|Chris Mortika RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16|
|Will Johnson Venture-Lieutenant, California—Fresno aka Sarta|
|Jussi Leinonen Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Helsinki|
Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Society® / Pathfinder Society GM Discussion
Bear in mind, too, that in Pathfinder Society, it is common practice, every single scenario, for characters to go off and do something odd, without explanation, because that's what their faction leaders suggested. A character picking up a knife, and even cutting herself open with it, could simply be a faction mission.
"I do this for Taldor."
Justin Riddler wrote:
Thus a cleric could channel, the ranger could use their cure light wand, the paladin could lay on hands, and the sorcerer could disrupt undead - very few classes are left unable to defend themselves from a haunt other than their saves. Keep these tactics in mind and when something spooky starts to happen, use the resource ^_^
Far better off simply running. You notice it in surprise, so even if you beat it in initiative, you can only take one action. The cleric can channel if they have their holy symbol in hand, the ranger can use the wand if they are within five feet and carry the wand in hand, the paladin can lay hands if they are within 5 feet, holy water can be thrown if in hand, and sorcerers can disrupt.
Haunts have an area of affect of 5' per CR. Running out of the danger zone is often your best bet.
At higher tier haunts are sitting on 35+ HP. The 3.5, 5, and 5.5 point average from disrupt undead, a holy water vial, and a cure light wounds wand respectively aren't likely to shut them down before they trigger -- even if everyone gets a shot in.
I was not trying to make a min-maxed rogue; I was going for an average rogue. Just for you...
A. Scouting is usually left to the rogues, this time with a 15ft margin when he activates the haunt.
D. Before anyone can know this is a haunt, someone has to identify it as such. There is no mechanic to identify it as a haunt in the module. The GM (being a well prepared GM) goes back to the Game Mastery Guide which has not check to recognize it. Let's assume he's a GM that had some extra money and spent it on Riyal's Research: Haunts by Jon Brazer Enterprises, does it have it? No?!? The GM (being a really nice guy that doesn't want to kill PCs) goes online to find out a vague rumor of a check being given in such and such module and decides a Knowledge: Religion check DC 10 + CR of the haunt sounds fair. Note: He doesn't have to give this check, I'm just using this a well prepped GM for my example. Because he's a nice guy, he's not making the check a 15+CR because every haunt is unique. Now the GM has established there is a check and the DC of the check. The character most likely to make the check is a 1st level cleric has a 14 intelligence, 1 rank in Knowledge: Religion, a miscellaneous talent that adds 1 to perception, and skill focus: knowledge religion. He's adding 10 and rolls a natural 20 for a total of 30. He identifies it as a Haunt, but does he get 3 pieces of information about it? Let's assume best case scenario, that he asks for and is given three pieces of information. He picks Weakness, Effect, and Destruction. He now knows EVERYTHING about this haunt. In the case cause ot this module, that's "The haunt may only be destroyed by removing Sifkesh's influence in the temple by defeating or driving away Dakang." Never mind that this home rule just provided information about an NPC the party may not even known exists and broken the module, they now know it's a haunt. Neverminding what smacks of metagaming, the players overheard the GM tell the cleric all this or the cleric tells the party all this with his free actions, now everyone in the party knows what to do. YAY!E. Initiative is rolled. Rogue 15, Cleric 13, Wizard 10, Fighter 9, and Haunt 0. It really doesn't matter accept the player characters that made their perception go, then the haunt goes.
F. In this perfect world, someone knows about the "A haunt can infuse a maximum area with a 5-foot radius per point of CR possessed by the haunt, but the actual area is usually limited by the size of the room in which the haunt is located.". After that, there is some meta gaming and table talk. Everyone agrees to run away and proceed to do that. That's the best case scenario of how this could have gone for the players. Is it really fun to play this sceanrio? 'Ooh! A haunt, we all have to run away!' What are the chances this is really what happens? If just one person stays behind...
In an earlier example I had one person fail the perception, this example assumes they all leave. Let's use this example but change out F because the party really wants to neutralize this haunt for fear of it hurting the halfling children, or so they could cut down the body, or just because they feel exceptionally brave or foolhardy.
F. The rogue spends his standard action on drawing a vial of holy water (sorry, Quick Draw has a line of text that says "Alchemical items, potions, scrolls, and wands cannot be drawn quickly using this feat."), moves 5ft closer to the fighter, and ends passes his turn. Nevermind any possible controversy concerning "A cleric must be able to present her holy symbol to use this ability." and whether the cleric has to spend a move action to put holy symbol in hand, the cleric channels for 6 damage on the d6 rolled. cleric with +5 wisdom, 1 rank, and class skill adds +9 to the DC 17 perception has a 60% success rate and rolling that 6 on a d6 has a 16% chance of success; I'd put this perfect world example at less than 10% of ever happening. Sounds a little too perfect.
Okay, let's assume the cleric channeled for an average (rounded up) of 4. We need another damage dealer... What's the chances of a pre-haunts sorcerer or wizard having disrupt undead? We'll assume post-haunts all sorcerer and wizards now have disrupt undead. This particular wizard has a +5 dexterity, rolls a 20 to hit the haunts AC 10 (not even mentioned in the module, but we have that well prepared nice guy GM). Unfortunately since this is not a creature, it can't be crit. The wizard rolls average 3 (average rounded down). Thankfully the Suicide Compulsion in the module only had 6 hp. 60% (from cleric perception) * 45% (+2 wisdom modifier, 1 rank, +3 skill focus; perception; vs DC 15 +2 for distance) * 75% (to hit AC 10 with +5 to hit) * 116% (average is 7 pips between them) = 24% chance of success. Keep in mind, these are the ideal characters to be facing this challenge and are built for it. Just the percentage of sorcerers and wizards that prepare disrupt undead or aren't built so ideally reduce this change of success greatly.
I would like to point out that the Suicide Compulsion listed in Riyal's Research: Haunts had 8 hp. Does that mean all post-haunts sorcerers and wizards need to have Point Blank Shot so they can bump that average to 8hp?
