Giantslayer Marathon: Part 1!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Not too long after we announced the Giantslayer Adventure Path, Wes was contacted by a group of maniacs who had plans to run marathon sessions of the Adventure Path and do a full and thorough report. Since I work on the Adventure Paths, I took over coordinating with those hardcore gamers, and I'm happy to be able to present the first of six reports we'll feature here on the blog.

The Giantslayer Endeavor

Pathfinder fans: How far have you taken your devotion to the game? What's the longest session you have ever played? We are Order of the Amber Die, an association of Pathfinder players, and for nearly 3 decades we have been playing marathon sessions of 48 hours, 72—even one 96-er. Last summer, we documented our journey through the The Emerald Spire Superdungeon, which was completed in just 35 days (195 hours). Now we're going for something much bigger. In fact, we're trying to do something so grand that we haven't been able to find documentation for anything this ambitious since the founding of the world's oldest fantasy roleplaying game.

Welcome to The Giantslayer Endeavor!

From March through August, 2015, we are attempting to play all six volumes of the Giantslayer Adventure Path. Each volume will be played in a marathon of roughly 48-72 hours, and maybe we'll throw in another 96-er to close out. Better yet: we're documenting the whole thing as a contribution to the RPG community. We don't know if we will succeed; we don't even know if our lives, careers, and loved ones can handle this.

To add extra challenge over the years, we have evolved our game into what we now call "Xtreme Pathfinder." Playing only published adventures, we use the rules, our GM brings the adventures to life as written, and we try our best to beat what the authors throw at us. Character death is accepted as part of the game, and we don't ask for leniency from Paizo's authors. If Pathfinder could be made into a competitive sport between a party and a module, our game would be it.

Why Giantslayer? It's as courageous of an adventure path as has ever been published. You don't have to be a veteran to understand the nigh-irreproachable aura that surrounds the name Gary Gygax. It takes the heroism of Iomedae herself to even tread near the sacred ground that was G1-2-3, Against the Giants, and yet that's exactly what Paizo has done. We have played through Gygax's series twice in serious form, and from the very first moments of "Battle of Bloodmarch Hill", Paizo has made it clear that this will be no rehash—they will carve their own path through the halls of the big folk.

Highlights from our Experience with "The Battle of Bloodmarch Hill"

The maps were as unique and detailed as we had hoped. We spent an entire Saturday exploring a map that was literally (and figuratively) a sandbox at 9 ft. x 5 ft (with some amazing miniatures painted by Blue Table Painting). During a climactic battle for a barricade played on this depiction of Trunau's inner quarter, Zadim the slayer hurled back an unexploded grenade just in time for it to detonate at the feet of the surprised orc who threw it.

Though we spent nearly half of the marathon roleplaying our way through an intricate investigation (props to the author for opening Giantslayer with a curveball), the rest of the module was packed with tough fights. With TPK looming in a tactically complex encounter, a 4th-level Crowe the bloodrager took on—and took down—two dire wolves by himself to put the other members in position for the win. Clutch.

Author Patrick Renie provided our group with something that despite having more than 140 years of combined experience at the table, we had never been a part of: a tug of war.

Character Deaths

At the close of a frenzy that is being called "the 19-rounder," a final orc shield-breaker wielding a shotel stood his ground against Oloch the warpriest. The Amber Die that is our namesake delivered back-to-back 20s, killing Oloch and earning the orc a place beside his lord Nulgreth.

During a special operation to destroy a siege engine, Quinn the investigator found himself grappled by orc bombardiers, forced into a catapult, and then launched 50 ft. in the air—well over the walls of Trunau. A hard landing marked his death as one of our most unforgettable.

Current Situation

The adventure proved difficult, and the party is in rough shape. They had to sell almost everything earned (a significant haul) to bring their slain companions back to life. They are entering "The Hill Giant's Pledge" with two characters that are under-level, and only three possessions of importance. We play a tight game to create intensity, and CRs will not be adjusted down. Luckily, one of these items is an artifact.

Best Quote from Marathon Part 1

Aerick (Oloch): "I slept in the same 5-foot square that I roleplayed for 77 hours."

For more pictures, campaigns, and information on the Order of the Amber Die, you can find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Be sure to stay on the lookout for the next report from the Giantslayer marathoners!

Adam Daigle
Developer

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Tags: Community Giantslayer Pathfinder Adventure Path

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow! That looks like fun! Also, I'm impressed with that kind of gaming endurance. (Twelve hours is my personal best, although I did manage that a few different times.)

That gaming room set-up looks good too. I'm curious about the table shown in the photo taken from behind the GM screen. Besides what looks like custom-built elements, the surface under the map looks as though it's sub-divided into three white sections. Are they folded maps, or something else?


