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PFS #2-03: The Rebel's Ransom [Spoilers]


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What if none of the PCs can read ancient Osiriani (or use Linguistics)? How is the GM expected handle the riddles and clues? Do the players stumble blindly, or do you give them "impressions" of the clue meanings?

Area 5 - Should we assume the water goes to the ceiling?

Is area 6 much more than trial and error for the PCs? If you've run this scenario, how did you handle this?

Area 7 - Should the door to area 8 be clearly visible?

Any other tips from GM's who've run this?

Cheliax ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Lafayette aka Cactus-Jack

I ran this one twice at GenCon.

The first group had one player that understood Osiriani the second group used comprehend languages to understand the runes. There is also a sentence or two in the writing on the wounded pathfinder that says that she can help with the translations if the party helps her regain consciousness.

For Area 5 I assumed that the water started out at 4' deep and began filling the chamber at the rate of a half a foot per round once the sea hags were released. It didn't make for a terribly challenging encounter but had an urgency feel. The tight quarters and having the parties spread out through out the room also didn't help the Hags.

Area 6, the hallway and blade barriers if I remember correctly. Both groups put together the symbols on the plates with the text above the scepter alcoves rather quickly. Although one group failed to take good notes initially and had to go back to the alcoves to figure out the pattern.

In Area 7 I assumed that the door was hidden by the throne until the puzzle was resolved and the throne lowered. The parties spent a lot of time trying to figure out the puzzle in area 7. If the door was visible at the begining they could have wasted a bunch more time messing with it instead of working on the puzzle.

If the Party misses the hints about how mister widower viewed himself with respect to everyone else they may have a tough time here. For one group I emphasized the clue on the alcove acouple time before they worked it out. I tried not to give anything away but to incourage them to examing the possible meanings of the phrases.

Over all it was a very good scenario that both the players and I enjoied. Due to the puzzles it is very easy for this one to run long. One group ran out of time and missed the ambush, and one group had a lower level rogue die from the trap in Area 7. (they only had 2 correct) ouch.

Good Luck

Cheliax ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Lafayette aka Cactus-Jack

Oh, don't forget to look over the desert extreme heat issues, page 444 I think. If the PC's are not prepared they could arrive in a very poor state. I reviewed the effects of the desert conditions with both groups so that they were aware. Luckily the scenario gives the PC's an opportunity to acquire provisions. Both either had enough endure elements spells from casters or purchased a wand of endure elements to aid in their travels.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks C-J!

Here's another issue (as an FYI to anyone reading this thread):

From the scenario:

"If a PC fails two saving throws against the hag’s evil eye power and lacks the ability to breath underwater, he immediately begins to drown."

This contradicts the Core Rules in that they should got Constitution checks to hold their breath while unconcious and won't begin to drown until they fail one of those checks.

Shadow Lodge ****

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

I played this one at Gen Con and while I liked certain aspects of it, I've got to say that I found the player solved puzzle nature of the adventure annoying at times.

We ran in to many of the same questions.

Kyle Baird wrote:
What if none of the PCs can read ancient Osiriani (or use Linguistics)? How is the GM expected handle the riddles and clues? Do the players stumble blindly, or do you give them "impressions" of the clue meanings?

I had written "Ancient Osiriani on my sheet that morning with my level 6 raise. Thank goodness I did. I think a group without the right resources might be hard-pressed to finish this one (either the language, comprehend languages, or saving the Pathfinder). In fact, this is one of my big problems with this module (more on this later).

Kyle Baird wrote:
Area 5 - Should we assume the water goes to the ceiling?

Our GM did (as opposed to Cactus-Jack who ran it 4' feet deep from the beginning. Doing so turned it into easily the most deadly encounter I've seen to-date in a module. We first sent through our fighter/rogue swimming (CON 14) and he was one round away from drowning on his way back (he did not activate the trap) before we pulled him out. If he had engaged the trap, he would have been outright dead, no questions asked. We wound up needing to rest for the cleric to memorize water breathing, which meant our Rogue/Fighter went in alone and met the Sea Hag alone. If it weren't for the cleric having "Shield Other" on him, we would have had no idea that he was being attacked (and he likely would have died). Worst off, it felt like a one-man show, since the rest of our swim scores were so horrible, that we couldn't effectively join him in the water (I did with my wizard, but I only had to swim one round in once he had engaged the Hag).

Frankly, I think Cactus-Jack's idea of making it deep, but walkable and then filling when the trap is triggered is a good idea. This trap as it stands requires some really out-of-the-box thinking...or somebody with water breathing, otherwise it's a meat grinder (it's hard enough swimming back without having a fight if you're holding your breath the whole time), nor is it terribly group-play friendly.

Kyle Baird wrote:
Is area 6 much more than trial and error for the PCs? If you've run this scenario, how did you handle this?