Let's assume that one character failed one check, one attack roll, or rolled below average damage... The figher does the same thing spends his standard action on drawing a vial of holy water but thinks to step 5ft closer to the rogue (still a 5ft empty square between the rogue and himself). That haunt is soo... going to get it next round when everyone unloads on it, right?
F. Suprise round Init 0. The haunt targets the closest opponent, the rogue who rolls an 13 (after the +2 for that 14 wisdom) and fails. He is now is under the compulsion suicide. In fact the effect says "Failure indicates he moves over to the desk and attempts a coup de grace action on himself with the jagged length of wood, dealing 2d4 (plus twice his Strength modifier) points of damage to himself." We could argue that this effect happens right now as part of the spell effect; but because the word compulsion appears in the title and this well prepared nice guy GM, the rogue is told this will be his next turn's action.
G. At the end of 0, the end of the round, or the beginning of the next round before anything else happens the Haunt, not being Persistent, ends. Why? "On the surprise round in which a haunt manifests, positive energy applied to the haunt (...) can damage the haunt's hit points (...)." which indicates the haunt cannot be hurt at any other time. That can't be right, can it? "Some haunts are persistent, and their immediate effects continue beyond the surprise round into actual full rounds. Persistent haunts continue to trigger their haunt effects once per round on their initiative rank until destroyed or they no longer have a target." So, because the Haunt did not have Persistent, it ends. The haunt effect compulsion sucide is still effect in the rogue until it has been completed. Now there is a duality between the rules for haunts and this haunt. If the dagger is part of haunt and not haunt effect it disappeared, but how does it effect which includes picking up the dagger work? If it's part of of the haunt effect and no the haunt, how did it exist before the saving throw? Is the hanging halfling to be taken as an example or not?
H. Who's up next? Rogue 15. He takes a 5ft away from the fighter back to the table, picks up the (jagged length of wood/the dagger), and has a standard action left. What's it take to do a coup de grace?
"Coup de Grace: As a full-round action, you can use a melee weapon to deliver a coup de grace (pronounced “coo day grahs”) to a helpless opponent." That poor rogue is thinking, I don't want to be a helpless opponent to my self. The well prepared nice guy GM says "The rogue puts the dagger up to his eye, then looks to be positioning the dagger and himself so that he can shove it straight in his eye, then fall face forward to drive the dagger farther in."
I. 13. The cleric asks if the rogue is under mind control. Quickly he tosses the die and announces a roll of 33 (With 1 rank, class skill, 20 Wisdom, a miscellaneous talent that adds 1, and Skill Focus: Sense Motive, he adds 13 to his natural 20.) Success. He know that the rogue is under mental control and informs the party. The GM looks at him confused... picks up the book and verifies Sense motive says "Action: Trying to gain information with Sense Motive generally takes at least 1 minute, and you could spend a whole evening trying to get a sense of the people around you." Okay the cleric knows from his previous Knowledge:Religion check and the rogue's stance he'd controlled. He tells everyone to stop the rogue.
What's it take to stop someone from coup de gracing? "Delivering a coup de grace provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening opponents." That doesn't stop a coup de grace. Why does the rogue trying to kill himself care about damage being dealt to him? Damaging the rogue would seem more like helping the rogue. The well prepared nice guy GM indicates a disarm or pin would do it, and that everything else is just icing on the rogue's coup de grace cake.
The cleric drops the holy water, walks over to the rogue, and initiates a grapple or disarm. The rogue takes his attack of opportunity and fulfills the end of the haunt. Or the wizard does. Or the fighter does. As long as the rogues damage doesn't kill the other character outright, everyone is happy.
Does this example work better? Does this cover your expectations of how this should run?
The haunt in this scenario is one of the more fun and memorable encounters I've GM'd in Season 3. It makes for great RP and is very dramatic even though there is a fairly low chance of PC death. A PC needs (at least the way I ran this) a move action to pick up the knife, so they cannot coup de grace (a full-round action) themselves on that turn. The other PCs have a round to intervene (and be stabbed for the small amount of damage). Even if the other PCs don't go for the knife right away, as long as they are suspicious the GM could even rule that the PC attempting a coup de grace on himself provokes attacks of opportunity from his adjacent teammates. I wish the scenario text had been more explicit about how to run this, though.
I generally don't couldn't care less if the encounters are PFS legal or even Pathfinder legal, as long as they have a proper statblock. If the text says that the encounter is a pink orc with Int 32, then it's a pink orc with Int 32. In fact, as long as the encounters are playtested to ensure they're balanced, I'd be happy to see more of completely made-up monsters, traps, haunts and such.
Jussi Leinonen wrote:
in the three games I have played or watched of the modual, this encounter has a higher kill ratio than the rest of the scenario.
Two dead rogues in three games. and the only reason it wasn't three is that my rogue/wizard has a strength of 7 and was unable to do enough damage in the two coup de grace attempts my judge required before my PC was grappled - I rolled both Fort saves (one with a shirt re-roll). (Yes, I realize a lot of people are going to say my judge ran it wrong. He's a VERY good judge. He ran it the way he read it.)
At the least, I would say that I wish this "...scenario text had been more explicit about how to run this...".
Does this encounter give a sense of the dramatic? or suspense? it is one round long... or one round and a surprize round. Usually over in less time than it takes to type this response. UNLESS the judge builds up the suspense of the encounter - and has a group that plays to it. There is a body in the room. The PC's are experienced adventurers. They find bodies all the time. Where is the dramatic?
Yeah, the only reason the haunt claimed a victim in the game I played this weekend is that the halfling rogue ran off to the kitchen for second breakfast while the rest of the party went on about their business. When we returned for his body (which we did manage to get back to the material by having the Ulfen swing it around until it hit the eddy) the wizard was picked next,had the same circumstance as the gentleman above with his 7 STR and then we disarmed him.
I think this module is just another classic example of why you don't split the party :).
(Disclaimer - I played this once, but didn't face the haunt, though heard about it, and am preparing to run it at some point in the future ... which is why I was interested in this thread.)
