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PFS#3-EX The Cyphermage Dilemma [Spoilers]


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

Qadira ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I want to preface my critique by saying that I had high expectations for this scenario because it is The Exclusive and the previous exclusive was so exceptional. This one does not pass muster. I arranged four tables before it was even released and I feel like the players have been cheated.

OK, the first thing that I noticed about this scenario is how it leads the PCs by the nose, especially in the introduction. The background is implausible, to put it simply. So the villain Alejia Netrav wants to be the next Overlord of Riddleport, and she’s attacking ships on the open sea under the protection of Riddleport... Elias Tammerhawk knows who she is, but he doesn’t know what ship she sails under. How about the one that is always absent from Riddleport harbor when an incoming ship is attacked? It’s comical that no one knows the name of her ship and she wants to become an infamous crimelord. That Elias Tammerhawk can’t handle his own business when an upstart challenges him is also comical. As I said, I think the whole beginning is implausible. I have dropped the VC intro text and give the players bare bones information. Before they are teleported to Riddleport (What’s this Magnimar foolishness? Time is the fire in which we burn! Haven’t we learned anything from the Pale Pox pandemic?) they are told that divinations have revealed the source of the threat is from Riddleport and the agent is Vudran. That eliminates suspicions of undersea raiders, and gives the PCs a clue where to start looking. Instead of railroad tracks taking the PCs to the warehouse, they enter a sandbox and get to interact with the inhabitants of Riddleport. Oddly, both groups I have run so far have started their investigation at The House of Silken Veils. It’s been around 90 minutes into the roleplaying game before the PCs arrive at the first encounter.

The warehouse is a good encounter in that the players get to be creative with getting inside. It reminds me of PFS#4 The Frozen Fingers of Midnight with all the hijinks that go on. After the door is opened the dice start rolling and the fight ends very quickly. The Lionfish Grunts don’t last long like most humanoids with low will saves. Both Faction missions are ‘gimmes’ since the PCs can return to the warehouse at any point and take 20 to search the entire place. The Grand Lodge only has to pay an expert a small fee to make a Linguistics check. I realize that it is hard to write 10 different Faction missions but it would be far more entertaining to add more roleplay situations rather than writing more ‘Where’s Waldo’ tasks.

The half-orc(s) working for Boss Croat encounter could have been removed in favor of a monster encounter in the harbor or elsewhere. One GM pointed out that it would have been similar to PFS#2The Hydra’s Fang Incident which is fair, but I’m so tired of fighting humanoids. A reefclaw, a devilfish or a bunyip would have been much more entertaining. Why couldn’t Alejia have co-opted a local merrow or a sandman at Viper Cove? I’m crying over spilled milk, but there could have been a cool challenge instead of just another thug encounter.

Getting out to the Lionfish in the harbor requires two DC 10 strength checks. Or what? Where are the consequences? This ‘challenge’ only led to ‘Take 10’ jokes.

The grippli alchemist was interesting. I thought his best bet was to climb up the mast since he’s got a climb speed, but he hasn’t made it past two rounds yet. The ship is too confined for him to fight without taking AoOs out the wazoo. One group waited until nightfall when it was assumed that the crew would be asleep. The rogue went aboard and one-shotted the watchman, then the party took on the grippli before he could leave his cabin. So many scenarios expect the situation to remain static and all the bad guys’ advantages depend on them having time to buff up. This is another weakness of human(oid) opponents. The PCs know where they sleep and when they have to rest.

At the low tier Alejia apparently sailed the two masted Topaz Titan to Viper Cove by herself. Players expected a well-guarded hideout and instead they found Alejia holed up in a cave with a prisoner that had no value to her. How does she know who the PCs are when they show up at Viper Cove? Yet she holds Hirako Gurukaza as a hostage against the PCs’ cooperation. As far as she knows, the PCs could be agents from Overlord Cromarky come to snuff her for attacking ships under his protection. What would mercenaries care for Hirako’s life? All her tactics as written allow is for the PCs to get into a better position to flank and kill her. Is she really going to spend a full round using a coup-de-grace action against Hirako when she knows the PCs are trying to kill her? In real life those hostage moments are dramatic because there is an emotional link between the rescuers and the hostage. In the game the players feel no such empathy and Hirako is just another disposable NPC. Maybe the Lantern Lodge cares… Anyway, all Alejia’s tactics do is deny her the opportunity to surprise the PCs and give her one less round to use her magus abilities.

