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Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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**

Funky Badger - not sure what you mean by "picking them back up," but the BBEG had ranged weapons and they were within 30 feet of him. Dragging them out one at a time would have mathematically resulted in a fail. The best chance I had was what I did as far as attacks go. I could have retreated and gotten my 1XP and 1PA and they still would have all been unrecoverable in the BBEG's lair.

Dragnmoon - a brand new player missing one scenario out of dozens available is not a big loss. They did play it - they just didn't get any rewards for it. And no action I could have taken would have resulted in a different outcome TMK.

IIRC we all got chronicles with 1XP and something like 150 gold to go with our deaths. The GM allowed us to be recovered even though none had PA high enough.

*****

Some Random Player wrote:

Funky Badger - not sure what you mean by "picking them back up," but the BBEG had ranged weapons and they were within 30 feet of him. Dragging them out one at a time would have mathematically resulted in a fail. The best chance I had was what I did as far as attacks go. I could have retreated and gotten my 1XP and 1PA and they still would have all been unrecoverable in the BBEG's lair.

Dragnmoon - a brand new player missing one scenario out of dozens available is not a big loss. They did play it - they just didn't get any rewards for it. And no action I could have taken would have resulted in a different outcome TMK.

IIRC we all got chronicles with 1XP and something like 150 gold to go with our deaths. The GM allowed us to be recovered even though none had PA high enough.

Are you sure this is Rise of the Goblin Guild? The BBEG in that scenario is female, not male, and she is much much less capable at range than in melee.

*** Contributor

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Rob Lundeen was the author of the scenario in the first TPK I mention above as well. His scenarios have some of the best RP in PFS, in my opinion, and they are also extremely challenging.

Actually, that's Ron Lundeen. My younger brother Robert doesn't play Pathfinder. :)

And thanks very much for the compliment about my writing. Everyone has their own opinion about PFS difficulty, and my personal opinion is that PFS scenarios are generally pretty easy--which is why I sometimes lean toward harder encounters ("too hard!" say some, "just right!" say others). I've generally stayed out of the "PFS is too hard" vs. "PFS is too easy" discussions, particularly since my "Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment" and "Severing Ties" tend to be referenced often as on the "hard" side, but I thought I'd put my opinion out there while posting to correct my name.

*****

Ron Lundeen wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Rob Lundeen was the author of the scenario in the first TPK I mention above as well. His scenarios have some of the best RP in PFS, in my opinion, and they are also extremely challenging.

Actually, that's Ron Lundeen. My younger brother Robert doesn't play Pathfinder. :)

And thanks very much for the compliment about my writing. Everyone has their own opinion about PFS difficulty, and my personal opinion is that PFS scenarios are generally pretty easy--which is why I sometimes lean toward harder encounters ("too hard!" say some, "just right!" say others). I've generally stayed out of the "PFS is too hard" vs. "PFS is too easy" discussions, particularly since my "Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment" and "Severing Ties" tend to be referenced often as on the "hard" side, but I thought I'd put my opinion out there while posting to correct my name.

Sorry for the typo Ron! I think I've spelled your name right in other posts, if I've posted it at all.

***

nosig wrote:


If we are in the boss fight and the Pistol Cheese Whiz drops the BBE and all the mooks in the surprise round... and the Sorcerer goes over to kick the body, because the "evil dude" deserves it, that's a win. Even if it was a "Cake Walk"...

Almost that exact situation happened to me yesterday. There wasn't an optimized damage dealer in the party, but aside from the BBEG, there was only 1 encounter where the mooks had an AC higher than 11. All the combats were trivially easy and the players were even commenting on it by the second to last fight, "Really? I rolled a 10 with my backup weapon and still hit?"

But when they killed the end boss, who was accompanied by an NPC they had interacted with earlier, the wizard walked up and kicked him with a "Take that you <scenario related insult!>"

I feel better about not challenging them in combat, now. =D

Rogue Eidolon wrote:


I've seen a lot of anguish over BBEG melee types (in some cases solo BBEG melee types) who have one or two attacks with a to-hit that is expected to hit a level 1 character's AC and damage (from either the one or two attacks) that is expected to drop a level 1 character in one full attack. I'm talking about enemies that have two attacks for 1d6+4 or one attack for 1d8+8, with maybe a +8 to hit.

My question to those who find this too much is--given action economy, do you really want your BBEG to not be able to do this much damage on its one turn? If there's even one level 2 melee character, that mean it will take two to three turns to drop that character, even without any healing done by the other three to six characters. Even if there's no front-liner, characters can spread out and use ranged attacks.

I would actually prefer to see some more of those in earlier scenarios. When I started playing, I hadn't seen a truly dangerous meleer until I ran into an Earth Elemental at level 3. I'd played up before, but had never run into anything that could consistently hit AC 20+ or do more than 10 damage or so a swing. So playing a cleric with 33hp and AC 22 I felt pretty invulnerable. If I had run into a couple things doing 1d8+8 at a +8 hit in tier 1-2 content, I would have been much more careful. For example, I'd never run into anything where I had to cast defensively, I just ate the AoO, usually it missed, but if it hit the worst case was I lost the spell on the concentration roll. Trying that on the elemental got me KO'd, which honestly surprised me.

In my opinion, everyone needs to face some fights that actually seem dangerous in early scenarios to teach them the cues to identify truly dangerous opponents. I would have been a more cautious player had I played First Steps 1 as my first scenario, for example. You have to be careful with an enemy like that at low levels, though: Offense, Defense, HP, don't have all of them high, maybe not even two of them high at tier 1-2.

I really don't have a feel for season 4 scenarios, I played Rise of the Goblin Guild at tier 1-2 as a 3 so it really wasn't a challenge. The only other season 4 scenario I played was with my optimized fighter archer and two optimized summoners at the table, so it turned into a race to see who could get high enough initiative to kill off the baddies first.


Ron Lundeen wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Rob Lundeen was the author of the scenario in the first TPK I mention above as well. His scenarios have some of the best RP in PFS, in my opinion, and they are also extremely challenging.