Elephant in the room = haunts are complicated, poorly understood, inconsistently run and often lead to a bad player experiences. Argue all you want, defend them all you want, clarify them piecemeal all you want - between this thread, other threads and my own personal experience, I have no doubt that haunts have been poorly executed to the point that they cannot be consistently run.
Beyond this, I think the expectations as to the level of PC optimization and player professionalism (i.e. the degree to which the players treat this hobby like a job) have risen sharply during the third season. This is at a time when we are getting an influx of casual players from the dwindling organized play options available for 4E. I know the base has been asking for more challenge, but I don't think that pandering to the base is always a good thing. Deadly encounters (i.e. reasonable likelihood of a one shot KO or even death), especially in low tier games, don't seem like a good idea to me, and aren't likely to draw in and keep new players. I understand that not everyone can be made happy, but I think that right now the scenario writers and campaign organizers are aiming at the (at least somewhat) optimized, hard-core and vocal GMs/players.
Finally, it is obvious that thrikreed feels strongly about this - to the point that he intends to not play any more PFS. I personally know of 3 other players in my area who have made a similar vow and have so far followed through (despite my repeated invitations). I know of one other player who has made a similar vow and is in the process of trying again - but it's obvious that past experiences have "left a bad taste in his mouth."
These are just my thoughts and anecdotal observations. Take them however you want.
Michael Meunier wrote:
It's been pointed out on other "Weave Threads" (did you see that?) that once a creature is dead, it becomes and object and can be carried out by someone else. It was even suggested as a way to get an NPC out... just kill him and carry the body, then raise dead after he/it is out. But, as with all things PFS, YMMV... and hay, if it makes a better story to have the Ulfen swinging with his halfling buddy... ;)
Michael Meunier wrote:
>.> He ran to the kitchen that all the worshippers say has been empty for their entire lives for second breakfast?
Yep and he went in the kitchen between meal times when the population in the kitchen was at its lowest.
Man, I forgot about that little detail :-) I GM'ed Michael's table. The haunt wouldn't be so bad if people are in the kitchen but a loan rogue (lv2 I think) didn't fair so well.
He was played as a kinder from what I could tell and would go into rooms before most boxed text was read :-)
If this happens again I will need to let the dead player play the bad guys as the victim sat out for the last four hours of that scenario and it was a 5.5 hours long.
We weren't sure exactly how it worked given the description so this is the creative solution we came up with :). And Serum, not to speak ill of the dead but this particular halfling was a little...what's the word Paul...special? Note for clarity, I mean the character not the player.
I'm interested to watch how the suicide compulsion haunt in this scenario contributes to the general discussion about haunts and how to improve them.
As the author, I want to clarify a few points raised in this thread:
* As Mark mentioned, I pulled this haunt from the second AP volume, as it seemed particularly appopriate for this adventure. I've never heard of the third-party haunt resource mentioned upthread, but I'll check it out.
* The haunt compels only a single suicide attempt; it doesn't ever require more than one attempt (and that one attempt can be foiled by another PC, who is attacked in response).
* The halfling wasn't killed by the haunt specifically. It was his suicide, combined with Sifkesh's pervasive influence, that created the haunt.
* If you are concerned about player sensitivity regarding a suicide compulsion haunt (or any other component of any other scenario), I encourage you to tailor it as appropriate for your table. If I were to run this for a friend of mine, whose father committed suicide a few years ago, I would drop the haunt but be sure to include the optional dretch encounter. That's more about being a sensitive person than being a perfect GM.
Thanks! I believe I'm supposed to respond "No comment."
But if you want to see more of what I've written, you can always check out Run Amok Games here.
I think that because haunts are so poorly written; they were used as a vehicle to ignore rules, there is no consistency to how they are being ran, that writers are using them without know what they are using, and most importantly that haunts need to be fixed or banned.
I hope I am doing better than that by endeavor to be both vocal and specific in my thoughts about this. I think I want to try again since people are still stating things that do not seem to be consistent with my brief experience of this trap and my more extensive experience of the game.
So... My problems with Haunts and specifically this Haunt.
1. Without magic, there is no way to find the haunt before it triggers. None. With magic like detect undead or the appropriate detect alignment (this one is CE, how many of you knew that?) allows a perception check -4. By the time this perception check is allowed, the haunt has most likely been activated. I'm not going to really go into this because our perfect party as stated doesn't have this option, nor would I think the average party.
2. Running away is not a valid option.
In order to run away, the entire party must make their perception check DC 15 to run away before the haunt throws it's effect. The perfect party composed of a cleric (+13 perception), fighter (+10 perception), rogue (+10 perception), and wizard (+10 perception); they have a 48.6% chance of being able to run away.
The chances of finding a party of 4 who all took wisdom 14, 1 rank in perception, skill focus: perception, and a talent granting +1 (and class skill); the chances of finding that party without planning are almost astronomical.
I think a real baseline party needs to be established. The party needs to be build for general play (and not just this one encounter) while still being competitive. Hmm... Oh, one moment Paizo provides us with just such characters and in the classes I think would make a good baseline... We'll use their pregenerated characters.
In order to run away, the entire party must make their perception check to run away before the haunt throws it's effect. The 1st level baseline party composed of a cleric (+3 perception), fighter (+0 perception), rogue (+7 perception), and wizard (+1 perception); they have a 3.0% chance of being able to run away. That's the chance that at least one party member fails their perception check and can't act in the surprise round. 3%.
How about the 4-5 subtier? In order to run away, the entire party must make their perception check DC 20 AND have an initiative of 10 or higher to run away before the haunt throws it's effect. The 4th level baseline party composed of a cleric (+0 initiative, +4 perception,), fighter (+3 initiative, +0 perception), rogue (+6 initiative, +10 perception), and wizard (+2 initiative, +1 perception); they have a .02% chance of being able to run away. That's worse than the low tier.
Yeah, it's possible... It's not plausible.
Worth noting is that more party members makes running away before it triggers even less of an option.
