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4-02 In Wrath's Shadow - SPOILERS


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber

I will have to try and figure out who convinced me that was the case...

Learning stuff. Always a good thing.

I may have been incorrectly recalling an ability as Ex rather than Su, in which case I apologize (Though I don't recall anybody actually failing the save vs. the song on your table anyway, Dragnmoon.... Other problems, yes, harpy song distracting you, not so much)

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I don't think anyone did either, though I think some re-rolls were used to stop it from happening.

That fight went to s@&* anyway because the My Bard went down way to fast.

As you saw in the next fight the group did much better when my Bard was able to stay up and get his control spells off.

Qadira **** Venture-Captain, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Thorkull

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Funny thing for my group was that all the high-Will casters failed their saves against the harpies, while the fighter (crossbowman) and ranger (with a longbow) made their saves. The casters couldn't climb the pillars and the ranged guys just lit up the harpies. Easy fight :)

Probability says it should have gone the other way, but here's to being a statistical outlier!

Silver Crusade *** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Pasadena

Thoughts on Post Author production:

The people who adjusted the final encounter may have had the Undead Sorcerer bloodline in mind when they editted the BBEG. I saw him casting Rage and Aid, and I immediately stopped prepping and went to look up the domains, but saw they didn't allow a cleric to affect an undead minion with mind affecting abilities. After some digging around in the APG, UM, and UC, I went back to the core, and had a look at the Sorcerer bloodlines because i'd remembered about the Undead line. 'lo and behold, there was my answer. Now i'm not saying that is the actual answer to the question of why he does what he does, but the undead Bloodline Arcana seems to be where they got the inspiration. Ghouls are typically humanoid before dying and being raised into undeath as such, which means they fall prey to this ability.

Just my thoughts on the last encounter's odd mechanics.

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

8 people marked this as a favorite.

Has anyone done this as part of their prep? Feel free to steal/edit/nitpick ;) I know when players make a good knowledge check most GMs will just say "What do you want to know?". However, the Knowledge rules don't designate who can decide what "useful information" is. I don't do this to screw players, but rather to enhance the gameplay.

Ghoul:
Ghoul [Undead CR 1]
Knowledge (Religion)
DC 11 – Undead traits. Ghouls are undead said to be created upon the death of a cannibal. They are cunning opponents and often use tactics like flanking.
DC 16 – A ghoul’s bite transmits a disease that can kill and cause the victim to rise as a ghoul.
DC 21 – A ghoul’s bite or a hit from its claws can paralyze a victim, though elves are immune to this paralysis.
DC 26 – Ghouls are more resistant to positive energy than other undead, and due to their natural cunning they are more difficult for necromancers to control.

Undead Traits: Darkvision 60 feet. Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms). Immunity to bleed, death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning. Not subject to nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. Immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Constitution, Dexterity, and Strength), as well as to exhaustion and fatigue effects.

Ghast:
Ghast [Undead CR 2]
Knowledge (Religion)
DC 12 – Undead traits. Ghasts are more powerful cousins of ghouls.
DC 17 – A Ghast’s bite transmits a disease that can kill. Victims rise as ghouls or worse.
DC 22 – The stench of death and corruption surrounding a Ghast can overwhelm those nearby who don’t possess a strong stomach.
DC 27 – A Ghast’s bite or a rake from its claws can paralyze its victims, even elves.

Undead Traits: Darkvision 60 feet. Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms). Immunity to bleed, death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning. Not subject to nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. Immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Constitution, Dexterity, and Strength), as well as to exhaustion and fatigue effects.

Harpy:
Harpy (*Fiendish Harpy) [Monstrous Humanoid CR 4 (CR 5)]
Knowledge (Nature or Planes)
DC 14 – Harpies look like withered old human women with the lower body, legs and wings of a monstrous bird of prey.
DC 15* – These harpies bear horns and rather than feathers their wings are those of a bat, indicating some kind of supernatural link.
DC 19 – Despite its foul appearance, a Harpy’s song can captivate its foes, leaving them unable to do anything but defend themselves.
DC 20* – The blood of fiends runs in their veins, these harpies likely have otherworldly resistance to elemental attacks.
DC 24 – A bard’s countersong gives captivated Harpy victims a chance to break free. Plugging ears with beeswax or tallow can also help resist the song.
DC 25* – Fiendish harpies are best harmed with weapons consecrated in the name of a benevolent deity.
DC 29 – Some Harpies train as deadly archers and then become mercenaries or highway robbers.

