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FullStarFullStarFullStar Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston 14 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 39 Organized Play characters.


Grand Lodge

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Having just run Raiders of Shrieking Peaks, I have a thought on this topic. It was an investigation heavy scenario, and we finished up rather early. (It helped that players rolled well on a particular section to speed things up, but it was going quickly anyway.) The RP was definitely tending towards the 'mechanics focused light RP' as defined in the original post. This surprised me a little, because as a GM, I think I tend to lean towards more RP, and deeper, when I have the chance.

Now, part of this might be possible to lay at the feet of the system...but I think in our case most of it lay with the fact that it's a fairly complex system, and we don't know it yet. We don't have the kind of solid expectations we do of the well-trod 1st ed. So I have to be suggesting the kind of skills players might roll to get certain pieces of information, because the scenario specifies many such they might try, and it would be hard for them to guess what might be included. If they might remember something based on Society or Nature or Circus Lore, it seems only sporting that say "Hey, you might want to Recall Knowledge on that."

I'm not sure it'll be possible to judge yet. The fact that there are a lot of very codified mechanics might stand in the way of deep RP; but I suspect it will be a lot easier when all of us are not playing the game with the manual literally in our laps trying to get the rules mastered.

Grand Lodge

1. Splash damage
2. Splash, damage

We used acid splash and realized we couldn't find the in-book definition of splash damage! We just used the 1st ed rule, but it seems like rather an important definition to be able to find. Never did find it.

Grand Lodge

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I was playing around with the wild shape druid, and I agree with the general assessment of this original thread, and some of the suggestions make a lot of sense. However, I think the problem is more fundamental.

All the wild shape forms give 100% static stat blocks.

This is the biggest problem, IMO, and leads to the discussion of the Druid's Vestments being an irreplaceable item. It means the forms fail to scale, which leads to the wild druid falling behind at higher levels. While I thoroughly enjoyed making a wild druid, and think it would be quite a lot of fun in the middle levels, it will fall sadly behind in high end play. If you reach a point where you'd be doing more damage and hitting more often with a higher AC in normal form than transformed...then the concept has clearly hit a brick wall.

I think Dragorine has the right idea with the formulae he's discussing. I think you could get away with most forms having a set stat block, but I think it would be immeasurably better and more satisfying to write it as, using animal form for instance:

• AC 22 (TAC 20) or use your own unarmored proficiency + Dex + 5 if it is better, ignore armor’s check penalty and reduced Speed.
• One or more unarmed melee attacks, which are the only types of attacks you can use. You’re trained with them. Your attack modifier is +10 and your damage bonus is +5, unless your own would be higher (assuming trained unarmed proficiency and a strength-based damage bonus). These are Strength based (for the purpose of enfeebled, for example).
• 10 temporary Hit Points while you have the form.
• Low-light vision.
• Athletics bonus of +11 unless your own is higher.

That writing is a little clunky, but I think it would go a long way towards letting wild shape scale, and incentivize wild druids to really invest in their physical stats.
(Edit to fix a copy/paste error)

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

Nefreet wrote:


Bestiary 5 wrote:
These benefits last until the skinwalker returns to his humanoid form as a swift action. A skinwalker must first return to his humanoid form before changing to bestial form again to change benefits.
If your benefits were always set the same, you wouldn't be able to change them.

That's a really good point. "These" implies plural benefits, which implies both the racial stat bonus and the additional power.

What I think is the intent is that you can be either one of the many archetypes in Blood of the Moon OR the base skinwalker whose ability I quoted out of Bestiary 5. I figure the base version probably has a somewhat more ambiguous bestial source for his physical alterations than one with a specified form into which they change every time.

Much appreciate the input!

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

Yeah, I think you're beginning to see my confusion.

Based on the source I actually own, I read it as Kigvan does: you choose your bonus stat each time you shift. But I've looked at Blood of the Moon and those skinwalkers function totally differently.

The chronicle sheet itself says:

Beast-Blooded (Tier2): You may play a skinwalker character (Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Moon 7, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 5 233, or Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Races 248), beginning at level 1 as normal. Other than access to this additional race, all character creation rules are the same as those outlined in the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide. This Chornicle sheet must be the first Chronicle sheet for the given character, and you must bring a copy of one of the rulebooks listed above to all session in whih this character appears as if access to this race selection were granted by the Additional Resources list.