Bellona wrote:
the surface under the map looks as though it's sub-divided into three white sections. Are they folded maps, or something else?

Looks to me like three plastic-topped folding tables side-by-side.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmmm, that would be the simplest explanation. :)

Grand Lodge

Awesome! count me in for the UK attempt ;)


I love the catapult anecdote.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I hope the Catapult operator said "Send him back to Mama boys" like Chief Wiggum from the Prohibition episode of The Simpsons

Paizo Employee Developer

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for taking on such a gigantic endeavor! Looking forward to the future reports.

Order of the Amber Die

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Adam Daigle wrote:
Thanks for taking on such a gigantic endeavor! Looking forward to the future reports.

Thanks for your support Adam, we're having a blast so far with Giantslayer! We're also glad people are liking the catapult death as much as we did--no hard feelings from Quinn. Our players are both nervous and excited for The Hill Giant's Pledge!


This is kind of cool, but don't kill yourself for a game by sleep depriving yourself, seriously.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jason S wrote:

This is kind of cool, but don't kill yourself for a game by sleep depriving yourself, seriously.

I'm with you on this one, Jason, I really like it, but there's no way I'd do it myself.

Another thing I really like about this blog, is the fact that a regular group of players introduces itself. I'd like to see that more often.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I love that you guys are using the iconics! Where are you getting the stats from? Are you just taking their initial appearances and backgrounds for what they are and leveling them yourselves, or is there some kind of guidelines you're using?


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

PFS I think has them


I wish - sounds like a blast! We play from 9:30 to 5:30 every Sunday, going on two decades now /w mostly the same group. We do some coast trips every now and then where we play for 3 days more/less straight - not sure if that counts :)


:D My group is planning on something really similar for the Shattered Star path. But we're a lot lazier so I'm playing through d20 pro and streaming/recording my computer screen and audio

Paizo Employee Developer

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When I first told other people around the office about this group, the first thing out of most people's mouths was, "How old are they?" Because, I know that back when I was a teenager, we'd play all damn weekend sometimes, but now that I'm older and weaker, I just don't have the fortitude. Kuddos for the stamina! (And detailed reports!)


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Totally awesome and thank you for sharing!!!

Order of the Amber Die

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Endurance is definitely part of it, but our passion for the game makes the weekends fly by. Everyone at the table has their own way of staying engrossed in the game, and you get to know each other very well playing marathons. To answer one of the comments, we do sleep a few hours each night, though when we were younger we didn't. We started doing this as teenagers and just couldn't give it up, plus it got much better as time went on and we had some real money to afford comfort--and better food! Our Dropbox is where the full report is kept, and a lot more is explained there. We included some advice for GMs too, since there is a lot to consider before running a marathon. As for the iconics, we started doing that for our Rise of the Runelords campaign and decided to do it again for Giantslayer. The players try to stay true to what is written in Paizo's bio of each iconic, but as the character advances they make their own choices on how to best develop the iconic. We use all the cool flavor Paizo makes for them: iconic item cards, iconic minis, art, etc. There are a few additional guidelines we follow in creating the iconic characters, and each player wrote a short background about what went into making their character (also explained in the report). Thanks for the nice comments!


A salute to the Order of the Amber Die!

(Great stuff!)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

This looks like so much fun. The Amber Die for the win!

Please keep us updated.


Random question but how does one become a member of the Order of the Amber Die?

Sovereign Court

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Back in 1983, myself and 3 other guys did a 100 hour D&D game. At the time there was no category in Guinness for that type of event, but we did get an official Guinness witness and it was recorded. We followed the standard rules for a marathon which were that we got a 5 minute break every hour. If you look up Dragon Magazine issue# 80, the story is on page 54. The next year we went for a full five days and did 120 hours.

Order of the Amber Die

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Galahad0430 wrote:
Back in 1983, myself and 3 other guys did a 100 hour D&D game. At the time there was no category in Guinness for that type of event, but we did get an official Guinness witness and it was recorded. We followed the standard rules for a marathon which were that we got a 5 minute break every hour. If you look up Dragon Magazine issue# 80, the story is on page 54. The next year we went for a full five days and did 120 hours.

Tom, I'm so glad so meet you! One GM to another (Adam responding here), I know your story, and I can speak for all of us when I say that it's awesome to finally link up. We have also been in touch with Guiness since the beginning, so they are aware, though it was very hard to get them to set up a judge for so many marathons in a row. It's also been especially difficult coordinating everyone's schedules to where they can block out so many days once a month for 6 months. By the time all is said and done, we're expecting to clock somewhere around 350 hours. For myself and one other player, we also took on The Emerald Spire Project last summer, so we will have over 500 hours played (GMed for me) in a single 12-month period. There aren't many of us out there who run marathons regularly, and our group is hoping that this is a way for all of us to share our experiences with them.


