Harles's page

309 posts. Alias of Harles the DimWitted.


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Is there supposed to be a discount if you purchased the PDF? (Mine isn't showing up.)
Or is that the reduced price from $120 to $100?

Edit: NM. I saw I clicked the wrong link!

Thanks, Driftbourne!
I picked up the Core Rulebook and Junker's Delight yesterday at my local gaming store. I also picked up the Beginner's Box (pawns, battlemat, etc., still made it seem a good value). But yeah, I agree after looking at the Beginner's Box - it IS very limited. Even moreso than the Pathfinder 1 & 2 Beginner Boxes.

I'm a new GM jumping into Starfinder. Yesterday I purchased the Beginner's Box, Core Rulebook, and Junker's Delight. I'm excited to be running this system for my group of players - who are predominantly teenagers who are pretty new to RPGs (have played a bit of 5e.)

I saw really high marks for the Beginner Box (and I think the components such as the pawns and battlemat are very valuable). I also have used the other Paizo Beginner Boxes for Pathfinder 1 & 2. I feel like the streamlining used in the Starfinder Box is more extreme than any of the other Beginner Boxes, and it might cause confusion when expanding to the full game with the Core Rulebook.

The Beginner Box has a different method of generating Hit Points, doesn't use EAC or KAC (only one AC), doesn't track ammunition, doesn't use Stamina Points ... and that's just what I picked up with a cursory glance.

In your opinion, should I just skip the Beginner Box and dump the players into what will easily be the most complex TTRPG they've ever played? Or do the Beginner Box - and if they like it - figure out how to "translate" the rest of the game to those specifics? (Because if they don't like it, we won't continue the game. And if they do, I don't want to "pull the rug out" and tell them to relearn the game and make it more realistic - aka "less fun.")

I'm going to attempt to get my group to try Starfinder. They are mostly teenagers who have only played 5e up to this point - but I really need a break from the genre and system.

I'm assuming that the Beginner's Box is a good first step, but what after that? Is there a follow-up adventure? Or for an AP - what's a good introductory AP for a new group (including GM)? Something that will hit the high spots, have plenty of action, be relatively straightforward, etc.?

Would appreciate any advice. I'm Day One, just learning my way around this game.

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I guess maybe I'm taking the news of SF2 in an unusual way: it is making me curious to actually try SF1 for the first time.

I don't want to wait for SF2, so I'm looking at trying one of the shorter APs. There's a lot to catch up with.

Repeatedly I see Inventor and Alchemist come up on lists of the worst classes in Pathfinder - either confusing to play, very situational, or just underpowered.

Considering that two of the three recommended classes for this AP are underwhelming - AND I'm considering this to be a group of teenagers' first experience with Pathfinder - maybe I should pick another Adventure Path?

(One player in the group has already played Abomination Vaults & Frozen Flame - so I don't really know what else to consider.)

I just picked up this one and have been skimming it for the past week.

I've started (and failed) APs ranging from Age of Ashes, Extinction Curse, to Abomination Vaults. I'm currently struggling through Quest for the Frozen Flame.

This one seems like one I'd really like to run (and I've got no connection to it from previous editions). A pretty straightforward, classic adventure.

I hope we get more like it.

Are there still games available? All this news passed me by somehow. (I guess I thought it was all in-person.)
Don't want to buy a ticket if there aren't games open.

I don't know if I'm just not cut out for running Adventure Paths or what, but I'm getting completely overwhelmed by this one.

First, I want to give a few factors.
1) We're playing online and have short-ish sessions (3 hours per week).
2) I'm not a new GM - but I do feel like I haven't yet achieved complete system mastery of PF2 (despite running several adventures since 2019).
3) I have never really used the Golarian setting. I don't know the history, lore, religions, major NPCs, etc.

Specific to this adventure, we're in Chapter Two of "Lost Mammoth Valley." There's a big map with 50+ locations. There are 8 factions operating within the areas. My group is pretty slow moving (partly due to the restraints of shorter sessions being played online) - so at our current pace, it could take us over a year to get through this map.