3. How do the characters know that the dagger bouncing around on the table is a haunt?
The players know it because it's the only encounter in a game initiating a surprise round without a clearly defined enemy.
GMs let the character's throw a Knowledge: Religion check... but this check does not exist in any book I have gotten my hands on. It seems to exist purely as rumor based on one specific haunt that included it as a way to identify it's after effect.
Still... I would concede this is a logical extension of the rules... Until it comes time for determining the DC of haunts (every haunt is unique, right?) and "For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information."
Now all of a sudden we have a situation where the players can possibly know things about the module that they shouldn't. I know I'd certainly ask for 'Destruction' every single time I beat the check by 5.
4. Destroying the haunt before it triggers... is not a valid option either.
Ignore the fighter and rogue as they are unable to pull out holy water and throw it in the surprise round. Ignore the wizard, as he doesn't have disrupt undead at 1st or 4th level. It's all up to the cleric. In either tier, I doubt the cleric is within a 5ft step necessary to cast a cure spell and attack the haunt with it.
At the 1-2 subtier, the haunt has 6 hp, notice DC 15. The cleric has +3 perception to try to channel for 1d6. Chances of neutralizing the haunt are 7.4%. Well, that's certainly a better chance than the party running away.
At the 4-5 subtier, the haunt has 12 hp, notice DC 20, and an initiative of 10. The cleric has +4 perception, +0 initiative, and can roll 2d6 with her channel. Chances of neutralizing the haunt are .007% Again, worse than the low tier.
This is possible but its just not plausible.
5. The character with the most Heresy Points still present, make a will save.
Please note that I'm assuming anyone in the party can be hit with this. With Heresy Points, positioning, and runners... It's hard for me to guess who will be hit by this. We'll just figure the party average.
At the 1-2 subtier, the DC is 15... The cleric (+5) makes that save 55% of the time. The fighter (+1) makes the save 35% of the time. The rogue (+1; +2 vs. enchantments) makes the save... Is the Suicide Compulsion an enchantment? I think a reasonable GM would say so, despite it being unmentioned and haunts being necromantic. The rogue makes the save 45% of the time. The wizard (+3; +1 vs. divine spells)... Again? Well, I think a reasonable GM would probably say the trap is not divine. The wizard makes the save 45% of the time. So on average the person targeted has a 45% chance of making this save.
At the 4-5 subtier, the DC of the trap does not change... The cleric (+9) makes that save 75% of the time. The fighter (+3; +1 vs. fear)... A reasonable or well prepared GM would say it's a fear based compulsion... so the fighter makes the save 50% of the time. The rogue (+3; +2 vs. enchantments) makes the save 55% of the time. The wizard (+6; +1 vs. divine spells) makes the save 60% of the time. So on average the person targeted has a 60% chance of making this save.
This is the most plausible part to the whole haunt.
6. This Suicide Compulsion haunt is used to achieve something otherwise almost unachievable in the game... Order a character to commit suicide. A suicide clause was written into every enchantment spell and even spells that can accomplish a character injuring themselves remove the Coup De Grace, turning it into a whimsical 'quit hitting yourself gimmick. Why would we want something deliberately taken out of the game put back into it?
7. The Suicide Compulsion haunt contradicts the rules for Haunts that says "A haunt can have virtually any effect identical to an existing spell effect, but often with different—and distinctly more frightening or unnerving—sensory or physical features than that spell effect normally has. (A haunt that has an effect not identical to an existing spell is certainly possible, but this requires designing a new spell effect.) " What spell is this based off of? It doesn't list one anywhere.
8. Forget sense motive or any other game mechanic for trying to figure out what a character is going to do. Forget all the faction missions and role playing reasons why a character might hold up a dagger in a funny way or even cut himself. GMs let all players know this is a coup de grace, usually by literally saying the words 'coup de grace'. From my experience these words are usually synonymous with 'Pay!!! Attention!!!'
9. Stopping the character's suicide attempt.
If another character says 'Stop, don't do it!', is that a try to prevent the attempted suicide? Does our victim now attack that character instead? What if he throws a diplomacy check at the victim? I think that would be a better try to stop it than say damage. Damage (even subdual) to a character already killing themselves is not likely to be considered anything but assistance. Does the victim have to make Sense Motive checks to figure who is trying to stop his attempt? Healing the character or buffing the character's AC do not hinder the character's suicide attempt in any way. Protection from Evil (Will save negates) would only delay the suicide attempt... does the victim get a Spellcraft check to know this? The only thing left is Disarm or Grapple, which both succeed in stopping the suicide and affected character takes a swing, right? How does the character still do damage it he's disarmed? Does he have to go get the dagger or can he take an attack with an unarmed strike instead?
Having read through this thread, I see several interpretations of this based on how well the module was read and prepared... Leading us to the next problem.
10. If the GM running this does not make every interpretation of the haunt favorably to the characters, he's blamed for killing the character. Not the Suicide Compulsion. Not the writer. Not Paizo. ...The GM.
The GM, knowing how bad haunts are, will grasp at any straw possible to in order to not kill a character in such an unbalanced way. See points 3 and 8.
11. This is not a role playing encounter. Where did the players really get a choice in all of this? Effectively it's an... Undetectable... Inescapable... Un-neutralize-able... Saving throw waiting to happen. Then a failed saving throw presents the first and only role playing choice but not for the unfortunate victim. That choice is which if any of the others will take the critical hit damage or whether they let the victim finish the coup de grace. At the 1-2 tier modifiers like 20 strength characters, low hit point low constitution characters, whether there is already damage on characters, and whether the cleric has any healing left suddenly become very important.
I'd certainly like to know what goes through the victim's player's mind. As a player, would you really think this is fun? How about a GM? As a writer? How about as the publisher? Let's all sit around and discuss the value of this victim.
I feel that the way this is being ran or the introduction of Suicide into Pathfinder Society play, this does not bring forth enough opportunity for role playing to justify the risks. Maybe in a home campaign, maybe; but not in Pathfinder Society.
12. A player's issues with suicide... If you know the player has an issue with suicide, you can bypass the encounter or use it to provoke conversation that could promote mental health.
