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PFS #3-15 The Haunting of Hinojai [spoilers]

Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.
KestlerGunner wrote:
The GM letting the BBEG monologue is a sacred tradition and one that must never be altered, no matter how astronomically high the Pathfinder ninja's initiative has reached. ;)

Lol, we joke about it, but I run into it with players who haven't had a strong GM before.


Jim: After you burst in the room, the mysterious woman turns around and says "How dare you invade my sanc—"

Player: (INTERRUPTS AND MOVES MINIATURE ACROSS BATTLEMAT) While she's saying all that crap I move to this square over here and draw my rapier!

Jim: (FROWNS, SCOOTS MINIATURE BACK TO ORIGINAL SQUARE AS IF TOUCHING A DEAD COCKROACH) How about she says nothing then and we roll for initiative?

Player: But what was she gonna say?

Jim: Oh, she was going to say, "Roll for initiative!"

All Players in Unison: AWW COME ON!

Grand Lodge ****

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Eventually that player is going to open a door and see someone wearing a spiky, all black ensemble with matching scarlet cape. They'll charge in, roll for damage, kill the BBEG in the first round and laugh about how easy that was.

Meanwhile, the real villain is escaping through a secret passage and the heroes discover that the outlandish fashion designer noble they were supposed to rescue wasn't anywhere to be found within the dungeon cells...

Sovereign Court ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Online aka Iammars

So, I was looking over the two spellcasters in this mod and was wondering how in the world I was going to remember everything about them. So as part of my markup of the scenario, I decided to make these cheat sheets and print them on the back of the scenario so that I could reference them midgame to make running the spellcasters easier. They're filled with abbreviations and shorthand, but feel free to edit them to make them yours. I did most of the heavy lifting.
(Especially if you don't know what Dispel Magic does. I play a high-level Dispel happy sorcerer, so I know the spell pretty well ;) )

Link to DropBox for Cheat Sheets

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Thank you for this, Iammars!

Shadow Lodge ***

Thanks a bunch for this scenario. I'm far too caffeinated and exhausted(it was a long session) to give my after-action report now, but it was a success and people had a great time.

Posting spoilered AAR tomorrow maybe.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

You're welcome! I look forward to seeing how it went!

Shadow Lodge ***

Right, back now, somewhat refreshed.

Initially I was planning on a real horror fest when picking this scenario: had picked some mood pieces(Nurse with Wound, the Zatoichi OST, etc), did some research on Japanese ghost stories and made the players swear that there'd be little to no off-game talk.

See, we run a pretty laid-back campaign here so sessions often end up as more or less social get-togethers. It's a two edged sword of sorts, since, while it's great to see folks relax, some scenarios and particularly modules need a little extra effort from the roleplaying front. Nevertheless, my wishes for a creepy little evening did not come to pass but it was still a decent success (length warning):

Intro and Nagura:

Six players showed up and I had them meet Amara in a hurry, trying to keep their time in Absalom as short as possible. My plan was to hammer home the alienation Inner Sea natives might feel when embarking on a ghost hunt halfway across the world. With that in mind I sprinkled Nagura, which they reached with trepidation after hearing their mission read-out, with bits and pieces of lore: For instance, I had them find little shrines to local deities in crossroads and inside houses. I talked about kamis and how the locals belief that spirits permeate their neighbourhood.

This was done in part because one of the heroes had a fobia for religious sites and worshippers. It helped that she was the only one who knew the local language. I also had the party scour the local library for info on the Golden League and the Way of the Kirin, since their first act during their trip had them bleating the name "Hinojai" to everyone they met, unsurprisingly resulting in the -5 malus to K:Local and Gather Info checks. The trip to the library cost them the rest of the day which meant that they ended up meeting the penanggalen in her Kimie form once upon looking for lodgings for the night. Kimie rid them of a local drunk who had taken a liking of the party. Now it knew they'd be coming.

Hinojai in general:

Once the party reached Hinojai, there was a bit of flunk from my part since I accidentally denied them entering from the cliffside instead of the moongated path. It could have been possible, since one of the characters had climb speed, but I, being a newbie gm and not wanting to change the flow of the scenario, hurried them along the expected path by introducing the Hungry Fog. The party had heard of locals disappearing into the mists descending from the manor so they hurried inside the building.

Long story short: My heroes spent the better part of an hour dodging the fog and dreading what it might contain. This was intentional since I had made their knowledge:dungeoneering checks in secret. It caused them quite the shudder, but was a mistake in the long run since the session ended up taking 6 hours.

On haunts:

Most of the haunts went ok, expect that I realised that the torture room one contained a spell that would have broken the mood I was going for, being a pretty complicated one, so I changed it somewhat and had one of those who failed the save be carried to the barrel by ghostly soldiers and threatened with submersion. The party intervened and started to flail the barrel with holy water so I made a judgment call: Either have a long-winded quasi-fight against the spell or a quick encounter with the supernatural and went with the latter. They took it well, speeding to save the poor bard being accosted into the sour wine. :D

Personal flunks:

Then some mistakes I should have foreseen along the way: First of all, Dagagal caused quite some damage against the heroes, but I accidentally had him cast lightning bolt while invisible, since the party was lined so nicely and didn't realise it would drop the invisibility until somebody pointed the fact out. This cost Dagagal his supremacy and he was torn to pieces. I made a mental note to step up my reading of combat tactics next time.