Haunt:
Haunt CR 5 or CR 8
Knowledge (Religion)
DC 15 – This ground is haunted by restless spirits, probably victims of a violent act that has tied them to this place, denying them the peace of Pharasma’s Boneyard.
DC 20 – The haunting spirit or spirits frequently take out their rage and despair on the living that trespass on the site of their physical demise. Active haunts may be staved off by use of positive energy.
DC 25 – The only way to completely put a haunt to rest is to understand the nature of their death and put the physical remains to rest. A consecration of some sort involving holy water usually works.

Undead Ooze:
Undead Ooze [Undead CR 5]
Knowledge (Dungeoneering) or (Religion)
This thing appears to be a 10’ diameter blob of congealed blood. Here and there stark white humanoid bones protrude , telltale remnants of previous victims. This thing is some sort of ooze. The air in the room feels like it has dropped 30 degrees.
DC 15 – Ooze traits. Undead traits. This thing is not only an ooze, it’s undead.
DC 20 – While most oozes inflict acidic wounds, this one appears to drain the warmth. Don’t get near it or it will roll over victims and trap them within its body, freezing the flesh off their bones.
DC 25 – Undead oozes have a tendency to infuse the bones held within the mass with necromantic energy, animating them as skeletons.

Ooze Traits:
Mindless: No Intelligence score, and immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). An ooze with an Intelligence score loses this trait.
Blind (but have the blindsight special quality), with immunity to gaze attacks, visual effects, illusions, and other attack forms that rely on sight. Immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, polymorph, and stunning. Some oozes have the ability to deal acid damage to objects. Not subject to critical hits or flanking. Does not take additional damage from precision-based attacks, such as sneak attack.
Oozes eat and breathe, but do not sleep.

Undead Traits: Darkvision 60 feet. Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms). Immunity to bleed, death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning. Not subject to nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. Immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Constitution, Dexterity, and Strength), as well as to exhaustion and fatigue effects.

Vampiric Ooze:
Vampiric Ooze [Undead CR 8]
This 10’ diameter creature looks like a thick, bubbling pool of mustard yellow muck or goo.
Knowledge (Dungeoneering) or (Religion)
DC 18 – Ooze traits. Undead traits. The vampiric ooze is thought to have been created by a great undead spellcaster using ancient and forbidden magic. Some believe the vampiric ooze was formed when an ochre jelly slew a vampire and absorbed it.
DC 23 – A vampiric ooze drains lifeforce from its victims. Its pseudopods can lash out, grab and hold victims until their bodies become husks which are animated in service to the ooze.
DC 28 – Don’t attack this thing with cold or electricity. That kind of damage can cause the ooze to spilt into multiple copies of itself, each just as dangerous as the original.
DC 33 – Like vampires, a vampiric ooze is vulnerable to sunlight. Prolonged exposure to sunlight will turn a vampiric ooze to dust.

Ooze Traits:
Mindless: No Intelligence score, and immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). An ooze with an Intelligence score loses this trait.
Blind (but have the blindsight special quality), with immunity to gaze attacks, visual effects, illusions, and other attack forms that rely on sight. Immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, polymorph, and stunning. Some oozes have the ability to deal acid damage to objects. Not subject to critical hits or flanking. Does not take additional damage from precision-based attacks, such as sneak attack.
Oozes eat and breathe, but do not sleep.

Undead Traits:
Darkvision 60 feet. Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms). Immunity to bleed, death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning. Not subject to nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. Immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Constitution, Dexterity, and Strength), as well as to exhaustion and fatigue effects.

Sinspawn:
Sinspawn [Aberration CR 2 or CR 5]
A horribly deformed humanoid, hairless and emaciated, lurches out of the shadows. Its unnaturally long arms end in three-fingered talons, and its legs bend like those of a dog. A writhing network of bulging veins form dark blue patterns across its pallid skin. But worst of all is its face—its nose is little more than a pair of slits, and its eyes are bulging and red. The lower jaw splits in half at the chin into two wretched arms that end in tiny three-fingered hands to either side an open gullet with a lolling tongue.
Knowledge (Dungeoneering)
DC 12 – Aberration traits. Sinspawn are magically created from profane pools of quickened soul-energy fueled by the departed spirits of creatures filled with wrath in life.
DC 17 – The reckless hate a sinspawn carries within it may be passed onto its victims through a bite. Those affected will be overwhelmed by sickening wrath.
DC 22 – These monsters can literally smell hatred and anger like a shark smells blood.
DC 27 or DC 20 (History) Sinspawn were originally created by Runelord Alaznist, who used life-shaping magic she and her fellow runelords stole from the alien aboleths to fashion shock troops she could use in her endless confrontations with her numerous enemies. She invested in these monsters not only anger and the capacity to murder, but a twisted sense of free will to encourage the desire to gain in power and strength—not just to please their mistress, but to please themselves.

