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PFS #3-20: The Rats of Round Mountain, Part I: The Sundered Path [SPOILERS]


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!

Silver Crusade **

I will be running Rats 1 and 2 at Pacificon this weekend. I would be very appreciative if people could give me any hints on how to run this. I've read the thread, but if you have any extra ideas on how to make this awesome scenario go off even better, please let me know!

I'm already planning on using dungeon tiles for the first and last combats (got them mapped out finally!), any further tips on increasing the atmosphere?

I've looked over the combats, any ideas on how to make them as challenging as possible (but not necessarily deadly)?

How can I increase the roleplayability of the scenario?

Anything else I missed?

Thanks in advance!

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Try to come up with or understand the existing motives for the NPCs.

Additionally, I have taken to having the dark folk talk as well. I've been using perception to see the light from the PCs or hear the noisy armored types and starting things off with a deeper darkness. I follow this up with something to the effect of "Only the children of the night shall pass."

This comes to mean that only dark folk, rat folk and others who usually venerate Lao Shu Po. So if the PCs want to try to negotiate their way through, go for it, but make it difficult (after all the Aspis agents did). The other issue is that they only speak Dark Folk...

I usually state that the PCs (and thus the Aspis agents) usually need to have a ratfolk escort to travel the Path. This helps with some RP with the captain, dark folk and dragon (she's confused why the surface folk don't have an escort. perhaps the little guy was eaten by some lesser danger?).

With Xiangnuer, I ask for the party's most expensive item (via detect magic). If the party's already pissed her off (maybe attacked but then surrendered?) I ask for everyone's most expensive item. Or die. :-) This has lead to some great moments of "player defeat," but in the end, even if they agree to give up the goods, I only charge them the gp value suggested divided by # players. Asking for gold and not shiny objects is lame. Also keep in mind, often the flail found on the dead npc is often the most expensive item in the party.

As has been mentioned, the gug encounter can be a killer depending on party and strategy. Use caution, but don't pull punches. Anyone willing to stand toe-to-toe with an aberration like that deserves a full-attack to the face.

*****

I figured rather than bring back the other thread where I mentioned I'd be running this, I'd post it here.

Sadly, I failed in the promise I made to Kyle Baird that soon the messageboards would be filled with the protests of unfairness of both GM and author from a group of our local players who had all been brutally killed.

Instead, through both parts of Rats, I just nearly killed several characters (breath of life and that immediate action paladin spell that does a Lay on Hands were used to prevent a real death) and kept them on the edge of their seats the whole time. Even though they played up to 10-11 despite having only one level 10 (who, as the only one with Uncanny Dodge and who had the perception to act on every surprise round, always used his first action to disappear with his wayfinder and let the rest of them get eviscerated). To make matters worse, now the players are posting their incessant grateful messages in praise of the scenarios and the game with the audacity to claim the scenarios were "great fun". To quote:

"I wanted to thank [Rogue Eidolon] for running Rats of Round Mountain over the past couple weekends. It was great fun for everybody -- with lots of drama ("maybe you oughta grab the gnome and go," "I'm not the only r***** in the room," "oh my God, this is it, we're all going to die!"), and a chance for each character to shine."

As the final insult, they thought the inquisitors in Part 2 were the hardest fight of the series, and that isn't even from the part you wrote! I know I've let you down, Kyle. I am sorry. You can have one of my stars as an offering of contrition.

EDIT: I suppose in case someone didn't realize it, I should point out that this post is tongue-in-cheek before the edit window disappears.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sounds like everyone had fun! Awesome!

****

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

As one of the players who played at Rogue Eidolon's table I can say it was immensely fun. My favorite adventures are the ones where we almost die but are able to turn it around into a victory.

Our party consisted of the following for the first part
Cleric (Pharasma) lvl 8
Cleric (Iomedai) lvl 9
Rogue lvl 10
Paladin lvl 9
Alchemist lvl (ok I forgot this one I think 7)
Fighter lvl 7
Witch lvl 7 (me)

The first encounter we were able to keep up light through the use of potions of daylight and brilliant use of dispel magic by our Pharasma cleric, which my witch foolishly chose not to copy on his turn. It cost a second oil of daylight but worked.

The optional encounter we were fortunate that the line up allowed us to keep the squishy caster protected as the party just killed the aberrations.