Second mistake I made was to forgo drawing the map. I took Chris Mortika's suggestion to the heart, but failed to see that some of the players might have problems with understanding the layout to the extent that they got a bit angry. Being vague about the layout helped their confusion and feelings of weirdness, but also made them repeatedly ask me about this and that room. Another mental note, I guess.

Finally, the boss fight against Himiju took a long time thanks to one problem: I had her fly up to the ceiling to avoid the claws of the druid's tiger and the bite of the paladin's battleaxe, but, since there was no height given for the room that I could find, mistakenly called it 12 feet high. This meant that a lot of player backtalk ensued: "Can we attack her innnards? They should descend down to this height if she is medium. Is she mediumm?", etc. While this was going on, most of the party got past any feelings of nausea or trepidation over the revelation what kind of monsters they were facing and instead grew bored and annoyed over both black tentacles(a rather ubiquitous and unfair tactic) and her myriad defenses. Should have seen this coming and instead have Himiju be immediately accessible.

All in all, the players thanked me for the decent gm routine and seemed to have fun and even some horror, but for my part the running of the scenario was a failure: Too many mistakes and judgment calls. In hindsight I should have taken the audience through a moody piece of dungeoneering fun instead of forcing horror upon them and then hamfisting it with long-winded combats.

Anyhow, thanks again for writing this, Mr Groves. Looking forward to your next piece of rpg fun!

Scarab Sages **

Hi all. I'm running this one next weekend at the 5-6 tier, and was looking for some feedback on ideas.

For the hungry fog, should my players run into it outside would it be entirely out of line to have the wight use it to retreat to for healing, should the encounter go bad? Staggered isn't horrible for a wight that only has a single attack anyways.

If I was running this at the 8-9 tier, I'd have Garrigai the witchfire be sitting in the thing using witchflame bolts. Or would Garrigai not be able to fire out of the engulfing?

Secondly, should Minasako escape the final battle before the fog is killed, would she retreat to the fog and bring it back for round two?

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka Yiroep

I'm about to run this soon...I'm very confused by the architecture of the main floor of the house.

Area A16 is very strange to me. It connects to both Areas A3 and A2 via a door, but those doors appear to be on two different levels! Since A2 connects to A3 via a raised walkway, it seems that the room A2 should be 5 or 10 ft. above the rest of the house, as well as A5, A6, and A7.

It also shows A15 connected at ground level to A3, but then is connected to A8, which is connect to A5, A6, and A7 where you have to gain access there via going up stairs.

Any suggestions?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Lockhar, sorry I missed your post. All of that is entirely appropriate, particularly if you're trying to present a challenge to the party. If the PCs are having a hard time, don't do it or stop doing it. Those special abilities and synergies are tools at your disposal.

Yiroep, I think you may be misunderstanding something. Let me look at the map and I'll reply within a few hours.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Yiroep wrote:

I'm about to run this soon...I'm very confused by the architecture of the main floor of the house.

Area A16 is very strange to me. It connects to both Areas A3 and A2 via a door, but those doors appear to be on two different levels! Since A2 connects to A3 via a raised walkway, it seems that the room A2 should be 5 or 10 ft. above the rest of the house, as well as A5, A6, and A7.

It also shows A15 connected at ground level to A3, but then is connected to A8, which is connect to A5, A6, and A7 where you have to gain access there via going up stairs.

Any suggestions?

Nope, I take that back, you are not misunderstanding anything. I just consulted the PDF and my final map turnover to Mark—and that door depicted which connects A2 and A3 does not exist! Likewise the door connecting A3 ad A6 likewise does not exist. I did not draw those doors, nor do I wish them to be there. A3, A2, A16, A5, A6, and A7 are all on the same floor—the problem is not with the floor, it is with those illogical doors.

Here, let me put it simpler. Everything marked "A" is on the same floor.

The cartographer added those in for some reason. I do not know why. You're right, they make no sense.

Suggestion? Do not draw them.

I'll keep an eye on this thread for the next day in case this does not make sense, or you have further questions.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka Yiroep

I had another GM look at it and explain to me that the doors that connect to A2 are actually underneath the pathway. If that's true, it makes sense.

It's just extremely confusing the way it's drawn.

Thanks for the response! By the way, the party had an absolute blast with this scenario, as did I!

That first haunt really set a sense of dread on them since they were playing up. Came close to killing people like 4 times, but luckily for them they made a lot of saves, as well as the fact that a lot of them focused on getting their saves high. They all also had really high perception and initiative, so the haunts for the most part did not do so well. They were a little weary when at the beginning I asked for 10 perception and initiatives.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Thank you!

I loved Hinojai. Some time down the road I'd love to do another "haunted house" with less reliance on haunt mechanics (though, I would not eliminate them 100%). Hinojai taught me so much about design.


Does anyone else feel that the CR on the skeletal warriors (8-9 subtier) is woefully underestimated? Skeletal champions really lose nothing when just keeping all class levels, and I think this is more an issue with the template than anything else. If not for a lucky crit the champions probably would have outright killed us.

We actually had a high HP melee just take the finger of death to the face. She rolled a 1, so rerolled into a nat 2, which still failed, luckily the 90 damage didn't outright kill her. I think most of the haunts here (and I have this issue with haunts in general) are either pointless, or overly punishing for no good reason.

The doors you mention not existing make good sense, I was actually baffled when we saw the entire lay out as to why they are there.

It was a great, if difficult scenario, and I was glad for the challenge. The story was also interesting, great job overall.

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