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#8–99: The Solstice Scar (GM Discussion)


GM Discussion

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Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland aka xebeche

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Many of the GMs headed to PaizoCon are hitting preparations hard. I plan to spend a lot of hours with this adventure over the next week and will post helpful content here. Please join me!

*****

Overall, it looks really fun! First read-through has generated the following questions for thought.

* there seem to be no "wave" attacks, but just a few encounters available for each stage. What do we do if the PCs blast through them before the Overseer opens the next area?

* the Overseer text that closes out a section is listed before all of the encounters that occur before that text is read - this gives a non-chronological order, especially if you're doing a quick first scan.

* Area A3: the wards out in the garden aren't really visible to the party once they're inside - should we assume there are windows there to draw them back outside, or just reinforce the "runes covering the building" at the beginning before they enter?

* Also area A3: I imagine that trying to disable the runes counts as being a "violent" creature? IS there a way for parties to bypass combat here, or do the runes automatically attack and start triggering the trap? Where does the trap start, since the runes can only relocate them 20' per round?

* I *love* dweomercats! Thinking this will be a very fun roleplaying encounter if the party wants it to be.

* Encounter 2D: Take them head on: where to the PCs start on the map? The map says "enemy starting point" but the text implies that is where the PCs should start.

* Encounter F: The High Ground - what is the Climb DC for the hill? Looks like a pretty shallow slope, is it supposed to be easy/average/hard as scaled by scenario?

Grand Lodge **

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Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

This will be my first time GM'ing a special... Any help i can get will be greatly appreciated.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—Knoxville aka tchrman35

GM Lamplighter wrote:
* Area A3: the wards out in the garden aren't really visible to the party once they're inside - should we assume there are windows there to draw them back outside, or just reinforce the "runes covering the building" at the beginning before they enter?

I think I'm going to outline A2 and A3 at the outset when they speak to the NPC in the entrance. Not sure he'd be aware of the haunted crusaders.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—Knoxville aka tchrman35

Gm's would do well to remember the climb rules, and perhaps print them out for their party for encounter 2F. Of particular importance is the option to climb quickly st -5, the loss of dex to ac (though fortunately none of them have sneak attack)

(I think it would be pretty neat if this encounter included sub-successes. For example, the areas could be subject to hails of arrows (area affect, damage dependent on level) ecru 1d4 rounds. Successes at F could decrease the frequency and/or damage die.)

Back to encounter 2F: Is the hillside going to provide some cover against the bowmen's attacks? It's almost as though they're prone against the slope. I was thinking +4 to AC vs ranged.

Shadow Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm still waiting to receive my copy of it, sadly.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland aka xebeche

James Krolak wrote:
I'm still waiting to receive my copy of it, sadly.

James, Sign Out of Paizo.com and back in. Double-check your downloads. If you still don't see it please email tonya.woldridge@paizo.com.

Shadow Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Tonya got it to me a few hours ago, so I'm set.

Scarab Sages ****

Couple questions:
So the runes in A3, HOW are the PCs supposed to know to try and disable them instead of bashing their head against a brick wall? Is it part of the knowledge check to defeat them? Do they just get it automatically?

In part two, do we tell them what orcs want what skill checks? Do we roll a d6 and randomly assign them to an orc leader? My initial thought is to give a brief description (you've heard this leader is relatively nice and is seeking to better herself through constant training, etc.)

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—Knoxville aka tchrman35

1 person marked this as a favorite.
VampByDay wrote:

Couple questions:

So the runes in A3, HOW are the PCs supposed to know to try and disable them instead of bashing their head against a brick wall? Is it part of the knowledge check to defeat them? Do they just get it automatically?

In part two, do we tell them what orcs want what skill checks? Do we roll a d6 and randomly assign them to an orc leader? My initial thought is to give a brief description (you've heard this leader is relatively nice and is seeking to better herself through constant training, etc.)

A3: When I describe it, I'm going to say that it looks almost like it's a magical device, rather than a creature.

Part 2: I plan to describe locations, not individuals. "You see the tribal leader's tent, a tavern, a smithy, what appears to be an animal training pit, a sparring pen, and, behind the tavern, some kind of obstacle course. Where would you like to go?" From there, I can get them to their people.

Shadow Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
GM Lamplighter wrote:
* there seem to be no "wave" attacks, but just a few encounters available for each stage. What do we do if the PCs blast through them before the Overseer opens the next area?

Yeah, now that I'm reading it, I am wondering the same thing. Maybe PFS leadership realized that all the extra encounters built into the previous Specials didn't really add that much unless someone was replaying it--which probably doesn't happen that often at the same level.

GM Lamplighter wrote:
* I *love* dweomercats! Thinking this will be a very fun roleplaying encounter if the party wants it to be.

I played a campaign last year where the GM LOVED throwin dweomercats at us. Man, our party wizard started to have nightmares about those things.