I wish every scenario had an appendix with information presented like this. If only they could clone Mark Moreland. Four Winds Fantasy Gaming has a product like this which I borrowed from/was inspired by, but it only covers Bestiary & Bonus Bestiary monsters.

*****

Doug Miles wrote:

Has anyone done this as part of their prep? Feel free to steal/edit/nitpick ;) I know when players make a good knowledge check most GMs will just say "What do you want to know?". However, the Knowledge rules don't designate where the information comes from.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **...

yoinks

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

@Doug - I recently tried doing this as a handout for my players the last time I ran a table (though a different scenario). Unfortunately, the scenario where I tried this had a table of knowledge-less PCs and not a single check was made. :/

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber
Doug Miles wrote:

Has anyone done this as part of their prep? Feel free to steal/edit/nitpick ;) I know when players make a good knowledge check most GMs will just say "What do you want to know?". However, the Knowledge rules don't designate who can decide what "useful information" is. I don't do this to screw players, but rather to enhance the gameplay.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **...

I disagree with the breakdowns there, and definitely prefer giving my players the choice of what they'd like to know, since different people pay attention to different things in class all the time... (Plus, useful information would seem to require giving slightly more information than 'undead traits' or 'aberration traits', as the skill used for the check will provide type-based information automatically...)

*** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Richmond aka thunderspirit

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
Doug Miles wrote:

Has anyone done this as part of their prep? Feel free to steal/edit/nitpick ;) I know when players make a good knowledge check most GMs will just say "What do you want to know?". However, the Knowledge rules don't designate where the information comes from.

** spoiler omitted **

yoinks

+1.

Silver Crusade ****

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Doug Miles wrote:

Has anyone done this as part of their prep? Feel free to steal/edit/nitpick ;) I know when players make a good knowledge check most GMs will just say "What do you want to know?". However, the Knowledge rules don't designate who can decide what "useful information" is. I don't do this to screw players, but rather to enhance the gameplay.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **...

Drats!!! Didn't see this before I ran it. But I still made it work.

Silver Crusade ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Review time!! This will be a review from both the players and GM's side. And there was a fun but terrible difference. Both sessions were done in 6-7 tier, so that's what I'm reviewing on. Your actual mileage may vary.

Story: C+

Story::
Now, I had the luck to play this adventure before running it, so I got both sides of the coin here. While there is room for RP and the adventure surely gives loads of visual opportunities for RP, if you have a combat heavy team, you usually end up skipping some of it. My team got a great balance of both and a good chunk of that came from the faction missions which gave players the opportunity to RP while looking around. Being the heavy RP player I am though, it wasn't enough, but it was still enough to not be boring.

Location: B

Location::
Being that I never played Rise of The Runelords, I was a little bit at a loss when it came to the background location, but my players-all of whom have played Rise of the Runelords were able to help me out where needed.

The only reason this adventure doesn't get an A in location is that Society Play still needs to stop with these epic maps. It makes pre-drawing almost a futile pursuit, and even worse when your players get to the end-boss in three rooms, and then say to the hell with the rest of the basement. Feeling the drawings of the Rune symbol in the place. Pretty awesome.

Combat: A++++++ --- But warn your players if you are the GM!

Combat::
I would like to state for the record, this is a potential TPK adventure combat wise. And while many players and GM's will cry about it, I would like to remind them, that this is what you all get for complaining about PC's easily walking through adventures in past seasons.

So make sure, before you sit down, that you warn your players that death is highly likely and that if they aren't bold enough to take on the challenge, they should leave your table. If they accept the challenge and die, they can't get hurt about it.

It's nice to see undead, be scary undead. The ones that just don't go down with a quick channel. It's nice to see demons be the type of demons that can scare players, and at the same time kill them. And don't be rolling high like I was, because then it means that you may kill them in two or three turns. I obliterated the paladin with three critical hits back to back. Although this will never happen again, I have a reputation for being a nice GM that never kills anyone, and this adventure reminded our players that I can kill you too..

