Order of the Amber Die—Doomsday Dawn Playtest, Part 4

Saturday, October 20, 2018

They keep going and going! The folks from the Order of the Amber Die have crossed the halfway mark in DoomsdayDawn finishing "The Mirrored Moon." I just got their report from that session and wanted to share it with the rest of you. Keep in mind that there will be spoilers, so if you haven't played through this one yet, read this blog later!

After our initial experiences in Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of the playtest, it was time for part four and our first adventure by author Mark Seifter. The pressure was a little higher for this one, because it was Mark who first sat with us at PaizoCon 2018 and tossed around the idea of doing a full playtest for the Paizo Blog. As this scenario focused on overland exploration in an area of the River Kingdoms known as Thicketfell, our GM gathered images to match the varying terrain, as well as nature soundscapes to build immersion. Perhaps the best effect though, was that while our characters searched extensively for a remote pond called the Moonmere, we spent most of the scenario in the natural light of a New Jersey autumn.

The Party

As this part of the playtest was designed to use the same four characters as part one, we were able to see how well this non-traditional roster of iconics would hold up at higher levels. While Resonance would presumably be tough on us without a cleric, this party set out to prove that even a lineup without major access to healing could thrive in the new edition. Moreover, this was our first time updating characters instead of creating new ones, and as expected, it was much faster than drawing them up from scratch. For playtest purposes, the same four OAD members played the same iconic characters as part one and listed with their names is the year each became a member of the Order (when a player has reached 100 hours at our table).

Seoni, human sorcerer 9

Bloodline: Imperial

ClassFeats: Familiar, Reach Spell, Dangerous Sorcery, Arcane Evolution, Vicious Concentration

Background: Family Friend

Played by Matt Hardin (2003)

Lem halfing bard 9

Muse: Lore

ClassFeats: Loremaster's Recall, Cantrip Expansion, Lingering Composition, Additional Heightening

Background: Mind Quake Survivor

Played by Daniel Scholler (2007)

Fumbus goblin alchemist 9

ClassFeats: Quick Bomber, Smoke Bomb, Calculated Splash, Precise Bombs, Powerful Alchemy

KeyFormulas: Alchemist's fire, elixir of life, bestial mutagen (for use with Sajan)

Background: Goblin Renegade

Played by Erick Germer (2007)

Sajan human monk 9

ClassFeats: Ki Strike, Monastic Weaponry, Dragon Stance, Wind Step, Wall Run

Build: strength, flurry of blows, shurikens

Background: Budding Osirionologist

Played by Sean Linville (2016)

"The Mirrored Moon" By The Numbers:

Player Tracking Sheet

  • Average time spent in character creation: 97 minutes
  • Number of times a character reached 0 Resonance: 2 (Fumbus)
  • Number of critical fails when overspending Resonance: 0
  • Number of times a character ran out of spell slots: 0
  • Number of times a character ran out of spell points: 3 (Sajan)
  • Number of Hero Points used: 37; Fumbus (8), Lem (10), Sajan (8), Seoni (11)

GM Tracking Sheet

  • Total time spent playing "The Mirrored Moon": 12hrs, 35min
  • Total time spent preparing "The Mirrored Moon": 11hrs, 20min
  • Number of sessions spent playing "The Mirrored Moon": 4 (session increments are 4 hours)
  • Total number of Hero Points given out: 48
  • Number of characters reduced to 0 HP: 20; Fumbus (6), Lem (5), Sajan (5), Seoni (4)
  • Number of characters killed: 4
  • Number of Ally Points earned: 2
  • Number of Research Points earned: 1
  • Number of Treasure Points earned: 1
  • Number of days elapsed before the final encounter: 60
  • Number of hexes explored: 25

Additional Data

Seoni

  • Hero Points used for extra actions: 6
  • Hero Points used to reroll: 2
  • Successful rerolls: 2
  • Hero Points used for Heroic Recovery: 3
  • Uses of Reach Spell: 2
  • Extra range gained through Reach Spell: 30ft

Lem

  • Hero Points used for extra actions: 0
  • Hero Points used to reroll: 6
  • Successful rerolls: 2
  • Hero Points used for Heroic Recovery: 4
  • Uses of Composition: 4

Fumbus

  • Hero Points used for extra actions: 3
  • Hero Points used to reroll: 2
  • Successful rerolls: 1
  • Hero Points used for Heroic Recovery: 3
  • Bombs thrown: 7
  • Successful bomb hits: 4
  • Total amount of persistent damage: 161

Sajan

  • Hero Points used to reroll: 4
  • Successful rerolls: 1
  • Hero Points used for Heroic Recovery: 4
  • Total movement in combat with 50' speed: 910 ft.

