playtesting them (even though I playtested a slightly different version than it ended up as, which happens all the time.) At PaizoCon when you came up to me to give you the quick synopsis, I wish I would have been more familiar with the final scenario, because I didn’t feel like I was a ton of help.
I talked to you before about the first two encounters and what had changed between my turnover and the final. I think it was an interesting change and like you I’m curious how many people got through this fight in the same way your tables have.
I’m really happy you liked the ghost encounter because it was easily my favorite in the adventure. I like ghosts a lot because not only are they difficult foes, but they also give a chance to tell more of the story during a fight.
I was afraid having three unique harpies for the upper tier would get nixed, so I’m really happy they made it through. I totally understand that encounter could be a b&+~~ to keep up with stat-wise, but I was doubly excited they made it through to the final because I ported those girls over from an old Greyhawk campaign, and I can’t wait to see my player’s faces when they turn up again in a whole new world. (Tylaca was originally a bard, however.)
Now, the weirdness in the tactics for Tylaca in Act V I think was due to a change and me probably not making some thing clear in the text I turned over. Originally, the hags cut her wings off to shame her, and she was a flightless harpy once she awoke from the curse. So, the assumption in the tactics was probably an artifact of that tiny detail. While the cut off wings is neat and all, she’s a way better combatant with the mobility provided by flying.
Thanks again for the review, and again, I’m glad you enjoyed it. See you at GenCon, right? Maybe I’ll run the scenario at a spare table during the show (and explain the thing about Josh’s sister).
Ran this scenario this weekend with different results.
Act 4 and 5 blended together due to the party taking a longer time to decide what to do. The harpies three waited in ambush, then had to retreat to the tower thanks to a well-played Summoner. In order to not make this a TPK, I had the BBEG from Act 5 circle arpound and go for the sword... which NO ONE had in their possesion; they left it with their extra supplies. A casting of a grease spell on the sword kept it from becoming hers, but also kept her occupied for three rounds.
Some issues though...
The spell entangle is not a sorcerer spell but was not only on her list but in her tactics... did I miss something? The ghost failed a Will save when the wizard cast control undead... and took her out of the game without a fight. Any fixes? And, worse of all, none of the players would carry the shards... they bought a slave to carry their supplies (and the shard) for them. Slaves are legal for purchase, but how does this work?
Thanks for the feedback!
Some answers to your questions:
Entangle is the 3rd-level bonus spell granted by the fey bloodline. Siasan added the spell to her known spells upon reaching 3rd level.
Control undead is a 7th-level spell, so I must admit I wasn’t even thinking of that as a possibility. That said, sometimes, especially at higher levels, spell casters have the ability to bypass some encounters with a single spell. The fun thing that could have been done with the control undead situation is to just run out the duration. The ghost is tied to the sword, and until the curse is lifted, will be tied to the sword. The spell will run out in a few minutes and then the ghost can act normally.
I don’t have a good answer about the slave situation except to say that the PCs are some big meanies. :)
The ghost failed a Will save when the wizard cast control undead... and took her out of the game without a fight. Any fixes?
Hehehe you must be my DM! :D Because that is exactly how I got through that encounter. The flaw of that encounter is that it will happen. I'm sure most table you run will not have access to such encounter-ending spell. Making the will save helps.
Adam-> The spell was a Sor2 Command Undead for which the monster 1- Failed its save and 2- Lost the Cha roll to obey my "Stop Fighting" command. So while it was not exactly friendly, it had no choice to but to do as I commanded it. (Having a +6 Cha helps a lot)
And, worse of all, none of the players would carry the shards... they bought a slave to carry their supplies (and the shard) for them. Slaves are legal for purchase, but how does this work?
As a slave owner myself, I think our DM handled it correctly. "One of you bums (meaning the PC) have to take it, not the slave." To me, slaves and non-combat NPCs means they don't do anything actively constructive.
My slave guards/feeds the horses/mules. Carries stuff. Prepares meals. Sets up the tents. He also has the uncanny ability to disappear uber-fast like those other NPCs that form crowds... All those things where he assists in "off-camera duties".
Although the idea of giving him a cursed item is very attractive (and fun) to Katharan, me (the player) do not think that he should suffer such things. The <i>"I buy 100 slaves and send them into the dungeon to find all the traps"</i> tactic should NOT be allowed (and oh! surprised, it's not!) A DM has the right to tell a player that his non-combat NPC allies (slaves, dogs, other players) mysteriously disappear. And have the PCs be in the center of the action.
