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New scenarios too difficult?


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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**

Andrew Christian wrote:
For the record, my new wife (yeah, just got married on Thursday!) creates concept characters.

Congratulations Andrew.

Should I have sent you a fish, even though I am not Aquaman? :)

Andoran *****

I'd take a fish. I like fish. I once created a animal style of martial arts called Trout, where you flop around on the ground to stymie your foes.

My wife, not so much. She doesn't like fish.

Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

I finally got a chance to play 4-02: In Wrath's Shadow last night. We had a minimal party (three 3rd-level characters, and a player with no level-appropriate character running a 4th-level pregen).
Party makeup: Fighter, Druid, Sorcerer & Bard.

I'm sure many posters here will not be at all surprised to find out that this did not end well for the group. When we got to the final encounter the front-line fighter was the only one of us who could do any real damage (the druid's animal companion could hit occasionally, but to no great effect). After a couple of rounds the fighter and our primary spellcaster had both failed saving throws (which, since they're DC18 or harder isn't really a shock) so they weren't contributing at full value.

Details:
The fighter got hit by a curse, so had a 50% chance of not acting in any round. The sorcerer was blinded, so she too was severely limited. As these are both one-shot 'save or suck' effects (with a permanent duration, even) this was not good.

We elected to bail out (except for the fighter, who valiantly stood his ground to cover our retreat), so at least it wasn't a TPK. Afterwards, we discussed this with the GM.

Details of BBEG stat blocks, &c.:

The scale-down from six characters to four characters is to remove one of the two mooks in the final encounter. Really? Just that? They were just speed bumps - after one or two rounds they're gone, but the BBEG is still there. But by this time there's a good chance that one or two party members (and probably the most dangerous ones) have been nerfed. A six-member group may be able to cope with that, but a four-member group is going to be in a whole lot more trouble.

Comparing the BBEG's stat blocks for sub-tier 3-4 and sub-tier 6-7 shows a difference in AC of only two. A full-BAB character will gain +3 to hit with those three levels, and is more likely to have been able to afford a better weapon, so is going to have a better chance to hit.

Summary: I don't believe this scenario is balanced properly for a group of 4 players, and is quite likely to be (relatively speaking) significantly harder at the lower sub-tier than at the higher sub-tier. That's particularly true if the characters have been built using the lessons learned over the last season(s) of PFS play, with skill points and abilities diversified (to solve those pesky faction missions), or if all the low sub-tier characters are at the low level; if we had had 4th-level characters instead of 3rd-level that's a lot bigger a difference than between parties of all 6th or 7th level.

*

JohnF wrote:
Summary: I don't believe this scenario is balanced properly for a group of 4 players, and is quite likely to be (relatively speaking) significantly harder at the lower sub-tier than at the higher sub-tier.

I played Golemworks and Green Market with 4 players also, and I also believe they weren't balanced well for 4 players (both would have been reasonable with 6 players). What they removed/modified was insignificant and doesn't make up for the loss of 2 PCs, much more could have been removed. I can confirm this about Golemworks, because I'm about to GM it.

Qadira ** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

I haven't really looked at those specific scenarios (though I have played wrath's shadow), but the changes between 4 players and 6 should always reduce the CR by 1. That's should almost always be a significant change. If you are playing in a four player party, the challenge level is mathematically the same as it was for season 1-3. Only 5-7 player tables are tougher.

It is nearly impossible to create a scenario that is equally challenging for everyone. Essentially you are trying to make the same "experience" work for four different size/ character level mixes. Add in the fact that some monsters are easy for their CR and some tougher and that terrain affects parties at different levels differently (for example in a tier 3-7 a 20' chasm is almost impassable for 3-4 but a speed-bump for 6-7) and it's amazing that its as close as it is.

I'm not trying to make excuses for myself and my fellow writers... we try hard to get things as square as possible for everyone, but challenge levels will vary (sometimes significantly). If y'all wanted to throw us a bone you might start creating standardized groups with more structured builds and identical group sizes so we have a better target to write for ;)

Grand Lodge *

I do very much like the idea of a series of modules called "Step up" or "Next Steps" that are for Tier 3-4 that help players understand the value of the right equipment, that you can roleplay AROUND fights rather than ploughing through them etc.

Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

Dennis Baker wrote:
Add in the fact that some monsters are easy for their CR and some tougher . . .