What if you don't know? What if you're a GM at a public game day or a convention who may not know the players at the table... whether they themselves have or are contemplating suicide, have lost friends or family, or have any other issues with the subject. How do you know to bypass the encounter or provoke the conversation that could help them?
13. This is the exact type of thing that gave role playing a BAD reputation years ago. Talking about BADD; does anyone remember the Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons advocacy group started by Patricia Pulling after her son Irving committed suicide in 1982? No? How the movie Mazes and Monsters with Tom Hanks? Its the tip of the iceberg. Go check out wikipedia.org to find out more.
14. Why create haunt rules? Don't we already have traps, ghosts, and glyphs of warding? Why mate them together? Why?
15. I'm glad we had the discussion. I hope it educates others on this. I hope it is drawn to Paizo's attention so that Haunts can be taken back to the shop for more detailing and definition.
I think we're at that point where either A. You agree with me that Haunts need to be taken back to the shop for more detailing and definition (maybe a complete overhaul or even banning); or B. you disagree with my interpretation of how Haunts work. We're now at the point that if B. is chosen, the discrepancy in our interpretations validates my stance with A. Who's interpretation is right or wrong doesn't even matter; the fact haunts are being left up to interpretation is what does matter.
That's what I think.
This point I certainly contest; the haunt's area of effect is a 5ft. radius around the center of the table. As soon as any character enters that area, the haunt triggers. If no characters are standing in that area on initiative 0 (or 10 in tier 4-5) in the surprise round, the haunt triggers harmlessly, and is then dormant for 1 hour.
I find it very unlikely that more than one character will have entered such a small area at the same time. As such, your perfect party has an excellent chance of running away at tier 1-2 (95% on the cleric, 80% on anyone else), and at least has a chance at tier 4-5, depending on initiative bonuses.
what puts the PCs in Initiative?when does the Judge (me) place the PC's in the surprise round?
when one (or more) of the players move up to the table. Then you go into a surprize round. Your PC gets either a move or an action. Most players will act. Normally to ready an action. So... your PC still gets a 5 ft step - hope you take it away from the table. Most players don't take the step by the way. They hold it to use as part of the Ready action.
If I tell players they are in a surprize round, but see nothing yet (or see a knife on the table move), many will delay until they can tell were the enemy is. And then get hit by the haunt.
to thrikreed (By the way, in #3 above, the statement "The players know it because it's the only encounter in a game initiating a surprise round without a clearly defined enemy. " is not correct. Many of my PCs get to act in the surprise round, and win inititive. Some are Diviner wizards with the Foresight school. This normally results in one of two things. Most judges say "you see nothing, what do you do?" which lets me ready an action for when something DOES show up. Some judges rule that as my PC detected nothing, all I can do is delay until after the monster acts - which is sort of a waste of the PCs Foresight and high Init.)
Initiative starts once any character moves into the haunt's area of effect and triggers the manifestation. Everyone in the vicinity gets a Perception check, and then the surprise round happens.
The last three times a PC has made the skill check to detect a haunt in my games, their surprise round action has been to move away from it.
In all cases, it's been 1 PC scouting slightly ahead of the group. A spooky thing has happened, and their reaction has been to flee back towards the party to regroup.
I don't know about you, but if I hear ghostly wails or see knives starting to move by themselves or my hands start to shrivel up or whatever, backing off until I can figure out what the bejeezus is going on seems like a sensible response. This is a response I've seen born out in 3 separate scenarios now.
Different players, different responses I guess. The three I have seen (mine and two I have watched, getting ready to run this tomorrow), the scout PC (my Rogue/Wiz in my case) saw the knife move and didn't assume it was a haunt. I actually thought there was an invisible reature on the table and readied to color spray (wand in a spring wrist shieth).
Did your judge tell you it was a Haunt? or call for a Knowledge Religion roll? (in this scenario the KnReligion rolls are likely already rolled - as the judge was told to note KnReligion and KnPlanes and to do these rolls for the players behind a screen). It looks to me like the way this goes is:
Judge: "everyone roll inititive." checking pre-rolled perceptions "Rogue and Fighter, you see a knife on the table move of its own accord".
Rogue Player: "I'm up? Do I see anything else? No? ah... ready to attack the knife?"
(side chatter: the wizard player in silly voice "I attack the darkness!", the cleric player in silly voice "I cast Ma-gic Miss-ile!")
Fighter Player: "I beat it in init? Ok, ready to 5' step and attack anything that threatens my little buddy"
Judge: "Rogue, roll a Will save..."
To just run, when all you see is a knife move... and people call me paranoid for having a rope tied to my Rogue!
(Scenario briefing room, Absalom Grand Lodge: Venture Captain D.D. says: "Pathfinders, I've called you all together tonight on such short notice to..." the back door to the briefing room opens and 6 Pathfinders bolt for the front door...)
edit: corrected typos
Perhaps my GM ran that wrong too.
For the Suicide Compulsion, the area is "5-ft spread around the center of the table". This replaces the usual "A haunt can infuse a maximum area with a 5-foot radius per point of CR possessed by the haunt, but the actual area is usually limited by the size of the room in which the haunt is located."
Is the effect tied to the 15 ft by 20 ft area around the table? Could a paladin walk over to the table, smash it to kindling, and shove the splinters into a bag? Does the bag provide complete concealment and cover from those around it? Does throwing that bag onto a big fire count as a way to destroy it? How about lava? Or is the table immune to damage? What if I tied a rope to it and dragged it to any of the modules combats? Can the enemies be affected by it too? Can I weaponize haunts? How about writers? Can they haunt arrows and have undead archers fire them around? Would I instead need a catapult to throw around haunted tables? Town under siege? Just send the paladin to go fetch the haunted items to lob at the army laying siege. That's a whole line of thought worth consideration.
The other pertinent line is: "The conditions that can cause the haunt to manifest are given here. Proximity-triggered haunts occur as soon as a creature enters the haunt's area. A haunt triggered by touch does not activate until a living creature touches a specific object or location in its area, but it can sense (and thus target with its effects) any creature in its area."
