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Order of the Amber Die. Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber. 280 posts. No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.


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Order of the Amber Die

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Ron Lundeen wrote:
Adam Smith wrote:
Ron Lundeen wrote:
#sorrynotsorry. I love shining children!
really excited to see what kinds of variant shining children we'll see in PF 2.0! :)
They're right there in the Bestiary!

(slides aside a stack of Ruins of Azlant and Beyond the Veiled Past materials for Labor Day marathon, checks 2.0 Bestiary)

Hehehe...
(evil, evil smirk)

Seriously though, Tower of the Drowned Dead was incredible Ron, I'm looking forward in particular to showing everyone some of the video we compiled of the tower during assembly and play, as well as some end photos of the Omen Dominion.

Thanks for an adventure that was very rewarding to GM!

Order of the Amber Die

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Ron Lundeen wrote:
#sorrynotsorry. I love shining children!

Gotta say to the group, I'm on the side of the author here as usual! The Amber Die approved of the pelagic child, and spoke by gifting it a 20 with a searing ray. I will miss Aoinse dearly, but the Amber Die's word is final.

Shining Children vs. the Order
-Fortress of the Stone Giants
-Sins of the Saviors
-The Emerald Spire (emerald child)
-Tower of the Drowned Dead (pelagic child)

Let me just throw some more salt on the players and say that I'm really excited to see what kinds of variant shining children we'll see in PF 2.0! :)

Order of the Amber Die

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Thurston Hillman wrote:
I look forward to meeting you (through my words) in your next installment! :D

Thurston, all these projects over the years and finally Beyond the Veiled Past will be the first one of your adventures that I get to run! Lots of prep has gone down already, and I'm excited to show off some surprises. There are a couple of encounters in particular that I've set aside the Amber Die itself for, so we'll see what kind of magic it can deliver...

Order of the Amber Die

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Steph Hanley wrote:
Wow, that's incredible! This is the level of gaming that I aspire to. You all are amazing!

Thanks so much, Steph! Day three of the marathon passed nineteen hours for a single session, and definitely tested the Order. I think I was still talking like a lich when my students walked into homeroom the next morning...

Onward to part six!

Order of the Amber Die

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GreatKhanArtist wrote:
150 published adventures is quite a feat, indeed. I don't think I've even read that many. What are the Order's favorite 10 they've played or DMed?

I'm glad the holidays gave me a few days to think about this one. It's really hard to commit to a permanent list, as my tastes have changed over the years, but I didn't have much trouble saying these could be in my potential top ten.

Here are a bunch of the favorites I've GMed:

1. Night below
2. N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God
3. Return to the Tomb of Horrors
4. S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
5. The Emerald Spire
6. The Rod of Seven Parts
7. Heart of Nightfang Spire
8. PF113: What Grows Within
9. Moonlight Madness
10. G1-2-3: Against the Giants
11. I2: Tomb of the Lizard King
12. U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
13. The Temple of Elemental Evil

Order of the Amber Die

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Erpa wrote:

I am in awe of your dedication to your passion; your game.

I'm extremely jealous of your dedication to your passion; your game. ;)

I look at my own dice bag, gathering dust. 3 of us in my group of 30 years have children under 3, and 2 others live 60+miles away. We simply cannot make it together that much at all.

So, I'll live vicariously through your exploits. Well done, thanks for sharing, keep it going!

Such comments like this and the others on this blog really make what we're doing worth it, and it has me wanting to spend today working on new ideas for our next project. :) Thanks for mentioning dedication, I always appreciate when that's noticed alongside the material aspects of our setup. What is sometimes overlooked is that this is actually our regular game, meaning that we play like this whether we are posting our game online or not. We've been keeping logs and doing reports for ourselves as far back as our second year of play as kids, and I have an attic full of everything from initiative sheets to campaign records from everything we have ever played. The passion you mentioned is another big component, and it took us three decades of both that dedication and passion to get our game to this point. While our roster changes and members come and go over the years (and come back too), I'm the one in the Order that has GMed the entire count of what will soon be 150 adventures. Until we received such a warm welcome with our first Paizo project, I used to hide from the number, since it showed that I have clearly dedicated a very large part of my life to GMing published adventures. Thank you for inspiring us to share our game and keep doing what we're doing, and let's see what we can come up with for 2019!

Oh, and since it sounds like your group is still together after thirty years, don't put that dusty dice bag away just yet. :)

Order of the Amber Die

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K Vogrin wrote:
Thank you, OAD, for all of your hard work in completing the playtest! Hearing the horrendous schedule you kept demonstrates your dedication to the game and your efforts are appreciated. Not only that, but each blog was a treat to read and the pictures were always amazing. You have me excited to see the final version of 2nd Edition and I'm looking forward to experiencing some of these changes myself. Thanks again for another great read and for sharing such dedication with the community!

