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So... We're supposed to murder-hobo?


Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild

Sovereign Court *

So my group just finished playing #6-23: The Darkest Abduction, and pretty much everyone hated it. Aside from the classical issues of railroading and horrible plot coherence, there seemed to be an even bigger problem.

Spoiler:
It seems that the only way to avoid paying a ton of gold or losing prestige points is to attack a neutral, cooperative NPC. To me, attacking an NPC because you don't like the price they're asking for information seems to be an explicitly evil act. You know, like we aren't supposed to do. Apparently in this case, our options were to either A) be penalized or B) decide that the entire list of ideals of the pathfinder society should be sidelined. He was far from hostile towards us, and in fact seemed quite morally neutral as far as we could tell. Aside from that, "you owe us a favor" turning into "lose some prestige and fame" seems to be an absolutely dumb leap.

We refer to this where I play as a "Screw the PCs" scenario, and probably the worst many of us have seen. But going forward, it seems to suggest an even bigger problem.

This encounter could have best been resolved by needlessly attacking an NPC. Is this the takeaway we want here? Next time someone suggests taking a purely murder-hobo approach, I have no argument to give them. It seems that either this is purposefully designed to screw over players or that its designed to give this message.


I cannot think of a scenario that we've enjoyed less, and that is a quite extensive list to consider.

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

No, that is not the norm.

***

That encounter is an excellent opportunity to sell old or unused magic items at full market price.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

5 people marked this as a favorite.

The best thing to do is for you and all players from the table go in and review the scenario on its product page. Paizo staff look at those reviews closely to get feedback on what is/not working in scenarios to improve future production.

Sovereign Court *

@GM ofAnything
We tried bartering items away in exchange, but were explicitly told that wasn't an option- is the scenario written otherwise?

@Bob Jonquet
I will definitely have everyone do that. It was a frustrating experience that seemed so counter-intuitive to what everyone else's pathfinder experience had been

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

3 people marked this as a favorite.

The scenario is written otherwise. I'm sad to hear a mistake was made on that point.

*

^this

From the scenario text:

Spoiler:
The PCs can offer to pay in material goods—most
likely gold, but possibly a magic item with an equivalent
market price. In Subtier 7–8, their price is...

Not fond of the scenario myself, but this particular problem was probably just the GM missing a line. You're still paying, so that's still a problem, but it doesn't have to be cash.

Sczarni *****

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Huh. We didn't pay gold, or murderhobo.

For those that have played it:
Although that last fight was a doozy, and we had to flee, and hence our allies died and we lost Prestige that way.

Sooo... Table variation?

***

How I ran it:
When I ran this one, I tried to play up the prejudice against the swampers and portray the group in a more sympathetic light to the PCs who realized that was going on. The swampers were brusque, but clearly interested in using the money to help their community.

I don't think Pathfinders shouldn't be particularly stingy when trying to rescue an abducted girl, so I don't see it as a penalty or punishment.

Scarab Sages *****

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I hated just about everything about this scenario.

Its billed as an investigation, but really is just a railroad.

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

This scenario is an interesting case study in player expectations not matching system expectations. Specifically how the amount you have to pay is well within the wealth-by-level guidelines for "expendables, consumables, and services" when split among the players. And this scenario actually offers slightly more gold than normal as a reward.

But as players we've gotten used to keeping all of our gold to spend on items.

Sovereign Court *****

Nefreet wrote:

Huh. We didn't pay gold, or murderhobo.

** spoiler omitted **

Sooo... Table variation?

It wasn't just your allies that died!

*

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Kevin Willis wrote:

This scenario is an interesting case study in player expectations not matching system expectations. Specifically how the amount you have to pay is well within the wealth-by-level guidelines for "expendables, consumables, and services" when split among the players. And this scenario actually offers slightly more gold than normal as a reward.

But as players we've gotten used to keeping all of our gold to spend on items.

I don't know if I'd say that. Comparing to a few of my other chronicles, it might give extra gold equal to roughly 1/10 to 2/5 of the amount in question (assuming 6 players.) However, it actually gives less gold than some other scenarios I've played in the same season and tier.

Even if we assume that it's giving 20% of the amount back... that's still a semi-forced expenditure that the Society isn't reimbursing you for. Being forced to spend your own money to do the Society's job tends to leave a bad taste in people's mouth.

Sczarni *****

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Zavorokhina wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

Huh. We didn't pay gold, or murderhobo.

** spoiler omitted **

Sooo... Table variation?

It wasn't just your allies that died!

He got better!