So yes, you are right about only one character should ever be affected by this haunt... I'm not sure this is significantly better though. Ignore the unrealistic numbers you mentioned, the chances of finding a party of 4 who all took wisdom 14, 1 rank in perception, skill focus: perception, and a talent granting +1 (and class skill); the chances of finding that party without planning are almost astronomical... which is why the Paizo characters were used.
In order to run away, the a party member must make their perception check to run away before the haunt throws it's effect. The 1st level baseline party composed of a cleric (+3 perception, 45% chance), fighter (+0 perception, 30% chance), rogue (+7 perception, 65% chance), and wizard (+1 perception, 35% chance); so an average chance of 43.75%.
If the chracters are running away, are they running away from their fear of haunts or their player's fear of dealing with haunt mechanics?
I really do hate to bring this up, but...
Mark Moreland wrote:
The clarification is here.
Mark Moreland wrote:
At Gen Con, the GM for my table had us roll multiple d20s (a few of us had to roll 3d20s per attack/save/etc, a few only 2d20s) for the rest of the game against Dakang (we never got his name in-character since we kind of went wandering around and never met him, but I'm assuming that was him chasing us all the way to the "escape" eddies out in the fields).
I heard stories from a few friends at other tables that their GMs did likewise. Our GM mentioned that there was errata that had been posted to the paizo site for this scenario but he didn't hear about it until between his 2nd and 3rd table (but didn't make use of said errata for our table...).
Given that one of our party died and then we found out post-game that when we fled (failed the main mission) Dakang only had 11 hit points left, it got me wondering if we might have succeeded or if we would have made it with no deaths if we hadn't been rolling so many times per save/check/etc.
Is there some way to make sure that scenarios being run at conventions get special notification of errata like this, since I'm willing to bet that lots of volunteer GMs will read the scenario but not necessarily a product page or a blog or even possibly the GM forums prior to running a table at a convention?
Okay, I can now say: Yes! #4-07 Severing Ties right here is my next PFS scenario. I hope you enjoy it!
Ron Lundeen wrote:
Alrighty, we'll let you know how it goes. Looking forward to it.
Paul Rees wrote:
To my defense on that you did zap me to a 6 wisdom and yes i did break the first rule of adventuring but seriously what do you expect when you only serve 3 meals a day. :-)
Your GM ran the mod as written. Before I ran it, I looked on this thread, and asked for clarification from two VOs and a guy who playtested it, and they agreed with my understanding. I found out about the unofficial errata on the mod page in the middle of a game after killing a paladin due to the heresy rerolls. We then restarted the fight and they squeeked by without any deaths.
It was very annoying. I've even seen DMs play the mod with everyone being dicks to the party to keep the party from accumulating heresy.
Well while I have not a lot to contribute, I'll still toss in my .02$
When we ran it we atually all loved the haunt encounter.
It added a lot of creepy flavor and realy made the place feel even more "wrong"
Also a few points.
1. If you go off to scout by yourself a ways from the party, well this kind of thing is what happens. (DON'T SPLIT THE PARTY)
2. If your party stands there and watches you kill yourself without trying to stop you, then really your beef is not with the adventure, but with your "friends"
As to point "#7"
Please, PLEASE, don't turn this into candyland or "Toon, with swords"
I like that in first steps there is the domanatrix encounter, I like that there are some mature ideas in a lot of adventures.
My daughter is 12, as a parent I make sure to check out any activity she wants to do to see if it is good for her age.
As such she does not play Pathfinder. When she is a bit older perhaps.
If a parent asked me about an adventure I was running and if I thought it was good for their child i would sit down and talk to them about it and see what I could do to help.
Its a very painful haunt, technically because everyone is flatfooted people cannot make disarm attempts unless they have combat reflexes and we always play purely by the rules, so my wizard walked into the room failed the willsave with a 1, and then hit himself for 2d4+10 (I rolled minimum damage so I only took 12 damage forcing a DC22 fort save which I sadly failed by 2).
Fortunately I had the gold to get ressed and the GM handwaved the whole raising process so I didnt have to sit out the session. Its a very very deadly haunt for a tier 1-5 module.
I had some fun later in the module though with my wizard 1 hitting both Aasimar guards (our Aasimar paladin and druid were kind of shocked by my wizards greatsword damage).
The juju zombies are really fun, honestly I would mitigate the suicide haunt into an autocrit but no fort save or die if I ran it for a lower optimisation level party, (simply because its rare people can raise themselves at that level).
"Strictly by the rules", you don't make the coup-de-grace attempt until after the surprise round because not only does the knife not start in your hand, it takes a full-round action to do a coup de grace, ie a round and a half worth of actions.
Its a very painful haunt, technically because everyone is flatfooted people cannot make disarm attempts unless they have combat reflexes and we always play purely by the rules, so my wizard walked into the room failed the willsave with a 1, and then hit himself for 2d4+10 (I rolled minimum damage so I only took 12 damage forcing a DC22 fort save which I sadly failed by 2).
I think you are burying the lead here, your wizard has a STR of 20? How does he add +10 to the CDG damage?
Maybe I haven't drank enough coffee yet...
Ran this at a local Con on GenCon weekend for a full table (Tier 4-5).
Mostly, a great time was had by all. Having a Druid with a Medium sized bird AC was even more fun when we added in the Tengu PC... and the Temple inhabitants kept talking to the AC. After all, the Tengu could talk, so ... plainly this big bird should be able to talk too! And the Druid kept talking to it!
Lots of fun RP, some good combats, a couple tense moments...
The only downers were the kitchen scene.
events around the kitchen:
The Players started by sneaking up to the front door and listening (Perception very high), so I gave them the sound of someone walking by the door. They opened the door ready to blast things ... and met a kindly halfling who was walking by - he was surprised, happy, helpful, a bit air headed, and greeted them and invited them to dinner. Events progressed (only one player ate - the rest were still in "Paranoid Mode") with the dinner scene. (did anyone else catch the bell ringers name is "Di Duang" - everyone started calling her "Ding", so she rang her bell to call everyone to services later).