K, thanks so much for the words of encouragement! It's a nice feeling to know that people noticed the pace we kept, because we found ourselves sitting there at times after a session in the middle of the night, compiling data and planning for the next two-week segment saying "Are other groups out there keeping this pace?" :) I like to think of it this way though: No matter how furious our schedule, imagine all the effort it took on the part of the design team at Paizo to read and react to so many reports coming in at that same pace! I can only wonder what these next few months look like for them until version 2.0 ships out to print...

Truth be told, it was an awesome gaming experience to be able to play a role in the evolution of the game that OAD approaches as a lifestyle--and we got to make many new friends like yourself in the community throughout!

Order of the Amber Die

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PsychicPixel wrote:

Loved all these write-ups great job.

That's a lot of hero points though per scenario. Maybe I was too restrictive with them. But it never really felt like my players did anything above and beyond to earn more than a few every now and then.

What was the criteria you used for giving out hero points?

Thank you! We really enjoyed putting this together for everyone, and I hope it offered some useful perspectives on the new edition.

As for Hero Points, we used the formula provided on p. 300 of the Playtest Rulebook. If your scenarios weren't longer than four hours, you might not have been as restrictive as you think. Each player has one or two points at the moment they sit down to the table, with the final point per session to be determined during play. For a much more detailed explanation of how our numbers ended up the way they did, check out the comments section of this blog. Hope that helps!

Order of the Amber Die

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Bravo!

As I was writing down some notes for this blog, I was remembering how a humorous conversation about our experiences playing a high level medium somehow turned into laying the groundwork for a full playthrough of all seven playtest scenarios. Looking back, only you really knew what we had just signed on for. :) Thanks for believing in us, Mark!

Order of the Amber Die

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Fumarole wrote:
Great job OAD team! I love the photos.

Thanks Fumarole, I'm glad you could come along on another ride with us. I must admit, I'm incredibly happy that so many people like the photos. We have a lot of members, and our roster changes a bit with each project, so the photo team tends to vary a bit. This time it was Erick on editing and myself on the primary camera. We tried to look around at how people were documenting their games in the community, and then approach the shots from a fresh perspective. The shoggoth was actually my favorite one, and a lot went into it: I picked up a desk sculpture of a shoggoth from Ebay, another member (Jody) chiseled it out of the plaster, we put it on a 3x3 base, used several black lights to give it some of the black sheen that Jacobs described in the module, added a small reading light to let some colors appear, and then shot top-down with a 60mm macro lens to throw off the perspective of how big it was.

We've had such a good response about the photos on our own social media as well, that I'm going to add another seminar to our usual two that we run at GenCon every year. The subject of the seminar will be something down the line of what it takes to document your game. We'll use the photos from this project, some of the recent Azlant photos, and even ones from older projects to explain what goes into documenting your own game, as well as how to make some simple improvements that took us a couple of years to learn. It seems like more groups than ever are documenting their games out there, so hopefully it gets some interest and we can help others with what we've picked up over the years.

Stay tuned for an 8th blog: a wrapup complete with behind-the-scenes photos, cumulative data, and reactions. :)

Order of the Amber Die

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Mark Seifter wrote:
A 20th level monk multiclassed into barbarian for Furious Sprint can pull tricks similar to the one David knott describes, probably winning the Playtest 100m dash event!

Awesome!

You're making it very tempting to put together a few 20th level encounters and record some data...

Order of the Amber Die

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LuniasM wrote:
PFW1-K1 wrote:
OAD Sean wrote:
Stride, stride, stride. More than 200' in a single round.

Context:

9.84 seconds, 100m dash
14.77 seconds, 150m dash

Usain Bolt in 2009:

9.58 seconds, 100m dash
14.35 seconds, 150m dash

Bonus context:

Based on the 100m dash time for Usain Bolt, his speed over 6 seconds (aka a round) is roughly 205 feet. Pretty dang fast! You'd need a speed of 70' per action over 3 actions, or 55' per action over 4 actions (via haste or a similar effect) to outmatch Usain Bolt.

Sean will probably chime back in here, but I think he had either boots of bounding or anklets of alacrity (perhaps both). I am almost certain there was a round in there where he moved 270 total! The map we used was parchment to match the pages of The Last Theorem, and though it was 36x36", it was still way too small!

Order of the Amber Die

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SilentInfinity wrote:
Wonderful report and wonderful pictures! It reads like you had quite a blast! Very creative responses to situations too!

