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PFS # 2-12 - Below the Silver Tarn [SPOILERS]


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

Dark Archive *

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Reading through this seemingly awesome scenarios, I have a few questions that others can answer for me (more will probably follow before play on monday). I'd also like to hear other GMs' experiences with running this one.

The Tarnspawn are listed as "Manimal eel", with a reference to a book called "Advanced Bestiary". What is this book?

The town of Stom's Claim has it's own stat block, but I don't know how to interpret the stats (like Crime -2, Law -8, Society +2 etc). I have a suspicion that the rules for town stats are in the Kingmaker AP, but I'm hoping to be a player in that AP, so I don't want to read it. Are the rules for town stats found anywhere else?

What minis did you guys use for the Tarnspawn?

Any good ideas for mood music?

Thanks.

Dark Archive *

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also, how do the PCs know that each group in the Public House is hiding an ingot? It doesn't seem like all of them are brandishing it, and Adle, who is their only ally when they arrive, has no way of knowing who have them.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Los Angeles (Inland Empire)

Hi Entropi,

I agree with you for sure! That was one of the most fun scenarios to play.

My Experience Playing It:

The GM increased the sense of dread by really hamming up the description of the mix. The thing that freaked me out the most was when we got to the inn, the fog pulled back just enough to show us a body. It was like the fog was a creature and it was toying with us.

The claustrophobia in the inn really played well, if we took to long to come up with ways to talk to the people the judge would start to mention sounds on the outside of the hut.

The final encounter drew a crowd, he used the huge black dragon mini and the combat ended up being in flight. It was pretty ****ing scary.

Now to your questions:
Advanced Bestiary is a third party book published by Green Ronin Publishing. It is a book of templates which is used by Paizo a lot to make unique creatures for scenarios. You should have everything you need with the provided stat block.

The city stat block rules are in the Game Master guide. You can find them in the PRD here - http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/mastery/settlements.html

Dark Archive *

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The second action the Half-fiend Water Elemental in the final scene takes is to use Blasphemy on the players. The spell description says:

Quote:

Furthermore, if you are on your home plane when you cast this spell, nonevil extraplanar creatures within the area are instantly banished back to their home planes. Creatures so banished cannot return for at least 24 hours. This effect takes place regardless of whether the creatures hear the blasphemy or not. The banishment effect allows a Will save (at a –4 penalty) to negate.

Creatures whose Hit Dice exceed your caster level are unaffected by blasphemy.

The question is: Is the Half-fiend Water Elemental on it's home plane? You could argue that it was created on thye Prime Material Plane, and that it is native here. You could also argue that both water elementals and fiends are native to other planes, and that the creator, Nicoroux, is extraplanar, and created the thing as an extension of itself. What do you people think?

Also, am I right to assume that, if the Half-fiend Water Elemental is native to the Prime Material Plane, that the Blasphemy spell would banish an eidolon?

Paizo Employee ** Developer

The Silver Tarn Avatar has the native subtype, so it is native to the Material Plane. Eidolons are indeed extraplanar outsiders and can be banished using this effect.

**** Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco , Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Pirate Rob

When I played this with my Shadowdancer and was trying to figure out how to best safely move the villagers from the public house to the more secure location. I sent my pet shadow outside to clear us a path. Considering that the Eel monsters were incapable of hurting it our GM hand-waved that encounter. He did say that there was a huge number of them pouring out of the lake and that my shadow wouldn't be able to kil them all though.

I felt a little embarrassed and have never again sent my shadow ahead to solo an encounter.

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thank you for playing us through it Entropi! :) It was an amazing scenario and definitely one of the best PFS scenarios I've played to date. And it was run very competently! :)

...and I'm quite glad that my Syntehist/Monk's Eidolon was not banished as part of the Blasphemy spell (a 17 Will Save helps with stuff like that)...

Very very nice scenario. I hope to see more like it in the future. Wonderful atmosphere, the best skill-challenge I've seen yet, and a memorable and hard boss fight in a unique location. We loved it!

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

After having thought some more about this, I just wanted to let people reading this know, that "Below the Silver Tarn" is a really really good scenario! I will whole-heartedly reccomend this to anyone (and the rest of my group will as well).