This one was easier than the weight puzzle frankly. Once you get the first one (easily the easiest of the three), you've dropped down your number of possibilities pretty significantly. The weight puzzle required just one screwed up rod and everything went to hell. I still think it would have been better if the clues had stood out more (or required some knowledge checks) for all the puzzles involved. As it stood, most of the clues were pretty obtuse.

Kyle Baird wrote:
Area 7 - Should the door to area 8 be clearly visible?

I'm not sure it's all that important. It was pretty obvious there was some sort of entrance due to the layout of the room. On the other hand, I can see Cactus-Jack's opinion regarding making the door a non-issue. The module already runs long (our group literally closed out the PFS room at Gen Con), so keeping things moving is pretty important.

I think the puzzle was easily the hardest, and our group spent at least 30 minutes trying to figure out the logic behind what we were doing. I liked the way our GM did it. He had us make a spellcraft test to determine how many of the rods we got right (due to the damage inflicted). Knowing how many rods we had right really helped us come to a solution since we could turn it into a logic puzzle in addition to using the clues we had been given. When I run the module, this is a hint I plan on giving.

I think maybe instead of emphasizing only the way the pharaoh viewed himself, it could also be thematic (and worth working with), emphasizing the value he put on himself and his wives. His most "important" wife got the most valuable scepter is how I would run it. That way, maybe it will click better for the players that it's not just gold value, but relative worth as he viewed things when determining the order (but the gold value plays an important role).

--

C-J also makes a really good point that it's important to remind players that they do have a chance to get provisions and that they will be crossing a desert. Our GM didn't do so, and really wanted to get things moving since he had run the module multiple times and had seen it not-completed half those times. Even a minute or two (or a reminder) makes the module a lot more bearable than suffering from heat-exhaustion before you even start it.

--

My personal feelings of this module are very mixed. I liked it thematically, and I enjoyed a good old dungeon crawl, but parts of it didn't click for me. I think it plays too much on player strengths as opposed to character strengths (if you get a group of kids playing this module, they're going to really struggle). I also think it was far too deadly at points (the water trap comes to mind) as does the blade barrier trap, especially when the solutions are tied to some puzzles that are EXTREMELY easy to screw up. Groups without key elements such as a rogue, cleric, or high appraise skill (INT score usually) player are going to have a much more difficult time than those who get a well rounded group.

In hindsight, I think I was more irritated with the module at times more than I was truly enjoying myself. I really WANTED to like the module, but I just didn't.

Cheliax ***** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

1. The Pathfinder that is still alive in the second room can read Ancient Osiriani. The oracle should attempt to bluff her way out first, and they just abandon the Pathfinder there. If the PC's don't believe the Oracle, then she takes the Pathfinder hostage and there may be a fight where you can recover the Pathfinder, otherwise the PCs are somewhat SOL. You can run it that there are images of the staff heads at the spinning blade hall, and they can match up the staff heads or something like that.

2. Yes, as I read it, the water goes to the ceiling and yes the PC's can drown if they get hit with two evil eyes, but you should follow the core rulebook for Con checks.

3. Everything about the glyphs and the descriptions around the rooms indicate how the appriasing should play out, but there will be some trial and error if the appraise checks don't go well. I don't think you can emphasize enough at the beginning how important it is for the players to take notes about everything you describe.

4. I read it like the door was hidden by the throne until the puzzle was solved.

I didn't want to give anything away to players at GenCon but I would hint that it wasn't a dungeon crawl, and I would usually read the engravings until someone caught on and started writing them down. Also, even though there isn't a lot of box text describing the columns out front, they can be another heavy clue when it comes time to place the staves.

Qadira *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Anyone jump in here and correct me if I'm wrong. The oracle in the scenario has proficiency with a scimitar, but the class only allows simple weapons. A scimitar is the favored weapon of Sarenrae, which is one of the deities under the Flame Mystery. I deleted my APG Final Playtest document, but I bet that the class formerly got access to their deity's favored weapon and Jason never fixed the stat block (and no one is going to doubt Jason's stat blocks). I have read through the Oracle description and I can't find anything that grants the class proficiency with a martial weapon or a deity's favored weapon.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Douglas Miles wrote:
Anyone jump in here and correct me if I'm wrong. The oracle in the scenario has proficiency with a scimitar, but the class only allows simple weapons. A scimitar is the favored weapon of Sarenrae, which is one of the deities under the Flame Mystery. I deleted my APG Final Playtest document, but I bet that the class formerly got access to their deity's favored weapon and Jason never fixed the stat block (and no one is going to doubt Jason's stat blocks). I have read through the Oracle description and I can't find anything that grants the class proficiency with a martial weapon or a deity's favored weapon.