We found the centipedes when the witch sent his familiar ahead to scout and then burning hands his familiar and the centepedes. Then through the use of the fighters knowledge engineering and our rogues insane disable device we managed to clear the rubble. After which we rope tricked a nights rest before going on. (I swear we did not know we were almost at a dragon it just seemed like a good idea to rest)

For the dragon, the fighter negotiated a deal using the flail that was looted earlier but our Paladin decided that she could not allow this dragon to live. Did I mention that Paladins to horrifying damage when they crit on their first smite evil? Despite having half the party cut off by a wall of stone we were able to bring down the dragon. The finale was the dragon flying off with our treasure while the Paladin and the Gnomish Alchemist chased after on an air walked axe beast hurling freezing bombs after it.

For the second half we lost our cleric of Iomedai but we also had several level ups.

The first encounter with the rats was frightening. Due to our rogue turning invisible the Paladin was dead after the surprise round. The party was also in darkness, and black tentacles. Thankfully the tentacles failed to grapple anyone. Then the witch dispelled the tentacles, the rogue put up an oil of daylight. The fighter repositioned the Paladin with his whip next to the cleric who used a breath of life scroll I had provided at start of session. The alchemist then tore a huge chunk out of the rats as the witch was knocked into the negatives by the vengeful ratfolk. Then the alchemist got feebleminded(it is not a good session with Rogue Eidolon unless he knocks me into the negatives at least once) At this point the party had organized and we started pushing rats back. The cleric and the now living Paladin healed up the party while the fighter screwed over the rats ability to fight, throwing one rat into pit trap.

The second encounter with the crystal also had us scared. The cleric was almost turned into a tasty gemstone before my witch could break him out with sonic damage. Thankfully the fighter used dirty trick to entangle the crystal making it helpless.

The third encounter with the sonic aoe enemies also went smoothly for us. We survived the initial burst of damage and then the rogue popped his scroll of silence. In two rounds the Paladin killed one of them and the witch put the other to sleep.

For the final fight the witch looked through the alchemists potions and using his craft alchemy and his very high spell craft check and detect magic figured out which were buffs. Between the alchemist buffs on the paladin, and the fortune hex on the Paladin the raksasha (which the witch's raktavarna was able to identify as such)died in two rounds of combat from the Paladin. 1st attack on the charge did about 70 damage, and the full attack next turn did ~120.

Most fun I have had in PFS yet.

*****

Mahtobedis wrote:
Summary

Great summary! Don't downplay those gugs though. They actually got enough hits to kill the paladin except that she used an Immediate action to Lay on Hands one last time and stay up.

Also the carnivorous crystal, in addition to nearly crystallizing the cleric, also made a 42 damage attack on the 7 hit point cleric, which the paladin took using Paladin's Sacrifice.

So I count that as three deaths averted with Immediate Action Paladin saves and the BoL scroll ^_~

But yeah, part 2 was a good scenario to have a raktavarna familiar--I had the Undying Empress berate the raktavarna for working with a human at the beginning of the fight (she figured her identity was known if the party had another rakshasa with them).

Cheliax **

I will echo the statement that the inquisitors in rats II are by far the deadliest encounter I have ever run. Absolutely brutal encounter even without the Darkness or BT spell. The fight itself took nearly 2 hours and led to a permanent PC death and another user burning 32PA for a resurrection. After that fight the group as a whole turned tail and ran back to Absalom, and that was with me holding back.

I liked it but that fight was no joke.

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

After Kyle B running this for me at Gencon, I will FINALLY have the chance to run this myself for some locals this weekend. Looking forward to a cool session report!

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Torture. Murder. Report.

Shadow Lodge *

Hullo.

A few Q's since I'm running this scenario come Saturday and feeling a sense of confuzzlion.

Q1: There's an inquisitor of Lao Shu Po among the murderhobo troupe. Would his allegiance to the Rat God play into any of the encounters? I'm thinking about the one in the Shrine particularly. How should the worshippers react when the party scout suddenly bows down in front of the obsidian statue, for instance?

I don't even want to contemplate how confusing the situatio might become once, well if, the party reaches the second part with the inqusitors and everything. But that's an issue for a different thread.

Q2: How snug are the tunnels? Would they fit a cavalier and the horse he rode in on? Assuming pets can even be brought inside the tapestry.

Q3: In the final encounter, how big of an area are we talking about? I mean, the text mentions a large stone landing, but no dimensions I could find. I wanna go crazy with walls of stone and solid fogs and this conundrum has my planning in a bunch!

Fortuitous props to anyone who cares to add their 2 coppers.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A1: This would likely result in another diplomatic encounter. I usually run it that way anyway with "Only the children of the night can pass." (essentially only ratfolk and those who worship LSP can pass unmolested)

I would use a challenge similar to this but clue in your inquisitor to what the dark folk are looking for. Of course if they don't kill the dark slayer, don't forget to cross off that delicious partially charged wand on the chronicle *unless* they some how make them helpful. Then I would have the slayer offer it to help with the dragon. Be direct about this if you want, *NO* creatures in the mountain like that greedy thing.

