5-20 The Sealed Gate Question

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Dominate gets started in the surprise round and can finish using the standard action in the next round.

FLite, sounds like a great time was had. Glad to see the Cleric of Pharasma getting to use a unique ability!

Grand Lodge ****

I had a great time GMing this for my players last night. My players were very challenged and had tons of fun. I admit to running a few things incorrectly, but I don't think it impacted anyone's enjoyment. I did use fairly lethal tactics in the first combat, and adjusted just a bit as we moved forward. Anyway, getting into it.

Subtier: 10-11 (4 Player Adjustment)
Party Size: 7

The Party:

Summoner 10 (Pouncing Eidolon with buffs)
Alchemist 7/Master Chymist? 1(Bomb blaster)
Barbarian 8(Furious Finish Specialist)
Monk 8/Cleric 1(Flurry's with a Bastard Sword)
Paladin 4/Fighter 4/Oracle 1/Monk 1(SuperCHA Striker)
Paladin 2/Zen Archer 2/Fighter 4(I think?)(Archer)
Sorceress 10/Some other caster 1(Cold caster, rime fireballs and stuff)

The players sit down at the table, and decline to play Hard Mode. I'm busy coordinating for awhile, we get started at 7:00.

They don't buff before teleporting, and both swarms and both Deraknis notice them, whereas only 3 PCs notice anything afoul, and 5 make the will save against the buildings.

Showdown in the Base Camp:

We open combat with the cold caster instantly obliterating one of the swarms after making her save. Then the other swarm goes, swarms 3 people and starts damaging some stuff, but luckily none of the gear that fails the first save has any effect. The archer goes and unleashes threatening damage on one attack on one of the Deraknis, so both decide to soften him first as the immediate threat to them. He gets hit for 7 negative levels on their initiative pass and the Deraknis think him done. The Barbarian and the Alchemist at this point are confused, the Barbarian for the rest of the fight and the alchemist for most of it. The CHA character has no methods of flight due to greed and waiting for wings at level 11, and the monks ranged attacks aren't proving extremely effective, so the Deraknis learn that closing to land may be unwise. The Summoner has his Eidolon brawl it out with the injured Derakni in the sky. The cold caster gets sr fizzled the next round I believe, and the archer full attacks this time, and even with the negatives, still hits and does some damage with smite. At this point he's still one of the more threatening combatants, so the unengaged Derakni zaps him again and he dies. This may have been brutal on my part, but I felt my PCs were not respecting the need for defense or care in the high tier games, and that death happens when you get to higher levels. So I took the weakened but still effective archer out. The engaged Derakni turns around and full attacks the Eidolon, giving it a good chunk of damage and successfully poisoning it. During this round they finally muster up enough damage to zap the injured Derakni out of the sky, it actually dies to fall damage after being knocked out of the air. On the next pass. At this point the swarm is gone as well as the summon swarm, so the Derakni thinks about retreating. As written I probably should have just teleported out, but I decided to fire a parting shot and then fly away instead, and crit an enervation on the Eidolon for 7 out of its 8 HD. After that I didn't have many options to leave constantly being threatened as the CHA finally got into the air, and the one round he had left he couldn't get out easily. I decided to try and knock the remaining threat out of the air so I could safely teleport away, but he failed and was slain. I may run this a bit differently a second time, but honestly I wasn't sure whether the encounter should end by killing 2 CR 5 creatures. I may have been in the wrong there, but I stand by how I ran it in general I think, and my players seemed to enjoy the challenge, with the exception of the CHA who was frustrated at aerial combat. I have continued to scold him for not having reliable means of flight earlier, he had to borrow a Potion off the dead archer with his permission.

The Cave:

This really wasn't that threatening. Two people failing their saves on the mass suggestion trap was amusing, but after the ooze did some damage and ate the summoner's charging rhino he went down fairly quickly. It was very funny, and we laughed at the imagery of the fearsome charge of the rhino being easily handled by the ooze, but overall the threat wasn't there without multiple failures by the party for this encounter I think. It probably has a lot to do with the massive action economy disparity in favor of the party though.

After the Cave, the party found the McGuffin, and the summoner actually teleported to Absalom and back before entering, so that they could restore the eidolon and resurrect the Archer. With their 7th back in tow, they headed in. No optional for us as the first encounter lasted 2 hours, but I would love to run this again to get a chance to run that encounter. It looks nasty, and something about the Treants really evokes a great fantasy feeling I think. They're impressive to boot.