Thanks Rob! We had such a good time playing this one, we thought it would be fun to go with one of the most casual group shots of us roleplaying that we've ever put up on the blog. While the team loves to debate after each session about which part of the playtest they liked best, it's my place to just observe and listen--but I will say this--if you want to see if Pathfinder 2.0 feels like Pathfinder 1.0 for roleplaying purposes, this is a great scenario to do that with.

Here's a bit of OAD life: Sean is actually planning a New Year's Eve pirate party at his house where we'll be using this 3D setup, and replaying the scenario with many partners/spouses who are new to Pathfinder. :)

Order of the Amber Die

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TSRodriguez wrote:

You guys are always a breath of fresh air, a positive inducing blast of energy to the game. After reading these blogs I'm always left with a hunger for more, and to truly experience the game at its fullest. Thanks for the amazing attitude towards the new system. I stopped reading everything related to the playtest, the amount of negativity is something that really ruins the experience for me, but after reading this, I'm ready for more. Thanks, guys, you re a shining beacon, and a great example of how to play and how to face this amazing game. I will resume supporting you as soon as I can... xD Long live the Order

This chapter looks a lot less grindy than the last ones, but still as dangerous.

Elorebaen wrote:
These are my thoughts as well when it comes to OAD. Long live the Order, indeed!

Sebastian, thank you for the kind words, it really means a lot to us after the amount of effort that went into the playtest from our members. As you know, we are spread out across the country and prefer to assemble less often but for longer periods of play. This playtest put much of the work onto our local members, more of whom have families and demanding careers that had to be navigated to create time to play and report out. When it comes to reacting to the news of Pathfinder 2.0, like so many groups out there, the announcement of the Playtest caused a passionate response from some of our members. Games evolve, just like most everything else. It's normal that each proposed change would often be met with voices of both agreement and dissent. These voices help shape the next phase of the game, but are also stronger with data to support them, and I hope our work has helped provide that data. We'll keep doing our job to push the ceiling of the game, and we are grateful for the support we've received from everyone. We actually end many of our emails to each other with exactly what you and Elorebaen left us with: Long live the Order!

Order of the Amber Die

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Fiziks wrote:

From the GM tracking sheet:

"Total number of Hero Points given out: 36"

36?!! What sorts of things get you awarded hero points? Our DM hands out maybe one or two hero points a session, and that's total, not each character. Figuring out one of the puzzles as a group without having to make any knowledge or lore roles in one of the previous adventures was the only time he handed out 1 hero point each.

Also, how many hero points do you start out with?

Hi Fiziks, happy to explain, since the minimum number was actually 24 for this scenario as played. Total time was just under 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, see comments for blog #4), 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 3 sessions = 36 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 24 and maximum of 36 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, four, and five--which didn't prevent 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!

Order of the Amber Die

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
So far, the most likely death points have been the treachery demons, the demilich, and the finale, so that tracks with the numbers! The last boss is brutal, though, unless you bring all the right stuff like the group on the Paizo stream did.
To be fair, we one the stream also skipped a bunch of encounters, so whether or not we would have made it that far or still had the right stuff available when the big bad showed up remains a mystery.
This is true! I suspect a fair number of groups would have trouble with that boss even at full resources, though. But not everyone had a shadowy monk with frosty cold iron fists.

Interesting, I was wondering the same thing about the stream, which ties into why I look forward to running this one again. Nothing affected the outcome of this scenario more than the decision to have the wraiths attack a single character. I knew the end was out of sight well before the players: I watched them cook off resources chasing wraiths around the cathedral as their wizard suffered through round after round of attacks, draining what I estimated as 20% of their resources in one fight. Incorporeal, flying, and with a 10' reach, there was no way for the wizard to find safety. Even with the data above showing how many times the wraiths missed, they still created a sense of panic and uncertainty that caused further attrition. The players also chose to use the stained glass against the wraiths to force a faster conclusion. This is the first time our team is even hearing this, but the main reason I want to see it play out again (with this same party) is because I am nearly certain they would at least make it to the end if any of the three other characters been the closest one to the graveyard when the wraiths emerged.

Editions aside, the diversity of scenarios and challenges in this playtest has definitely made us better as a group!

Order of the Amber Die

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Fumarole wrote:
I love the photos, as always!

Much appreciated! That's always good to hear because a good amount of time goes into choosing which photos we use, and especially how to thematically capture each part of the Playtest or project we're running. Erick and I have been doing the pics for the Playtest, and we were lucky to have such a perfect sunset for this one.

Order of the Amber Die

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Edge93 wrote:
PsychicPixel wrote:

Wow the detail and the numbers are fascinating to read.

