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8-21 Champions Chalice Part 2 - Agents of the Eye GM Thread


GM Discussion

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

Thought that I'd start the GM thread for this as I start to prep the scenario.

One thing that leaps to mind is that, once again, different characters are going to find the negatives from drinking from the Chalice affect them differently. But at least a -2 isn't exactly crippling to anybody. I do plan to steer the Chalice away from the gunslinger player (see my review of Chalice Part 1 for details) if he shows up :-). In fact, I might strongly hint to the players what the effects are (or allow a Knowledge Arcana check to let them know).

Dark Archive

Thanks for starting the thread!

re: Drinking from the Chalice:

Spoiler:
I agree, it sucks to be ranged and drink from the chalice without knowing you're gonna take a hit to your attack rolls for the rest of the scenario, but... the thing is, the characters who drink are the characters who get the re-roll boon. If you nudge them to avoid drinking, your gunslinger might (or might not, depends on the player) be a bit put out with you once the adventure's over and they find out that, because they didn't drink, they didn't get the unique shiny.

I'm not sure that there's a "good" way for DMs to deal with this one. From a player's perspective, drinking gives a one-scenario-long penalty but rewards them with a single-use, possibly life-saving boon; not drinking keeps them from feeling gimped during the scenario, but they may get upset at missing out on the boon once the game's over.

From a GM-ethics perspective, my perspective is that giving out meta-knowledge about boons is something you should avoid if at all possible, at least when it impacts characters' decisions during play. I've done it when it affects which character a player brings to the game, but I'm hesitant to do it in a way that changes how they play their character. *shrug* Still, unless there're specific rules in organized play as to what you absolutely can and can't disclose, I'd say that this one's up to the individual DM and how well they know their players.

I like your idea of letting them Detect Magic/Spellcraft/K(Arcana) the water to get a hint:

"Strong divination magic, with just a hint of transmutation running through it."
"The divination is a combination of communication and vision spells, all of which seem to have a distinct aspect of temporal distortion to them. It seems similar to the descriptions you've heard of other examples of cyclopean oracular magic."
"The transmutation is somewhat reminiscent of low-level transmutation curses, but it's too weak to tell exactly what kind of effect it has." (or, alternately, be a bit more specific and say that it seems like it would mess with the drinker's vision)

That should be enough to confirm that 1) this is in fact the magic water they've been sent to take a drink of, and 2) they might not want to all drink at once.

Which brings up another point - you can always suggest that one person drink first, just to see what happens, then nudge a melee or caster to take the first drink and let the ranged characters make their own decision once the first volunteer's eyes go wonky.

TLDR: *shrug* I see a lot of possibility for individual table variation here, not sure that there's a "right" answer.

Things I noted while going through and prepping:

Spoiler:

The Headhunters have Favored Enemy: Human. Don't forget to add the +2 to hit and damage where applicable!

There's potentially a buttload of cure light/moderate potions dropping in this scenario, especially in tier 4-5; every headhunter has some, and the battlefield where they meet the grippli has a handful as well. Grabbing some physical tokens (i.e. poker chips or similar) to represent them might be handy for the players to keep track of them all.

Because I always have trouble remembering Fast Healing, make a reminder for yourself on the Ngoga to keep healing them on their turn.

If you have a rogue in your party, don't forget the all-around vision that Karan gets blessed with if the PCs take the time to clean up area B3, it makes him impossible to flank.

Overall, I'm looking forward to this, the combats should be relatively straightforward but the setting and RP possibilities are really cool.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

Sindrig wrote:

Thanks for starting the thread!

re: Drinking from the Chalice:
** spoiler omitted **...

The gunslinger in question is the one that, for almost all purposes, did absolutely nothing in Part 1 due to the absolutely atrocious design of that scenario.

[note]The anger in the following is NOT addressed at you at all. I'm still royally irked at the last scenario[/note]

Quite frankly, I don't give a [expletive deleted] if it is legal or illegal, metagaming or not metagaming. I am NOT going to screw that player over again. I want to find an in game reason to get the information to the player but I WILL make sure that player makes a conscious decision knowing what he gains and loses.

**

Is it just me or is the party kinda forced to fight the Nagoga skeleton(s) twice unless they do that last? They regenerate after an hour, and it takes an hour to clean out the Hall.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

Scott Mcgroarty wrote:
Is it just me or is the party kinda forced to fight the Nagoga skeleton(s) twice unless they do that last? They regenerate after an hour, and it takes an hour to clean out the Hall.

A knowledge religion check (and the right question) will let them know that the skeletons have the deathless quality. The fact that it is a bloody skeleton is visually pretty obvious

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

@Scotty- the Ngoga doesn't leave the room it's in. It may roar at the PC's as they leave the citadel, but unless the PC's go back into the room- it won't attack them. They could be mean, camp for the night and recharge their spells and just attack him from range. But the PC's needn't worry about it just wandering the map.

I ran this scenario at PaizoCon, and I'm glad it's not as needlessly complicated as the first part.