Dark Archive *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Krolak wrote:
GM Lamplighter wrote:
* there seem to be no "wave" attacks, but just a few encounters available for each stage. What do we do if the PCs blast through them before the Overseer opens the next area?
Yeah, now that I'm reading it, I am wondering the same thing. Maybe PFS leadership realized that all the extra encounters built into the previous Specials didn't really add that much unless someone was replaying it--which probably doesn't happen that often at the same level.

Read your table. If after the first combat encounters they are mopping the floor with the listed critters talk to them about other options. Give them a second set. Try the next tier up. Be mindful of moving up a tier as this can create problems, totes if there is character death.

*****

I was looking for the "party line", I guess... I ran the special where people got to "play up" if they defeated all the encounters, and it went pretty badly in a lot of cases. My feeling is, people came to the Special to play, not sit and wait. Maybe other people are more wary of having to spend more expendables than the next table.

Granted, the time limits seem a bit shorter than previous specials, so maybe it won't come up.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Reading through, i noticed a possible discrepancy- the Advance Shaes [in T5-6] have "Weapon Focus (Longsword)" but are wielding Falchions. Are Falchions longswords, or do they just not get the Weapon Focus bonus?

Scarab Sages ****

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GM Lamplighter wrote:

My feeling is, people came to the Special to play, not sit and wait. Maybe other people are more wary of having to spend more expendables than the next table.

Granted, the time limits seem a bit shorter than previous specials, so maybe it won't come up.

Even when GMing specials in the 1-2 or 3-4 tier, I've never had any 'dead time,' (well, once when my party went off-script, but it worked out).

If it becomes a problem, just say something like: "there seems to be a lull in the combat as you see other agents clearing up the rest of the enemies. Maybe you could use this time to rest or recouperate, and talk about what's happened/happening"

Y'know, give the PCs a chance for some character interaction and role-playing between each other.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland aka xebeche

It seems to me that a boosted benefit remains on an Aid Token until that boosted benefit is used. In other words, if a table boosts "Burst of Healing" or "Provide Spellcasting" then the next table can use "Timely Inspiration" without discharging the boosted benefit. Anyone interpret this otherwise?

Dark Archive ***** RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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I've posted my tier 10-11 prep material over on PFS Prep

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland aka xebeche

Is the shifting rune creature's "rejuvenation" ability meant to be "regeneration?" This creature appears in area A3. Magical Wards and on the statblock appears on page 71.

Sovereign Court ***** Venture-Captain, United Kingdom—England—London aka Angel Gabriel

In Part 2, the encounter at F: The High Ground, doesn't have a note to report this as a Success to the Overseer. Is this an omission? Otherwise there is no way for the House to achieve the 3 successes per table needed to achieve the Twinhorn Champions effect.

Scarab Sages ****

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Rob Silk wrote:
In Part 2, the encounter at F: The High Ground, doesn't have a note to report this as a Success to the Overseer. Is this an omission? Otherwise there is no way for the House to achieve the 3 successes per table needed to achieve the Twinhorn Champions effect.

I would assume you report a success.

I am actually confused by basically all of part 3.

So first you have the blood on the snow encounter, then you get to the camp. Is there an order in which you do the three possible encounters there? I mean, how would the PCs ever know to go into the war tent? Most PCs I know would rush to kill any monsters there (the undead and the shadow creatures) and by then There probably wouldn't be enough time left to convince the NPCs not to abandon camp. Then you just transition to BLACK Tenticles in the final area? NO ONE at the lower tiers will ever break free of them unless the tentacles roll a 1. Even with reduced/no damage they are basically useless and the undead will just saunter over and beat them to death while they can't do anything.

Scarab Sages **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

In part 3 you arrive and fight off the undead attacking the camp as part H. The diplomacy or fight decision happens afterwards and it says under the spirits of the past encounter that the undead are traveling towards the camp. My assumption is that following the encounter in H you have cleared all the enemies currently attacking the encampment granting a brief reprieve before the others arrive allowing you to talk to the elders or fight the incoming forces for part I. As for how the group knows to speak to the elders you could describe the muffled sound of Medda arguing from inside the tent as the party roams through the camp mopping up the forces from encounter H.

As for the tentacles... the undead wouldn't even have to finish them off. The tentacles are inside the stone circle where you also take negative energy damage every round after ending your turn. The tentacles would just hold them in place, and the hazard would eventually kill them(pretty quickly in the lower tiers.) It sounds as if these are deterrents, and that after describing the Black Tentacles inside the circle you should conduct the battle outside the circle as the tentacles only grab you if you enter it.

Shadow Lodge ****

Justin Riddler wrote:
I've posted my tier 10-11 prep material over on PFS Prep

Thanks Justin, greatly appreciated!

