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Kingmaker DM assist needed (Book3) (Spoilers)


Kingmaker


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

NOTE: MY PLAYERS STAY OUT!

I am a new DM to pathfinder, but have been DMing other games for years.

Just coming out of book 2, and my seem PC’s extraordinarily powerful. I think I have done a pretty good job keeping them challenged up to level 6, but the last few games (level 6 to level 7, and now part way to 8) they are just seem to be combat monsters. I have been relatively careful with money and items, they are not dripping with powerful items (only the ones in mod plus they have each scrounged up enough gold to buy either a specialized weapon or Stat bonus item.)

The party consists of a mounted combat focused cavalier, an archer ranger, a witch, and alternating sometimes a cleric or wizard. The cavalier off his horse is just ok and is quite manageable (as one would expect) on his horse he destroys things. He does not get to use his horse all the time so I feel like he does not dominate every encounter. My real problems are the witch and ranger.

The witch makes liberal use of sleep magic (sleep for low HDs and deep slumber for higher) and also has slumber hex. Looking ahead in book 3 (I see some undead and some spell resistance which helps with the spells) but a lot of the encounters are going to fall to her (non spell resistance) DC 19 will save at-will slumber hex (will be DC 20 by the time they are dungeoning). Even swaping feats and adding Iron Will is not going to help things very much. Now granted the end of the mod will be tough for her, but…

…if the witch doesn’t sleep them the ranger is just destroying encounters with gobs of damage. I have checked to make sure we are running it correctly (I think we are but it just seems crazy) but if he full rounds with the wizards Haste on him he is getting the equivalent of 5 attacks (Iterative for (2), Manyshot for an extra (1), Rapid for (1) and Haste for (1). Not all those are full bonus but still a lot of attacks. Against the trolls there were a few rounds where he crit and was doing well over 100 points of damage. I had a few mobs advanced template and they were all max HP. Still, they were not much of a challenge.

So like I said, just finished RRR, The lady was a challenging encounter, but the trolls and the epic owlbear for my climax were a joke (and I had expected them to be tough). Hargulka got to flick one bead and then was down before the second round. For Nagrundi (I foolishly followed the given tactics and had him intimidate….he never got an attack off, as he rolled a 2 on his check). Regen doesn’t do much when the PCs can get you to zero before your second turn.

I plan to add my own sandboxy things in part 3. But anyone have any suggestions or will book 3 be challenging enough as written that I should not worry.


I max out the monsters HP. Which is perfectly legit.

And, I'm adding smaller monsters to each encounter I'm just not letting the overall CR increase.

Osirion

Yeah all the things you describe are to be expected. This is a AP that really shows off mounted combat and archery since most of your non-dungeon encounters happen in wilderness and much of it in open plains and hills. Just remember cover and line of sight in forests. Don't be afraid to let the party shine brightly throughout this AP, since it really is the King Arthur sort of campaign, with glorious heroes, etc.

It does sounds to me like you might have to add some extras to your game. You might want to check out Dudemeister's changes and the adjustments for a party of 6 to sort of give you guidelines for tweaking. Karlgamer is right on with that advice as well, increase the HPs and add some mooks to suck up some actions and give the party the chance to do some epic slaughtering in the process.

Some other tips that I found helpful in my own game:

As far as the witches sleep hex, there is not all that much undead in this AP (with one glaring exception), but there is a lot of fey. If you want to change things up, just may fey immune to non-fey sleep and charm spells. This is very in keeping with the lore, and shouldnt wreck your party. However, there are still many times the slumber hex won't work that make sense storywise. Your witch is extremely effective because most of this AP is men, humanoids, animals, and magical beasts, all of which fall neatly into the perfect targets for this hex (unless they are casters). To challenge your witch? Make plenty of mooks who can kick the sleeping bad guy awake again.

As far as specific characters? To challenge your cavalier, Make a black knight whose personal mission is to mess with him, and make him tough as nails with strong heavy armor. When the party is on the charging end of stuff, its not funny anymore. Archer- wind wall, cover, warp wood, etc. can all make his life interesting.

Outside of battle is where you can really challenge your party though, with intrigue, politics, etc. My party is pretty devastating on the battlefield, but are challenged quite nicely when it comes to plots, negotiations, and (as the barbarian puts it) "all these rules about who we can kill and when we can kill them". If you want to include more poltics, RedRamage, Dudemeister, and I all have threads about Brevoy and political situations that might help you with that side of your game if you are interested.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Pretty much. Remember, terrain and cover both make charges and archery more difficult. Another thing you can do is have things go after them at night, by surprise, etc.