There has been some controversy in some threads about handling the larger enemies within the church. Specifically the treachery demons. How had the GM placed them when they popped into the church and how were they manuvered around the area?

I'm curious too, cause one of those figures looks pretty fenced in by pillars. XD

Myself I've found liberal use of Dimension Door is the best option. XD Breaking pillars could work but DD covers ground faster.

Demilich, reporting in! As for placement of the treachery demons, it seemed pretty clear to me on p. 63 (rubble pile and east end)? Anyway, mine used D-Door also, but I otherwise pretty much stayed on each end until I had one demon left; at that point, I had a good time making everyone run the length of the temple once they were able to base my remaining demon (D-Door to opposite side, rinse, repeat). So many abilities to work with in this one--a great time for a GM!

Order of the Amber Die

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SilentInfinity wrote:
Great blog post! You're right about those high numbers! 2E really can pack a lot in and keep you going or take you down! Very energizing read through and always appreciate the beautiful pictures the team takes! I'm so very envious considering my team has gotten very busy this autumn so we haven't played much more, let alone our Strange Aeons game. Thanks for sharing Order of the Amber Die!

Thanks for reading, and glad you liked the pictures! We had a good time with this one, and the team wanted me to give them another crack at it as soon as the Playtest is over. They have me intrigued to see whether they can finish out with a winning record, that's for sure!

Order of the Amber Die

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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. :)

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? :)

Order of the Amber Die

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TOZ wrote:
I'm also curious how the Order of the Amber Die sessions compare.

There are some excellent points being made in this thread, it's awesome to see how many groups are trying to stick to RAW for the Playtest. I wanted to chime in and say thank you to all of you for putting in the time to interact on threads like this, I can say that OAD members do frequently keep up with what is being discussed, and we spent about an hour before each playtest session just going over what is currently being said among the community. Some members even like to cite specific comments they’ve read, and we go around the table trying to interpret elements of the playtest. We agree with many of the comments here, in that we felt the best way to offer data (and the point of the Playtest) was to play as close as possible to RAW. That being said, there is no "right" way to play and enjoy the game, so while our style works for us, every group should find what's comfortable for them.

As for TOZ's question about how OAD compares to the live games mentioned in a couple of posts above, we don't skip any encounters or change anything in the narrative structure, and play everything as tight as we possibly can. Related to this, we have sometimes struggled with expressing one particular piece of data after every session: total session time played. When learning an entirely new system and at the same time trying to accurately record how long it takes to play, we've been wondering if other groups count the time they spend looking up rules? Since our game is out in front of the community, we feel obligated to spend time looking up rules (we’ve even texted authors in the middle of a game) in order to make sure it's played right. As a result, we've tried to employ a system similar to stoppage time in soccer, where we estimate the amount of time spent looking up rules, and remove some of that from our data. The same goes for time spent in character creation. Do players count the time they only spend making the character, or include the time spent looking up how all the spells, feats, and abilities work for the first time as well? In the latter case, that same player a couple of years down the line would have a better understanding of the system, and thus the amount of time spent in character creation will likely drop to a more accurate average for the edition.

When it comes to the doom, gloom, and TPKs, hang in there everyone—we might just have another TPK to show off in a future report, too! :)

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!

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? :)

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.

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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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!

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.

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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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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!

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So great to see your name on the cover, Adam. This sounds like an awesome low-level jaunt with lots of variety, and whether as a standalone or the beginning of a new campaign, Roderic's Cove will be added to my list of places to visit in Varisia!

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Porridge wrote:
Adam Smith wrote:
SilentInfinity wrote:
Question for the DM and Sajan: with the flurry action did you do the two Strikes as 0/0 or 0/-4? We did the 0/-4.
Flurry it was played as 0/0, then -4 (agile) and -8 (agile).

Huh, the tentative consensus in this thread seems to be that it should be 0/-4. But I suspect you guys have a pretty good track record of getting the rules right...

Would be great to get some developer clarification regarding what was intended here. Maybe Mark Seifter or Jason Bulmhan will chip in?

The players might chime in here later too, but I remember this being a 50/50 split at the table, with a lot of the same types of arguments being made that were on the thread. You're right that we have a pretty good track record with getting rules right, but it's a lot easier to do that when there is a clear and definitive rule. At the same time, as GM I liked that we played it as 0/0, since this was a playtest and the point was to gather data (even if that data might come from the less popular side of a rules debate). We didn't find Sajan to be overpowered, but this was also only one session. As we gear up for parts 2 and 3 this weekend, the players have mostly shifted to feeling that Flurry is likely intended to be played as 0/-4 (sigh). Sometimes I'm not sure who has the more difficult job during a playtest, the GM or players! :)

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SilentInfinity wrote:

Wonderful first post and outing with the Pathfinder Playtest, Order of the Amber Die!

