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GM slip may have lead to TPK


Advice

101 to 120 of 120 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Silver Crusade

Diego Rossi wrote:
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

I think it is important to find new and clever ways of making fun of those things that deserve it.

This trap needs ridicule. In the PF rules set there are already rules to adjudicate this trap. Those rules include a perception check and the DC for it. This somehow got replaced by a single d6 roll where 5 out of 6 results end in death. It includes a magical sleep effect which ignores immunity to sleep effects. It can affect an infinite amount of hit dice. It doesn't allow a save. It resets automatically without limit. It then only counts as a 3rd level trap in terms of the experience earned by anyone who defeats it.

If the DM thinks that this is an appropriate thing to use against PCs, he should have no objection if it is used by PCs.

The way magic works in the game world is just as real there as the laws of physics are in ours. If magic works a certain way, that's how it works. For the DM to change it just to screw the players is tantamount to cheating. There's plenty of stuff the DM can do within the rules without having to make up stuff as ridiculous as this.

If I were to play chess I wouldn't expect my opponent's king to be immune to check and move like a knight. When I play PF I expect the DM to be playing by PF rules.

Really? Let put it this way:

- character A touch the carpet and fall asleep.
- character B go there to see what happened and fall asleep.
at this point I would say that the trap is fairly obvious, do you agree?
- still the character decide to poke the trap a bit more and to sleep in what is obviously a trapped room.

To me the trap seem easy to detect and avoid as you risk death only it you take a string of bad decisions.

From the OP description of his group actions no one tried to find what the trap was or if there were other traps.
Detect magic isn't a good way to find traps. Au contraire it is a good way to feel overconfident and fall to mundane traps.

The sequence of events you describe would be just as possible under normal PF rules. Playing by those rules won't mean that such foolishness goes unpunished.

Further, the players didn't even try to find the trap. Knowing that the DM is using the PF rules means that the players can use their brains to realise what they can do to check for traps. If the DM plays by rules which are unknowable and essentially arbitrary, then the players can't predict what, if anything, they can do about it. It's not surprising they didn't bother.

What would be the negative consequences for running this encounter using the PF rules?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I agree with Diego on this. The room was clearly a trap. After the first PC fell victim, the party basically just said, "So she's asleep, no big deal." Then they kept looking around the room. Then they found another hidden room. Then they got attacked and still decided to stay in the room. The slower and more obvious a trap is, the more dangerous, deadly, or debilitating it can be without me having to feel bad about it.

Seems it went something like this:
GM: "The candles just turned on."
Summoner casts detect magic (Reasonable) and presumably says, "That rug's magic."
Oracle (possibly brave/foolish/role-playing/hoping rug isn't a trap) steps on rug, falls asleep per trap description.

(Pause 1)
So unless the party is holding hands and jumping on the rug all together, only one PC falls victim to this trap. While dangerous against a lone person, at no point should anyone expect a PC party to contain a lone person in this adventure. This basically amounts to a harmless trap.

At this point, it should be obvious to everyone that there's a trap involved unless they think the dungeon owner is an insomniac who needs magical assistance resting, likes to sleep on the floor, and this is his bedroom.

I don't know if anyone in the party tried dispelling the magic sleep or just tried slapping and shaking, but nothing stopped them from leaving or continuing on right there. They could have easily taken the oracle to safety. Instead, they chose to stay in the trapped room and search around.
(End Pause)

So then:
Ranger, using sword not to touch the very-obviously magical rug (intelligent), says "Hey, a trapdoor. Should we continue through it or get our helpless friend to safety?"
Party: "No, let's open it and see if we can find treasure while the oracle's unconscious."

Orc fighter opens the trapdoor (no one presumably checking for traps,) triggering a different sleep trap to which they all get a save and they fail except the ranger's mantis companion, the summoner, and the elf alchemist who is immune to sleep.

