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New scenarios too difficult?


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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*****

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Victor Zajic wrote:

The Dalsine Affair

The Devil We Know part 3 (Tier 3-4)
Quest for Perfection part 3 (Tier 3-4)
Black Waters (Tier 3-4)
Shadow's Last Stand (Tier 3-4) (I lied, I had to look up the name for this one, as it's apparently not called "that module with the [spoiler removed] in it")
Rise of the Goblin Guild
The Golemworks Incident

And here's my point. I would only consider the first scenario on this list to be difficult and even then it's really only one deadly encounter. And really, it's only deadly in the first round or two. If your party survives that long, chances are it's not difficult to you.

**

All the mods are beatable. I am not having any trouble with them. Although if you have a weak player that can hurt the team horribly. I will make tactile mistake for lower levels players to survive, but I will not give games away because if I power level when they do not deserve it they could kill someone who has earned a high level by playing poorly.

EDIT. The dalsine affair was not that difficult. A color spray and grabbing his sword ended the fight.

*

Andrew Christian wrote:
Seriously. You've read and responded to many other things I've written. And I've always been an advocate of helping new players enjoy the game.

Yes, which is why I'm really surprised to hear you say that some groups deserve to die.

A number of people (with non-sucky) PCs have already said their group was TPKed or multiple have PCs died. I’ve told you that my well built PC tables have almost died. You said that your table (which I’m guessing doesn’t suck) almost died in Golemworks. Would your table have poorly built PCs or bad tactics if you did TPK? I don’t think any of these examples fits your criteria of a table of “poorly built PCs”. Which to my mind would mean that you might consider the current level of challenge a little too high.

I personally don’t like killing PCs (if it’s undeserved) and I especially dislike TPKs. If it happens, it happens, but I don’t think GMs should take it lightly. I certainly haven’t met any groups of players that “deserved it”.

I'd like to dispel another myth. Just because a PC is level 3+ doesn’t mean the player still isn’t new or casual. I’ve met several players now with very little system mastery with high level PCs. Although my home group is level 5, they still don’t have a lot of system mastery. I’d like to think that these people are still welcome to play PFS with the rest of us.

I guess it just comes down to the culture of PFS. Should only the optimizers and min-maxers be allowed to proceed to level 12?

”Kyle Baird” wrote:
So how do we tag scenario's X and Y? You can't. They're all built around the same flawed CR system. The best anyone can do is read the reviews and hope to gauge its difficult based off personal experiences.

The problem most of the time is the difference in GM. Even played RAW, the challenge of upper tier scenarios is decided 50% by the GM and 50% by the scenario design itself. Of course you're going to have massive variation. I do feel like I can get a very good idea about a scenario from just reading it (and doing a small playtest), I'm sure Paizo could do that too.

Regarding challenge level, I thought the challenge level of “God’s Market Gamble” was where we want to set it at. It was challenging and still reasonable.

Grand Lodge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber
Finlanderboy wrote:
EDIT. The dalsine affair was not that difficult. A color spray and grabbing his sword ended the fight.

Oh really. Try it again when you are fireballed before you even step through the door and are looking at a minimum of 3 rounds to get into position to cast your color spray.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jason S wrote:
The problem most of the time is the difference in GM. Even played RAW, the challenge of upper tier scenarios is decided 50% by the GM and 50% by the scenario design itself.

This is a bit off. It's more like 50% the GM, 40% the players at the table, and 10% the scenario.

**

Smart play beats smart builds every time. A clever player with simple common things like minor image can break high level things. I have been at tables where one player made the whole mod easy with their ideas.

You do not need to be an optimizer or Min/maxer to play high level. You just need to earn it.

Edit. I did not read the dalsine affair, but the map is not that huge it takes 3 turns to get to him.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jason S wrote:
I'm really surprised to hear you say that some groups deserve to die.

I have run a handful of tables where the PCs (or most of the PCs) deserved to die. Some did die, some didn't.

"Oh my god, did he really just say that?!"

Yep. Sometimes players approach things in a way that they deserve not to succeed. Two examples:

1) Cocky or disengaged player gets bored. Continues to open doors while party is in the middle of a fight. Triggers additional encounter(s).
2) Players demand to play up even before the APL is calculated. The APL is the absolute minimum possible to play up. The GM advises the players that it's difficult and they shouldn't. They do anyway.

Cheliax *

I recently played Golemworks this past weekend at U-con with a very thorough judge, and my tale cakewalked the mod.
YMMV of course

Grand Lodge ****

CptTylorX wrote:

I recently played Golemworks this past weekend at U-con with a very thorough judge, and my tale cakewalked the mod.

YMMV of course

That's a mighty tale you spin. Are you perhaps Rumplestiltskin?

*

Kyle Baird wrote:


1) Cocky or disengaged player gets bored. Continues to open doors while party is in the middle of a fight. Triggers additional encounter(s).