That's certainly a contributor to the problem. To continue to use the same example

Wrath's Shadow:
Compare the subtier 3-4 encounter in B6 and the BBEG in B8. Both are supposedly CR 6. For one encounter you need to be able to hit AC 14, and the hardest save you need to make is DC 12. In the other the AC is 25, and there are DC 18 or DC 19 saves. (If you can make a touch attack, that's only against AC 20).

There's no way those present a comparable challenge to most level three parties. A group of things you can handle (even if there are three or four of them) is an inconvenience; something hardly any of you can hit (and who saves against most things low-level non-martial types can throw at them) is going to cause you serious problems.

Silver Crusade *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka Wendy-Ann

I was the sorcerer in the Wrath's shadow session Johnf referred to. I been playing PFS since last February and that is the first session, in PFS, that I have walked away from the table feeling frustrated, annoyed, and useless (not the GM's fault).

Wrath's Shadow:
My 3rd level sorcerer's DCs for her spells are DC13 & DC14, the BBEG has +8,+8 and +13. There is no way I am going to have any effect (and I can't hit her in melee or ranged attacks). Then I have have to make a DC19 save against blindness with a +3, guess what, I failed. Luckily I had a Party member to help me get out otherwise I would probably have died with the brave fighter. The scenario was fine until that last fight with the BBEG

Not my favorite scenario and one that will make me think seriously about tackling a season 4 scenario unless there are 6 people at the table and even then....

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Fresno aka Sarta

One of the tricks in ratcheting up difficulty, while staying within CR is to find synergies between creatures and/or traps where the combination of the two or three makes the encounter far more difficult than the CR implies. I can provide several examples in late season 3, but there's no need for spoilers.

The other trick is that not all CR 1 creatures are built the same. Some are simply more formidable than others. The same is true at nearly every CR. Now, if you take these stronger creatures as your base, add advanced templates, and then add "non-key" class levels, you can very easily wind up with a creature with a deceptively low CR for the true danger they pose.

The solution at higher tiers is to prepare for every eventuality that you can. Unfortunately, at level 3, in a small group of level 3's, it can be hard to have all your bases covered.

Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

Dennis Baker wrote:
If y'all wanted to throw us a bone you might start creating standardized groups with more structured builds and identical group sizes so we have a better target to write for ;)

I know this was a tongue-in-cheek suggestion, but there's more than a grain of truth there. For some time now I've been advocating giving players better information about scenarios, so that there's a chance the venture captain will find a mustered group before him that might be able to handle the problems. If all you've got is a Warhorn signup (which might, if you are lucky, give you some hints about what the other players will be bringing to the table) it's hard to know whether your character will be able to be effective.

As Will points out, this problem is going to be most noticeable at low levels. I'm certainly going to think twice before I sign up for a season 4 table with less than six players if I've got a low sub-tier character; while most of us got out alive this time, I'm reluctant to push my luck too much further. That's doubly true for a character that's difficult to replace (such as the one built with a racial boon that I plan on playing occasionally over the next year).


Will Johnson wrote:

One of the tricks in ratcheting up difficulty, while staying within CR is to find synergies between creatures and/or traps where the combination of the two or three makes the encounter far more difficult than the CR implies. I can provide several examples in late season 3, but there's no need for spoilers.

The other trick is that not all CR 1 creatures are built the same. [..]

Other "tricks":

  • Have the scenario set up so that the villain almost certainly ambushes the PCs.
  • Put in unusual terrain that punishes the PCs more than the NPCs and forget to include that terrain in the encounter CR.

    Just to clarify: you're not saying that using these tricks to game the CR system is a good thing, are you?


  • Tamago wrote:

    I've noticed a trend toward Pathfinder Society scenarios becoming significantly more difficult recently. This seems to particularly be the case with the new Season 4 scenarios and the six-player assumption -- even when playing the four-player version of the scenario, it often seems much harder than a comparable Season 1 or 2 scenario.

    I don't think you should dial back the difficulty. Just don't play season 3 or 4 scenario's with new npc's or those that you know are poor at fighting/building characters.

    If that's still too hard, you can always have a dmpc cleric or tank with the party, to save the day if needed.

    Apart from that, many homegames have some sort of homebrew rule to suit the game to their needs. Don't be afraid to give the players a higher point buy, for example, or have them start at second level.


    Wendy-Ann wrote:

    I was the sorcerer in the Wrath's shadow session Johnf referred to. I been playing PFS since last February and that is the first session, in PFS, that I have walked away from the table feeling frustrated, annoyed, and useless (not the GM's fault).