I would have been happy to see an actual cyphermage (alternate class) in the adventure. The title was deceptive like Keep of the Huscarl King where we never actually got to go into the keep. I know, grumble, grumble.

In defense of the scenario no player has yet complained it was a let-down. Those are my sentiments. Little can be done at this point to salvage the scenario, so I’m interested in hearing other GM’s takes on the adventure and your players’ impressions.

BTW, do I sound bitter? I wonder if I come across as harsh… I figure the 4/5-stars and VOs are assumed to be reading this, and the general membership are spared my bile.

Grand Lodge *****

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

Aargh - just lost my text.

Yes Doug - I think you come over a little bit bitter. But I can't fault you too much on contents written.

I did GM the game for tier 4-5 with 6 players. 

Act 1: the group managed to bluff their way in. They surprised two of the Grunts, the third only wasn't affected because he was in the back hiding the adept. Grunt 1 went down very fast. Due to space only part of the group really could deal damage with one member climbing over a stack of crates.
He got welcomed by a sneak attack from number 3 (had used his potion when trouble started) and the player even climbed down the other side which would have been fatal if my dice would have rolled better. He got flanked from the half dead grunt 2 (1 was down and dead) and grunt 3 after having received already one sneak attack.

Act 2: I didn't rebuild the scenario but used the outside - hazard of building up using DF. There was never a big danger but concentrating on the weak members with the saps did get some players a little bit afraid.

Act 3: they used the one legged dwarf to get over to the ship. They already searched him out ahead of Act 1. With help of a silence spell they got up without much problem. I admit I had all three people on deck. 
The Barbarian DPR dealer got slowed down by a Tanglefoot bag but not for long. The rest of the group tried ranged attacks/spells with the second guard going asleep. I did two bombs on the barbarian but there was never real danger. 
That way they still had a crew and two captains.

Act 4: at Viper Cave the rogue sneaked ahead using a potion of invisibility from act 1. That way the group suprised Aleja who only could do a single attack on her captive. She smeared her sword with blood before hitting him and the group struggled to heal him (he wasn't down by much and did make his saving throw - but they didn't know).

The group then never fought the Trollhound. They used sift to make a drawing of the cages and left without another fight - stealing two ships back.

What Doug missed out - the cove is too small for a sea faring ship. The one on the map is ridiculously small and I had trouble to get the other one in at all.

The link shows some photos from the game. One good bit - the scenario can be nicely build up in DF - at least acts 1-2 and 4-5. This will give me the opportunity to build a new board as my Blackros Museum gets old and most people have played it.

Pictures from the Game including Viper Cove

Despite all criticism - the players liked the game and had lots of fun.

Silver Crusade ****

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I will say this, being in charge of boats, when you have no Profession-Sailor, is pretty darn priceless. But I am once again reminded by this module why I have a love/hate relationship with boats. And why it's important to not only have MW armor, but ranks in Swim and profession Sailor are your friends.

I do have an issue with the Faction mission for Silver Crusade:

Silver Crusade Mission:
So we had a fighter who worshiped Urgotha, and he was a member of the Silver Crusade. The faction mission states that we are to get Boss Cross off the streets along with his thugs. The problem was that he crit the guy and let him bleed and then he did what I like to call a "heel check" and in essence killed him. Although this was not most likely the intentions of the SC mission, I am not stupid enough to contest a fighter that has 20 DPR at level two. But the mission is written very loosely to the point, where killing the person could be interpreted.

Other than that, I am so happy and honored to have hosted the game while at convention. Looking forward to some more games!

*****

After running this adventure several times I am liking it more but still not much.

The start is a poor set up. To protect a ship coming from another port we must stop the pirate that is attacking it. They tell the pathfinders they know nothing about this pirate but her gender. This is pretty astounding to send a team out with so little information yet such high expectations. Also the “trip” to Riddleport was a lost chance at a real set up. The party could have just as easily been sent to Riddleport to meet the retired pathfinder when he arrived from his long voyage and instead they encounter the burning wreck crashed into the rocks about a day away. Now there is a real reason for investigation and finding out the who/what/when/why of the Topaz Titian and their esteemed missing scholar. But enough of the re-writing.