This! I have seen this exact train wreck 3 times. Sometimes it's one bored character and sometimes it's the whole dang table. In this situation someone is gonna die and learn a valuable lesson at the same time. I have actually seen one smart player that after the table opened up the can of worms said..."I run away." He ate the mod but he knew exactly what was gonna happen and wanted a living character more than he wanted that impossible chronicle.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
sveden wrote:
CptTylorX wrote:

I recently played Golemworks this past weekend at U-con with a very thorough judge, and my tale cakewalked the mod.

YMMV of course
That's a mighty tale you spin. Are you perhaps Rumplestiltskin?

We didn't have any real difficulty with it either. For the final encounter, our group was spread out a bit, we had access to freedom of movement, and boots of escape (yay gnomes!). I dim doored closer, hit him with a persistent cacophonous call. Encounter over.

Taldor ***

Walter Sheppard wrote:
Long story short: it turns out that SNA II summoning 1d3+1 is pretty good. After 3 rounds of 4 stirges grappling him, 'ol baron Dalsine was missing 12 con and just fell over.
Finlanderboy wrote:
The dalsine affair was not that difficult. A color spray and grabbing his sword ended the fight.
Kyle Baird wrote:
I dim doored closer, hit him with a persistent cacophonous call. Encounter over.

Hmm...

That's three stories where the reputed-tough fight ends with a single spell...

That's also three examples of why it's impossible to quantitatively demonstrate module difficulty when held up to the infinitely-high standards of gamers. For every "None of us could damage him," there's a "I cast a spell, encounter over."

What PFS needs to decide is how to measure difficulty, and how to adhere to the standard they choose. The CR system itself is woefully under-equipped to do it alone, as Quest For Perfection I, In Wrath's Shadow, Dawn of the Scarlet Sun, Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment, etc show us. Fortunately, as has been pointed out by Mark in another thread, Paizo has editors for that. It is vital that Paizo be consistent with adhering to their choice, whatever that may be.

Searching for a measure of module difficulty is fruitless; searching for how the campaign can maximize fun without relying on making encounters tougher is a much more worthy pursuit.

-Matt

Oh, and Sieylianna is correct about The Dalsine Affair's map...:
It has a balcony and a staircase.

*

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tamago wrote:
I just want to raise the issue for the campaign coordinators. I know that there is a lot of talk on these messageboards about scenarios being too easy, but please keep in mind that it is quite possible to swing the pendulum the other way and make things too difficult.

My 2 cp...allow GMs the flexibility to adjust encounters by changing the number of "mooks". In a home game I can do that, but in PFS I cannot change the mechanics.

**

My gnome has a base movement of 20 feet running would be 80 feet three turns would be 240 feet. Hrrm I am sorry I do not believbe the map is that large it is a big house but not that big.

Edit. After reviewing the dalsine affair you are both wrong.

Spoiler:
The guy waits invisible near the stairs as you come in the door. This happened to us. I crept up and then he one hit our rouge that approached the illusion. Next round I walked up to him and color sprayed. 2 rounds he got one attack. Just as the mod was write. Also look above they are refering to the 3-4 tier.

Silver Crusade *

I find that a lot of scenarios get a lot easier with a trip specialist. A lot of PFS NPCs are pretty vulnerable to this mechanic due to the amount of free attacks the party gets when they get back up. It's extra good with a whip trip specialist.

****

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harmor wrote:
Tamago wrote:
I just want to raise the issue for the campaign coordinators. I know that there is a lot of talk on these messageboards about scenarios being too easy, but please keep in mind that it is quite possible to swing the pendulum the other way and make things too difficult.
My 2 cp...allow GMs the flexibility to adjust encounters by changing the number of "mooks". In a home game I can do that, but in PFS I cannot change the mechanics.

Nope. This one change could make me stop participating in public play. I am convinced that this one change would kill more PCs than any overall increase in scenario difficulty.


Victor Zajic wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Victor Zajic wrote:
What if there was some sort of warning or tag on the more difficult modules

One person's easy scenario is another person's meat grinder.

...

So how do we tag scenario's X and Y? You can't. They're all built around the same flawed CR system. The best anyone can do is read the reviews and hope to gauge its difficult based off personal experiences.

I understand the point you are making, but I've been playing/running PFS for less than three months and I can name half a dozen more deadly mods off the top of my head, just from chatter on these messageboards and at the local gaming shop. I haven't even played/ran most of them.

To Kyle's point, I've played "Rise of the Goblin Guild" and steamrolled it, but the week before I had my first character death in "The Devil We Know part III." Difficulty is different for different characters and different groups. Reviews really do seem to be a pretty good way to get a feel for the scenario, though, and I haven't seen a serious spoiler outside of a spoiler tag, nothing I would have made any pre-game decisions on beyond what the blurb told me.

That being said, I second the suggestion for a "Next Steps" type adventure or series of adventures somewhere around level 2 or 3. There really can be a big jump in the danger level of encounters in tier 3-4, but not all tier 3-4 scenarios have those encounters. When my character died in "The Devil We Know," I had played up several times and nothing yet had hit my 22 AC more than 1/4 of the time. Our bard had something like +11 acrobatics and hadn't run into anything with a CMD higher than 20. In short, as new players we had no concept of how dangerous the stuff we were facing could be*.