A very big thumbs up to Crystal Frasier for having written it! :)

Shadow Lodge **

I'm really looking forward to running this scenario on all 3 fronts--combat, roleplay and atmosphere!

Couple of questions while prepping:

Stom Dolock (Page 17-19):

He is a dwarf but is noted as being a large creature with reach.

"Before combat: Stom has already cast bear’s endurance, bull’s
strength, instant armor, and magic vestment for his earlier fight
with the other survivors, and has also taken a small amount
of damage, reducing him to 101 hit points. If the PCs are
especially loud or noisy returning from the basement, he
prepares by casting righteous might on himself. (All of these
spells are included in his stats)."

I see he has enlarge person in his repertoire. So, either he cast Enlarge Person as part of the previous battle and it was an accidental omission OR the corrupting influence of Nicoroux mutated his body into a larger form (meaning he could Enlarge Person into a huge-sized creature). Thoughts?

Storm on the Tarn:

"As the PCs approach the center of the lake, the fog condenses into a powerful storm, tossing about anything on the tarn’s surface. Casting spells requires a Concentration check (DC 15 + the spell’s level). Standing (in a boat or on the surface of the water via magic) requires a DC 15 Acrobatics check"

"GM Tip: ...the final encounter takes place on the choppy, frigid waters of Silver Tarn amid a raging storm..."

Just double checking, but since this is a "powerful""raging" storm, I should apply the rain/severe wind effects i.e. reduce visibility ranges by half, –4 penalty on Perception checks and same effect on flames, ranged weapon attacks, and Perception checks as severe wind.

Sovereign Court ***** Venture-Captain, Florida—Clearwater , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Magical_Beast

Sammy T wrote:

I'm really looking forward to running this scenario on all 3 fronts--combat, roleplay and atmosphere!

Couple of questions while prepping:

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

When I ran this recently, I elected to:

Stom tactics:
Have Stom cast Enlarge Person on himself as the PCs tromped back from the basement. It was a part of the reveal that something had gone very, very wrong. Seemed to work well in establishing the mood and threat of that encounter.

Storm:
Yes, all of these conditions apply and I suggest amping up the description of what's going on in response to how things go with that scene. I tried to make it seem as if the environment was responding (negatively) to their every move. This last fight is a nasty one. :)

Shadow Lodge **

Love this scenario.

Even though it's a familiar premise (evil corruption in small town by a body of water), I had a blast running it.

Ran at subtier 7-8 with a party of 4: Bard Archeologist tripper, Synthesist, Cleric and Rogue/Fighter. For atmosphere, I really hammed up the fog and the creepiness of the town.

The PCs steamrolled the poor Tarnspawn in the Assayer's office.

The RP in the tavern was fun, with all the PCs pulling together to help out in different ways. The party opted for the straight jailbreak option, losing some villagers along the way.

Beneath the temple, they began to parlay with Carnag, then it broke into combat when the cleric cast protection from evil 'just in case.' During the fight, the Rogue/Fighter dashed across the field and snatched the Tome of Memories off the altar, breaking the Geas spell. Once the Geas was broken, Carnag simply tried to escape while invisible, but got caught by an invisibility purge and was dogpiled.

Stom lasted all of 3 rounds. He got off a wall of fire and then was roflstomped...a victim of the tight space and rolling low initiative despite getting 3 d20 rolls as a battle oracle :(

The party split the bars evenly among 3 of them and hit the lake. Because of the ease of combats previously, I stole a high tier tactic and started with an ambush unholy blight from underwater before normal rounds started. The synthesist's Eidolon survived the Blasphemy (i.e. not getting banished) and flew over the water to battle the Avatar, who in turn kept harrying the boat folks because they were charging and chucking bars into the tarn. The synthesist finished off the combat by turning invisible and dropping charged bars into the lake while hovering over the water.

There was a palpable tension waiting for the boat to reach the dropzone while being attacked by the Avatar. I could see this combat TPKing a party that didn't hunker down and focus on dropping the bars ASAP and instead attacked the Avatar. But for my group, it played just right.

All, in all, a fun romp with a good mix of combats and the opportunity to GM RP 8 different characters.

Minor GM gripe: The Synthesist was just a monster in combat. This is the second different synthesist I've GM'd and it reconfirms my feelings they need some sort of tuning pass.