Arriving in Riddleport because the players have so little information they can do just about anything and have a chance of success. The problem is so little information is given that the only one that will be fruitful is following the story as written.

I’ve had both long and short combats with both the warehouse and the anchored ship. Some have gotten quite comical. The killing the thug seemed a weak encounter and I wish I could get rid of it. Though it is funny to see Crusaders chasing down fleeing thugs.

The final battle is very different if or villain spend the beginning of combat on killing her hostage. Suddenly the normal action of an outnumbered enemy being brought down while fighting to harm the PCs is thrown out the window. Now she has the upper hand when she has succeeded by simply offing the captive. Who cares if she lives or dies. Her plans are in ruins and she has nothing but bitterness to drive her by this time.

Taldor ***** Venture-Captain, Florida—Clearwater aka Magical_Beast

I have run this 3 times so far, once at 1-2 and twice at 4-5 and I have to agree with Doug's comments above. While not awful, I feel that Cyphermage is a real let down, especially for an exclusive.

That having been said, I believe that each of my tables so far has had a good play experience, but much more so from the incidentals than the adventure itself. Best moment so far: a PC who actually has ranks in Profession: Sailor gets to be captain of a pirate ship for a moment. Let down: he doesn't actually get to do anything 'pirate-y' other than say, "Arrrrr".

The size of the boat on the map in Viper Cove, especially when compared to the map of the Lionfish is awkward and difficult to actually address when the PCs get to the cove. It strains the suspension of disbelief considerably. I think that the Topaz Titan and the Lionfish need to be anchored off-screen outside the cove and the map re-adjusted to reflect rowboats instead.

I have not yet included the optional encounter, for time considerations as much as lack of interest, and it hasn't been missed, although caged barking dogs add a nice complication for any parties trying to stealth their way in.

It seems as though, whether sacrificed to the Word Count Gods or just overlooked, the most interesting opportunities aren't here. Riddleport is a GREAT location that is full of interesting characters...who don't appear in this adventure. Its all about PIRATES, who do most of their pirating 'off screen' while the PCs dink around with a bunch of low-level thugs with eerily similar stats and abilities.

I am going to be running this several more times, including Gen*Con, and I will be including more RP, investigation and pirate-y flavor in Riddleport and coming up with characters and quirks for the nameless, faceless humanoid thugs that the PCs will face over and over again. I will not change actual encounters and do not advocate doing so, but I think there is some real opportunity for GMs who are so inclined to put their own spin of the feel of this one.

Regardless of what I, or any other GM, may (or may not) be able to add in terms of flavor and narrative, the scenario will still lack what I feel it deserves in order to be worthy of being the exclusive - some kind of WOW factor. Players should talking about the cool, new, interesting thing they did or the unexpected, awesome climactic encounter that separates this scenario from the rest.

EDIT: Also 'Cyphermage' is an awesome name that is evocative of some kind of really interesting character class or kick-butt abilities. I am disappointed they don't get to fight one, be one or even see one in action...

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yikes!

If you are going to change the scenario, you really need to keep that to yourself. PFS policy is no changes. It's like posting one of those videos of you doing something illegal to the internet.

And for the record, I have very much enjoyed running 3-EX Cyphermage Dilemma. All my players seemed to like it too. There is always a different way to look at things. If it doesn't make sense on first look, change some of your assumptions.

Taldor ***** Venture-Captain, Florida—Clearwater aka Magical_Beast

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Don Walker wrote:

Yikes!

If you are going to change the scenario, you really need to keep that to yourself. PFS policy is no changes. It's like posting one of those videos of you doing something illegal to the internet.

And for the record, I have very much enjoyed running 3-EX Cyphermage Dilemma. All my players seemed to like it too. There is always a different way to look at things. If it doesn't make sense on first look, change some of your assumptions.

I will not and do not advocate changing this or any scenario. I have run all of the encounters as statted and equipped using the tactics and motivations as described to the best of my abilities(and always do), just leaving out the optional one each time. I will continue to be as true to the scenario as possible, while adapting to each table's play style. However, I have had great success with giving the thugs names/quirks and/or personalities, especially with parties that don't auto-kill every bad guy and want to ask questions after the fight.

