Order of the Amber Die—Doomsday Dawn Playtest, Part 3

Sunday, October 7, 2018

It's time to get spooky! Those Order of the Amber Die folks delivered their report from the third chapter of Doomsday Dawn, and now y'all can read about how it went for them (and see the pretty pictures they took of their experience. If you intend of playing through this adventure, maybe wait to read this blog after you're done so that you don't run into any spoilers!

After our initial experiences in Part One and Part Two of the playtest, it was time for part three and our first adventure by author Amanda Hamon Kunz. To set the atmosphere for the land of gothic horror, our GM decided to render the old mansion on vinyl and bring it to life with some custom pieces from Geordie John Studios. Having full access to the mansion in 3-D allowed us to better appreciate, explore, and eventually defend it. Then we surrounded our play area with candles, put on some dark music, and ventured out toward Sombrefell Hall on the shores of Lantern Lake.

The Party

In much the way part two had certain guidelines for character creation, part three had its own interesting challenge regarding party construction: a group in which every member had access to healing. With that before us, we tried to make heroes that fit into both the setting of Ustalav and conformed to the guidelines for part three, while still allowing ourselves the opportunity for some character customization. To add some mood to our interactions with each other, our GM decided that while our characters all had ties to the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, they didn't necessarily know each other very well. Exploring an old mansion by candlelight when we weren't completely secure with each other added tension, but we clicked well enough when combat broke out.

Casia Libitina human cleric 7

Deity: Pharasma

Domain: Knowledge

Class Feats: Cantrip Expansion, Emblazon Symbol, Steady Spellcasting

Played by Jody Gerst (1998)

Don Sancho "Bishop" De La Vega human divine sorcerer 7

Bloodline: Angelic

Class Feats: Dangerous Sorcery, Magical Striker, Reach Spell

Signature Item:Ring of the ram

Played by Alex Rivera (2015)

Tinryl Prind half-elf cleric 7

Deity: Desna

Domain: Travel

Class Feats: Conical Channel, Emblazon Symbol, Turn Undead

Played by Daniel Scholler (2007)

Natasha Anatoli human paladin 7

Deity: Abadar

Class Feats: Attack of Opportunity, Divine Grace, Hospice Knight, Mercy, Warded ouch

Best Magic Items:Slippers of spider climbing, +2 full plate, +1 bastard sword

Played by Sean Linville (2016)

"Affair at Sombrefell Hall" By The Numbers

Player Tracking Sheet

  • Average time spent in character creation: 119 minutes
  • Number of times a character reached 0 Resonance: 1 (Don Sancho)
  • Number of critical fails when overspending Resonance: 0
  • Number of times a character ran out of spell slots: 1 (Don Sancho)
  • Number of times a character ran out of spell points: 1 (Natasha)
  • Number of Hero Points used: 14; 3 (Dan Sancho), 2 (Natasha), 5 (Casia), 4 (Tinryl)

GM Tracking Sheet

  • Total time spent playing "Affair at Sombrefell Hall": 6hrs, 5min
  • Total time spent preparing "Affair at Sombrefell Hall": 4hrs, 10min
  • Number of sessions spent playing "Affair at Sombrefell Hall": 2 (session increments are 4 hours)
  • Total number of Hero Points given out: 24
  • Number of characters reduced to 0 HP: 1; Tinryl (1)
  • Number of characters killed: 0
  • Number of times a player cast a heal spell with one target: 3
  • Number of times a player cast a heal spell with more than one target: 12
  • Number of times a player used a healing ability other than heal: 4
  • Number of rounds spent on each event (in order): 3, 5, 6, 6, 13
  • Number of party rests: 0

Additional Data

Casia Libitina

  • Number of channel uses: 5 (each a 3-action channel)
  • Applications of Undead's Bane: 5
  • Total damage dealt via channel to all enemies: 448
  • Number of enemies' critical fails vs. channel: 4

Don Sancho "Bishop" De La Vega

  • Uses of Magical Striker on +1 magic crossbow (following 2-action spell): 4
  • Successful hits: 2
  • Damage dealt: 23, 19

Tinryl Prind

  • Cantrip damage dealt with disrupt undead: 14
  • Uses of Turn Undead: 4
  • Uses of Hero Points to reroll a d20: 2
  • Number of successes when rerolling: 2

Natasha Anatoli

  • Total attacks of opportunity: 4
  • Successful attacks of opportunity: 4
  • Uses of Retributive Strike: 3
  • Successful Retributive Strikes: 2
  • Uses of Lay on Hands: 4

Highlights From Affair at Sombrefell Hall

The narrative structure of this part was entirely different from the first two. After the all-too-quiet build up we experienced while exploring the mansion, things exploded into frantic wave-by-wave action against undead. We rushed to build barricades along the mansion's key entry points, and things started to feel like the best mashup of both Pathfinder and Call of Duty: Zombies. Props to the author here, as tactical awareness was just as valuable as the dozen channels our clerics fired off.

Our first paladin of the playtest had a great showing, and it's hard to select a single highlight out of her many: kill-stealing a wave of ghasts from the party, landing a couple of clutch retributive strikes, and standing toe-to-pincer with a brain collector at the end.

After several intense game hours of holding back undead, resources were starting to run low and our potential for error grew. Dan is laughing about a second stat like this, but a surprise appearance by an aberration leading the undead resulted in another "own goal" on his record. Granted, he missed the identification roll, but Tinryl healed it nonetheless when trying to channel it down. The ungrateful brain collector returned the favor by dishing out two critical hits to the cleric in the same round: 105 damage.

Character Deaths

None. While we can chalk this up to the massive amount of healing power this party was packing, it can't go without mention that we played a tight game when it came to barricade placement.