Spoiler:
The party played low tier with an Investigator, Cleric, Hunter w/cat, Magus, and Warlock Vigilante.
Only the Investigator and Vigilante drank from the fountain, and acted as intermediaries so the rest of the party could ask questions. After which they got the Three Tasks; first- recovering the Idol.

The party also didn't bother to help dig graves while they baited out the crocodiles.

The first fight against the Hazh'a went well, as only one of the tribesman managed to scramble onto the table, while the other two failed bad enough to alert the party.
They had a rough time against the Headhunter, as the party was all human, so he had no problem going full tilt when he got surrounded.
The two people with the Cyclops Sight found the Cold Iron Morning Star, before going into the room with the Ngoga.
Only the Cleric and Investigator went in to do the ritual, and after the Ngoga woke up, the Magus pulled the cleric out of the fray so he wouldn't be beat down by the ngoga.

The investigator, lvl 1, tried to move into flanking, got whacked hard, then the ngoga smacked her again down to unconsciousness.
The party decided to draw the ngoga out, but the warlock stepped out along the wall by the door, but still within range and got smacked at.
upon learning that the Ngoga won't leave the room, the cleric channeled and handed over his morning star to the magus.
The Ngoga didn't last long after that point.

The PC's upon finding the doses of "War Paint of Terrible Visage" decided- why not? and used them. Worst case- it causes the shaken condition.

After cleaning the relic room, and getting the final vision- and thusly awarded the boon for the rest of the scenario, were ambushed by more of the Hazh'a. Made short of them; and in the final room, dealt with the last headhunter and the asura.
After angrily dealing with the Asura 15 ft up, managed to disarm him and eventually grappled him- then played whack-a-asura with the hot potato Cold Iron Morning Star.

Afterwards, the party helped Purruprup dig the rest of the graves as other grippli clans showed up.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

Ran it at high tier tonight and it went quite well. All the PCs drank the waters from the well.

I have no clue why the map for the lake consisted of the woodlands flip map. I guess there is a tiny, tiny pond on that map that is maybe meant to represent a lake? But given that 3 huge crocodiles would literally not fit into the pond that seems suspect. I ended up just drawing my own lake.

Be warned that
1) The final encounter can take a long time (it took over an hour for my party of 4) since the bad guy has excellent defences but only so-so attacks.

2) The timing for the optional encounter assumes that the party clears the upper level before descending. If they descend first before going after the skeleton you likely need something like 1 1/2 hours before deciding to run the optional encounter.

It would have been nice if the chronicle sheet had some grippli related boon on it.

I ended up flat out telling the players what the effect of drinking the water would have (including opening up a decent and useful one use boon, without telling them what the boon would be).

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

Selvaxri wrote:

@Scotty- the Ngoga doesn't leave the room it's in. It may roar at the PC's as they leave the citadel, but unless the PC's go back into the room- it won't attack them. They could be mean, camp for the night and recharge their spells and just attack him from range. But the PC's needn't worry about it just wandering the map.

I ran this scenario at PaizoCon, and I'm glad it's not as needlessly complicated as the first part.

** spoiler omitted **...

Interesting, but the skeleton does indeed leave that room it just never goes out of the map (which might become relevant when a bloddy skeleton reanimates after the players have cleared the Hall of Broken Gods.

skeleton tactic wrote:

Morale The decrepit ngoga

skeleton fights until
destroyed. If it
is not destroyed
permanently, it
reanimates in 1
hour and begins
stalking the
complex, attacking
anyone or anything it
finds. It does not leave
the Blighted Temple.

The Blighted Temple covers everything on the map on page 11.

Might not have made a difference, just wanted to mention it.


Paul Jackson wrote:
I have no clue why the map for the lake consisted of the woodlands flip map. I guess there is a tiny, tiny pond on that map that is maybe meant to represent a lake? But given that 3 huge crocodiles would literally not fit into the pond that seems suspect.

In another forum discussing this, the same notion was floated -- that it's impossible and a new lake needs to be drawn. I wrote a long post to address that, and I thought I should drop it here too, in case it helps any new GMs. (I wrote this for a new-ish GM.) First note: the monsters are not technically huge size; they're large size. I realize you probably wrote "huge" with no intention of meaning the actual "huge size" but just in case I thought I'd clarify. They're large, they can fit (barely, but they have land speeds, so who cares, they can get out of the water).

Here are the details that I think are PFS compliant.


  • The scenario does not place the monsters on the map. This is good, this is leeway.
  • The river/lake is 20' deep. That's also good. It gives room in 3 dimensions.
  • The rule about being able to impose environmental rules even if not called out in the module (from the PFS role play guide) is also nice -- it means you can utilize squeezing rules, depth, impose 1/4 swim for any PCs who get in the water without a swim speed, etc. You could even use the trees shown to grant cover -- possibly one of the 3 monsters is sunning itself behind a tree, and wouldn't normally be seen. So they don't all have to be in the water.

