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Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Society® / Pathfinder Society GM Discussion
do you still feel that the color spray in this encounter is overpowering? With the bandit tactics played as written?
I do. In both my gameplay experince/examples, I played the NPCs pretty much according to the tactics printed, and even with the emphesis you provided. In both cases, it nearly ended in a TPKO. In one, they got ini...and in the other, it ran pretty close to the way you pointed out...they got rid of the barbarian, the rogue & the cleric, but only after two of their own went down. The Color Spray tipped the scale back in the evil party's advantage (When they approached her, per her tactics).
IMHO, for a lv 1 intro deal, that might be a bit discouraging. I feel that switching out color spray for a less effective 1st level spell helps a lot here.
In FSII, IIRC, the NPCs are just trying to get away. I've only run that once, so my opinion isn't as strong on that one. I remember they nearly got away because she used that one spell that causes all the torches in the area to blind people. That was MUCH more effective than color spray because it affects everyone, and pretty much enables them to get away. My party was able to stop them, however, because one of the party members were outside pretending to take a leak...LOL.
First Steps III, a Vision of Betrayal:
Pyrotechnics is the spell you are thinking of, and the scenario is FR3, not FS2... but I have a problem with the way that spell is written up. It actually only effects one first source, so she can only throw it on one torch. Works basicly the same otherwise, and the "fireworks" covers the entire room.
Being outside shouldn't help thou. she would normally dive into the fishtank from the bar and shatter the "glass" floor to escape to the harbor - or dive out the window for the same. She heads for the water if she can get the McMuffin.
First Steps #2 Delve the...:
I was actually asking about the use of color spray by the Skulk. It is quite possible for the players to be engaged with the kobolds, and for the Skulk to spray them from hiding. This is much more likely to be a TPK than Halli's spray, which she can't see to aim. (and often never gets to use, as the players will close with her in the mist and get a swing before she gets an action)
Anyway, from the sounds of it, I think your two games were nearly perfict than. The PCs had a tough fight, and even with the "Empire Strikes Back" moment when the last bandit standing ALMOST pulled it off... the PCs still won. YEAH! They'll remember that game.
When running FS3, due to my distaste for the way Pyrotechnics is written, I might describe a fireplace in a reasonable location on the map that provides a large enough fire source to be 'reasonable'. A candles on a table seem a bit much for the effect...
(I don't think I've actually had a chance to run FS3 yet... scheduling and not liking to beat on newbies, mostly)
And that's exactly what I went for, with a small amount of fiat'ing. Like I said, this is my favorite module, and more than the other two, it really gets players excited. My return ratio after this is pretty high.
I think color spray in general is just bad. Its really only effective at low levels when its absolutely devastating. (unless you play that oracle build that allows you to use against higher levels)
Also, keep in mind that Color spray is actually different when played by a PC and a NPC.
However, PCs can take color spray and have it be useless for the entire scenario.
After we were TKO'd in my first run , I thought, wow! Color spray is ridiculous, I gotta make a wizard and use it. So I made a wizard and I memorized color spray. It was never that effective. I almost always was forcing the use of it and 2/3rds of all fights for the next few scenarios it was useless due to space or what we were fighting.
again, thats just my opinion on balance. I believe if in this situation the sorcerer only color sprays 1 person at a time, then its fine, but its left up to GM interpretation.
Just to be clear, i am not proposing that we just not give NPCs color spray. I believe it should just be removed from the game.
I've been a player in this scenaria (First Steps part I: In Service to Lore) three times now, and am preparing to run it myself. Now that I can read what the actual module says, it's a lot clearer.
The first time was at GenCon. The alley was not the standard one depicted in the module, but it was close enough. It was hand-drawn (not an issue) but I remember an abandoned handcart that is definitely not depicted in the module as written. It even had some tactical effect, as one of the characters used it to get a height advantage at one point.