Scarab Sages ****

Zach Davis wrote:

In part 3 you arrive and fight off the undead attacking the camp as part H. The diplomacy or fight decision happens afterwards and it says under the spirits of the past encounter that the undead are traveling towards the camp. My assumption is that following the encounter in H you have cleared all the enemies currently attacking the encampment granting a brief reprieve before the others arrive allowing you to talk to the elders or fight the incoming forces for part I. As for how the group knows to speak to the elders you could describe the muffled sound of Medda arguing from inside the tent as the party roams through the camp mopping up the forces from encounter H.

As for the tentacles... the undead wouldn't even have to finish them off. The tentacles are inside the stone circle where you also take negative energy damage every round after ending your turn. The tentacles would just hold them in place, and the hazard would eventually kill them(pretty quickly in the lower tiers.) It sounds as if these are deterrents, and that after describing the Black Tentacles inside the circle you should conduct the battle outside the circle as the tentacles only grab you if you enter it.

So let's see if I got part 3 right:

1) Trash mob fight in H getting to camp. As soon as done, proceed to I Defeating the mob earns a normal success.

2) PCs get to camp (I) and have one of three options. They hear bickering coming from the war-tent, and they see some enemies coming up. There are pathfinders all around, so either is a viable option. Defeating the social encounter earns 1 or 2 diplomatic successes. Defeating the trash mob encounters grants a normal success.

3) After the House GM says so (and only after that), the PCs can move on to the final fight at J. The final fight involves a black tentacles area, with constant negative energy pouring out of it, and a bunch of undead. What are the PCs supposed to do here, just ONLY use ranged attacks? I mean, that's pretty weak for most character options.

I mean, at teir 3-4 (the one I'm running) that's a grapple check of +8 or +9, and 1 or 2d6 negative energy damage a round, PLUS skeletons wailing on your grappled AC. Seems nasty. AND THEN they have to try to close the portal. Presumably in the area of black tentacles/negative energy. Am I reading that right?

Scarab Sages **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Yeah. As far as I can tell that's pretty much it. However, if they open up with ranged attacks the first round I would presume the skeletons(and the hand) would come to them. The skeletons are mindless, and the hand has animal intelligence so lacking any ranged attacks of their own they should respond to the player's assault.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—Knoxville aka tchrman35

VampByDay wrote:
I mean, at teir 3-4 (the one I'm running) that's a grapple check of +8 or +9, and 1 or 2d6 negative energy damage a round, PLUS skeletons wailing on your grappled AC. Seems nasty. AND THEN they have to try to close the portal. Presumably in the area of black tentacles/negative energy. Am I reading that right?

Yeah. It's a big do-not-enter sign. Although....

How would you suppose this effect would react to an "undead anatomy" spell? I'm running the 1-2 table, so that's not going to matter to me. But it's an interesting thought.

Scarab Sages ****

Stephen Wight wrote:
VampByDay wrote:
I mean, at teir 3-4 (the one I'm running) that's a grapple check of +8 or +9, and 1 or 2d6 negative energy damage a round, PLUS skeletons wailing on your grappled AC. Seems nasty. AND THEN they have to try to close the portal. Presumably in the area of black tentacles/negative energy. Am I reading that right?

Yeah. It's a big do-not-enter sign. Although....

How would you suppose this effect would react to an "undead anatomy" spell? I'm running the 1-2 table, so that's not going to matter to me. But it's an interesting thought.

Given that the PCs don't know the mechanics of the area (just that 'the bad guys aren't affected') I doubt anyone will think of that.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—Knoxville aka tchrman35


Tokens

I was having fun today. Made 6 of each of these guys. :)

VampByDay wrote:
Given that the PCs don't know the mechanics of the area (just that 'the bad guys aren't affected') I doubt anyone will think of that.

Truth. It just occurred to me while reading back over it.

Grand Lodge **

Nice tokens! I'm doing an index card for each tribe with the benefit on the back to help them to remember to apply bonuses or use feats.

Just to clarify, the text says the PCs "can attempt up to two checks to impress or help" (the orcs). So they can only make 2 checks per party per tribe, but they only need one success per tribe?

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—Knoxville aka tchrman35

Ooh, I'm gonna steal that bit. Fine tip sharpie on the back ought to do it.
And yes, that's how I imagine it going down.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—Knoxville aka tchrman35

Can a player stack the cleft head and steel eater benefits at the end of the scenario? That's like a license to print money!

Scarab Sages ****

Nomadical wrote:

Nice tokens! I'm doing an index card for each tribe with the benefit on the back to help them to remember to apply bonuses or use feats.

Just to clarify, the text says the PCs "can attempt up to two checks to impress or help" (the orcs). So they can only make 2 checks per party per tribe, but they only need one success per tribe?

That's a good idea with the index cards. I think I'll do that. And yes, they can (as a party) attempt 2 checks per tribe, and only have to succeed 1.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

Hey everyone! First let me apologize for not getting to these questions before the PaizoCon game. However, let me answer these now so that those at GenCon (and other international events) will have the benefit of your excellent questions.