Actually, that's Ron Lundeen. My younger brother Robert doesn't play Pathfinder. :)

And thanks very much for the compliment about my writing. Everyone has their own opinion about PFS difficulty, and my personal opinion is that PFS scenarios are generally pretty easy--which is why I sometimes lean toward harder encounters ("too hard!" say some, "just right!" say others). I've generally stayed out of the "PFS is too hard" vs. "PFS is too easy" discussions, particularly since my "Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment" and "Severing Ties" tend to be referenced often as on the "hard" side, but I thought I'd put my opinion out there while posting to correct my name.

Thanks for an awesome adventure, Ron!

Just played through it at at Thod's Dragoncon and thought it was excellent, a nice change of pace from the norm.

I really wouldn't have flagged it as "hard" though, we played it with 5 1st level characters, 3 member of Mofolino's flying circus that had 1 games each (Bard, druid and monk) and the iconic gunslinger and valeros... all went swimmingly.

*** Contributor

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Sorry for the typo Ron! I think I've spelled your name right in other posts, if I've posted it at all.

No worries. Thanks!

**

Mark Moreland wrote:
To the OP and those echoing his concerns, can you please cite specific examples of encounters that you found too difficult or scenarios that felt plotless? I have several suspects in the first category, but the less vague this sort of feedback is, the more it helps the campaigns authors and those of us working on scenario development and campaign management. Thanks for the honest feedback; we appreciate it.

Sorry that it has taken me this long to get back to this.

It is hard to speak with too much certainty on the encounters from particular mods that I have played because I don't have access to the mod to read it unless I download it to run it. To think of a few -
Goblinblood Dead final encounter where we seemed to combine two encounters through no fault of the players.
Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment where someone (an NPC) summoned some creatures with DR (two of them) that gradually killed the entire 1st level party. Apparently there was a 50% chance of this summoning (how ridiculous at 1st level!).
Any encounter in Severing Ties really. This mod seemed to be designed to kill 1st level inexperienced characters. No offence to the writer, the plot and idea of the mod was great, but the combats were too powerful.
In Rise of the Goblin Guild the alchemist encounter was not a TPK, but how many alchemists will be met in rafters or on an almost unreachable (for 1st level chars) ledge. Surely this warrants a CR adjustment. Give me that alchemist on a level playing field any day.
Anyway, I will try to get hold of copies of some of these mods and then I can look at what went wrong in the encounters more carefully.

On the plotless point, perhaps in some cases the plot was felt to be plotless once all of the characters at the table had been killed. TPK is a deflating feeling. Anyway plot is hard to discuss from memory - I've played quite a few mods. I would say that there has been a general feeling among the players that plot is getting overwhelmed by brutal combats. Quest for Perfection Part II comes to mind immediately for limited plot.

I think that the toughness of some of these mods is obvious. I really suggest playtesting encounters with 4 (and 5) iconics. Remembering that new players (who we seek to encourage) actually know nothing about the creatures and won't unless they make a Knowledge check. Things like gaze attacks and DR mean something to an experienced player (but if they play their character perhaps they should feign ignorance), but they mean nothing to a newbie and should be avoided for mods involving 1st level players.

Bring back iconic, fun creatures for low-level. I would like to see more Goblins, Skeletons and the like at low-level. And see an end to the summoned outsiders, the swarms (that we used to see), the animated objects (a golem with DR5 at higher-tier replaced with an animated object with Hardness 8 or 10 at lower-tier) for Tier 1-5 mods.

All of this being said, I think we need to think hard about 1st level character survival in Tier 1-5 mods. That is the main thrust of what I am trying to get across. At 1st level, it can be hard to hit AC14, a FORT saving throw of 13 is a challenge, and Knowledge checks to know about creatures are always difficult. Keep it in mind writers.

Paizo Employee ***** Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

Golariofun wrote:


Goblinblood Dead final encounter where we seemed to combine two encounters through no fault of the players.

I'm not sure which of the two encounters you are referring to so I won't address this one.

I'm going to address the rest of your examples, with spoiler tabs, because from looking at the info provided, it looks like your GM made errors in judgement while adjudicating the tables in most of these instances. Let me remove my Campaign Coordinator cap and put on my 5-star GM cap.

Golariofun wrote:
Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment where someone (an NPC) summoned some creatures with DR (two of them) that gradually killed the entire 1st level party. Apparently there was a 50% chance of this summoning (how ridiculous at 1st level!).

Spoiler:
I see no where in the tactics sections where the dretches or the vermlek demon is advised to attempt to summon more of its ilk. If the party is struggling, and the GM went ahead and used its summon ability anyway, that is 100% bad GMing, and not the fault of the scenario. I will assume you are referring to the vermnlek encounter at the end. That demon has plenty of abilities to combat the party without using the 50% chance to summon 1d4 dretches. If the party is struggling with this combat, I have to ask why those struggles were compunded with an unnecessary summons?

It advises before combat he casts a few prep spells if possible. During combat, he casts a few spells, and if the enemy appears especially threatening, he casts some other spells. If surrounded, he casts some other spells, and prefers to channel. If reduced to fewer than 10 HPs, he attempts to escape.

NOWHERE does it even hint that he attempts to use his summons. Stepping away from my Campaign Coordinator position, and speaking strictly as a 5-Star GM, I would never use the summon ability, especially against a first level party, unless that party did 35 points (Tier 1-2) or 50 points (Tier 4-5) of damage against me in the first round. I know this can be a deadly scenario, but I put the problem you mentioned squarely on the GM's shoulders for not following the tactics as written. There is a reason tactics are written into the scenario, and has been advised numerous times in the past, if a GM goes off the rails and chooses to change the tactics as written for the encounter, it very well could bump up the CR level of the challenge. Any insight in why your GM changed the tactics as written?

Golariofun wrote:
Any encounter in Severing Ties really. This mod seemed to be designed to kill 1st level inexperienced characters. No offence to the writer, the plot and idea of the mod was great, but the combats were too powerful.

Spoiler:
Let's look at each encounter on its own.

Let's start with the reefclaws. They are out of the water. They move at 5 feet. Why are the PCs not keeping their distance and attacking from range? The PCs should be able to see the reefclaws move very slowly out of water, and if the GM hasn't described that to the inexperienced, first level characters, that is the GMs fault. If the PCs run right up and try to go toe-to-toe with the reefclaws, unless it is a twinked out fighter, then I will acknowledge that the character is probably going to die. But, shouldn't we encourage players to play smarter and not just run up and fight everytime? Again, with only 5 feet of movement, the reefclaws should never ven get to a point where they can enter into melee with a character unless the character chooses to enter melee.