The BBEGof Vook. 3 should be a very satisfying challenge for the players, particularly if he scores and spies for a bit and takes some action to pre-empt their favorite tactics. Prepare, as only a wizard can prepare, and see how the players deal with that....


Also remember that you can't use sleep if the monster is immune to mind-affecting spells.

There is a number of Swarms that would be immune.
Giant Trapdoor Spiders --immune.
Mudmen -- immune.
Giant Flytrap --immune.
Dread Zombie Cyclops -- immune.
Soul Eater -- immune to sleep specifically.
Wyvern -- immune to sleep specifically.

Many of the other monsters have high HD or high will saves.

The Spriggan however will fall like a house of cards to Sleep

Have Agai take out the spell casters before they come to the Stockade.

With his improved cover and his high AC he will be hard for the Archer to hit and if the players get close enough he can use Sneak attack on them.


Spell resistance applies to the slumber hex, doesnt it?

Shadow Lodge

No, Hexes do not have to tangle with SR. They're Supernatural abilities.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the ideas everyone. I did some deep reading this weekend and planned out some changes. Since it now sounds like we will have 5-6 players (adding a paldin and rogue) I think I will be running the 6 player conversions...that will bump things up a bit. Also adding the Ghouladon (encounter workshop Linnorm Graveyard) from the Chronicles Podcast. And I think I will give Agai a casting buddy.

Because they stomped the end of RRR I was concerned after reading some of the wimpy opening encounters in VV (Spriggins, Mudmen, etc..)But there are a few save or die moments in the mod (Xills, river trap, soul eaters, and Vord is pretty nasty) and with the undead encounters and most things beefed to max HP and adjusted for 6 players I will let you guys know how it goes.

Andoran

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am thinking to add a Bog mummy to the mudmen.

A thing that maybe you have missed if you are new to pathfinder: the witch can use slumebr (and most of her hexes) only once against the same target.
If the target roll his save it can't be affected again by the same hex till the next day.

Note that at level 8 your guys are 1 level above the intended target for the start of the third module.


Quote:
the ranger is just destroying encounters with gobs of damage. I have checked to make sure we are running it correctly (I think we are but it just seems crazy) but if he full rounds with the wizards Haste on him he is getting the equivalent of 5 attacks (Iterative for (2), Manyshot for an extra (1), Rapid for (1) and Haste for (1).

Is this legal? I'm only familiar with the 3.5 version, but I don't think you can use iteratives and Manyshot at the same time. You also can't use Rapid Shot and Manyshot at the same time.


I'm a player in a tabletop game and our DM is having the same issues as the OP.

We, too, have a cavalier in the party and he has one-shot most of the big creatures we've encountered, including the dude at the end of book 3. (If I recall correctly, had the DM kept with standard (ie. max.) hp, he'd have gone down in the first attack. As it was, we had to do close to 1000 damage.)

The paladin is another who constantly puts out big damage numbers.

I speak solely as a player when I say this but I don't think increasing the power of the existing creatures is the way to go; increase their numbers and play them more intelligently.


Kimera757 wrote:
Quote:
the ranger is just destroying encounters with gobs of damage. I have checked to make sure we are running it correctly (I think we are but it just seems crazy) but if he full rounds with the wizards Haste on him he is getting the equivalent of 5 attacks (Iterative for (2), Manyshot for an extra (1), Rapid for (1) and Haste for (1).
Is this legal? I'm only familiar with the 3.5 version, but I don't think you can use iteratives and Manyshot at the same time. You also can't use Rapid Shot and Manyshot at the same time.

Yeah, in 3.5 Manyshot is a standard action, not an attack action. 2 + Rapid Shot + Haste works, though. In PF even Manyshot works in the mix.


MacFetus wrote:

I'm a player in a tabletop game and our DM is having the same issues as the OP.

...

I speak solely as a player when I say this but I don't think increasing the power of the existing creatures is the way to go; increase their numbers and play them more intelligently.

As a GM I can't underscore and emphasize this enough. Increasing the HP or CR on a monster or a Big Bad does a number of things, and IMO none of them are good: You teach your players that they need to max out everything, always, you wind up having encounters that are still paltry and easily steamrolled by the now maxed out characters, and you've turned a role playing game into a roll playing game.