I think a scenario that introduces players to dangers that fly, are invisible, will hit you regardless of armor, do massive damage, have high CMBs and CMDs (and use them) and the other things that higher level scenarios might throw at you. Just do it in a survivable manner with a narrative that explains what's happening as you go along.

*:

I intentionally avoided reading through the Bestiary because I wanted the fun of experiencing monsters for the first time. I remember spending my free time reading through the Monster Manual and knowing exactly what to do as soon as the DM started reading the description. So, maybe this is partly my fault. But I seriously never expected something like that to be thrown at a party of level 3s (especially a party of 4 level 3's.)

Forgive me while I whine for a moment:
What's your average martial class look like at level 3? 33hp with 14 Con and their favored class bonus to HP, and 22 AC? A d8 is looking at, what 27hp and AC18?

Melee: 2 Slams +14 (2d6 +7)

DPR against 22 AC = 22.6, Against 18 AC = 29.5
The rogue, bard, inquisitor, magus and monk are dropped unconscious with the _expected_ damage output from 1 full attack. The fighter is 2 points away from permanently dead in the expected damage of 2 full attacks.

How likely is it that the fighter goes down in 1 round? 10.8% Almost 1 in 9 times you'll KO a full hit point level 3 martial character in 1 round. Then add the fact that the monster doing the hitting has DR5/-, AC 18 and 68 hit points. That fighter who is expected to live for two rounds is swinging, what, a great sword at +7 for 2d6+11? Expected DPR something around 10? OK, I can see how a party with a pair of 2 handed, well armored martial characters and a couple other people capable of doing a little damage will be able to beat the encounter, but there's a high probability at least one person is getting KO'd and very easily killed. We had a knife master rogue (oh yeah, no flanking on this guy!), a dervish dancing bard, a tankish cleric with a warhammer, a non-tankish cleric with a scimitar, a life oracle and a wizard with control spells. Both clerics died (my cleric took a total of more than 120 points of damage, the other cleric got killed outright in 1 full attack action.) Were the characters badly built? None were probably worse off than pre gens, but the group makeup just couldn't handle this encounter.

Is that a reasonable step up in encounter difficulty from goblins that can only hit you on a natural 20? Maybe it is, but it would be really nice to have some forewarning, or build up more gently.

Math: Probability (1 round KO) = P(2 hits >= 33) + P(1 crit, 1 miss >= 33)*2 + P(1 crit, 1 hit >= 33)*2

= P(0.4225*0.09722) + P(0.011375*0.09722)*2 + P(0.0325*0.9901)*2 = 0.1076

P(4d6+14) >= 33 = 0.09722
P(6d6+21) >= 33 = 0.9901
(Gotta love Wolfram Alpha)
</rant>

****

Finlanderboy wrote:
dalsine spoilers

Dude! The whole point of that encounter, if not the entire scenario, is the element of surprise. Please use spoiler tags when talking about scenario specifics because you can completely blow them for players who haven't had a chance to experience them yet.

Silver Crusade *

I've heard enough b&#~#ing about it to know something is up.


Up to this point, I have tried to flash through the posts here. I may have missed some like comment, but here's my take:

"What we have here is a failure to communicate."

No one seems to post that their PC group acted in a coordinated manner to cover for weaknesses in the random PC mix at the table. As we drop to 4 player scenarios, not having a healer will be very painful. Not defending a healer will be as bad. Characters (like skill monkeys) based on 'disappearing' when things get bloody are a 25% drop in your team options in the fray. When other players interrupt the game wanting to argue 'efficiency', you may as well add bonuses to the bad guys who have a 'hive mind' GM running them. When the team runs long on RP so that suddenly it's midnight RT and you have 2 more non-optional encounters to play though, your team is going to get hurt missing part of the story or from lack of prep time into the next encounter, and certainly losing enjoyment in the game.

Perhaps failing a scenario by pulling your team out of the action and going home is a realistic solution though disappointing on the scoring. Time management is a responsiblity of the PCs, but the GM can nudge them along (train the team mind set) with suggestions that there are things to do, places to go, and creatures to see.

Paizo Employee ***** Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

6 people marked this as a favorite.
harmor wrote:
Tamago wrote:
I just want to raise the issue for the campaign coordinators. I know that there is a lot of talk on these messageboards about scenarios being too easy, but please keep in mind that it is quite possible to swing the pendulum the other way and make things too difficult.
My 2 cp...allow GMs the flexibility to adjust encounters by changing the number of "mooks". In a home game I can do that, but in PFS I cannot change the mechanics.

And for your home game, you know exactly how much your PCs can handle because you play with them on a regular basis. So, you in turn know how many extra mooks you can put in. Sitting down with a group of 6 brand new players, you have no idea what they can and can't handle. In PFS, it's all guess work, especially when few to no PFS GMs audit all 6 PCs before the start of the game so the GM has no idea what six characters he has. And when you guess wrong and the party TPKs, it is me who receives the emails from 6 pissed off players wanting me to reverse the decision of the local GM that there should have been no TPK since monsters were used that were not written into the scenario. I'm not keen on changing a local GMs adjudications since I wasn't there. VCs and VLs are also not keen on changing their local GMs adjudications unless it is a blatant mistake with the rules that led to a character's death.