Current Situation

What was supposed to be an information-gathering mission to contact a professor on sabbatical, became a five-hour scrap against a variety of undead and one of our best performances in recent years. We did lose an NPC, a research assistant who hid well enough in a bedroom--which happened to become a battleground. As we build characters for part four, despite this being a playtest we're too competitive with ourselves not to tally up our record: 2-1.

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Adam Daigle
Managing Developer

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Tags: Community Order of the Amber Die Pathfinder Playtest

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thank you Order of the Amber Die for tracking everything with such detail! Great snapshots!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Every cleric should have access to Warded ouch.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
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 for sharing! I LOVE the mood lighting!!


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Great Setup as always! I do wonder - where did you dish out 24 Hero Points? Did you break this into two sessions? It sounded like on 5h romp.


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Great breakdown, well done.

Order of the Amber Die

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DerNils wrote:
Great Setup as always! I do wonder - where did you dish out 24 Hero Points? Did you break this into two sessions? It sounded like on 5h romp.

Thanks! Total time was just over six hours, with five of them focused on combat, and our sessions are four-hour increments. In addition to the standard one Hero point per session and one for contributing (OAD members are expected to carry many out-of-game tasks to help run our game), the players threw themselves 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 2 sessions = 24 points. What's interesting 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 16 and maximum of 24 points. So far we've seen a nice variety among the group in regard to how they spent their points: some save them to revive from dying, some go all-in for the extra action, and others prefer the reroll option. The balancing factor with Hero Points is that they reset each session, so depending on what occurs in a four-hour increment, players who try to hold them too long for the perfect moment might never get that opportunity, resulting in points going unused (see our first report). At the same time, plenty of points were given out in part two and it didn't stop the TPK. Hope that helps, and we're excited to show off more data about Hero Points in our upcoming blogs!


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

Very atmospheric, I love it!

Order of the Amber Die

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Fumarole wrote:
Very atmospheric, I love it!

Thanks Fumarole! We played late into the night to complete part two, and the next roster started part three early in the morning, so I was lucky enough to be able to see some of part three. And, I gotta say, the candlelight really did create a special atmosphere, and made for some great pics and a great session!

Order of the Amber Die

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Elorebaen wrote:
Thank you for sharing! I LOVE the mood lighting!!

Glad so many people liked the lighting, Adam (GM) called me last summer and invited me to a "party-building party" where local OAD members were slotting the roster for each part of playtest, and he mentioned doing a setup where I might be able to build a frame to black out the room at any time of day. I made it happen, and we've been using it for three scenarios now. I've built a couple of the other lighting setups you see on the blog reports as well--the team named me "The Castellan!"

Seriously though, it got dark in the room, but not too much to prevent Natasha from walking straight at the undead and laying the SMACK down. I'm still in my rookie phase here in OAD, and the playtest has been really intense and action-packed. I'll be rolling with a 9th level monk (Sajan) in the next part!

Order of the Amber Die

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OAD Sean wrote:
Elorebaen wrote:
Thank you for sharing! I LOVE the mood lighting!!

Glad so many people liked the lighting, Adam (GM) called me last summer and invited me to a "party-building party" where local OAD members were slotting the roster for each part of playtest, and he mentioned doing a setup where I might be able to build a frame to black out the room at any time of day. I made it happen, and we've been using it for three scenarios now. I've built a couple of the other lighting setups you see on the blog reports as well--the team named me "The Castellan!"

Seriously though, it got dark in the room, but not too much to prevent Natasha from walking straight at the undead and laying the SMACK down. I'm still in my rookie phase here in OAD, and the playtest has been really intense and action-packed. I'll be rolling with a 9th level monk (Sajan) in the next part!

Ah yes, the Castellan of Fort Rannick (i.e., my house and OAD headquarters). Besides being a great player, I'll add that Sean is a talented contractor who owns his own business, and he likes to take charge of patching up the house after the dust of a marathon settles. Some of my favorite Castellan moments have been: our post-Giantslayer celebration when the grill melted the siding on the house (Sean repaired), our first marathon of Strange Aeons when the two-hundred candles we used ended up turning into puddles of wax all over my furniture (Sean repaired), the hot water heater breaking during a January marathon of Azlant (Sean repaired while pausing to roll initiative lying on his back), the famous toilet breakdown which threatened to derail Strange Aeons 5 (Sean repaired), and the chunks of plaster that were ripped from the living room ceiling when we mounted the undersea backdrop for Azlant 4 (Sean repaired). It's normal for Sean to show up to an OAD session with his work truck having some lighting/gaming/setup-related contraption he wants to test out. From outside his workshop in Philly, it's also normal to hear a Pathfinder podcast on full volume, interrupted with blasts of a table saw. Sean is also the only member who will feature in all seven parts of the Playtest, and we're grateful to have him on the team!

Order of the Amber Die

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Telebuddy wrote:
Great breakdown, well done.

Thank you! One of my favorite moments of this session was actually during prep while going into the attic to look for those staircase pieces you see in the photos, and realizing they were buried in a box somewhere in a general part of the attic. As I went through a couple of the boxes, I came across old logs we still have from our earliest days of OAD--one was from 1987--and a player had recorded all of our hit and damage data, as well as miles traveled and methods of travel for a Greyhawk campaign in mom's basement after school. The connection to what we are doing with the Playtest here was like seeing your gaming lifespan come full circle, and realizing that you've been tracking this game's data for thirty-one years.

The Exchange Order of the Amber Die

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SilentInfinity wrote:
Thank you Order of the Amber Die for tracking everything with such detail! Great snapshots!

Thank you, we all try to choose some data to track that might be interesting, and it's fun to look back at it. It can be challenging at times to remember everything as we play, but we all remind each other to make sure the data is properly recorded. I was happy to survive!

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