To really provide a challenge, double or triple the number of opponents in an encounter, and as MacFetus writes -- play them smart.

For instance, say you've got a wizard at the end of the dungeon? Have him scrying on the party so he knows their tricks, then have him prepare summoning scrolls to help offset the encounter. Give him a couple of golems as body guards, or better give him 4 apprentices a few levels below him to add to the "What the hell should we do now" factor for your players. I'm working on something along these lines for Varnhold with our group, so that when they get to the end, they'll have a very challenging fight. Vordrekai will have at least one additional spell caster with him, a nemesis that the party has been trailing since the first book, and potentially other allies for the party to handle alongside the rest.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
MacFetus wrote:

I'm a player in a tabletop game and our DM is having the same issues as the OP.

We, too, have a cavalier in the party and he has one-shot most of the big creatures we've encountered, including the dude at the end of book 3. (If I recall correctly, had the DM kept with standard (ie. max.) hp, he'd have gone down in the first attack. As it was, we had to do close to 1000 damage.)

The paladin is another who constantly puts out big damage numbers.

I speak solely as a player when I say this but I don't think increasing the power of the existing creatures is the way to go; increase their numbers and play them more intelligently.

Almost 1.000 hp of damage in on hit? How did he managed that?

For the record: in Pathfinder (and 3.x) if you have several effects that multiply damage you don't multiply them by each other, you sum them.

To use the word of someone more fluent in English than me:

Kolokotroni wrote:
Shar Tahl wrote:
If you have the feat Spirited Charge and score a critical hit with the charge attack, Do you multiply the total critical by 2 or do you just add another weapon die? Like a weapon that is 1d8 damage with x3 critical. do you get 4d8(1 extra) damage dice or 6d8(double normal crit) damage dice?
Multipliers add not multiply (wierd I know). So spirited charge with a x2 critical would do x3 damage, A lance which has a x3 critical would be x5 damage (x3 for lance with spirited charge pluse a critical = x5).

Osirion

Another thing to keep in mind in this particular AP is that many of the challenges are mental, political, or social, and not DPR vs a particular CR creature.

For instance, during a secret foray deep into Brevoy to rescue a captured Baron, my party of 7 7th level chars two rounded a young adult ravener brass dragon in my game, but spent three hours of game time, much stress and worry, several arguments, and 47 different plans and still have not passed another challenge they encountered. What is the nature of this difficult challenge?

A family of NPCs that an honorable party member promised to take to safety in a nearby city. A time constraint on the players and the dangers of freezing cold winter weather and bandits all prevent the players from either escorting them or letting them go alone. They players are embracing the River Kingdom laws, so oakbreaking is a big no-no. Muahhaha!

Morale of the story is you cant always tell what will prove the most challenging to your party. Unless they steamroll or blow past all challenges of any kind, don't fret too much. But I also recommend not letting a couple of dice rolls resolve every diplomacy or RP opportunity. Give them moral dilemmas to resolve from time to time. This one the players did to themselves, God love 'em. :P


My own DM found ways of beefing up encounters.

Does anyone remember the (spoiler) encounter with the fake druid? It was basically an elderly rogue and a cougar as his "animal companion". In our campaign, the DM used the rogue and two dire lions, which actually ambushed us. (Alas, my druid hit the whole area with Plant Growth, getting the lions despite not seeing them. This probably hurt more than it helped, as the lions were less affected than the PCs, but they needed their mobility more than most PCs...)

Grand Lodge

One DM option is to check the PC's power for the set encounters by making the other random encounters and kingdom events particularly challenging. Force them to use consumables and sink their gold & magic into maintaining the integrity of the kingdom. This reduces the amount of gold available for their magic items to be used against the set encounters of the AP.

I also recommend minimizing the PC's ability to sell off the city generated magic items. As written, the kingdom rules make it easy for the PCs to use magic item economy to fuel the growth of their empire. It's best if PC's need to contribute some of their personal wealth into the kingdom in order to fuel growth.

Avoid letting the PCs withdraw gold from their kingdom's BP coffers. Consider using NPCs play out the consequences of unrest. The RAW mechanics for unrest are not particularly useful but the social aspects of this sort of unrest maybe be persuasive to prevent the PCs from making their embezzlement a pattern.

Make it challenging for the PC's to find all of the wealth available in the AP. Assume the NPC's used their potions, scrolls, wands. Make collecting armor and weapons off the dead to be gruesome robbery not fit for the Kings and Queens of the new kingdom. Don't provide clues to PCs that trigger their use of Perception skills to find hidden wealth.