And she doesn't have a Martial Weapon Prof. feat. She does have Weapon Focus (Scimitar) and no other Scimitar oriented feats. My suggestion would be to apply a -1 to all her attack rolls with the scimitar (effectively trading her weapon focus for martial weapon proficiency).

Shadow Lodge ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Douglas Miles wrote:
I have read through the Oracle description and I can't find anything that grants the class proficiency with a martial weapon or a deity's favored weapon.

Just went and looked it up Doug and it's just an outright error. Nowhere in either the round 1 playtest or final playtest do Oracles get a weapon proficiency of one of their favored gods.

Sometimes developers simply forget what was part of their internal mental playtest and the final rules though, maybe Jason just forgot fact from fiction?

Andoran ***

I've run this module four times. Only once did a player have the capability of reading Ancient Osirian.

Without this capability, the puzzles in the module become prohibitively hard to puzle out. What is supposed to be a fun tournament module filled with interesting puzzles becomes an exercise in frustration. Don't do that to your players.

The solution is for the GM to rule that the Pathfinder who is unconscious and currently being held by the Oracle DOES read Ancient Osirian. (an entirely reasonable conclusion based on the module plot and text, I might add)

In all cases, wheher the Oracle is let go or not by the party (she should return to attack from surprise once the party enters the mummy chamber behind the throne) the Pathfinder the party was sent to rescue always stays behind.

So, the party heals her up and she can accompany the party throughout the rest of the dungeon as a non-combatant. She isn't able to do anything much to substantially assit the party during the rest of the expedition -- but she can read and translate Ancient Osirian.

Taldor ***

I was looking through this module to see if there is anything to keep a rogue from disarming the traps. How have other GM's handled rogues wanting to disable the traps? Disabling the traps do not open the doors, but disabling them would certainly make things safer. ;)

**

OK, I'm going to be running this for the first time next month and I'm a rookie DM (long time player). After reading this thread and the adventure I have a few concerns:

Concern #1

Spoiler:
Alarka’s stat block

Because of the nature of the encounter with Alarka, and the fact that she is concealing her evil intentions to PC, I looked into her Bluff score. It seems to high, and this can have a direct impact on the encounter.

Tier 5-6 her score is listed as Bluff +12
I calculate as max levels + 8, Cha + 4, Wasting – 4 = +8.

At Tier 8-9 her score is listed as Bluff + 15
I calculate as max levels + 11, Cha + 4, Wasting – 4 = + 11

Bluff is not an Oracle class skill. It looks to me like the wasting -4 Charisma-based penalty was not calculated into her stat block

Am I missing something? If not, should I run it as listed or give the party a chance to catch her bluff and use my calculated results?

Concern #2

Spoiler:
Water trap

I’ve read the various opinions on the water trap in area 5. I interpret it as the water fill the chamber from floor to ceiling, cutting off communications, vision and requiring characters to hold their breath. I see it as very difficult to run as written if the party can’t breathe under water.

By the numbers, best case: Barbarian with movement of 40’ and a Con of 16+.
Swim is 20’ per round and hold his breath for 32 rounds. So 7 rounds to get to the alcove with no mistakes. 1 round to free the scepter (2 rounds worth of holding your breath). 5 rounds to swim out with no mistakes. Grand total of 14 rounds of swimming with no mistakes and no combat. At 15’ swimming per round, this takes 18 rounds, and at 10’ swimming per round it takes 26 rounds.

It’s doable with a fast character, good constitution score and a short combat.

Any more thoughts?

This is how I was thinking of running the water trap encounter:

DM: OK, who’s going into the water?

PC: Jack & Jill.

DM: What are the rest of you doing?

PCs: Um, waiting I guess.

DM to the PCs that are waiting: About 30 seconds have passed, what are you doing?
PCs: Um, waiting I guess.

DM to waiting PCs: About 1 minute has passed, please roll a perception check.
OK, you feel a slight rumbling in the ground and you see several strong ripples in the surface of the water. What are you doing? (this corresponds to the movement of the portcullises)

Concerned PCs: Um, I don’t know. Um, Um, waiting and watching.

DM to waiting PCs: Alright, about 2 minutes have passed, you don’t feel the rumbling anymore but you still see strong ripples in the water. What are you doing?

I’ll keep this up until the waiting PCs decide to do something. Then, I’ll go and resolve the actions of the PCs that are swimming in the water. I'll keep track of the exact round they trip the portcullises, etc.

When running the actions of the swimming characters, I was thinking about cutting out a scale 20’ radius circle from a piece of paper and placing “hole” (not the cutout circle) over the map to represent what they can see. Now, first I think this will have a great dramatic affect. Second. I’m afraid it will make the encounter even harder since the PC’s can’t meta-game. Thoughts?

Thanks for any ideas.