I'm shocked you didn't have any character deaths! I really thought my players would escape unscathed, but maybe it was the last of hero points that got one done in. Our human monk who excelled against Drakus fell to centipedes after they came back a third day to 'clear up' the rest of the Ashen Ossuary. I also dropped numerous characters below 0, though at least 3 of those were the barbarian within the same encounter. Try as the Cleric might to heal him, I brought him down!

Love that goblin alchemist mini!

Question for the DM and Sajan: with the flurry action did you do the two Strikes as 0/0 or 0/-4? We did the 0/-4.

Thrilled we'll have your updates to follow! Thank you!

I know, no deaths! Everything felt really balanced with being able to knock PCs to the ground but not having the lightning-quick deaths that have occurred with a couple of our recent projects for the blog (i.e., graveknight w\greataxe, draugr w\greataxe). TPK certainly felt as present as ever when two PCs were on the ground in the final battle.

Flurry it was played as 0/0, then -4 (agile) and -8 (agile). I'm sure Sean will chime in here this weekend, but one amusing situation that occurred with Sajan was when he grabbed up a goblin with a natural 20, yet it managed to escape easily on its next action (abruptly ending the players' hand-slapping spree).

Glad you liked how everything turned out, we had a great time with it all!

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Congrats all, the Order is looking forward to playing and presenting the adventures you'll edit! :)

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taks wrote:

Hey guys, I hope you're having fun. I'm catching up on your progress just now.

We'll start book 4 of Ironfang Invasion this weekend (Sunday) and we're going so fast I'm pretty sure we'll be done sometime this fall. That means I will likely get to run RoA NEXT! The other option I like is Strange Aeons, but my buddy doesn't care for Lovecraft. Either way, I'll have all of your work to look at for our next adventure (Ironfang is great, btw)! Thanks for that!

Oh, btw, Expo no longer makes chisel-tip markers. There are still multi-color 4-packs out there, but my guess is not for long. I'm going to buy a few just for the black (I use green/blue infrequently, red never).

Taks, great to hear from you! I've heard Ironfang is great, you'll have to let us know how it ends up. You guys are keeping a nice pace.

Thanks for the heads up too, I'm definitely feeling the pain on the Expo markers; I've got a nice stash that should last a few years, but after that we'll be stuck manufacturing our own OAD markers :) Speaking of Expo markers though, check out this treasure trove: I came across a guy who had 18 boxes of the original 8-packs which included brown, orange, yellow, and purple chisel tips. They belong to the Order now!

We're gearing up to play part four of The Azlant Odyssey at the end of June, and we're also excited to be heading into the back half the AP. High level underwater combat? Another notch on the belt.

Hope all is well!

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Ruins of Azlant fans:

Having just finished up an exciting marathon of this adventure, I wanted to contribute something here for GMs as they prepare to run The Flooded Cathedral. Thanks to everyone who has offered tips, feedback, and suggestions on this thread, and a special thanks to author Mikko Kallio for the gem he has given us. I hope the following may be of some use as well:

Part 1: Even though it may be unlikely to occur, GMs may want to remain closely aware of their players’ resources and be prepared for them to ignore the use of the ship’s boat for the ocean voyage to Zanas-Tahn. Our players lost the Peregrine’s boat in part two of the AP during a failed excursion to the sahuagin reef, and so far they hadn’t focused on replacing it. When they found themselves faced with the six-day time limit, they had to decide between expediting the process of building another one, or opting for an alternate method of reaching Zanas-Tahn. A few players began questioning the strix and locathah in our party, as well as Lyra Heatherly, about the distances between the islands; they also asked about some of the conditions they needed to be aware of while attempting to cross the water with the aid of magic. A plan was hatched, and then a close vote had them choosing to forego building the boat. While waiting out the storm, they created a marching order and some contingency plans for anything that might go awry during their attempt to walk to Zanas-Tahn. A few castings of water walk, combined with the “hustle” rule from the CRB, enabled the PCs to cross the ocean without need of a boat. Leaving from the northwestern tip of Ancorato, they skirted past Sheshkadrann--used the beach when they needed to—and eventually made landfall on Zanas-Tahn. It was very easy for them to avoid the globsters, and they made selected use of fly and other spells/items that granted swim speeds. GMs will want to decide how to handle random encounters in this situation; I considered this travel the same as any overland journey, but had to think carefully about how some encounters from the table on p. 83 would play out—or even occur at all. In the end, it made for an exciting end to the first part of the adventure, and after having to reroll encounters a couple of times, I decided that a pack of sea drakes would probably find this swimming/water walking/flying party quite intriguing as prey, and a fierce encounter took place as the party reached landfall.