<blow by blow description deleted, since it's beside the point>
The second time I was playing a Bard who had been stingy with performance so I had enough left to spent the encounter singing from behind partial cover only to dart out to provide my one healing spell at a critical time. This was again a reasonably balanced party, but perhaps a bit light in spell support (bard and oracle).
The third time was almost a TPK, and would have been if we hadn't had a cleric along. I attribute this to
1) The GM running obscuring mist wrong. He had it centered on the player's party, not on the bad guy caster.
The two sneaky ninjas climb the buildings walls and try to get beyond the obscuring mist on the rooftops. The barbarian came into the mist and felled the fighter in one blow. My gunslinger would like to fall back and shoot, but can't because then the cleric can't get to the fighter without provoking so she draws her sword, fights defensively and misses. The cleric moves into position but doesn't roll well enough to get the figher back into positive numbers at least right away.
Short version. The two clerics are trading channels back and forth, the ninjas are trading fire from the rooftops with the sorceror (having lucky-shotted the rogue). Color spray never entered into it because of the range, but that magic missile is a problem because it ignores the miss chance and cover. The poor gunslinger trying to keep the barbarian from finishing the downed fighter but she's overmatched. With the exception of the rooftop sniper ninja, only the gunslinger hasn't been down at some point and she's been at 1 hp several times. She finishes the scenario disabled at 0.
I ran this Saturday night for a couple newbies and my wife. I noticed when I was reading it that it says something about other civilians fleeing the alley when the mist shows up. So I had the mist show up, civilians flee, then a cinematic clearing of the fog, leaving just the two groups staring down the alley at each other with a nice pre-duel atmosphere.
Ledford hit twice (on the first two rounds of combat, which works wonders for scaring the players). Both times dealt 8 damage and nearly dropped each target (PCs did some shuffling after the first hit). After that, it went very smoothly for the PCs.
That does sound like great flavor, jiggy. Ledford did 9 to my poor gunslinger, but had put the Cavalier well into the negatives on his first hit. It might even have been a crit, I don't remember. I just remember how hard fighting in that mist was, when the bad guys kept making the miss chance roll and we all kept failing the miss chance roll (partly because it's only 20% for adjacent but 50% otherwise).
Other things the party can do:
I've only run one play thru of this so far..the barbarian was very nasty.. he dropped one of the sneaky ones (the rogue) and between the mess that followed the Sorceress came up and sprayed everyone. (including the barbarian). The rest of the fight was 3 on 2.. (Oracle/Ninja vs Cleric/Sorceress/Theif).. the Oracle's fire touch did in the sorceress..then the fight was a comic flailing of trying to hit and miss on both sides for ROUNDS.
OMG that's way too funny. HAHAHHAAH. Good times!
This is similar to what happened one time I ran it. While the party managed to kill the cleric, they ended up falling asleep to the Color Spray. However, since they were in it for the cash they took the two items the group had on them (they had returned the other two to the Grand Lodge already). I cut out some of the cash (since they didn't return the item) but everyone survived. There were a couple of new players, and they realized the game wasn't an auto-win and have enjoyed playing since.
Another tactic I found that could be useful is that the tactics say Larkin is going to try and get flanking with Ledford. How does he do that in such a small area? Attempts to acrobatics past the front line for flanking. Failing that roll could easily drop one baddie out of the combat, and even if he makes his roll suddenly he's flanked. Not something I'd recommend doing every time, but it's a valid tactic if the PC's need a break.
Funny until a table that repeats this ends up with 288GP on their chronicle sheet.
PFS Guide wrote:
Sometimes during the course of a scenario, your players might surprise you with a creative solution to an encounter (or the entire scenario) that you didn’t see coming and that isn’t expressly covered in the scenario. If, for example, your players manage to roleplay their way through a combat and successfully accomplish the goal of that encounter without killing the antagonist, give the PCs the same reward they would have gained had they defeated their opponent in combat. If that scene specifically calls for the PCs to receive gold piece rewards based on the gear collected from the defeated combatants, instead allow the PCs to find a chest of gold (or something similar) that gives them the same rewards.