Also, all three of my groups have tried to investigate while in Riddleport before heading to the warehouse. Out of necessity, I have had to invent a brothel (for a cleric of Calistria), a dive bar in the wharf, and at least a cursory description of where to meet/drop off a Cyphermage. There are sidebars on information that can be obtained from investigation and I have not altered the information in any way, nor changed the rolls necessary to do so, merely provided a setting for the rolls to take place.

My suggestion to other GMs is to be prepared beyond what is written, because many parties will not beeline to the encounters as the adventure presumes. If you want to disguise the railroad, have the names for some bars and brothels with a pirate-y feel and don't be surprised if someone wants to question and ultimately attempt to redeem Thug #3 in the warehouse.

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

Doug Miles can do what he wants, he probably has enough sessions under his belt to be an 8 Star GM. Really, it's like calling the Dali Lama out for jaywalking.

***

Kristie Schweyer wrote:
Also, all three of my groups have tried to investigate while in Riddleport before heading to the warehouse. Out of necessity, I have had to invent a brothel (for a cleric of Calistria), a dive bar in the wharf, and at least a cursory description of where to meet/drop off a Cyphermage. There are sidebars on information that can be obtained from investigation and I have not altered the information in any way, nor changed the rolls necessary to do so, merely provided a setting for the rolls to take place.

(as one of the players in the aforementioned games- my take...) Kristie handled our investigations of Riddleport with aplomb and her characterizations of the NPCs only added to our enjoyment of it. Although I can see the points about the railroading in implausible story, we enjoyed it as a group- our group cheered out loud at the end as the tension was a bit high. Thank you, Kristie, for making it a memorable game and I don't think you did anything to "break" the "do not change the module" rule.

Taldor ***** Venture-Captain, Florida—Clearwater aka Magical_Beast

Whiskey Jack wrote:
Kristie Schweyer wrote:
Also, all three of my groups have tried to investigate while in Riddleport before heading to the warehouse. Out of necessity, I have had to invent a brothel (for a cleric of Calistria), a dive bar in the wharf, and at least a cursory description of where to meet/drop off a Cyphermage. There are sidebars on information that can be obtained from investigation and I have not altered the information in any way, nor changed the rolls necessary to do so, merely provided a setting for the rolls to take place.
(as one of the players in the aforementioned games- my take...) Kristie handled our investigations of Riddleport with aplomb and her characterizations of the NPCs only added to our enjoyment of it. Although I can see the points about the railroading in implausible story, we enjoyed it as a group- our group cheered out loud at the end as the tension was a bit high. Thank you, Kristie, for making it a memorable game and I don't think you did anything to "break" the "do not change the module" rule.

Thanks, Whiskey! It is always a pleasure to run for you and your crew. And, I did think we had fun...your table definitely had the most unique take on the adventure, which led to some great moments. 7 casters...sheesh!

Cheliax ***

Kristie Schweyer wrote:
Whiskey Jack wrote:
Kristie Schweyer wrote:
Also, all three of my groups have tried to investigate while in Riddleport before heading to the warehouse. Out of necessity, I have had to invent a brothel (for a cleric of Calistria), a dive bar in the wharf, and at least a cursory description of where to meet/drop off a Cyphermage. There are sidebars on information that can be obtained from investigation and I have not altered the information in any way, nor changed the rolls necessary to do so, merely provided a setting for the rolls to take place.
(as one of the players in the aforementioned games- my take...) Kristie handled our investigations of Riddleport with aplomb and her characterizations of the NPCs only added to our enjoyment of it. Although I can see the points about the railroading in implausible story, we enjoyed it as a group- our group cheered out loud at the end as the tension was a bit high. Thank you, Kristie, for making it a memorable game and I don't think you did anything to "break" the "do not change the module" rule.
Thanks, Whiskey! It is always a pleasure to run for you and your crew. And, I did think we had fun...your table definitely had the most unique take on the adventure, which led to some great moments. 7 casters...sheesh!

"In Character", Calistra's Blessings upon you for allowing me to tend to her Ladies, and for allowing my companions to help her. It was also convient that we were able to help the poor Cyphermages also. In Service to Calistra, Baurling Shadowtail, of Cheliax.

***

Kristie Schweyer wrote:
Thanks, Whiskey! It is always a pleasure to run for you and your crew. And, I did think we had fun...your table definitely had the most unique take on the adventure, which led to some great moments. 7 casters...sheesh!