GM Lamplighter wrote:
there seem to be no "wave" attacks, but just a few encounters available for each stage. What do we do if the PCs blast through them before the Overseer opens the next area?

Each Act is 90 minutes long and has 5 total encounters. I would be VERY impressed if a group managed to get through all 5 encounters in that time period. Of course, as I type this, I'm sure that a non-zero number of groups will accomplish that very feat! To you I say, good job!

I recommend a rousing round of role playing as they congratulate each other and contemplate the plot.

"Playing up" was not included in this scenario to avoid character death; the CRs are typically 1 point higher than most specials. This is balanced by the fact that they can fully rest between acts.

VampByDay wrote:

If it becomes a problem, just say something like: "there seems to be a lull in the combat as you see other agents clearing up the rest of the enemies. Maybe you could use this time to rest or recouperate, and talk about what's happened/happening"

Y'know, give the PCs a chance for some character interaction and role-playing between each other.

Yes! Exactly.

GM Lamplighter wrote:

Area A3: the wards out in the garden aren't really visible to the party once they're inside - should we assume there are windows there to draw them back outside, or just reinforce the "runes covering the building" at the beginning before they enter?

Also area A3: I imagine that trying to disable the runes counts as being a "violent" creature? IS there a way for parties to bypass combat here, or do the runes automatically attack and start triggering the trap? Where does the trap start, since the runes can only relocate them 20' per round?

When the PCs have multiple options for encounters, they should be given options for each and allowed to choose. For example: In the museum, they should be given the option to stay outside and handle the runes (extra challenge), go left and immediately go upstairs, go straight into the downstairs, go right into the downstairs. For the museum they might not know what they're getting into so there's the scouting mechanic (see text). For Acts 2 and 3, the threats are relatively obvious so the PCs will have some idea of what they'd be up against.

GM Lamplighter wrote:
Encounter 2D: Take them head on: where to the PCs start on the map? The map says "enemy starting point" but the text implies that is where the PCs should start.

Either the top or bottom of the map. GMs choice.

GM Lamplighter wrote:
Encounter F: The High Ground - what is the Climb DC for the hill? Looks like a pretty shallow slope, is it supposed to be easy/average/hard as scaled by scenario?

It requires an Average climb check; please consult your subtier for the exact DC.

Stephen Wight wrote:
Back to encounter 2F: Is the hillside going to provide some cover against the bowmen's attacks? It's almost as though they're prone against the slope. I was thinking +4 to AC vs ranged.

They do have cover from creatures attacking from below, despite the slope. However, they are probably not prone as they're using larger bows and have been targeting the convoy in the valley.

VampByDay wrote:
So the runes in A3, HOW are the PCs supposed to know to try and disable them instead of bashing their head against a brick wall? Is it part of the knowledge check to defeat them? Do they just get it automatically?

Please give it to the players automatically. Characters with the ability to use those skills would immediately know they might be able to use them to "disable" this creature.

Stephen Wight wrote:
A3: When I describe it, I'm going to say that it looks almost like it's a magical device, rather than a creature.

Yes! This is how I approach it as well. Let the players think it's a skill challenge, then roll initiative as soon as they start to make a skill check. This also brings them in close for a good look.

VampByDay wrote:
In part two, do we tell them what orcs want what skill checks? Do we roll a d6 and randomly assign them to an orc leader? My initial thought is to give a brief description (you've heard this leader is relatively nice and is seeking to better herself through constant training, etc.)

My recommendation is to give them a brief description of each of the orc representatives. The PCs would then choose one to speak with, at which time I would role play a short scene and have an active PC roll a skill. If the PCs are having a hard time understanding "what [they're] supposed to do" then I would list the skills they can choose from. I expect most groups will engage with 2 of the orcs.

I find a player often feels more rewarded by the experience when they come up with the solution on their own. YMMV

Stephen Wight wrote:
Part 2: I plan to describe locations, not individuals. "You see the tribal leader's tent, a tavern, a smithy, what appears to be an animal training pit, a sparring pen, and, behind the tavern, some kind of obstacle course. Where would you like to go?" From there, I can get them to their people.

Yeah! This sounds good, too.

Selvaxri wrote:
Reading through, i noticed a possible discrepancy- the Advance Shaes [in T5-6] have "Weapon Focus (Longsword)" but are wielding Falchions. Are Falchions longswords, or do they just not get the Weapon Focus bonus?

The shae all use falchions and have the feats Combat Expertise and Iron Will. I'm not sure where you're seeing Weapon Focus (longsword).

Jeremy Wenrich wrote:
It seems to me that a boosted benefit remains on an Aid Token until that boosted benefit is used. In other words, if a table boosts "Burst of Healing" or "Provide Spellcasting" then the next table can use "Timely Inspiration" without discharging the boosted benefit.

I suppose they COULD, but why wouldn't they want to?

