Owlbear

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber. ***** Pathfinder Society GM. 179 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 19 Organized Play characters.


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Grand Lodge 5/5

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There's a weird misprint in the Subtier 8-9 stats for Falehetu, where most of the Statistics block is double printed, with at least some of the stats from the lower subtier.

Looks like the fix is to delete everything between the two "Stealth +19" entries.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I note the following on page 7, regarding the silt and particulates the dragon turtle has turned up: "Underwater goggles, a goz mask, or a similar item prevents the blinded condition and the penalty to Perception checks, but these items do not negate the concealment."

Note however that the first line of the goz mask item reads: "A goz mask allows you to see through fog, smoke, and other
obscuring vapors as if they did not exist (this ability functions
underwater as well, allowing the wearer to see through
thick silt and other aquatic precipitates)."

Thus a wearer of a goz mask should be completely unaffected by the hazard, including concealment.

This also applies to the hazard in encounter C5.

The scenario also makes mention of underwater goggles, from Aquatic Adventures. This is in reference to a section on page 46 of that book which discusses Perception checks underwater (not covered in the Core rules), stating that there is a minimum -2 penalty on Perception checks underwater, or worse if the water is murky, and that maximum viewing distance is 4d8x10 feet in clear water, 1d8x10 feet in murky water.

It also states that surface creatures suffer an additional -4 penalty on Perception checks to see underwater unless they wear underwater goggles or similar eye protection. You might consider factoring in these Perception penalties and limitations of vision when running underwater encounters.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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The group I ran refused to swear loyalty to the dragon overall (although a couple were willing), so we ended up in combat. One breath weapon later, the PCs decided to stand down and retreat, and I decided the dragon would let them. After all, having them escape would mean they'd likely report the dragon's presence and add to its notoriety (and maybe win it more converts), while killing the characters didn't really benefit it.

It's important to note that the characters' mission is NOT to kill the dragon; it's to retrieve information on what happened to the ship and about the anomaly. My group ended up with full success after good RP with the cultists at the end. I did have to give the Concordance player a strong hint with an Int roll that they might want to try recruiting the cultists, though, since there was nothing obvious in the scenario prior clearly calling this out as an option.

I think it took my group about 4-1/2 to 5 hours, but they did battle both crab groups in the first part.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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We see the return of nonsensical questions in the encounter with the spawn of spheres. I thought I'd generate a list of questions to throw at the party for the encounter. Here's what I have currently. If anyone wants to add more, be my guest!

Note that the first two come from the scenario itself.

1. How do you add the sand to breathe?
2. Why are arms more colorful than legs?
3. Is the pivoting of dreams the heart of sentience?
4. Why is a heart without heat better than a tree without wisdom?
5. Why do you use the same orifice for ingestion, exhalation, and conversation?
6. Why are 11 and 56 different in your conceptual structure?
7. What is the bristlestick?
8. At physical termination, do thoughts ensoul?
9. When breath is held, why is it not contained within your appendage?
10. Why do you travel in four dimensions?
11. Does flesh part with the burning ice?
12. Why do you kill to cure?
13. How is the wind different from eternity?
14. What sensation does quality yield?
15. How can cognizance exist in such a modular framework?
16. How is victory defined?
17. How can spells without mouths bite my eyes?
18. What is your truth?
19. Why do you describe death and taxes as inevitable, but not breathing or poetry?
20. Under what circumstance do you conduct gravity?

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Isabelle Lee wrote:
Make sure she doesn't have any special qualities modifying her initiative. The statblock went through significant changes from my (frankly, way overcomplicated) original version, but I think she originally had one. At the very least, the initiative modifier may have slipped through when her feats got changed around.

I took another look, and I don't see anything that would cause her a -4 penalty to initiative. I do note that the Subtier 5-6 stat block does factor in her Improved Initiative feat.

If the stat block underwent significant revision though, it could be something that simply wasn't caught in the final version. Or maybe I'm just missing something.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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In Subtier 8-9, Daosvaria's initiative is listed as +0, but she has Improved Initiative and Dex 11, so it should be +4.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Hello,

Just checked back in, and I see that they are now on my downloads list. Hurray!

This is interesting: 9-14 and 9-15 appear at the end of the Season 9 download list, after 9-16 and 9-17. The reason for this appears to be that most of the downloads use a regular hyphen in their name (-16, -17, etc.), but #14 and #15 use a longer en dash instead. I don't know if this was part of the fix, or if it is part of the original display issue, but I thought I'd share it with you if it helps to diagnose the root cause.

-Greg

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I tried all of the above and still cannot access the March PFS scenarios. When I went directly to the product page and the downloads tab, it comes up blank.

This is for my Pathfinder subscription. Order 4798643.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I still don't have access to the March PDFs. My subscription order is Paizo Order # 4798643.