(Pause 2)
Now at this point, most people should realize this room is a trap. The party could have started making preparations to move to safety or take precautions but no, they opt to move into another room to explore after more than half the party is incapacitated.
(End Pause)

Next, something along the lines of:
Elf Alchemist or (probably) Summoner: "I think we should stop and take stock of the situation."
Other PC, (probably the elf): "No, that room doesn't appear to have any other exits. It must be where the treasure is, guarded by more traps which I am immune to. Let's not worry about our safety or our helpless teammates and instead see what loot we can find while they're asleep.
Mantis: "Chitter-chitter" {"Check for traps!" but no one understands.}

(Pause 3)
The party searches the next room, presumably finding the secret cabinet and setting off yet a 3rd trap AND getting attacked by a weak group of enemies as a warning that this area just might not be a safe place to stay.

Now it's said that at this point they discussed moving the party to safety but the apparently insurmountable obstacle of the orc fighter stopped them.
(End Pause)

Elf Alchemist: "Should we drag them to safety?"
Summoner: "No they're too heavy. I mean, we could take his armor and gear off and then presumably drag him, slowly, since we have average strengths, even though you're a weakling elf."
Elf Alchemist: "What?! Leave a single item of equipment behind?! No, it's safer to just close the door and stay in this obvious trap room on the off-chance that they will wake up in some arbitrary amount of time. That is of course, unless you wanna summon something, like a mule or other quadruped to carry/drag them out. Even at half a minute that should get us a decent way out of this room, which I think I mentioned is obviously a trap."
Summoner: What? Use a power for utility instead of saving it to call the baddest combat monster I can on the off-chance we are attacked by more low-level rats?! Better to just seal this door here and hole up in this obvious trap room, which is so obviously trapped that no intelligent creatures in this dungeon with think of coming in here, because it's trapped."

Some time later the sleeping PCs haven't awakened and Mantis remarks, "Chitter-chitter {"It's hard to breathe in here and dangerous. I'm going to open the door and go back to safe camp, which is apparently within easy distance. I'll leave the door open so you don't slowly asphyxiate."}

Summoner follows and then returns to the obviously-trapped room, explaining where the mantis went.
Elf Alchemist: "So it seem clear? We could actually start moving our helpless friends to safe camp?"
Summoner: "Yes, but are you really going to listen to a stupid insect?" (closes door)

So during that time the oxygen depletes in the room, while the mechanics of it seem unclear and the detection of slow suffocation might be debatable, I'm pretty sure cries of "No save! Unfair! Bad GM ruling!" are out of place.

Have the party captured while asleep/unconscious and work from there. There's no need for a TPK, magical candles being detected as magic or not.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Actually, looking the number of death for carbon monoxide inhalation that happen every winter thank to bad heating systems, not noticing is fairly easy. the change in the room air is gradual and you fail to notice it.

Actually, no. Carbon monoxide inhalation is a totally different ballgame, because it is technically a poison. CO steals your oxygen meaning acute lack which you don't have time to detect. And when you detect it there's nothing you can do about because it already entered your bloodstream and prevents your blood from giving out the oxygen present in it.

The air going stale in a room is more comparable to climbing a mountain, also in timeframe. That is definitely noticeable. That is why that decompression room is also a moot point. The room is clearly established by OP to have a slow suffocation effect, stretched over hours. When you get back in normal air, the difference will be nearly instantaneous, unlike with CO.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think Pizza Lord has nailed it pretty much. While the series of traps here could have be written in a more PF friendly manner there's plenty of room to say both PC's and GM made some Oops! Chalk it up to a learning experience hopefully for both players and GM, alter things a bit to avoid a TPK and move on.

Having been a player in RA a while back I remember it, like with a lot of 3rd party stuff, playing a bit fast and loose with the rules (3.5) at times but then as a player I more or less expect such and allow for it (both as a player and character (And as a DM for that matter)).