*and* their menagerie of pets/familiars! Ninja Weasel FTW! ;-)

Silver Crusade **

I can understand Doug's complaints, but once you get past the odd plot line, the encounters seemed decent. I played at Kristie's tier 1-2 table on Saturday, and our group had a lot of fun.

To me, the most fun part of the adventure was also the most "pirate-y" - boarding the ship in the harbor from our rowboat.

My sorcerer and my friend's wizard started with continuous tag team Daze cantrips on the one pirate we could easily see from our rowboat, to keep him from trying to stop us from tossing up a couple of grappling hooks.

We had a dwarf paladin in heavy armor with a really bad armor check penalty who asked the barbarian to toss her up to the ship, so she wouldn't have to try and climb the rope. His dice weren't with him on that one, but the dwarf managed to grab one of the ropes, so she made it half way up, then had to climb the rest of the way on her own.

Their frogman alchemist climbing the mast was their last man standing, and we had our own wacky gnome alchemist, so the resulting alchemist vs alchemist bomb throwing competition ended up looking like something from Spy vs Spy in Mad Magazine. I think our alchemist damaged our own party more than the bad guy on that one. And we had one girl in our party who insisted on trying to follow the guy up the mast, when she didn't have any good way of doing so.

The straight up fighting against the first two thugs went well, but the rest of that encounter was just a comedy of errors, which ended up being highly entertaining.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I ran this scenario this past weekend at the 4-5 subtier, and I have a couple of notes and questions:

1) The combat encounters were with: three mooks, three half-orc mooks, a grippli with two mooks, and a magus with two mooks. And a trollhound.

1a) What the hell is Alejia doing with a trollhound? She take it with her on raids? Does that make any sense? (For that matter, does it make sense to take rabid dogs with you? Dogs, sure: I'll bet they're great in ship-boarding combats, lacking any sort of grip or climbing abilities. But not rabid dogs. You don't keep rabid dogs with you on missions. You shoot them or throw them overboard before they attack your own crew.)

1b) Other than that, all the combats are pretty much the same, and, as has been noted above, not particularly challenging.

2) I strongly suggest that GMs read the Bestiary 3 descriptions of the vithkenya and trollhound. The description in this scenario does neither of them justice.

3) The Player's Guide to Second Darkness AP is your friend.

4) My players decided to avoid the Lionfish and search for Alejia's base. Their Gather Information check in Riddleport was over 40. What should they be able to find out? (My off-the-cuff response was that they knew her base was called "Viper Cove", a sheltered cave complex on one of the many small islands within a few hours' distance of Riddleport. This is a semi-permanent base for Alejia, and I didn't think that every sailor who had ever served with her was dead.) If they'd gotten a lower score, I might have given the PCs a list of three or four hide-outs she's used. The party then used the dwarf and her boat to check the likely locations, and they found Viper Cove with a Perception check of over 30.

What would you have done?

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

I like Russel's idea of discovering the smashed ship on the way to Riddleport. That would have worked really well.

I can only assume the repeated use of the rogue stat-blocks was to conserve word count, but they served different purposes. The ones in the warehouse felt more like thugs to me. Either make them fighters or give them the thug rogue archetype. Their lack of hit points make them very limited and unless they get surprise and the PC's fail some saves against the mundane alchemical attacks, it is a speedbump or less.

I think we missed an opportunity to use the pirate rogue archetype for the mooks on the ship. While it would not have increased their combat skill much, it could have added a lot to the imagery of the ship battle. The ones with Alejia at the end probably should have also been pirate rogues if we are to assume they were with her for the attack on the Topaz.

Having the dogs kept in a pit and caged seemed like a waste. There is absolutely no reason to go down there, especially if they are out of the cages. If the direct entry into her cave would have been eliminated, the pit would have been an obstacle for the PC's to overcome. Maybe make the ambush encounter the optional one (or eliminate it entirely). Or eliminate the mooks with Aleija and use the dogs as her fodder. Now you have something that makes more sense. The dogs are not guarding anything if you can just ignore them and go into the other cave and as Chris illustrated, are we to believe that she takes them on the raids? Um what?!?

