Order of the Amber Die—Doomsday Dawn Playtest, Part 2

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The folks from the Order of the Amber Die are churning through the Pathfinder Playtest. Here is the next report from their table as they play through the second chapter of Doomsday Dawn! If you intend on playing through this adventure, maybe wait to read this part after you're done, because there are spoilers aplenty in this blog post!

After our initial experience in part one of the Playtest, we were eager to employ some of the already released errata and ride headlong into part two. Discovering a countdown clock was on our Pathfinder bucket list for a while now, so we dialed up some lighting to match the southern continent, and prepared to set out on a cross-country trek. In typical OAD fashion, we tapped a live NPC to play our animal companion, and our GM rendered another one of those maps that made us scared to even put our hands on.

The Party

To better craft a party suited to what we were allowed to know about this section of the playtest, we opted away from our standard method of playing iconics; instead, we drew upon inspiration from one of our past campaigns and created an entirely wilderness-oriented party. The party was given the same name as their predecessor, The Lost Arrows, who consisted (then and now) of four companions well accustomed to outdoor adventure. What we didn't know when we initially answered a request in Kelmarane, was that we'd have to navigate a tomb complete with traps and confined spaces. After an anxious mission briefing, we were confident we could at least beat our opponents—the Night Heralds—in a race across Katapesh to the tomb.

Nemus human druid 4

Class Feats: Wild Shape, Poison Resistance, Animal Shape

Preferred Animal Form: Bear

Druidic Order: Wild

Played by Jody Gerst (1998)

Ithilian Nightfall human barbarian 4

Totem: Fury

Weaponry: greataxe, javelins, short sword

Class Feats: Sudden Charge, Swipe, No Escape, Acute Vision

Played by Matthew Hardin (2003)

Keletheryl Ennan elven cleric 4

Deity: Erastil

Domain: Earth

Class Feats: Emblazon Symbol, Healing Hands

Played by Alex Rivera (2015)

Rayden Ridell human ranger 4

Class Feats: Animal Companion, Double Slice, Favored Aim, Twin Parry

Companion: "Rufus" the Badger

Ace in the Hole: sleep arrow

Played by Sean Linville (2016)

"In Pale Mountain's Shadow" By The Numbers

Player Tracking Sheet

  • Average time spent in character creation: 176 minutes
  • Number of times a character reached 0 Resonance: 4; Nemus (1), Ith (1), Keleth (1), Rayden (1)
  • Number of critical fails when overspending Resonance: 0
  • Number of times a character ran out of spell slots: 2; Keleth (2)
  • Number of times a character ran out of spell points: 0
  • Number of Hero Points used: 31; Nemus (4), Ith (10), Keleth (11), Rayden (6)

GM Tracking Sheet

  • Total time spent playing "In Pale Mountain's Shadow": 14hrs, 35min
  • Total time spent preparing "In Pale Mountain's Shadow": 11hrs, 30min
  • Number of sessions spent playing "In Pale Mountain's Shadow": 4 (session increments are 4 hours)
  • Total number of Hero Points given out: 48
  • Number of characters reduced to 0 HP: 6; Nemus (3), Ith (1), Keleth (1), Rayden (1)
  • Number of characters killed: 4
  • Number of party rests: 6

Additional Data

Nemus

  • Damage dealt with spells: 101 (x7 flaming sphere)
  • Damage dealt while in bear form: 160 (9 hits)
  • Damage received while in bear form: 92 (6 hits)
  • Damage received while in human form: 79 (6 hits)

Ithilian Nightfall

  • Uses of No Escape: 1
  • Total movement granted through No Escape: 5ft
  • Number of successful attacks with greataxe: 14
  • Total damage dealt with greataxe: 222

Keletheryl Ennan

  • Number of arrows fired from longbow: 46
  • Number of shots affected by -2 volley modifier: 6
  • Number of shots missed due to volley modifier: 1
  • Number of two-action spells cast: 27
  • Number attacks made following a 2-action spell: 18