I love the Kingmaker AP but generally found the encounters to be weak against optimized PCs. I also think it is okay to allow the PCs to be super good with their special capabilities. Mounted cavaliers and high DC witch hexes should be powerful when played to their strengths.

The sandbox nature of the AP allows the PCs to set the pace of the adventure. This allows them to avoid using consumables and makes limited use abilities particularly strong. Try forcing the pace at times so that the PCs need to fight multiple encounters in sequence depleting their resources.

Good luck!

Shadow Lodge

That would be the Mad Hermit in Book 2.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Almost 1.000 hp of damage in on hit? How did he managed that?

No, 1000 spread out over several rounds by several different people. The cav's initial attack did enough to take V from his printed max to 0; in order to make the encounter a bit more memorable, the DM increased V's hp's. When we worked out the final damage inflicted on him, we'd done close to 1000. (I say 'we'...I did 0.)

Taldor

I also have found the majority of encounters to be either to easy for the party, or just very overwhelming. So far the only written encounter that gave a challenge were the chew spiders, and the scythe tree. I have noticed a severe lack of casters in the first two modules, and when there is one they tend to be alone, thus easy to get pounded.

The way to make things interesting is to create and add your our sub-plots. For example I have added the additional back story of the gods going to sleep with new ones awakening. So far only three news ones have awaken, and as such are in need of followers. One of the gods is a goddess of corruption. So far here limited clergy have augmented zombies into Plague Zombies. However I modified the Zombie Rot into a faster acting version. Everything is the same, but the onset is immediate and the frequency is per round. I didn't have any PCs die from the rot, but it did provide them a challenge to deal with them, and then see them be frantic trying to make saves. For Hargulka I am adding in a Ring of Minor Energy Resistance (Fire) as a gift from a benefactor, just to make things interesting. There is an inherit danger however of placing magic items in with npcs however. Expect your party to gain access to them. In this case the mentioned ring I do not see as being to overpowering.

Kildaere I do have a question about the Ranger however. It is basically are they running out of arrows? That is the biggest handicap for using a bow/crossbow. If the ammo hits it is used up. From the feats mentioned I see 3 arrow attacks (4 with haste: cant use Multi and Rapid shot together). Even as such are the arrows magical? A simple Protection from Arrows ruins their day, same thing with Obscuring Mist, or Wind Wall.

Andoran

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If your bow is magical your arrow count as magical to pierce DR, protection from arrows included.

Taldor

Thank you for pointing that out. Wasn't assuming the Ranger had a magical bow. The main point however is there are counter measures that can be given. It all depends if the opponent is smart enough to utilize them, and willing to see how said adversaries react.


Duskrunner1 wrote:
For Hargulka I am adding in a Ring of Minor Energy Resistance (Fire) as a gift from a benefactor, just to make things interesting. There is an inherit danger however of placing magic items in with npcs however. Expect your party to gain access to them. In this case the mentioned ring I do not see as being to overpowering.

Also - don't forget that magical items - the same as anything else need to

'save' against damage or be destroyed...
Roll your dice a few times & say 'oh dear, the magical ring he seems to
have been wearing didn't make it's save...'

Don't make getting TREASURE too easy. Yes, you can't do that everytime,
but if your PCs insist on creaming everything by throwing the kitchen
sink at it to DESTROY the monster...that too has consequences...i.e. most
mundane & some magical treasure will get destroyed.
e.g. oh dear, he was standing by a pile of coins when you dropped that
fireball on him. The metal that was the coins is still there, but now it's
a mass of molten metal (with a magical emanation from within?)...all that
slag is unfortunately worth far less than the coins would have been, &
weighs approximately 50lb...

Get creative. :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Philip Knowsley wrote:

Also - don't forget that magical items - the same as anything else need to

'save' against damage or be destroyed...
Roll your dice a few times & say 'oh dear, the magical ring he seems to
have been wearing didn't make it's save...'
pfsrd wrote:
Unless the descriptive text for the spell specifies otherwise, all items carried or worn by a creature are assumed to survive a magical attack. If a creature rolls a natural 1 on its saving throw against the effect, however, an exposed item is harmed (if the attack can harm objects). Refer to Table: Items Affected by Magical Attacks. Determine which four objects carried or worn by the creature are most likely to be affected and roll randomly among them. The randomly determined item must make a saving throw against the attack form and take whatever damage the attack dealt.