Despite my criticism, I do like this scenario, but I think it lacks attention to detail. Is it exclusive quality? Perhaps not, but I have run it numerous times, with more to come, and the players so far have enjoyed it. I think there are plenty of areas where you can adjust the role-playing and motivations of the NPC's to enhance the theme while remaining true to the RAW rules. Some of the tactics are situational and leave themselves open to adjustment based on player actions. It also lends itself to 3D terrain (warehouse, ships, etc) if you are interested in increasing the imagery.

Andoran ***** Venture-Captain, Minnesota—St. Paul

My fiancee was at your table Chris, and she was telling me a bit about what happened. I was wondering how you handled that, since the scenario doesn't really have any way for them to find out where Viper Cove is until they find the nautical charts on the Lionfish.

However, I agree, with a Diplomacy 40 for gather information, they would probably have learned just about anything they wanted to.

My players (same day, same place) were contemplating going out and meeting the Topaz Titan on open water to be there when the Pirates attacked.

If they'd chosen that route, I would have essentially had to come up with a few encounters all on my own with only the information that Alejia and a couple mooks had infiltrated the Topaz Titan and that's how they took it over.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Andrew Christian wrote:

My players (same day, same place) were contemplating going out and meeting the Topaz Titan on open water to be there when the Pirates attacked.

If they'd chosen that route, I would have essentially had to come up with a few encounters all on my own with only the information that Alejia and a couple mooks had infiltrated the Topaz Titan and that's how they took it over.

Then she cuts all our throats while we're sleeping secure in the belief that we'll be the ones doing the surprising, and we all go home at 2:30. ;)

Andoran ***

Whiskey Jack wrote:
Kristie Schweyer wrote:
Thanks, Whiskey! It is always a pleasure to run for you and your crew. And, I did think we had fun...your table definitely had the most unique take on the adventure, which led to some great moments. 7 casters...sheesh!
*and* their menagerie of pets/familiars! Ninja Weasel FTW! ;-)

Aye Aye, Captain

Taldor ****

I'm a bit late to this party, but I'll be running this mod for the first time after playing it about a year ago.

The biggest thing that bothered me about it was the final encounter where Alejia holds the hostage, but the DM running it seemed pre-determined to have her kill the hostage or escape - everything we discussed as a table of players was shot down under the guise of "if you do anything she'll kill the hostage" despite the fact we were asking how in-game she could accomplish that. Every time the question came to that we were told, "she can kill him if she wants."

How can I, as a GM, present the situation to the players without it seeming like there are only 2 choices (let her go or let her kill the hostage?)

*****

that is a tough final combat .. and honestly I never found a good way to run it.

Andoran *****

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Mine was pretty anticlimactic. Surprise round shots, followed by threatening to kill the hostage. Then everyone gets their turn, decimates the opposition, but just misses finishing her off. So she 5ft steps and CdGs her captive, putting him below -9. Party then finishes her off and laments losing one of the unique boons.

*****

The Human Diversion wrote:

I'm a bit late to this party, but I'll be running this mod for the first time after playing it about a year ago.

The biggest thing that bothered me about it was the final encounter where Alejia holds the hostage, but the DM running it seemed pre-determined to have her kill the hostage or escape - everything we discussed as a table of players was shot down under the guise of "if you do anything she'll kill the hostage" despite the fact we were asking how in-game she could accomplish that. Every time the question came to that we were told, "she can kill him if she wants."

How can I, as a GM, present the situation to the players without it seeming like there are only 2 choices (let her go or let her kill the hostage?)

They can also try to nova her down before she gets a turn. When I played we did that. It looks likes in TOZ's post above mine that his group tried and failed. One of the two tables I ran also tried and failed. The other table I ran used crazy hijinks involving grease, liberating command and vanish on Hirako, so I actually had him Inspire Courage for them later in the fight, since he has that ability and he was safely far away (but in range to hear him) by that point.

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The Human Diversion wrote:

...

How can I, as a GM, present the situation to the players without it seeming like there are only 2 choices (let her go or let her kill the hostage?)

The focal point of the scenario is this dilemma the party faces at the end.

I suppose the party could avoid it altogether with the use of stealth if they avoid setting off the dogs and rescue the scholar before Alejia can get in position and speak.

Or, as explained above, they can try to incapacitate Alejia before she takes the Scholar out.

Why would you want to take out the whole point of the scenario? The dilemma the party faces.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

As has been mentioned, the game rules don't allow Alejia to threaten a coup de grace before the PCs can act. When they enter the cave, combat in't already going; she can't have "readied actions" outside combat, and besides, you can only ready a standard action.