Rayden Ridell

  • Uses of Work Together ability: 1
  • Total uses of Parry: 4
  • Successful uses of Parry to avoid attacks: 1
  • Uses of Hero Points to reroll: 3
  • Successful uses of Hero Points on reroll: 2

Highlights From "In Pale Mountain's Shadow"

While traversing the slopes of Pale Mountain, we were ambushed by a classic foe—a manticore—that had everyone eager to see how the beast would perform with its new makeover. When our GM landed six out of his first eight tail spikes (including two critical hits and a nasty new ability that pinned our barbarian in place), it was already time to pull out the stops. That sleep arrow listed above? Yeah, Sean pulled it off.

Each character had their moment to shine during part two; when it came to the barbarian, the playtest rules felt right at home alongside our favorite iterations of the class over the years. Gnolls twice attempted to swarm Ithilian with their pack attack ability, but his raging damage numbers quickly turned whack-a-mole into wreck-a-gnoll.

Inside the Tomb of Tular Seft, we came across a puzzle which involved a series of elemental equations. To solve it, we felt sure we'd need a party more suited to dungeon crawling. Not so, and after drawing upon a variety of skills to produce several stellar DC 25 checks, we had the doors open and our goal close at hand.

Character Deaths

If we were to rank our TPKs across 147 adventures, PC party vs. NPC party would easily hold the record for the deadliest conflicts out there. Logan Bonner, well played. We owe you one.

Current Situation

From the outset of the final encounter, it was clear that The Lost Arrows and the Night Heralds had entered into a fierce skirmish from which only one party would survive.

Our ranger went down as fast as his animal companion, followed by the barbarian. Nemus, the druid, tried to buy enough time for Keleth to whisk the countdown clock to safety. Using a combination of elven ancestry, Nimble, and Fleet, the elf performed his best version of the 4x40 and tried to outrun the only enemies capable of pursuit. The Night Herald's scout pursued him out onto the ledge and into Pale Mountain's shadow, stopping to let off shots that only created distance with each miss. Just a few yards from maximum range, our GM knew the only way to deliver a hit would be a natural 20. He reached for the Amber Die itself. It did what it's done for decades, and we could only offer reverence.

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Adam Daigle
Managing Developer

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Tags: Community Order of the Amber Die Pathfinder Playtest

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Excellent read once again. The 3 hour creation time scares me because that's a lot longer than the last one. Will you guys be implementing the new changes for the 3rd part or are you going to be sticking with the original playtest rules?

Order of the Amber Die

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KyleS wrote:
Excellent read once again. The 3 hour creation time scares me because that's a lot longer than the last one. Will you guys be implementing the new changes for the 3rd part or are you going to be sticking with the original playtest rules?

Thanks Kyle! 3 hours may seem like a lot, but I think some of that may just be due to the fact that it was the first time we were playing characters above first level. I feel like the process is getting smoother as we go forward, but I guess we’ll see though, once the data comes out for part 3 and the rest of Playtest scenarios over the coming weeks.

For me personally, it was a blast getting to recreate the very first 3.5 character I ever made—the barbarian Ithilian Nightfall—using the Playtest rule set! One thing I liked about the barbarian: it felt distinct from the fighter.

As far as updates go, we plan on using the most updated rules at all times. And speaking of part 3, we wrapped it up already (report coming). Can’t wait to see what part 4 has in store!


Interesting post.

Our group managed to beat the Night Heralds (whom actually has a 5th Monk member to compensate for a 5th player) there, with 2-3 days to spare thanks to utilizing the Camels for traversing the 80 mile long trek to the base of the mountain, and getting lucky on several checks that would normally take hours to remake (but didn't since they were successful the first time).

They didn't bother going down the tomb any further (I ruled that the locks on the doors down below were Expert tier quality, and nobody on the group was Expert in Theivery, so it was impossible to open that way). This made it so that the players couldn't open the doors down to the unexplained while also keeping true to the playtest that the Night Heralds wouldn't actually show up there in the time allotted from the adventure, though if they did manage to find a way to open it outside of Thievery, I would have probably had them show up when they succeeded, as the book suggested.