Given that it says I may use any of the three rulebooks, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't use the version I want: the one in the rulebook I own, which I interpret as having the power to shift to different forms and thus use his bonus differently at his whim. (For the record, I intend to have him be reluctant to display his skinwalker status around most non-Pathfinders, for fear of prejudicial association with lycanthropes, whether such prejudice ever actually materializes or not.)

I am encouraged that no one has immediately told me why I'm wrong!

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

Change Shape (Su) A skinwalker can change shape to a bestial form as a standard action. In bestial form, a skinwalker gains a +2 racial bonus to his choice of Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. While in this form, a skinwalker also takes on an animalistic feature that provides a special effect. Each time a skinwalker assumes bestial form, he can choose to gain two claw attacks that each deal 1d4 points of damage, 60 foot darkvision, or a +1 natural armor bonus. These benefits last until the skinwalker returns to his humanoid form as a swift action. A skinwalker must first return to his humanoid form before changing to bestial form again to change benefits. The skinwalker presented here is currently in bestial form, and has claw attacks and a +2 racial bonus to Strength.

This one is from the Bestiary 5, which was the source I owned as I was reading over the chronicle sheet boon text.

I guess the crux of my question is in the repetition of the reference to choice in reference to stat bonus at the beginning of the text, and again later when listing the three choices for additional effects, and how he has to return to humanoid form before selecting a different one.

ETA: Link: Bestiary 5 Skinwalker Ranger

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

I am about to qualify for a skinwalker character boon, and wanted to raise a question that has been of concern to me.

In the base version of the skinwalker, not any of the newer more codified types, it says "a skinwalker gains a +2 racial bonus to either Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution." It also says you choose between the three available types of bonus (claws, darkvision, natural armor.) In my initial reading of that, I took that to mean that you could choose BOTH which type of stat bonus AND which type of other bonus you would choose each time you transformed. Accordingly, I was thinking strongly of a ranger-type character, with a focus on ranged attacks but, if the party composition or situation demanded, the ability to buff strength instead of dex, grow some claws, and make a reasonable melee striker.

Then I read all the various types of skinwalker kin that were released, and saw they had a very defined set of options and had to reconsider.

Rereading it, I still feel like it's not clearly worded; the ability to pick which stat to raise each time would feel like an awesome piece of utility to me, though I would understand the argument that it represents poor balancing. But oh, I would love that flexibility.

Is there any definitive ruling on this? I went looking, but didn't find such. Maybe I'm just the only one reading the rule this way in the first place.

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

Ran this on Sunday, and it was a fun time. Had two paladins, and quite a bit of lawful and good in the party in general, which I think might have helped the group be okay with the more railroad-y aspects of the adventure. When Kitarlo and Zepho told them what they ought to be doing, they were happy enough to trotting off and do it.

Game play recapping:
Only two fails across three rounds with 6 players in the ritual. Likewise, they had all the books found in approximately two rounds -- I didn't tell them what they'd have to roll the first time around, not least because I was fairly sure they'd crush the checks once they assigned the proper party members. Which they did.

The combats were a little bit cream-puff for the party. I actually had to warn them that they might kill Laktharis too quickly (archer paladin shot him with a pie on an arrow.) But they didn't have anything resembling trouble coming up with creative ways to humiliate him. The puppets (high tier) might have taken longer to clean up, but it was 100% clear they were going to crush that combat from minute one. It was fun anyway, because the point was not overwhelming combat prowess but creative humiliation of a bossy demon puppet.

Then the group tracked down the babau in the forest. Rather to my astonishment, they actually succeeded all three check conditions, despite no one having good survival and there being some very clanky people in the party. But only two fails on the stealth, and a lot of assists and some lucky rolls got them through both the survival checks.

So they surprised the babau and pretty much ate his lunch before he was aware combat was beginning.

They managed to get the honey for Valais with similar ease.

Then they came to the final trial. Since they cleaned up on EVERY SINGLE OTHER THING they did, pretty much all of the checks were made at between +17 to +13 as the bonuses stacked up. Not too shockingly, they didn't fail (though I think they used a reroll.)