Grand Lodge ****

Righteous might gives a size increase as part of its effects, so this is where the enlarge effect came from. Prepping it now, and to me a while to find as well!

Shadow Lodge **

Scott Young wrote:

Righteous might gives a size increase as part of its effects, so this is where the enlarge effect came from. Prepping it now, and to me a while to find as well!

Yeah, I figured this out later that night ;) Have fun with this one--I loved this as a GM.

Grand Lodge ****

Did anyone notice that one of the buildings is about five times bigger on the inside than on the outside?

Spoiler:
The Assayer's Office looks about 30'x30' on the village map, but is 120' or so across for its battle map. It also shows the tarnspawn as Huge creatures, not centered in squares. Must be a PDF problem. I think I will use the smaller size (which makes *way* more sense), and allow the fight to spill out into the streets.

Grand Lodge ****

Never mind... the map is stretched over a whole page width, and that plus the tiled floor threw me off.

Dark Archive ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm running Silver Tarn this week, and I had a question about water. If someone is in the water and can't swim or failed a swim check, they go below the surface, but I can't find any rules for how fast someone sinks.

Also, I noticed that for tier 7-8, all level 7s and 8s stand to be paralyzed by the avatar's blasphemy. Harsh.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington , Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka WalterGM

It's actually worse that than Mergy -- in the 10-11, the Avatar is CL 14, which means that PCs up to level 9 are paralyzed. So you may want to caution people against playing up, unless you really want to stick it to them :P

As far as the water question: it's come up before for other games and the general consensus is that people float in water, unless they are otherwise inclined to sink (lots of gear, heavy armor, etc), in which case they sink at a rate you as the GM determine as fair. So if they fail their swim check (or die, as someone did last night when I ran this) their body (or corpse) floats on the surface.

My gleefullest part of the game:

Following the tactics, and ended up smiting good on the paralyzed oracle for minimum damage on both hits (1d8+43 with power attack and smite), which still true death'd her (like -60 after the horrid wilting he opens with).

Just a smear of gnome in the boat. Brilliant.

*****

Walter Sheppard wrote:
As far as the water question: it's come up before for other games and the general consensus is that people float in water, unless they are otherwise inclined to sink (lots of gear, heavy armor, etc), in which case they sink at a rate you as the GM determine as fair. So if they fail their swim check (or die, as someone did last night when I ran this) their body (or corpse) floats on the surface.

My general rule of thumb for sinking is that it takes 1 successful swim check to resurface for each failed check. This assumes that they are wearing more than light armor or are carrying more than a light load.

Dark Archive ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That's how I'll run it I suppose. In light armour, if you fail your swim check you just have to deal with your head below the water. Anything heavier than that and I'll just say "One swim check away from the surface. Oh? TWO swim checks away from the surface!"

Honestly, I hope my party is smart enough to take extreme measures to avoid the water. I'm also hoping to not paralyze any swimmers; I have already killed someone by drowning, and it is one of the least fun ways.

*****

Walter Sheppard wrote:

It's actually worse that than Mergy -- in the 10-11, the Avatar is CL 14, which means that PCs up to level 9 are paralyzed. So you may want to caution people against playing up, unless you really want to stick it to them :P

As far as the water question: it's come up before for other games and the general consensus is that people float in water, unless they are otherwise inclined to sink (lots of gear, heavy armor, etc), in which case they sink at a rate you as the GM determine as fair. So if they fail their swim check (or die, as someone did last night when I ran this) their body (or corpse) floats on the surface.

** spoiler omitted **

Yeah, this encounter seems like it is just brutal if you are foolish enough to go on that boat. Our group still was close to two deaths (though we managed to avoid both), even though we all air walked or flew to the spot and were so spread out it couldn't hit more than two with any AoE. We literally had the about-to-die cleric drop the last ingot into the water as his last action before it would have pounded him into a fine paste (and we only managed to get the ingots in so quickly because all six characters could reliably activate the ingots, so we each took one).

****

It's Tier 7-11, folks... anyone that can't fly or breath water by then has been coasting on luck. Geez, air crystals are only 50gp!