Jeremy Wenrich wrote:
Is the shifting rune creature's "rejuvenation" ability meant to be "regeneration?" This creature appears in area A3. Magical Wards and on the statblock appears on page 71.

Good catch! I had moved this ability description from the stat block into the Creatures description for A3 and forgotten to remove it from Defensive Abilities. It essentially represents this line of text: "Though they’re quite resilient to damage, doing enough physical harm to them causes them to lapse into a regenerative stasis for about a minute before they resume protecting the museum."

Note: This means that combat alone is not enough to "successfully overcome" the encounter, but it does give them 10 rounds to roll a bunch of skill checks before it comes back online. Because the trap is integrated with the creature, it cannot trigger while the rune swarm is dormant.

Rob Silk wrote:
In Part 2, the encounter at F: The High Ground, doesn't have a note to report this as a Success to the Overseer. Is this an omission?

Oops! Yes, successfully completing this encounter earns the house a single success.

VampByDay wrote:

I am actually confused by basically all of part 3.

So first you have the blood on the snow encounter, then you get to the camp. Is there an order in which you do the three possible encounters there? I mean, how would the PCs ever know to go into the war tent? Most PCs I know would rush to kill any monsters there (the undead and the shadow creatures) and by then There probably wouldn't be enough time left to convince the NPCs not to abandon camp. Then you just transition to BLACK Tenticles in the final area? NO ONE at the lower tiers will ever break free of them unless the tentacles roll a 1. Even with reduced/no damage they are basically useless and the undead will just saunter over and beat them to death while they can't do anything.

Act 3 starts with the realization that the undead invasion has already begun; play H. Blood On The Snow. Then, give the players the options to fight the spirits drifting in from that way, the weird planar creatures coming in from the other way, or leave those to other Pathfinders and try and resolve the argument in the big fancy command tent.

Zach Davis has a great explanation about the flow of Act 3.

For the black tentacles/negative energy: This is the result of dangerous planar energy flowing into the material plane. Because much of it is made of negative energy, it can be countered by positive energy. Please let your players know that they can "damage" the hazard and drive it back for a round at a time by blasting positive energy at it. This stops the damage, grapples, everything for 1 round. Even a wand of cure light wounds will keep it at bay in low subtiers.

Stephen Wight wrote:
How would you suppose this effect would react to an "undead anatomy" spell?

This sounds like a very good way to circumvent the hazard!

VampByDay wrote:
Given that the PCs don't know the mechanics of the area (just that 'the bad guys aren't affected') I doubt anyone will think of that.

Players can be pretty savvy. If they're having trouble with the hazard, give them an Easy Knowledge (planes or religion) check to describe the particulars of the hazard.

Stephen Wight wrote:
Can a player stack the cleft head and steel eater benefits at the end of the scenario?

Sounds like a pretty good combo for some extra gold, but won't help them get through the scenario. If that's what the PCs are after...

Great questions, everyone. Keep them coming.

Paizo Employee ***** Designer

Andrew Hoskins wrote:

Each Act is 90 minutes long and has 5 total encounters. I would be VERY impressed if a group managed to get through all 5 encounters in that time period. Of course, as I type this, I'm sure that a non-zero number of groups will accomplish that very feat! To you I say, good job!

I recommend a rousing round of role playing as they congratulate each other and contemplate the plot.

"Playing up" was not included in this scenario to avoid character death; the CRs are typically 1 point higher than most specials. This is balanced by the fact that they can fully rest between acts.

Our table finished all 5 encounters in almost every act (except the act with the influence subsystem because that can take a while, though I'm not sure what all counted as being in that act, so we might have been close there too), and I'd imagine it's going to be relatively common at subtier 1-2 where the fights are shorter. In our spare time, we just took some short breaks to get water, go to the bathroom, and so on.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

Mark Seifter wrote:
Andrew Hoskins wrote:

Each Act is 90 minutes long and has 5 total encounters. I would be VERY impressed if a group managed to get through all 5 encounters in that time period. Of course, as I type this, I'm sure that a non-zero number of groups will accomplish that very feat! To you I say, good job!

I recommend a rousing round of role playing as they congratulate each other and contemplate the plot.

"Playing up" was not included in this scenario to avoid character death; the CRs are typically 1 point higher than most specials. This is balanced by the fact that they can fully rest between acts.

Our table finished all 5 encounters in almost every act (except the act with the influence subsystem because that can take a while, though I'm not sure what all counted as being in that act, so we might have been close there too), and I'd imagine it's going to be relatively common at subtier 1-2 where the fights are shorter. In our spare time, we just took some short breaks to get water, go to the bathroom, and so on.

Hrm... Good feedback. Hrm... For playing up I'm just worried about sending a APL 1 or 2 table to a CR 5 fight. That way lies tears.