All in all, it was a fun adventure, though I finished in about three and a half hours, maybe a little less. I usually tend to run long rather than short, so I suggest that any GM with time on their hands should feel free to make a real meal of the RP segments (which is most of it.)

I also did spend a while making a point of the packs of lantern archons floating by overhead and occasionally drifting down to do things like examine (actually NG) dhampir phlebotomist (who was pretty hilarious.)

My final analysis is that this is a fun scenario with good flavor for players with a strong connection to heaven. If the characters are the sort who are inclined to follow the rules and the railroading, it'll work nicely. If not, well, it could get a lot trickier if they try and disguise Valais or the like.

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

All right, just finished running. We wound up with a four person party (rogue 2, alchemist 5, bard 3, cleric 4) who more or less crushed the adventure. Having a lot of good roll available definitely helped them back it through.

Adventure recap

Cut for potential teal deer:

The opening briefing went well -- the group had some questions which were relevant, some of which I could answer reasonably; without any provided back and forth discussion, it's important to be well prepared to answer questions like "how long ago did this happen" and "what do you know about divs?" The questions I got were mostly not too hard, having read through it.

One point I will mention: the briefing throws a fair amount of info at the players and it's important to make sure Diya emphasizes that they are to go to the dig site first, do the interviews and then clear the site, and only after that go chasing down the leads. There was a little confusion about that, which I found not terribly surprising, as the first time I read through the adventure, I got the end of site A then went: "Wait, what's supposed to prompt the players to go after these things again?" The answer was the briefing, but I had to go back and review it, so be alert for players having the same question after an hour and a half of questioning miners and playing around in creepy places.

This group, being fairly rich in skill points, had little trouble finding discoveries. They ended with 6/7 possible, failing to beat one DC by quite enough, though only just missing it because of the 4-5 adjustment. They also were quite good about asking for sensory data (3/4 were scarab sages.) One even tasted the crumbling non-gem stones. That was the last tasting.

Before they even ran knowledge (religion), the alchemist already wanted to pour holy water on the skeletons to dispel the restless spirits; I let them roll religion to do so properly, and so they benefited from that +1 sacred bonus to AC (and actually caused a miss!)

I was encouraged that when the subject of Pharasma came up (as they made a religion check) one of the players asked me if there was a temple of Pharasma in Merab. I was happy to explain that yes, there's necropolis, and it was relieving to have the lead generated so spontaneously from the party without Obahar having to drop it on them.

The battle with the skeletons was fairly simple; with an alchemist, making things fall down is not usually too hard. They did have a problem with the skeletons, who won initiative, crowding the door. The bard got flanked and nearly got dropped after a bad round, but that was as bad as it got. A third skeleton (dropped for four player adjustment) might have caused them some real problems, but then again, between channel and explosive bombs, maybe not much more.

Two damaged caryatid columns turned out to be a little bit on the easy side for them. The second barely got to go before it got destroyed. My vicious side was a little sad I didn't get to shatter any weapons, and I think it made the encounter a little bit too easy, to be honest -- but with four players, shattering a couple weapons could cripple a party, so I can see why one might avoid it. If I could suggest: I would have removed the shatter and magic immunity, but left it's hit points at 36 instead of 20. Then again -- it might just have been tedious at that point.

After mostly cruising to an excellent success, the group met with Obahar and was happy to take his advice to rest, and then pursue their leads. This part of the investigation actually went a lot more quickly than I thought it would, though there was some good opportunity for the party to roleplay. In fact, the group was definitely ready and interested in roleplaying in each location well past where they'd gotten any actually relevant information. I'm going to call this a plus for good hooks.

Then they went back to Obahar, found him chewing on a scroll, and met Zurnzal. They were pretty close to considering an attack on sight for him, but decided to pass. Instead, they heard him out, and might have gone for his offer had I not (as the text instructed) informed them that they probably have enough information without him. It was still 3-to-1, with the rogue (I think) really wanting to see what would happen. So they passed, and avoided incurring a debt.

We skipped the optional encounter, since they had enough info, and it was over three hours into our slot (including a leisurely start to see if anyone else would arrive, and a little bathroom/snack break. I'd estimate two and a half hours actual game play at that point.)