A Trick, but Be Careful

You are not obligated to print out the maps and use those print-outs. You don't have to buy the official flip mat. Most people have a cheap erasable battlemat, and they write in a map that resembles the printed version. Technically, if a map is provided, you have to adhere to it. However, humans are imperfect and nobody is going to scream if you, for example, forgot to draw in one of the trees. Because of this, when you draw out this river/lake, you could make the tributary wider. Even just adding a few feet, so that it's at least 10' wide in all areas, would be helpful and hardly noticed.

However, here are the drawbacks:


  • It's possible the author wanted the underwater PCs to be able to get into the narrower parts to force squeezing on any big monster that gives chase. In other words, it might be deliberate to help anyone overwhelmed. Squeezing would impose a -4 to AC & attack rolls, if I remember correctly, so a PC in trouble might swim into the narrow portion in order to nerf the monster. And since the PCs are likely only medium sized, they wouldn't have the squeezing rules, so it confers a huge advantage for anyone in trouble.
  • Making any part even 1' wider will mean that the DC to jump over it increases. It's possible a player might want to get to the other side -- especially if you've stashed one of the monsters over there and it hasn't had a chance to close in yet. So widening things might increase difficulty, and that might upset players (and technically, they'd be correct to be upset about that, because by the rules we're not allowed to change skill check DCs).

How I'd Do It

I'd leave the map as-is or almost as-is. You'll notice in the upper right part of the water that there are some 2x2 blocks that are almost clear. If only a small corner is impinged upon, I might give that no squeezing. This clears some extra spaces for the monsters near the top. So here's how I'd arrange it:


  • 1 monster in the north east corner where the tributary meets the lake, not squeezing. I'd put this one just a few feet under water -- enough so that plausibly it cannot be seen, but close enough to the surface that it can "dive down" to bite at something below it. This does 2 things: it gives the monster +8 to AC against people on the surface (see cover rules for water), and it gives the monster +1 to attack vs. anyone below it (higher ground for melee). Also, it has a swim speed, so on a surprise round it could 5' step toward an enemy and bite, if it's lucky.
  • 1 monster in the southern tributary, squeezing, also near the surface. This one needs to be placed carefully. You impose movement restrictions based upon the square being moved into. In other words, if you are under squeezing rules, you can only move half-speed -- but IF the next square you move into is free of that restriction, then you can move there without restriction. What does this mean? It means you can put the monster into a squeeze, but it can still 5' step out if you place it carefully. Place it so that when it 5' moves, it is in a 2x2 block that is free & clear.
  • 1 monster I'd put mostly dead center in the lake, but at the very bottom. The bottom is 20', the monster is 10' so a medium creature swimming on the surface cannot be bit from underneath. However, the moment they get 5' underwater, the monster will have an attack.

Another possibility would be to put one of them off the map to the south. Say it's underwater next to a beach, so that it has a clear and unhindered line to a target, but cannot be seen. Then wait until one of the other monsters underwater strikes, and then invoke the unseen monster's swift run or whatever that ability is that it has to get extra movement, so that it can charge across the beach toward someone standing out of the water, on the surprise round of combat. That might seem pretty smart for a monster like this, but all you need to do is watch a nature documentary about them to witness them doing this all the time, even to humans. I believe 2 or 3 humans have died in just the last year due to this kind of thing.

Word of Caution

It's possible that you will kill the PCs that are underwater. The monster gets too many advantages -- +13 to stealth while having low-light vision (so it can see the PCs but they will have a miserable time seeing them until it's too late), a free grapple with the bite, and a free "roll" with grapple that imposes the prone position and deals damage. On a single surprise round you could do 26 points of damage (bite + roll), which should take out most low-level PCs and then you'd impose drowning rules, but the other PCs would be busy fighting the other monsters, so nobody would rescue the drowning PC, and so 2 rounds later, the PC would be automatically dead.

That's super unfair -- we turn the fight from "this is dumb and doesn't even fit in the mini-lake" into "everybody dies." So here's a nuance to note. If you only look at the monster stat block, it appears that the roll is free with a grapple, and it gets a free grapple with the grab from its bite. In other words, it appears you get grab/grapple/roll if the bite hits. However, you don't. Flip to the back of the book, look up "grab" and you'll see this sentence: "A successful hold does not deal any extra damage unless the creature also has the constrict special attack."

In other words, the grab ability IS a grapple, but it specifically bars anyone from doing extra grapple damage, with one exception (constrict). This means you bite + grab/grapple on surprise, dealing max of 12 HP. Then IF you get the grapple to work, on the next turn the monster can try to make a grapple check again, and if so, deal 1d8+6 from the roll.

This linear progression of damage might save the PCs. They'll get hurt on first bite, but not die, and then it'll continue each round at a predicable pace. This gives them a chance to fight back or escape or anything. They'll need that chance, if you do this right.

.*.*.*.*

Having written that, I have to defer to all of you to pick this apart, correct it, or even use it & enjoy it as-is. I have not yet played the module, and I have only read the bare minimum to help a person figure out the map and run the combat encounter. So I don't yet want to read any more about the module, until I've played it in 2 week's time. So I probably won't come back into this topic for a while. But good luck to all of you running the encounter. Have fun.

Dark Archive ***

Played this today at low tier and had a lot of fun. Here's an interesting twist: I brought my own Grippli Fiend Keeper.