Symbol of Insanity: @
As the wizard at Arnim's table (Conjuartion Specialist, not a Summoner class), let me add a few things.
First, great story to this mod. I think it was well done and different than many other PFS modules, as there was actual travel time that changed things up.
It was Command Undead, a 2nd level wizard spell. A fairly common one to have available, in my experience. I did have to cast it twice, the second time using my arcane bond item. The real problem with this spell is the duration, 1 day/level can really mess with a plan if the undead is supposed to come back later.
The sorcerer with Entangle threw us off because we had guessed there was a ranger/druid in the group and when that harpy died, the Entangle didn't stop. We didn't actually see the entangle get cast, so we expected the entangle to end when that harpy was killed. We didn't realize the bloodline factor.
It's not unreasonable to have a slave or hireling carry your pack, especially since we had three Cheliax PC's at the table, one of whom carries a coffin everywhere he goes. The Slave's job was to carry the coffin, and the sword was in the coffin, along with the other loot we had found.
I would have a problem with a GM telling me I had to carry something without a really good reason. And "the story won't work otherwise" doesn't count. Especially considering all the hints in the module about the sword, why would anyone want to carry it?
Cool Faction Mission Story
I thought Arnim would mention this, but I will for entertainment value. The Cheliax mission is to positively identify a specific person and then slip him a "love letter" from the Paracountess. The only way to identify him is a brand on his stomach. Another PC had ridiculous levels of Stealth and Hide in Plain Site. We cut a deal with him to lift the targets shirt over his head as he left his shop.
The problem arose that it took this PC 3 tries to succeed. He would flub the CMB roll, but the quickly move and ace the stealth check. The image of the target flailing about trying to keep his clothes on was too much >Once he succeeded, we had penalties to our perception to actually notice theb rand since we were laughing so hard (both in character and out)
I ran this at PaizoCon UK last month and had Josh Frost playing (a negative energy channeling priest of Rovagug
who very nearly took control of the ghost which would have been scary!
Regarding the item being carried:
I used an item card to represent the sword fragment so it was always clear who was holding it. Nobody tried having a slave or companion holding it but I would say that the curse would apply to the slave and to the owner of the slave because it's all about possession/ownership rather than just who is carrying the blade - after all, the slave is a possession of the character as much as a backpack or belt pouch is so if that's what's carrying the fragment ...;-)
After the shirt flipping incident, I decided the sword sage was pretty jumpy when the Pathfinders arrived at his shop... not all at once either. Every time one of them would enter, he would get downright suspicious of them, even locking the doors after confirming that the whole group had arrived. This made the Taldor mission a little harder, since the sword sage was constantly saying, "Get away from there. What are you up to?"
And the rogue running along the top of the broken wall to jump and attack the harpy with his spiked chain was an awesome, almost cinema graphic idea!
Played Fortune's Blight once at Paizocon, up-tier, and just GMed it today at the lower tier. Let me say that this scenario is Hard Mode(tm). In fact, I warned my players about this up front: "This scenario is very difficult. I am not gunning for a kill, but if you do not bring your A Game, somebody is likely to die."
I ran all the monsters tactics as written.
Party of four PCs:
How the Thing Went Down:
Both when I played at Paizocon and when I GMed today, the party took Shevala's instructions to humor the hag and not kill her quite seriously and literally. Both groups ended up taking Aelzeldra down river, and both groups tripped the hag encounter at the same time as the ghost hag.
Out of sheer mercy, I gave the party 3 rounds to deal with the ghost before the Aelzeldra reverted to her true form and went to town. Nearly everybody took 15-30 points from the gaze over the course of a couple rounds until they figured out that a 20% miss chance was worth a 50% chance to avoid the gaze, and began averting their eyes. A couple folks attacked the ghost with cure light wands or magic weapons, but were punished by the ghost's corrupting touch.
About that time the hag stood up, screamed bloody vengeance, and dropped her obscuring mist. That was actually a mixed blessing. It effectively separated the party since half the group, fighting the ghost, couldn't see the other half fighting the hag. Cleric went into negatives. The stegosaur and the rogue were bumbling about the heavy undergrowth trying to maneuver to outflank the hag, who inconveniently kept turning invisible.