In one specific instance, that I still have a series of emails saved, a GM decided to adjust a scenario to make it "more fun" by adding extra mooks. One PC died permanently. Upon that PC dying permanently, the GM tried to continuing adjusting the scenario so as not to kill any other PCs. He felt awful. Over the course of the scenario, he ended up giving out more than 15,000 GP in "free" magic items, such as scrolls and potions found in the scenario that he placed there and were not written into the scenario, to help the party deal with his adjustments. It snowballed and got out of control. By the way, this GM has been GMing for more than 20 years, and has participated in several other living campaigns. Is this something you really want happening so the GM can have "more fun"? Not me. You may say, "That isn't me. That wouldn't happen." Yeah, that wouldn't happen to you -- until it did happen. In the words of this very experienced GM with 20+ years of GMing, "I agree with you that what I had changed is indeed not 100% a good thing." Here is a spoiler of one of the ten bullet item for the scenario that was "adjusted" in the interest of making a more fun play experience:

Spoiler:
Year of the Shadow Lodge

2) free magic was given out, including a raise dead, dragon bane and dragon slaying arrows. Really? A dragon slaying arrow with one of the main bad guys a very large dragon. Oh, and Pearls of Power thrown in for good reason since the PCs had been facing too many dragons throughout the scenario because extras were added to make it a "better" experience for players.

I considered this move as the "make the other tables not about to fight the dragon feel important" move. Two other factors involved in this choice were 1) I had given them so much to fight in the first encounter that they just blew a ton of their spells. 2) I looked around and said "This is the Grand Lodge and these guys are Pathfinders...of course there is junk around." Definately not the right answer, but it was designed to make the tier 5-6, 3-4, and 1-2 feel important and able to support the groups above in fighting the dragon. The level 1-2 group found the dragon slaying and bane arrows in the armory. One dragon slaying arrow and 10 dragon bane arrows

The tier 3-4 group found the pearls of power. This was so some of the PC's could regain expended items I had them "use" by throwing in extra monsters. This was an attempt to correct what I immeadiately saw as a major throw off in balance. The tier 5-6 group found some potions which they passed around. It was free healing.

Note that this is only one bullet point in a multi bullet point response of a scenario changed to "make it more fun and epic for the characters."


If your PC died because a GM added extra "mooks" because he thought it would be more fun, would to be ok spending the 20 PP to have that character raised. What if you just spent PP to get raised in the last game, only have 15 PP and 4000 GP remainng, and the next GM decided to add extra "mooks" to make it "more fun" and your character dies. Are you ok with losing your character permanently because two GMs in a row added extra mooks, your character died twice, and now is no longer playable? If we made It legal for GMs to adjust on the fly, I'm certainly not going to reverse those kind of things as I am more apt to do at the moment, since we still have GMs that feel the need to change things and then kill PCs from it.

I adjust encounters for my home group on the fly because I know what they can handle, and what I can add or take away to make an encounter a challenge. I can do this everytime and I can do it very effectively. Afterall, I've been GMing for more than 30 years. However, what I can't do effectively is adjust an encounter with six strangers at a PFS table because I've never GMed them before, and they may have not played together before. What if the cleric doesn't believe in healing people who are of a different faith than he? What if the fighter is a trip specialist and not a sword and shield fighter? What if there is no cleric at all? There are just too many variables to give Carte Blanche for every GM In the world to change every scenario on the fly. Sorry, but this isn't going to happen.

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

David Bowles wrote:
I find that a lot of scenarios get a lot easier with a trip specialist. A lot of PFS NPCs are pretty vulnerable to this mechanic due to the amount of free attacks the party gets when they get back up. It's extra good with a whip trip specialist.

This goes away the higher level you play, when monsters fly, or are incorporeal, or are untrippable, etc... Remember one-trick ponies are the bane of PFS. If all you do is trip people, you will sit around and do nothing first time you fight an ooze/shadow/etc...


Please excuse the fact that I have NOT READ the whole thread.

However if anyone is counting, please put me in the "No they are not too hard, for the love of god we are pathfinders"

In other words, No, I do not feel that end season 3 and season 4 are too hard, frankly it's nice to leave the cakewalk and enter real adventures.

just my .02$

*****

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Michael Brock wrote:
especially when few to no PFS GMs audit all 6 PCs before the start of the game

If we make the scenarios slightly shorter, it would be easier to do this. Season 4 has headed in the opposite direction, where they have me feeling like BobBob and I can never fully complete a scenario on time.

Paizo Employee ***** Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

Kyle Baird wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
especially when few to no PFS GMs audit all 6 PCs before the start of the game
If we make the scenarios slightly shorter, it would be easier to do this. Season 4 has headed in the opposite direction, where they have me feeling like BobBob and I can never fully complete a scenario on time.

I've passed those concerns on to development. That is a development decision, not a campaign coordinator decision.