Of course, the only reason I went the route I did was because of what the players did prior; they managed to make "Friends" with Zakfah and his pack, with Zakfah still looking for treasure in the area. The Night Heralds could have probably encountered them after realizing the PCs beat them there, interrogated them for information (one of them could probably speak Gnoll, going in-line with the adventure's suggested language selections), and manage to track the PCs back to the town of Kelmarane, thereby still allowing the encounter to take place (though I would have to effectively homebrew the battle map for which the encounter takes place, since there isn't really one there for that area).

Depending on what we do tomorrow, this encounter could still happen, but this would be well beyond the scope of the playtest's expectations, and as such, the adventurers we had killed the base adventure, as the Countdown Clock is already in the Order's custody by the time the Night Heralds would arrive.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wow. That’s a brutal way to go down!

I guess that the oft-repeated claims that in PF2 a party with a cleric is impossible to kill aren’t true after all... : P

Order of the Amber Die

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Interesting post...

Thanks for sharing, it's great to be able to compare stories of how things played out--congrats on getting the clock! I hear you about going outside the scope of the playtest, this adventure was one that I'd love to revisit at some point. The labyrinth seemed like an awesome journey to create, with miles of passageways and traps.

Interesting about making friends with Zakfah, if you do play it out, that might make for a fun encounter in the streets of Kelmarane. In regard to that, I did like that the author gave us suggestions about languages, it was applicable in a few areas and had an impact on the gnoll camp encounter for us. I would have liked to run one last encounter where the PCs got to play a band of gnolls who ambushed the Night Heralds as they were recovering the clock from the elf's body. That final shot fired by Libar was quite a good distance out on Pale Mountain, and so it was safe to say that the Night Heralds would have to gather up and then work their way down to where the body was. In the meantime, perhaps a group of gnolls had taken notice of the skirmish...

Great times, and looking forward to the rest of the playtest!

Order of the Amber Die

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Porridge wrote:

Wow. That’s a brutal way to go down!

I guess that the oft-repeated claims that in PF2 a party with a cleric is impossible to kill aren’t true after all... : P

You got it Porridge, another awesome TPK story for the Order's archive! Our mantra when it comes to party construction is "There are no absolutes in the world's oldest fantasy role-playing game," and I guess it was proven again here if that's what people are saying about parties with clerics in PF2? The most successful party we ever had (from 1st to 21st level campaign) was actually all martial characters. When it comes to the playtest, I enjoyed just watching the cleric be able to fire off so many shots and still be useful with healing--he was all over the battlefield with that 40ft movement--which essentially saved him actions at times since he rarely had to spend two actions to reposition himself.

While we've already finished up part three, I can't say just yet whether everyone survived. :)


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Adam Smith wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Interesting post...

Thanks for sharing, it's great to be able to compare stories of how things played out--congrats on getting the clock! I hear you about going outside the scope of the playtest, this adventure was one that I'd love to revisit at some point. The labyrinth seemed like an awesome journey to create, with miles of passageways and traps.

Interesting about making friends with Zakfah, if you do play it out, that might make for a fun encounter in the streets of Kelmarane. In regard to that, I did like that the author gave us suggestions about languages, it was applicable in a few areas and had an impact on the gnoll camp encounter for us. I would have liked to run one last encounter where the PCs got to play a band of gnolls who ambushed the Night Heralds as they were recovering the clock from the elf's body. That final shot fired by Libar was quite a good distance out on Pale Mountain, and so it was safe to say that the Night Heralds would have to gather up and then work their way down to where the body was. In the meantime, perhaps a group of gnolls had taken notice of the skirmish...

Great times, and looking forward to the rest of the playtest!

I did say "make friends;" the quotes are important here. It mostly consisted of the Barbarian using his knowledge of Gnoll (which I think meant he had like 14 Intelligence or something) barking his dominance at the lesser pack to coerce them into a ceasefire, whereas the pack leader felt threatened (or in this case, slighted) and demanded proof of combat skill through a duel (that escalated into a brawl), though the PCs still actually spared them and vice-versa. While it did devolve into a more mutual aspect, the point here was that the players did it more aggressive than diplomatic (which is why I made it work; they are still Chaotic Evil), and the gnolls being canine in nature, it made the most sense. (This was also the PC's reasoning, which was in-line with how they viewed them.)