Meeting Your Captain!:

The party arrive and meet Nikolai. After some short amount of conversation, they kind of get sick of his goody attitude that I definitely played up as being nice but also self aggrandizing, I'm not sure if I should have played him a bit more likable, but that's the feel I got from the scenario. They diplo him and he agrees to guide them to the member of Ten, with he and his compatriots in tow. I'm not sure whether or not I should have brought the other two Pathfinders, but I think it worked out all right at least. This is the fight I definitely should have thought about more though. I spent about 15 minutes figuring how it would go, but with everything that could happen I wish I'd spent an hour playing it out myself. It's a very intricate encounter, especially training the captain and his lackeys into it. I wish I'd known how her abilities worked better, and how I would react to their movements better. As is, they all go an initial save against the aura when they got in range. All made it. Then after things went sour after a bit of conversation, the superCHA went first and charged her. I had him make an additional save, and from there I failed to remind two people to make the save, which could have lengthened the encounter one crucial round. As is, it was still very challenging, with the tree smacking around the paladin. But with all but the Alchemist and the Barbarian having decent to great will saves, they didn't have as much to worry about as a normal party. So after the paladin charged, she separated the rest off with her wall, but the CHA could hold his own for a couple rounds. The VC and his friends were busy nonlethaling people and casting non damaging spells. I wish I'd had more time to play up his objections and please during combat, but we were running on time and I really had to concentrate on all the pieces of the combat. I allowed the Alchemist and the Monk to fly over the wall with some work and jump it respectively, and the Summoner and the Archer went around the wall and hit from the water, with the summoner using evolution surge to give his Eidolon a breath weapon. The Paladin and the Monk ended up taking fair chunks of damage and the Paladin was grappled, but it turned out the real danger was the other side of the wall. The slow acting Barbarian and Sorceress had been pinned on the other side of the wall, with the NPC Barbarian nonlethaling the Sorceress into Emergency Force Sphere while the VC kept everyone safe and moving. The combat ended soon after with the BBEG's demise, but it was threatening enough to keep the players interested. I did have two books and the GM prep in front of me most of the combat to quickly look at everyones' stats however, that was a bit inconvenient. Ah, almost forgot to mention. I really glossed over the two digging their own graves. That was a blunder on my part. After some quick talking with the VC, the PCs completed their faction missions and went on their way.

REVIEW: I love the content of the scenario, but I would recommend starting early if you have the option. The more time you have to give to this scenario, the more it gives back, and I wish I'd been better prepared for my players. Still, great scenario, and I would like to thank Kyle for his excellent work. I look forward to the next one.


Kurthnaga wrote:
Still, great scenario, and I would like to thank Kyle for his excellent work.

You could always write a review! Believe it or not you guys, Paizo staff does read the reviews on these things and alters their direction of scenarios based on the feedback.

Regarding some of the tactics, etc: The aura on the alraune is a save every round, even if you make the save the previous round. The calming effect ends if anyone attacks a calmed creature, but then they have to make the save again when their turn starts.

Sounds like you played Nikolai just about right. Good, helpful, but arrogant. I wouldn't have brought the two lackeys, but with a party of 7, it's probably for the best.

In the first fight, keep summoning quickened swarms to keep the derakni around. Sure they don't usually cause a problem for the PCs, but sometimes it will burn their actions or they'll just ignore them and the derakni get to stay and play.

Dark Archive *****

Running this in a wk or so. Have a question or 2 on the trap in cave.
So being relatively close enuff to try to perceive trap and the fact it is a type of ooze I get.
How would it be possible (if at all) to perceive the magical traps behind the ooze? and also how to disable them as the trapfinder would need to spend a couple rds. right there to do it? Of course dispel magic could possibly work.
Just trying to figure out a way party has a chance to not have those magic traps go off before the ooze moves.

recently played this

I am guessing the mirage arcana is not meant to be played as a completely undetectable turret for the derakni(s) to chain spam enervation and extra summons out at you from?

we were asked to do some pre-rolls before scenario started, so I couldn't tell you what was used in progress, but two chars at least had +15 will, and I would think that being attacked from within an illusion would give you a resave

the party had a collective -15 negative levels before we ever even say the first demon

Shadow Lodge ***

You should have had an initial +4 since you knew there was an illusion (from the briefing).

A character faced with proof that an illusion isn't real needs no saving throw. Once the swarms appear out of nowhere (emerging from unseen buildings) and the derakni shoot their enervations, that is enough proof that the illusion is not real.

In fact, you teleport onto a fountain, so immediately, your party is interacting with the illusion because they're on stone but the mirage arcana is of grass, boom, immediate will save to disbelieve with +4.

eta: mirage arcana--"Still, it can't disguise, conceal, or add creatures (though creatures within the area might hide themselves within the illusion just as they can hide themselves within a real location)." The derakni would be subject to stealth & sniping rules at the very least.