Sounds like quite an effort, good luck! I hope you at least just finish the entire AP with your group regardless of the "marathon". I've followed more than a few campaign threads for APs and not a one has finished. Paizo should encourage more groups to run APs start to finish somehow (this blog post is hopefully one way). I think the AP line suffers from a huge drop off in play time after part 3 or so and I think it has a tendency to hurt the overall quality of the late adventures.

I often wonder if the AP line and player base would be better served with four 3 part APs in a year instead of two 6 part.


searches bookshelf.... pulls out Dragon #80. Stares at cleavage on cover...
These guys really took their time

Wow! And for a good cause as well!

My hat is off to everyone involved, back then and today.

Sovereign Court

Adam, great job so far, it is really cool to see others connecting gaming events to good causes. We did it like some of those cycling events. Essentially each of us got people to sponsor us and pledge amounts that they would pay for each hour we completed. All knew going in that we were shooting for 100 hours, so no one was taken by surprise. I forget how much we raised, but it was a decent amount.

Maybe this summer I can try a similar event down here. The old Broward Game Player's Club had a full kitchen though so it was easier (and a full bar too, though we couldn't chance drinking alcohol during the marathon).

Sovereign Court

Where are you guys located? I didn't see it mentioned in the article above.

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
mathpro18 wrote:
Random question but how does one become a member of the Order of the Amber Die?

Great question. We are always open to new members, though we try to keep ourselves limited to an active pool of 10 to 15 at any given time. The best way to discuss this further is to contact us through our Facebook. It would help if you are located somewhere on the east coast, though a couple of our members are spread out across the country. Happy gaming!


another question. How much prep time does your GM have before a marathon is scheduled? If you're planning on doing the session the same month that the next book drops that means that at best your GM has weeks to prep which is amazing given he has to do the entire book in one shot.

Order of the Amber Die

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mathpro18 wrote:
another question. How much prep time does your GM have before a marathon is scheduled? If you're planning on doing the session the same month that the next book drops that means that at best your GM has weeks to prep which is amazing given he has to do the entire book in one shot.

You are correct, I have just 4 weeks to prep the entire module, including drawing all maps ahead of time. You have pointed out what is behind-the-scenes that is really making this entire endeavor so much more challenging. During that time I also work on the writeup with the players, which for the first marathon ended up being 47 pages/18,000 words. For anyone looking to run Giantslayer, it has a wealth of information. I am also running another adventure path (Rise of the Runelords) and GMing at a convention during this time as well. This would all be impossible were it not for a lifetime of GMing published adventures already (129 so far). For details on what it's like to share your life with giants, see our Dropbox.


I understand this would be a HUGE(probably impossible) under taking but have you ever thought about recording these sessions for those of us sadistic enough to try to watch them? I would be so inclined if it were possible.


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

Or edit it down and do it as a reality show, of course then you gotta worry about network plants stirring up trouble, if anyone even vaguely resembling Alec Baldwin tries to join, be suspicious, very suspicious :-)

Order of the Amber Die

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Galahad0430 wrote:
Where are you guys located? I didn't see it mentioned in the article above.

Let me know if you guys are going to try and put something together down there, maybe we can compare notes! I was thinking it would be cool to try a live marathon at a convention too. We are based out of NJ, but our members travel long distances for these marathons. One is flying in from North Dakota and another driving down from Maine for the next one.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Are there any video archives of the different marathons? I plan on running this in the future and would love to see how the group dealt with situations throughout the book.

Paizo Employee Developer

Oh, hey, Adam (Order of the Amber Die GM Adam, to be clear that I'm not talking to myself) I should have warned you about people always wanting more. :)

In addition to the blog posts, photos, and super detailed reports that are longer than the adventure in word count, people are going to want audio and video and anything else they can get their hands on. Sorry about the limelight. ;)

Order of the Amber Die

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Haha, thanks for that, Adam (developer Adam that is--it never gets old with the names;). Seriously though, a big thank you to everyone for the amazing amount of support we have received so far through various channels, it's a great motivator! We will keep trying to improve with each marathon. Right now we have limited video documentation, full audio documentation, and we have also started this thread to help answer any questions. The players will respond in that thread as well, in case anyone has questions specifically for them. Our writeups of each adventure should answer some more, and when this whole endeavor is over and we have our lives back, we'll post all our remaining notes about the path. Initially, we were hesitant to do full video because two of us work in education (nothing wrong with it, but you risk being called Bilbo Baggins by your students), but we are already in the process of reassessing that somewhat. Right now we are facing a massive time crunch as we prepare for every marathon. I can tell you that even organizing food, play locations, and sleeping situations involves a lot of emails!

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