Let's go to the next encounter, a young basilisk. Granted the turn to stone ability can be nasty, but there is a means to be restored back to flesh anytime within an hour of turning to stone without any other spellcasting services. Also, the gaze attack is only good from 30 feet. Again, ranged attacks are your friend. Did the GM apply the young template to the creature? That makes this encounter much easier.

E3 is an optional encounter. If the party is having trouble with the scenario already, why didn't the GM opt to skip it? Regardless. I don't find this one too deadly at all. It is right on par with what a first level party should expect to be challenged with.

In E8, I agree that a stone guardian golem can overwhelm a brand new party of first level, inexperienced players. However, as a GM, if I am running a table of brand new, inexperienced players, I am going to emphasize that it is stone, that they don't think their weapons would be particularly effective, and also point out that it is moving slower than most of the PCs with its 20 foot movement. With the resist and light fortification, this is one tough encounter, but not insurmountable. If a first level PC goes toe-to-toe with this creature, they are going to lose this encounter. The slam attacks are extremely deadly to first level characters. However, I will note, according to the tactics section, if the PCs don't attack it or don't damage the safe house, this creature remains standing inert. If the party did not attack it or damage the safe house, this encounter should have never happened. If the party did either of these things, I am aware it is probably going to activate in or before area E9 regardless with most parties.

In E9, the NPC immediately tries to stop the PCs from entering, to avoid the stone guardian in E8 from animating. I think it was specifically written in a way to give the PCs every chance of not activating the guardian. If the PCs are about to enter, the GM should make every attempt possible to preclude this action. Again, I put the onus here on the GM.

Overall, I find this can be a difficult, but not impossible or overwhelming, scenario. If I know I am going to be GMing a brand new, inexperienced group of first level characters, I am probably going to choose a different scenario to run them through. Afterall, if they are inexperienced and brand new, I have a wealth of other options to choose from. However, if I have an experienced group of first level characters, I find that they appreciate a challenge and this scenario certainly provides that.

Golariofun wrote:
In Rise of the Goblin Guild the alchemist encounter was not a TPK, but how many alchemists will be met in rafters or on an almost unreachable (for 1st level chars) ledge. Surely this warrants a CR adjustment. Give me that alchemist on a level playing field any day.

I still haven't been able to challenge a party with the combats in this scenario. However, let me try to look at it again.

Spoiler:
So, once good old Yarak becomes aware of intruders, he first drinks his mutagen, and then pulls up the rope to prevent easy access to the upper level. Note that the area he is in is not impossible to get to once he pulls the rope up. It can be difficult to get to if you dont have the right skills, but not impossible. But, there is a knotted rope that can also be used if the goblins are unaware of intruders. A DC5 climb check is not difficult for 90% of characters. I guess I need to ask, did the party just charge into the room without sneaking around to investigate first? The 3 generic goblins have no skill points trained in Perception. Yarak does, and it is likely he may perceive the PCs entering. Let's take worse case scenario. If he pummels a PC on the first round of combat, the PCs see they can not get to him, why do they not retreat from the room to regroup? Also, if he has used that first attack, he only has 3 bombs left.

Again, I have never had a party challenged by this encounter. Even you acknowledged, an inexperienced, new first level party didn't TPK and were challenged. If the party is simply challenged, but not killed, isn't that a good thing?

I sincerely hope you don't think I am picking on you or trying to pick your arguments to pieces. I am truly looking at it from a GM's perspective and there are things I don't understand in what you presented.

The Exchange ****

I still have to ask...
If it is a group of 1st level inexperienced characters (or iconics), played by persons new to PFS - Why aren't they playing First Steps?

The judge should at least offer to switch this out to a First Steps adventure. I would think he should ADVISE the players to switch - and offer to run it for them right then. There are several reasons to do this, not the least of which is the fact that the First Steps adventures are MENT to be played by "1st level inexperienced characters (or iconics), played by persons new to PFS".

So, I guess I am also (in a way) putting this at the door of the Judge.

Long term reason for this:
There are a limited number of adventures. The First Steps adventures can be played with any character - each PC playing them once. Other adventures can only be played once. If the player gets "hooked" really strongly (like me), he may find himself in the boat I am in. No more Tier 1-5 adventures to play. With two characters below level 5 (and 6 higher level PCs). So I wait for the release of each new Tier 1-5, so that I'll have something to run the younger PCs in...

Silver Crusade ***

Mike,

On the flip side, I think the fact that the same two scenarios keep getting mentioned over and over as "too tough" should be a red flag. If a scenario is too tough at one table, then maybe the GM was too hard on them. When it's a recurring complaint about a specific scenario here on the forums, then are you really going to say that dozens of different GMs are to blame for all making the same mistake?

My group played Temple of Emperyeal Enlightenment in the 4-5 subtier with four experienced players with level 3 and 4 PCs and got our butts kicked by both of the major fights in the scenario.

Spoiler:
We actually fought the demon BBEG first, and survived just enough to run away back through the tapestry to Absalom without anyone dying. I think the GM may have been a little generous in letting us get away. If we'd played out the chase to escape back through the tapestry, I'd bet there would have been at least one death. Not wanting to quit, we regrouped, resupplied, and went back in, knowing what we'd face, and still only just barely managed to beat him.

Then we went to the crypt, because our mission required it, and we fully expected undead as soon as we heard the word "crypt" during the initial mission briefing. We still got our butts kicked. The only reason that wasn't a TPK was because the GM generously had the zombies quit chasing my sorcerer once I got out of the building, and also decided they were happy enough to be free that they wouldn't go back and coup de grace the guy who stabilized at -8. The other two party members were lucky they had the 16 PA saved up for a Raise Dead spell.