Huge kudos to Stephen Wight for GMing you through almost all encounters in the scenario with efficiency. Well done! You must have been very well prepared.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—Knoxville aka tchrman35

Andrew Hoskins wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Andrew Hoskins wrote:

Each Act is 90 minutes long and has 5 total encounters. I would be VERY impressed if a group managed to get through all 5 encounters in that time period. Of course, as I type this, I'm sure that a non-zero number of groups will accomplish that very feat! To you I say, good job!

I recommend a rousing round of role playing as they congratulate each other and contemplate the plot.

"Playing up" was not included in this scenario to avoid character death; the CRs are typically 1 point higher than most specials. This is balanced by the fact that they can fully rest between acts.

Our table finished all 5 encounters in almost every act (except the act with the influence subsystem because that can take a while, though I'm not sure what all counted as being in that act, so we might have been close there too), and I'd imagine it's going to be relatively common at subtier 1-2 where the fights are shorter. In our spare time, we just took some short breaks to get water, go to the bathroom, and so on.

Hrm... Good feedback. Hrm... For playing up I'm just worried about sending a APL 1 or 2 table to a CR 5 fight. That way lies tears.

Huge kudos to Stephen Wight for GMing you through almost all encounters in the scenario with efficiency. Well done! You must have been very well prepared.

We actually killed like four wax golems. :)

Mark was a big help.

Question: in most social scenarios, if you beat the DC by enough, you get two successes. That's not written in the scenario, but I did it anyway based​ on Mark's recollection (which he only volunteered on request - Mark, it must be so hard not to backseat GM when you play. I'm impressed. And I reread the charge rules. I have no idea where I got that misunderstanding. Probably picked it up early in my career and just never read back over it! Anyway, squirrel!)

Also, it might be worth adding a "hard+x" diplomacy check in the social, because when they don't know, they roll diplomacy. And honestly, diplomacy should work, just be harder.

The way I ended up running the runes was that they were flying off the wall and swarming groups of Pathfinders. It looks like they're mostly busy, and if you hurry, you can make the door. They booked it for the door.

Overall, I had a great time running and playing. Found myself kicking myself for not having all of my specials in!

Shadow Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

When I ran it at PaizoCon for subtier 3-4, we never got through all 5 encounters in any section, but we came close. But we had 6 PCs with fairly involved abilities.

For the "can attempt up to two checks to impress or help" on the orc ambassadors, I grabbed orc artwork online and made up a full page for each one. Front had the orc image, name, tribe, and a little info on what they're known to like/prefer. On the back is all the checks and DCs (easy, average, hard) and the benefit. (I uploaded them to GM Shared Prep if anyone wants to use them) When I put them down on the table, I had each PC put their mini on which one they were trying to influence. After those checks, I had them do another round of it 'cuz it says 2 checks. It wasn't clear if that was supposed to be 2 checks for the party or 2 checks for each PC. With 2 for each PC, they ended up getting ALL of them.

I found the combats at subtier 3-4 to be rather easy for my table. The 1-2 and 3-4 subtiers seemed similar in difficulty. I played in the slot 0 at 7-8 and the combats were definitely more challenging. If we hadn't had a bunch of optimized characters, some of the fights would have been a challenge. (I dealt with the orc archer encounter by Air Walking up to them and using Ki Throw to trip them over me and down the hillside so my party could wail on them. We had 1 PC die in area H, but Breath of Life brought him back with only 1 negative level short of death again.)

When my table got the Aid Tokens during the Special, it wasn't clear what was boosted and what wasn't. Other tables had just written boosts at the bottom of the Token--sometimes in duplicate with what had already been written on them. Nothing had been crossed off, so we weren't always sure what was accurate on them. Something a little clearer would be good when this is run in the future.

*****

After-action review: this was a huge amount of fun!

While we did get through all of the encounters in a couple of segments, there wasn't much spare time left to worry about. (Almost like it was designed that way! :)

I do suggest going back to the "chronological" arrangement of text where the overseer text is not all listed at the front of the act, but interspersed where it belongs. I found it awkward to flip back and forth to see which bit of overseer text pertained to which transition within an act, and I may have missed a cue or two during play. (Nothing a few more hours of prep couldn't have cured, of course.)

I'll echo the issue about aid tokens - they didn't get covered in the GM briefing, and most GM's didn't seem to use them properly - or maybe everyone just "boosted" them and never used them? Maybe instead of being passed only on use/boost, they should be passed at certain set times as well, to avoid folks holding on to them for the breath of life or whatever. There seemed to be a lot more than we needed, and they all seemed to have several "boosts" with none crossed off.

I did find it was a long day, since I ran my Aethera lottery game before the special and PFS in the morning slot - won't make that mistake again. Otherwise, though, it was a great event, a great group of players, and I can't wait to run it again at our local events! Thanks to Andrew for writing it and John for Overseeing.

Paizo Employee ***** Designer

Stephen Wight wrote:
Andrew Hoskins wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Andrew Hoskins wrote:

Each Act is 90 minutes long and has 5 total encounters. I would be VERY impressed if a group managed to get through all 5 encounters in that time period. Of course, as I type this, I'm sure that a non-zero number of groups will accomplish that very feat! To you I say, good job!