Sovereign Court ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
shaventalz wrote:
Kevin Willis wrote:

This scenario is an interesting case study in player expectations not matching system expectations. Specifically how the amount you have to pay is well within the wealth-by-level guidelines for "expendables, consumables, and services" when split among the players. And this scenario actually offers slightly more gold than normal as a reward.

But as players we've gotten used to keeping all of our gold to spend on items.

I don't know if I'd say that. Comparing to a few of my other chronicles, it might give extra gold equal to roughly 1/10 to 2/5 of the amount in question (assuming 6 players.) However, it actually gives less gold than some other scenarios I've played in the same season and tier.

Even if we assume that it's giving 20% of the amount back... that's still a semi-forced expenditure that the Society isn't reimbursing you for. Being forced to spend your own money to do the Society's job tends to leave a bad taste in people's mouth.

I'm curious if you similarly object to the 10-20gp bribes for information in tier 1-5 scenarios.

*

KingOfAnything wrote:
shaventalz wrote:
Kevin Willis wrote:

This scenario is an interesting case study in player expectations not matching system expectations. Specifically how the amount you have to pay is well within the wealth-by-level guidelines for "expendables, consumables, and services" when split among the players. And this scenario actually offers slightly more gold than normal as a reward.

But as players we've gotten used to keeping all of our gold to spend on items.

I don't know if I'd say that. Comparing to a few of my other chronicles, it might give extra gold equal to roughly 1/10 to 2/5 of the amount in question (assuming 6 players.) However, it actually gives less gold than some other scenarios I've played in the same season and tier.

Even if we assume that it's giving 20% of the amount back... that's still a semi-forced expenditure that the Society isn't reimbursing you for. Being forced to spend your own money to do the Society's job tends to leave a bad taste in people's mouth.

I'm curious if you similarly object to the 10-20gp bribes for information in tier 1-5 scenarios.

Proportionally, this is more like a 50-60 gold bribe per person in the 1-2 subtier.

Spoiler:
EDIT: With a single chance to using a very high DC skill check to cut it in half

Yes, I would object to that as well. 10-20gp split six ways isn't nearly as bad.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

I just look at it differently. As Pathfinders we get to keep all the loot while we adventure not to mention earning the Fame/prestige that comes with it that equates to free goods and services. Sure we risk our lives, but this is adventuring in Medieval times not working on Wall Street. Not to mention the meta side which is the enjoyment of the game and time with friends. Sometimes I have to spend a little to get my reward. Its not like you're giving up everything. So you have to spend a few gold pieces here and there, I just don't get why this is an issue. YMMV

Scarab Sages *****

Bob Jonquet wrote:
I just look at it differently. As Pathfinders we get to keep all the loot while we adventure not to mention earning the Fame/prestige that comes with it that equates to free goods and services. Sure we risk our lives, but this is adventuring in Medieval times not working on Wall Street. Not to mention the meta side which is the enjoyment of the game and time with friends. Sometimes I have to spend a little to get my reward. Its not like you're giving up everything. So you have to spend a few gold pieces here and there, I just don't get why this is an issue. YMMV

I personally don't mind spending a few here and there. But in situations like this, where it seems like other options, a well placed bluff, or some really awesome diplomacy could be rewarded for creative players. But essentially deus ex machina says, "Nope, gotta pay or fight." It completely negates anyone who makes their character to be a master negotiator. Am I suggesting that no "cost" should be paid and that someone who min/maxes the crap outta there diplomacy or bluff should be able to essentially, "get out of every encounter"? No. But they should be able to find a different option than pay significant gold or fight.

It was just a very poorly conceived scenario from the start to finish.

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

Diplomacy does reduce the cost, as I recall.

Sovereign Court ***

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm not a fan of how much "Diplomacy is mind-control" can creep into the game. I like that it has a meaningful effect, but doesn't completely negate the encounter.

Scarab Sages *****

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Diplomacy does reduce the cost, as I recall.

Yup, it does. But it is still a contrived result that doesn't truly reflect the fact that characters of that level shouldn't have to have two options. There should have been leeway built in for creative solutions. Ultimately it may mean that some resource has to be expended, but a bit better constructed and it becomes a lot more palatable if the players think they've won.

Giving the GM tools by which to work so the NPCs might accept different things is also helpful. As it stands, its pay or fight. And the insult to injury, is its an encounter that really doesn't need to happen at all based on how the scenario reveals information prior to the encounter.

Scarab Sages *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
KingOfAnything wrote:
I'm not a fan of how much "Diplomacy is mind-control" can creep into the game. I like that it has a meaningful effect, but doesn't completely negate the encounter.

Agreed, but the GM needs some tools by which to truly represent the NPCs and their needs/concerns. And allowing the PCs to come up with a creative solution that might require some resource expenditure but isn't just, <hand out> "Gimme or go away."