A2: The main path is a secondary tunnel (if I recall correctly). That's a specific term used for the darklands. If memory serves, it's 10-30 ft wide and about half as tall. The only "tight" area is fully described(swarm/trap & gug encounters)

A3: There's a map for the landing. I think the cavern itself is a mile or two in diameter (again, going from memory). Plenty of room for a 200-ft fly speed dragon. Don't forget she comes up displaced in the high tier. also, I think her tail damage is wrong. +5 instead of +15 or something like that.

Shadow Lodge *

Nice idea, that diplomatic solution. My players are fairly used to yours truly skipping some encounters in favor of diplomacy(Silver Tarn's naga comes to mind), so they'll probably be delighted. Both by being able to talk their way out of a situation and by the fact that there's no need to, shall we say, revisit The Darkest Vengeance, if you catch my drift.

Yeah, bite and tail damages are wrong. Not that she needs more damage, mind you.

I don't know how I missed the ledge map! Need to stop prepping while dog-tired.

Thanks for the quick answers, mr Writermister.

Shadow Lodge *

One question left: Would a shadowdancer be able to take their pet shadow with them into the tapestry? Extradimensional spaces do not work inside the demiplane, so keeping the shade inside a bag of holding is out, but could the shadow touch the tapestry itself and get transported like normal?

Edit: Well, I found the answer: No. Traveling through the tapestry requires both a command word and a touch. So, unless the creature can do both, no dice.

Silver Crusade *

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Quick question, o knowledgeable PFS GMs:

I'm prepping to run this tomorrow and I want to check on the dragon's frightful presence ability (this is the first time I'll be GMing a dragon). Upthread there was a lot of talk about PCs who failed their saves fleeing from the dragon (gaining the frightened condition). But from the UMR it looks like a failed save only inflicts the shaken condition (because nobody in Tier 10-11 will have 4 HD or fewer):

Frightful Presence (Ex) wrote:
This special quality makes a creature's very presence unsettling to foes. Activating this ability is a free action that is usually part of an attack or charge. Opponents within range who witness the action may become frightened or shaken. [...] This ability affects only opponents with fewer Hit Dice or levels than the creature has. An affected opponent can resist the effects with a successful Will save [...] An opponent that succeeds on the saving throw is immune to that same creature's frightful presence for 24 hours. On a failed save, the opponent is shaken, or panicked if 4 HD or fewer. Frightful presence is a mind-affecting fear effect.

Help? Obviously I'm hoping that there's some rules text I'm missing that let me inflict frightened ... :-P

[EDIT thanks to Cheapy and PirateRob for clearing this up for me. "Fear effects are cumulative. A shaken character who is made shaken again becomes frightened, and a shaken character who is made frightened becomes panicked instead."]

*

Mathwei ap Niall wrote:

I will echo the statement that the inquisitors in rats II are by far the deadliest encounter I have ever run. Absolutely brutal encounter even without the Darkness or BT spell. The fight itself took nearly 2 hours and led to a permanent PC death and another user burning 32PA for a resurrection. After that fight the group as a whole turned tail and ran back to Absalom, and that was with me holding back.

I liked it but that fight was no joke.

I have been reading Part 2 recently and I am wondering just why most parties, especially those in the upper Tier, are slogging through the Pagoda.

The structure has windows on each level bar the first. Granted they are barred but a bit of judicious scouting will locate the Empress and the Aspis negotiators. It wouldn't take much to bust through the window and to simply teleport or dimension door past it.

Overall it feels quite possible to bypass a lot of this scenario with some common sense and a couple of casters.

Of course that would require a PFS group to actually have some common sense or to tolerate a bit of actual reconnaissance.

Shadow Lodge *

The guard post at the very beginning is stated to be two stories. What's on the second story? In a typical fort, It would make sense to me that the murder hole rooms would be up there, but the map makes it look like everything is actually one story.

I was thinking that perhaps the space between the portcullis and the double doors could a ramp, but that would be pretty steep (25 degree incline or so), and doesn't really describe what the bottom story would be.

I know that this is supposed to be a diplomacy encounter, but sometimes things just degenerate into a fight.

Can the portcullis be dropped mid combat? Are the front doors locked?

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Serum wrote:
Can the portcullis be dropped mid combat? Are the front doors locked?