Lastly, being a regular cleric player, it's nice to see a cleric that is just as badass as I am. In past seasons, all the clerics were light and not scary. I hit them with something insane and the GM hates me. Now the GM and I are on the same footing. He can quick channel, and I can too. He has Chaos Hammer and Unholy Blight, and I have Wall of Fire, Holy Smite and Cure Light-Mass. So it's nice to have a real combat challenge and not have clerics just be some boring bit of NPC...

Overall, while I am not a big combat person, these combats were the type where the whole time I'm going "Holy Saranrae!" the entire time and I had to work for my experience and my gold payout. This is what I want in combats, the constant fear of death and some good reasons to kick some ass!!

Just Overall and Personally: B-
This is just a simple, no fuss/no must dungeon crawl in Varisia. Again, this is also one of those adventures that the story could easily get lost, but the faction missions kind of keep the RP in place. The combats are ridiculously awesome, but be sure to advise your players that this adventure may remind you how truly precious your character's life is. Once again Mike Shel, is making players nervous to bring their characters to the table. Good job!

Sczarni * RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Just ran this, and I had a ton of fun with it!

Best final combat I've run!:
Especially with a group that relies heavily on buffs and maneuvers, it was fun to have them weakened by sickness, negative levels, and curses by the time they got to a BBEG with a ridiculous CMD. Tactics as written worked well to soften the party up while the ghasts were getting cleaned up, and by the time Tholrist was in melee range, everyone was in danger of being killed.

I will say that if he'd had one more channel, I'm pretty sure we would have ended up with a TPK at 8-9. I had a blind, enlarged bard standing in the back holding a CLW wand and hoping the near-dead would crawl their way over to him. The major reason Tholrist dropped is because a swarm was summoned on him, and his channels had all been used up.

It is a real pleasure to run a scenario that can momentarily terrify a group of players. To make them happy that they've saved up 16 PP just in case. Sure, not everything needs to walk that line, but I'm happy I found one that did.

Lantern Lodge ** Venture-Lieutenant, New York—Syracuse aka SirGeshko

I actually killed my first PC in this adventure.
Ironically, it was the ranger, who not only correctly identified the harpies, he took precautions against their song (earplugs), and was one of only two who made his saves against the initial song. After plinking another harpy with a few arrows, it decided it wanted him gone, and sang.
The rest of the party couldn't do anything as it performed a CDG. He had a decent chance to survive, needing a 9 or better on the d20.
He rolled a 4.

Grand Lodge ****

after GMing High Tier last night, Tholrist was brought down by blinded channeling Kyra and his 'strongest' spells (levelwise) did almost *nothing* to a group of two N and three Chaotic characters

what am I missing?

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

Zrinka Znidarcic wrote:

after GMing High Tier last night, Tholrist was brought down by blinded channeling Kyra and his 'strongest' spells (levelwise) did almost *nothing* to a group of two N and three Chaotic characters

what am I missing?

Was Tholrist able to quick channel to keep up with Kyra? If not, then it might just be that it was an undead encounter vs. an undead killer. Those sometimes happen. I mean, Tholrist was not a challenge one of the times I ran it because someone stole his holy symbol...

Qadira ****

What's the DC to detect the trap in the hall between B2 and B7? the Block that falls when they brake the wall at B7? It must be late at night as I can not find the trap write up for this trap... and I'm running this tomorrow evening.
The Trigger is at the wall in B7, and the details about how to "out run it" are there, but no other details about the trap... what's the DC to detect it? and even more, what's the DC to disable it? Is it a magical trap? (looks mechanical to me...)

Andoran **** Venture-Captain, Washington—Seattle aka The Great Rinaldo!

I was wondering about that myself ... it appears that there is no way to detect it and no way to disable it: if the characters smack the wall, they drop the block. That's how I ran it, but I'm curious if that is the intent.

Fortunately, both when I played it and when I ran it (just the once so far), the characters had already found the secret door and dealt with Tholrist before triggering the block, so it didn't even slow them down.

Qadira ****

Thanks T.G.R.!
It does kind of bother me that the author appears to have put in the "undetectable" trap that can't be disarmed. Mostly this scenario is detailed and very well done - but then missing a major trap write up?

It trivalizes the player who runs a trap-smith - someone who has invested his PCs stills/traits/feats into being able to protect the party from this sort of thing.

Maybe I'll just use the same Perception/Disable DCs for this block trap as the Steam trap upstairs... though this might go against Run-As-Written?