Highlights From "The Mirrored Moon"

We can count on one hand number of rocs we've encountered over the years. Iconic yet elusive, we consider ourselves lucky to come across even one of these birds of legend, and "The Mirrored Moon" generously delivered two. Our GM was so excited that he gleefully placed Fumbus's miniature in its talon when one of them snatched the goblin up, then dropped him 135 feet to the ground.

This scenario featured some new game mechanics that had us seeking out potential allies as we acquired treasure and research points to aid us in the final confrontation. That being said, we did not deliberately set out to exterminate an entire clan of cyclopes. Negotiations were going south after a failed diplomacy check, and we had our chance to leave, but the halfling's smooth tongue had always saved us from these situations. As nine angry cyclopes and their pet smilodon closed in, we thought this was going to be the shortest blog report of the past few years—until three critical fails against synapticpulse bought us precious time, and the win.

We challenged norms regarding party construction and executed well in what was a very melee-heavy encounter against a sizeable force of five trolls and two giants. Seoni's heightened invisibility was key here, as was Sajan's ability to run up walls and across water. With the battle lasting a grueling 22 rounds, Fumbus's persistent fire damage made a nice highlight reel as he lit the trolls up.

Character Deaths

After two months of searching, we discovered the Moonmere with just a few hours to spare before the Night Heralds summoned a Mu Spore; as such, we had to attack without support from potential allies. The result: we TPKed out. This scenario was certainly fair—definitely fun—and we gladly accept that this loss was on us!

Current Situation

Our record is now a gritty 2-2 across the first four scenarios of the DoomsdayDawn playtest. As you can see from the hex map we marked while exploring Thicketfell, we wasted too much time searching for a gnome settlement and still missed it by one hex. If we had found it, we'd have procured the necessary ally points and would likely be reporting a win. It's a game of inches.

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Adam Daigle
Managing Developer

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Huzzah!


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I love the sea monster. Who produces that miniature?

Dark Archive

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GreatKhanArtist wrote:
I love the sea monster. Who produces that miniature?

That's a "Sea Dragon" from Safari.

I use it as a Linnorm, as it is easily gargantuan. ;-)

Order of the Amber Die

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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Huzzah!

Huzzah!! We definitely had a hand-slapping moment after we laid the smack down on those cyclops! Of course, we weren't trying to fight them...

Order of the Amber Die

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Marco Massoudi wrote:
GreatKhanArtist wrote:
I love the sea monster. Who produces that miniature?

That's a "Sea Dragon" from Safari.

I use it as a Linnorm, as it is easily gargantuan. ;-)

Right on point there, Marco! Safari makes some useful miniatures which can fill gaps in any collection.

Speaking of miniatures, wouldn't it be cool if someday the case incentive for a Pathfinder Battles subscription could be a gargantuan roc? :)


Quote:
Number of Hero Points used: 37; Fumbus (8), Lem (10), Sajan (8), Seoni (11)

That is an absolutely baffling number of her points. Are they supposed to be given out this liberally?

Order of the Amber Die

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Tridus wrote:
Quote:
Number of Hero Points used: 37; Fumbus (8), Lem (10), Sajan (8), Seoni (11)
That is an absolutely baffling number of her points. Are they supposed to be given out this liberally?

Hi Tridus! I'll explain, since the minimum number was actually 32 for this scenario as played. Total time was just over twelve hours, 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 4 sessions = 48 points. What's interesting is that with a minimum of 2 points per player/per session regardless of any heroic or special actions, our spread was still a minimum of 32 and maximum of 48 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, the most notable piece of data is that plenty of points were given out in parts two and four and it didn't prevent either TPK.

One sure way to bring the number of points down would be for the standard session increment to become longer than four hours, but since that's a fairly standard length for tabletop RPGs, I'm not sure if we'll see it change. When it comes to giving a point for contributing to the game, a long-term effect on the Pathfinder community is that GMs should generally have more help at the table, which frees more of their time to run a better game for their players--a potentially powerful effect for a single Hero Point! One other thing that might help in determining how players earn the third Hero Point each session, would be a more specific rubric for rewarding dramatic actions, but it also seems like that's hard to do without boxing both GMs and players in. Since we had some experience with Hero Point mechanics in the past, we decided as a group early on that we weren't going to spend precious session time having debates at the table about whether an action was heroic enough, etc. Hope all of this helps, and we're excited to show off more data about Hero Points in our upcoming blogs!