Before we headed for final encounters the group rolled for knowledge on doru divs, since they had learned enough from a variety of sources to put together what this creature must be. This was one of perhaps their most important decisions, as among the many questions they were in a position to ask (with lots of planes among them) was about their spell-like abilities, and I gave them what I considered to be probably the best known: invisibility at will. As such, they went it in loaded for bear with see invisible and glitterdust.

Then the group showed up at the Dungeons. They easily heard the chanting and immediately went to the locked central door. And the rogue rolled a natural twenty to unlock the door, which still only succeeded by one, with him playing out of tier.

Again, the doorway proved a very effective choke point. The cultist held the door while the cabalist started call lighting. The doru through temporary HP (10 on 2d12) to the meleeing cleric. The cleric started up invisibility purge. Channel negative energy was definitely the most effective ability they actually used, though the doru didn't like it much.

In any case, they held on for a while, until the alchemist bombed them out of existence because they didn't have resist fire up, thanks to their immediate entry. Veshtahz tried to get away and the alchemist CRUSHED an acid bomb for 22 points of damage; ER 10/acid is nice, but it's hardly infinite. They kept the cultist leader and the doru alive, as well as the crazy cultist, and all managed to impress Veshtaz; I allowed them all to try different knowledge types on him if their first roll didn't succeed. Not sure if I should have, but I don't think a doru kept in a box would stop listening -- he was, after all, a captive audience.

Wrapping up the rest of the base, then, I did rather quickly, since there weren't any threats, and the adventure was running a little late and the wrap up RP on this one is significant.

It started at noon in theory, but I actually waited a good fifteen to twenty minutes to see if there would be stragglers. We stopped for 10-15 minutes for snacks and map flipping. I was finished handing out chronicle sheets around 4:50. The other table that was running with more players in the low tier was still going. So, be prepared for the potential to go a little bit long, if you can.


Overall, a fun adventure with a lot of flavor and roleplay potential.

Be careful to be sure the party knows the rails the plot intends in briefing.

Difficulties seemed not too hard; this group could have handled more, but an alchemist will do that to a group.

Decision posed by Zurzal's arrival was fun. Would have been a lot more suspenseful if they hadn't nailed all through clues easily before visiting Obahar's place.

Having a way to deal with invisibility is a huge dividing line in this scenario. I made Veshtahz scream when he affected the cultists, which he did every round until they were dead, just because I wanted to be sure any party would know, oh yeah, he's really present. It would be near impossible to find him if he did his standard action to grant temporary HP then moved while still invisible -- I didn't have his invisibility break. I'm not sure how a tier 1-2 would cope.

Group was rather chagrinned at not having closed the door behind them when they entered the room and Veshtahz ran. Fortunately, the alchemist got in one really good shot at his back with acid.

Prepared cards with the visions written out in advance to hand to the people who first touched the horns; highly recommend. Prompts the PCs to describe the vision through their character voice. I also ruled that the horn bits would give their visions once a day, since there's only three. The group actually got Mauta to touch one after calming her down, after which she went hysterical again.

I would be happy to play or GM this one again -- this was a very good RP oriented session. I have to admit, I think the lower tier might be harder, due to the div itself being such a pain in the backside without tools like see invisible, invisibility purge and glitterdust.

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

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Gino Melone wrote:

BEWARE!!The southern door to B10 isn't explicitly noted as locked like the others. I'm proceeding under the assumption that it has the same DC as the other doors.

Similarly, there is no key for B9 listed anywhere and it's pretty important to SS-faction members. That DC 30 is rough at T1-2. I'm gonna assume the key works here too. If I ever run 3-4, I might make it need unlocked, but that seems cruel.

The Necropolis doesn't seem to be well hinted-at to me. Did I miss something?

How long is Seeking the Dungeons supposed to take, in-game? Obahar is at the dig and fine when they go in/out. When they find him later, he's been driven mad and rambling for an indeterminate time and the div has had long enough to turn all the cultists on themselves and nearly wipe them out.

Is A7 supposed to count as a sense discovery for SS-faction? Is it a freebie if they explore the room?