I intentionally chose Grrprr for this two parter for geographic reasons. He's from the Kaava Lands, and I saw that part 1 was in Sargava, so I brought my geographically appropriate PC who speaks the local language. I had no idea that part 2 would actually take place in the Kaava Lands, or that the role of Fiend Keeper would be a major plot element.

Grrprr decided to stick around after the adventure was over to help train Purpurrup as the new Fiend Keeper for that place. I also managed to recruit her for the Dark Archive. Being good aligned, but taking advantage of magic from dark sources, is what he does as a Fiend Keeper, so the DArchive suits him.

Sovereign Court *** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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I played it last saturday and I was mildly disappointed.

Caimans in the water? Ooooh, like every pond or river in PFS ever its filled with crocodiles. Unless the entire party dove into the water, three CR2 crocs isn't going to challenge a L4-5 party.

Halflings - they're not really impressive, and fighting the same enemies three times in a row is really lame. At least the middle encounter could have been skipped altogether.

The Ngoga skeleton - the setup of the encounter is a bit insulting. You're asked to lay its spirit to rest, and after you do that it rises up and attacks you. Well color you stupid.

My biggest complaint however is in the presentation of Parveen. A scary fiend trapped in a dungeon isn't all that original, but usually you at least get a glance at the fiend, to impress the players with how important it is that it doesn't escape. In this case however, you get a History check with a DC scaling on tier to learn the point of the adventure. That this DC is difficult and tier-scaled is stupid, because it's not important to mission success or prestige - it's only for giving players the satisfaction of knowing what the adventure was about.

My take is: not nearly all players have any clue who Jatembe is. Few players know what asuras are, that they're drawn to the ruins of religious errors, and that if slain they just reincarnate. (The most recent fiend-imprisoned-by-cyclopes adventure had a fiend that could be final-deathed.)

I would skip the history check, and instead include a big mural in the hall of broken idols, just before the PCs move into the final room. On that mural the Magic Warriors responsible for imprisoning Parveen explain it:


  • They show Parveen wandering the world, causing mayhem. In many of the pictures he is killed and reincarnates again.
  • They show Parveen drinking from the Chalice, and seeing the visions of the cyclopes.
  • They show Parveen meditating and reaching enlightenment, while lesser asuras show up.
  • They show the battle between the Magic Warriors and Parveen. This is a Godzillah-like battle with lots of collateral damage. Finally the Magic Warriors triump, and they imprison Parveen.

The Magic Warriors who did the imprisoning wanted to impress on everyone just how important it was not to go in there, so they write down arning captions for the panels in "eternal" languages like draconic, celestial and elemental languages (which by now many PCs have a chance to read).

This gives the players going into the final room an impression of just how important it is what they're doing. And when they go into that room include some more dead halflings in the description that got fried by wards as they tried to break through the wall.

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

Running tomorrow after part one. We'll see how our massive crew does.

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

OK, I'm an OK GM, but I'm confused by the sting attack, which in the PRD (and my copy of Bestiary 3) gives the sting attack +7, but Karan in tier 1-2 its +8, and in Tier 4-5 its +6. So how has this been worked out, cos I can't see it.

I know Kalan doesn't get to use the sting from the tactics, but I guess I'm just being picky, as I'm gonna make some stat cards for PaizoCon UK. So I can use them and share if anyone would want them.

Sovereign Court *** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The +8 on low tier looks incorrect. The +7 from the Bestiary seems correct: +3 BAB, +2 Dex/Finesse, +2 size.

The high tier should be BAB + 5, +4 Dex/Finesse, +2 size = +11.

I think in the statblock he's taking a -5 for a secondary natural weapon, which is only correct if he's also using the glaive in the same full attack.

If he's not using the glaive, it's his only natural attack, and therefore automatically a primary natural attack.

Dark Archive ***

I'm currently prepping this scenario for next Wednesday, running it on high tier. It is pretty straightforward, which is kinda nice after part I (which took me a long time to properly prep, went quite well that one). I agree with several "adjustments" people upstream have made, especially Lau's. There needs to be information about what the scary thing is that is being imprisoned here. So the mural suggestion is actually a good idea to get that across, otherwise nobody knows why it is so urgent to stop the Halfling tribe (next to them being evil murderhobos).

The river/lake is indeed a bit small for 3 crocodiles. Luckily, I usually draw the maps myself, so widening the waters a bit is not a problem.

I also think it is important to get Parveen's influence across when the players have finished the prayer for the Ngoga's. Simply speaking the prayer and then just having them animate as Bloody Skeletons is just gonna make them think of treachery by Akmon. To make it clear that it is being done by another force, I think I'm going to describe a faint glimmering across the bones (some holy description), with a sudden violent lash of dark energy coming from below through the stones, unwilling to let this re-sanctioning run its course. Or something like that.