Qadira **** Venture-Captain, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Thorkull

I was wondering about it myself, but there's one or two places in the scenario where a trap finding character can really help the party out, so I don't think there's much fear of them not getting their time in the spotlight.

Nor is the 'trap' directly dangerous. It does trap you in with Tholorist and/or the ooze, but since Tholorist can't leave his room PCs shouldn't be in any great danger until they enter the ceremony room.

Qadira ****

(I got a delay on running this - so I get more prep time! yeah!)

Jonathan - I'm guessing that finding the trap where the block falls would lead the PCs thru the south wall there into the secret hall. It's kind of odd that the map shows a secret door on that south wall (with no DC for detecting it), but write up says:
"Another barricaded section of wall sits
at the southern end of this hallway, but it is much more
difficult to locate than others like it, requiring a DC 20
Perception check to notice. Like the other barricades, it
can be broken through (hardness 8, 40 hp)."

If the PCs go via that hall they bypass the optional encounter area, and they are much more likely to also miss the Hazard in B8... which would be a nice reward for the Trapsmith.

(I'm also finding strange that this thread went to 60+ posts, with people commenting about the BBE's skill points, with no one mentioning the lack of a Trap write up. The only Trap marked with a big red "T" on the map...)

Qadira **** Venture-Captain, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Thorkull

I interpreted that to be the secret door on the map, since the only other barricade in the hall has an ooze behind it and isn't exactly hidden.

I've never seen anyone search for secret doors in that hallway until they drop the block of stone, so the likelihood of bypassing the ooze is pretty slim, I'd say.

Qadira ****

Jonathan Cary wrote:

I interpreted that to be the secret door on the map, since the only other barricade in the hall has an ooze behind it and isn't exactly hidden.

I've never seen anyone search for secret doors in that hallway until they drop the block of stone, so the likelihood of bypassing the ooze is pretty slim, I'd say.

When I played this, we searched the hall, but then it's SOP for most groups I play with when we're in a "crawl". Found the trap, but couldn't find the trigger - then found the secret door and just by passed it. Which is why my first question on this was "It must be late at night as I can not find the trap write up for this trap... ". I guess my judge for this did what I'm doing and just inserted what seems right.

Qadira **** Venture-Captain, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Thorkull

Both groups I've seen go through it had a trapspotter rogue, so it wasn't surprising that they weren't doing active Perception checks on the hallway. :)

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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I'd played this before, and got to run it at SCARAB this weekend. the event lasted a half hour.

The party of four PCs enter the big hall. They find a black feather and identify it as being from a harpy. The PCs think about that for several seconds.

Round 1 They hear a lustrous voice singing. The bard (arcane duelist), monk, and ranger (archer) make their Will saves. The samurai (sword saint) does not. The three PCs left in their right minds draw weapons and prepare for combat.

Round 2 Two more harpies start singing. The ranger makes his Will saves (using his shirt re-roll); the other two PCs do not. The first fiendish harpy lands in front of the captivated samurai. The ranger fires at the first harpy, rolling a natural 1.

Round The first harpy activates smite good (a swift action) and performs a coup de grace on the samurai. I roll 2d6, and get a 7. The samurai needs to make a DC 31 Fortitude save. He dies. The other two harpies land in front of their victims. The ranger shoots one of them, but can't penetrate the fiendish harpy's DR.

Round 4 The first harpy attacks the ranger with a fly-by attack. The ranger shoots, and does a small amount of damage. The other two harpies perform coup de grace moves on their victims. The bard is good-aligned and need to make a DC 30 Fortitude save, while the lawful neutral monk needs to make only a DC 17. Neither succeed, and the PCs die.

Rounds 5 - 7 Now three harpies are performing fly-by attacks on the ranger, who escapes out the temple and runs off. The harpies pursue for a round and then mock him as he flees.

This is frustrating for players for two reasons: (1) it's the first encounter, a half-hour into the scenario; (2) from a player's perspective, the encounter goes: Make 3 Will saves. If you fail one of them, make a very difficult Fortitude save, or die.

There are things they could have done. They were unprepared. They were 4th, 5th, 6th, and 6th level, playing up. Yes, yes, yes. I still don't know how to make players feel satisfied when something like that happens.

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

Chris: If I remember correctly, the tactics mention only one harpy sings, while the rest attack the PCs. When I have run it, I try to keep the number of harpies singing low, and only add more if the party seems to be trouncing the encounter.