This has been happening every month lately...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I still don't have the January PFS scenarios from my subscription. Order 4674277.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Lau Bannenberg wrote:

Every time in a scenario when an NPC calls upon the low-level PCs to make a decision or promise on behalf of the whole Society, I cringe a bit and then ask the GM "do we have any idea if we're allowed to make such commitments?"

Sure, in this case I'd say "Amenopheus generally likes being known for keeping his word, so yeah, if you promise stuff he's going to own up to it. And he's pretty worried about the Sage Jewels so if you think you need to make that promise to succeed, he'd understand."

But it's always a bit jarring if the players have to break the flow of RP to consult with the GM to find out what their characters would know that the players don't, before continuing with the talk.

You can use Zurnzal in-character to respond to these questions, reassuring them that GMT knows how things work in the Society, and that Amenopheus will honor deals his agents make. He can even provide a bit of backstory of who GMT is, if the players have no clue.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I did not give saves for the emotion oozes' emotional scarring. None is listed in the ability description, it only says that the damage it inflicts is "mental damage like that from mind thrust I."

Thus if someone had a spell or ability that reduced mental damage from mind thrust I and similar effects, it would be applicable. However, it is not actually the spell, so no save.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I don't think the scenario specifies the duration of the ritual; I believe it was estimated as an hour further up the thread, based on Amenopheus's overall timeline.

For buffing before and during the ritual, I advised the players that to cast safely they'd essentially have to leave the level, and Amenopheus asked for them not to do that since they had brought the PCs to protect and assist them with the mission, so if something were to attack while the PCs were away, they wouldn't be able to help. In short, I used NPC fiat to keep them in the area.

That said, the text says interference comes from "casting spells, activating items, or even consuming magical draughts." It does not mention supernatural abilities like channeling energy. The text where it discusses damage does include an "or does something similar" clause, so I can see a GM reasonably ruling that the activation of any supernatural abilities would also serve as a trigger.

For the mindscapes, I treated the successful checks as cumulative (which it states in the text), so a PC could try repeatedly over several rounds to amass enough successes. I did not have it "reset" each round.

@andreww, I could tell your party was in trouble when you mentioned all the single-digit saves. Also, from your summary, it sounds like they made a number of mistakes in their investigation--particularly, fireballing the lab and not searching the archives.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Just went through Verazaz's stat block, and I note she has a greensting scorpion familiar. She also has Improved Initiative, so her initiative modifier should be +10 at low subtier and +11 at high subtier.

Also keep in mind that if she has her scorpion on her person (and I assume she would, she'd gain the benefits of Alertness, for an effective +2 on Perception and Sense Motive.

In high subtier, her tactics are copied from the low subtier, including a mention of casting scare in melee, which is not on her high subtier spell list (understandably since it caps at 5 HD).

Instead, here's a nifty tactic to consider: if she gets init over some of the party, have her ready an action to use stone shape to seal the entrance to whatever location you put her, splitting the party. If there's an alternate way to the location you placed her, that's a good place to put a trap or hazard...

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Minor note on monster statblocks: two of them are missing book references. I looked 'em up, and they are as follows:

Caulborn: Bestiary 3 page 48
Huecuva: Bestiary 3 page 150

Grand Lodge 5/5

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I plan on running this next Friday. There's a lot of good stories to pick from, but I've decided on one (raising the dead) and chosen treats...er, threats and locations. Also thinking about loot placement (I may have some of the "potions" for example, be magical gems studding the walls, which they can pry out and swallow to use; the curative potions will definitely take the form of mushrooms).

I agree about the typo/layout issues. Most were easily understandable, but there's a section of text missing (can't find the location offhand), but only a line or so, so nothing critical.

IMPORTANT! Unless you want to spoil the investigation right at the outset, be sure to trim off the player handout headers for the letters from Sheila, since each one specifically identifies the vault they'll be going to!

For Miss Feathers, I don't mind the PCs visiting her, but she won't have any good rumors for them--nothing going on impacts her social circle. She can direct them to the warrens, however, and maybe give them a reference that will give them a circumstance bonus on their Diplomacy checks for thinking to speak to an old contact.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'll be running this on Friday. Looking forward to it! I agree there's a lot of prep.

In the final encounter, I note that the effect for the Topaz jewel specifies her alignment can be N or NE for her spells and abilities. I assume this is intended to allow her to ignore protection from evil for the purposes of spellcasting and (more importantly) malevolence.

I'm curious if anyone who has run this scenario has had her use malevolence in the final fight. Seems like a nasty thing to do, especially since standard methods (protection from evil, etc.) won't work to drive her out.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

You can also add me to the list of people notified but without the downloads available.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Also keep in mind the length of the day as a whole and the need to rest. It is very difficult to fit in a day of investigation, a trip into the forest, and the trip back in the same day without the party ending up exhausted.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Regarding this:

Essentially the adjustment for having potentially two fewer 13th level characters is removing one minion from the fight, and that feels a little off.

