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.
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
Weaponry: greataxe, javelins, short sword
Class Feats: Sudden Charge, Swipe, No Escape, Acute Vision
Played by Matthew Hardin (2003)
Keletheryl Ennan elven cleric 4
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
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.