The only thing that has me really stumped, is the Giant Frilled Lizard... And its tactics... It's supposed to be hiding under the table. You know, the 8 ft. tall table where small and medium creatures can easily walk under without squeezing, and can clearly look under. Not only is it in full sight, apparently it is also squeezing (it is large). The only way it might be able to stealth, is by hiding behind the large chairs that are placed around said table, but that brings another problem... The tactics state that it uses its Intimidating Charge. It is squeezing, and its way is blocked by large stone chairs. It cannot charge, and everyone can see him... How did other people handle this? Because I have no idea how to run that creature at this moment.

Sovereign Court *** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

We played 4-player high tier so it wasn't in there.

But yeah, having something to hide behind and having a clear charge lane is a tall order. It might be possible if using concealment from poor lighting. However, that's going to result in the combat taking place most off-map where the halflings can't participate much.

gripe:

This is one of those encounters that I really would like to rewrite. I would have the lizard lurking behind the table - clearly visible to players, but with substantial cover. So then they move into the room, and the halflings have all been hiding just around the door or on the stairs behind the backing, and suddenly your're surrounded by a big lizard on one side and cannibal halflings on the other. Really, the only way this encounter could impress me is by surrounding the players and getting that "crap, they've cut off our escape" feeling.

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

which makes me think of...:
"They've got us surrounded again, the poor bastards."

Silver Crusade ***

Watchmen:
"I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me."


As a player, my game only took about 2 or 2.5 hours. However, reading it now (and noting that the ngoga may fight the party twice) leads me to believe that I'll probably need all 4 hours to run this as a GM. I feel like I might even go to 4.5 hours if I run the optional.

What about the rest of you, GMs? How fast was your experience?

Mr. Bonkers wrote:
The only thing that has me really stumped, is the Giant Frilled Lizard... And its tactics... It's supposed to be hiding under the table. You know, the 8 ft. tall table where small and medium creatures can easily walk under without squeezing, and can clearly look under. Not only is it in full sight, apparently it is also squeezing (it is large). The only way it might be able to stealth, is by hiding behind the large chairs that are placed around said table, but that brings another problem... The tactics state that it uses its Intimidating Charge. It is squeezing, and its way is blocked by large stone chairs.

To be fair, the rule about what applies to your character during movement is always the square you step into. So if you are in difficult terrain but the square next to you is clear, you can 5' step to it. Similarly, if a monster is squeezing, but the next 5' of movement is stepping into not-squeezing space, then the creature doesn't have that squeezing rule as they start movement.

Unfortunately, this won't help the creature with the stone chairs. Those just ruin things, and I don't know of any rule minutae that can help. (Oh! Yes, I do know! On a different Paizo forum [maybe the rules forum?], someone asked if jumping over difficult terrain would allow a PC to ignore the difficult terrain and get off a charge. A dev answered "yes." Some GMs hated that and FAQ'd it, and the devs came back with a "Suck it, we won't answer FAQs on this 'cuz you already got your answer." So if somehow this critter could magically leap over the chairs even without a running start, it would get the charge off. Unfortunately, we can see from the stat block that this ain't going to happen. Oh! Another idea: can't you overrun to get off a charge? Maaaayybe that works against furniture?)

Silver Crusade *

The Lizard is Large, the chairs (albeit they are made of stone and supposedly sized for cyclopes) are Medium. Seems reasonable enough that the Lizard can bowl them over or push them aside when it charges out from underneath the table?

Scarab Sages ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

RE Lizard Tactics- -

Overerun is a standard action or as part of a charge. So the lizard could OR the chair, but that is essentially it's entire turn - but it would trigger its scary frills ability (which may be the intent). It could be a cool scene of it charging out of hiding tossing furniture around and frilling - everyone make a will save vs. Fear, then that ends its turn.

Works really well if the lizard goes first and the halflings follow it up. Less cinematic if it acts late in the round after the PCs have dropped a few halflings...


Ugh. Just looking over the frilled lizard fight in prep for a game, and it's even worse than I imagined. Not because of the lizard, but because of the tactics of the Hazh'a warriors. Low tier, their "during combat" section says:

Quote:
The Hazh'a warriors attempt to climb onto the table to get higher ground, then fire upon lone targets with their bows.

Someone in this topic already lambasted the idea that "higher ground" applies to bows (it doesn't) so that tactic is useless. However, the other part -- the climbing -- is tactically terrible too. The climbing rules state:

PRD wrote:
You need both hands free to climb, but you may cling to a wall with one hand while you cast a spell or take some other action that requires only one hand. While climbing, you can’t move to avoid a blow, so you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). You also can’t use a shield while climbing.

Luckily, it seems like a light shield can still be worn but it just doesn't count into the AC bonus. So they spend the opening round to do a full action climb check, which would get them 10' up, which is enough to be on the table. However, during the climb they have lost their Dex bonus to AC and their shield bonus to AC, and since the scenario says they didn't post a lookout, it's likely they are being threatened as they climb. So, free AOO on any Hazh'a warrior with a PC adjacent.

Then there is this part of the climbing rules:

PRD wrote:
Anytime you take damage while climbing, make a Climb check against the DC of the slope or wall. Failure means you fall from your current height and sustain the appropriate falling damage.