Part 2: The hollows encounter is not to be overlooked as a simple overland encounter; instead, with its significant loot cache, this encounter offers GMs an excellent opportunity to bolster their players’ chances of success in this adventure. In comparison to many other encounters in the adventure, the hollows actually possess one of the more noteworthy treasure hauls; this is especially true when considering the necklace of adaptation, as it can be universally employed by any character and will make part three of this adventure (and part four of the AP) much easier to cope with. While there have been plenty of other chances to acquire items for underwater adventuring, items can often be skipped, lost, left behind while fleeing, or even bartered off for a particular must-have item (and the list goes on). The problem lies with getting the PCs to make a Perception check (i.e., searching the area) after they defeat the hollows. The signals for this encounter can make it seem like a simple random encounter or even one where two incorporeal creatures are unlikely to possess treasure. Moreover, if the PCs encounter the hollows during the daytime as we did, the wraiths follow the party for a time, and the coincidence of a nice shadowy area to strike from--which just happens to be the spot where they keep their treasure--is unlikely to jump out at players. One overt option is simply make the wraiths appear to pull toward the tree containing the valuables, appearing to take a "you can walk through our woods but not past this tree" stance. After the battle, PCs are much more likely to examine the tree this way. If you prefer to more gently manipulate your players instead, a less obvious option is to make the area the wraiths strike from appear to seem more like a important part of the forest that might once have belonged to them, without highlighting any specific part of it. As you can see in the blog photo of this encounter, I added some general ruins to this encounter. The wraiths had followed the party for quite some time, and coming across ruins was both normal and yet not; after all, in Azlant, ruins are plentiful and can be merely part of the landscape sometimes. Other parts of the first three volumes of the AP have seen ruins developed as important encounter areas, so you can keep your players on their toes here while at the same time building ambiance.

Our encounter ended like this:

Me: "Alright, so you guys are down some charisma, but regrouped, and you head out?"
Party: "Yup, keep heading in the same direction across the island."
Merisiel: "Wait, I take a look around really quick. Just kind of the general area, and where the wraiths were at..."

Part 3: Let’s focus on the battle for the outer temple grounds (area B), which can easily become one of the most tactical battles of the AP thus far. Some of the awesome tools you're given as GM consist of a map that begs to be immortalized in your campaigns, waves of defenders armed with different weaponry, and highly detailed stats for the various terrain features. The author gives us the general direction that the waves come from, but leaves the specifics to you. For example, the first wave comes from the west and east, but you have lots of options here since the west and east sides of the map are the longest. One group could easily be behind the party (throwing them into disarray), while another one could attack from the front. You could also roll randomly as to where they appear, or if you're feeling devious, decide on that after your PCs have picked their approach through the ruins. Heck, all waves could come from the same direction. With the second and third waves, you get even more leeway as to where they appear, and you can craft this battle however you like so as to challenge your players in whatever manner you see fit. An important skill that this battle tests is situational awareness, in that your players need to be acutely responsive to changes in the battle conditions. If a character becomes isolated and the party doesn't respond, a 10 foot reach providing easy flanking and sneak attacks could spell doom quickly, so players will certainly build their skill at communicating as a party. Local superiority can help you overwhelm players if that is your goal; don't be afraid to have all the stalkers break off of one area to team up and overload another, or even feign retreat if only to regroup. Lastly, the players don't know that there are only three waves, so as GM your body language and verbal cues can greatly alter the way the PCs perceive the battle. Saying to the players, "Ok, at the beginning of round 5..." or "On round 9..." just before presenting another wave can cause them to telegraph a wave that will never arrive. Pretend to track rounds as carefully as you did during the appearance of the first waves, even saying just loud enough to yourself "11...12..." and your players could likely fear another wave is coming. Keep them guessing by having a stalker or two look behind them into the ruins, possibly searching for what looks like more allies. After all, nothing is to say that the stalkers know exactly how many of them are available to reinforce the temple grounds.

As for terrain, the statue will likely remain the most important terrain feature, as it blocks line of sight from one side of the map to the other, even from large creatures. As noted on p. 26, the statue is 10 feet high on average, so it could be 15 feet in places if you wanted to guarantee that PCs have little idea of what is taking place on the opposite side of the statue. This can disrupt communication and decision-making between a split party. Even if the party doesn't split initially, having them catch a glimpse of stalkers headed around the other side of the statue behind them (while some approach from the front or side) could cause them to divert characters to protect their flank.

All being said, with balanced waves of stalkers and diverse terrain to suit, a GM has a lot of freedom in how hard they want to make this fight; it's a perfect chance to challenge PCs in the grid, and to improve your own skills as well.