-Swiftbrook
Rookie DM

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Swiftbrook wrote:

OK, I'm going to be running this for the first time next month and I'm a rookie DM (long time player). After reading this thread and the adventure I have a few concerns:

Concern #1
** spoiler omitted **

Concern #2
** spoiler omitted **...

Sp1: Go with the stat block. Her one and only goal when she first encounters the party is to get out of there. Technically speaking, you won't have to bluff much. Stick with things that are true. "We got locked in here when bandits attacked!"

Sp2: "I see it as very difficult to run as written if the party can’t breathe under water."

Correct.

The best advice is to take the player(s) under water to another table after those staying above develop their plan. That way those above the water can't meta game.

Also, don't map out the area down there, describe it and make the player commit it to memory.

Email me if you want a full run-down.

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

Spoiler:
While I don't normally want metagaming, the water trap is one place where I'd subtly encourage the other party members to position themselves where they could tell when things start to go wrong. A few leading questions should be adequate to get them involved with the situation.

"From there, you can't really tell what's going on underwater. Is that where you want your PC?"

Also, the shifting bars shouldn't pass unnoticed. Even if the other PCs are well clear of the water, the grinding movement of shifting stone should potentially be audible.

**

Sir_Wulf wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

I agree.

Spoiler:
That's why I'm going to have them roll a perception check. Somebody is going to roll an OK check so I can pass along the information that something is happening under the water. It's my way of keeping the PCs left behind interested and involved ... and potentially raising the suspense level.
DM: OK it's been 2 minutes, that's uh 20 rounds, you still see nothing bug some ripples in the waters. What are you doing now?

Thanks for the help.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Swiftbrook wrote:
Sir_Wulf wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

I agree.

** spoiler omitted **
Thanks for the help.

Hey Swifty, this thing can run really long. If you know who gets away, I suggest skipping the "final" encounter and jumping to the real final encounter.

Cheliax ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Lafayette aka Cactus-Jack

Kyle Baird wrote:
Swiftbrook wrote:
Sir_Wulf wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

I agree.

** spoiler omitted **
Thanks for the help.
Hey Swifty, this thing can run really long. If you know who gets away, I suggest skipping the "final" encounter and jumping to the real final encounter.

I have run this one a couple of times. I totally agree with Kyle. The puzzle solving can take a very long time, especially if the PCs don't know Osirion and they don't rescue the pathfinder and heal her to a conversational level. Swapping final encounters in this case is a good suggestion and fits the story better, in my opinion. Good luck.

Osirion ****

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

You mean:

Spoiler:
Skip the creatures in Area 8?

I've played this, looking to run it at Texicon in May.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Majuba wrote:

You mean:

** spoiler omitted **

I've played this, looking to run it at Texicon in May.

Yes. They'll likely enter that area slowly, do it in initiative, and then after they finish searching a bit, bring down the rain (or fire as it may be...)

It gives you the opportunity to role play with her a bit more, instead of a mindless (mostly) and expected encounter.

There can be a lot of time wasted under water and in the throne room. Do what you can do push those two along.

Grand Lodge ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Had an interesting table of this mod recently.

spoiler:

The bandits has successfully bargained with the PC to give them the staff for their release.

They handed the staff to the PCS. One of the PCs says"Wait, let's explore the rest of the tomb before we release them!"

The NPC looks at them, "And if you die, we die."

"Bah, we won't die."

The NPC sneers, "Let us out or the Pathfinder b**** dies."

Players are now a tad confused, but the talker goes "No."

**throat slice**

"Now, if you want to know what happened to your other Pathfinder dogs, open the door."

Other PCs: "Unlock the FREAKING door!"

Andoran ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka AZhobbit

This mod at 8-9 is a party killer, here is why. When I ran this the PC's did not get a description of Jahani(or whatever her name is). While in the main chamber they began coversing with the Oracle and a PC mentioned her name, thus the Oracle bluffed the party into opening the door, by claiming she was her. They finally realized their major blunder when they saw the two chronies. Combat began, and a PC archer won intitative, shot her, but did not kill her, she went second and unleashed her Firestorm ability(which is oddly not discussed in her combat tactics, not sure why)and she killed the entire party with 4 rounds of 11D6 fire covering the entire room, even the rouge who faied one reflex save and was summarily killed by the lackies.

Why is her Firestorm ability not discussed in her tactics?

Do the holes in the door allow for LOS for spell casting, should the PC's become uncooperative? I mean they are big enoguh for a staff.

One thing to help with this chronicle(which is really good FYI) is to encourage the PC's to get descriptions of everyone they are seeking, not just names.

GM's be careful on this one it can easily become a TPK just by rolling a good intitiative.

Also my PC's were really good about their death's. I basically had the oracle ransom the bodies to the PFS so they could be raised, since I consider the Oracle firestorm ability really really nasty.

Qadira *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
AZhobbit wrote:

Why is her Firestorm ability not discussed in her tactics?