Pretty much anyone hit will immediately fall. The good news is that falling a few feet isn't enough to cause damage, and the rule about being prone if you fall only comes into effect if you take damage. So they will fall, but not be prone, and not be damaged by the fall. However, this essentially leaves them right back where they started (on the ground) but with 1 round lost and bad AC (at least while they climbed). Oh, and they won't have any weapons in hand, because they needed their hands to climb.

My conclusion? Probably all this fight is useful for is to see if the warriors die so quickly that they cannot even launch a thunderstone to alert the other rooms. ...Umm... hmm. Actually they aren't even useful for that. Hearing the sound of battle is a DC -10. Even with some penalties for distance, the DC is still going to be an unavoidably easy DC of -5 for the monsters in the other room to hear it. So the thunderstones are actually useless, the fight is useless, and it's probably over on round 1 if you run it as the tactics direct.

Meh.


aboyd wrote:
So they spend the opening round to do a full action climb check, which would get them 10' up, which is enough to be on the table.

I just checked the climb rules. You can only do a climb check with a move action, not a full round action. So they'll climb 5 up with the first move action, then do it again to get on top of the table. So these poor dudes need to pass two DC 10 climb checks to get up there, and they only have a +1 to climb. That's a 25% chance they pull it off, roughly. So on average in all the low-tier games, 1 of the 3 will pull it off. The others will fall to the floor, pulling out weapons (when they have an action to do so).

Dark Archive ***

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So, I ran this yesterday at high tier, and it went pretty good. The party consisted of lvl 5 Cleric, lvl 5 Investigator, lvl 4 Warpriest, lvl 4 Ranger, lvl 3 Swashbuckler and a lvl 2 Witch

They decided to help Purpurrup with burying her fallen kin before doing anything else, followed by half of the party drinking from the well. The three small characters drank from it, while the medium characters didn't, so it was treated as if the "adults" were babysitting three stoned "children" at the beginning.

The battle at the lake lasted longer than expected, since they decided to stay at the edge of the water for the first few rounds (improved cover shenanigans). But when the creatures exited the water, the battle ended after a single round.

Then the "Lizard" battle. I made it hide under the table behind two chairs. Surprisingly, it has a good stealth modifier for a large creature. When its turn came, I used the suggestion up-thread that it bashes the chairs away during the charge. It was the smallest change I could make to keep the encounter as much as written. They expected far more combat viability from the Halflings, but seriously, they suck.

The Ngoga skeleton battle was scary, as they spawned next to half of the party. The lvl 5 cleric with Quick Channel pumped out all but 1 channel during that combat to keep everyone alive. After combat they put the Bloody Skeletons out of commission by sprinkling the remains.

Then the Hall of Broken Gods. It was stated that the Halflings stealth in that chamber, so I had them stealth inside the rubble. The surprise round allowed them to close in on the only human in the party, and due to high initiative, managed to maul him savagely. After that, they fell quickly.

At Lau's suggestion, I placed the background information (aka the reason why you're doing this) in this room. I also added that the party that did drink from the well, didn't see these carvings in their "past vision", which indicated that this was created after the fall of the Ghol Gan empire. It allowed my party to realize what exactly was going on, next to getting rid of murderous Halfling squatters, so I consider that a success.

The final battle was alright, but with two archers on the team (with special arrows) the decision of the BBEG to climb the wall beforehand was a huge tactical error. Luckily, his high AC allowed him to survive a bit to get a Spiritual Weapon off (which critted on the third round, knocking the cleric out). And Ray of Enfeeblement is underappreciated, it works wonders against archers with Composite Bows.

All in all, the party had a good time and it all went smoothly.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
aboyd wrote:
aboyd wrote:
So they spend the opening round to do a full action climb check, which would get them 10' up, which is enough to be on the table.
I just checked the climb rules. You can only do a climb check with a move action, not a full round action. So they'll climb 5 up with the first move action, then do it again to get on top of the table. So these poor dudes need to pass two DC 10 climb checks to get up there, and they only have a +1 to climb. That's a 25% chance they pull it off, roughly. So on average in all the low-tier games, 1 of the 3 will pull it off. The others will fall to the floor, pulling out weapons (when they have an action to do so).

Or they can roll such low initiatives that the party gets a drop on them and the tactic to climb becomes too dumb when someone is in there face.

Getting on the table gives them a tactical advantage in that it hampers parties melee only characters who will have a hard time reaching them. At least that's they way it played out when I played it.

Scarab Sages ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
roysier wrote:
aboyd wrote:
aboyd wrote:
So they spend the opening round to do a full action climb check, which would get them 10' up, which is enough to be on the table.
I just checked the climb rules. You can only do a climb check with a move action, not a full round action. So they'll climb 5 up with the first move action, then do it again to get on top of the table. So these poor dudes need to pass two DC 10 climb checks to get up there, and they only have a +1 to climb. That's a 25% chance they pull it off, roughly. So on average in all the low-tier games, 1 of the 3 will pull it off. The others will fall to the floor, pulling out weapons (when they have an action to do so).

Or they can roll such low initiatives that the party gets a drop on them and the tactic to climb becomes too dumb when someone is in there face.