First a natural 1 and then the chance to make a save. One item per 40 such attacks is an approximate rate that worn items get destroyed. If you fudge it, don't do that too often.


Ok, I will try to help out a bit here as the group I am running is doing incredibly well in the DPS area in encounters. I have been using the 6 player options as reference and sometimes just straight up seeing as we have a party of six now. Reading through the reasoning behind some of the increases makes very good sense, and opens up many more possibilities. Adding levels, HD, minions, templates are all good responses and can be tailored to help offset some of the damage. I would suggest changing it up a bit and make it so that each character has a chance to shine and pull off the save for each encounter.

I do agree that this is a hero building AP and that the characters are to be powerful and impressive when done. Make them work for it, playing the monsters in abstract ways and very smart is the best thing you can do. Make new monsters, or even old ones that are different than the norm, had to identify. Make the PCs wonder what it is exactly they are fighting. You are not really changing the encounter, just making it so there is more of the "unknown", which always make players nervous and cautious. Just try to keep it fun for everyone, especially you as a DM. If you are feeling that you cannot handle it or think it should be different, I suggest talking to your players (as players, not characters) and seeing what thoughts they might have. Perhaps they are getting bored of running everything over, and would like a challenge.

Additionally, on the matter mentioned about Rapid Shot and Manyshot, our group decided that they would stack. Reasoning is this: First, you need Rapid Shot to take Manyshot, lending us to believe they were meant to work together; Second, they both use the same wording in the description of how the feat is used "When making a full-attack action ...", which lead us to believe that it is used when making the full attack, not in place of the full attack action. So using both during the same round would give extra damage for the first shot only (two arrows and applicable modifiers), an extra attack at highest bonus, and ALL attacks would be at -2 to attack. The big drawback is that fact that you will be using a lot of arrows.

Spoiler:
I did use both at the same time when running the encounter with the Hunter in Book six 1000 screams. The text states he had 20 arrows as combat gear, I thought that wasn't enough, but after figuring out how much damage he could do per round (firing up to 6 arrows per round),I stuck with it. Of course I assumed he would get what he wanted within that 4 round period of full attacks, and if not then he was having a bad day.

Hope this helped.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Hassy wrote:
Kimera757 wrote:
Quote:
the ranger is just destroying encounters with gobs of damage. I have checked to make sure we are running it correctly (I think we are but it just seems crazy) but if he full rounds with the wizards Haste on him he is getting the equivalent of 5 attacks (Iterative for (2), Manyshot for an extra (1), Rapid for (1) and Haste for (1).
Is this legal? I'm only familiar with the 3.5 version, but I don't think you can use iteratives and Manyshot at the same time. You also can't use Rapid Shot and Manyshot at the same time.
Yeah, in 3.5 Manyshot is a standard action, not an attack action. 2 + Rapid Shot + Haste works, though. In PF even Manyshot works in the mix.

As I suspect Hassy reply was overlooked:

In Pathfinder Manyshot and Rapid shot stack. It is there right in the benefit part:

PRD wrote:


Manyshot (Combat)
Benefit: When making a full-attack action with a bow, your first attack fires two arrows.

When making a full attack you can all options that require a full attack, barring specific text in the feat, spell or ability description.

About the bow thing: by level 7 your primary weapon is generally magic. If not most groups have a caster capable to cast Greater magic weapon and make it magic for 7 hours.
So assuming that a archer will not have a magic bow mean assuming that the whole campaign is low magic. In a typical campaign DR/magic lose rapidly his impact of the difficulty of the encounters.


You are right in thinking that it would reduce the amount of damage that an archer would put out, however, this again can be circumvented by the Clustered Shots feat from Ultimate Combat (I think). Means that the damage of the full attack is counted, and DR is only applied once. Amazing for players, but don't forget, if they can use it, so can you.

Taldor

Diego I can see why you would think that, and at this point I would say the Rapid - Manyshot Feat can go either way. It all depends on the view.

Both feats start off the same way... When making a full-attack action.(etc). Add to that the way feats are laid out in the book. Most of these kinda feats that are indented are upgrades to the feat prior (i.e. cleave and greater cleave, or Deflect and Snatch Arrows). Whereas other are not (i.e. Mobility and Spring Attack). The thing about these two feats is they don't explicitly state that that the bonuses (feats) stack, like with the description of Greater Bull Rush. It all falls back to the definition of what is a full-attack action, and if multiple feats that start out as such can be use simultaneously. Funny thing is these are the only two feats that start out taking about a Fill-attack action. Shot on the Run does as well, but has a caveat that throws it out of discussion. Was hoping I could find an example that works like you think.