    ** spoiler omitted **

    Not my favorite scenario and one that will make me think seriously about tackling a season 4 scenario unless there are 6 people at the table and even then....

    Not to crack down on your character, but dc 13 at level 3 ?

    Do you know the feat spell focus ? And, as a sorcerer, you have ranged touch attacks which have a fair chance of hitting, unless you really dumped your DEX, did'nt take any ranged touch spells, or there isn't a single party member who can buff your + to attack.

    Qadira ****

    lets not be too harsh on wendy, first off that just means she has a 16 cha, and doesn't have spell focus, really that isn't some major failing.

    If you assume she's not human, and wanted to live she likely has toughness :-p

    HOWEVER, if you're going to run with lower "casting stat" you should focus on spells that allow no save, like magic missile, I presume with that lower cha, that your other stats are better.

    If you focused more on other mental stats, for better saves and more skill points, i'd suggest finding spells that have no save, like magic missile and scorching ray, as well as party buff spells like enlarge person, and later on, haste.

    no matter how good your save DCs are there will always be monsters that just don't care, its times like these that buffs and No save spells are awesome :D

    Andoran *****

    I agree with Benrislove.

    There are hundreds of valid ways to make many different classes. Not everyone is about sucking all the fun out of playing something interesting, by taking the exact same feats and spell selections that everyone else says is something you have to take.

    However, and this is a bit however, and this may simply be a function of a new player who doesn't know the ins and outs of the system that well, if you are going to underoptimize in one area (or even the character class's main shtick) to make your character more versatile or well-rounded, then it is incredibly prudent to make build choices that will mitigate that in other areas. If you choose to make a complete under-optimized character, despite a good knowledge and experience of the game system (newbies are excused), then that is your choice to face more difficult challenges and may often be rendered useless.

    All characters, even the most uber-optimized or most versatile, will run into situations that make them useless or less useful than normal.

    It isn't the campaign's job to cater to interesting character builds, but rather to make challenging and interesting encounters.

    This is in no way an indictment of Wendy Ann's character, as I don't know the build, I don't know the reasons for her build choices, and I don't know how she plays or her experience. She could have a completely useful and well-built character that just happened to run into a scenario that was not conducive to her character's strengths, and played on all her character's weaknesses.

    That happens sometimes, even to the most uber-builds out there.

    Andoran *****

    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
    Nelith wrote:

    Not to crack down on your character, but dc 13 at level 3 ?

    Do you know the feat spell focus ? And, as a sorcerer, you have ranged touch attacks which have a fair chance of hitting, unless you really dumped your DEX, did'nt take any ranged touch spells, or there isn't a single party member who can buff your + to attack.

    I don't think a +1 or 2 to the DC will matter when his poor save already succeeds on a 5 or better.

    Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Fresno aka Sarta

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    hogarth wrote:
    Just to clarify: you're not saying that using these tricks to game the CR system is a good thing, are you?

    I'm not passing judgement. For years players have been coming here to the forums and demanding that scenarios be more difficult.

    It does seem like since the middle of season three a far higher percent of scenarios have pushed the CR system to new limits.

    There have always been difficult scenarios, but they were sporadic. It seems like it has become more of a science lately.

    My concern is that we players who come to the message boards and post are atypical players and GM's. So, when we demand harder scenarios, we may not be echoing the demands of the general populace.

    I personally have had a blast. However, this doesn't mean that new players to the hobby have had as good a time. One of my goals as a GM and Venture Officer has been to work with new players to help them with understanding the rules and the options available to their characters. The hope is that this will result in them enjoying difficult scenarios.

    I do not believe that it is productive to attack other people's builds -- especially when you know nothing about the build. The attacks on Wendy's sorcerer have been completely uncalled for. There is no single right way to make a character!

    Her CHA may be low due to being a draconic bloodline sorcerer who specializes in hand to hand. She may have cranked her Dex to capitalize on ray and touch attacks, meaning her feats have been tied up in point blank, precise shot, and weapon finesse. Maybe her strength is high because she wants to become an eldrith knight. Without seeing the entire build and knowing her intent, folks should back off.

    I've run games for and played with Wendy and John. Both create fantastic characters with rich personalities and play very tactically. I've not seen or played with Wendy's sorcerer, but I can't imagine it being sub-par in any fashion.