Shadow Lodge

Kthulhu wrote:
There's a long tradition of individual creatures / traps / etc diverging slightly from the accepted normal rules of the game that goes back well beyond Paizo existing as a company, much less the Pathfinder system. I doubt I'd have to look through too many of Paizo's own Golation books to find a similar exception to the rules.

Like the one discussed here.


Interesting find Kthulhu. So is this bad design when Paizo does it, or is there a double standard?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Grimmy wrote:
Interesting find Kthulhu. So is this bad design when Paizo does it, or is there a double standard?

No double standard, at least here. It's bad design to ignore established rules for arbitrary reasons regardless of who does it.


I've read the first page, and the tail end of the last, but nothing in between, so if this has been covered, feel free to ignore.

Personally, I tend to agree with many of the posters here about fair expectations. That said, using something that doesn't fit the rules on occasion can be a great tool for really scaring players. Still, too much of that, presented in a poor way makes for problems like the OP had here.

What I would have done:
First, the CR for the trap is MUCH higher than listed--if that matters here (as in, it would get delayed until the PCs were a higher level), fine, but if not they should be getting the XP for having survived an incredibly deadly trap.

Second, really need to figure out what is causing the sleep effect as a DM. Is it the rug? The room? Is it a bunch of trapped items? I say this because having a magic carpet that does this seems ok, but then having everything else the players open or touch do this seems stupid and cheesy. And if these are activated by doing something, then there should be a Perception check and Disable Device allowed to notice and avoid the trap. If you want magical trap DCs, assume the spell being used is at least level 4 since it is stronger than Deep Slumber (but more likely somewhere around level 6-9), and maybe assume that it has been hit with Permanency. Now you've got something that fits within the rules while still existing outside of them (a new, very dangerous spell, that otherwise fits trap rules).

The elf should be immune, unless this is a poison, which, by the way, would actually make MORE sense than the magical trap, because it would be more easy to adjudicate: some poisonous vapor is in the room...maybe it's coupled to dust or something, and disturbing the carpet, opening the cabinets, etc... pushes it into the air. Fortitude saves should be made in secret by the DM. Now the elf isn't immune, and the objects in the room make more sense, and aren't magic items or artifacts worth hundreds of thousands of gold.

A Knowledge check should be allowed to notice how tightly the room seals, or there should be some effect that does the sealing with a corresponding chance to notice it--maybe a wall of force gets triggered on the other side of the door when it closes...it doesn't stop the door from opening, and goes away when the door is opened, but it prevents the circulation of air within. Maybe have the door close on its own, and not necessarily in an ominous way, but make it something the players are aware of.

Why in the world anyone would have spent such an enormous amount of coin on this death trap of a room is beyond me, especially with how little the room holds...unless the sleep-inducing effect is from an artifact that the owner is trying to keep safe for the time being. THAT would make some sense.

Then, for the slow suffocation, I'd allow a Wis + Int check each time the player takes nonlethal damage, at a penalty for each instance of nonlethal damage they have taken, and say that this type of damage does not disturb sleep, and being asleep imposes a -5 penalty on the modified ability check to notice the danger. The DC would be high to reflect the insidious nature of oxygen deprivation. Maybe in the 15-20 range. If the door gets opened, as it did in this case, it should reset the "timer," which gives the players about 6 more hours until they are in danger again, or enough time for them to have slept and woken up, or for at least one of them to do so, if someone was keeping watch.

The thing still remains fairly deadly with an undetectable poison (unless they happen to be using Detect Poison) with a high Fort DC (set it to 15+ average party Fort save modifier, or 18+ if you want it to be almost assured), a noticeable, but enigmatic closing door, a difficult condition (24 hour unconsciousness), and a lowish chance of noticing the danger. Heck, if you want to up the danger a bit, or target the brutes with the strength to drag people away, but not the casters who can't, you could ALSO add a Deep Slumber trap to the inside of the door--when you attempt to open it from the inside, the spell goes off ONCE. Still, if only a single character were to survive falling asleep, they might want to remain in the room with only a single entrance as it may seem more defensible (not to mention that they might guess that anyone trying to come in and attack might fall asleep as well).