About that time, the party realized they were getting hosed and it was time to bug out. Fortunately, the cleric had a scroll of teleport. Every round, the ranger was healing him either by administering a potion (provoking harsh AOs from the ghost) or by a cure light wand. Unfortunately, every time the cleric tried to use the scroll, he'd either blow his 50% averting eyes to avoid the gaze, take 2d10 and go negative, OR blow his combat casting, take the AO, and fizzle the spell (I ruled that didn't expend the scroll). Finally, on the 3rd round, with the poor ranger well into the negatives (Diehard), the cleric managed to get the spell off. Sadly, the CL of the scroll only allowed for 4 to get the port out. The stego didn't make the cut and got left behind with an angry hag and and angrier ghost.
That's when the PCs' day turned from bad to weird... way, way, weird. The cleric was trying to port to a nearby temple of Calistria, of whom he's a cleric. Based on his Knowledge: geography check, I ruled it was Seen Casually. 96 on the teleport table: Similar Area. So I check the map of Golarion from the Campaign Setting. Nearest Calistrian temple, I reckon, is probably in Iobara, capital of Kyonin, kingdom of the highly territorial elves. So, about a minute after midnight, the PCs appear in the main hall of the Iobara temple of Calistria.
At this point, I'm having to think fast on my feet. PFS play doesn't really allow for much on-the-fly GM adlibbing, and I didn't want to just rule the scenario a failure at this point. First things first: what are you likely to find in a temple of Calistria at midnight? "OK, you guys see about a dozen elves. They're all having sex in a big Calistria-worshipping elven orgy." Now, how to get them out of the middle of hostile Kyonin and back on the track of the scenario. "One of the elves looks at you... you look at her... she looks at you... and yells, in Elven, 'GUARDS!' A dozen elves in yellow and black banded mail come in, seize you, and throw you in separate cells." But wait, i think to myself, the ghost is going to come back the next night at midnight since they didn't destroy its manifestation. That's going to be bad if a PC is stuck in a cell, trying to solo the ghost. "Also they confiscate all your gear." Groans all around the table, not realizing that that was the positively nicest thing I could possibly have done for the party just then. The next day, the elves put them on a fast boat north upriver, which dropped them at dusk on the far banks of the river forming Kyonin's northern border. The elves also gave them their gear back, with a warning never to transgress the elven borders again.
Through the night they force marched to the nearest fishing village to buy a boat. Of course, at midnight, the ghost attacked again... but this time they were better prepared, fully healed, and there wasn't also a green hag to deal with. They made fairly short work of the ghost. 2d4: 5 days until the ghost would manifest again. 4 days by boat to Sevenarches.
They arrive at Sevenarches, Parke the sword sage flips out, and a timely suggestion ends the encounter with only a single masterwork weapon sundered. No big loss.
To make a long story short, the non-leveled tier 5-6 harpies couldn't much affect the party due to an early silence and the bard's countersong. They did, however, make Fly-By Attacks from the rooftop and drop rocks on the party when they got inside the cathedral. All was going moderately well for the party when a couple of critically bad things happened about the same time. The bard and ranger attempted to climb onto the roof to deal with the 1 remaining harpy up there. The ranger made it to the top, the harpy tries a Hail Mary bull rush, and gets a nat 20. Sometimes you rush the bull, sometimes the bull rushes you.... Ranger wind up back on the ground, and gives up trying to climb due to fairly serious damage from the fall and various dropped rocks; he starts whacking away at himself with a wand of cure light. The bard goes invisible and climbs up, but has a fairly sucky AC, and gets skulldragged by full attacks over the course of a couple rounds.
Meanwhile, the rogue decides that he's not going to be much help against the harpy on the roof. So he decides to open the door to the belfry. On the other side of the door is, of course, Tylaca. Even with abysmal GM rolls, a round of full attacks from her nearly takes him out. He tumbles past (nat 20). The cleric runs to his aid, lures Tylaca out onto the stairs, tumbles through (failing, took a very painful AO), and shuts the door. Tylaca Power Attacks to destroy the door (and still has her 3rd attack left, which misses).
To make a long story, and our PCs' adventure, shorter, Tylaca proceeds to utterly stomp a mudhole in the 2 PCs in the belfry (the cleric did cleverly enlarge himself in a nearly fruitful attempt to disarm Tylaca: 29 combat maneuver check vs. Tylaca's 30 CMB). Both PCs go down, but stabilize. Then Tylaca and the remaining harpy fly down, flank the ranger, game, set, match. Before he shuffles off his mortal coil, the ranger does manage to kill the other harpy (not Tylaca).