Hope this helps some of you in your run of The Flooded Cathedral, and good luck!

Adam
GM
Order of the Amber Die

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TSRodriguez wrote:
I love this detailed logs of the campaign, now I wanna play this Ap so bad. How many days was this marathon? 55-60hours is usually what my group takes to do a module, but usually on 12 Sessions.

Oh, that's good to know about your session hours! It looks like our hours are right on point with yours. I'm glad other groups are tracking their play too, it seems the community can learn a lot about the game, APs, particular RPG groups, play styles, and much more from taking notes about our play.

This marathon unfolded somewhat differently from others in previous projects and even the first two marathons of The Azlant Odyssey. We have a pretty good system down now where players arrive from various parts of the country on Wednesday, and we spend the evening getting set up and making sure we get to bed early. Starting Thursday morning, we play from 6am-9pm without much more than a 30min. break (usually not even that). We repeat that schedule for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, sometimes rolling late into Sunday night. However, this marathon was thrown off by the many nor'easter snowstorms that hit the east coast repeatedly within one month, and due to the snow days that public schools had to take, I was forced to make the days up by going into work on the first two days of the marathon (I teach high school and this was originally my spring break). Without a GM, the group had to adjust, and our schedule ended up like this:

Wednesday: 6:25pm-2:25am
Thursday: 5:45pm-11:45pm
Friday: 5:45pm-10:45pm
Saturday: 7am-10:40pm
Sunday: 7am-5:40am (longest session of the project so far)

It's an incredible feeling facing an aboleth deep in a submerged cathedral after a whole weekend of play--completing the adventure--then leaving our blacked-out play area and going outside to see the sun coming up...

Keep tracking your game, and definitely put this AP on your list! :)

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Yes, we're going to our first PaizoCon next week!

Better yet, we'll be joining up with the team from Roll For Combat for an event moderated by Perram from Know Direction. It will consist of a Q&A panel, followed by the first-ever live play mashup of Starfinder/Pathfinder. We're excited to see how things unfold--it might get crazy when the games collide! Sunday, 4pm-6pm in Olympic 1.

Look for our shirts at PaizoCon, and stop us to chat about Azlant, a past project, the AP you're playing, or just about anything!

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It's official, the Order is headed to PaizoCon! Whether you want to talk about anything and everything Azlant-related, OAD life, a past project--doesn't matter--look for our shirts and stop us to chat at our first PaizoCon!

We're also doing a joint-event on Sunday afternoon (4pm-6pm, conference room Olympic 1) where Roll For Combat podcast and Order of the Amber Die will do a Q&A session, followed by the first-ever Starfinder/Pathfinder mashup in live play format. Things might get crazy, but should definitely be interesting!

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Incredible talent, welcome all! The Order is looking forward to playing what you develop!

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Sleepy laReef wrote:
Is it just me, or does this module have an extremely high number of things that want to drink my blood? We haven't even headed up to Nal'Shakar yet, but it seems like everything wants my personal blood.

It's not just you! I tried to list them all here. My players picked up on it too, but for now they assume it was all tied into themes involving ancient Azlant/sea hag oracle/blood somehow.

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frogseatdogs wrote:
These blog posts are so great. I can't imagine how cool it must be to play in such an immersive and focused environment. I look forward to hearing about the next part! Oh, and #TheAzlantOdyssey :)

Thanks Frogs, it really is that cool being so immersed. That also leaves me with something I wanted to offer up about those 68 hours and 10 minutes you see above. Marathons give players so much freedom of time to work with, that the hours can quickly slip away in unexpected areas. As such, these players are interacting with colonists as if this is some version of The Sims meets Pathfinder. It's awesome, don't get me wrong here, this colony is ALIVE. Somewhere on Saturday or Sunday night, they had me spend an hour role-playing as Ramona Avandth, the colony's facilitator, in an exchange with Lyra Heatherly (live-NPC played by Ian Haberman). Normally, an hour in-character without being plot specific isn't so hard, but after several days of straight play--including a 17-hour session in there somewhere--it's much more difficult. Being able to GM this long for six or more times a year is a gift from the dice gods, but this marathon I got close to the limit, which now I think might be somewhere around 80-90 session hours. I still want to try and put together a 10-day run at some point (with a whole year to prepare), but first just give me a couple of months off from this one...

OAD Life!

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Cyrad wrote:
Whoa, where'd you get those aerial standees?

Hi Cyrad, those 3D stands are a custom OAD creation, put together by our players in preparation for Azlant. We've used some others in previous blogs, but most of these are newer and sturdier versions. The players merge a couple of Games Workshop flying bases and use some other modeling tools to make what amounts to be a double-sided flying base, which turns out to be perfectly suited for any underwater or zero-g environment. Thanks for checking out the report!