I could cut some of the locations, but I have no idea which are the "important" areas. I don't know, for example, if there's a vitally important magic item located down the side passage of cave being guarded by mutated otters (well actually, I did find that one and retconned it).

Is it important that I let certain NPCs live? Is it vital the party have connections with all the groups? Are they going to miss important gear? What about story elements? What even is the story at this point? Are we expecting the group to explore a dangerous valley while they're still being pursued by an enemy tribe?

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It's still a threat that they haven't officially made 1.0a irrevocable (only said they're "not touching it" in a social media post). Until that happens, the lich can pull the rug out from any publisher still using that OGL.
That's one reason we still need the ORC license.

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Xenagog wrote:

What proportion of D&D/Pathfinder players use VTTs?

I'm not asking that sarcastically to minimize the issue. I'm honestly wondering. I've never used a VTT in my life, and it didn't seem to me like something that was that ubiquitous, but I first started role-playing more than forty years ago so maybe I'm kind of an old fogey out of touch with current ways; I'm getting the impression VTTs are a lot more popular than I realized...

I can only play PF2 on a VTT. There is zero interest in my small town in playing anything else but the Big Game. So I have to find games where I can - online.

At this stage it seems pointless for me to purchase physical products when I know it's unlikely they'll ever be used at an actual table.

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Yeah. It's every company for itself. It's probably too late for Paizo or any other company to come out with a "lingua franca," and it would've been great to have seen Paizo again step out as a leader in the game industry like they did with Pathfinder 1e.
Honestly, as much as I love the content, the silence is deafening when we've seen MCDM, Kobold Press, and even Troll Lord Games stand up to the revocation of the OGL.
Even if it's a word to the fans that they're going to move in a new direction OR that they plan to stick with their release schedule. ANYTHING would be appreciated.

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Xyxox wrote:
12Seal wrote:
Ick, so "we get your stuff" is in full effect as of the 13th.
Only if you agree to it.

Kickstarter has agreed to it. Doesn't that mean that everyone who has active Kickstarters must also agree to it?

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pres man wrote:

3pps: I lost my temper when I got my OGL and I guess I said a few thing I shouldn't have.

WotC: OGL? How did you get an OGL? I cut out OGLes this year.

3pps: Yeah. Thanks for telling us. I was expecting an opportunity. Instead I got enrolled in the screw you club. 22 years with the license. I've had an OGL every year but this one. You don't want to give OGLs, fine. But when people count on them as their plans, well what you did just plain...

Players: Sucks.

3pps: My barbarian, whose Strength is higher than his Intelligence...

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I downloaded all my PDFs from Paizo and have them safely stored on physical media.

I'm debating getting the official PDFs of things I normally access on Archives of Nethys [Dark Archive, etc.] - but that would get really pricey over the course of just a few days. (I wouldn't mind if I had a couple months to spread out the purchases.)

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I'm sorry that anyone is taking my request as entitlement. I appreciate the work FryGuy and other fan developers have done to bring the PF2 experience to Foundry VTT.
If I phrase it this way:
"Hey, it would be great if Paizo made more of their back catalog of APs, adventures, and PFS modules available on Foundry. As a busy GM running 4 weekly games, I would happily pay for the convenience to bring this premade content to my players.
I'm just a fan and customer: I don't have access to the resources Paizo has. They already show they have a team working on converting current adventures to Foundry. Is it possible they could contact the fan developers who are no longer able to update the code to keep the mods functional? Perhaps they could purchase the rights to that code for a minimal amount and agree to update it until such time as Paizo releases professional, paid versions of their past APs (some of which your fans are currently in the process of playing)?"
I am thankful for the suggestions of mods in this thread that will help me provide a better experience for my players. I will give these a try.

Guntermench wrote:
You can download older versions from your purchased licenses tab on foundryvtt.com. Install a second copy with a compatible version, export the stuff you want then import it on your working version. Kind of a pain, but eh. None of this has ever been Paizo's responsibility to begin with.