It could be that it was different at GenCon or a misread from the GM, but in the release PDF, the 4-character adjustment at low subtier for the final encounter is to remove all four acolytes, not just one. At high subtier you remove two of them, leaving Vector with two remaining.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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I ignored the entropic field listing, since he didn't have it (and I don't think really needed it).

I ran this last Friday, with the game going from 6 to 11 p.m. There were a total of seven players at the table. Nobody summoned the elder air elemental with the Untouchable Opal, which is just as well considering the number of people present.

The battle with the troops took more time than I thought it would. They have a lot of hit points and DR. They also managed to dish out quite a bit of damage. Our group did make sure everyone had planar adaptation cast on them before they left Lodehollow (giving them resist fire 20 for the entire scenario, and immunity to the fire planar traits).

For the second encounter, they found the underground passage and went to the magma caverns. I managed to knock a PC into the lava before the mythic elemental got critted and pinned with Fossilblight, effectively ending it as a threat.

They freed the genie and negotiated for the wishes, with a good enough check to have him participate in the final combat. They also succeeded at all four checks to calibrate the machines.

We ran out of time in the final encounter--I only managed to complete one round of combat. Had it continued, I likely would have dropped a caster with his round 2 tactics. They tried using a wish offensively to wish the inevitable into the sun (though they didn't specify which one--I guess any would do). However, the genie's save DC is only 21 with the wishes he grants, so even if the efreet had overcome SR (which he didn't), it almost certainly would have made the save.

For Mythic Vital Strike I used the "sane" version, rather than rules-lawyering for more damage. The only time I might make an exception to this is if there was one or more players at the table with very overpowered characters, especially if they use "rules as written" loopholes to get that way.

I do recommend playing this in a 7 hour session if you can. I also recommend avoiding 7-player tables if you can, since extra players slows down the game, especially at this tier.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

For the final fight I ended up drawing out the map and writing elevations for the ledges, elevator, and throne on the map (I had the floor at 0 ft., the throne at 150 ft., and the elevator at 200 ft., with a note in the margin that the ceiling was at 300 ft.).

The group talked their way past the demon, so Grasping Storm and the sylphs were unbuffed. The fight was over fairly quickly--the tactics leave the sylphs essentially out of the fight for the first two rounds (obscuring mist, then summoning); before they even completed their summons the fight was over.

I did have Grasping Storm win initiative, and he did some damage, but he didn't have the hit points to last against the PCs, especially since the group included two paladins (one wielding Fossilblight). Group played up in subtier 8-9. He never managed to bull rush or pull anyone, as he didn't last long enough to do so.

They did do the initial fight with Efwurwa's Fury, which took some time, mainly to whittle through the air elementals. Even with them bypassing the demon fight, I still had to skip the optional encounter to complete the scenario on time.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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For those who have run it, what's your take from a time perspective? I get the impression that this scenario can run fast.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Thanks for the response, Shadowfane. I ran this on Thursday evening, just before PaizoCon, and when doing my final review and prep I did realize my error and determine the correct layout, as you cited. It turned out to be a pretty anticlimactic room in practice, as the group simply all stayed in the same cell and moved to the next lever, and the energy field never caught up with them.

I ran five players through The Gauntlet, starting around 4:15 p.m. and running until about 11:15 p.m., for 6 hours total. Here's a summary of what happened:

Exterior: The group did not bother scouting out the exterior. I did note that the dimensions in the text are wrong; it mentions the base being 100 x 100 feet, but per the map it's more like 150 x 100, which is what I told them.

Area 1: The group asked all of their questions up front, not considering the possibility of saving some for later (to be fair, Sorrina's speech does mention that they'd answer them now). They did get a few clues for what they would face, including the usefulness of water breathing and that they would face incorporeal undead. I had prepped a checklist sheet to track questions from each PC, which made the encounter run smoothly.

Area 2: This is a large and complicated area. Best moment was when an enlarged PC jumped from the balcony and failed the roll, faceplanting on the acid carpet. The adamantine cobras were annoying, but their attack bonus was too low to pose a significant threat. Essentially they were a time-waster.

I don't remember seeing any climb DCs for the walls, so set it at 20 or 25. None of the PCs tried entering the green column until after they had closed all the eyes. I caught one or two with the eye blasts, but the damage was not enough at this level to be much more than an annoyance. Surprisingly, no one used flying magic.

Area 3: The party eventually figured out that only the top layer of liquid was acid; they were impressed when I later told them that the scenario did take into account water displacement as a solution. Rather than creating water, they used the bodies of the adamantine cobras, plus the rolled up carpet from Area 1, and dumped those into the pool; I decided that they had enough volume to displace the acid. The tojanida did not pose much of a threat, and were dispatched in about 3 rounds. Again, their attacks and damage were pretty low.

Area 4: This is the first area that really challenged the PCs. The trap has a high attack bonus and does a lot of damage, and I caught a number of PCs when they moved away from its initial 5-foot reach. I think one PC actually dropped below 0 hit points from the damage. However, they soon figured out what they needed to do and deactivated the trap. Much healing ensued.