I recommend a rousing round of role playing as they congratulate each other and contemplate the plot.

"Playing up" was not included in this scenario to avoid character death; the CRs are typically 1 point higher than most specials. This is balanced by the fact that they can fully rest between acts.

Our table finished all 5 encounters in almost every act (except the act with the influence subsystem because that can take a while, though I'm not sure what all counted as being in that act, so we might have been close there too), and I'd imagine it's going to be relatively common at subtier 1-2 where the fights are shorter. In our spare time, we just took some short breaks to get water, go to the bathroom, and so on.

Hrm... Good feedback. Hrm... For playing up I'm just worried about sending a APL 1 or 2 table to a CR 5 fight. That way lies tears.

Huge kudos to Stephen Wight for GMing you through almost all encounters in the scenario with efficiency. Well done! You must have been very well prepared.

We actually killed like four wax golems. :)

Mark was a big help.

Question: in most social scenarios, if you beat the DC by enough, you get two successes. That's not written in the scenario, but I did it anyway based​ on Mark's recollection (which he only volunteered on request - Mark, it must be so hard not to backseat GM when you play. I'm impressed. And I reread the charge rules. I have no idea where I got that misunderstanding. Probably picked it up early in my career and just never read back over it! Anyway, squirrel!)

Linda wrote the influence rules in UI, so she knows them front and back. I haven't read this adventure, but we assumed it was using those rules, where a success by 5 gets you a free discovery and a success by 10 or more counts as two influence successes. It's possible the scenario doesn't allow for that. As to the charge stuff, it wasn't too unreasonable and didn't affect us too much, though Large creatures probably would have a lot of trouble charging with those rules.

Quote:
Overall, I had a great time running and playing. Found myself kicking myself for not having all of my specials in!

Well, we submitted a report to Tonya anyway. Well done!

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

James Krolak wrote:
When my table got the Aid Tokens during the Special, it wasn't clear what was boosted and what wasn't. Other tables had just written boosts at the bottom of the Token--sometimes in duplicate with what had already been written on them. Nothing had been crossed off, so we weren't always sure what was accurate on them. Something a little clearer would be good when this is run in the future.

I still don't have it in my Downloads, so this is just based on play, not reading. I don't believe the aid tokens that were going around said anything about "crossing off" a boost. I was under the impression that once a token got boosted for a specific purpose it stayed boosted.

I have heard that a lot of tables finished all (or almost all) encounters in a section but our table - well, we weren't built that way. We got through one or two encounters per section. Totally crushed every diplomacy/skill encounter but took our sweet time roleplaying our way to it.

I do think this scenario did a VERY good job of making the plot understandable and coherent no matter how many (or how few) encounters you completed. Some past specials have had a massive case of "huh?" if you didn't complete many encounters - or just not the right ones.

One thing that I tried but didn't work was in the section with the various Orc chiefs. When the group needed more tokens my Kalistocrat's first response was "Let's just buy them." The look on everyones' faces was quite amusing but sadly there were no guidelines for throwing wealth at the problem.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

Lots of great feedback!

For the Influence sections, my intention was to use the influence system without having to reprint all of those rules. As such, it's fine to use the full Influence rules if you're familiar with them.

For the orc tokens, the intention is to have the party roleplay with a few of the orcs, make a couple skill checks and get a neat benefit. There are no more tokens up for sale, as Medda has already purchased all that could be obtained with gold.

Sounds like a lot of you got through all of the encounters. Well, that's encouraging; I've gotten a bit of a reputation as a killer and was afraid some of them were too challenging. Sounds like a good balance.

Thanks for all of the feedback on the aid tokens. When a boosted benefit is used, then it should be erased or crossed off. I'll make sure this is clearer at GenCon.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Captain, Germany—Aschaffenburg-Würzburg

Need to do a proper read of the scenario, but I am curious about the light conditions in encounter J.

Chances are pretty good, that the PCs will have some sort of light source at night, so the enemies will be able to see them, but unless there is some light involved, the PCs are likely unable to see the ritual location from their starting location.

So what I am asking, is it dim light, or do those planar effects have some sort lighting? This is also pretty relevant for the shadow drake encounter.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

Sebastian Hirsch wrote:

Need to do a proper read of the scenario, but I am curious about the light conditions in encounter J.

Chances are pretty good, that the PCs will have some sort of light source at night, so the enemies will be able to see them, but unless there is some light involved, the PCs are likely unable to see the ritual location from their starting location.

So what I am asking, is it dim light, or do those planar effects have some sort lighting? This is also pretty relevant for the shadow drake encounter.

The entirety of Act 3 happens at night. Use dim lighting as the default.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Captain, Germany—Aschaffenburg-Würzburg

Andrew Hoskins wrote:
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:

Need to do a proper read of the scenario, but I am curious about the light conditions in encounter J.