    Andoran ***

    hogarth wrote:
    Will Johnson wrote:

    One of the tricks in ratcheting up difficulty, while staying within CR is to find synergies between creatures and/or traps where the combination of the two or three makes the encounter far more difficult than the CR implies. I can provide several examples in late season 3, but there's no need for spoilers.

    The other trick is that not all CR 1 creatures are built the same. [..]

    Other "tricks":

  • Have the scenario set up so that the villain almost certainly ambushes the PCs.
  • Put in unusual terrain that punishes the PCs more than the NPCs and forget to include that terrain in the encounter CR.

    Just to clarify: you're not saying that using these tricks to game the CR system is a good thing, are you?

  • The tricks listed were among those that caused the LG Core scenarios to be considered ridiculously anti-player, or why you had to not only min-max, but go into downright munchkinism in order to have a chance to survive.

    I literally played an LG scenario which, for APL 2, comparable to sub-tier 1-2 in PFS, had a mummy as one of the enemies. CR 5 as just a plain mummy, and therefore "legal" as an encounter for a party of four first level PCs, but, really, there comes a point where the challenge goes from challenge to ridiculous.

    And, to be honest, the PFRPG version of the Mummy is still only CR 5, but is actually nastier than the 3.5 version.
    +11 to hit in 3.5, +14 to hit in PF
    55 hp in 3.5, 60 hp in PF
    AC 20, DR5/- for both, just the thing for first and second level PCs to handle.
    Oh, and never forget that DC 16 (16!) despair, where if you fail you are paralyzed for 1-4 rounds
    +8 Will save, lovely, for what few Will save spells apply to Undead.

    When I played it, we had a party of 4 PCs, 2 1st, 2 2nd, and 2 riding dogs. We ran away, but lost, literally, half the party, 2 PCs, one of the dogs. And we only managed to get away because we had access to a mining car that could move faster than our Dwarf/encumbered party.

    I would rather not see that arms race again, thank you. I don't have the knowledge to win it on the player side, and it just makes me feel unclean as a GM.

    Let's avoid that "Use a creature at the CR cap for the encounter, with all sorts of special defenses and attacks, then start stacking on those templates and class levels that don't add to CR. Oh, and make the treasure stuff that is useful, and used, by the creature, too." stuff, please. That rapidly moves out of the fun zone, and would likely make me, at least, do something else for my gaming.

    Andoran ***

    Nelith wrote:
    Tamago wrote:

    I've noticed a trend toward Pathfinder Society scenarios becoming significantly more difficult recently. This seems to particularly be the case with the new Season 4 scenarios and the six-player assumption -- even when playing the four-player version of the scenario, it often seems much harder than a comparable Season 1 or 2 scenario.

    I don't think you should dial back the difficulty. Just don't play season 3 or 4 scenario's with new npc's or those that you know are poor at fighting/building characters.

    If that's still too hard, you can always have a dmpc cleric or tank with the party, to save the day if needed.

    Apart from that, many homegames have some sort of homebrew rule to suit the game to their needs. Don't be afraid to give the players a higher point buy, for example, or have them start at second level.

    Nelith, please keep your eye on the forums you reply on, as, overall, none of your solutions are legal for PFS.

    Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

    Nelith wrote:
    Wendy-Ann wrote:

    I was the sorcerer in the Wrath's shadow session Johnf referred to. I been playing PFS since last February and that is the first session, in PFS, that I have walked away from the table feeling frustrated, annoyed, and useless (not the GM's fault).

    ** spoiler omitted **

    Not my favorite scenario and one that will make me think seriously about tackling a season 4 scenario unless there are 6 people at the table and even then....

    Not to crack down on your character, but dc 13 at level 3 ?

    Do you know the feat spell focus ? And, as a sorcerer, you have ranged touch attacks which have a fair chance of hitting, unless you really dumped your DEX, did'nt take any ranged touch spells, or there isn't a single party member who can buff your + to attack.

    Ranged touch spells aren't the answer. Apparently you missed the part of my post where I pointed out that the BBEG had a touch AC of 20. That's not what I call "a fair chance of hitting" with a baseline +1 BAB (in fact it's only about half as likely to work as forcing the BBEG to make a saving throw). Even with "Inspire Courage" running (which it was: that's often the first thing my bard does) a level three party has distinct problems with this encounter.

    Note, too, the party makeup (also quoted up-thread): Fighter, Druid, Bard & Sorcerer. Who would you expect to be buffing the sorcerer? The bard has (and was using) party buffs. The other buff-throwing character there was, in fact, the sorcerer - she had already cast "enlarge person" on the fighter.