Getting on the table gives them a tactical advantage in that it hampers parties melee only characters who will have a hard time reaching them. At least that's they way it played out when I played it.

They can accelerate climb at half speed (the total distance to climb is 8ft). I'd argue that they can draw their weapon in that last 2' of movement when they have both hands free at the top, thus allowing them the possibility of getting to the top of the table in a single move action (while drawing their bows) and getting off one shot.

That's a hard check (they're +1-5 to get a DC 10, so only a 35% chance of success).

You could also have the Halflings hiding on the chairs (instead of the ground), if they hear the PCs coming. In that situation, they might be only a four-foot DC 5 climb away from the table-top (GM discretion...).

Don't stress about it too much. No Monster tactics ever survives contact with the players.

**

So I ran this game and it went wonderfully for the most part. It was a really fun time. (Note: the players may have loved or hated it. I'm only saying that I had fun and it seemed to go over well.)

However, a question came up at the end. I think I could ask this as a general question for GMs, but it's in relation to a specific item in the adventure, so I'm going to ask here.

Due to feats/powers like Trap Spotter I know that I am not supposed to just say to players as they approach things "Give me a Perception check." They don't get that stuff for free, unless they have those special powers or feats. So they have to say they're searching, and maybe expend move actions on it, depending upon how you interpret the rules.

Well. There is a hidden weapon in this module. The players were in a rush, because they had buffs up. So they missed it. At the end of the module, I lingered. I wanted to give them a chance to find it, even if they just made a blanket statement like "We take 20 to search the entire area." They didn't. So I asked what they wanted to do to wrap up. Some players wanted to spend days using Mending and other magic to fix the broken relics and holy symbols, and they put together a makeshift shrine. Another player worked on Puppurrup to convert her to his faction. I waited, heard no more, and narrated them doing those things, narrated them returning to the VC and doing a de-briefing. Then I ended, and started work on Chronicle sheets.

And I had to remove some treasure because of that missed hidden weapon.

The players were pissed. One player said, "But it's assumed that we are going to explore. Of course we're going to find it."

Another player said, "I knew there was something in that giant tree stump. I'm searching there." (It's not there. And why would his character, after having happily closed out the session, suddenly have an urge to race to a tree stump to search it?)

Anyway, I was surprised, so I dumbly muttered, "But the session is over. We're filling out Chronicle sheets." They said that was stupid and unfair, like an arbitrary cutoff.

(In context: this is the mace or morningstar that is hidden in the broken parts of the table & chairs. By the time they would have looked, if I had allowed them to retcon it, they would have needed the highest DC, since their Cyclops vision had long since worn off.)

What do you think I should have done? What's a good thing to say in that situation? I'm going to run it again in a few weeks, and I'd like to know how to handle this better next time.

Sovereign Court *** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Well if they're going around fixing up the place, they could have run into it.

But mostly it sounds like a difference in assumptions between you and your players. You assumed they do whatever they say they do, nothing more. They assumed that as soon as they had the place secured they'd thoroughly search/document/pathfinder it.

I'd probably be lenient about this the first time, since I don't like punishing players for misunderstandings. But also tell them that next time they need to be more explicit about what they're doing.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—Manchester aka Merisal The Risen

There is also the matter of what's a medium sized weapon doing in a cyclops cache. I think I will add a cyclops child playing under the table to my vision which if they make the easier perception check the player spots he's making sure the paving slab fits flush to the others with his fist.

Dark Archive ***

Jeff Cook wrote:
There is also the matter of what's a medium sized weapon doing in a cyclops cache. I think I will add a cyclops child playing under the table to my vision which if they make the easier perception check the player spots he's making sure the paving slab fits flush to the others with his fist.

Actually, it is stated in the scenario why it is there.

Page 12 wrote:
Within the cubby are a trinket the cyclopes recovered from would-be “demon slayers”. In Subtier 1–2, this consists of a masterwork cold iron morningstar. In Subtier 4–5, it is a +1 cold iron morningstar.

Either someone was stupid/brave and entered the cyclops's dining room to save someone, or he was already in the kidnap-sack and tried to attack while being grabbed out of it. Either way, the Cyclopes laughed, took his "trinket", tossed it in the drawer, and ate him/her.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—Manchester aka Merisal The Risen

Mr. Bonkers wrote:


Actually, it is stated in the scenario why it is there.
Page 12 wrote:
Within the cubby are a trinket the cyclopes recovered from would-be “demon slayers”. In Subtier 1–2, this consists of a masterwork cold iron morningstar. In Subtier 4–5, it is a +1 cold iron morningstar.
Either someone was stupid/brave and entered the cyclops's dining room to save someone, or he was already in the kidnap-sack and tried to attack while being grabbed out of it. Either way, the Cyclopes laughed, took his "trinket", tossed it in the drawer, and ate him/her.

And that's what i get for thinking that's odd and not double checking the adventure.

Silver Crusade **

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:

Well if they're going around fixing up the place, they could have run into it.

But mostly it sounds like a difference in assumptions between you and your players. You assumed they do whatever they say they do, nothing more. They assumed that as soon as they had the place secured they'd thoroughly search/document/pathfinder it.