The players slipped into fun mood, and they explained they were historians examining the building. It helped that the party had a cute halfling woman (Oricle) who hit it off with the 3 halfling boys (junior HS boys, meeting a "sexy older woman" for the first time... giggle!). The kids got to argue who would get the lead the strangers around, but the party said they'd call if they needed help with anything. Everyone could get back to what they were doing... and the PCs decided to map starting in the stable.
Having to find doors, etc. Careful searches... and an hour later they open the kitchen door (from the dining hall) and find the dead halfling, hanging in the room. All the fun drained away. Several questions before intering the room. "How long dead? How's he dressed? Like he was for dinner? were we eating with ghosts?". The game just got serious. Two fighters move forward to the table and enter Inititive.
They see the knife move, and ready actions to attack anything dangerous. The Target makes his save, and I say "you have an barely controlled urge to pick up the knife and coup de grace yourself". All player animation stopped. The side comments/conversation stopped. Several seconds went by and then the guy whose PC made his save tells the Oracle player. "Well, I guess we know what got Wei." Several more seconds for that to sink in. They search the room, and the pantry, back out of the room, going back to the dining room and talk.
The Knowledge expert rolls really good on a knowledge Religion (Yeah, I know, I'm making up a check here) to ID what killed the halfling. "A Haunt" I say. A couple players swear. No one in this group likes haunts. "You get one question Mr. Expert."
"How do you distroy this one, the haunt, for good?" I guess he's seen haunts before.
"Remove the evil influence in the Temple". I say.
??? Player "So, we have to do what we would have done anyway? Got it. Can we get on with the game now?"
Rogue player "Can I lock this door? Disable Device - and I'll take 20. We need to lock the other door, let's go around to the other side. Otherwise it'll be one of the kids next time."
The game kind of picked up from there. But the entire kitchen scene seemed to put a damper on the fun in the game. And the Oracle player took it kind of personal. Asking if the party missed something as dinner ended (when they figure he had left thru the kitchen, cause the PCs had been in the way near the other door when he wanted to get to his rooms). Was it the parties fault that Wei was dead?
Judge "Nah, it's boxed text".
Oracle player "Piece of crap... why'd they do that?".
On to the sleeping area and "lock" the other door.
Halfling kid in hall "What'cha doing?"
PC: "This area is dangerous. DON'T go in here till we can fit it."
Halfling kid. "Sure, see you at services when the bell rings!"
Not only did the wizard apparently have 20 Strength, the level 1 wizard had enough gold for a raise (granted a raise he probably didn't need to pay for in the first place if the damage bonus was supposed to be lower). Even a 2 XP character who played up both times on the most lucrative scenarios possible couldn't have enough for a raise. A few things seem a bit odd with this story.
6 player table, playing up, everyone chipped in for the raise and both restorations? Otherwise, said wizard is dead, dead, dead and the GM needs to have reported him as such.
(a full raise+restos can be afforded out of high subtier gold at 1-5 if everyone takes a share. for many scenarios, that still pays out better than low tier, and has better access. The risk is that you lose more than one PC and can't afford to do it twice...)
I considered it briefly, but Caderyn at least heavily implied that he personally had enough gold for the raise, and he definitely got that raise mid-game, before the final gold was handed out, based on the description he gave.
Furious Kender wrote:
Well, for my table, the "GMs cannot ignore rulings from the forums if they're aware of them" would apply, but I'm not looking to change anything from the past, and a ruling from Mark isn't something I'd call "unofficial" for PFS, personally.
I'm just trying to see if there's a way to get rulings like that somehow out there into the FAQ or something for GMs so this sort of thing doesn't happen to anyone else in the future and cause future frustrations.
I wasnt level 1, I was a level 4 PC (level 1 fighter/ 3 wizard (transmuter)) who started with 18 ST put my +1 from class and +1 from levels in to ST giving me 20 (Going EK hence the high St score).
You are making the assumption that we entered combat rounds when we triggered the haunt which didnt happen as we failed the perception checks so the party just saw me go in pick up a dagger (which isnt enough justification for the other PCs to assume I will attack myself) and then try and kill myself (thus the requirement for combat reflexes).
Unless we read the rules wrong there was no in character trigger for combat rounds thus everyone was still flatfooted when I tried to CDG (passed perception or knowledge religion checks).
The haunt in T1-2 doesnt cause suicides from what the GM told me only at the high tier does it cause the suicides. I had the gold on me (because I had GM credit for Scarlet sun that had only just been applied to my wizard giving me the needed boost to WBL to actually afford it) I still needed to sell some gear though.
EDIT: Btw im more than willing to get corrections if we ran it wrong, but I cant fault my GM as far as I can see we played completely by the rules as written with regards to how it played out, I envisage other parties possibly entering the same issues and I want RAW ways to give them a chance to stop it.
Ohhhhh, when you said "my wizard 1 hitting the boss" you didn't mean "my level 1 wizard hitting the boss" you meant "my wizard one-shotting the boss".
yeah I crit each hit vs 2 of the aasimar guards hitting them for 39 each (they had 38hp dropping them instantly and earning a heresy point).
I would feel bad if a level 1 tried to play the 4-5 version of that scenrio though, one crit from a juju zombie and its reroll time, those guys were impressive and a decent challenge. Even level 3's would have a rough time in that one from a challenge standpoint though it was well worth playing.
Well, I finally ran this today for my group. Had a boatload of fun roleplaying the different NPCs and watching the PCs flounder about, not knowing what to believe. The hidden die rolls made for a lot of fun, although they lucked out and didn't take a lot of Wis damage.
They had completed all of their tasks, but decided to face the villian on the insistence of the dwarf paladin. I think he regretted it when he went into negatives three times thanks to negative energy channels and spells. :) They were in pretty dire straits when the three guards arrived with weapons dipped in the fountain and executed a triple strike for 3d8+9 total, dropping him off the wall.