I don't want to make it sound like the GM I played under did a poor job. They did a good job, and generally do a great job of roleplaying NPCs. So if the scenario didn't give them enough to work with, I trust them on that.

I think I probably read through it as well, but its been a few years so I don't recall 100%. I just know that I had a very visceral reaction to the entire scenario, and that this encounter just felt really forced.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I had the advantage of being primed by the forum discussion, so my view was perhaps a bit skewed. (My bard just laughed and tossed them the money, being the slightly snooty diva that she is.)

Silver Crusade *

6:23 is an odd scenario. I played it with my dark tapestry oracle (who is also rather odd, in that he thinks the gods of the tapestry are the ancient gods of the elves).

that encounter:
So, having successfully identified the imagery in the swamp as being related to the gods of the tapestry, I volunteered to aid the swampers. But other players felt uncomfortable making a deal with them, and we had a PC who was flush with cash that he said he didn't have a great need for, and he preferred to pay the gold cost. Swampers took the gold.

When I saw the chronicle sheet I was a bit shocked.

consequence of choice:
Had I convinced my party members to aid the swampers, everyone would have lost a chunk of Prestige.
Not great.

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

Nefreet and I had a pretty terrible GM for it on top of it being a pretty terrible scenario. It was a rough, long night for all of us.

Which is sad, because I love the city and the idea behind the scenario. But the actual execution of it...

Luckily Dimension Door counts dead characters as Objects instead of adding them to the passenger count.

Sczarni *****

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think I teleported us out.

Wasn't that the scenario where PhUnbalanced...

Again, only click if you played it:
Became an actual statue?

I remember having a good time. Played my creepy Wayang, and got to use the Craft skill he had max ranks in.

Maybe it was because it was at GenCon and I was just having a great weekend.

****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

My table was disappointed in that scenario as well, but our issue was mostly with how the investigation was handled. We were very close to pulling off a "scry and fry" and I think the only reason we didn't do it was that we thought we would miss some necessary encounters. Either that or we couldn't quite fit the whole party in the teleport, I forget which now.

Silver Crusade **

That encounter:
We ran into the swampers, and they actually announced to us that it was pay or fight. My character, a fighter, agreed and got our party to fight them. But, we took them down non-lethally and continued on with the mission.

Sovereign Court *

We would have been totally fine with either fighting it out or paying off with gear (had we thought those were options. We had actually been told to AVOID fighting so as to not lower the society's reputation in the city). Or, if we had known what a "favor" entails, even just paying with gold. We partly accepted that favor in the hopes it would be some interesting plot thing later that might come up, or even a penalty in a future scenario.

We DIDN'T think it would be a flat "lose your next prestige and fame." It honestly makes me hesitant to accept deals from now on, since they seem to have shifted from "this might be an interesting plot device later" to "lose stuff immediately just because."

Sorry, I know I sound bitter, but it really just came across as a big middle finger to everyone playing.

Encounter itself:
We were playing high tier with the 4 player adjustment, and there was only ever 1 swamper we met- a guy with a big cat. He very much was played as a speaker for the swamp, without a will of his own. The thought of beating him up for information therefore didn't seem to make much sense, since he seemed to have no idea of self. Everything was "we" and "the swamp demands..."

Paizo Employee Customer Service Manager

Added spoiler tags to OP.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Agent, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

I am actually pretty surprised by the hate here.

I handed back a brand new wand that I had just purchased and was reimbursed and thought no more of it. The RVC is actually the one who ran it for me and he made it a really fun time. I think I may have severely underestimated how skilled he was at making it a good time.

***** Venture-Agent, North Carolina—Durham aka LoPan666

Douglas Edwards wrote:

I am actually pretty surprised by the hate here.

I handed back a brand new wand that I had just purchased and was reimbursed and thought no more of it. The RVC is actually the one who ran it for me and he made it a really fun time. I think I may have severely underestimated how skilled he was at making it a good time.

While I personally like your GM's decision to reimburse you the cost of the bribe paid, I don't see that in the scenario and so that would appear to be contrary to running it as written. Personally, I have to agree with the OP that this scenario does appear to reward "murder-hobo" tactics.

Spoiler:
Specifically in that the only option that does not cost you significant resources is to attack otherwise non-hostile NPCs - even just turning away after hearing their demands costs you scenario rewards.

Edit: added spoiler tag

** Venture-Agent, Canada—Alberta—Grand Prairie aka DM Livgin

I'm ok with there being an occasional no-win situation like this. It is immersive and puts a character's beliefs to the test: will they murder-hobo just because it is the optimum path? Also it is a break from the scenario equation which is necessary to keep the campaign interesting.