Now since the ranger was fighting through the pain with Diehard, when he finally went down, it was -19 hp... he was burger. Everybody else managed to stabilize. I ruled that since Tylaca had what she wanted (Passion's Edge), she flew off. The Pathfinder Society sent a corpse recovery team (probably some Andoran on a faction mission: "find what happened to *cough* bring back the bodies of *cough* the Pathfinders sent to kill Tylaca"). Those that survived got full XP: they completed more than 3 encounters. They got full gp, minus Tylaca's gear (on their way to Sevenarches, they found the campsite where the ghost first manifested; the ghost had killed Aelzeldra after they teleported away so they got her loot too). They didn't get the +2 falchion on the chronicle sheet. They did get full PA for their faction missions.
All in all, it was the severest thrashing I have ever seen a party get and still get credit for the scenario... even though they technically failed their Society mission.
Daigle, I had a fun time playing this scenario at Paizocon, and I had a fun time GMing it. I think my players even enjoyed it, in a masochistic kind of way. If I had to put my finger on what makes it so hard, I think it is the very strongpossibility of pulling two hard encounters at once, in two places in the scenario (ghost and hag, harpies and Tylaca).
Charlie, thank you so much for that report. I dearly love reading about how different groups approached the scenario. I admit, I haven't had the chance to run it in it's final form, but I'm eager to do so to compare the results to ones I've read and heard. This January I'm running two slots of Fortune's Blight back to back at a convention in Houston (OwlCon). It should be good times.
Thanks again, man.
Adam, for what it's worth, I still haven't run this scenario without killing at least a pregen or animal companion. Tylaca claimed both of those types at MichiCon two weekends ago. Hitting three times in a round while power attacking and one of those hits being a confirmed crit, did quite the number on a large ape. :D The party's fighter (Valeros), hesitated before going toe-to-toe with her in the next round. He should have ran instead. Two hits and he went down (was already wounded).
I was originally worried about this scenario being over powered, but I have since started to like that deadly thrill more and more. It "welcomes" players to danger of playing at higher levels. It can teach players that simply walking up to things and trying to hit them isn't always the best approach.
Thankfully for this most recent encounter, the rest of the party capitalized on their sacrifice and finished her off before she could turn her wrath on another character.
Adam Daigle wrote:
There is actually quite much to be said about the GM and the "deadliness" of a scenario. To me, any encounter that is creative and well thought-out can turn deadly if played "right." It's the encounters where the BBEG is stuffed in a room and gang beat by the PCs that are never deadly. Giving your BBEG home turf can make all the difference.
Kyle Baird wrote:
It's the encounters where the BBEG is stuffed in a room and gang beat by the PCs that are never deadly.
Actually, that's what happened
when two of my players got stuck in the belfry with Tylaca. I suspect that even had all four been there they might not have been able to withstand the repeated full attacks... and I wasn't even Power Attacking. This was on-subtier, not played up.
Awesome! And interesting…
It was being fed up with the kind of encounters that Kyle mentioned that made me map the belfry and design Tylaca the way I did. Also, in my turnover, I wrote Tylaca as being wingless (hag spite, what can ya do?), so I wanted to make the PCs think they can gang up on a crazy, recently-wakened, weakened, harpy, but then realize that they pretty much need to champion duel or figure out some other tactics. She’s certainly geared toward damage, but then again, she’s a harpy swordmaster.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Awesome! And interesting… ** spoiler omitted **
What I love is that she does have her wings, and the top of the belfry is open to the sky. So she can go toe-to-toe with PCs in the belfry, and then take to the sky if things don't go her way. And to top it off, at the high-tier she has the potion of invisibility. Yummy!
Chalk up another two kills for Tylaca. I swear it's Adam's fault and not mine! ;-)
Not only is this mod potentially deadly, when you die you're in the middle of nowhere. Sevenarches doesn't have the population to handle a "normal" Raise Dead, so getting raised through PA costs 21 and not 16. *wince*
I've thought a lot about this scenario since I ran it and I think that the lethality can largely be mitigated by making sure the fights in Acts I/II and Acts IV/V do not happen at the same time.
Act I/II: Omit Venture-Captain Shevala's statement that she'd prefer the hag left alive, OR have her tell the party that while she'd prefer they left the hag alive, they should under no circumstances allow her to travel with them, OR have the hag auto-succeed a Sense Motive check to realize the party isn't fooled and attack after a bit of roleplay.