To me, it's pretty obvious that this scenario was intentionally designed as a backlash to the previous "too easy" complaints about PFS. Being in season 3, it wasn't designed with separate 4 person vs 6 person rules like season 4 scenarios. So it might be fine for a group of 6 who are all level 4 or 5 playing at subtier 4-5, but our group of four, with an average level of 3.75, didn't stand a chance. There aren't many scenarios I'll refuse to ever GM, but that's one of them. Which is a shame, given that the non-combat portions made it among the most fun scenarios I've played, right up to the point that combat started.

The other scenario that keeps getting complaints for being too tough is Severing Ties. My group survived ok in that one, but there were 8 of us (7 PCs + a fairly tough animal companion) and we managed to skip what I've heard is the toughest fight at the end. Despite that, we still had a hard time with the fights. But I'll also say that our GM was obviously under-prepared, so it may have been harder than it should have been. GMs messing things up that they don't understand does seem to be a recurring theme when talking about that scenario, though, which makes me think the writing may at least partially be to blame.

Paizo Employee ***** Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

Fromper wrote:

Mike,

On the flip side, I think the fact that the same two scenarios keep getting mentioned over and over as "too tough" should be a red flag. If a scenario is too tough at one table, then maybe the GM was too hard on them. When it's a recurring complaint about a specific scenario here on the forums, then are you really going to say that dozens of different GMs are to blame for all making the same mistake?

My group played Temple of Emperyeal Enlightenment in the 4-5 subtier with four experienced players with level 3 and 4 PCs and got our butts kicked by both of the major fights in the scenario.

** spoiler omitted **
To me, it's pretty obvious that this scenario was intentionally designed as a backlash to the previous "too easy" complaints about PFS. Being in season 3, it wasn't designed with separate 4 person vs 6 person rules like season 4 scenarios. So it might be fine for a group of 6 who are all level 4 or 5 playing at subtier 4-5, but our group of four, with an average level of 3.75, didn't stand a...

I certainly appreciate the feedback and, trust me, I've definitely taken notice and made some notes, especially of Temple. As you mentioned, if it is a recurring report from numerous GMs, something needs to be looked at.

As for Severing Ties, I still think it is too early to tell. I was just wanting to point out other things that may have taken place that the GM could control. But, the "too tough" scenarios are on our radar and I think there is a better balance that can be struck. I just don't think it is as prevalent as some people are claiming it to be with the majority of Season 4 scenarios.

I plan to GM a good bit in the coming year at cons I am attending to make sure I have a firm grasp on the play experience in season 4. I'm already planning to GM five or six scenarios at Winter Fantasy, and four or five scenarios at both OwlCon and Mega Con. I also plan to GM a good deal at local game days here in Seattle. Although I'm not a part of the development process, I can hope to offer those insights I have from experience in the field to help development offer better scenarios to all of you in the future. Hopefully, from those experiences, and the reports from all of you, development can tweak things better in future scenarios for a better play experience.

As has been mentioned numerous times recently, in the first few seasons, GMs have had to do everything possible to challenge PCs. Now that the challenge curve has been amped up, GMs are still in the mode to do everything they can to challenge PCs when it isn't needed as much. The scenarios do a much better job at challenging PCs. Also from my own experience, season 3 and 4 scenarios take a bit more GM prep to offer a quality experience than Seasons 0-2.

Sovereign Court **** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

While I haven't played Goblinblood or Empyrial Enlightnenment, I can speak to Goblin Guild and Severing Ties.

For Goblin Guild:

Rise of the Goblin Guild:
The DC 5 climb check isn't the problem - it's the stairs or the pillar. I have ran this twice and played it once - each time, the party ended up stuck on the floor for a few turns, trying to make these checks. My character ended up just having to stay on the first floor, even for a turn with the DC5 climb check (due to a bad roll). That being said, I didn't feel like this particular encounter is that deadly. None of the PCs went down during it for any of the 3 games of it that I have seen.

No, the deadly encounter in this scenario is the Yellow Slime Mold. In 2/3 games, a PC nearly died to it. One was admittedly their own fault - a PC with 9 CON snuck ahead of the party to "scout", then ended up starting combat and charging into the pit - but the second was just normal tactics. It can be extremely difficult for a new player to extricate themselves from this trap, and level 1s usually fall prey to the engulf ability. The rest of the encounters are not terribly difficult.

For Severing Ties:

Severing Ties:
I love this scenario. I think it's probably my second favorite scenario in PFS. That being said, it's extremely, extremely hard. I don't think it's bad for a group of seasoned level 1s, but I wouldn't run it for pregens. I have ran this scenario twice and saw no fatalities, but both groups were very good. Let's go through the encounters...

You are correct that the reefclaws are a joke. Nothing about them challenged any of the parties that I have seen.

The basilisk IS a very tough encounter, especially if the design on the floor isn't drawn. It's not clear from the scenario whether the design is supposed to be drawn or not - if it isn't drawn, the basilisk takes the party by absolute surprise. I drew the deisgn in, though, so my parties were absolutely certain that it was trapped and only sent one PC onto it. Without the design, though, I could see them bunching up in that hallway.

The basilisk fight is also bad because not many PCs at that level really know how to fight a creature with a gaze attack. It also has a fairly decent amount of HP, even with the young template added.

One thing that I would recommend in the future for this scenario is explictly printing the fact that the young template reduces the DC of the gaze. This was my second scenario that I ran, and I didn't realize this the first time that I ran it. Made the fight significantly harder.

In regards to the question of why the PCs would damage the temple - no offense, Mike, but are we thinking of the same scenario? It's their mission to damage the temple. If they don't damage the temple, it's mission failure. Not only that, but both parties I ran this for damaged the temple before even seeing the golem. They both tended to head down the southern passageway towards the barracks instead of continuing east.

The fight itself comes down to tactics. If the party is comprised of really bad tacticians, it is very difficult. If the party is comprised of excellent tacticians, it is a cakewalk. The first party that I ran it for lured the golem into the first space inside one of the doors, so that all 5 members of the party could hit it at once. The second group that I played with fought it in the hallways, which really crippled them. Neither party suffered any deaths, which was a very close call. Mainly, it was due to some bad rolls on the part of the golem and some players knowing when to run to the back lines.

I should also point out that the second of these groups had 6 PCs. Had it had 4 PCs instead, this scenario would likely have been a wipe.