Area 5: I managed to petrify two characters with the basilisk, to my surprise, leaving 3 PCs and an animal companion to move on to Area 6. Once they had resolved the puzzle there, the group had no problem dealing with the basilisk, and I hand-waved the combat (the party included a barbarian with Lunge plus another ability increasing their reach, so they could reach across the pit and attack it using Blind-Fight, and it had nowhere to run to). They used the blood to unpetrify their comrades and moved on.

Area 6: As mentioned above, this was actually a pretty easy and straightforward area to resolve, and no one was in danger of being shocked.

Area 7: The PCs included someone with a high Bluff who convinced them a scroll of align weapon was worth at least 5000 gp. Note that the creatures can talk but have Int 4, and no Appraise, detect/read magic, Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft, or Sense Motive, so to my mind they are really easy to bluff. The party thus concluded their deal quickly and moved on without fighting.

Area 8: There are no stats for the trap or DC for the oil, so I made it similar to the grease spell, with anyone entering having to make a Reflex save, and set the DC at 18. I got a few of them, but the party was easily able to frighten off or harm the pugs with Bluff and minor spellcasting. The gnoll did not pose much of a challenge. One pugwampi did survive, and I decided that since the PCs killed their "goddess," they treated the killing PC as its new god, and wanted to follow them around worshipping them. The party did not have the heart to kill it, but drove it off instead. It returned once, to be driven off again without being killed.

Area 9: The party did not feel the need to rest, so did not tarry here.

Area 10: I decided that the black tar allowed the undead to effectively take 20 on their Stealth checks, and none of the PCs spotted them. The kurobozu did not initially attack since the PCs headed south to Area 11. However, when the PCs returned and moved toward area A12, they did strike. After a surprise round and winning initiative, they nearly dropped the party mesmerist, but the tide of battle quickly turned against them, with one being forced to flee, and the other being slain.

Area 11: Two PCs studied the writing, and actually made the 20% chance of gaining forbidden knowledge. A total of three entered the room and became sickened (no one failed a Will save). Ultimately however, they chose to remove the sickened condition and lose the bonus.

Area 12: The daemon was scary at first, and did some damage, but the PCs managed to shut it down fairly quickly. One PC did wander too close to the orb, however, and rolled a 1 on their Will save, thus grabbing and pocketing the orb.

Area 13: This is as far as the group got in 6 hours--just enough time for me to read the room description, but they did not enter.

At the conclusion of our time, the possibility of meeting again to conclude the scenario was discussed, but a new time has not yet been coordinated. If I do manage to have them get together to complete the adventure, I'll post the results here.

Conclusion: The players largely enjoyed the challenges of the Gauntlet, particularly the environmental difficulties (poison gas, 30-foot drop to floor, water navigation, etc.). They blew through the combats pretty easily, with only a trap and some bad saves causing them significant issues. It's worth noting that, while not completely broken characters, the characters did largely rank high on the power curve. Still, I think a few of the combat encounters (notably in Areas 2 and 3) could have been toughened a little, and another editorial pass made to catch things like the missing trap details in Area 8. (In Area 2 I would rather have had a tough creature with a high hit chance but low damage, to consistently do minor damage until they dealt with it, rather than creatures that end up being a time sink. In Area 3 I'd have probably used something like a giant octopus that could grapple PCs and threaten them with drowning.)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm one of the lucky players signed up for this. I'm expecting the rainbows, sunshine, and fluffy woodland creatures typical of Frog God adventures.

Will we have a chance to review any of the pregens prior to the convention?

-Greg R.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I noted this new addition to the PF module lineup, and thought I might run it as a pickup game at PaizoCon. However, I do have a few questions:

1. Is it intended for four or six 8th level PCs? I assume six, but thought I'd check.

2. Are there plans to do a PFS chronicle sheet for this? It seems a natural fit for one.

3. Area 6 mentions the six areas on the map labeled A-F. However, the map has no such lettering. What's the intended layout? Doing some reverse engineering from the text, I came up with the following:

DE
BF
AC

And the walls start in the vertical position, not horizontal as shown on the map.

4. This is a correction, not a question: the cobras in Area 2 should be CR 3, not CR 7.

Thank you!

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I've GMed just one TPK in 130+ tables of credit, last month when I ran Master of the Fallen Fortress for four brand-new characters (a fighter, investigator, monk, and sorcerer). They had no healing whatsoever. Even with repeated prolonged rests between encounters to wait out status effects, and a trip back to town to rest for the night and resupply, selling what meager loot they found, they ended up essentially barricading themselves into a room with enemies that proceeded to wipe them out.

Despite the TPK, everyone at the table did have fun. They knew the writing was on the wall, but they were new characters, so the sting of their dying was not that painful.

I'm re-running Master of the Fallen Fortress in a few weeks; I'll be curious to see if any of those players sign up again to take another crack at it.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Alan Kaekel wrote:
Minna Hiltula wrote:
It's just a flavor boon for now. It might come up again later, but so far there hasn't been a followup.