Act IV/V: Lock and bar the door to the belfry and put a roof on it. It won't keep out the PCs, but it should delay their entry until after the mook harpies are gone.
Another possibility would be to hold off the Act II ghost attack until Act V and have Parke the sword sage recommend that the PCs give Tylaca the sword, triggering the curse on her (the ghost attack). Act V becomes a 3-way battle with ghost vs. Tylaca vs. party. Ghost and Tylaca should mainly try to kill each other, but make AOs and gaze attacks against PCs; PCs mop up the winner.
I ran this one this weekend at Tacticon in Denver (as well as replaying it to make sure the table went off). I *LOVE* this scenarion
Highlight of my playing this on Saturday: before heading to the final encounter(s), we cast deafness on our barbarian who was able to avoid all will saves (which he rolled, and failed anyways). He finally got rid of all of the baddies as we got out rear-ends kicked in good order. We kept him uber-buffed and healed so we won. (Go 1 Wizard, 1 Oracle & 1 Cleric at the table!)
I agree that the cathedral encounters should NOT be run together, but the first two combats can and get everyone into the game that "this won't be another cake walk".
I REALLY enjoy this one, Adam. Thanks for the nastiness.
So, I got the chance to run my adventure at NeonCon this weekend. I stand by my previous guess that it wasn’t my adventure that has led folks like Kyle and Doug to kill PCs and their associated companions, but instead it is their cruelness and a GM style turned up to ‘hardcore’. :)
Sure, I made a couple of less than optimal tactical decisions, but I barely scratched any of the PCs until the final fight. Also, the crew I was playing with were very experienced and had awesome characters with excellent gear selection. It was mostly fighter types in the party, so they were knocking down hit points left and right before my NPCs had much of a chance to really toast them. I want to try this one again soon.
Adam Daigle wrote:
I just want to set the record straight that I have no claim to any kills in this scenario. All credit goes to Kyle. I have yet to run this scenario, since Kyle knows it best it always has fallen in his lap. It is my opinion that most of the kills that Kyle has racked up are not due as much to him as to the players and their poor decisions/tactics.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Did the first two encounters end up getting scrunched together?
And Doug is mostly right. I have only ever once turned my dial up to hardcore and that was for a local well known munchkin table in a soft mod. I would prefer to say that for any mid-level table, I prefer to turn my dial to intelligent.
There was the one time at origins when the guys died twice in this scenario, but he was also responsible for killing Parke out-right with two monks at the table already pounding on him, if that tells you anything.
Nah, one of the PCs plucked the eye from off the shrine while the others were talking to the 'maiden', which sent her on the attack. They still ended up not killing her, choosing to deal non-lethal, but then they left her there after quizzing her about the history of things.
And honestly, I was just picking on you about your murderous intentions. :)
Adam Daigle wrote:
I have YET to have anyone go after that shrine. I wonder if it's something in the delivery or if it's just the local player base. I'm running it once again at U-Con this weekend, maybe someone finally will.
And they aren't MY murderous intentions. It's the monsters, I swear! They want to kill everyone! I just help facilitate that desire. ;-)
Kyle Baird wrote:
I ran a quick game of this this weekend at ICON and the kid in the group went first for the bright shiny eye... made my little GM heart happy lol
There is a lot here that has changed my mind about “Fortune’s Blight” but there is one encounter that still bothers me as being so railroading it is almost broken.
It says Parke is even willing to let other player handle the blade and study the “fragments” as much as they wish. This makes it sound like a very open ended encounter but there is no Linguistics or Knowledge checks to identify anything about the blade and it’s mysterious writing. I know I will have two arcane casters at my table that will be tipped off if I don’t give them much more than it seems to have been a curse on the blade written in an old style of Taldan symbols. Is it and enchantment compulsion effect? Why would a curse that would be activated by attacking a companion cause you to go unconscious then the next wielder to attack more of your companions? I assume a simple protection from evil would temporarily halt the possession or would it chaos or law? I see knowledge skills present in Parke’s list that would make his some obvious choice to be able to decode this mystery writing. He has no points in linguistics, Craft (Weapon) and a half dozen ranks in Knowledge (History) so what if someone else in the party was to read the writing? Most of my party will be able to take ten and do better than Parker. They are Pathfinders after all.
I know some others have asked about bonuses on combat modifiers but I always get hung up on NPC motivations and the triggers to encounters.