Again, I love this scenario, but I think that it is the best argument out there for some scenarios having a disclaimer about how they shouldn't be ran for level 1.0s.

Paizo Employee ***** Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

Netopalis wrote:

While I haven't played Goblinblood or Empyrial Enlightnenment, I can speak to Goblin Guild and Severing Ties.

For Goblin Guild:
** spoiler omitted **

For Severing Ties:
** spoiler omitted **...

Excellent feedback. Thanks for that. Admittedly, I haven't Gmed Severing Ties yet. I have read through it twice, prepping it for play, and am hoping to GM it in the next few weeks.

In response to your question about the mission in Severing Ties:

Spoiler:
Agreed that the mission is to damage the safe house. Note that the gas and water will cause the guardian to attack the PCs. However, if the PCs lead the basilisk to the chapel, the guardian attacks the basilisk, not the PCs, unless they intervene. Yes, it is very unlikely for many groups, but it does offer a solution as to how the PCs can succeed at the mission without having to fight the guardian. I'm still debating on several ways I can impart this info to low level PCs without giving away too much info.

Edited spoiler for clarification.

*****

Michael Brock wrote:
Golariofun wrote:


Goblinblood Dead final encounter where we seemed to combine two encounters through no fault of the players.

I'm not sure which of the two encounters you are referring to so I won't address this one.

I'm going to address the rest of your examples, with spoiler tabs, because from looking at the info provided, it looks like your GM made errors in judgement while adjudicating the tables in most of these instances. Let me remove my Campaign Coordinator cap and put on my 5-star GM cap.

Golariofun wrote:
Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment where someone (an NPC) summoned some creatures with DR (two of them) that gradually killed the entire 1st level party. Apparently there was a 50% chance of this summoning (how ridiculous at 1st level!).
** spoiler omitted **...

Mike these are good points, and in fact, given that Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment is my most run scenario other than first steps, there's something in Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment that even strengthens your point there:

Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment:
He prefers to send his dretches to do his dirty work as proxies, and he saves his summon to assassinate the PCs as the optional encounter. Furthermore, Ron specifically forces the summon to bring 1 dretch in Tier 1-2 and 3 dretches in Tier 4-5 to make it more balanced for the level, so 2 dretches is not even possible

However, I think you're being a bit harsh about Goblinblood Dead. The scenario specifically calls for two of the encounters to combine depending on the order you go through the dungeon:

Goblinblood Dead:
The oracle boss's room description states "Creatures: Telda and any other surviving hobgoblins
make their final stand against the PCs here."

That said, it's not a very hard scenario at 1-2, even with the combination, which the best GM I had last Gencon threw at us. The 4-5 combined encounter was a bit nastier for my home group two days ago, but they were 5 PCs of level 4 3 3 3 2, so they knew there might be a big challenge coming in. The survival of the level 2 fighter was nothing short of miraculous (several bad dice rolls compounded with a 20% miss followed by a natural 1 on attacks to hit the unconscious body).

Severing Ties is a bit more brutal at 4-5 as well, and would have resulted in the cleric running away and failing the encounter, with all the others needing a body recovery, if my girlfriend and I didn't own 8 gencon volunteer shirts, thus giving 1 reroll per character:

Severing Ties:
Between the two DC 15 saves, only the cleric and an animal companion that the cleric wouldn't have been able to control to shut its eyes made both saves. One of the two sorcerers managed to reroll and make the second save barely, and even more fortunately, he was the master of the tiger (Sylvan bloodline). The inquisitor just had bad luck, but she had used her reroll on her faction mission.

In the end, they barely won, but the fight took about 20 rounds and 2 hours, involving the sorcerer throwing all 10 flasks of his alchemist's fire blindly and about 12 charges of wand of CLW applied blindly to the tiger. I couldn't call the fight because it was not at all clear that the party would win, and specifically that the party would catch both basilisks without one leaving at low health, as they couldn't possibly get enough blood with just one.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

I think the solve for Severing Ties would have been easy: have something within the scenario that solves the problem for a couple characters. You can't convince me that the bad guys would have that in there without some way to reverse the condition if something were to go wrong. I was very surprised when I played through this that we never found something like that. I have to admit that this is one of those "expected" things for organized play (like having alchemist's fire somewhere when there's a swarm somewhere up ahead, or a neutralize poison when there's a scorpion present). Not finding a solution at some point was an eyebrow raising moment of, "Really?"

I know that's kind of cliche in organized play, but there's a reason for it, and if it'd been in this one I doubt you'd have half as many complaints. Sure, there's still the final guardian (which I personally do not feel is all that bad), but at least this would have been mitigated.

*****

Drogon wrote:

I think the solve for Severing Ties would have been easy: have something within the scenario that solves the problem for a couple characters. You can't convince me that the bad guys would have that in there without some way to reverse the condition if something were to go wrong. I was very surprised when I played through this that we never found something like that. I have to admit that this is one of those "expected" things for organized play (like having alchemist's fire somewhere when there's a swarm somewhere up ahead, or a neutralize poison when there's a scorpion present). Not finding a solution at some point was an eyebrow raising moment of, "Really?"

I know that's kind of cliche in organized play, but there's a reason for it, and if it'd been in this one I doubt you'd have half as many complaints. Sure, there's still the final guardian (which I personally do not feel is all that bad), but at least this would have been mitigated.

Severing Ties:
Basilisks have this built in, at least if you beat them, as immersion in their fresh blood will save the stoned PCs. However, if you just avoid them, there's nothing. Also, both a scroll of stone to flesh and a stone salve give a DC 15 Fortitude save or die when returning from stone, so there is that (unlike the blood). Not to say it wouldn't have been a very good idea to add those though, in case of not killing them or not having Knowledge Arcana--when I played the game, I obliquely hinted to the other players after no-one had Knowledge Arcana that they WANTED to use their Evoking Day boons on this one, or we would have had several unhappy players. My groups also had no problem with the final construct, either when I played it in the 1-2 (my barbarian shredded it in one round after it pummeled the paladin) or when I ran it in 4-5 (one of the sorcerers used grease on every victim, thus preventing three coup de graces, which gave a real tension and sense of danger vis-a-vis permadeath without killing or even damaging anyone).
The Exchange ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I've run Goblinblood Dead five times now, and it is very swingy.