    I don't think the party was playing poorly - we were just put up against something that was too much for us to handle.

    Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

    Benrislove wrote:
    If you focused more on other mental stats, for better saves and more skill points, i'd suggest finding spells that have no save, like magic missile and scorching ray, as well as party buff spells like enlarge person, and later on, haste.

    Note that Scorching Ray requires a ranged touch attack. That doesn't work too well in this scenario. (And, as noted in a different post, the sorcerer does have Enlarge Person)

    Qadira ** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    hogarth wrote:
    Will Johnson wrote:

    One of the tricks in ratcheting up difficulty, while staying within CR is to find synergies between creatures and/or traps where the combination of the two or three makes the encounter far more difficult than the CR implies. I can provide several examples in late season 3, but there's no need for spoilers.

    The other trick is that not all CR 1 creatures are built the same. [..]

    Other "tricks":

  • Have the scenario set up so that the villain almost certainly ambushes the PCs.
  • Put in unusual terrain that punishes the PCs more than the NPCs and forget to include that terrain in the encounter CR.

    Just to clarify: you're not saying that using these tricks to game the CR system is a good thing, are you?

  • I'm 'guilty' of more than one or two of these things. You can flip it around though, how many encounters are plainly broadcast in advance so the PCs can easily get the jump on the bad guy? Or have acres of prep time and encounter one of two bad-guys in a 20x20 room?

    Terrain in particular is part of the game. Archers and spellcasters are pretty lame unless you have some kind of terrain in the mix to give them some time to work their stuff. Also, terrain is a great way to let some of the more rounded characters in the group shine. I'm almost certainly guilty of not bumping the CR for terrain on occasion. Sometimes it can be a tough call.

    Ambushes... I should be limited. I've actually gotten push-back from the developers because I've put too many ambushes in a scenario... and in retrospect they were dead right, three of the four encounters were ambushes *blush*. My take on ambushes is if possible they should be avoidable if players are cautious. As an example, a trap might alert a creature to the PCs presence and the PCs can detect the trap.

    As a player... predictable final encounter against a solo enemy in a 30x30 room is about as boring as it gets. So it's going to be pretty rare you see that sort of encounter in a scenario I write.

    Cheliax ***

    From my experience as a GM the PCs most at risk when the party is only just within subtier is any front liner playing above thier natural subtier. Any fighter type taking two hits is at serious risk of dying.

    Though I note that in season 4 a five player team is the hardest challenge, and this was proved to me with a team that were just within subtier in Golemworks Incident. They were very experienced players but they still had two PCs within a whisker of death and the scenario overran time.

    Silver Crusade **

    When I GM, I prefer to push the characters' resources, but not in the form of nigh-unhittable ACs on things like

    Scenario spoiler:
    Ghast clerics

    Epic ACs should be reserved for epic monsters, I think.

    Andoran *****

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    David Bowles wrote:

    When I GM, I prefer to push the characters' resources, but not in the form of nigh-unhittable ACs on things like

    ** spoiler omitted **

    Epic ACs should be reserved for epic monsters, I think.

    How is a 27 epic?

    *****

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    A third level gnome cleric with heavy armor proficiency, the defense subdomain, +1 full plate, 12 dex and time to prep and cast barkskin, shield, and shield of faith is AC 30.

    A third level human fighter with +1 full plate, 12 dex, and a tower shield is AC 25.

    Silver Crusade **

    I meant epic for the level. Perhaps epic was too strong of a word.

    Fine, then, we'll go back to the "build better characters" argument :\ I guess these groups should be packing more combat optimization then; I don't know what else say. Either the 27 AC is inappropriate for PFS at that tier, or it is not.

    Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington aka WalterGM

    Kyle Baird wrote:
    A third level gnome cleric with heavy armor proficiency, the defense subdomain, +1 full plate, 12 dex and time to prep and cast barkskin, shield, and shield of faith is AC 30.

    He also hides behind the corner and takes a total defense action, with 3 ranks in Acrobatics, pumping it to a 40...

    Or he's a monk with crane wing?

    It's pronounced "Winning," Kyle :P

    Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    David Bowles wrote:
    Either the 27 AC is inappropriate for PFS at that tier, or it is not.

    It's not. It just requires more tactical thinking.