Going to run this on Sunday, and overall, I agree with the commentary about the formatting making it a little bit annoying to find relevant information, but that it looks like a really fun scenario. But I do think I can answer a couple questions here:

Doors to B10: in the description, it does say the doors to B10 are locked, even though the B8 description does not say so, which means I assume it is locked. However, in B8, the crazy cultist has a key. In area B9's description, it says the cultist leader in B10 has a key which leads to me to believe there are different keys: Key 1 has two copies, one held by the crazy cultist in B8 and one held by the cultist leader in B10. Key 1 opens the doors to B10. Key 2 is held ONLY by the cultist leader in B10, and opens the doors to B9. So, without the DC 30 disable device check, you have to get through B8 to B10 and then to B9.

The mention of the Necropolis was not well highlighted: in the development after finishing all of area A, when the party talks to Obahar, he is supposed to suggest the Necropolis. That is the only place I can find where players could find out about that lead, though they ought to do so -- as long as the GM doesn't miss that point.

Seeking the Dungeons is, I guess, supposed to be Speed Of Plot. I presume Veshtahz has been flitting back and forth, so he's gotten a head start on driving cultists nuts, but he really kicks it up after the PCs find Obahar. But I think the cultist bodies are probably quite recent in area B.

Regarding A7: I would read "Collectively, though, they provide enough additional information to contribute to these faction PCs’ investigations in this ruin." as saying that yes, documenting the finds counts as 1 point toward the faction goal.

Obviously, I haven't actually run it yet, and all interpretations are my own, but that's how I plan to run this game in two days!

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

This is still a crazy scenario. I've played it once, sat around to watch the end of it one other time, and just GMed it once. This scenario is one where you are very likely to come out of it with a war story. My three stories are these, replete with spoilers:


Story one, playing:

Running as level 4 druid in a 6-7 tier with six players. We figured out a good chunk of it pretty well: got the flail and both disks, found the mask, used it to clear the wizard's blindness...and he unfortunately failed the save, so when we hit the medusa, I got petrified with no way to cure me. Only half the party drank the water, unfortunately. The wizard who looked in through the crack in the wall made his save, so we got some idea of what to expect in there without having anyone suggested.

When we got to the confrontation, the xacarba grappled three people right off the bat, which meant the musket master unloaded a hasted full round action right off the bat with her weapon aligned. Then bolt-ace gunslinger unloaded his full round action and the GM actually started writing down the damage, because it was over a hundred in a round. The xacarba immediately dropped the people it was holding and went to grab at the gunslingers, but one of them had drunk, and smeared alchemical grease on himself. So he avoided grappling, though he took a lot of damage. He dropped, but we (or I should say 'they' because I was still a statue) managed to outright kill the xacarba in three rounds of frenzied action without ever really optimizing our spacing from the beastie (or possibly the GM didn't quite realize there was a "safe zone" -- in any case, we never figured it out.) We didn't really bother with the two shiny disks because we were hammering the giant snake something fierce. I had to spend some prestige to turn back, but we got through it.

Story two, observing:

I played my own scenario that evening, so I only watched the final fight. It was interesting to watch it run -- they had clearly not drunk the water, though no one was blind or stone. Having not drunk the water, they were deeply unlikely to ever escape a grab. Someone went to casting defensively almost right away when the first spell redirect happened and the GMed at them and generously told them, "That was a very smart move." And lo, it was working. However, it was still kicking their butts hither and yon (also in the high tier.)

Eventually, they cheesed their way through the scenario. The fey blooded kitsune sorcerer used a combination of abilities that I don't think ought to work they did: the laughing touch bloodline ability got attached to a message spell (which, as written, does not allow either SR or a save, and does not have 'harmless' in its descriptor) by means of what I think was a robe. This 'no save, no SR, do nothing for a round' strikes me as Not As Intended, and I'm not sure exactly what the magic item he used was, but...I also don't know of a rule it violated. Then, when the xacarba redirected it, he used a metamagic rod of bouncing to rebound it back AGAIN. Which was clever, but I think very much not what it was supposed to do. (Unless it targeted a character who'd already been affected once, and would therefore be immune...) In any case, this managed to make a spell-like ability effect it, causing it drop all the people it held and giving them an incredibly precious round of free activity. I believe they managed to make a second round of it not doing anything happen by similar means, and that was enough to swing the combat in their favor.

