As part of our announcement for Pathfinder Second Edition, we recorded a game session with the hilarious crew from the Glass Cannon Network. They were kind enough to invite us to their studio in New York, where Erik Mona and I playtested the game with them, converting the first ever Pathfinder Module, Crypt of the Everflame, to the new rules.
Because this was a live session, and because I was converting this adventure "on the fly," I thought it might be useful to all the listeners out there to include a companion blog post that explores some of the spoilers from the recording and corrects a few of the mistakes that we made during play.
Note that the following commentary includes spoilers, so if you have not listened to the podcast, you should probably go and download it from the Glass Cannon Network site right now (or from wherever you subscribe to podcasts). Entries include an approximate time stamp to let you know at what point they happen during the session.
Commentary for Part 1
This commentary refers to the first part of the podcast.
- (03:00) I should note that the new version of Pathfinder has been in design now for well over two years. The first playtest of the core mechanics was only a few months into the design process, back in 2016.
- (04:00) Obligatory Princess Bride reference.
- (04:40) The only preparation for this adventure was to pull together existing monster statistics that correspond to those in the adventure. So, if the adventure featured wolves, the document I had with me had the new wolf stat block. Nothing else was converted—not the traps, random skill challenges, or monsters—without a corresponding converted stat block.
- (06:00) This is the actual beginning of the module, starting with player and character introductions and the reveal of the adventure they are about to undertake. For ease of reference, the players and their characters listed here:
Pherise (Matthew Capodicasa), Elf Rogue
Mamolo Blunch (Skid Maher), Goblin Alchemist
Keith Slashmaster (Troy Lavallee), Human Fighter
Grellun the Green (Erik Mona), Human Wizard,
Emmerich Kant (Joe O'Brien), Human Paladin
Sifferus Sufferas the Vociferous (Grant Berger), Human Cleric
- (31:40) The first skill check in the game is a Society check. This skill covers knowledge about towns, people, their customs, and their history. The information they are looking for here is relatively common knowledge, and the number they needed to roll (the Difficulty Class) is only a 10. Keith (Troy) fumbled the check and got false information, which was quickly debunked by the others.
- (35:30) The party leaves town, entering exploration mode as they venture into the Fangwood.
- (39:00) Erik, playing Grellun, just starts reading the spell descriptions from his character folio. Of note, when he reads off acid splash, he mentions "somatic" and "verbal," which does not seem to be much of a spoiler, but those are actually the names of the two actions you must spend to cast the spell!
- (39:50) To keep the adventure moving along, in the hope to make this only a few hours long in total, there are a number of minor encounters that get skipped. During the journey, for example, I left out the encounter with the wolves, as it is ultimately unnecessary to the overall plot. Of course, the game still ran extremely long, due in large part to the fact that we were just having too much fun.
- (40:10) Here we have the first fight of the game, against a trio of bloodthirsty orcs.
- (43:50) That's right, Perception is no longer a skill. Your class gives you an initial proficiency in Perception and might possibly increase it over time.
- (47:30) A note on attacking more than once in a round. If he had attacked with all three of his actions, the third attack would have been at an even larger penalty.
- (54:10) Most of the maneuvers—grabbing, disarming, tumbling, and tripping—are now associated with the Acrobatics or Athletics skills.
- (59:00) As the fight rages on, it quickly becomes apparent to some of the characters that these orcs are not real. Created by illusion magic, they vanish the moment they are struck. These phantom foes are created using a new spell called illusory creature. Created by a hidden wizard, these orcs are bit more difficult to hit than ordinary foes, basing their statistics on the caster. The fact that they are a spell also explains why they have only two actions each turn and hit for so little damage (all of which is halved once the illusion is revealed).
- (1:05:30) The developers made me change that back. Neon green dice once again roll just as well as any other color of dice.
- (1:07:20) Nimble Dodge has seen a lot of play in office playtests and has saved the lives of countless rogues.
- (1:11:40) The characters in this playtest have decent bonuses to attack, but that is of little help when everyone is rolling lower than 10. No amount of redesign can account for fickle dice.
- (1:16:00) A note on flanking. I made a small error here. Flanking does not grant you a +2 bonus to hit. Instead, it now makes the target flat-footed to your attacks, causing it to take a –2 penalty to its AC. It's the same result, but the distinction is relevant.
Commentary for Part 2
- (02:30) I call that a skill unlock, which is an old term for what we now call a skill feat, which characters get starting at 2nd level.
- (05:00) Small mistake here. The three-action casting of heal does indeed target everyone in the group, but it heals only an amount equal to the caster's spellcasting ability modifier at this level (which should be only 4).
- (07:10) I probably should have waited until he rolled to announce the result.
- (11:10) The Survival skill can be used to navigate in the wild, make a shelter, and find food. In this case, instead of making shelter, the skill was used to simply find a good, defensible place to camp.
- (14:10) Remnants of the wolf encounter that I decided to skip to keep things moving.
- (19:00) Okay, I admit, my description of the body may have been a bit too detailed, but it is important for the tone shift that happens at this point in the adventure. Things are starting to get serious.
- (21:10) This really does begin to show the relationship between proficiencies and crafting that will undoubtedly be the topic of a future blog post. Suffice it to say, the higher your proficiency, the higher the quality of the items that you can craft.
- (23:50) For clarity, there is a pair of puncture wounds on the upper torso and another on the lower torso. The punctures are about an inch in diameter, with the pair about 12 inches apart.
- (24:20) The only way the illusion is detected is if it is lower-level than the detection spell. If it is of the same level, it is unnoticed.
- (36:10) In converting this particular hazard, I treated the various results on the table as the failure, critical failure, success, and critical success results of the new effect. The DC was changed to 15. I modified the damage a little, but the only other significant change was to remove the ability damage from the critical failure effect, replacing it with a condition to represent a sprained ankle.
- (46:10) If this were during combat, when time was short, I could have called for an Athletics skill check to move the horse carcass, instead of just looking at their Strength scores and figuring out how much spare bulk they had to move it around.
- (51:50) Repeated the mistake here with heal again. It should have been only 4 points restored.
- (55:10) The skeletons here are not very powerful undead, but in large numbers like this, they can be deadly. Most problematic, they have resistance 5 to weapon damage, but they still have a weakness to bludgeoning, which can cancel out that protection.
- (1:01:20) Skeletons also have resistance 5 against fire damage.
- (1:05:25) Claws are agile weapons, which is why the skeletons use them as their second attack, reducing the penalty on the attack roll to –4.
- (1:09:00) The Shield Block reaction is very powerful, preventing damage by forcing the foe to beat its way through your protection. It does mean that warriors tend to go through shields with some frequency.
- (1:11:00) The shield spell is also a cantrip, meaning that you can cast it as often as you like.
- (1:13:30) Explaining the confusion, there was an earlier draft of acid splash that hit multiple targets. That is no longer the case.
- (1:16:10) Troy just cannot roll above a 5 in this fight.
- (1:19:00) I finally realized that I was doing the heal spell wrong, and then promptly missed the part where the skeletons should get a save against the effect. Fortunately, it didn't matter much; they were all pretty damaged at this point.
- (1:21:45) Sweeping the leg is probably an Athletics skill check...
- (1:24:50) There are two doors leading out of the room: one to the east, one to the west. The scream came from the west. Somewhere in the dungeon, a tortured soul calls out for help.
That wraps up this look at the first part of the playtest podcast with the Glass Cannon Network. Stop by on Monday when we will be investigating how you level up using the new rules!
Director of Game Design