    Trip it. Now it has 23 AC. Have 2-3 people use Aid Another to assist the biggest damage-dealer's attack roll. Now he's got an (effective) 17-19 AC.

    Is that appropriate for the tier?

    Qadira ****

    JohnF wrote:
    Benrislove wrote:
    If you focused more on other mental stats, for better saves and more skill points, i'd suggest finding spells that have no save, like magic missile and scorching ray, as well as party buff spells like enlarge person, and later on, haste.
    Note that Scorching Ray requires a ranged touch attack. That doesn't work too well in this scenario. (And, as noted in a different post, the sorcerer does have Enlarge Person)

    I was more pointing towards the fact that (by the tone of Wendy's post) she felt underwhelmed by what she was able to do, so I attempted to offer alternate spell suggestions to help alleviate that in the future.

    I sincerely didn't mean any thing negative at all, and apologize if my comments were taken as attacks on the build.

    I know you two were in the gencon special (part 2, and I believe you succeeded) I have no doubt of your tactical abilities.

    My suggestions were to help her from feeling like she had nothing to do (wand of magic missile is surprisingly useful, it's way better than just skipping actions, and that bit of damage adds up :D.

    Again if any offense was taken my sincerest apologies, it was not my intent.

    Now back to AC 25 at level 3. this guy is a problem, not because his AC is high, but because he's undead (bunch of immunities) he has consistent AOE damage (channel) AND his touch ac and other saves are too high.

    He simply has no "weak spot" and can't be reasoned with. this doesn't create a tactical situation, it creates a grindfest of everyone rolling dice until one side is dead. I personally don't like fights that are decided by simulators.

    If the party doesn't have adamantine or improved sunder, they probably can't do anything to lower his AC. hell even his CMD is insanely high.

    Channel energy+high AC is very powerful against low level characters.

    the solution or "harder vs more PCs" is not "make 90% of pc actions do nothing so it's like a 1v1" the solution is "more enemies that are reasonable/dangerous combatants."

    Lets take that same ghoul cleric, lower his AC to... 21, put in 2-3 wights instead of worthless dudes, then your fight is hard, it's dangerous but all the player's actions do stuff. it's also more balanced so removing the wights for a 4 person party is totally reasonable, and probably provides a decent challenge.

    sometimes some situations make characters suck. high AC and saves and CMD makes all the characters have to roll high to do anything, which simply isn't fun.

    The scenario, overall, is written well but that encounter and style of encounter isn't fun.

    If you don't have sunder, your party should literally figure out who has the most damage, and everyone should "aid another" that guy. fun exciting game times....

    Grand Lodge ****

    FWIW, locally a party of 6 with an APL of 5 got through Wrath's Shadow Tier 6-7 without too much trouble. Several of us went to negative values a few times but we weren't in too much danger at any time.

    Yet another example of your mileage may vary.

    *****

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

    AC is only one type of defense. CMD is often at weakness, like Jiggy said, trip. If CMD is high, then there has to be a save or two that's low. Throw a tanglefoot bag and he's entangled for 2d4 rounds (-2 attacks, -4 dex). Throw caltrops to cut his speed so he can't take a 5-ft. Use a net non-proficiently to entangle. How about a scroll of dispel magic?

    Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

    Kyle Baird wrote:
    AC is only one type of defense.

    This.

    AC is only one type of defense, and stymies only those PCs with only one type of offense.

    ****

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    sveden wrote:

    Several of us went to negative values a few times but we weren't in too much danger at any time.

    Yet another example of your mileage may vary.

    No kidding. You and I have very different definitions of danger, apparently.

    Andoran *****

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    David Bowles wrote:

    I meant epic for the level. Perhaps epic was too strong of a word.

    Fine, then, we'll go back to the "build better characters" argument :\ I guess these groups should be packing more combat optimization then; I don't know what else say. Either the 27 AC is inappropriate for PFS at that tier, or it is not.

    See what Jiggy said above.

    It isn't about creating more combat optimized characters at all.

    Its about knowing how to tactically use the skills and abilities at your disposal better.


    Jiggy wrote:
    David Bowles wrote:
    Either the 27 AC is inappropriate for PFS at that tier, or it is not.

    It's not. It just requires more tactical thinking.

    Trip it. Now it has 23 AC. Have 2-3 people use Aid Another to assist the biggest damage-dealer's attack roll. Now he's got an (effective) 17-19 AC.

    Is that appropriate for the tier?

    If you know beforehand that the enemy is effectively unhittable, perhaps.