Maybe also grant an Int+Wis check to put two and two together when they see dust kicked up from stepping on the rug, moving it, or opening cabinets and people falling asleep. Still doesn't give an explanation of the WHY, but the HOW may at least present them with some ideas.

As a stat block:
Sleep of the Grave Poison -- onset immediate, no second save; effect: 24 hour unconsciousness; a successful save grants 24 hour immunity (going to be amusing if the people who fell asleep wake up, the air gets disturbed and they fall asleep again, or the guy who DIDN'T fall asleep does when everyone gets up), save DC somewhere in the 15-25 range probably (depending on your party's bonuses).

Room runs out of oxygen in 6 hours/(number of medium-sized equivalent creatures in room -1) so long as the door remains closed. Opening the door adds 1d6 hours of air back into the room for every 6 seconds it remains open, up to a total of 6 hours.

Nonlethal damage from suffocation doesn't disturb sleep, and requires a DC 15 (20?) Wis+Int check to notice, with a new check allowable at each instance of damage (every 15 minutes), but with a -1 penalty per previous instance. Once unconscious due to this nonlethal damage, begin taking lethal damage at the same rate. A Perception or Heal check is allowed by anyone who is conscious to notice that something is amiss with anyone that falls unconscious (not already asleep), or that begins suffocating (taking lethal damage)--DC for the first is a 20, for the second is a 15, but you take a -1 penalty on the check for every instance of nonlethal damage you have taken from suffocation, and a -1 penalty for every 10 feet of distance between you and the subject.

Now you have a dangerous room that makes sense.


Oh, and suffocating characters that are given air to breath (such as the door opening) immediately lose all nonlethal damage from suffocation and associated penalties, and regain consciousness (if they were awake, or if they were asleep and took any lethal damage--getting air after you were suffocating will wake you up). Lethal damage sustained from suffocation remains and is removed as normal.

Optional: lethal damage from suffocation imposes penalties just like the nonlethal damage. Normally, this doesn't matter because you're unconscious and on your way to dying, but if you are woken by receiving oxygen, you will still be disoriented for a while. These penalties should get reduced by 1 per minute spent breathing fresh air.


Waruko wrote:

Actually I'll reverse my other comment in favor of this. If the roll given is for the players to notice the effects of hypoxia its quite possible they would of died for failing.

Totally off subject, but that was quite a scary video


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think it was the party that messed up not the DM. My party of 6 2nd level players avoided the trap on the carpet and moved it away. They even They decided to take the carpet with them to the guard room on level 0C to guard the door their while they slept. Those that failed their save vs the trap in the pit didn't have the issue about not being able to be awaked! I only let them use the carpet for 24 hours before the spell wore off though.
It is not that tough of a trap. My players enjoyed it!

Shadow Lodge

Pizza Lord wrote:
The party searches the next room, presumably finding the secret cabinet and setting off yet a 3rd trap AND getting attacked by a weak group of enemies as a warning that this area just might not be a safe place to stay.

Since all the traps so far have been triggered by touching things, I don't think it's too unreasonable for the party to assume that if they stay put and don't touch anything they're probably OK, and given that they were under attack I can see them wanting to secure the current area rather than risk travelling while burdened by unconscious teammates.

Pizza Lord wrote:
Now it's said that at this point they discussed moving the party to safety but the apparently insurmountable obstacle of the orc fighter stopped them.
Joanna Swiftblade wrote:
They wanted to bring the bodies of their allies upstairs to a safer area, but neither of them had a high enough STR to move the 300 pound Orc in full plate up a ladder. So they decided to wait in the room with doors closed for safety.