I'm cool with the flavor boon idea. If it were my character, I would use it to add some RP to my character at the beginning of every subsequent scenario with that character. My players though... I'm doubtful anyone will actually earn it by RPing something with her.

If PFS has not done anything with it in over 4 years, I am doubtful they will. Here's to hoping they let Jim Groves write a sequel like they did with Black Waters -> School of Spirits. Which is a favorite among many at my lodge.

It does have an impact, in #4-06 The Green Market, where you first meet her sister Zeeva. (Zeeva later reappears in #8-01 Portent's Peril.)

Grand Lodge 5/5

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There's also Master of the Fallen Fortress.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I ran this last night at subtier 1-2 with the 4 player adjustment. They easily bypassed the optional encounters, and we finished in a little under 2-1/2 hours (and that's with me taking the time to describe the festival, have random NPCs interact with them, etc.).

While the atmosphere and festival were good, the combat encounters were extremely disappointing, especially the final one. Having your "boss" as a 5-hp CR 1/2 creature just doesn't cut it in my book. I think my players were surprised after the final fight, thinking it was a prelude to the real final area. It does feel like there should have been a second, tougher fight at the end.

Foreshadowing is only effective if there's a decent payoff for it. No matter how sinister you make the other enemies and events seem, if an average group of PCs can handily defeat the final encounter in 1-2 rounds without breaking a sweat, it's going to leave people unsatisfied.

Were it not for the way-too-easy combats, I'd probably run this one again; as it is, it's going into my vault to be forgotten about.

(BTW with regard to the dead druid Elm--I figure his nature bond was taking the Plant domain, not having an animal companion.)

Grand Lodge 5/5

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In the final act ("Return to Janderhoff"), there does not seem to be any difference between subtiers; i.e., the DCs are not higher in Subtier 8-9, nor are more successes required. Am I missing something, or was this intentional?

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Question on the ghawwas div: In its statblock, the spear attack is listed as dealing poison. Does this apply to only their first attack, or to all spear attacks they make? In Special Abilities it only mentions poison on the sting.

I've run this once so far, playing high subtier with 7 players. Like the others above, my group knocked on the prison door and were led into an ambush, though there were enough PCs that they were able to overwhelm the enemy without too much difficulty.

For the encounter in the ruins, the ghawwases did pretty significant damage to a few PCs, and managed to kill a couple of crowd members before the commonfolk got out of their reach. They engaged the ghawwas attacking the priest very quickly, keeping her alive but causing a PC to drop, only spared by breath of life.

In the final encounter I provided general directions the sniping was coming from, and did allow the monsters to make attacks of opportunity on the fleeing crowds (nasty with Combat Reflexes). Despite that, they ended up with only 7 dead cityfolk by the end of the scenario, so passed the second victory condition. We did run out of time in the final encounter, but when I called it they had managed to kill pretty much all the foes except Khitio, and with seven PCs available to hunt him down, I knew he'd maybe get one or two more rounds of sniping, tops, before they found him.

I do like the strategic choice of the final battle in particular: do you hunt down the sniper, leaving the crowd to fend for themselves, or do you protect the people and get them out of danger, leaving few resources to defend against sniping?

I'll be running it again tomorrow; I'll be curious to see how the 2nd group does.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Hah! I only died twice! Call me "Least-Dead Mlem."

Grand Lodge

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I'm in! Looking forward to a nice, relaxing afternoon...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm in!

Who to pick...hmm...I'll go with P. Vangloris, Master of Illusion! After all, someone has to be the pretty one!

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Couple of other observations from my sessions:

1. If your time is limited, be ready to provide more guidance at the outset of the scenario. In both games I ran, it took the group about 10-15 minutes of talking over their cover story and disguises before realizing they didn't actually know how to get to Undermarket. I recommend in the mission briefing, having Amara Li specifically tell the PCs that their first step should be to locate an entrance to Undermarket, since she does not know one herself.

2. For the optional encounter, it recommends only running it if more than two hours remain. I would bump that up to 2-1/2 or even 3 hours, unless the PCs have already fought Yekai and/or Tseka. (I will say that the optional encounter really did a number on my second running of the scenario, with all the ability damage, and they only had one scroll of lesser restoration between them.)

3. When drawing the map for Tseka's lair, I'd make the pillars a little thicker than they appear on the map, since otherwise it seems unlikely that Tseka could hide behind one.

4. The triggering conditions for the pit in Yekai's chamber are not described in detail. I decided that since Yekai designed the trap, he would set it so that it would require a greater total amount of weight than his own (say, 150 pounds) to trigger it. That allows him to be able to actually enter and leave the chamber without triggering his own trap, and aids in his hit-and-run tactics. (By the way, the combination of a pit, 1-2 guardian beasts, and a bomb-throwing alchemist is a nasty combination.)