I'm not sure how the players felt after that one, but I wouldn't have blamed them for feeling frustrated at the level of cheese required to get them out alive. On the other hand, maybe the GM just decided to be nice to avoid a TPK.

Story three, running:

This went fairly well, wrapped in about four and a half hours. I abstracted the first fight: told them to go around them table and tell me what they'd do for two rounds around the charau-ka, and then told them consequences. Alchemist threw two bombs, killed two monkey swarms. Paladins killed some apes. Wizard threw a web. Brawler wrestled an ape into submission. Magus protected civilians. Rogue flanked and sliced and diced. Given that we had a tight time slot, and totally ran over, I wasn't going to waste their time with more than minor resource usage, and a group of seven, even mostly at level 5 and in the 6-7, wasn't likely to have difficulty there.

I rolled the survival checks, and promptly forgot to apply the increased DCs to any of the actual poison anyone took. Not sure it would have made any difference, but this group took 2 fails, which certainly could have.

The first real encounter was the hydra and emperor cobra. The wizard's main schtick was throwing glitterdust, so he promptly hit the hydra, which failed the save, and thereafter had a terrible time. The alchemist made the knowledge (arcana) to recognize it as a pyrohydra and blasted the blind beastie with cold. It got one good round of attacks, and did a fair chunk of damage to one of the paladins, before the paladins got to go and crushed it, while the brawler held of the snake. The snake tried to run, provoked attacks of opportunity and died, though it made lots of saves against the wizard.

Inside, they found the archaeologists and figured out they were acting funny, spotted the non-charmed archaeologist quickly and won her trust. They didn't try to interfere with the golem. They did have the brawler go blind to the haunt and retreated.

Suggestion for GMs: Visual aids.

I drew unsophisticated pictures for the binding room and the fountain. There's a world of difference between describing the slots beneath the words and having them able to see the words Moon, Void, Sun and Stars lined up above the slots. I also drew the fountain, and handed them notecards face down which read either "You need to pee" or "You feel thirsty" as a broad hint that this wasn't supposed to be skipped past. I was a little worried I'd overdone it when the paladin drank from his own waterskin, but I think that fountain is more or less essential. I also had note cards prepared to hand people if they looked into the crack to see the xacarba, but no one actually wanted to do that.

Once one drank, they all drank, which was good. (And the brawler peed in the corner.) They found and identified the mask, which was great. They got through the medusa attack without anyone turning to stone. They actually killed one amphibaenas, pinned the other, and got the medusa to hit her morale condition and surrender, since she couldn't run. (The nagaji paladin was also totally digging on her, which was hilarious.) They spotted the spell on her and threw some dust off the orb on her -- I can't see why that wouldn't break the spell, so it didn't, and she gave them the hint to go back to the haunt and find the other disk, which I gave them in part to save some time.

We did have one player go blind in the haunt, which was how they tried the orb for the first time. I realized the haunt was chaotic evil so...if blindness is possible to dispel, why wouldn't dispel chaos do so? And so, I let it do so. (If there's a reason it shouldn't have worked, let me know, I'm curious.)

Finally, they were in the binding chamber in very good time. They made a knowledge engineering to have very good knowledge of when it would break, and let them made an intelligence check for me to give them a hint that they really ought to get the scaffolding to prepared to put the disks in. (Amusingly, the dumb-as-rocks paladins both got 18's.)

Combat was predictably a massive mess. The wizard opens up with glitterdust! ...on himself. Cue the poor wizard being blind the whole rest of the combat. He tried a protection from evil on himself, which the xacarba directed to the golem...which is immune to magic. (He was, fortunately, quite good natured about it.) The brawler went running for the disks. He took damage, but it couldn't grapple his excellent CMD. A paladin and the magus wound up grappled, but the xacarba elected to leave one tail free for AoOs, because it is a highly intelligent creature. Alchemist threw bombs, which weren't super effected. The grappled paladin was rather upset, until I made clear that "Oh, no, the water bonus isn't just to CMD; it's also to CMB to break the grapple!" He felt a lot better at that point. The magus took constrict, but then managed to get free. The free paladin was smiting away. The rogue was stabbing, and just barely passing DR.