I like the other plot twists after reading this feedback it is just this one that keeps clawing at the back of my head.
Sorry if I get hung up on this but seems like players at my tables are either meta-gaming or just getting plain old paranoid more and more.
I am sorry Adam my table really didn’t care for Fortune’s Blight. The creatures are interesting and it has a lot of possibility but no body liked it in both of the runnings I’ve done. Afterwards I set down with a couple of my GMs that were at the tables and we looked it over together. The consensus was it just didn’t work or make sense without a lot of revisions.
I am torn about posting any feedback on this but the reactions were so stark I couldn’t refuse.
details of the story:
The intro was given too much foreshadowing leading to players that felt manipulated. Boat rides and barge trips to the forest along the River Sellen also seemed to give it more of a aaron run instead of an adventure. At this level players don’t like their characters acting like aaron boys. The Hags motives did not make sense and in fact went opposed to the actions she is supposed to take. How did she know they were there for the shard? At the start of the turn in Parke’s shop a player cast Magic Circle against Evil and I ruled that would stop the sword’s control. The only way the scenario said he could be stopped was "Parke attacks until charmed, rendered unconscious, or slain.” The problem being that by the rules charm person would not work but protection from evil would. The final battle was just too predictable. The players knew it would be harpies and knew Tylaca would be there. This allowed them to pre cast Protection from Evil and ignore the singing. It was a blood bath.
Leave clues in the hut that the Hag was warned by someone after her sister was slain for the other shard. If Gresaril’s Ghost would have appeared when the two shards were brought close to one another there would have been more story to it. The players could have seen Aelzeldra hiding something before she left for the forest and when the two pieces came close to one another the Gresaril’s Ghost would be triggered then Aelzeldra could attack from hiding or join in the fray. Not sure why the ghost wouldn’t hate and attack the former member of her coven though. Unite the three shards of the sword in Sevenarches and have Parke possessed by the sword’s malevolence but have it spelled out as that ability. Spelling out the curse with rules and reasoning would have been nice. Then have possessed Parke reveal the recent history of the sword in the vengeful spirit’s rants. Not have the harpies a mile from town. In Sevenarches have rumors of attacks on the outskirts of town then come after the players on the barge searching for the sword and have Tylaca try and reclaim her possession.
I felt like the difficulty was proportional and it ran for three hours. We had fun though most was from players laughing at the disjointed plot.
I hate criticizing scenarios since I can’t write worth a lick. This was something I felt I needed to say. I like Adam’s writing but Fortunes Blight doesn’t seem up to his standards.
Russell Akred wrote:
Well-thought out and detailed feedback.
No worries at all, Russell. I really appreciate the feedback. You play more of these than any of us write, so I think you’re certainly qualified to point out the blemishes. This wasn’t my best work and I can see the issues you and your group had with the scenario.
It DOES seem like an errand adventure. I mean, it’s essentially a “grab these random pieces and bring them here” kinda deal, and those are hit and miss in the fun zone. I also missed a few options that should have been more obvious. For example, one of the first reviewers pointed out how effective command undead could be for the ghost encounter and how protection from evil can cut out a fair amount of danger from a few encounters. I’m sure there are more, but you can’t predict everything.
Going back, I think my biggest flaw in approaching this was trying to fit a lot of cool interactions into a small space and stay as close to the given outline with the changes I made. I should have either kept it more simple or cut some other junk to make more space for further explanations. I know it made sense to me at the time, but you can't rely on your own brain when you're the idea's daddy. I know there were a couple of people in the “Brainstorm a PFS Scenario” seminar at PaizoCon that were bummed I didn’t stick super close to the outline, but I wanted sex up the “find parts of a broken sword” adventure. (I wasn’t at the seminar, I just got the notes.)
It’s been so long since I wrote it I’d have to go back and find my notes to see what I was thinking at the time. The only thing I can remember is that I really wanted to play around with hags and harpies, and at least I did that decently. :) I know Josh changed some elements in development (one encounter was cut and the ghost part was changed, I recall), so I’d have to go back and compare the two again to give a better detailed response. Regardless, thank you again for the feedback. I won’t let you down again. :)
Just a thought, how would the locals at Sevenarches react to an elven Pathfinder? According to 'Guide to the River Kingdoms' (p. 5) "the ruling druid circle, the Oakstewards, do not allow elves inside their borders."