Andoran *****

Jason S wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
Seriously. You've read and responded to many other things I've written. And I've always been an advocate of helping new players enjoy the game.

Yes, which is why I'm really surprised to hear you say that some groups deserve to die.

Yet you still take my comment completely out of context, and then extrapolate it into hyperbole. I never said all TPK’s to these adventures are bad characters or bad tactics and deserve to die. I never said that.

I also said, “bad things happen sometimes.” Die rolls (bad on players, great on GMs) happen sometimes. Sometimes a perfect storm of events create a situation in which no matter what tactics or what builds you create, your character isn’t going to survive unless they flee.

But I stand by my statement, that by-and-large, the reason for so many TPK’s is not due to an encounter being too difficult, but rather a complacency amongst players based on how easy previous seasons have been. Until we have a larger data set to view, we won’t know for sure.

And if you’ve read most of this thread, you’ll note that most of the complaints are based on people not being able to create “fluff” or “roleplaying” characters, not normal, optimized, or even average characters. So far we’ve seen one recount out of several, of a team that was apparently decent builds with decent tactics having trouble.

Cheliax *

1 person marked this as a favorite.

People who keep chiming in that "module x wasn't that hard, we beat it like this" really are missing the entire point of this discussion. No one is saying that the modules are unbeatable for experienced or optimized characters. We're saying that those encounters easily TPK inexperienced and casual player's characters. And organized play is going to have inexperienced and casual players, and they deserve to have fun playing too.

A new player who is super excited about getting to level 3 who then gets pounded flat by a large earth elemental when he's not playing up is likely to just stop playing.

People who want more challenge can easily get it by making less powerful characters. Telling new players that it's their fault they died and they should make better characters is a terribly way to grow the game.

Paizo Employee ***** Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

Edited my post above to add an example.

Osirion *****

Lab_Rat wrote:
I think that's about right. I feel that the season 4 scenarios are not overly more difficult, but they are slightly more challenging than previous seasons. This gets exacerbated when you have a table with poor GMing or poor tactics / builds. I think that's why we are seeing a lot of table variation with some people claiming TPK and others claiming a cake walk, with everything in between. Maybe season 4 scenarios are just hard enough to not let sloppy play prevail.

+1

I have always felt that Organized Play is for the serious hobbyist not just the casual home player. In my area people have asked for the past four years to see more challenge out of the scenarios and they are so far very pleased with the challenge rating this year.

Furthermore, I still struggle with wrapping my mind around the idea of a poorly built character when everyone has the exact same build options. Just because someone's idea of their character doesn't fit some preconceived mold doesn't necessarily make that character a bad build. I have seen tons of non-optimized characters that are being built for a long term plan of being multi-classed or prestige classed, etc that work wonderfully. I have seen plenty of 18/12/12/12/12/12 humans running around and they play great. I have seen a ton of 18/14/14/12/10/8 as well and they also play great.

Honestly if there really is such a thing as a 'bad build' I would say it is the character with CON as a dump stat and I always-always advise people not to do that. Those characters are the only characters I have encountered that I consider to have a handicap and low chance of survivability.

I will always maintain that 99% of the time it is not the character build or the GM that gets a character killed its the player running it that gets it killed. Unfortunately, sometimes it gets the two characters standing beside it killed also and often times there is little a GM can do to adjust for that kind of bad decision making on the part of a player or players.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Andrew Christian wrote:

I also said, “bad things happen sometimes.” Die rolls (bad on players, great on GMs) happen sometimes. Sometimes a perfect storm of events create a situation in which no matter what tactics or what builds you create, your character isn’t going to survive unless they flee.

But I stand by my statement, that by-and-large, the reason for so many TPK’s is not due to an encounter being too difficult, but rather a complacency amongst players based on how easy previous seasons have been. Until we have a larger data set to view, we won’t know for sure.

Andrew, you know I respect your position, but I feel the need to point out: if the scenario requires players to bring characters of a certain level of design-fu to the table, and play them with a certain level of tactical competence, then the Party Wipes are indeed due to the encounters being too difficult, from the perspective of the players with characters or tactics that don't make the cut.

What I hear you saying is that the bar has been raised, but that anyone who isn't "complacent" can meet the new challenge.

That's worth discussing. Who teaches people to better optimize characters? Who teaches players effective battle tactics?

--

From my perspective, I've seen a certain subset of the Pathfinder Society community say "My last character died in that adventure. Well, I'm going to make sure the next one doesn't suffer the same fate." The first PC was a "fun" character. The new one has hit points to spare, a couple of tricks to avoid getting hit, and a very powerful attack. It's more businesslike. And when that PC dies, the next PC is even moreso.

A series of PC deaths will produce commando-like Pathfinder agents. Is that what we want? (I have no experience in Living Greyhawk, but several of my friends with street cred there say that the same thing happened in that environment.)

*** RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Re: TDWK 3 and Wrath's Shadow,

Spoiler:
Augmented Ghoul/Ghasts can turn a balance quickly. Three attacks can equal 3 will saves drop target one move on to next. In Wrath's Shadow that's his tactic. We had a blind wizard, a cursed magus and fighters getting paralyzed every other round. Add to that the quickened channeling and incorrectly applied spells, and it was a grinder. They barely won.

Re: Auditing. It goes both ways. We had a magus player who was shocked that casting a spell in melee to channel through his blade via spellstrike drew an attack of oportunity. Apparently no one had ever done that.* How do you audit a GM? Likewise IWS I wasn't as prepared as I should have been and didn't completely know how the <redacted> domain powers worked (I'd have likely had a TPK if I used them early on). (And yes, that curse sucks).

Now all that said, I like harder scenarios. Even though I've had one fatality in 20 games.** People are reluctant to 'play up' even with large tables in season one scenarios. Why I have the reputation, I don't know.

*

Spoiler:
I don't know if he'd never been in a situation of being already in melee and using spellstrike or if it was bad GMing. It did bring the table to a halt.

**

Spoiler:
GMs don't kill characters. Sucubi with flame blades and high crits kill characters.

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

This is my opinion, that basically echoes what Del had to say -- optimization isn't required for success in PFS. My favorite character to date is a dwarf bard (because that -2 cha is really good for bards) who has no stat below a 10 or above a 16. I followed the motto of "do whatever" when building him and the result is one of the most enjoyable characters I've ever made.

If I had to describe his purchases, I'd go with "shot-gunned." Two handy haversacks, twelve wands, twenty-seven silver holy symbols, three skyrockets, a +1 holy heavy repeating crossbow, a type IV bag of holding, the staff from Fellknight Queen - I have two pages worth of gear that follows him around. There is no real method to the madness of what he has, with the only pattern being that there's a lot of it.

Overall, he's weaker than a level 10 bard that would have focused in one weapon, a handful of key skills, and a good amount of mobility. He's got no stat increasing items, no boots of fly or bracers of archery (or whatever that new version is). Heck, that AC of 18 does sting whenever a BBEG decides he wants to taste some dwarf. But he's never a hindrance to the party, and whenever the chips are down people don't stand up and point fingers, and go: "way to go Walter, your crappy character cost us this game." When a game is really hard, it's because we all messed up.

Whenever a character dies, it's sad, for sure, but sometimes it just happens. Like when my bard spent a round talking s+#& about the two bone devils after revealing them with glitterdust. Turns out they don't like that -- and that 85 health really isn't enough to be a punching bag for the minions of hell in a 10-11 game. But hey, any round enemies spend attacking my bard is one they waste not attacking someone more important in my group.

So don't read through this thread and leave with the opinion that you have to have a 20 at level 1 to survive in PFS, or think things like if you're a barbarian you need the pounce totem tree to cut it in post 10 play, because it's just not true. When you roll up your next character, make what feels fun, and it'll be the best decision you could have made.

Cheliax ***** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Hahahahah what a great story Walter. Keep that in mind people. DO NOT mock bone devils or any devil or demon really. They do not like it.

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

Matthew Morris wrote:
GMs don't kill characters. Well played outsiders kill characters.

Fixed that for you. With the right GM, anything bigger than an imp is cause for me to start quivering in my player-booties.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Chris Mortika wrote:
Who teaches people to better optimize characters?

Beyond, "don't dump CON below a 10," I don't feel it's anyone's place to offer specific advice for character builds. I *do* think we should be advising players as to the challenges they're likely to face as a Pathfinder agent and suggest common ways of dealing with those challenges. I believe it should be up to the player to ask questions or ask for help if they want it. I really hate when "experienced" players go on about X feat or Y spells because Z class sucks, etc. It puts a lot of pressure on new players and really over complicates things.

Chris Mortika wrote:
Who teaches players effective battle tactics?

I believe this is the job of the GM for the first few levels of a character's career. I don't think players should be the primary people advising new players. I know personally, I go out of my way to say to new players, "Just tell me what you think you want to do, and we'll figure out how the rules would handle it." Then when they tell me they want to get away from that orc and cast a sleep on him, I'll talk about how AoO's and 1 round casting times work, and discuss what that orc is likely to do if he sees you doing what you you're describing to me.

*****

Random Devil We Know sidenote--

I think about half the posters here (though maybe just Victor posting it many times and I lost track) are mistaking which Devil We Know they are angry about.

Devil We Know Series:
The earth elemental is in DWK4, not DWK3. It's pretty challenging, and one of the few times my "invincible" fighter was ever in danger from attack rolls alone.

DWK3 is the one with the ghoul cleric, which is why it's being compared to IWS I guess. That one was made way easier by the absolutely horrible location for the poor cleric to begin--in a complete dead-end where one character with high enough CMD can block him inside. My fighter did so on the first round (and was silenced by the oracle immediately thereafter). This led to an enemy caster who could not use his spells whatsoever and was forced to make a melee routine on me that he knew would fail (based on the time we fought him before when he was alive, he knew that with his lousy attack bonus, he needed two of his three attacks to be I think 19+ to hit), a CMB that provoked an AoO and was thus likely to fail except on a 20 (from the AoO's damage penalty to CMB), or an Acrobatic check that he couldn't succeed even on a roll of 20 (as he was untrained). In a different location, that guy's confusion magic could have TPKed us.