The players seemed to enjoy it, and I certainly had a blast playing up the off-kilter nature of the temple. Kudos to Ron for a great scenario!
I was one of those playere (just reading this threat from the start after finishing it) and Im pretty torn. I enjoyed it, so dont get me wrong. We also had a brand new to PF player that also enjoyed it.
I really didnt like the DM rolls for us, and couldnt really put my findger on it as to why until afterwards when TOZ explained it to us. There was a few times when I rolled really high and didnt get any info or a good result and a time I roled a Nat 1 and instead found out details the roll didnt deserve. Then the times when it seemed random characters began to be affected things we couldnt find a cause to as the DM rolled for us, meaning there was no way to know what was actually happening to us. This, in my opinion just led to confussion, a feeling like our stats didn't actually matter, and on my part (knowing nothing or the easter deity EL but knowing enough about the Sacred Whore) not really understanding just what was metagaming and what the character really did know.
My group was also under the impression that our main goal was to map and explore the area, and that other activities where a secondary "if we can while we are there".
I felt like the Heresy system ws very arbitrary. We didnt have any way of knowing things where being twisted until way after we had done them, because we didnt know what the norm was supposed to be. We sat and twirled some meditation balls while saying a foriegn phrase know one understands. Sounds like a perfectly valid meditation practice. Why is that a corruption of our core spiritual beliefs? Or sitting to eat a perfectly normal (non-magic non-evil) dinner? Allowing non-evil monks to draw a religious symbol on you you do not recognize from a LG religion you are not familiar with to begin with and shouldnt know is a coruption of said religion? ( I did realize it in character and didnt do it, just saying).
The undead dropped our Paladin and Druid in no time flat, but on the up side, this is the first time I have ever Destroyed an undead with a Channel Energy (@ 2nd level to boot) in one try ever in Pathfinder, much les PFS. :) Felt really good and 3E for a moment. :)
Im happy we skipped the Haunt as having read it and this thread, I see no way outside of pure metagaming and DM being very nice that we would have made that. As the only character that could heal, if I used even a single resource to fight thr Haunt, someone would have died. Even being abke to rest twice in this adventure, I spent every resource I had (2nd level Aasimar Cleric with 16 Wis and Cha) keeping people alive (though usually not active) more than once. Granted, a rediculous Dwarf Paladin without Smite Evil or spellcasting also really contributed. Beyond constantly getting 1 shotted, between bad luck, Heresy, waaayy too much DR, was completely ineffective the entire scenario.
Between everything having DR and Energy resistance my only job was basically healbot, even though I built this character to NOT be that roll and to double as a backup arcane caster. Even my beefed up spells (with traits) dealt a total of 1 damage the entire game (with 2 rests) after Energy Resistance.
I liked the game overall, but really would not want to play it again and heavily suggest that PFS scenarios do not go down a similar route as this one. For a 4 party mostly well built (minus the Paladin) group of 1 & 2 level, it was extremely brutal, and the reward was fairly low. It definatly took well over 4 hours (morr like 6 or7), was particularly confussing, had more than a few logical inconsistancies and almost forced a sense of metagaming (bad kind), while I feel left us sort of unfulfilled at the end. This was not a DM fault at all in my opinion, just the way it goes.
I really tried to dispel this idea as soon as it came up. I probably just should have outright said 'No, you don't need to do that' instead of 'that would be nice but it is not the goal'.
On the subject of DR:
The fact that it was cold iron or good was a pretty tough one, and the fact that you couldn't figure out that the fountain would allow you to bypass it was what made it killer. (The paladins low attack rolls didn't help either.) Once the druid and rogue got their weapons covered things started to swing your way. But that +8/1d6+4 attack was rough on everyone.
Also, not having a wand of cure light hurt as well.
Only the Druid and I could have used it (Paladin droped spellcasting ability so no Wands either) and the Druid kept dropping to neg HP too. So a wand really would have helped. :) I burned through 6 Channels in a row in that fight before deciding to steal the Paladins weapon of his back and make for that fountain, at which point the NPCs finished the BBEG when I ws gone and everyone else was down and out.
Honestly, with the fountain, I cant recall any clue to that being its purpose, and was honestly thinking it was also all RP Fluff, (which I loved by the way. I'm so keeping that Lotus right by my um um god-bless Holy Symbol).
The map idea, I think was an issue that evryone kind of soaked in early and it became ingrained from the start. It seems much more in line with a Pathfinder Society goal rather than the others which come off as a bonus goal. I remember you saying it wasnt the main goal a little later, but by that point we had already sort of done most of the work for both and was less important. No wories, it is what it is and we dont blame you. Its just how it worked out.
I should also point out that we all wanted to kill/talk to Dakan (spelling), but couldnt find a valid way to get to him (without getting the other monks involved (killed) at the same time).
Not being that familiar with the basics of their faith (or knowing their language) led us ro believe things where wrong (especially later on) but without any evidence or real rational reason. We actually did wind up climbing the balcony (something I had debated doing solo and thank God didnt), just to kind of get through it. I think this is one of those times that Paizo might have pushed Tian stuff a little too hard and the scebario asumes a littlle too much player familiarity.
But we made it through. :)
Yeah, that fountain wasn't a part of your mission, you just had the celestial blood required to activate it. (That Cha check wasn't a simple Cha check. ;)
I would have questioned the paladin if he HAD decided to leave a known evil behind in the temple. It would have been a valid choice however. The big disadvantage was the fact that most of the party was melee focused and had no access to the skills you needed to solve the mystery before you. Your cleric making those Know: Religion rolls is what let you break through it. The real problem was you didn't think you had the evidence to confront the guards with, when you actually did. They could have been persuaded to let you in and the fight might not have gone as horribly.
He would have had shield of faith and spider climb active before the battle began however, which would have been a big change in action economy. But you also could have gotten the blessed weapons sooner and not lost so much damage to his DR.
I still loved everyone's reaction to him shedding his disguise! >:D
But we made it through. :)
By the skin of your teeth and a stunning set of NPC rolls! :)