Spoiler:
One party has walked through it with no more feeling of danger than kids going through the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. One session got called on account of time -- the PCs were in pretty bad shape. Then I had one session with a tough success, one session where a PC died and the rest of the party managed to escape, and one TPK.

It's swingy because there are so many variables. Does the party get hit by the Haunt before the final encounter? If so, is there a barbarian PC who fails his save? Do the party's actions trigger both the oracle and the fighters? Does the guy with the x4 crit multiplier confirm any criticals? Does the party give the oracle a chance to buff? (When the PCs open her door, they want to see a small room with a single spellcaster. If they see a mysterious area of peasoup fog and mist, ....)

If a couple of those turn against the party, it turns from a lovely afternoon killing goblinoids into a very tough fight. If several of those variables turn against the party, usually due to the PCs not taking things seriously, the outlook is grim.

The Exchange *** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington D.C. aka Grolick

I cannot address Temple, as I have not played or run it.

I have run severing ties. The battle against the guardian IS very tough, I'll admit. Thankfully, the party I ran it for did quite well on tactics. I took many of them into the negatives, but they had a cleric to bring them back up again. Even a 1-2 party can win with good tactics.

I have only played Goblin Guild, but I don't remember having too much trouble with the alchemist. I think we did something to get him down pretty fast, but it was months ago. That scenario wasn't too challenging to our party.

Michael Brock wrote:
Golariofun wrote:


Goblinblood Dead final encounter where we seemed to combine two encounters through no fault of the players.

I'm not sure which of the two encounters you are referring to so I won't address this one.

I'm going to address the rest of your examples, with spoiler tabs, because from looking at the info provided, it looks like your GM made errors in judgement while adjudicating the tables in most of these instances. Let me remove my Campaign Coordinator cap and put on my 5-star GM cap.

Golariofun wrote:
Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment where someone (an NPC) summoned some creatures with DR (two of them) that gradually killed the entire 1st level party. Apparently there was a 50% chance of this summoning (how ridiculous at 1st level!).
** spoiler omitted **...

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Drogon wrote:

I think the solve for Severing Ties would have been easy: have something within the scenario that solves the problem for a couple characters. You can't convince me that the bad guys would have that in there without some way to reverse the condition if something were to go wrong. I was very surprised when I played through this that we never found something like that. I have to admit that this is one of those "expected" things for organized play (like having alchemist's fire somewhere when there's a swarm somewhere up ahead, or a neutralize poison when there's a scorpion present). Not finding a solution at some point was an eyebrow raising moment of, "Really?"

I know that's kind of cliche in organized play, but there's a reason for it, and if it'd been in this one I doubt you'd have half as many complaints. Sure, there's still the final guardian (which I personally do not feel is all that bad), but at least this would have been mitigated.

** spoiler omitted **...

Right. I knew that; just forgot to mention it. Problem is that the number of people it fixes is random (1d3, if I recall). That's not a good "built in" solution for parties of 6. Also, that's not a commonly known feature of those (I didn't even know that, going in), requiring a Kn(arcana) check to figure out - so, you're at the mercy of yet another dice roll, assuming someone in the party even has kn(arcana). Again, not good as a "built in" solution.

Sovereign Court **** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

Realistically, Mike, I don't think that the solution you suggested is realistic. There is no real reason for a party to contemplate it without knowledge of what is in the later rooms. The parties will still likely attempt the other avenues.

Paizo Employee ***** Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

Netopalis wrote:
Realistically, Mike, I don't think that the solution you suggested is realistic. There is no real reason for a party to contemplate it without knowledge of what is in the later rooms. The parties will still likely attempt the other avenues.

I agree with you. Like I said, I haven't GMed it yet, just read and prepped it to GM. As mentioned, there is an out, just not one very likely to be taken by most PCs.

Liberty's Edge ****

Where are these games happening? I've love to join them!

Honestly, the most fun I've ever had in a PFS game was a scenario where we TPKed in the first encounter. Usually I'm struggling to get more than one action in an encounter. Maybe I can send some of the bleeding edge optimizers in my area over your way.

The Exchange *** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington D.C. aka Grolick

Netopalis wrote:
Realistically, Mike, I don't think that the solution you suggested is realistic. There is no real reason for a party to contemplate it without knowledge of what is in the later rooms. The parties will still likely attempt the other avenues.

I would have to agree with this. My players got lucky and made Every. Single. Save. against the gaze attack. That helped them a lot! :)

But no one is going to think of the solution of using the Basilisk against the cultists ( though it could really speed the scenario up. LOL)

*****

Grolick wrote:
Netopalis wrote:
Realistically, Mike, I don't think that the solution you suggested is realistic. There is no real reason for a party to contemplate it without knowledge of what is in the later rooms. The parties will still likely attempt the other avenues.

I would have to agree with this. My players got lucky and made Every. Single. Save. against the gaze attack. That helped them a lot! :)

But no one is going to think of the solution of using the Basilisk against the cultists ( though it could really speed the scenario up. LOL)

I wonder if any group has ever chosen that option without heavy hinting from the GM or a player who had read the scenario? I think that choosing it is very very unlikely without a few bits of knowledge that the GM has and not the PCs

Severing Ties:
I think that the way the trap is set up heavily implies that the basilisks are trained or controlled pets of the cultists rather than the truth, which is that the cultists just took advantage of these wandering monsters. Combine that with the relative lack of good compulsions or charms that affect magical beasts, particularly at subtier 1-2 and unless you have maybe a serpentine bloodline sorcerer, it seems extremely unlikely.

As for the Handle Animal, a player conservant with the rules for Handle Animal would be likely to think the Handle Animal DC would be 30 to push the basilisks into invading the base (25 + 5 for magical beast). I know that's how I would have ruled it if the scenario didn't call for DC 15 (the same DC as getting a fully trained magical beast to do something it was trained to do) which is unmakable for most 1-5 characters.

Sovereign Court **** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

Grolick, mind spoilering that?

Edit: just had a thought. One fix for this scenario might be fixing the yield from this monster from 1d3 to 3.

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

Michael Brock wrote:
I plan to GM a good bit in the coming year at cons I am attending to make sure I have a firm grasp on the play experience in season 4.