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I had the same concern while preparing and running this (I have run it twice thus far, both subtier 6-7, one with the four-player adjustment, the other at full).

I will say that most groups will have difficulty making the 2nd round of Disguise checks when they arrive at the Aspis base. Unless you have a group of well-prepared PCs, it is unlikely that more than half will make the elevated DC.

However, if that were to occur, the adventure does not really cover what happens next.

After giving it some thought, here's my recommendation:

Tseka is half-expecting Pathfinders to show up (as per the description in Area B9). Thus she will assume the worst of any supposed traders coming to meet her out of the blue.

Thus if the PCs convince the guards in B1 of their cover story, have the guards send a runner to Tseka by relaying a message via Yekai in B8. She will return with instructions to let the PCs make themselves comfortable in B2 until she is ready to meet with them. Then she lets them cool their heels, and see what they decide to do.

If the PCs go along with this, they get the pleasant experience of spending a night "resting" in the old temple of Lamashtu. There's a good chance they'll try to surreptitiously explore the lair once they've settled in; if so, proceed with the scenario encounters normally.

If after a day or two the PCs still haven't budged, Tseka sends in her body-double speaker to talk business with them and try to hammer out a deal, inspecting merchandise and listening to their offer. You can use the guards in B1 and the fake Tseka in B9 to handle this (with another round of Bluff/Disguise possibly). As long as the PCs stick with their ruse, Tseka is willing to go along with it, hammering out a trade agreement if need be through her intermediary, then sending them on their way.

Because the PCs are on a mission, sooner or later they'll break cover. When they do, only a few Aspis minions will be inconvenienced.

What I would avoid doing (if they talk their way past B1) is to take them directly to B9 and have them speak with Tseka directly, since this runs the likelihood of a TPK with most of the lair on hand to engage the PCs.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I like the villagers idea. Everyone plays, say, a 3rd level NPC class pregen (aristocrat, expert, etc.). It keeps new rules very minimal, and forces even experienced players to rely more on wits than powers and abilities.

Grand Lodge

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Mohrg (can't believe no one's done this yet)
PFS venture-captains
Small and Large octopus
Aboleth
Lantern archon
Gargantuan T-rex
Gargantuan kraken
Huge elephant and/or mastodon
Froghemoth

Grand Lodge 5/5

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I ran this on January 1st, low tier, for six players with levels ranging 1-3.

Unusually, I had a much longer block of time to work with than usual--up to 7 hours total. However, we got it done in about 5 hours.

A few things I noted during the playthrough:

1. Running the optional encounter in low subtier will almost certainly result in the destruction of Nira. She was engulfed and destroyed in about 3 rounds, before the PCs could damage the cloaker enough to drop it or get it to flee.

Since Amenira/Nira's soul is contained in the locket, which survived, I decided to allow its retrieval to be sufficient to fulfill a secondary success condition. I did not feel it fair to penalize them for losing out on a success condition simply because we had time to run the optional encounter.

2. The group figured out about the dolls and the enter image scroll. they actually did take the time to do untrained Craft (dollmaking) skill checks in Amenira's house to create a reasonable facsimile of the party's wizard. However, they could not immediately come up with a way to infiltrate the PC-doll into a villager's house, and because they were ready to hunt for the cloaker after talking to Nira, we moved into the bat encounter and thence to the final encounter before they could follow up further on this.

3. The party seemed to forget for a while that they had the scroll of speak with plants; I gave them an Int check near the end to remind them they had it, and they decided to use it on the Verdant Spark. They went back and forth on whether to take it; in the end they decided to take it back to Katapesh with them. (The fact that half the party were Dark Archive-aligned had an impact here.)

4. At low subtier, the party's Diplomacy bonuses were low enough that making checks to get information was hit-or-miss; they lost out on several opportunities to get information by failing these checks.

5. From a combat perspective, the gnoll encounter is mainly a matter of how quickly the PCs can reach their foe; once they get to melee range the battle ended quickly.

They had trouble with the bat swarm, in large part due to low rolls with splash weapons and touch attacks. However, they eventually took it out with a burning hands.

As previously mentioned, the optional encounter with the cloaker resulted in its death, but not before it had managed to kill Nira. Its ability to make tail attacks + Combat Reflexes meant it did fair damage to the PCs. Then too, I rolled really well on almost all of its attacks.

The final encounter with the yellow musk mother/zombie was not too much trouble. Their biggest challenge was the damage the zombie inflicted, as again I rolled well and hit frequently with its slam attacks.

One question that came up that the adventure does not cover, is what the impact is on the plant growths and the lifecycle of the villagers. The named NPCs are listed as augmented humans, but it never specifies what benefits they receive from growing up under the influence of the Verdant Spark. I decided it probably gave them increased longevity, faster natural healing in sunlight, and resistances to magical effects of the Mana Wastes. But I would be curious to know what the author's original intent had been.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Starting a discussion topic for this scenario, just released today. I'll be running it Friday, and will have a better-informed opinion then.