Also, does arcane duelist give up counter song? Because having a bard is the easiest way to shut down a harpy encounter.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

"The harpies use their captivating song ability as soon as they are aware of the presence of the party in the temple. They also employ this tactic on any PC who peers in through the oculus before attacking.

"Just one harpy uses her captivating song first, with the others following suit in order to captivate as many targets as possible."

Yes, arcane duelist gives up countersong.

*** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Richmond aka thunderspirit

Chris has the harpy tactics correct.

There are several ways around it, but the composition of your players' party did not help. It can be a rough battle, and this one was made all the rougher by your players a) playing up with four and b) not being prepared.

I like the scenario, both when I played it and both times I have run it. But it's a Season 4, and playing up is the ultimate caveat emptor.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Thanks, thunderspirit.

I don't think they would have minded a tough battle. To the players, this encounter felt more like an unwinnable deadly trap.

So my question remains: without softballing the encounter, how do I make death-by-harpies more satisfying?

Cheliax ***

Yup. I like the scenario but there are several status effects in this one that can leave players frustrated or with group bad luck, TPKd. The Harpy attack plus cause fear plus paralyze. Having a reroll capability in this one seems almost mandatory.

I lost three PCs of a four player party due to landing both the cause fear and multiple paralyzes.

Qadira ****

An Idea for Chris: Should the PCs recieve another save for the captivating song when they see a nearby ally die? If so, they would get another save when each friend is killed.

Other than that... in the game you discribe above, they had the magic combo.
Season 4 scenario? Check
Four PCs? Check
Playing up? Check
and one I would add -

Unprepared? Check:

Not to be to critical, and meaning it in the nicest of possible ways, but...
Harpies have been around sense Season 0. We know they might be encountered.
Buy ear plugs, and wear them as a neckless or ear-rings or something.
Buy Oil of Silence or Thunderstones or SOMETHING.
If it had been magical darkness, would they have been able to do something? Would they have had a tactic for it?

And most important, Do they have something NOW? (for next time).

Qadira ****

Jonathan Cary wrote:
Both groups I've seen go through it had a trapspotter rogue, so it wasn't surprising that they weren't doing active Perception checks on the hallway. :)

Wow, different locations do thing different I guess.

I run two rogues with Trapspotter. In both cases, I have it noted on my Table Tent, I ask the judge to please roll that for me without telling me, AND I always take 10 (or 20) while on a "crawl". This is pretty standard for groups I play in.

*** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Richmond aka thunderspirit

nosig brings up excellent points about preparedness. Kudos for that; I didn't mention specifics, but many of the points you raised were among my "several ways around it." While it can be frustrating to a party, adventuring is a dangerous business, and sometimes bad things happen. Being prepared for some of those things is incumbent upon the party, not on the GM.

I'm a strong proponent of playing intelligent (or, in this case, at least semi-intelligent) foes properly — that is to say, no softballing encounters. From the baddies' perspective, these humanoids are invading their homes and should be treated as such.

In cases like Chris mentions above, it's important that being unprepared have consequences. At the same time, I've seen spectacular PC deaths that remain memorable long after the paper is crumpled up and thrown away, so in that circumstance I would hope I could create something like that.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

(vigorous nodding)

And that's my question here. I'm not asking whether I should have fudged things and let the PCs live. I'm not trying to assign blame.

This is a player issue, not a character issue. The samurai's player was having a good time, getting into character ... until the PC died without her even having drawn a weapon. She was so disgusted she walked off without even bothering for the "draw a prize" boon token.

I'm asking: is there any way I can encourage playrs to see being wiped out in the first 30 minutes, without confronting their foe, to be an opportunity forfun? These players paid good moeny to play at the convention. Is there any way I can help them feel like they paid for something worthwhile?

---+---

Nosig wrote:

Not to be to critical, and meaning it in the nicest of possible ways, but...

Harpies have been around sense Season 0. We know they might be encountered.

One player commented about this. He said that he'd encountered harpies before, but this character hadn't, and he felt that preparing for things based on player knowledge was meta-gaming.

*****

Quote:
Captivating Song: Captivated creatures can take no action other than to defend themselves. A victim within 5 feet of a harpy simply stands and offers on resistance to the harpy's attacks.

It appears that any target not adjacent to the singing harpy easily defends itself normally, but I'm not completely sold on the PC being Helpless when the within 5 feet. As a result, I see the the sequence of coup-de-grace moves as a little rough.