I personally see Manyshot as an upgrade of Rapid shot as you no longer suffer the -2 penalty, and yet get the extra shot/damage when the first arrow hits. There are others I see that view in the same light, but both viewpoints on this are valid until there is an official ruling.

With the bow thing, I dont assume anything. The op didnt mention the exact weapons being used so I simply offered a countermeasure that could be used. I could assume that the campaign is a high magic one, but also assume that something broke said bow. Having no other options I can assume said Ranger finds a bow. Sadly it is non-magical but at least it is a weapon. With Greater Magic Weapon I do agree that can be used. But once again that is assuming someone took the time to memorize the spell (excluding a scroll). However Sorcerers/Wizards that I have experiences with 20+ yrs of gaming tend not to take that spell as there tends to be other spells that rate higher with them (fireball, lightning bolt, fly, hold person, etc.) Same can be said for clerics/paladins. The point that was being made is there are countermeasures that can be used for anything, and an intelligent opponent when given the time will use every advantage at their disposal.


Kildaere wrote:
I am a new DM to pathfinder, but have been DMing other games for years.

My rule number one, as a DM.. Make for an interesting story, not a quick battle.. Let them be BRAAHHHH but make them remember that The Stolen Lands are not a cakewalk. They will have no great story to tell about that one time they blasted 17 trolls in 2 rounds... But when they barely made it out alive against the one, that will hang around for years.

DM only options:

  • Fudge the damage the trolls are taking. Give 'em all DR10 vs arrows, and SR 10+level (even against hexes).
  • Add some more HP. Also helps when one of your party metagames and says "Holy f+++, they have over 100 hp?" :P
  • Add some more trolls/baddies/henchmen that can kick the BBEG awake.
  • Some opponents might actually be smart enough to prepare in advance.. Protection from arrows, casters with dispel magic or "silence", rogues with invis that wait for the witch to do her thing before gutting,...

Remember:

    * Hex-Sleep > Bad guy on the floor > +4AC vs archers
  • Stop giving out exp/magical weapons. Right now they are tha shizzle, but when they stop being 'on curve' they might actually plan differently.
  • Some might be smart enough to retreat.. Haste doesn't last hours ;)
  • Total defense (+4 dodge to ac) + prone (-4 to ranged attack) + cover rules (improved cover can add from +4 to +8)
    ==> Giving a whopping -4 atk/+12 ac can keep your baddy alive, while waiting for the correct opportunity ;)

Hope this helps :)

Shadow Lodge

I'm okay with everything Rick suggested except the SR versus Hexes. You can get the DR from a spell, upping enemy HP is something I do regularly (usually to 3/4 or max instead of 1/2, I find the standard HP allotment far too flimsy), and intelligent henchmen assisting a boss makes sense. But giving something SR against something that is specifically not stopped by SR - as it's a (Su) ability - bothers me very much, and I'm very certain it'll irk the players as the GM is not playing by the same rules they are. That is one of my personal pet peeves - the rules should be the same on both sides of the GM screen, and anything the NPCs can do the PCs should in theory be able to accomplish with the same or similar investment of time, money, magic, effort, persuasion, and/or alignment adjustment.

Instead, I would focus on upping their will save. Increase their Wisdom, have them use will-boosting buffs and items, take class levels with a high Will progression, etc. Heck, give them a Witch of their own! S/he can Hex their partymates with Fortune, allowing them to roll twice then take the better result. Give them a mount so they can keep up with their allies while spending their turn Hexing and Cackling to maintain the Fortune on their buddies.