Yeah, the only thing that we were allowed to recheck save on was by actually walking into a wall. Even once one person did so, and realized it, no one else was.

and without the +4, I only had 2 out of 10 that would have been below the 21, /sigh

The Exchange *

Running this next week and doing some prep.
The deathtrap ooze takes the form of simple mechanical traps, but the suggested ones in the CRB are much lower CR than the creature. Are we allowed to modify (in PFS play) the stats of the trap emulated to more closely match the creature's CR? I was thinking of upping the damage of the falling rock by 3d6 (for +2 CR) or some kind of size increase for the scythe trap (or maybe multiple scythes) otherwise it seems you're lowballing the creature.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

No, you definitely are not allowed to do that. For one thing, the trap it is taking the form of should be written into the encounter. For another thing, A high CR trap *and* a death trap ooze would significantly up the lethality of the encounter. Remember, after the death tea ooze falls on them, it is also going to try to attack whoever is left standing.

Anyway, this scenario doesn't need to be any more lethal than it is. Especially if the party has enough time for the optional encounter.

The Exchange *

it does say the type of trap (falling block) but the ability also says that the trap form must be equal to or less than the creature itself, and there's a lot of room to bump the trap (creature is minimum CR 8, basic falling block trap is only CR 5) the trap IS the ooze...

*** Venture-Agent aka Suede

The point is there's no reason to make the trap tougher. And in PFS you can't, you run it as they printed it.

That's already one of the most brutal scenarios written, there is absolutely no need to make it even worse.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, Utah—Lehi

It's from way earlier in the thread so this is a late comment, but someone was saying that their PCs were using Sleeves of Many Garments to come up with a swarmsuit for the first encounter.

That doesn't actually do anything relevant to swarms though. The Sleeves are explicit in that they are an illusion effect and that they only change the appearance of the player's clothes.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Pretty sure that FAQ came about after those comments, and perhaps even because of them.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

After playing this several years ago, it was the first on my list of things I would never run. But, as my catalog runs low they finally convinced me to run it. Bleh.

Party was a bard, a fighter, a Shadowdancer, a summoner, and a paladin. The first fight took almost three hours and wound up with the Shadowdancer very dead and the eidolon crazy, but the rest not too bad off. Summoner teleports the body back to absalom, has them cast the ritual again to get back.

I convinced them to press on. Through the cave, skip the monkeys, talk to the dude. Get some great sense motive and diplomacy checks to chat up the dude and find what he's up to. We go to the last area, but we're out of time, so the summoner teleports them back to the tapestry entrance while the eidolon takes a gift to the plant. I let the Eidolon make a perception to spot the 3rd Arcane focus and grab it before getting un-summoned. That makes stones 1 and 3, but... I can't find stone 2 anywhere in the scenario. Can someone point out where the second focus is?


As I recall without looking it up one is in the starting camp, one is in the grave and Nikolai has one.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

The one in the camp (inside the portrait) and the one in the grave I found. I suspected either Nikolai or the plant had the last, but I didn't see anything to verify that.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Nikolai carries the 2nd one. Pg 21, left side.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

Ah, I see it now. Called Focus instead of Foci. Now I feel better about letting them bluff the dude into giving it to them.

So, I ran the scenario for a group of 4 yesterday. It was quite difficult to recruit players because word had gotten around in this area that this is a "killer mod" and many people refused to play it based on reputation alone.

It is definitely a tough one, even when people don't choose to play "hard mode". Oddly, I think the module is actually easier with 4 people instead of 5 or 6. The modifications it makes for 4 players are pretty generous, especially in that first encounter with the swarms and locust demon. It still came whiteknuckle close to killing people at times, but everyone seemed like they felt really triumphant at the end to have beaten it.
I also think that how hard it is depends a lot on how good the characters are at Will saves... that module is VERY heavy on the save or suck Will saves, but everyone in the party had a high Will mod which made a huge difference.

That being said, I don't know how anyone could ever beat it with the modifications made for "Hard Mode". I was laughing at how over-the-top some of what it said to do for that, especially at the final boss getting to roll two initiatives and get 2 full turns per combat round. Cheezus.


Looking over the scenario... am I horribly misunderstanding something about how CR is calculated?

The encounter with the VC is supposed to be CR10 in low tier.
It has two CR 7 enemies and the VC himself, who's listed as CR 13. Yes, his higher-level spells have already been expended, but still. He would have to be CR 7 by himself to make the entire encounter CR 10 (7+7 = 9, +7 = 10.) High-tier has a similar issue.

Shadow Lodge ****

The CR is based on the difficulty of the skills checks involved, not necessarily the combat. Plus, Nikolai is hardly the combatant his CR 13 status would suggest, he's a healer.

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