If I were to demolish a party so quickly, especially at a convention, I would at least offer to run a second scenario for them (perhaps even a Season 0 to allow them to take out their frustration on an easier scenario's villains). If the first scenario were not a time-sensitive one, I would also suggest that they could recover bodies, raise dead, and come back with a few choice pieces of equipment to slay the foes who so stymied them the first time.

I find it far easier to convince players that they had fun despite character deaths so long as the players got to experience a few encounters. I had two near-TPKs this past weekend at SCARAB, but in both cases it was after the groups had stomped on at least one encounter.

Qadira ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chris Mortika wrote:

(vigorous nodding)

And that's my question here. I'm not asking whether I should have fudged things and let the PCs live. I'm not trying to assign blame.

This is a player issue, not a character issue. The samurai's player was having a good time, getting into character ... until the PC died without her even having drawn a weapon. She was so disgusted she walked off without even bothering for the "draw a prize" boon token.

I'm asking: is there any way I can encourage playrs to see being wiped out in the first 30 minutes, without confronting their foe, to be an opportunity forfun? These players paid good moeny to play at the convention. Is there any way I can help them feel like they paid for something worthwhile?

---+---

Nosig wrote:

Not to be to critical, and meaning it in the nicest of possible ways, but...

Harpies have been around sense Season 0. We know they might be encountered.
One player commented about this. He said that he'd encountered harpies before, but this character hadn't, and he felt that preparing for things based on player knowledge was meta-gaming.

This view has always bothered me.

I was in the military (Army). I knew what to do if I was facing an enemy tank, or if I saw an enemy aircraft. Heck, I could even recognize them. I NEVER ENCOUNTERED THEM.

I get a vision of a group of PF cadets, with some DI shouting at them, "Harpies! You got six seconds K-Det! Don't just stand there Kawolski! You got your fingers up your kester?!! At the least, you stuff them in your ears! You got a tallow candle in your vest pocket - you think it's for a snack later? Case you get HUNGRY? PINCH SOME OFF AND STUFF IT! Shesh! NO, IN YOUR EARS KAWOLSKI!..." shakes head, mutters to himself, "and they expect me to make Pathfinders out of this gaggle of goblin rejects?"

Your PC has years of training. Harpies are not some strange "one of a kind" monster. Heck, even some NON-GAMERS know what to do to defend from harpies (they are from greek myths after all).

get's off of soap box and feels better for the rant. Thanks.

*** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Richmond aka thunderspirit

My own opinion on it tends more toward it being metagaming, but it's an interesting (and reasonably valid) perspective. Interesting point, nosig (and probably deserving of its own thread, since this is veering off-topic).

I rather like John Compton's solution, though its applicability is going to vary wildly by table make-up. I'm gonna file that one away for future consideration when the situation arises, though. :-)

Qadira ***

I ran the other table of this at SCARAB (which Mr. Compton played in) and had the exact opposite experience. It was also a four-player table but at the low tier. The difference between 1 Harpy (the modification for four players at the low tier) and 3 Harpies (four player high tier) is huge. Good old probability says that even with better saves at the high tier it is FAR more likely that all the players will fail at least once and that pretty much puts paid to the party. Against one harpy even if one or two characters fail the first save it's still easily winnable.

Mind you they did have quite a bit more trouble on the lower level.

I do read the ability as being able to coup-de-gras but I'm not 100% sold that that is the way it should work. Also I can see a character failing a save against two different harpies and standing indecisively directly between them.

*

Wand of Protection from Evil is almost as important as Cure Light Wounds at earlier levels before you can grab a Clear Spindle in a Wayfinder.

Also I assume there would be no issue with a player tripping or grappling someone who has been affected to prevent them from running over to be stabbed to death.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Belafon, it's worse than that. At low level, a coup de grace against a pc will require a Fortitude save of DC 10 + 2d6, on average 17. Dire, but not impossible. At the high subtier, the 7-HD fiendish harpies have smite good, so the DC for good-aligned PCs is 10 + 2d6 + 14. That's pretty much a natural 20. Heck, just the critical damage by itself might drop a 4th or 5th-level PC.

Andreww, there were certainly things the PCs could have done. In post-mortem, the players were thinking about things like thunderstones, or even alchemist fire to damage the PCs and maybe that might allow another save...

(Last Wednesday, I watched a novice GM TPK a party that played up through "Citadel of Flame". Afterwards, one of the players was delicately suggesting that the bad guy might not have chosen a particularly devestating spell, while the GM observed that none of the PCs had thought to protect against fire when going into a place called 'Citadel of Flame'. I nipped that discussion in the bud before either had a chance to get defensive. Parsing blame never helps.)