    If you have to spend the first couple of rounds figuring out that the enemy is unhittable at which point it might be too late, then probably not.

    I think some (but not all) of these discussions occasionally (but not always) suffer from "GM-itis", where the GM sees all the details of an encounter beforehand and thus has a much different assessment of it than a player does.

    Note: I haven't played the scenario in question, so I can't specifically comment on it.

    Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Fresno aka Sarta

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Holy water also works very well. As Kyle summarized in his Enemies of the Pathfinder Society, undead are pretty darn common.

    Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

    Jiggy wrote:
    David Bowles wrote:
    Either the 27 AC is inappropriate for PFS at that tier, or it is not.

    It's not. It just requires more tactical thinking.

    Trip it. Now it has 23 AC. Have 2-3 people use Aid Another to assist the biggest damage-dealer's attack roll. Now he's got an (effective) 17-19 AC.

    Is that appropriate for the tier?

    Tripping something with a CMD of 27 (sub-tier 3-4) isn't that easy. I'd already decided "Aid another" on the heavy hitter was more productive than simply trying to attack. The problem was that the fighter was under the effect of a curse, so had a 50% chance of standing around doing nothing. It doesn't matter how many party members are aiding him (or how much the BBEGs AC has been dropped) if this is a round where he does nothing - that just means everybody's effort is for naught. And "2-3 people" in a 4-member party means you're putting almost all your eggs in that basket; we did have one person aiding.

    Andoran *****

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    hogarth wrote:
    Jiggy wrote:
    David Bowles wrote:
    Either the 27 AC is inappropriate for PFS at that tier, or it is not.

    It's not. It just requires more tactical thinking.

    Trip it. Now it has 23 AC. Have 2-3 people use Aid Another to assist the biggest damage-dealer's attack roll. Now he's got an (effective) 17-19 AC.

    Is that appropriate for the tier?

    If you know beforehand that the enemy is effectively unhittable, perhaps.

    If you have to spend the first couple of rounds figuring out that the enemy is unhittable at which point it might be too late, then probably not.

    I think some (but not all) of these discussions occasionally (but not always) suffer from "GM-itis", where the GM sees all the details of an encounter beforehand and thus has a much different assessment of it than a player does.

    Note: I haven't played the scenario in question, so I can't specifically comment on it.

    Why would you wait to use overwhelming tactics? I hate NFL teams that play down to their competition. Why would pathfinders do so?

    **

    As an aside, I was dming wrath for a vo and his normal gaming group. Fairlly balanced party. I completely pwned them, even though i ignored the double channel of the bbeg. If I played thhe bbeg full out, the whole party would have been dead before they did even 20 damage to the bbeg. As is, the only reason some of them lived was that the blind archer rolled a couple criticals on its hail mary pot shots. That and I started rolling badly.

    There was nothing they could have done to improve their chances. They played tactically and had sound characters.

    When I played it, we were all pretty optimized. The dm also played smart, but ignored the double channel as it was unnecessary. We just scraped by. I think we had people go into negatives 6 times in that fight. The only tactical mistake was the archer not ttcking the bbeg until after the minions were down

    Both times the dms played tactically sound, and ignored an overpowered ability. Both parties were solid and tactical. Both got through only by luck, and some optimized characters. There was little to nothing that the parties did wrong or could have done better.


    Andrew Christian wrote:
    Why would you wait to use overwhelming tactics?

    How do you know which overwhelming tactic is the "right" tactic without being the GM? E.g. an enemy might have a pitiful AC but high DR, or might have high AC but low saves, or might have unbeatable SR but a low CMD.

    *

    Roll a knowledge check and ask some good questions. Among 2 players with the appropriate knowledge you can usually get everything you need. Heck, we have some players in St. Louis with knowledge bots (every knowledge above +20). That's what knowledge skills are for. They turn player/GM knowledge into character knowledge.

    Andoran *****

    You know, sometimes bad things happen. When all the rolls ago against you, especially against the one or two party members best able to take on the threat, then bad things can happen. That’s the risk we take in playing this game predicated on a random game mechanic (die rolling).

    As for the CMD, as best I can tell the stat block is wrong and the CMD at both tiers is about 4 or 5 points too high.

    *

    I don't have the module to reference, but as I recall this guy has high AC, high touch AC, high CMD, a pretty good Ref save, a high Fort save and a very high Will save. Also undead immunities. Not a lot of weak points.