Andoran *****

Chris Mortika wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:

I also said, “bad things happen sometimes.” Die rolls (bad on players, great on GMs) happen sometimes. Sometimes a perfect storm of events create a situation in which no matter what tactics or what builds you create, your character isn’t going to survive unless they flee.

But I stand by my statement, that by-and-large, the reason for so many TPK’s is not due to an encounter being too difficult, but rather a complacency amongst players based on how easy previous seasons have been. Until we have a larger data set to view, we won’t know for sure.

Andrew, you know I respect your position, but I feel the need to point out: if the scenario requires players to bring characters of a certain level of design-fu to the table, and play them with a certain level of tactical competence, then the Party Wipes are indeed due to the encounters being too difficult, from the perspective of the players with characters or tactics that don't make the cut.

What I hear you saying is that the bar has been raised, but that anyone who isn't "complacent" can meet the new challenge.

That's worth discussing. Who teaches people to better optimize characters? Who teaches players effective battle tactics?

--

From my perspective, I've seen a certain subset of the Pathfinder Society community say "My last character died in that adventure. Well, I'm going to make sure the next one doesn't suffer the same fate." The first PC was a "fun" character. The new one has hit points to spare, a couple of tricks to avoid getting hit, and a very powerful attack. It's more businesslike. And when that PC dies, the next PC is even moreso.

A series of PC deaths will produce commando-like Pathfinder agents. Is that what we want? (I have no experience in Living Greyhawk, but several of my friends with street cred there say that the same thing happened in that environment.)

As Walter and Kyle have eloquently said. Uber-builds are not necessary. In the case of Walter, a sub-optimal build works for him.

I have several "fun" characters, that (with perhaps the exception of the Court Bard at the moment) are all versatile and capable. Why does "fun" have to equate to sub-optimal? Why can't folks have "fun" characters that are also good at being a pathfinder?

The only thing I'd say about Kyle's opinion that the GM should teach the tactics, is that not all GM's have the wealth of experience that I, Kyle, and you do. But otherwise, I agree. Rather than it be a GM vs. Players situation, it should be the GM and Players getting together to create a story together. Creatures in a scenario are their to be defeated in one fashion or another. GM's need to remember that. So helping folks who obviously need the help, should be part of the job description of a GM.

*****

Kyle Baird wrote:


Chris Mortika wrote:
Who teaches players effective battle tactics?
I believe this is the job of the GM for the first few levels of a character's career. I don't think players should be the primary people advising new players. I know personally, I go out of my way to say to new players, "Just tell me what you think you want to do, and we'll figure out how the rules would handle it." Then when they tell me they want to get away from that orc and cast a sleep on him, I'll talk about how AoO's and 1 round casting times work, and discuss what that orc is likely to do if he sees you doing what you you're describing to me.

I agree with Kyle (and Andrew). I'm always giving these kinds of pointers to new players--"Oh, if you move like that he'll get a swing on you. You have enough movement to go around him like this." "Remember, sleep will take until your next turn to cast, and those archers aren't going to like hearing an unknown spell--they'll probably try to interrupt you."

Honestly I had one player in my home group with a rather unusual opinion (he dislikes anything where a character's skill or knowledge would prevent a player from doing something stupid, as he feels that any kind of retcon or interruption of action kills his immersion. So if he moves to attack an enemy and moves over a cliff on the map, he doesn't like it when you say "Remember, that's a cliff!" and would rather fall into the pit) who told me on an evaluation that his least favorite part of my GMing was when I offered new players advice like that on how to best realize their actions because in his playstyle, that kind of advice detracted.

Andoran *****

Goes to show you can't please everyone all of the time.

Despite that one detractor, I'd always err on the side of helping newer players understand the game better. Give them their options and potential outcomes of each option.

It is very important though, to not tell them what to do, and to let them make their own choices. I just feel its my job as a GM to help them make an informed choice.

*****

Andrew Christian wrote:

Goes to show you can't please everyone all of the time.

Despite that one detractor, I'd always err on the side of helping newer players understand the game better. Give them their options and potential outcomes of each option.

It is very important though, to not tell them what to do, and to let them make their own choices. I just feel its my job as a GM to help them make an informed choice.

Same here. I actually asked that guy "Do you feel like I'm making their choices for them?" And he said, "Oh no, you always just present the options for them and let them choose. But really, when you're stopping their action to do that, do you think they're not going to realize that they should be picking one of the new options you gave?"

Andoran *****

Well sure, but that's part of teaching new players to make better choices. Eventually you stop giving them the choices, because eventually (hopefully) they actually retain the information and use it to weigh the options on their own.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

(pout) Nobody explains that kind of stuff to me.

Andoran *****

Chris Mortika wrote:
(pout) Nobody explains that kind of stuff to me.

That's cause you hardly ever play!

Qadira ****

Play ROTR for a day and come back to a thread so much awesome in this thread.