Hefting a 300 pound load (unarmored orc) up a ladder (by necessity one-handed) is going to be a lot harder than dragging them down a hall, and a summoned quadruped capable of carrying the fighter will likely not be capable of handling the ladder. Note that if they're dragging around three party members they're going to have a hard time defending themselves from monsters as they retreat and may be placing their unconscious allies in danger. Not searching for more traps both before and after the oracle fell asleep is a very bad idea, especially if they had any idea the kind of campaign they were running, and I would have paid more attention to the mantis, but after the party was down the the alchemist, summoner, and the mantis I feel that the decision to hole up in the room wasn't all that stupid.

It's a neat trap but I personally dislike how the odds of TPK quickly snowball due to one or two bad decisions. It's not terribly stupid for the party to carefully continue investigating after one PC drops to the rug, but if the trapfinder misses a Perception DC 22 (very possible at level 3 where your modifier is around +6 to +8), they'll trigger the second trap on opening the trapdoor. If you get unlucky with your will saves, a majority of your party and possibly all of it is now unconscious. If there are monsters around, this could be lethal regardless of suffocation.

If you've got 1-2 people in a 4-5 person party awake, that person or pair is making a call between moving and risking monster attacks and staying put, fortifying, and not touching anything. This is not an easy decision. If they do fortify and set a watch, this party now has an 83.3% chance, regardless of the skill of the watcher (Int, Wis, Perception, Dungeoneering) to TPK.

So the TPK occurs if a party:

1) Touches the rug, either without searching for or failing to find traps (75% chance failed Perception check) and loses one member

2) Having triggered the rug, fails to find the trap on the trapdoor (75% chance of failed Perception check) and activates the trap

3) Fails two Will saves on the trapdoor (Odds about 50/50 of two failures in a Cleric/Wiz/Rogue/Fighter party, assuming will saves at +7/+5/+2/+2 and no elves) or continues to the last trap and fails saves there.

4) Decides to fortify (close doors) and camp rather than take the risk of transporting sleeping allies, and doesn't notice the suffocation (as written 83% chance unmodified by skills)

Plenty of parties may pass through this one unscathed, but it's over a 20% chance of TPK for a party that does not make particularly bad decisions other than not being quite paranoid enough. Which is fine if you're into that style, but for many PF groups it's unexpected. If the party wasn't prepared to be that paranoid - especially if the GM missed the minor but potentially useful hint to map attention to the candles - then a mulligan doesn't seem like a bad idea, with the warning that this is a highly deadly module and that such retries won't be allowed in the future.

(And I personally would like to see some hint or skill check made at some point to specifically notice the suffocation risk.)

brvheart wrote:
Those that failed their save vs the trap in the pit didn't have the issue about not being able to be awaked!
Module wrote:
If the trap door is opened, everyone in the room must make a DC 15 Will save to avoid falling into the same magical slumber caused by stepping onto the carpet itself.

If it's the same magical slumber, it also prevents those suffering from it from being awakened.


Weirdo wrote:
[Hefting a 300 pound load (unarmored orc) up a ladder (by necessity one-handed) is going to be a lot harder than dragging them down a hall...

Ladder? Why not just take the stairs that are just down the hall from the room? They are only 40' south of the room. Surely they could drag him up one flight. The reverse direction should have already been checked for traps/enemies.


The difficulty of hauling someone bodily up a ladder is fairly irrelevant.

Tie a rope around them, climb the ladder with the other end of the rope, and pull. That's the same thing as dragging, and if you have more than one conscious party member, you can both grab the rope and pull.


Kthulhu wrote:
It kind of amuses me, that given RA's reputation, THIS is something that they've picked out as "not fair". I could maybe see complaints about ** spoiler omitted **

To quote skeetyrbug,"Evil isnt fair, or level appropriate." If you don't want a challenge then play Chutes and Ladders folks:) Players are supposed to die. That is the legasy of D&D. Gygax was one of the biggest player killers there ever was as a DM.