...since I consider the Oracle firestorm ability really really nasty.

You answered your own question.

Grand Lodge ****

Doug Miles wrote:
AZhobbit wrote:

Why is her Firestorm ability not discussed in her tactics?

...since I consider the Oracle firestorm ability really really nasty.

You answered your own question.

GMs are supposed to stick to the tactics listed, for exactly this reason. There could be all sorts of in-game reasons she wouldn't choose to use firestorm... avoiding injuring her colleagues, avoiding damage to loot that lays undiscovered, she dislikes the smell of scorched flesh, etc. But if it's not listed in tactics, she doesn't do it, however logical or powerful it might seem to the GM.

Taldor *

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Out of a tabel of 7 we had 4 people survive the firestorm and I got to utter the phase "I rage and go up to 4HP" Half Orc FTW.

Andoran ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka AZhobbit

Lamplighter wrote:
Doug Miles wrote:
AZhobbit wrote:

Why is her Firestorm ability not discussed in her tactics?

...since I consider the Oracle firestorm ability really really nasty.

You answered your own question.
GMs are supposed to stick to the tactics listed, for exactly this reason. There could be all sorts of in-game reasons she wouldn't choose to use firestorm... avoiding injuring her colleagues, avoiding damage to loot that lays undiscovered, she dislikes the smell of scorched flesh, etc. But if it's not listed in tactics, she doesn't do it, however logical or powerful it might seem to the GM.

Understood, but no reason is given. There are tactics and then there is playing your NPC's intelligently. Some tactics tend to get the NPC killed, I do not modify spell lists or feats ever, but I will ALWAYS use abilities. When faced with insurmountable odds, survival comes first, be it a PC or NPC. Also the comrads thing on this one has little matter sincer she considers them expendable.

she dislikes the smell of scorched flesh. SHE'S A FREAKING FIRE ORACLE.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

FWIW, I've run this a fair number of times at this tier and only unleashed Firestorm once. Her standard tactics are deadly enough for most tables.

Qadira ****

If all her allies are down, or she didn't have time to cast Freedom of Movement and is in a grapple, you better believe Firestorm is coming into action. Besides, this is 8-9 play, the kid gloves are off at this point.

/But I might be in the minority when I say you should expect to die once as soon as you leave 1-5 / 1-7 play. You're seasoned Pathfinders and have the resources to overcome a setback like death.
//I know I have.
///Twice.

Qadira *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

While I do agree with making play above 5th level harder... it all depends on the table. If the PCs aren't having fun with a really difficult game, I'm going to tone it down. The whole point of Pathfinder is to have a great time playing, so if a DM killing 3/4 of the party in the last encounter causes people to think they may not want to continue playing PFS... I'm going to make the encounter easier for them.

As Kyle said though, the encounter itself is deadly enough even without firestorm, as the PCs most likely are down quite a bit of resources AND in a very enclosed space where the enemy isn't. In a normal campaign I'd give the NPCs a +1 CR for terrain alone. Even without that +1 CR from terrain, it's 3 CR higher than an 8th level party... which is pretty deadly in the first place, with the +1 CR (or +1/2 if you'd prefer that), it becomes an outright killer encounter.

P.S. Kyle, my wizard still would like to kill that Oracle again, and again, and again, and again... She pissed him off, and that's hard to do.

Grand Lodge ****

Ran this last night at Tier 5-6 as a home game - had a late start, but still, we didn't get past room 2 in 4 hours. Between desert shopping, RP and puzzles, I can't imagine this mod actually being accomplished in a single slot; we're finishing up later this week. But it's been great fun.

The story so far:

Spoiler:
My PCs made a deal with Alarka, but then one PC re-sealed the door, just to see if she was telling the truth about the way the doors closed. She felt betrayed and started to buff, but was still willing to leave. The PCs initiated combat when the door re-opened, sending half of their number into the tomb to rescue the Pathfinder. The others tried to prevent Alarka from leaving. (Party split #1.) Alarka headed for the door and grabbed a sceptre off the altar on her way by, sealing half the party behind the door, and then used wall of fire as per the tactics to split them even further (party split #2). A few fireballs and walls of fire later, and I had to deus ex and have her just drop the sceptre and leave to avoid a TPK. She still needs them to do the work for her, since her two flunkies died in the firefight. My players just wouldn't stop pursuing her, and debated the pros and cons of having the archer chase her down and finish her off while the cleric took the sceptre and went back inside to free their friends (split #3). They tried this, but another wall of fire shuffled the archer and his animal companion off this mortal coil as a cloud of very fine ash. Could have easily finished off another character if she'd wanted more blood.

GM WARNING:

Spoiler:
Unless your PCs stick together and are very careful, or are completely diplomatic and do not start trouble, it will be hard not to obliterate them in the first encounter.
During the session we were checking the new Field Guide to see how much prestige it cost to retrieve bodies in case of a TPK!