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm running this tomorrow and I'm still wondering about a few of the misprints. Since Tholrist has a 20 dexterity, should I be adjusting his AC to 26 rather than the 25 it's printed as (because they only account for +4 Dex, despite his mithral chain shirt)?

Taldor *** Venture-Captain, Canada—Ottawa aka The ShadowShackleton

The harpy coup de grace tactic is legit. It was discussed at great length in another thread.

Shadow Lodge ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I went through this at a con back in August. We did high tier, but a table of 5 or 6 and only me and I think one other were playing up. The harpies were by far the biggest threat. Right off they snared everyone but the fighter. But we all moved faster then the fighter, and had a head start, so it took him a while to catch up.

The harpies never came down to us though - they stayed on the pillers and we had to climb up to them, then they would attack us. Those of us with poor climbing skills got lucky there - we kept trying climb up and slipping back down.

Eventually the fighter threw a thunderstone at the bard, who was then able to start countersong, and things started swinging to our side. But it was pretty close for everyone.

As far as preparedness goes, we were prepared. I had earplugs on my bandolier, we had a bard, everything ready. But when you fail the will roll in surprise round, none of that's any help.

Silver Crusade ****

Why coup de grace the characters at all? Classic Harpy behavior is to draw a creature off a cliff or into the water. The harpies here have a ready-made cliff (the pillars). When I ran this last night, two party members failed their saves and moved toward the harpies, and started to climb the pillar. Once they climbed it, the harpy would have moved off the pillar, forcing the player to jump off. Then the harpy would have done it again. Meanwhile, the other three dropped the Silver Crusade cleric to 0 hit points, and otherwise wreaked havoc on the party. A good fight, and the hilarity as the captivated party members tried to climb the pillar more than made up for their inability to do anything.

Taldor *** Venture-Captain, Canada—Ottawa aka The ShadowShackleton

I ran it the same way to much hilarity at Gencon (having the harpies flying from pillar to pillar causing falling damage over and over again). The Coup de grace is a very effective tactic though depending on the circumstances. This is one encounter with a wide range of possibility for deadliness depending on how ruthless the GM wants to be.

At the time I didn't realize that a coup de grace was an option. On the plus side if they take an action to coup de grace they have to stop singing to do so. Small consolation if you fail your fort save.

****

Here's a question for the other GMs. I'm running this via play-by-forum, and the Pathfinders have just met Tholrist. After a brutal fight, they managed to flee the room; leaving Tholrist behind. Now they're finding themselves low on supplies and wish to return to the mainland (Varisia), resupply, and then return to the temple to deal with Tholrist.

How would others handle this? Say okay, since no time limit was specified in the scenario? Make the PCs pay for chartering the second ship? Let Thorlist raise a bunch of undead in the meantime? Just curious how the mass population would react. Thanks in advance!

Taldor *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules Subscriber

They were under some non-specified time crunch, as it was indicated in the VC briefing/blurb that the Aspis consortium were interested in sites on the same island basically, and the Pathfinders had no legitimate exclusive claim to the dig site.

I'd let them withdraw to the base camp and rest up, but a full on trip back to Magnimar...I'd probably have the Aspis clear out the rest of the temple, and call it a failure.

EDIT:And whatever you do, you can't really add new minions to Thorlist as part of a PFS game. That would fall under changing the scenario.

****

Thanks! I think that's a good, valid approach. If they leave the island, Aspis Agents would surely swoop in and plunder it.

Taldor ****

What thread listed coup de grace as an option for the Harpies? Coup-de-gras requires a helpless target, and the harpy's Captivating Song says nothing about making the target helpless. In fact, it says specifically that they can defend themselves (which is horrible wording, but I usually interpret as no actions but are not flat-footed).

Qadira ****

Mike Bohlmann wrote:
What thread listed coup de grace as an option for the Harpies? Coup-de-gras requires a helpless target, and the harpy's Captivating Song says nothing about making the target helpless. In fact, it says specifically that they can defend themselves (which is horrible wording, but I usually interpret as no actions but are not flat-footed).

ah... this thread? about half way to here, several posters go into detail on it...

Taldor *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules Subscriber

They can defend themselves while approaching the harpy. Once they are within 5' they must stand there helpless, or some language to that effect. I'll reread it when I get home from work.

EDIT: Nm. Here you go from the PRD: A victim within 5 feet of the harpy simply stands and offers no resistance to the harpy's attacks.

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