Osirion

The easiest fix for too much sleep hex is to make fey or fey blooded creatures immune to sleep and charm. If there is a key BBEG you want resistant, give him a ring or charm from a fey lord/lady and he gets the same immunity (or resistance if the goal is just a little more difficulty). You should still let the witch have some sleep targets, but this campaign has a lot of human and NPC bad guys, which leave plenty of other targets. I don't have a witch in my game anymore to worry about but honestly, it really wasnt that much of a problem.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Now that we are knee deep in the mod I am finding the challenges to be much tougher for the PCs. Honestly I think the sudden burst of power when the archer got iterative attacks, combined with his feats and Gravity Bow, just caught me off guard. They just finished the town and with advancing the crab and beefing up Agai they were quite the challenge. I can also say that my players hate swarms. They did them in the right order too (mwah!) they found the rats and burned all their resources, then went across the street and got eaten by crows! They actually had to lick their wounds for a few days and heal eye damage. What I have been doing is running the 6 player forum conversion with key enemies with MAX hp and occasional use of the Advanced template. This seems to be working so far. Also I am doing some battle field manipulation to give some mobs cover to hide behind. The party is now level 8 and is heading south in search of missing villagers.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the feeback people. Game was last night and we did encounters with the Bulette, and the Soul Eater. Both were very satisfying and fun for me and the players. However there is a new issue that seems to be popping up more and more as the game progresses. And it seems to be a problem with the Pathfinder rules more than my specific group makeup. So I thought I would ask other DMs about it.

The issue is: How do you make a challenging ecounter with a larger number of lesser CR monsters? Maybe there is some tactic I am not seeing but the rules (and Kingmaker specificaly) seem to build several encounters by adding addional numbers of low CR mobs to make the encounter a "challenge appropriate for the party". How is this playing out in your games?

Specifically:

1) Trapdoor spiders. Advanced giant spiders (I dont care how many, are not a challenge for level 8-9 characters. The spiders have 22 hP and a to hit of +4. They would need to roll a 20 to bite any melee guy and cant bite the caster (as he will probably be invisible and flying at this level). This whole encounter seems to be a waste of space. What am I missing?

2) Ettercaps - again....the book even describes them as lame....the "trap" is obvious, and they are not remotely a challenge...I am not following the logic of "if one enemy that can't hurt them is not a challenge, then six enemys that can't hurt them must be a challenge." There are more than a few of these in Kingmaker...like:

3) The Mudmen - Seriously? 12 Monsters with 19 HP.....and a +4 (again) to attack. I "might" be able to have them last 2 rounds (simply because of the number) but 2 well placed fireballs should mop them up. I doubt they will damage a single member of my party with a melee attack. The ranged touch attack might catch a few...but certainly not a challenge.

So my real question I guess is: Are these supposed to be challenging? They give XP some of them a lot. The Mudmen are listed as a CR 9 encounter....the soul eater a 7. Something seems wrong. Are you DMs that have run Kingmaker having the same issues? I know there should not be a Roc or Bulette around every corner, and that some encounters that make the PCs seem powerful is fun....but it getting to the point where some of my players are saying "spiders....do we even need to run this?" I do add my own stuff...but tend to run the AP encounters with little modification outside of Advanced Template (or occasional extra HD). When people are running Kingmaker are you DMs seriously tweaking the encounters...or are running them mostly as written?


Part of it is tactis, but also a part of it is as simple as not every encounter is meant to be a challenge. Sometimes it is nice for the players to have a combat where they can not only use the skills they have gained, but also feel like heroes. Let them do so.

If every encounter is one with a 90% chance of death of character, would you be motivated to come back again and again each week? Probably not. These much weaker encounters are there for the players to feel like heroes.

Also, keep in mind that 19 mudmen might be a significant problem for your average first level commoner. It is just as much about what baseline you are using as to how challenging the encounter is.

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Kildaere wrote:

Thanks for the feeback people. Game was last night and we did encounters with the Bulette, and the Soul Eater. Both were very satisfying and fun for me and the players. However there is a new issue that seems to be popping up more and more as the game progresses. And it seems to be a problem with the Pathfinder rules more than my specific group makeup. So I thought I would ask other DMs about it.

The issue is: How do you make a challenging ecounter with a larger number of lesser CR monsters? Maybe there is some tactic I am not seeing but the rules (and Kingmaker specificaly) seem to build several encounters by adding addional numbers of low CR mobs to make the encounter a "challenge appropriate for the party". How is this playing out in your games?

Specifically:

1) Trapdoor spiders. Advanced giant spiders (I dont care how many, are not a challenge for level 8-9 characters. The spiders have 22 hP and a to hit of +4. They would need to roll a 20 to bite any melee guy and cant bite the caster (as he will probably be invisible and flying at this level). This whole encounter seems to be a waste of space. What am I missing?