I would rule that they still get the rewards. This was an ambush, not an NPC that had to be beaten, arrested, etc. The clear cut goal of that encounter was to simply 'survive,' and it sounds like that was accomplished. There was enough warning (with perception checks) and enough information to suspect that the party was walking into an ambush type trap. They found a skill based way to get past it and meet the true scenario objective (to make it back to the Lodge with their report).
Phillip Willis wrote:
The ambush people have a metric *#%^-ton of gear. Not getting that gear by running away from a fight they didn't even know was coming is a not creative solution.
And once again we totally disagree. Not surprising you've got quite the track record going.
I've got the track record of what going?
Anyway, I think we're like 50/50 or better...cuz I've actually agreed wtih you on a number of threads lately.
Anywho, that rule guideline says,
" If that scene specifically calls for the PCs to receive gold piece rewards based on the gear collected from the defeated combatants, instead allow the PCs to find a chest of gold (or something similar) that gives them the same rewards."
So, it doesn't matter that the baddies have a metric @%@^@-ton of gear for this exercise. :) If the party suspects something is amiss based on earlier clues, and goes outside the box to insure their safe return to the lodge (which really is the main objective), the GM should do something to supplement their take based on the above guidelines. I would probably cross off the items as potential purchases from the Chronicle sheet, however, since they did not actually find those particular items on their trip.
Now, if I was running the table, and let's say that the party had no idea about the shady NPCs following them all over town with less-than-honorable-intentions. BUT, for whatever reason, the party decided to climb on the roof and take the scenic route home. I would probably rule that the bad guys, who have clearly been following them this entire time, would have seen the party's detour, and knowing the party was heading back to the lodge (based on their initial direction), decided to climb up on the roof from an opposing direction ...so the encounter would still play out. After all, it's a memorible ending to a fun scenario...I would hate for them to miss out just because they took a different route home.
The guide to organized play also states:
When running a Season 0 scenario with 1 Prestige Point available per PC, treat this as the sole faction mission, and award a second Prestige Point to PCs who complete the overall scenario goal, as given by the venture-captain at the scenario’s introduction.
And...how does that have the bearing on receiving gold for getting past an encounter via creative means? After all, the party has done the four things asked of them by the VC. No where does she ask them to clear the streets of thugs or take on anyone that might be stalking them. And what does Prestige have to do with gold and... Wait...this isn't even a Season 0 dealie! HEY! You're trying to trick me! I'm watching you!!!
Dust Raven wrote:
Well, the scenario states "Rewards: If the PCs survive the ambush, give each player 129 gp." It does not state "If the PCs defeat the ambushers." Technically "survive" includes both running away and losing the fight. Only a PC that actually dies will not receive the reward.
this, as often happens, depends largely on the judge. YMMV.
That sounds like someone already knew the scenario, or at least this part of it. I assumed that's why you put Somehow in italics.
I had that problem the first time I ever ran a PFS scenario (which happened to be this one). All 4 players had played it before & this was the only thing running in the first slot (Thursday afternoon) at the con - so they were just going through the motions to get XP. One player in particular was obviously metagaming throughout the session, & ended the last "fight"
Win Button:It was anti-climactic to say the least.
by getting initiative and casting sleep as a pimped up caster (he also min-maxes & powergames) on the baddies, every one of which failed their save. Knew to prep it, save it, where/when to use it.
However I've continued to GM as I can & keep learning and aside from time management issues (I always run long) I've had a great time running scenarios. I've even started up a monthly PFS game day at our local store, with good turnouts so far (18 players at 3 tables, then 21 players at 4 tables).
Elvis Aron Manypockets wrote:
you realize that sleep is a full round to cast - so the bandits wouldn't all be in the area when the spell caster finishes... and the wizard wouldn't be able to see where most of them are?
(Surprise round) Wizard wins init. and begins casting. Ledford, realizing that the "jig is up" charges (can he reach the wizard?), Halli cast Mist and the rest of the bandits move in the mist.