If you want to read a more in-depth analysis of our playthrough, you can read up on this thread I made. (I will also be posting the actual conclusion there shortly, as I haven't had time to do so during this previous week.)

Order of the Amber Die

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Adam Smith wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Interesting post...
I did say "make friends;" the quotes are important here. It mostly consisted of the Barbarian using his knowledge of Gnoll (which I think meant he had like 14 Intelligence or something) barking his dominance

I just read through your report—really interesting read—very detailed! I liked hearing about the manticore encounter in particular, as it was the most memorable encounter for me personally (other than the final encounter PC vs NPC TPK!), and it sounds like it was a standout encounter for your group as well. Reading about the barbarian using javelins reminded me of Ith throwing javelins at the manticore with his foot pinned to the ground by a manticore spike that critically hit, lol. That image will always stick in my head. Reading about the manticore engaged in both airborne and land based combat was interesting, and I literally laughed out loud at him trying to hide in the rocks, failing with a natural 1, and cursing because he stepped on some rocks he didn’t see, hahaha!

Lastly, decapitating the manticore, and then the barbarian later tossing it at the gnoll Sergeant at their encampment, as part of an Intimidation check, barking at them in gnoll language, was a really nice touch!


It was. I should have let them succeed on the action alone (rule of cool and all that), but I played it by the rules as the playtest required, and rolling a 2 (with all of the circumstance bonuses and aids in place) still made it a failure.

Thanks for reminding me that the Manticore Spikes pin creatures to the ground on a critical hit. I think I critically hit a couple people with those spikes during the encounter (namely the Sorcerer), but forgot to implement that rule. Whoops! I don't think the players were in any major trouble anyway, they had plenty of resources to deal with it.


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

Thank you sharing again!! I really enjoy your approach to the game and your willingness to share your experiences. Party on!


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How did the party spend 31 Hero points ? O_o What are your criterias to hand Hero points ? I don't understand how a party could do so many heroic deeds.

Order of the Amber Die

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Almarane wrote:
How did the party spend 31 Hero points ? O_o What are your criterias to hand Hero points ? I don't understand how a party could do so many heroic deeds.

Happy to explain! In addition to the standard one point per session and one for contributing (OAD members are expected to carry many out-of-game tasks to help run our game), we threw ourselves at the adventure trying to do something daring or heroic enough to warrant an additional point. Since a session is capped at 4 hours, 4 players x 3 points per session = 12 points per session, x 4 sessions = 48 points. What's interesting about the number 31 is that with a minimum of 2 points per player/per session regardless of any heroic/special actions, our spread was essentially a minimum of 32 and maximum of 48 points. Two of us work in education, and without a definitive rubric to quantify what exactly the criteria are for "when players do something special for the group" or "perform further heroic deeds or tasks," (p. 300, PRB) it's fairly easy to find yourself in a quandary deciding when to award a point in a particular situation. Even "selfless and daring" can be very subjective. On the very first day we saw the section about Hero Points, we agreed that without a rubric that addressed how to earn that final Hero Point per session, we wouldn't waste time at the table debating what doing something special/selfless/daring/heroic for the group meant. We figured we'd leave that one for the forums, and see if things became clearer when 2.0 was released. :)

Here's what the players wanted me to mention: Despite the number of Hero Points, we still ended up with a TPK.

Order of the Amber Die

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Elorebaen wrote:
Thank you sharing again!! I really enjoy your approach to the game and your willingness to share your experiences. Party on!

Elorebaen, good to hear from you. Thanks for mentioning the willingness to share, that's been the part for me that took some getting used to (having my game decisions out in front of the community). At least this time there was less pressure playing an animal companion. Sorry team, I did what I could to hold back the Night Heralds!

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