2) Ettercaps - again....the book even describes them as lame....the "trap" is obvious, and they are not remotely a challenge...I am not following the logic of "if one enemy that can't hurt them is not a challenge, then six enemys that can't hurt them must be a challenge." There are more than a few of these in Kingmaker...like:

3) The Mudmen - Seriously? 12 Monsters with 19 HP.....and a +4 (again) to attack. I "might" be able to have them last 2 rounds (simply because of the number) but 2 well placed fireballs should mop them up. I doubt they will damage a single member of my party with a melee attack. The ranged touch attack might catch a few...but certainly not a challenge.

So my real question I guess is: Are these supposed to be challenging? They give XP some of them a lot. The Mudmen are listed as a CR 9 encounter....the soul eater a 7. Something seems wrong. Are you DMs that...

I'm sort of inbetween books 3 and 4. The PCs went to Varnhold and marched on Vordakai without exploring much of the map for book 3. I've sent them off to the Harrow Realm (The Harrowing module) to give me some time to comb through book 3 and 4 and make some adjustments. As a group, we agreed that we didn't want to run the encounters you mentioned. So, I'm pulling those and replacing them with my own encounters, tying them into the story I've set up. This also allows me to use some fun 3pp stuff like "Tome of Horrors" and Rite Publishing's "Book of Monster Templates." Using the accursed tarrasque (CR 12) from the book and I statted up an accursed Hekatonkheires (also CR 12). Throwing them a few odd curveball monsters now and then keeps them on their toes a bit.

Qadira

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Just as a reminder...

Not every encounter has to be to the death. Sometimes its good to lull the players into thinking they will walk over everything and then smack them up the head with a big nasty encounter.

Sometimes the PCs need to feel like real heroes that can defeat "easy" monsters without expending to many resources. They need to be able to "show-off" once in a while.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

And the soul eater should probably show up at night when the PXs are mostly sleeping and only its target is on watch. Or after a long day of fighting something. Vordakai is smart and won't just send his soul eater off by itself.


Shieldknight wrote:

Just as a reminder...

Not every encounter has to be to the death. Sometimes its good to lull the players into thinking they will walk over everything and then smack them up the head with a big nasty encounter.

Sometimes the PCs need to feel like real heroes that can defeat "easy" monsters without expending to many resources. They need to be able to "show-off" once in a while.

This makes perfect sense except fit one thing: that "easy" encounter still has the same CR as a single much tougher monster.

If the encounter is a CR9, I expect it to provide a given amount of challenge, regardless of whether its from a single monster, a pair, or a small horde of them. There should be no "easy" and no "hard" encounters of the same CR. Or if there are, it should be based in the PCs actions and/or choices (undead focused ranger trivializing a fight against undead, for instance). If the CR isn't a good indicator of difficulty to a baseline party, then it doesn't have a reason to exist.


There is a good reason for CR to exist. The important thing is also to look at where the action economy tilt is. If it is tilted in the favour of the PC's, i.e. they get 4 or 5 actions to the monsters 1, then you are likely to be able to have an encounter of a higher CR than if the action economy is more favourable to the monster. It is a balancing act, as a single monster of CR 9 will also assume that the party with have a certain level of resources and ability to get over things like DR, and also to withstand a hit from said monster.


Kildaere wrote:
1) Trapdoor spiders. Advanced giant spiders (I dont care how many, are not a challenge for level 8-9 characters. The spiders have 22 hP and a to hit of +4. They would need to roll a 20 to bite any melee guy and cant bite the caster (as he will probably be invisible and flying at this level). This whole encounter seems to be a waste of space. What am I missing?

Neither four ettercaps (CR 7) nor six giant trapdoor spiders (also CR 7) are *meant* to be great challenges for level 8-9 characters. That's to be expected, since it's how the encounter building rules work.

Kildaere wrote:
So my real question I guess is: Are these supposed to be challenging? They give XP some of them a lot. The Mudmen are listed as a CR 9 encounter....the soul eater a 7. Something seems wrong. Are you DMs that...

Personally I don't think the CR equivalencies table works very well for over 6 enemies. They will often have trouble coordinating attacks, especially if they are all the same/similar. However, the mudman encounter can actually be a bit of a challenge depending on the party - they can likely grapple many non-"tank" characters, and Dex damage is a cumulative spiral that makes further hits more likely.

As far as the soul eater is concerned, part of the reason the CR is relatively high (but again CR 7 is easy for level 8-9 characters) is the stakes: if it drains its target's soul its mission is complete and it may attempt to flee, in which case the target is permanently gone.


For those wondering how to make low CR rating critters into deadly foes, check out Tucker's Kobolds.

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