(next round) if Ledford is still up - and is in reach of the wizard he gets an AOO as the wizard finishes casting sleep... and where is he targeting it? on Ledford or someplace he can't see in the mist?
Elvis Aron Manypockets wrote:
Everything you described didn't sound like metagaming at all. Maybe there was more to it.
1. A Wizard maxing out INT(DC) and initiative is pretty much the staple of a good wizard build especially if planning to do AOEs or control the battlefield, heck even so you can get haste/slow off before everyone goes.
2. What other time would this Wizard have used sleep? this was pretty much the only time to use it.
3. Sleep is a great spell, there are a few staples a wizard should use. Sleep would be one of them. so its not uncommon that they would memorize this and hold it for a group of humanoids.
4. as was already pointed out, the only person who could have really been affected was Ledford because the rest of the NPCs should be untargettable in the mist. right?
Is it possible, you knew they had run it before, so you were looking for a reason to accuse them of metagaming? or was there more to it than you let on in first post?
I have seen two groups back out of the ally as the mist comes up.
and before someone jumps in and calls meta-gaming on these groups, in one of the groups the only guy that wanted to stay and fight was one of the two that had played it. The other two were new to PFS - but were from a very focused home game, and ... had a very different play style.
One group was all people who had played it (and likely run it), but they were very much in character. Played it as "we duck into this ally to avoid the street entertainers summoning devils - and the ally floods with mist? Gack! we're outta here!" It seemed to fit.
In one of the groups I was in, the half-orc barbarian (still blue from the previous encounter) wanted to push his way through the crowd instead of ducking down the alley. The GM let him try, but one of the performers cast an illusion on him giving him polka-dots before disappearing back into the crowd. He nearly had to be restrained from raging.
The spur used to get him to go down the alley was "We don't have time for this ! We need to get back to the Society Hall before dark to get credit for what we've done."
As a GM, I might mention that attempting to force a way through the crowd or backing out of the alley and going around or taking to the rooftops might cost too much time. But if they insist, what'cha gonna do ?
Joe Fighter looks at crowd of performers and illusions in the street. "Pharasma's boney seat! we'll never get back to the lodge at this rate!"
Everyone who has played this before KNOWs the last combat takes place in that ally. Meta-gamers "gear-up" and march down those railroad tracks, ready for a fight... after all most of the loot is in that ally!
Nope, it was my first time GMing and I'm relatively new to RPing in general (2 years now). I know now I was underprepared. But that just makes it worse as I feel used:
1. He's run it before (& had it prepped to run later in the weekend at a table I helped fill to make legal) & insisted that since his Init was higher than anyone's he should be first in the surprise round BEFORE the NPC casts her spell.
2. He didn't correct me when I allowed sleep to take effect immediately - a mistake on my part but it was his spell. Good to know though.
3. In response to others, this was just the last of a string of pretty obvious (to me) meta-gaming -
Spoiler:. And I know he wasn't playing a wizard, can't remember what class it was, possibly magus? Multiple 7's as dump stats in every character I've seen of his.
"I stand back in the corner when he goes to open that box" so no blue paint; "I climb into the rafters as soon as I enter the warehouse on the dock" (avoiding the rats & wanting to drop a rope down to the crate, all before I even described the scene)
I know now that's just how he plays (confirmed by many of his peers) and he's OK once you get past that & his overpowering personality. I'm still kinda overwhelmed with learning PF rules & prepping scenarios for PFS & modules for my weekly PF group.
Elvis Aron Manypockets wrote:
3. In response to others, this was just the last of a string of pretty obvious (to me) meta-gaming
Is he a MMORPG player by any chance? It sounds like he's 'grinding' a 1st-level PC...