Taldor ***

I'm going to run this this Sunday, and the group will consist of mainly melee-heavy combatants with a high INT of 12 (halfling bbn/rgr). A front-a-lot, brain-a-not party. No one knows Ancient Osiriani (though one can read and speak osiriani).

I figured the names of the scepters are also written in Ancient Osiriani, so in the handouts I should somehow rip the name off. To ease my situation my position I figured normal osiriani is enough to translate names.

Grand Lodge ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

I ran this during its premiere at Gen Con, and the party managed to get through it in a 5-hour slot.

They managed to get through the combats quite quickly, but a GM also has to start dropping hints if the puzzles are taking too long in a short slot. The first combat can swing widely based on your party size and optimization.

Taldor ***

K Neil Shackleton wrote:

I ran this during its premiere at Gen Con, and the party managed to get through it in a 5-hour slot.

They managed to get through the combats quite quickly, but a GM also has to start dropping hints if the puzzles are taking too long in a short slot. The first combat can swing widely based on your party size and optimization.

These guys are optimized, some unintentionally. A paladin with fey foundling feat and hero's defiance spell allows him to get 3d6+3 hit points if he hits 0 or negative...

**

Deussu wrote:

I'm going to run this this Sunday, and the group will consist of mainly melee-heavy combatants with a high INT of 12 (halfling bbn/rgr). A front-a-lot, brain-a-not party. No one knows Ancient Osiriani (though one can read and speak osiriani).

I figured the names of the scepters are also written in Ancient Osiriani, so in the handouts I should somehow rip the name off. To ease my situation my position I figured normal osiriani is enough to translate names.

This is for your party:

Spoiler:
Rebel's Ransom p. 12 wrote:

Jilarni's (Golgarna) largest contribution is her ability to read and translate ancient Osiriani if none of the PCs possesses the ability. She also has in her gear a trio

of scrolls of sending which she can use via Use Magic Device to send messages back to Venture-Captain Norden Balentiir in Sothis.

-Swiftbrook

Cheliax **

Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Getting ready to run this for my local group and had a couple of quick questions that I can't seem to find the answer for.
(I prefer getting my Killer DM t-shirt from proper tactics not a misinterpretation of the rules)

Spoiler:
The Sea Hag's Evil Eye ability; is the duration on it actually going to stagger the target for a whole day or longer?

How to handle a Rogue attempting to disable device several of the traps/magic puzzles.
There are no DC's listed and I'm inclined to not let any of them be bypassed this way but that does really marginalize the rogues main shtick in the game.

*****

Mathwei ap Niall wrote:

Getting ready to run this for my local group and had a couple of quick questions that I can't seem to find the answer for.

(I prefer getting my Killer DM t-shirt from proper tactics not a misinterpretation of the rules)

** spoiler omitted **

Point 1 -- w/out my books (as I'm at work) I don't have an answer off the top of my head.

Point 2 -- there are no DD DCs for the puzzles because they are meant to be solved vs. disabled. sorry for the rogues, but this is one scenario that they are going to have to take a backseat in for the puzzles.

Cheliax **

Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Ok, now that I've actually run it that Fire Oracle encounter is insane.

first room:
I had a party of 6 (APL 6 and knowing that this fight was tough we played at tier 5-6), 2 Clerics, a life oracle, a ranger and 2 rogues (one was a sniper rogue).
It took her 4 rounds to drop half the party to negatives and put the rest in single digits. A wall of fire separating the negative channel cleric and life oracle from the rest of the party and in melee with her fighter goon who knocked off half the oracle's HP in one critical, power attacking vital strike. This scared those two enough make them both jump through the wall of fire to escape (eating that damage).
The rest of the party retreated from the wall of fire and ate a 30+ point fireball (and with the insane DC most of them failed to save and was burning for 2 rounds). Then another Wall of fire after that (from the other side of the first wall) dropped the sniper and the other cleric into the negatives and split the party again. The oracle managed to get a channel off but a second fireball undid everything he did and dropped 2 more into the negs (the oracle and pure rogue) leaving just the ranger and the negative cleric up but separated by a wall of fire.

Not wanting to TPK the party 2 minutes after entering the Tomb (and Alarka wanting someone to get to the treasure for her) I had her drop a wall and threaten the Cleric into giving her all his cash and getting out of her way (he did) and she and her goon walked out unscathed. (literally unscathed, no one laid a finger on her)

They managed to complete the rest of the dungeon but we ran out of time (that final puzzle with the black flame took forever) and had to call it before the final match with her.

Honestly if they didn't have 3 healers they'd have been dead in 2 rounds.
That was brutal, how does anyone survive it with the tactics written?

Andoran ***

Mathwei ap Niall wrote:

Ok, now that I've actually run it that Fire Oracle encounter is insane.