Chances are pretty good, that the PCs will have some sort of light source at night, so the enemies will be able to see them, but unless there is some light involved, the PCs are likely unable to see the ritual location from their starting location.

So what I am asking, is it dim light, or do those planar effects have some sort lighting? This is also pretty relevant for the shadow drake encounter.

The entirety of Act 3 happens at night. Use dim lighting as the default.

Thanks for the quick answer ^^

On a similar note, after encounter J the PCs can gain a +4 bonus if they have played a certain recent replayable scenario... can't quite recollect the author ^^.
Since this one was offered quite a bit in my region, how do we deal with players who can't recall if they had a ritual with the character they are currently playing?

You could in theory reverse engineer it from the loot... but that would take too long, so in doubt just give the bonus to everyone with a chronicle?

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Andrew Hoskins wrote:
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:

Need to do a proper read of the scenario, but I am curious about the light conditions in encounter J.

Chances are pretty good, that the PCs will have some sort of light source at night, so the enemies will be able to see them, but unless there is some light involved, the PCs are likely unable to see the ritual location from their starting location.

So what I am asking, is it dim light, or do those planar effects have some sort lighting? This is also pretty relevant for the shadow drake encounter.

The entirety of Act 3 happens at night. Use dim lighting as the default.

Thanks for the quick answer ^^

On a similar note, after encounter J the PCs can gain a +4 bonus if they have played a certain recent replayable scenario... can't quite recollect the author ^^.
Since this one was offered quite a bit in my region, how do we deal with players who can't recall if they had a ritual with the character they are currently playing?

You could in theory reverse engineer it from the loot... but that would take too long, so in doubt just give the bonus to everyone with a chronicle?

When in doubt, trust your players. If they recall doing it and have a chronicle, give them the bonus.

For those who wish to be absolutely sure, you can look for one of the more easy to identify items such as:

8-07 From the Tome of Righeous Repose loot:
Lastwall:
Gem of all elements
Gravewatch pendant
Belt of tumbling
Ghostvision gloves
Dust of illusion
Knight's pennon (battle)

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Captain, Germany—Aschaffenburg-Würzburg

Andrew Hoskins wrote:
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Andrew Hoskins wrote:
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:

Need to do a proper read of the scenario, but I am curious about the light conditions in encounter J.

Chances are pretty good, that the PCs will have some sort of light source at night, so the enemies will be able to see them, but unless there is some light involved, the PCs are likely unable to see the ritual location from their starting location.

So what I am asking, is it dim light, or do those planar effects have some sort lighting? This is also pretty relevant for the shadow drake encounter.

The entirety of Act 3 happens at night. Use dim lighting as the default.

Thanks for the quick answer ^^

On a similar note, after encounter J the PCs can gain a +4 bonus if they have played a certain recent replayable scenario... can't quite recollect the author ^^.
Since this one was offered quite a bit in my region, how do we deal with players who can't recall if they had a ritual with the character they are currently playing?

You could in theory reverse engineer it from the loot... but that would take too long, so in doubt just give the bonus to everyone with a chronicle?

When in doubt, trust your players. If they recall doing it and have a chronicle, give them the bonus.

For those who wish to be absolutely sure, you can look for one of the more easy to identify items such as:

** spoiler omitted **

Thank you, that's pretty much how I planned to do it. ^^

EDIT: This isn't covered very well withing the existing rules, but are the tentacles used to tie up an opponent any harder to cut than rope? Grappe and tying up an opponent is so rare in PFS that players are likely to ask.

Scarab Sages **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

The tentacles are per the Black Tentacles spell:

The tentacles created by this spell cannot be damaged, but they can be dispelled as normal. The entire area of effect is considered difficult terrain while the tentacles last.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Captain, Germany—Aschaffenburg-Würzburg

Zach Davis wrote:

The tentacles are per the Black Tentacles spell:

The tentacles created by this spell cannot be damaged, but they can be dispelled as normal. The entire area of effect is considered difficult terrain while the tentacles last.

Ugh the boards at my first post, so the really important bit got lost. I am talking about the Body Snatcher, and his ability to tie up grappled enemies with his tentacles.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Zach Davis wrote:

The tentacles are per the Black Tentacles spell:

The tentacles created by this spell cannot be damaged, but they can be dispelled as normal. The entire area of effect is considered difficult terrain while the tentacles last.

Ugh the boards at my first post, so the really important bit got lost. I am talking about the Body Snatcher, and his ability to tie up grappled enemies with his tentacles.

Good question: treat like rope.

This should be enough to leave the character tied up feeling helpless, but still allow another character to easily save them. Hopefully you end up with a strong in character bond between them.

Scarab Sages **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Ah sorry. Misunderstood the question.

****

Does anyone know if this special has an ACG portion? I need to know as I am trying to start recruiting GMs to run this on PbP Gameday.

Hmm

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