Full disclosure::
We had a agents only meeting and the wizard revealed to us that he was fully prepared for a scry and fry, but didn't bring it up at the end of Act 1 where we found the hair out of respect for keeping things on the rails. We were not interested in the bribe so we went all Captain Kirk on this Kobayashi Maru.

****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

How my table handled it:
"There's a giant likeness of the person we're looking for? Time for Scrying. Oh hey, that doesn't lead down the railroad we were given, time to derail."

As such, we never even went near that portion of the scenario and skipped right to the ending stuff.

Scarab Sages *****

Serisan wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

As such, we never even went near that portion of the scenario and skipped right to the ending stuff.

Query on your spoiler:
Did you get full PP credit? My understanding is if you don't deal with the swamp people in some fashion, you don't get your 2nd PP.
*

Tallow wrote:
Serisan wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

As such, we never even went near that portion of the scenario and skipped right to the ending stuff.

** spoiler omitted **

Answer to your spoiler:

As far as I can tell, the swamp people are completely irrelevant to success.
Primary: Capture or kill the boss.
Secondary: Don't annoy the red herring Leseige, be nice to the main abductee, and either take the boss alive or don't kill the noncombatants in the room.

If they skipped the main portion of the scenario, that takes care of secondary #1. The other stuff if all in the final encounter.

****

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
shaventalz wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Serisan wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

As such, we never even went near that portion of the scenario and skipped right to the ending stuff.

** spoiler omitted **
** spoiler omitted **

Specific answer:
We failed to be nice. Also, we purposefully burned down the "clearly cursed" pathfinder lodge. My superstitious idiot was "leading" the mission and asked the pyromaniac alchemists to cleanse the lodge. Honestly, with that, probably shouldn't get any prestige/fame, but the scenario doesn't account for things like that.
The Exchange ***** Venture-Agent, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

Pete Winz wrote:
Douglas Edwards wrote:

I am actually pretty surprised by the hate here.

I handed back a brand new wand that I had just purchased and was reimbursed and thought no more of it. The RVC is actually the one who ran it for me and he made it a really fun time. I think I may have severely underestimated how skilled he was at making it a good time.

While I personally like your GM's decision to reimburse you the cost of the bribe paid, I don't see that in the scenario and so that would appear to be contrary to running it as written. Personally, I have to agree with the OP that this scenario does appear to reward "murder-hobo" tactics.

** spoiler omitted **
Edit: added spoiler tag

No no, the party reimbursed me for their 6th of the cost.

Shadow Lodge ****

Overall I liked the scenario. I had brought a character that had done the first one, and while that particular encounter was questionable, my main dislike of the scenario was that I just didn't really care for the premise and was more hoping for a follow on to 1-19 the Darkest Vengeance. It sort of was, but not really.

I was really excited to, I thought, go to Cajun Country, but turns out it was sort of the opposite, which was a bit disappointing. I was disappointed that the scenario seemed to have forgotten about all the other abductees and forced the one I didn't really care about to be center stage, and that actually dealing with <putting to rest> the one NPC in the theater I wanted to was outside the scope of the scenario.

All in all, it wasn't terrible, but had gotten myself hyped up for things it suggested that never really came up or went the opposite direction I'd hoped for.

In that particular encounter, I will say it is the one and only time I have ever used, (or seen used) the Silver Crusade Vanity Cost of Beneficence, which sort of felt like cheating in a sense, but I took a pretty hefty portion of the cost for the group, which I was then reimbursed for partially. Will probably never see it used again.

*****

Serisan wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

As such, we never even went near that portion of the scenario and skipped right to the ending stuff.

Really, because the sidebar on page 7 makes it pretty apparent that scry and grab isn't supposed to work particularly well here.

****

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
andreww wrote:
Serisan wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

As such, we never even went near that portion of the scenario and skipped right to the ending stuff.

Really, because the sidebar on page 7 makes it pretty apparent that scry and grab isn't supposed to work particularly well here.

Less spoilery response:
It's been about a year and a half since I played the scenario so I don't recall the specifics of what the answers were, but I know that we didn't scry until after we dealt with encounter 1. It could be that the GM had decided that the provisions of the sidebar had already started moving. It could be that we asked a question via divination that bypassed some of the scripting or made a logical leap to go to the final location in a time frame that made sense to the GM. After all, the scenario assumes that events occur a couple hours after the investigation begins.

More spoilery spoiler about a continuity break:
It's worth noting that the description of area D15 blatantly contradicts information presented in the sidebar. There is no way that there's "no signs of the dark folk's passage" in the house when Zodarna has actively been using this room as an entry point to Karcau.

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