** spoiler omitted **

Honestly if they didn't have 3 healers they'd have been dead in 2 rounds.
That was brutal, how does anyone survive it with the tactics written?

Ummm? By playing smart?

To be honest, the party I played this with didn't have any serious trouble with her. We were more irritated that we didn't take her out quite fast enough to prevent her from trying to kill her hostage.

Spoiler:
To be honest, the group you listed is almost pure squishiness.

2 Clerics? If they don't have the right spells selected, they don't provide much help.

Life Oracle? Again, spell selection and resource usage is key.

Ranger? Potentially very good at taking someone down quickly, if they can get into their primary area quickly. If ranged, go to town from the get-go. If melee, get into their face, which is also going to do a bit of shutdown tactic for casting...

2 Rogues? Yeesh. Even if they were both melee builds, that's too much skill monkey and not enough damage. Since one of them is a sniper, that cuts that one's damage down even more.

Grinding is just not a good tactic unless you can also get in a significant amount of control to shut down the enemy spellcasters. If you can't interdict spellcasting, you are in serious trouble.

Taldor ***

The combo of tight spaces and AOE spells can really do a number on a party. I thought this could have been a really good mod if it actually didnt include almost any fighting and instead stuck purely to the puzzles(Not every mission is going to involve a fight right?)

But beyond that I feel that any group should be able to get through the rest of the mod.

Shadow Lodge *****

Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
That was brutal, how does anyone survive it with the tactics written?

No clue. I've only seen a small handful survive this scenario. ;-)

Cheliax **

Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Oh the rest of the mod was great and they came up with some truly creative ways of getting past all the puzzles and much fun was had there. The black flame chair was pretty easy when you can get over 20pts of fire resistance.

@Callarek, true on most points though when you have to run through 2 or more walls of fire to be able to see/affect her you can imagine how reluctant most players will be to rush her. 1 round of hesitation can easily be half your hit points with her (and with a hard hitting goon readied to power attack & vital strike the first target who comes through that wall I'm not expecting many volunteers for that job).

Taldor ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Philadelphia aka Iammars

Assuming the water runs from floor to ceiling, what would the DC be to hear combat going on in the water? Looking at the Perception rules isn't great help, and I would go for an arbitrary DC 20, but I'm curious as to what other people would say.

*

Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
That was brutal, how does anyone survive it with the tactics written?

When I ran this a while ago, the only reason the party survived was because of a synth/paladin who just bum rushed her with his stupidly huge amount of HP (and pounce IIRC). They also had a barbarian with a huge amount of HP.

I'd like to run it again to see how it goes sans synthesist.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Iammars wrote:
Assuming the water runs from floor to ceiling, what would the DC be to hear combat going on in the water? Looking at the Perception rules isn't great help, and I would go for an arbitrary DC 20, but I'm curious as to what other people would say.

I usually just describe the disturbance of the water and the deep sound of the iron bars shifting. If the party doesn't immediately start to help at that point, the water settles down a bit until combat starts when the water gets more turbulent again.

Taldor ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Philadelphia aka Iammars

That makes sense. Thanks!

Shadow Lodge *

Kyle Baird wrote:
Spend your prep practicing the role play of the oracle. See if you can get her out of the tomb and to safety w/o ever lying.

I must confess I'm not all that great at this sort of stuff, so I worked with it for a while. Here's what I came up with at subtier 5-6:

Spoiler:
They discovered her on the other side of the door, a bit after noticing that there were two separate groups of camels, and the Andoran faction members found the book of travel routes (and now on the watch for Thuvians). She told them that met the first group of pathfinders in the tomb and that Thuvian bandits attacked them all when they entered the central room. The pathfinders fought them off and killed off the bandits, but not without casualties. She had been taking care of Jilarni for weeks before the PCs arrived, stuck in the central room. She pleaded for the PCs to let them out without hurting her, and she didn't trust that they weren't bandits until they showed her their wayfinders.

The PCs seemed initially suspicious (especially since a couple where part of the Andoran faction, looking out for Thuvians and finding the book of routes in one of the camel's packs, also noticing that there were two separate groups of camels), but finally assured Alarka that they had no interest in harming her or her friend, and that she could leave when the door was opened.

Getting what she wanted, Alarka handed over the scepter, and the door opened. However, as she and the raider made to leave, one of the PCs piped up with "Oh, you wouldn't mind staying for a few moments, would you? I'm sure Jilarni would love to thank you for caring for her for all these weeks, before you go." With one PC having pushed past them to go tend to Jilarni, there were three more PCs spread across the initial chamber between her and the exit.

I hadn't expected this at all, but I ended up defaulting back to taking Jilarni hostage.
"Jilarni and I exchanged some harsh words before she fell unconscious. I would rather not be around when she wakes up."
"We insist."
"Alright, then. Back off and don't do anything dangerous, or I blow the whole room with a fireball. I don't know if Jilarni would enjoy being a burnt corpse. Your friend probably won't like it either."