Although replaying First Steps is legal, spoiling the plot and detracting from the game experience of the other players isn't. If you're GMing for him in future and it looks like it's happening again, warn him. If he continues, ask him to leave the table. If he still continues to cause trouble, make your event co-ordinator/VO aware of the problem.
he's OK once you get past that & his overpowering personality
He sounds like quite the charmer.
Elvis Aron Manypockets wrote:
I'm still kinda overwhelmed with learning PF rules & prepping scenarios for PFS & modules for my weekly PF group.
Although 'In Service to Lore' is great for novice players, it's actually quite a challenging scenario for new GMs. The encounter at the orphanage needs some proper role-playing, and the party in the ambush have a wide variety of abilities and tactics - it's basically like running a party of PCs on your own.
I'd look for threads on here recommending simple scenarios suitable for new GMs.
Also if you're overwhelmed by GM prep, it sounds like you should talk to your players about spreading the GMing load. It's easy to switch GMs in PFS play.
I'd look for threads on here recommending simple scenarios suitable for new GMs.
Replying to myself, here are a couple:Introducing a new GM to PFS?
Simplest modules to run? (might be a bit out of date)
Elvis Aron Manypockets wrote:
don't beat yourself up over it. and while it is likely that he didn't know that sleep is a full round... he should have.
and, just in case no one else has said it...
Do try to see past the MIN-MAXed characters to realize that just because someone takes dump stats, doesn't make them a "jerk". A jerk player (or judge) can be just as much a jerk with a PC that is all 12s and 14s... that's the nature of jerks. (and as a side note, we all have a little of the jerk in us... some keep it small and caged up better).
Again, that's for judging. Hope to play for you some time! (or run one for you maybe?)
I am preparing to run this scenario in a few days. What I find odd, is that the intent seems to be that Larkin the rogue would be on the front line with the cleric and the halfling barbarian. Thus, using the gang up feat, he is considered in a flanking position and can sneak attack from this front line. But that doesnt work if they are in the mist. He cannot land a sneak attack against a target with concealment. I don't think the idea of giving Larkin (a rogue) the gang up feat, was only to have him get a flanking bonus, and no sneak attack. Unless of course, we use the cinematic idea of waiting for the fog to slowly dissipate and reveal the thugs in the alley. Adding to that that the sorcerer plan of attack is to attack from range.. that doesnt work either if they are in the mist. Ultimately, my feeling is that the scenario intent was for a cinematic battle just as the fog dissipates. Make sense?
Create the mist follow the first couple of rounds of tactics with the mist up, and then dismiss it granting Larkin SA and the sorc can now use ranged attacks effectively
Caderyn, I like this idea of dismississing the mist at some point to allow the sorcerer to range attacks (her point-blank & precise acid rays)
Also, I see what other posters meant by a choke point... I didn't realize it was that bad until I used the provided map in a simulation against the iconics.
But I will have him rush if possible, and then have Deandre the cleric shout at him to back-off or she channel him to death! (which would obviously hurt everyone.. but she doesn't care that much about others does she)
If Halli is in the mist,a dn wants to keep in up for a few rounds before dismissing it (prevent the PC from effectively range attacking) I just thought of an idea which seemed fun.
the bandits in this are ham-strung by bad tac-tics. Run effectively they have a chance of inflicting a TPK. So... I beleave our instructions are to run them with the written tac-tics. "Run as written".
Yep. And noticing how the text demonstrates how the evil cleric is ready to hit anyone in her group that does not behave, I really think that a channel of negative energy against everyone (if she is dispointed by her group.. which she will) is not out of the question.
The Great Rinaldo! wrote:
I didn't interpret the map as having a choke point -- I saw it as being a 15' wide alley with some overhanging roofs that would provide cover from any enterprising PCs who climb up a wall for ranged attacks. That changes the tactics of the NPCs and the PCs both dramatically.
This ally was published in two different Map Packs. Ambush Sites (I think), is the one I use. You've got the layout now Great Rinaldo?