I see, that would do it. Thanks for the explanation! :)

We've done most of them in 2 sessions and we collectively despise the idea of giving out in game rewards for out of game activities and thus nobody ever gets that one. We have people at our table who can naturally help with things easily(*) and others for whom simply showing up on time is difficult (due to real life health issues and such), so it feels inherently unfair. At the same time, changing it to say "X gets one for showing up, but Y only gets one because it's at his house AND he gave us all leftover birthday cake" is also unfair.

In fact, I'd never seen a hero point handed out in the playtest in person until last night, where it happened because we were going to TPK anyway and the DM felt like giving us a break.

So for us, we usually get 1 her point per person per session, and that's it (8 total). That's why the number sounds so comparatively huge for your game.

(*) It was at my house last night because I have a 5 year old and it's easier to host than travel, and I'm also a DM sometimes. So, I was in a position to easily do things like look up rules on my laptop during someone elses turn, use my initiative board to track that, and yes, hand out leftover birthday cake from the night before. IMO, a smooth game is my reward for helping out and I'm not overly comfortable with getting mechanical advantages for that. But I can see how groups would vary on it.


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I love that the initiative board has a reminder to the players to spend their Hero Points. My players forgot about them the first few sessions. Not last night though - they spent four of them rerolling a failed Grab the Edge reaction to try to save their goblin paladin from plummeting off a cliff. It didn't help.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Awesome guys! It's very rough if you can't get enough Ally points to avoid the giant fight and weaken the final fight. Depending on if you had 2-3 or 0-1 ally points, the final fight was either Extreme like the Night Heralds in Part 2 that also TPKed the Order or Extreme+ (listed in the adventure as "virtually impossible"). Those Extreme encounters by design are supposed to have a much higher chance of a TPK (and it's why in this adventure, they tend to be something that doesn't happen by default, like the Night Herald fight in Part 2 or the buffed fight here). And the Order beat the terrifying sea serpent, as hard a Severe encounter as they come. I'm really looking forward to seeing how you guys manage in Part 5!

Order of the Amber Die

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Fumarole wrote:
I love that the initiative board has a reminder to the players to spend their Hero Points. My players forgot about them the first few sessions. Not last night though - they spent four of them rerolling a failed Grab the Edge reaction to try to save their goblin paladin from plummeting off a cliff. It didn't help.

Hey Fumarole, good to see you around again. The 'Spend Hero Points' was written in by one of our members because we were bad at using them during part 1 since we had never used them before and we were having tons of hero points go unspent. Perhaps this was due to us being conservative with them, but adding it to the initiative board had it become a sort of meme that did, in fact, help us remember to use them.

I've personally wanted to see the Grab the Edge reaction come into play, but we haven't had the opportunity to see that playout just yet. I think it's a really cool mechanic that should make certain playthroughs epic.

Order of the Amber Die

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Awesome guys! It's very rough if you can't get enough Ally points to avoid the giant fight and weaken the final fight. Depending on if you had 2-3 or 0-1 ally points, the final fight was either Extreme like the Night Heralds in Part 2 that also TPKed the Order or Extreme+ (listed in the adventure as "virtually impossible"). Those Extreme encounters by design are supposed to have a much higher chance of a TPK (and it's why in this adventure, they tend to be something that doesn't happen by default, like the Night Herald fight in Part 2 or the buffed fight here). And the Order beat the terrifying sea serpent, as hard a Severe encounter as they come. I'm really looking forward to seeing how you guys manage in Part 5!

Thanks Mark, it was awesome getting to play a scenario that you authored! With twenty-five hexes explored, we felt like we were able to see a lot of it. As for the sea serpent, we gave it a bloody nose, but ultimately decided to retreat to the shore with fly since it was our very first encounter of the scenario and the risk was too great. Against a Severe encounter (like you mentioned), it definitely felt like a win though. I was also really impressed with how well they did against those giants, I didn't think this party could stand toe-to-toe without a major melee character. The layout of the Moonmere's Flip-Mat helped a lot too, as characters used the third action to stay mobile while utilizing the terrain to prevent the larger creatures from ganging up.

The ending played out exactly as we deserved; plus, we all love a good TPK, right guys? :)


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I just give one extra hero point to those players that make the surveys. Lol

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Dante Doom wrote:
I just give one extra hero point to those players that make the surveys. Lol

That works! Out of game responsibility for each group is different, but I like the idea of encouraging players to contribute more to their group.

In a normal session for the Order, my roles involve: double-checking stat blocks for all players (2-3 hours in the week before a session), showing up an hour early to help Adam with last-minute details, cleaning up and doing dishes after the session (I prefer this!). No one shows up empty-handed to a session, so we can make a pretty big mess. I've been known to bake brownies too. If it's a full marathon, my roles also include tracking session hours, setting and keeping to the schedule of play, helping Erick with the initiative board, digging for rules clarifications on the PFSRD, and waking everyone in the mornings. The last one is the hardest!