My group got all six ingots into the water in less than 3 rounds, with the use of CLW wands, readied actions, plus the two full clerics of Sarenrae. Made the fight pretty anti-climactic, actually. So, a horrid wilting, blasphemy, and then the sky clears and you're done.

*****

Scott Young wrote:

It's Tier 7-11, folks... anyone that can't fly or breath water by then has been coasting on luck. Geez, air crystals are only 50gp!

My group got all six ingots into the water in less than 3 rounds, with the use of CLW wands, readied actions, plus the two full clerics of Sarenrae. Made the fight pretty anti-climactic, actually. So, a horrid wilting, blasphemy, and then the sky clears and you're done.

Well remember, you can't chew the air crystals or activate other water breathing abilities if you're paralyzed. Our group was much the same as yours, and we also finished on round 3, though I do wonder how much harder it would have been if we didn't have six players, since the number of ingots is constant, so if you don't have six, you'll take at least 4 rounds to do it at best, and that's assuming the GM waits to attack you until you're within a single move of the underwater circle. A party with only two characters capable of activating a wand (certainly possible in a 4 player party) would take long enough that they'd pretty much be forced to fight it, so I guess the difficulty would vary wildly based on that. Our two near deaths were the cleric (who got smote) and the rogue (who got paralyzed and therefore auto-failed his fly check and dropped into the water, unable to hold his breath due to paralysis, though we fished him out).

****

Rogue - I agree, it's a lot harder if you have a smaller group and/or less divine ability/wand users. My point was really, "What if I fall into the water?" should be addressed before anyone gets into the boat. Fly, levitate, water breathing, air bubble, flotation device, *something*. You don't see a terrain feature in an encounter go unused very often, and here you've been fighting semi-aquatic fish-men all day.

The paralysis from the blasphemy is a big threat, for sure, but with the number of ghouls in PFS from level 1, paralysis should be a condition that many parties should be able to clear as well.

Still loved the scenario - play up the mist, and limit what Knowledge checks give the players. (As unique creatures, knowledge checks won't identify them, although I did give out a bunch of things like "fiendish influence", with appropriate DR/immunities/etc. - but not knowing what to call these things make people very nervous.)

EDIT: And given the map shows starting locations for the monster and the players, we're pretty much set on starting encounter distance...

Dark Archive ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There's also the constant damage for anyone in contact with the water. I'm hoping that deters any swimmers.

*

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I’m very confused about the author’s intent on page 12 and would appreciate some clarification.

spoiler:
In the last three paragraphs of the first column (starting at “Development:), the author says that upon the PCs assembling the silver ingots, there is a loud sound from the Tarn which calls the "tarnspawn" back to the water for further instructions, giving the PCs a chance to make a run for it in their absence. Then at the top of the second column, I’m given box-text to read (immediately after the ingots are gathered) that completely ignores the events of the preceding three paragraphs and just tells the PCs that the monsters are tearing apart the building and they need a cunning plan to escape. So which is it? It’s like there were two different drafts of the story and both versions got left in.

So, for other people who have run this, did you have the "tarnspawn" retreat for a time, or did you just proceed with the box-text? How much time is reasonable to give the PCs if I follow the first version of the story and skip the box-text?

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Mimo Tomblebur wrote:
I’m very confused about the author’s intent on page 12 and would appreciate some clarification. ** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
That appears to be a detail that was changed in development in one place and left in the other, and the inconsistency seems to have made it through our editing pass. Since this product was released almost 2 years ago, I'm not sure which detail was intended to replace the other, but in either case it doesn't really matter. Use whichever version you think will evoke the highest sense of terror in your players. The intent is to make them feel like they need to hurry in order to bring the survival horror scenario to a close, but not actually have them in direct danger from the tarnspawn at that point. Thus, they should have as much time as they need, but the flavor of the tarnspawns' actions as described by the GM should urge them to quick action.

Additionally, please don't double post the same question in multiple threads. Thanks!

*

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Mark, thank you very much for you're response. I'm sorry for the double posting.

It seems to me that transporting/escorting the villagers safely is a GREAT non-combat challenge and I would hate to skip it, as it really rewards the teams that haven't built there whole characters around dealing damage. My only concern is how much time it might add. But since the optional encounter is the penultimate encounter, I think I'll make them go the hard way, and then cut the giant dwarf if time requires it.

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