At this point, the brawler got dropped as he tried to bring the daylight stone back. The magus got free and bolted into the prison, and pushed the faerie fire stone back OUT through crack in the wall (which I thought was quite clever.) The rogue ran out, hopped on a dog mount, and went to go get it. The two paladins did their damnedest to smite it from both sides, as the alchemist tried invisibility as he ran in to try and get the daylight stone. He took damage, but I rolled 2's to hit him twice, and he escaped with rather less damage than I would have guessed. The paladins could keep running lay on hands every turn, or they would have been super dead, and kept dealing delicious smite damage. They finally managed to outright down while the alchemist (a wayang, definitely good they had the scaffolding) was up and ready to insert the stone, and the rogue was about a turn away from being up there to do the same.

Had I really wanted to wipe them, I could have concentrated fire on those paladins more. The xacarba is smart, but full of rage, bloodlust and overconfidence. If I had dropped one of the paladins, which I probably could have done by allocating attacks a little differently, it would have wildly decreased the damage it was taking, and then let it concentrate more on other threats.

This scenario has the potential to go wrong in a truly epic fashion. It has possibility of really frustrating players and GMs both. I was really glad I wasn't running the four player version, which I thought I might have to for a while. I think it is unusually prone to player and GM error, and this is an encounter for which ALL the stops are out.


What it tries to do is absolutely fantastic. This scenario pushes players' limits. It's the kind that you tell stories about, whether they're triumphal stories or horror stories, or both. You can come out of it and say, "Hey, my level 3-7 character probably just saved hundreds if not thousands of lives in the Mwangi Expanse." And you'll have the battle scars to prove it. If you GM it, your players will fling something unexpected at you, because by the fourth round of combat with final boss they will try absolutely anything. It's not that common in PFS that you get that epic feel of desperation. It can frustrate players who aren't expecting it, so it's not a bad idea to give players a heads up before they go into. And try to get a good sized group.

TL;DR: Fun, but treacherous. PREP WELL. And more than most scenarios, I think this is one where a GM should not be afraid to make a few meta-gamey hints.

Grand Lodge

Very well, Master Chelaxian. I have hired a really excellent psychotherapist, who will counsel you until you no longer feel disturbed. He seemed perplexed as to why this extended therapy session should take place "under" a night "stand," but your will is law! (Oh, and since you say the lady needs entertainment, I have arranged for her to spend the time with her heroic love interest.)

Minions! Provide me with entertainment suitable to a Taldan noble function by Tuesday evening, or feel my unending wrath!

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

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Either then, or the "Courage Under Pressure" portion, I think...though that part itself is still skill-check based. But, at that point, they're not so much investigating as actively thwarting a terrorist plot in progress.

You could argue either, though. And if they fail to prevent Glass Pit badness, well, then it is definitely Hunting the Shark.

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston aka Dalzarin

Zach Davis, I actually really like that idea. It opens up a lot of options, and I enjoy making players unsure about what's going on in a behind the scenes mechanical sense, because I think it heightens their sense of the peril of the situation. They will still want to pick the strongest options for their characters, but since the "distance" is much more abstracted in this version of the chase mechanic anyway, I don't see why I can't completely abstract it and just provide updates like "You're gaining on him" and "He's pulling away, and getting closer to the docks!" when I run it next month.

To Mr. Bonkers, I think I have to disagree about allowing a save. It depends a little on what they're using and where, though. When they specifically mention a spell, I think the concentration check pretty much does the job; but if that's all you're rolling it's WAY easier to succeed than the other checks. Admittedly, you are spending a resource, but a concentration check on, say, shocking grasp to the water is DC 11. A third level wizard/sorcerer with 18 in the relevant stat is rolling that at +7, and needs all of a 4. That one, I would probably grant, because the spell doesn't allow a save and the character would be targeting the water, which would all but magnetically attract the electricity. But most other attempts, I'd set the bar a little higher, especially for something not specifically mentioned.

Really looking forward to running this -- and glad the venue I'm using is flexible about time slots after reading all the (very helpful!) comments here.