Shadow Lodge

That works for some people, and probably most of the people playing a module like Rappan Athuk, which appears to be very much in the style of old-school D&D. But in general there are plenty of people who play and enjoy a less lethal style of D&D, and that's not wrong.

brvheart wrote:
Ladder? Why not just take the stairs that are just down the hall from the room? They are only 40' south of the room. Surely they could drag him up one flight. The reverse direction should have already been checked for traps/enemies.

I haven't played the module and the OP's description said the ladder gave them trouble, so I assumed that an alternate way out wasn't available or clear of enemies. If there were stairs and that path out had been cleared, I agree that camping was a poor choice. However, they still would have had to leave at least one unconscious PC alone in the room while they dragged out the other two, or else done the dragging alone while the other PC guarded the fallen, which would have given me pause. (What if something happened in the trapped room to kill a lone sleeping person?)

yeti1069 wrote:

The difficulty of hauling someone bodily up a ladder is fairly irrelevant.

Tie a rope around them, climb the ladder with the other end of the rope, and pull. That's the same thing as dragging, and if you have more than one conscious party member, you can both grab the rope and pull.

Maybe if you've got a pulley system, but otherwise I fail to see how it requires less force. Lifting requires action against the force of gravity. Dragging is easier than lifting because you're working against friction to move the object, instead of against gravity and depending on the exact coefficient of friction between wood and metal armor or wood and skin (leather/fabric) you're looking at about half the force of gravity (Friction Force = coefficient of friction * Normal force, in this case Gravity).


Can we let this die. I have made my decision.


Weirdo wrote:


yeti1069 wrote:

The difficulty of hauling someone bodily up a ladder is fairly irrelevant.

Tie a rope around them, climb the ladder with the other end of the rope, and pull. That's the same thing as dragging, and if you have more than one conscious party member, you can both grab the rope and pull.

Maybe if you've got a pulley system, but otherwise I fail to see how it requires less force. Lifting requires action against the force of gravity. Dragging is easier than lifting because you're working against friction to move the object, instead of against gravity and depending on the exact coefficient of friction between wood and metal armor or wood and skin (leather/fabric) you're looking at about half the force of gravity (Friction Force = coefficient of friction * Normal force, in this case Gravity).

Someone earlier mentioned removing the gear from their heavy friend to drop his weight, and someone else rejoined that it's still very difficult to carry someone up a ladder at all, let alone someone very heavy.

My point was just that, A) you can skip the awkwardness of trying to haul someone up a ladder, by using a rope at the top, and B) a second person (which I think they had IIRC) can join in with the pulling.

Using the PF rules, in light of gravity, I'd say that you could use your Lift Off The Ground figure of your carrying capacity for this sort of activity, since, as you pointed out, it's more difficult than dragging, but I'd count it as being easier than having to lift the weight, since you're able to use your own mass to counter theirs. Plus, if you have some well-provisioned players, they can do things to lessen the effects of friction or gravity, such as by greasing the rope/edge of the trapdoor hole, fashion a pulley system, or a counter-weight system. The last may be the easiest--throw a board across the hole that is strong enough to support the weight of the heavy unconscious guy and the next heaviest person. Tie a rope to the heavy guy, and to the lighter person at each end and drape it over the board. Tie a second rope to the heavy guy that the fella up top can pull on. Have the lighter guy drop into the hole while the second person pulls. Now you're basically subtracting (most of) the weight of the second guy from the first for the fella up top pulling on the rope.


Well glad you have come to a decision. If the party had this much fun in the first room in 2B I can't wait to hear how they deal with level 3C! Enjoy :)


Brotato wrote:
Grimmy wrote:
Interesting find Kthulhu. So is this bad design when Paizo does it, or is there a double standard?
No double standard, at least here. It's bad design to ignore established rules for arbitrary reasons regardless of who does it.

Ok well I respect the opinion and I'm glad to see your consistent about applying it. I was afraid there was some bias against 3pp stuff coming into play.

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