I have her ready an action to cast a fireball into the room if anyone makes a hostile aciton, until one of my PCs advises me that PCs can't really ready actions outside of combat, and that since they're all aware of each other, the best way to handle this would be for any hostile actions to go off at initiative. I balked, but in the end, decided that it made sense. Anyway, they back off into the altar alcoves, but as the pair of bandits pass them, they all initiate combat. The bandit notices first, and goes after the closest player. Then the wizard goes and readies an action to counter Alarka's spell with his own prepared fireball. Alarka ends up going second last, and gets her fireball countered.

It then goes downhill quickly as Alarka gets her next spell countered by readied action dispel magic[i], and then again by a spontaneously cast [i]dispel magic through Arcane Bond. The bandit gets mulched, and then Alarka gets surrounded, tripped, grappled and pinned a command to scare away the one grappling her and moves out, but the wizard's readied magic missile knocks her unconscious as she casts her next spell.

It was a pretty disheartening encounter that went the way it did because I was expecting her to be able actually cow the PCs with the readied action that would go off the moment they took a single perceived hostile action. I'm glad that they had fun, especially when the wizard's PC remarked that it was the first time in his 10 years of playing D&D that he actually got off a same-spell counterspell. It just turned what could have been an interesting combat encounter at the end of the scenario into something... less.

Ever since her failure, the I've been trying to figure out different lies/half-truths that she could be telling that would let her get out without combat, but I've been having trouble. The presence of the camels (and the Andoran faction missions) in particular is foiling most of my plans.

Has anyone actually managed to get her out of the tomb in this encounter without the PCs attacking her?

Osirion *** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Austin aka SetonAlandel

Yes, I ran a table in the low tier that let her and her friend escape. Playing the scenario cold (no prep), I came up with the general plan you did, except playing it as being one of the Pathfinders. I played up the desperate need to escape, mentioning that they had injured they couldn't treat.

Spoiler:

The PCs asked for their weapons, and said they would escort them out to the camels. Rolling sense motive to determine they were sincere, the npcs took the risk and played it the PC's way, and were gone before the party could revive the NPC.

This scenario may have lead the PCs to never trusting NPCs to live again, as the oracle came back at the end and laid down a wall of fire as the PCs were leaving the treasure chamber at the end, trapping several unhappy PCs.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've run this 8 times. I've only had her get attacked twice before she was able to leave. Once while she was almost out and once when she started stealing the PCs camels. :-)

Focus on half-truths and keep in mind that her #1 priority is to leave safely.

Things like, "We were trapped in here when the tomb was attacked by bandits" or "One of your kind is injured, I've been doing what I can to keep her alive for days."

I focus on telling the story of how the tomb was attacked from the third person, as if she was an innocent third party.

Shadow Lodge *

From what I can tell, Kyle, your half-truths are stopped by two innocent sentences after the door is open:
"Oh, you wouldn't mind staying for a few moments while we revive her, would you? I'm sure Jilarni would love to thank you for caring for her."

There might be something I'm missing, but:
a) the PCs know that the camels have been there for weeks, so, if the "innocent party" is to have witnessed the fight, then they had to have been stuck for weeks as well.
b) it's very suspicious that someone who's been caring for the pathfinder for weeks would want to leave the tomb immediately, and spend a week+ traveling back to civilization, without another word to said pathfinder.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sure, but you don't have to have Alarka come off as trusting of the PCs. In fact it's much better if you don't. What I am usually able to accomplish is a trade. She and one of her mooks get to leave, while one of her mooks stays behind. As soon as she's safe, she can signal her other mook to let the PCs in.

"How do I know you won't hurt me?" She has the rod, the only key to saving the unconscious Pathfinder. Trade it for her freedom.

Shadow Lodge *

Quote:
She and one of her mooks get to leave, while one of her mooks stays behind. As soon as she's safe, she can signal her other mook to let the PCs in.

How does that work? The doors are wide open, and the PCs are all in the entrance chamber, between her and her goal. The door doesn't close unless a scepter gets removed again (which the PCs are unlikely to let happen), so how does does the mook have control of whether or not the PCs enter the central chamber?

Quote:
"How do I know you won't hurt me?" She has the rod, the only key to saving the unconscious Pathfinder. Trade it for her freedom.

It's not a simultaneous trade, so no matter what Alarka convinces them to go along with, she has to trust the PCs that they will do it. As soon as she gives the PCs the scepter, the PCs have total control of the situation.

Unless, of course, she comes out with Jilarni's throat pressed to a scimitar, but that requires her to abandon her persona, and will very likely end up in a fight started at the time of the PCs' choosing.

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