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Dan's responsible, sometimes he has to wake us up a couple of times. I live close to Adam, so I am on call to assist in just about anything and spend at least one night a week helping out with the game at his house. I run the initiative board the entire time we play and when there is too much to keep track of then Dan helps me. I always stay a few hours after each session helping Adam break things down and we often write down observations about the sessions together, a couple of us do this almost every time. I also build our flying bases, and have been known to spend evenings cutting and sanding foamcore terrain tiles for the game. I also help with documentation and photo editing. I get to park in the driveway because I make the food runs for the group. I am also a driver for our away sessions. Last year I remember spending four Saturdays in a row with Adam and Aerick painting terrain for the Azlant campaign. It was worth a few hero points, too bad we didn't have them though.


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Dante Doom wrote:
I just give one extra hero point to those players that make the surveys. Lol

I'm not fond of Hero Point like mechanics, but I'm using them for the Playtest anyway.

However I detest the idea of favortism, and the fact that the current Hero Point rules encourage it is a huge issue for me. So as an alternative I award two hero points at the begining of a four-hour session, and one more at some point during it.


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Great descriptions of your various tasks! It so simply and effectively demonstrates how your role playing experience is so different from most. While I could see the elaborate set up in your pictures and thus knew it, listing what all it entails really drove the point home for me. Thanks so much for the hard work and sharing it with everyone!

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K Vogrin wrote:
Great descriptions of your various tasks! It so simply and effectively demonstrates how your role playing experience is so different from most. While I could see the elaborate set up in your pictures and thus knew it, listing what all it entails really drove the point home for me. Thanks so much for the hard work and sharing it with everyone!

Thanks! I'm glad we were able to communicate that effectively. One thing that might not be apparent to people: OAD didn't start doing all this work once we got on the Paizo blog; we had been doing all this work for years and years prior, and then we got on to the blog. As Player Captain from 2003-2011, I can personally attest to the fact that all this goes back to the early 2000s, at least. It's one of the (many) things I love about the Order--everybody participates and contributes in some way, often bringing their own unique talents and skill sets to bear, and benefit us all. We wouldn't be where we are today if not for the contributions of all the members.

For myself, my role is currently that of Player Captain once again, as Aerick embarks upon his new job, and we all wish him the best. Personally, I can't think of a better person to have passed the torch to for all those years, as he was absolutely outstanding as Player Captain. I am honored to be donning the mantle once again, and carrying on our proud tradition.

My jobs/responsibilities have changed over the years, but as it stands now, I wear many hats (like most members of OAD, as you can probably tell by now). I am generally the first and last person checking character sheets, reviewing stat blocks, making sure everything is good to go. I am also directing/leading email chains with the other members, making sure all our player tasks are completed by our deadlines, and all our player prep is completed prior to our session. Adam always has some kind of plan for how he wants things to look and feel at each session (as GM only he knows what it should look like), and I help direct the rest of the players as we try to execute that. Additionally, I am also very involved with all OAD social media: I run the Instagram; I work together with Adam on OAD’s Twitter; I help with Facebook as needed; and I also work on the YouTube channel, and have done some video editing for our content on there. Everybody pitches in for setup and break down as they can, and being one of the taller members, I usually help our Castellan, Sean Linville, set up the PVC pipe studio backdrop that he personally created (Shout out to our Castellan—that’s a bad ass rig you made there man!). Lastly, I spend a lot of time just on the phone communicating Adam, often several times a week, from anywhere as short as 45 minutes, to over 4 hours, easily. The longer conversations are more common, I would have to say. All this isn’t even including the countless text messages. What do we discuss? Anything and everything game and OAD related, issues great and small, from highly detailed items that require immediate attention, to big picture discussion and reflection about the Marathon we just completed, what direction we want to take the Order in, in the future, and many other things. I’d say it roughly breaks down to about 50/50 between tasks and things we need to get done for our game, and the other half is reflecting, analysis and planning. The Order keeps evolving, and I am happy and thrilled to be a part of that evolution. It's nothing short of a lifestyle, and now we get a Hero Point for it!


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It sounds like an incredibly busy but amazing group to be part of. As I said earlier, thanks for sharing so much of what you do with the rest of us.

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OAD Life! No matter how many conversations we have, nothing we discuss is taken more seriously than this:

Deciding what we're going to play next. :)


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Dante Doom wrote:
I just give one extra hero point to those players that make the surveys. Lol

I did this too for our first session of part 2, but only one player actually completed the survey. I suspect that for our first session of part 3 all of them will have done so.

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