I applaud your determination to do everything you can to address any issues with the Season 4 scenarios. But I would point out one thing - a lot of the complaints have been about the scaling adjustments for parties of 4 players not really working all that well. You're not very likely to get a chance to observe this at a convention - most tables fill up pretty fast, so a four-player table for any judge would be a rarity (and I'd guess you see them even more rarely than most of us).

Paizo Employee ***** Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

JohnF wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
I plan to GM a good bit in the coming year at cons I am attending to make sure I have a firm grasp on the play experience in season 4.
I applaud your determination to do everything you can to address any issues with the Season 4 scenarios. But I would point out one thing - a lot of the complaints have been about the scaling adjustments for parties of 4 players not really working all that well. You're not very likely to get a chance to observe this at a convention - most tables fill up pretty fast, so a four-player table for any judge would be a rarity (and I'd guess you see them even more rarely than most of us).

And that is the exact reason I advised I will also be GMing local game days here in Seattle. Additionally, my home Shattered Star group has 5 players. When one player can't make it, we plan to give the Season 4 scenarios with only 4 players a go as well.

*****

Michael Brock wrote:
JohnF wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
I plan to GM a good bit in the coming year at cons I am attending to make sure I have a firm grasp on the play experience in season 4.
I applaud your determination to do everything you can to address any issues with the Season 4 scenarios. But I would point out one thing - a lot of the complaints have been about the scaling adjustments for parties of 4 players not really working all that well. You're not very likely to get a chance to observe this at a convention - most tables fill up pretty fast, so a four-player table for any judge would be a rarity (and I'd guess you see them even more rarely than most of us).
And that is the exact reason I advised I will also be GMing local game days here in Seattle.

Yeah, give Mike a little credit on that one--each of our PFS head honchos has brought a lot of strengths to the table, and one of Mike's big strengths is his ear to the ground and strong sense of what it's like to be in our shoes (having risen up from VC and worked up all the way to 5 Stars). They'll work the kinks out of the 4 player conversion soon. It was bound to be tough to judge how much to change it in the very beginning.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Feral wrote:

Where are these games happening? I've love to join them!

Honestly, the most fun I've ever had in a PFS game was a scenario where we TPKed in the first encounter. Usually I'm struggling to get more than one action in an encounter. Maybe I can send some of the bleeding edge optimizers in my area over your way.

Feral, haven't we covered this whole "alternate reality" that you game in? (-;

Although, I have to admit, I wonder where your GMs cut their teeth. Are they the same guys who optimize? If so, why aren't they turning some of those tricks around on your players? If not...well, I don't really know what to suggest...

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Feral wrote:

Where are these games happening? I've love to join them!

Honestly, the most fun I've ever had in a PFS game was a scenario where we TPKed in the first encounter. Usually I'm struggling to get more than one action in an encounter. Maybe I can send some of the bleeding edge optimizers in my area over your way.

And here I thought it was when you frightened a white dragon.

Scarab Sages *

Regarding plot, I have observed that the plots use more arc. Arc is great for people who play all the scenarios and play the mostly in order. Its just noise if you don't. Even so, without foreknowledge of what comes next, its hard for a GM to know what in the background to emphasize, or what info to drop in color descriptions. In the aftermath of GenCon, where I played a lot of rounds, I GM'd about half of the rounds between 3-25 and 4-04, and was clear on the arc being advanced. This allowed me to add connecting material to previous rounds - as you saw at such and such - for example, or to add supplementary information to the faction missions, saying thanks for handling things last time, and teeing up the current mission based on in-game knowledge the players may have forgotten over the past two weeks.

The problem with the arcs is that someone in a group has to be aware of all or most of the parts of the arc, or you end up with multiple GM's who all have parts that never get assembled into a whole. This is true with the overall arc since the middle of season 3 and now into season 4. Since I ran so much between 3-25 and 4-04, and would read the one's I didn't play after we played them, so I could highlight the arc next time I ran, I was able to keep the players abreast of the arc, give them the context they needed to see the plot, and do the same for each faction's faction missions.

Having an arc makes the society experience richer, if you play most of the rounds and play them more or less in order, but takes more work to put the pieces together as a GM so you can then present them appropriately to the players in briefing, in NPC conversations, and in search results.

The GM needs to read all the rounds, not just the one they are running, which means they need to have played all the rounds, they need to know how each round turned out, so you know what should be in-game knowledge and what the party never discovered, or how they discovered it. Also, much easier if they ran or played every round. You need to know what characters might be played, who is showing up and who will they play if you go high or if you go low, and prep separately for each character, plus bring the vanilla for players who don't have this kind of in-game knowledge.

Here is an example:

Spoiler:

The Chelaxians are supposed to drop a locket and intimidate the BBEG in 3-25. Our Chelaxian had started low level with the presumption that the Paracountess was a tease and never rewarded him as promised, but by mid-level wanted to presume she had begun to reward him, but the party continued to believe he was still only being teased. In the intro to the Chelaxian faction mission, I had the Paracountess acknowledge that the PC was now one of her regular lovers and instead of dropping the locket, to declare this fact to the BBEG, so it was one of the Paracountesses current lovers who did him in. As a bard, the intimidate check was no problem. Further, the Taldans were supposed to plant a letter on the BBEG suggesting he was hostile to the House of the Thrune. This was done. So in 4-02, not only was I clear to recall what we learned in 3-26 about cults (which was a red herring that is all to easy to miss) but add to the Chelaxian faction mission that it was the archeaologist the Chelaxian is supposed to get the diplomacy check with who found the letter the Taldans planted, and the Paracountess wants the archeaologist to come forward with this discovery. Her 4th season arc involves political enemies at home trying to ruin her, and The BBEG and his brother from 3-25 got to be among them, so the idea of ruining them by revealing the letter the Taldan's dropped made it all so much arc-ier and delighted everyone. For 4-03, when the Chelaxian is supposed to talk the guy into keeping the painting secret, always keeping the check itself the same, I altered the context for the arc. The character is one of the current lovers of the Paracountess so, instead of just asking him to keep the painting secret, he was supposed to get it for himself. He is now the owner. I printed a full page version of the painting Brown Odalisque by François Boucher from 1745, and when he made the check, I gave him the painting.