By the way, is Parke Rangston actually a Venture-Captain or simply a high ranking Pathfinder?
Yep, I'm pedantic and annoying. :)
Neil Mansell wrote:
I don't have my copy with me and it's been a while since I've read it again, but...I've always handwaved elven PCs in Sevenarches, at least for this adventure. Also, I think Parke is just a high-ranking Pathfinder, not necessarily a venture-captain, but again, I don't remember with 100% accuracy these days.
Oh, and you're not pedantic or annoying. :)
I ran Fortune's Blight this past week. While it's not the best PFS scenario ever made, it was enjoyable. More importantly, the players had a lot of fun with it and felt the encounters varied and challenging.
I don't have to guess about this because I know they did. Most of the players at the end of the night as they were packing up spontaneously remarked that they had fun playing it.
That's the test in my books.
I'm going to run Fortune's Blight this Sunday, and plowed through all the board posts and such to get the best insight as possible. So yes, command undead will render the ghost encounter completely moot, though the spell is way too powerful for what it's worth. The harpies don't have tactics listen, but I'd go for the immense harpy choir.
Also disguising as a tree that's described in the text box doesn't strike to me as very smart. Most likely I'll disguise her to be a less detailed tree just hanging around among the other trees.
Besides that I like this. I can imagine some dorks killing a venture-captain, and thus I find the penalty given in the chronicle sheet way too mild. Slab a -4 to interaction skills and drop prestige by half. That'll teach them! (Of course this should only apply to the single soul who delivered the lethal blow; the rest of the party would gain the mild -1 penalty for being there and not stopping the murderer.) I've often been ranting about how society handles its agents with silk gloves. If the agents are hooligans, like the rogue pathfinders were, treat them as such! Uproot the separatists and the unruly!
I'm unsure how I wish to play Tylaca. Remain in the tower and fight within close space, or fly up, select a separate PC and whack it, then fly off again... hmm. The dramatic revelation described by Kyle sounds too awesome, and of course Tylaca will be in front of the sun, showing only her silhouette, and then advances with a flyby attack. Once they change to ranged weapons, close in and full-attack... yes, this is devious enough.
On Tier 5-6 Tylaca's damage output doesn't take into account the weapon's two-handed property; it should be 2d4+7 by default (4 from 1½ strength modifier, +1 from weapon, +2 from specialization). With power attack that goes to 2d4+16 with only a -3 penalty on attacks. Me likes.
Local players yearn for deadly combats. I doubt they'd be disappointed if their characters would die in a TPK. Actually they'd feel enamored.
Let me know how it turns out. It seems like every time I hear a story about this scenario, it's different.
For the record, I like Tylaca in the tower up against the stairwell so she can 1-on-1 those who split up to investigate while the others are fighting the other harpies. She's brutal in that situation.
Okay, the game was today and went down ... unexpectedly.
The roster was as follows:
Once they got past that they headed to Parke Rangston's shop, where everything was dandy until he went nuts and started whacking people. Surprisingly, he proved to be a tough nut! The party, however, was not on the line, since they blasted poo Parke with lethal damage. The last blow sent him to -12 hit points, one away from death, and they didn't stabilize or heal him. So he died, and the team didn't really know what to do apart from their original mission. They had heard about Parke talk about an abandoned cathedral, but since they didn't have any reason to go there, they headed home with the whole Passion's Edge...
Aaaand the ghost manifested again, but this time they didn't have much trouble to succumb it. They did, however, understand that this would go on and on ... the journey back would take a month, and this ghost would manifest maybe four or five times before they get there. So instead of traveling by boat and ship, the druid took the sword, transformed into a bird shape and begun a long journey towards Absalom. Fatigue? Lesser restoration. If the ghost manifests? The druid's on open water, and has a speed double of the ghost's.
So the scenario was practically cut in half. Despite of that, it was much fun. Since locally we take the campaign very casually, we poked fun at various things. The chelaxians had a mission to see a mark in Parke's abdomen... the druid transformed into the form of a domestic cat, and tried to dive into Parke's vestments... hilarious. Eventually they checked the dead venture-captain's corpse, and left the message on him. (I awarded them only one point though.)
I can't wait to run it again, and hopefully get to the end where Tylaca will show her fighting skills!
Some things to consider though! An enlarged high-strength character will have a ridiculous bonus on CMB when grappling, and that will hamper a lot of monsters regardless of whether they have natural weapons or not.
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