Yes and yes.

The second story wasn't deemed necessary for the vast majority of PCs who would be playing, so it wasn't drawn (and I remember correctly, the way up was left off the map...).

This leaves it up to the GM to describe the second story should it come down to that.

Cheliax **

andreww wrote:
Mathwei ap Niall wrote:

I will echo the statement that the inquisitors in rats II are by far the deadliest encounter I have ever run. Absolutely brutal encounter even without the Darkness or BT spell. The fight itself took nearly 2 hours and led to a permanent PC death and another user burning 32PA for a resurrection. After that fight the group as a whole turned tail and ran back to Absalom, and that was with me holding back.

I liked it but that fight was no joke.

I have been reading Part 2 recently and I am wondering just why most parties, especially those in the upper Tier, are slogging through the Pagoda.

The structure has windows on each level bar the first. Granted they are barred but a bit of judicious scouting will locate the Empress and the Aspis negotiators. It wouldn't take much to bust through the window and to simply teleport or dimension door past it.

Overall it feels quite possible to bypass a lot of this scenario with some common sense and a couple of casters.

Of course that would require a PFS group to actually have some common sense or to tolerate a bit of actual reconnaissance.

Remember that the empress is UNDER the pagoda not on the top floor. The only way anyone could find her is to get to the top floor, find the hidden door and climb all the way back down.

Skipping all the intermediate floors is an option but the party would miss all the faction mission requirements and all the loot if they go that route.

Shadow Lodge *

Kyle Baird wrote:
With Xiangnuer, I ask for the party's most expensive item (via detect magic). If the party's already pissed her off (maybe attacked but then surrendered?) I ask for everyone's most expensive item. Or die. :-) This has lead to some great moments of "player defeat," but in the end, even if they agree to give up the goods, I only charge them the gp value suggested divided by # players. Asking for gold and not shiny objects is lame. Also keep in mind, often the flail found on the dead npc is often the most expensive item in the party.

I need a bit more of a clarification for this, if you don't mind. If they give up an item, do they lose that item?

That is, if they give up a player's +2 weapon, does he mark that weapon as consumed on his inventory tracker?

If they give up the +1 frost flail, do they lose access to it off the chronicle sheet, in addition to losing the gold from it?

Or is this just a way to make them give up 7000/15000gp in character, and that's the only consequence?

Shadow Lodge *

When I gm'd this, the latter is exactly how it was run. Have the players offer items, cash etc but only dock them gp. In other words, split the 7k/15k between the the PC's and deduct it from the gold gained on their chronicle sheet.

Shadow Lodge *

Thanks for the answers, everyone.

One final question:

If the PCs set off the cave-in while the centipede swarm is in the bury/spill zone, does it take any damage? It's bludgeoning damage (typically associated with weapon damage), but it's also AoE damage.

*****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It kills or drives off the swarm. No need to make matters worse for the PCs.

Andoran *****

Kyle Baird wrote:
No need to make matters worse for the PCs.

favoriting this so I can always refer back to it. :P

*

I GM'd this game at the War House in Long Beach last Sunday. I admit I was a bit hesitant about it, mainly because of the big dangerous thing near the end...

I shouldn't have worried so much:

Our party was made up of a level 11 wizard, a few level 9's, and a level 8. APL was something like 9.2, which put us in the middle. There were five players, so by season three rules, we played down.

They hit the dragon encounter and I gave them all the big scary description of the earth rumbling and shaking, and allowed them all a round robin of turns (two turns each) as required by the scenario. They all buffed up, and then the dragon popped up his fluffy head and demanded tribute. Such demands went poorly (I'm not giving up my stuff!, they said), and we rolled initiative.

The dragon rolled poorly, and was set to go last. The 11 level wizard rolled well, and went first. The wizard had the ability to change the elemental forces in his spells (admixture, I believe), and hit the dragon with a big nasty empowered intensified ball of acid. The wizard beat the SR of the dragon, and the dragon failed its saving throw. It ended up being something like 150 points of damage. With that, the dragon was already set to flee, being under 40 hp.

The wizard then cast a quickened fireball, this time opting for cold, which of course gets a 50% damage buff due to cold vulnerability. Again, he beat the dragon's SR, though the dragon made its save this go around. Still, something like 80 points of damage snuck through - thereby completely finishing the dragon off in a single round.

To have worried so much about a TPK, only to witness a one-hit-and-quit was, well, as Ron Burgundy once said, "I'm not even mad - that was amazing!"

While this was an utter anti-climax, I must say that overall I really enjoyed running this module and the players had fun as well. Good times!

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