Its all too easy for the arcs in the story to be overlooked because the GM is unaware of what parts are significant and which are not. And all too easy for the faction missions to be a series of meaningless maggifins, despite the really nice arc in the faction missions -especially for Osirion and Cheliax. A little extra attention can really bring this arcs out and make the experience much more fun.

Liberty's Edge ****

Drogon wrote:

Feral, haven't we covered this whole "alternate reality" that you game in? (-;

Although, I have to admit, I wonder where your GMs cut their teeth. Are they the same guys who optimize? If so, why aren't they turning some of those tricks around on your players? If not...well, I don't really know what to suggest...

Honestly, there's really only so many 'tricks' that can be turned on the players by RAW.

I'm still working on finding the Stargate in my area so I can make my way back to the reality that you guys are playing in.

Liberty's Edge ****

Kyle Baird wrote:
And here I thought it was when you frightened a white dragon.

That was pretty high up the list too.

Dark Archive **

I think Mike, in severing ties, most gm's think the monsters move at 30 out of water, which is what happened at my table when I played, but such is life with inexperienced gm's.

The Exchange ****

2 people marked this as a favorite.

A lot of the complaints I have seen are usually "hey my GM did this wrong, and it sucked really bad for us" regardless of scenario. Not saying the GM "cheated" in all cases, a lot of GMs get the GM vs Player mentality. When I am at a PFS table (playing or GMing) I have the same goal. everyone has fun and the PCs win.

I want them to be challenged, and if they get TPKd because of bad dice and an unwillingness to retreat... well that happens, but I the goal is a successful mission with players having fun :)

I think the #1 problem I see in GMs is "GM vs Players" mentality followed closely by unpreparedness (admittedly one of my weaknesses).

I need to learn golarion better. I should really start reading the full wiki page one nation at a time lol

Sovereign Court **** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

Well, Severing Ties is very swingy. It's possible for a team of 4 to get TPK'd in one encounter with nobody getting their turn first. It's unlikely, it would require a very poor party...but it can happen. It's less about players vs. GMs or poor GMs and more about a high risk situation with little preparation.

**

Benris you are absolutely correct. GMS that think it is them vs the players are not what the game needs. I ahve played with GMs like that. GMs are to judge. It is the players VS the module.

I would add also players that make foolish mistake that get them killed is their fault as well. I GMed a samurai when fighting a ghoul the first hit dropped him below zero and ignored my advice to go down as his 6 other buddies would easily finish him and heal him. I pity that players teammates that cause a TPK because they rush into the next rooms while thier buddies are fighting. I have seen a player do this and get a teammate killed twice causing two fights to happen at a time. More then dice rolls can kill PCs, they can kill themselves and each other. If you really wanna player kill you make a sneaky character that rushes ahead and pulls fights.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just don't want to see PFS go the route of so many living campaigns and try to appease the hardcore optimizer that play for nothing but winning hard fights so that a character designed to be anything else a going to die for sure.

**

No matter how optimized you are it is how you approach the fight that can mae it easy or not. Sending in a minor image to draw fire and spells. Luring the enemy out of position. Heck waiting out the enemy if you are fighting a big bad spellcaster back out wait an hour and go back in. His spells will have faded.


Finlanderboy wrote:
No matter how optimized you are it is how you approach the fight that can mae it easy or not. Sending in a minor image to draw fire and spells. Luring the enemy out of position. Heck waiting out the enemy if you are fighting a big bad spellcaster back out wait an hour and go back in. His spells will have faded.

It's going to be a damn rare circumstance that you can get away with waiting an hour. He'll leave. He'll summon help and come after you. He'll come after you with his spells up. He'll finish whatever it was he was doing that you needed to stop.

What he won't do is sit around waiting after he knows you're at his door, which he does, otherwise he won't have cast those spells that you're waiting to expire.

**

How often do you read the mods? I have just DMed mods where this is the case. Plus if you bring the spellcaster into a hallway where it gets surround and has three readied actions to disrupt his spells from melee attacks. Goodluck with that. The mods are written by 1 person. 4 people should be able to out-think them easily. They have lots of tactical mistakes as mentioned above. The mods are usually written to be handled in one direction coem at them in a different way and they crumble.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Finlanderboy wrote:
How often do you read the mods? I have just DMed mods where this is the case. Plus if you bring the spellcaster into a hallway where it gets surround and has three readied actions to disrupt his spells from melee attacks. Goodluck with that. The mods are written by 1 person. 4 people should be able to out-think them easily. They have lots of tactical mistakes as mentioned above. The mods are usually written to be handled in one direction coem at them in a different way and they crumble.

This isn't always true of course. Sometimes the authors get creative and provide advice and tactics for several PC approaches.

One problem with this, however, is that if the author provides solutions for too many PC approaches, it starts to feel like the author is intentionally trying to neuter PC creativity.


Finlanderboy wrote:
How often do you read the mods? I have just DMed mods where this is the case. Plus if you bring the spellcaster into a hallway where it gets surround and has three readied actions to disrupt his spells from melee attacks. Goodluck with that. The mods are written by 1 person. 4 people should be able to out-think them easily. They have lots of tactical mistakes as mentioned above. The mods are usually written to be handled in one direction coem at them in a different way and they crumble.

Rarely, at least for PFs scenarios. Are you saying that the tactics section says something like, "If the PCs leave the room, the BBEG will wait there for them to return." Or is it that the tactics don't specifically cover that.

I'm not saying you can't out think him or that he'll always counter what you try. I'm just saying the "back out wait an hour and go back in. His spells will have faded" strategy is so obvious that it should backfire most of the time.

Is PFS GMing really so strict that you can't even react to something like that?

**

Some of the mods do read, the BBEG will not leave the room to chase the PCs. They try to leave an out for the PCs that can be exploited, and if the BBEG burns up his defense spells on the first fight an hour later he will be much easier. The wizard villans are built to have range between you and them with a defense to stand against and make it somewhat challenging. Thier spells and such do that. Once the spells are used up a mulligan on that fight makes it easy. With a wand of cure light wounds(2 prestige points and 50 charges) to heal everyone up to full a safe distance away it is hardly fair.

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