But one thing that's been bugging me: why is the scenario named the way it is? I've only found one reference to a circle in the scenario (a mention by the sheriff about the "Circle of Life" in relation to the local god's worship). From that, it is implied to be a reference, perhaps, to how the druids screwed with the natural order in the community, but it feels a bit far-fetched to me. If I was a player in this, I'd be scratching my head at the end of the scenario.

Am I missing something? Was there originally more of a reference to the Circle of Life (or some other element) that explains it?

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I have run this scenario twice so far. The first time was for a group of five PCs, solidly in high subtier. The second group consisted of seven players ranging from two 7th-level pregens to an 11th-level PC on their last scenario before level 12, that ended up playing up with the 4 PC adjustment.

INTRO
In both groups, none of the PCs had been through Beacon Below, and only one or two of the players had been (with different characters). Thus both groups ended up voting, and both ended speaking to Saruna.

For the journey, I did require endure elements or similar on PCs wearing medium or heavy armor (or else not wearing it in the high desert, or coming up with another reasonable solution). At subtier 10-11, this should not pose much of a problem for them, other than possibly prepping some spells or buying a few cheap scrolls.

SANDSTORM
Both groups failed two checks, and ended up with the lesser version of the curse. I determined from these playthroughs that it is important to mention two or three times some of the aftereffects of the curse (feeling of insects, burning on skin, etc.), both for atmosphere and so that when the curse strikes in the temple, it doesn't come out of left field.

GIRTABLILUS
Both groups successfully negotiated with the scorpionfolk. The first group had little trouble; the second failed two of the three checks with one of them, but succeeded at the javelin toss and thus avoided a fight. Just as well; this scenario like most 7-11s tends to run long, and a long battle with these folk would have prevented a final battle from occurring.

TEMPLE
Both groups initially scouted the 50-ft-high openings; one finally entered through the front door, while the second group entered the temple from above. Both missed the secret door (one failed on a search check; the other never searched that part of the temple).

RESEARCH PUZZLE
Thanks to the clue on the table by the dark iris, both groups started with the correct bookshelf, and managed to complete studying it around the half-hour mark. I had prepped a special handout to help track research, which sped things up considerably.

TEMPLE ASSAULT
The battle once the tablet and torc are retrieved is definitely the hardest fight of the scenario, primarily due to the hasted undead. The statue is excellent at drawing attention, leaving the path clearer for the undead to move up with their super-fast speed and clump onto spellcasters. In both fights I probably could have taken out one or two PCs fairly easily if I had most or all of the undead focus on one target at a time. The 4 PC adjustment has a big effect, both reducing numbers and the likelihood of a rend. Both fights took a fair amount of game-time to chew through the enemies' hit points.

OTHER TEMPLE EXPLORATION
One group found all the research lore, while the other group missed only the arrowheads. I managed to get a curse to stick on one or two PCs. Be sure to ask what everyone is doing, then have everyone make their knowledge skill checks, before calling for Will saves for the curse.

SINUHOTEP
Both groups negotiated and ended up allying with Sinuhotep and fighting Surma. The way the scenario is written, it is extremely unlikely to me that anyone will fight the lich, since the stated victory condition at the outset (retrieve the amethyst jewel) pretty much requires allying with Sinuhotep to succeed, and there is no indication in the intro that allowing the jewel to be destroyed and returning with its shards would be acceptable. Maybe having Surma (if she is present) suggest that to PCs once Tahonikepsu leaves might give PCs the idea that fighting him is acceptable.

That having been said, both groups did discuss/argue over whether to side with Sinuhotep. One group had a cleric of Pharasma who was very upset over letting the lich live, but the Scarab Sage faction PCs in particular ruled the day.

SURMA
In both cases, the final battle was short and easy. Witches do no make the best final bosses, to my mind, since most of their magic tends to be single-target, short-range save or die effects, and PCs at this level tend to have very high save bonuses.

With the first group, Surma was hit with a quickened ill omen + feeblemind combo that had me call the fight after she failed one of the saves (we were also running very low on time). Surma lasted a round or two longer with the second group, mainly because they took position on the ground instead of at the tops of the pillars, so it took a couple rounds for them to reach her. However, she dropped pretty quickly and did little to nothing against the PCs.

AIDS
My prep for this scenario is as follows:
- Annotated stat blocks for both low and high subtiers. In particular, it is important to review the psychic class in the unlikely case that PCs fight Sinuhotep.

- A chase tracker table that integrated each event's name, a checkbox for success, a description, and the two requisite checks to be made for each, along with a summary of the results. This allowed me to have all the chase-related information on a single page, where I could easily track the results.

- A time-tracking table for the temple collapse, listing all key times, with minute-by-minute checkboxes I can cross off as time is expended. I also calculated the length of time it would take to do a cursory ground-level search of each temple room, assuming a single Perception check per 5 feet. Thus for example, a cursory search of the Assembly Hall would take about 8 minutes (excluding searching the urns).