Even if she gets a surprise round, the scholar is safe from a coup de grace.

Rather, she should use her magus abilities to simply attack him with a powerful damaging spellstrike, probabily combined with deadly poison.

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

According to the scenario the pirates have a good chance of noticing the PCs before they enter the chamber. As such, Alejia can position herself to deal the killing blow to the scholars before the PCs get there and then when they do, she can call for parley. If the PCs decide to talk, the dilemma can be presented. If the PCs immediately attack, she can focus on killing the scholar before the PCs kill her.

**

Playing this mod I had another player physically assualted me.

WHen she came out holding the victim at knife point and told us not to move or she would kill them. I said "Go ahead.". The guy next to me was so upset I might wreck his faction mission starting jabbing me in the ribs and growled at me.

As with what Chris said above I won iniative and used cause fear on her saving the person.

*

When I played this we had enough potions (from earlier in the scenario) and spells for the whole party to be invisible. We also had two grappling monks in the party.
The combat didn't last long :-)

So, there are ways to get in there and rescue the captive

** RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Chris Mortika wrote:

As has been mentioned, the game rules don't allow Alejia to threaten a coup de grace before the PCs can act. When they enter the cave, combat in't already going; she can't have "readied actions" outside combat, and besides, you can only ready a standard action.

Even if she gets a surprise round, the scholar is safe from a coup de grace.

Rather, she should use her magus abilities to simply attack him with a powerful damaging spellstrike, probabily combined with deadly poison.

I'm getting ready to run this one, and I was wondering about the CdG as well. If the PCs step around the corner, and find her standing with her blade to the throat of the hostage, isn't that a volatile enough situation to start initiative right away? I was imagining her using a standard action to start a CdG (the old "draw a single drop of blood from the hostages throat" move), then ready the next standard action to complete the CdG.

Lantern Lodge ** Venture-Lieutenant, Germany—Freiburg aka Hayato Ken

I have to complain a little bit about that too. We ran it at Tier 1-2.
The rogues in the warehouse nearly killed the PC´s with the crates and some sneak attacks, but were defeated quite fast after the first round.

With the witch in the group it was really easy from then on, the party was more busy with climb checks. The frog and Alejia were both send to slumber and then coup de graced. Alejias setup is confusing though. I started initiative as they went into the room and let them make a perception check to notice anyone. They didn´t notice anyone, so Alejia surprised them with a shot like written and tried to talk her way out then. Of course didn´t function, since a moment later she was slumber hexed. Her "friends" attacked then, but of course all were slain.

What surprised me a but though was the Osirion faction mission. No one in the whole party had knowledge history with a DC 15 and i actually never met a level 1 character with that skill. DC 15 also means not untrained.

To me it seems a bit odd that some faction missions are autosuccess-like, others require real esoteric skills though, like craft map....and not even survival and a map making kit.

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

Benjamin Falk wrote:

What surprised me a but though was the Osirion faction mission. No one in the whole party had knowledge history with a DC 15 and i actually never met a level 1 character with that skill. DC 15 also means not untrained.

To me it seems a bit odd that some faction missions are autosuccess-like, others require real esoteric skills though, like craft map....and not even survival and a map making kit.

Osirion tends to have a lot of knowledge checks for faction missions. A trend I've found with Osirion players is they have a little trouble with their first couple faction missions, then start investing in some knowledge ranks.

Also, personally as a GM, I would've accepted Profession sailor for that check, which is a running joke at my FLGS as the most useful profession skill.

Shadow Lodge **

I agree, I would have allowed a similar check and/or the characters to use some creative thinking to solve the issues, (like your map-making kit). Alternatively, a Dex, Int, or Wis might have done it, certain spells, or other options that the players might think of that would make sense might all work, or will have the chance of working.

If the scenario specifically says that only a Know History check would do it, that's a little differently, but I've seen a few Faction missions that are obviously designed to screw players, giving DM's specific instructions that are not there for players to know until they fail, for example. Shadow Lodge, hand's down seems to really like doing this.

That being said, in my experience Know History is not at all an uncommon skill. Not as popular as the often catch-all Know Arcana, but about as common as Know Religion, which is sort of next in line.

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