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King of Vrock wrote:

So many GM tips I'm pulling from these marathon blogs! That opening scene is dynamite.

So in the burning building encounter, (I love the flame tokens btw) what rules or mechanics are you using to have the fire spread?

#TheAzlantOdyssey

--VrockLobster

Thanks Vrock, it's great to know our work is helping other GMs. That opening kicked off this marathon with a jolt, and much credit goes to Dan (playing Kyra) who dropped a natural 19 in response to the coup de grace. He's an experienced player who has been in his share of "save or die" situations across nearly a decade in the Order. I gave him (and Sterling playing Merisiel) only a few seconds to choose their actions, and to represent one of them being asleep they weren't allowed to communicate out-of-game. They responded well--saving their characters--and it was a fine performance from both players.

As for the fire rules, you'll have author Robert Brookes to thank for those, as he details them on p. 56 of PF122. There is even a fun table (d20) to roll on each round, but don't take the smoke inhalation rules lightly. Also, I'd recommend some tokens to track the fire, since it can spread pretty quickly on just a couple of rolls. Once again, quick thinking by a player (Erick playing Valeros) when calling for the air bubble saved a character from death.

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Berselius wrote:
Anya NOOOOOO! :(

Berselius!

Oh man, Anya. :(

Even I felt the sadness of her death, the feeder in the depths was that nasty. I was already swimming circles around them with sahuagin, and delivered some brutal hits with locathah bane bolts (yup, locathah bane). It was pretty impressive to watch them fight their way out of that trap and head for the surface at record speed.

What's cool about going underwater is watching the tension in the party rise. As soon as they cast their buffs and dove under, all the players became visually apprehensive. I like to drag out the descent a little bit, describe a fish that darts at them, what the sunlight looks like the farther we get from the surface, etc. Can't wait for part three!

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Fumarole wrote:

Great recap and I love the photos. I'm tempted to show them to my players but no doubt they'll start to think their GM is of the inferior sort. Perhaps one day I can attain such immersion for my players.

#TheAzlantOdyssey

Thanks Fumarole! We shoot a ton of photos each marathon, and it takes a long time to go through them; feedback is always appreciated, and if there is anything people want to see more of from our game we're always excited to hear that too. If you're going to GenCon by chance, we run a seminar there where we discuss what it takes to put these marathons together. Your players are lucky to have a GM who was thinking of them when they saw this blog. :)

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Bellona wrote:

Ooh, I just looked at the Facebook page too, and decided that the contest would be worth entering.

If I've understood the instructions correctly, please just assume that my comment above included: #TheAzlantOdyssey, okay? :)

No problem Bellona, you're all set, hoping to get some good discussion going. It's been a fantastic AP so far!

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Bellona wrote:

As always, I am in utter awe of the Order's attention to detail. Those sets look amazing.

And best quotation for a starting scene ever! :)

Thank you, a couple of our players in the project worked on the palisade for the skum assault, and it was a blast to play on! We ended up with a fierce battle at the gate as the majority of skum bottle-necked there.

As for the quote, it was a moment I was more than happy to deliver. Two of my favorite GM-lines occurred in the same sentence: "Save or die," and "coup de grace!"

If you're looking for more, I just posted a few more details from the story of that first encounter on The Azlant Odyssey thread over on the messageboards.

Game on!

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A new contest to win maps from the Ruins of Azlant AP has been posted to our Facebook!

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DerNils wrote:

Awesome part II, guys. Interesting to hear that an exploration adventure has diplomacy at it's focus! Great screenshot of that underwater battle. I am a bit hesitant of introducing 3D battles, not the least because I'm such a bumbling fool I can see me toppling these nice platforms all the time. How does 3D combat work out? Is it complicated? Does it add interesting elements or is it just a fancy add-on?

Also, I need to hear more about your love triangles, guys ;)

I'll let our players tell you some of their stories about underwater combat, but as for love triangles, my favorite moment was this:

The nighttime raid on our colony targeted our spellcasters, and Kyra was most surely one of them. The skum assigned to sneak into her house and slay the cleric ran into a fatal flaw. As our role-playing would have it, Kyra was not alone in her bed that night, and it was Merisiel who also awoke to see her lover skewered by a skum. When Kyra fell unconscious from the damage, it was Merisiel who stood on the bed (in her Quick Runner's shirt) fighting off the creature. In what was a very tense melee that had not one, but two iconic character deaths at stake, Merisiel emerged victorious in time to stabilize Kyra. And that was just our introduction to the marathon!

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