@Mike Brock - 100% agree you can't give GMs the freedom to adjust things. It simply altars balance too much. Honestly a few extra mooks might not make the encounter hard, but 1 hit in mid levels is a few wand charges, or a spell, or a potion. Making fights more "fun"/challenging is also making them use more resources.

@Walter - Your dwarf sounds awesome :D.

@Kyle / GMs offering tactics. I agree with this and do it all the time, I also try to explain the full way a rule works when someone tries to do something that doesn't work.

@Andrew: If I do something stupid a GM should let me die, I know better and if I die I deserve to die. Sometimes players deserve to die. In fact on saturday I clearly deserved to die, but my saving throw allowed me to live despite being dumb.

I decided to try and holy water a haunt instead of GTFO had I failed the save I would have died. This is my fault and if I had died it's because I was dumb (I made the knowledge religion check to know it was a haunt, and know how haunts work I was just being dumb!)

@Optimizaton/Uberbuilds. What is an uberbuild? "God Wizard" or CoDzilla? CoDzilla is much more of an uber build, that is a build that can solo adventures, "God" wizards just make fights easy by making their teammates awesome. People who understand optimization realize that it's not about soloing encounters, it's about making your party win. Silent image is one of the best spells ever,

Treantmonk's wizard guide talks about fly, he talks about casting it ON THE BSF, He's not saying fly above people an laugh at them while they get hit, it's about making your BSF get to, and hit things for massive damage. Because that is what a BSF does.

I do expect (more hope for) baseline optimization out of people. Really, I'm not asking for a lot. If you walk up and hit stuff, I want you to have a 16+ strength (or weapon finesse), if you use a 2-handed sword to hit stuff, I want you to have power attack, and realize that it's correct to use it about 90% of the time.

*****

Andrew Christian wrote:
Well sure, but that's part of teaching new players to make better choices. Eventually you stop giving them the choices, because eventually (hopefully) they actually retain the information and use it to weigh the options on their own.

Yep, and if the player in question doesn't, at least someone generally does. So when the wizard now says "OK, I'll throw up a Summon Monster II" the cleric might call out "Be careful, those archers might interrupt your spell! You might want to seek cover first or else try a different one for now." Sometimes the wizard will agree, and other times he might say "Nay, you liturgical ninny. I think I understand the arcane better than you--onward with the summoning!" (and then get interrupted). Either way, teamwork and team dynamics make the game more interesting.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Benrislove wrote:
If you walk up and hit stuff, I want you to have a 16+ strength (or weapon finesse)

Hmm. So it's bad that my most recent barbarian only has 14 strength? This is the problem with setting arbitrary limits on people's concepts.

**

Rogue Eidolon wrote:

Random Devil We Know sidenote--

I think about half the posters here (though maybe just Victor posting it many times and I lost track) are mistaking which Devil We Know they are angry about.

** spoiler omitted **

*****

Furious Kender wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:

Random Devil We Know sidenote--

I think about half the posters here (though maybe just Victor posting it many times and I lost track) are mistaking which Devil We Know they are angry about.

** spoiler omitted **

Yeah, I ran that for a solid party of optimizers. They played well tactically

** spoiler omitted **

When I played

DWK:
My "invincible" fighter eventually took it out thanks to haste, after the Gunslinger/Summoner had the worst string of rolls ever and lost all of his guns to multiple 1s (even using a shirt reroll for another 1) and also lose his eidolon). I could have lasted perhaps one more round at best, and it was his only challenging melee fight in PFS.

When I ran it

DWK:
The inquisitor obliterated it with the bane special ability, judgment, and Rapid Shot.

Cheliax *

I break far too many modules with my shadow projected familiar these days. Just the sheer amount of stat reducing stuff I put out, completely destroys most pfs mods.

Optimization is one thing, picking a few spells that will catastrophically alter game mechanics is another. Any mooch can do hp damage, but it takes someone some skills to have a critter doing 1d6 strength damage, 1d4 dex damage, and the caster doing 1d4 con damage with a bite attack.
Rawr

*****

CptTylorX wrote:

I break far too many modules with my shadow projected familiar these days. Just the sheer amount of stat reducing stuff I put out, completely destroys most pfs mods.

Optimization is one thing, picking a few spells that will catastrophically alter game mechanics is another. Any mooch can do hp damage, but it takes someone some skills to have a critter doing 1d6 strength damage, 1d4 dex damage, and the caster doing 1d4 con damage with a bite attack.
Rawr

Yeah ability damage can be insanely strong. Even entangle against the right enemy. Just the other day--

Rats Part 2:
The carnivorous crystal looked like it was going to cause the party to lose the scenario (by crystallizing perhaps two or so PCs and forcing a total retreat against its bad movement speed) until the Fighter entangled it with a Greater Dirty Trick, leaving it at 0 Dexterity and thus helpless.

Incorporeal, on the other hand (a la shadow projection) is just flat-out broken in scenarios where the enemies have no weapons that can strike incorporeal (which is a high percentage of them, including some otherwise-scary fights).

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