    When I played it we only survived due to a combination of GM mercy and frank cheating by another player that I didn't immediately recognize as such. 3/5 PCs were poorly built and one of the others was ruined by the haunt, though. (Although they shouldn't have been. Haunt stat blocks should make clear they are a fear effect since bonuses against fear are so common.)

    Cheliax ****

    sveden wrote:

    FWIW, locally a party of 6 with an APL of 5 got through Wrath's Shadow Tier 6-7 without too much trouble. Several of us went to negative values a few times but we weren't in too much danger at any time.

    Yet another example of your mileage may vary.

    You're welcome.

    Andoran *****

    Lab_Rat wrote:
    Roll a knowledge check and ask some good questions. Among 2 players with the appropriate knowledge you can usually get everything you need. Heck, we have some players in St. Louis with knowledge bots (every knowledge above +20). That's what knowledge skills are for. They turn player/GM knowledge into character knowledge.

    This

    *

    It seems that we are getting bogged down by this one encounter in this one scenario (Wrath's shadow). There have always been a few scenarios that hit hard and killed players no matter what the season was. Do people think that this example is outside of the norm for season 4 (i.e. it's season 4's Dalsine Affair)?

    Qadira ****

    His saves are very high, as is his CMD. The dude has no low defense.

    Like I said, i played this as gencon, I asked my party to distract him and give my Eidolon and opening to sunder his armor (IE aid another) then I broke his armor and the party was able to tear him down.

    I'm not saying it isn't doable (the 6-7 version is perfectly fine IMO) but for a party of level 3 dudes the 3-4 version is pretty rough.

    Also the encounter scaling(down to 4) is awful.

    Players will learn, they will adjust, and all will be well.

    My issue is with the design STYLE that went into this. Solo BBEG doesn't work with 6-7 person parties, you either make the players actions boring or ineffective (something like 75% fail rate) or the players trounce the encounter.

    My issue with this specific one is how high all of his stats are. If we was ac 25 from a ring of deflection +1 full plate and 1 dex and 4 natural armor, sure but his CMD would be lower his reflex/touch would be lower and you can get em.

    He's in a chain shirt with a +4-5 dex mod and his stats are unreasonably high, this makes his CMD too high as well. I'm all for thinking outside the box, but covering from every form of attack?

    If you create a non-standard approach that works, good on you. If you make an enemy that his defended 75ish% of the time from all situations, rethink that encounter.

    Back on the original topic however. Overall? no i don't think they are too hard, I just think people have been lulled into an unreasonable sense of power. It's the same occurance the first time people realize that their AC doesn't matter in the early/mid teens.

    **

    Andrew Christian wrote:
    Lab_Rat wrote:
    Roll a knowledge check and ask some good questions. Among 2 players with the appropriate knowledge you can usually get everything you need. Heck, we have some players in St. Louis with knowledge bots (every knowledge above +20). That's what knowledge skills are for. They turn player/GM knowledge into character knowledge.
    This

    Fyi, quite a few monsters have no weaknesses. Knowledge checks are typically for immunities and strengths. The mod in question is typically solvedby brute force and focus fire, with a lot of abilities and terrain that make it hard or impossible to bring effective counter strategies to bear.

    *****

    5 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    This has been said before:

    1) Tactically sound and unforgiving GMs will make any encounter more difficult than it was intended when designed, perhaps deadly.
    2) Tactically poor or poorly built PCs will make any encounter more difficult than it was intended when designed, perhaps deadly.
    3) Tactically above average GMs and below average PCs will make any encounter more difficult than it was intended when designed, perhaps deadly.

    GMs are not robots. If you are a GM, you are. not. a. robot. It is the GMs job to take ANY scenario and make it enjoyable for ALL the people at the table. If you don't enjoy that job and want to GM for ANY OTHER REASON, you need to stop GMing. I've been there. I've run games where I forgot this and guess what. The final outcome wasn't fun. It made me mad at myself. I had some players not want to come back to my table. That's the exact opposite of what we're supposed to be achieving.

    One more time.

    It is the GMs job to take ANY scenario and make it enjoyable for ALL the people at the table.

    If you feel the party is ill-equipped for the challenge at hand, for Norgorber's sake, HELP. THEM. OUT. Advise them on better tactics or consumables. Follow the tactics as the guidelines they are. Ever watch a movie and see the bad guy to laugh and taunt the heroes when he feels he is clearly winning? You don't always have to use the best tactic available to the NPC.

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