- Check boxes for each of the five research points to be gained, with a brief description of each and the checks and DCs needed to succeed on each.

- A two-page set of tables for the bookshelf research task. This includes check boxes for every 25% increment of completion, the skill checks needed for each phase and for each shelf, and a description. When running this, I would have players place their minis next to the shelf or shelves they were working on, then go down the sheet making checks group-by-group for each round of testing.

- Player handouts for each of the three possible curses that they might suffer (six to a page, which I then cut out for six handouts per curse). When a PC is afflicted with a curse, I can then pass these out to keep by their character as a reminder of its effects.

CONCLUSION
An entertaining and engaging scenario, especially for Scarab Sages faction members. I definitely recommend that players play Beacon Below before this one (for story continuity, if nothing else), and also the Destiny of the Sands trilogy if they can.

As always, game time is a significant consideration when running this scenario. Keep an eye on the clock and be ready to push players if they start to get mired down in roleplay or discussion. It is easy for players to lose a lot of time, for example, in the logistics of the library research task, especially if you are unprepared.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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When GMS decide which boon they want (for Serpents Rise), they must cross off the others. Because of this, when running Trouble in Tamran, if you have a player with a GM Serpents Rise chronicle sheet, and no one else with the Zurnzal boon, you'll need to have them state before the scenario if they want to apply it to Zurnzal or not, since it affects Cetenna's loadout in the final act.

Grand Lodge

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The chthonic simple template (from the Monster Summoner's Handbook) grants the templated creature the earth subtype. It also grants the creature a burrow speed equal to half its highest speed.

Per the earth subtype, "Earth creatures with a burrow speed possess tremorsense."

My question: what range should this tremorsense have? None is specified as a default.

I see no indication that applying a subtype would not grant the abilities listed in the subtype (otherwise a Fiery creature would not be immune to fire, which seems rather unlikely since no fire resistance or immunity is otherwise called out in the stat block, the way it is with the other element-based simple templates.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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I plan on running 2-12: Below the Silver Tarn (7-11). Stormy isolated town besieged by horrible eel-creatures, and a truly harrowing final battle.

For modules, Midnight Mirror is a decent alternate choice. I seem to recall Carrion Hill being pretty good as well.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I ran this for a between-subtier group (4, 5, 5, 6, 6) that played up with the 4 PC adjustment. The game ended up running long, though we were halfway through the final encounter (and well on the way to a TPK) when I called it.

The 4 PC adjustment for Henbane is not nearly enough to reduce the difficulty of that encounter. After a few rounds of attempting to cast defensively, I had her just use judgment to boost AC to 26, and take the attacks of opportunity while she used her bow while in melee with four PCs. They had difficulty hitting her, while she needed very low numbers to hit, even using Deadly Aim.

I messed up slightly on her aura of madness (thought it was aura of chaos for some reason). If I had treated it as written, 4 of the 5 PCs would have failed their saves and been confused for the entire fight, leading to a TPK even faster.

The encounter in the tower with the vegxits and the sack is the one that ran far longer than I expected. The party triggered both encounters by having most of the group go in the front door, while one PC used a rope to go through the 2nd floor window, then (while attempting to speed up via a red portal) ended up teleporting to the 3rd floor and triggering the gremlin encounter. That one also nearly led to PC deaths.

The first encounter with the dragon and gremlins in the town square, though, was not a problem for them. The 4 PC adjustment at high subtier really nerfs that encounter.

I definitely recommend playing down if at all possible when a group is between subtiers on this scenario.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I ran this a few months ago. In my game, a gunslinger took it out in one round; I don't think I had the chance to use more than one eye ray.

Combat starts with the Chaos that Crawls over 200 feet away, so parties with long-range attacks can gets some hits in before it can get within eye ray range.

12d6 averages to 42 points of damage (21 on a successful save). Unless the party leads with a low-HP character, odds are that even if you roll well, the front-liners at 7-8 will survive at least one hit. If you are feeling kindly, you can direct eye rays at different targets each round, to spread out the damage.

Clever parties can also use tactics and low-level spells (e.g., obscuring mist) to hinder the effectiveness of the rays. Overall, I don't feel the stats as given are overpowered at low-tier.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm going to bring Scarlett Blackburne, female human cleric 7 of Besmara / holy vindicator 1. She's designed primarily as a high-AC support unit, and is much less a damage dealer (at least, not without significant buffing).

Barring any last-minute changes, of course.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I am one of the six signed up for this event. If I use a current PFS character, I'd probably be running my 8th level gnome sorcerer Namji, with Bosker, his elephant animal companion. However, I might look at alternatives. For example, I have a Skull and Shackles character (cleric of Besmara) currently level 10 that I could downgrade to level 8 or 7; she hails from Sargava, so would be a good fit.

Looking forward to it!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Kill 'em good, Bill!

-Greg R.

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