(But different scales on some of the season 0 maps drive me crazy. Draw out a map, then discover that the scale is something odd - like 15' per square! LOL! if you're drawing a map, and find that there are 3 huge creatures in a 30' by 30' room... check to see if there is a note on the map saying something like "1sq.=15 ft.")
Yes Great Rhinaldo. It is true that the map could also be interpreted, that the roof is over the squares in some areas.
In my opinion, the enemy melee team (Barbarian, Cleric and Rogue) should try to position themselves (except for Ledford lack of tactics) so they can activate the sneak attacks of Larkin, though a front line gang up* and a dismissed obscuring mist when the time comes.
This may seem trivial, but on such a limited battleground, it can make a significant difference for the characters on the ground whether they have the space to do so or not.
Thanks for your input.
Wow, visual interpretation of that alley map really comes into play. I, too, interpret it as a fifteen foot wide alley with some of the buildings have illustrative overhangs. No choke points.
I've been prepping this all afternoon and plan to run it according to the ten rounds deep script that I developed based on my understanding of the proscribed tactics.
before combat: The street fair, as it has been designed to do by Deandre, jostles and funnels the PCs into an alley other people are also using.
Halli uses a scroll of mage armor.
Roughly coterminously, any PCs who made the earlier perception checks and saw any of the thugs recognize them up ahead. What they see is Deandre casting protection from good on herself and Halli casting obscuring mist from a scroll.
Note that the one minute/ten round long obscuring mist becomes the controlling factor in the fight, and hampers the bad guys far more than it helps them, especially the sorceress. Combatants inside the cloud have a 20% miss chance on opponents adjacent to them in melee, and "creatures farther away have total concealment (50% miss chance, and the attacker cannot use sight to locate the target.)"
surprise round/round 1: Deandre casts shield of faith on herself (note that its deflection bonus to AC does not stack with the deflection bonus from protection from good.
Halli has taken herself out of the fight since she won't close. She can see no opponents and thus can't cast her ranged spells. I'm going to have her simply giggle and taunt unless the vagaries of initiative and player choice find a PC closing with her, in which case she'll use her one action to cast color spray.
Larkin will use his one action to close with the nearest PC, unless a PC closes with him first, in which case he'll use his one action to attack. Keep his morale condition in mind.
Ledford will take a free action to enter rage, and then do the same as Larkin, power attacking if he gets a swing.
Round 2: Deandre will close into melee and attempt to threaten a PC that will enable Larkin to sneak attack, either flanking with him or threatening the same PC Ledford is if Larkin is in a position to then attack that PC, or can be in the next round. Note that she fights to the death.
Halli is still in the mist. If a PC has closed with her, or closes with her this round, she will cast defensively (concentration check +4 vs DC 17), attempting to color spray again, and then take a five-foot step back. Note that she fights to the death.
Larkin will melee with a character that allows him his sneak attack.
Ledford will power attack a pc. Take note of whether this is his first or second attack, tracking his misses with power attack. If he misses his first two swings, he switches to basic melee attacks.
Rounds 3, 4, 5, & 6: As Round 2, except that it's possible Ledford will have stopped power attacking and Halli may back herself out of the mist.
Round 7: Ledford's rage drops and he becomes fatigued. He offers to call it a draw, and uses the withdraw action to attempt to leave the area.
Rounds 8 & 9: As 2-6, except without Ledford.
Round 10: The mist dissipates and ranged combat and spellcasting becomes feasible.
Of course I don't think it'll go that long. It seems to me that, especially with the map as I'm interpreting it (I honestly believe correctly, though I know I'm in the minority from what I've read here), that everything will depend on (1) whether any PCs get to act in the surprise round, (2) initiative order, and (3) whether any PCs will choose to enter the mist. I don't see why they would, especially considering that the fight will be coming to them in the form of Larkin, Ledford, and Deandre.
The Allyway is not 15' wide. At no point is it wider than 10'. Running it as 15' wide (or 20 wide, or whatever) is a modification to the map... which is fine I guess. It does change the encounter though. Are you changeing any of the other maps?