I'd probably be lenient about this the first time, since I don't like punishing players for misunderstandings. But also tell them that next time they need to be more explicit about what they're doing.

I certainly assume that once we have possession of a site/area, my character, at least, is going to search/document/pathfinder it. It is in the basic tenets of the Society. If we have to run away or the site blows up, or something, we certainly miss out.

I hated 5-09 The Traitor's Lodge.

Spoiler:
What are people doing sitting down studying for hours in an unsafe basement with just a door between them and the unknown? Clear the area so you can study. But noooooo. In this contrived situation, that's impossible. I should still go back and write a review for it.

Sovereign Court *** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

DesolateHarmony wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:

Well if they're going around fixing up the place, they could have run into it.

But mostly it sounds like a difference in assumptions between you and your players. You assumed they do whatever they say they do, nothing more. They assumed that as soon as they had the place secured they'd thoroughly search/document/pathfinder it.

I'd probably be lenient about this the first time, since I don't like punishing players for misunderstandings. But also tell them that next time they need to be more explicit about what they're doing.

I certainly assume that once we have possession of a site/area, my character, at least, is going to search/document/pathfinder it. It is in the basic tenets of the Society. If we have to run away or the site blows up, or something, we certainly miss out.

I hated 5-09 The Traitor's Lodge.
** spoiler omitted **

I happen to be prepping that one for the weekend. I know what you mean, and you're not wrong, but there are some counterarguments.


  • By going deeper into [whatever abandoned area you're exploring] you may wake things up, raise an alarm or destabilize the structure, putting the current area in jeopardy. Therefore the current area should be thoroughly mined.

    Anything that's been stationary in it's current dungeon room for months/years/centuries is probably content to stay there for a little longer.

  • Stuff you discover in the current area may prepare you for challenges to be faced later on.

    Especially if the writer puts clues in the current area about how the endboss can be injured, or how to survive his deadly attack.

  • Players have limited memories. They're often not that good at remembering "oh, there was a book in the earlier area that we didn't study yet, maybe we should backtrack there". And then the GM needs to remind and handhold players through the adventure to make things work out - not so great for the story.

So yeah, there's a bit of meta in there, but a good rule to live by is;

Loot and study each room as if you might not be getting a chance to come back there.

Silver Crusade ****

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

For what it's worth, I'm going to be running this Friday night and I'm going to re-use the lakeside map from 04-05 The Sanos Abduction. It's one that, when I printed it out and laminated it the first time, I decided to keep it around because lakefronts are just incredibly useful and we don't see very many maps made for them. ('course, I'm running online, but at least I remembered it existed.) If you need a map for an online game or you've got Sanos Abduction in your downloads it might be worth looking into.

Sovereign Court *** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Terminalmancer wrote:
For what it's worth, I'm going to be running this Friday night and I'm going to re-use the lakeside map from 04-05 The Sanos Abduction. It's one that, when I printed it out and laminated it the first time, I decided to keep it around because lakefronts are just incredibly useful and we don't see very many maps made for them. ('course, I'm running online, but at least I remembered it existed.) If you need a map for an online game or you've got Sanos Abduction in your downloads it might be worth looking into.

That's not a bad idea. It's got a good proportion of water-to-land so that people don't fall off the map as soon as someone takes a step or swim backwards. This one could be a good addition to my repertoire.

It's also a nicely-defined map, with shrubs nearly mapped to either-in-a-square-or-not, without looking blocky.

Silver Crusade *

I ran this at PaizoCon UK last weekend, and it was fun.

I had one of those parties that sometimes get thrown together at conventions. Team Barbarian! High Tier, 6 players. Barbarian, Barbarian, Skald, Two-Handed-Fighter/Barbarian, Sorcerer/Barbarian (going Dragon Disciple), and a Fighter (who resolutely refused Raging Song throughout).

Knowing that most of the enemies in this adventure are melee-oriented, I couldn't see the party having much trouble. The Ngogas did some damage. And the end boss was proving problematic until one of the barbarians remembered his bow was a +4 STR rated composite bow and promptly critted with a cold iron arrow. But they did fine really. I gave them some exposition at the end courtesy of the grippli reinforcements.

It did run short, because Team Barbarian made short work of most of the fights. 4 of them drank from the well. The group's interactions were the best part.

Silver Crusade ***** RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 aka GreySector

What is the cyclops name for Kaddodi? This seems like an obvious question to ask Akmon but I don't see an answer in the scenario.

Silver Crusade *

Michael Eshleman wrote:
What is the cyclops name for Kaddodi? This seems like an obvious question to ask Akmon but I don't see an answer in the scenario.

No answer is given. If the players ask Akmon about Kaddodi, he says "I know not this name, but if you refer to my city...." (top of page 8).

You can make up a name if the players really want one.

Silver Crusade ****

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

"Kaddodi is as good a name as any other. It is no longer the city I knew. It deserves not that name."

(that's what I was prepared to say if anyone asked...)

Shadow Lodge ****

You can't go back to Constantinople

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