I run through the Forge, which I don't think it gives me that option. I will examine it as a possibility though. Thanks for the suggestion.

And I understand it's not Paizo's responsibility. But it is within their power to do it, potentially with little effort. It could save a good number of fans some considerable effort.

Guntermench wrote:
I don't really agree with it being a nightmare though. I guess if you think working with Foundry is an ordeal I can see it but how you think that is beyond me. At least now with V10 you can just upload the PDF directly into a journal entry, it just won't make all the scenes for you.

I can read the PDF from my laptop as I run a game. Simply having it in a journal entry really has no benefit to me.

What is difficult about it?
Copying the maps from the PDFs. Aligning the grid. Drawing walls. Finding the enemy stat blocks and placing their tokens. Having the enemy tokens not look like the creatures they represent - so changing those if necessary to keep players from getting confused.

Guntermench wrote:
lolwut. PF2e is probably the most supported game on Foundry in terms of automation and free content.

And it's all fan-created, and I've been very appreciative of it and have praised it. So what I'd want is from them to either help support the free content OR give us the option to pay for the content. Right now on Foundry I can access the Beginner Box (which we've already played), Abomination Vaults (which we've already played), and two other adventures (which have middling reviews). Previously, I had access to basically the entire library through my PDF purchases. That means no Strength of Thousands or any other older APs, no PFS content.

For me, that's not enough representation of Paizo's adventure offerings to keep Foundry as a viable VTT for the system.

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I apologize if this is the wrong forum to share these frustrations. I know that Paizo is not to blame for my situation, but I'm hoping some others on here have solutions (or can at least allow me the space to vent as a GM).

I've been running PF2 regularly on Foundry VTT. I'm currently nearing the final chapter of Book 1 of Quest for the Frozen Flame. It was during last night's session that I discovered the PDF to Foundry importer is no longer supported for the current version (10) of Foundry. The upgrade happened automatically to all of my games on Foundry, so I can no longer use the feature to upload PDFs. Once the players get to the end of Book 1, that's it. Either the campaign ends or I begin the arduous process of adding every map, trying to get walls and dynamic lighting working correctly, trying to align the grid so it doesn't look like sloppy trash, hoping to find the right opponents in the bestiary (which no longer has the imported artwork so they are generic, goofy silhouettes that kills the mood).

Last night I discovered that what was the best way to play the best modern RPG has turned into a nightmare that is going to turn into a heck of a lot of work and still be a substandard experience for my players.

Quest of the Frozen Flame is available for Roll20, which doesn't still doesn't look serviceable as a VTT (I have used it in the past for Age of Ashes and Abomination Vaults). It has zero automation, no tools, no access to the SRD content, no character creation, etc. What it has is maps and art work - which I can no longer get on Foundry.

If I want to stay with Foundry, I have very limited official offerings from Paizo. I can't get an official download of the campaign we've started. Who knows if there's any hope that past APs are going to be made available? And is it going to be in time for my group (doubtful)?

Unless I can come up with another solution, I'm not going to stick with Foundry. If I don't stick with Foundry, I don't stick with PF2.

If I did have a request of Paizo - and I realize it's a longshot request from an overworked GM - buy the rights to the PDF to Foundry Importer from FryGuy. Keep it updated until you can get your past APs (and PFS adventures) converted to Foundry officially (like you have with Blood Lords and the others). This would be great for your fans who are running other campaigns on Foundry who are like me - facing the end of their campaigns.

Otherwise, I think we'll see Pathfinder 2's usefulness in Foundry drop. If you want to keep us playing on Foundry and Society active online, we need more content.

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I just picked up the Humble Bundle yesterday and my group voted last night to start playing it immediately instead of Strength of Thousands.
I haven't noticed it getting talked about much. Seems like some good stuff overall.
Any advice for the first book?

Yes, I am running the game.
I normally wouldn't want to go above 5 players, but I'm hoping that the automation on Foundry will help smooth over the challenge of adding an extra player. (I'm very confident in the system on there.)
If I had time, I'd definitely offer to run a second game for the other five - a different campaign.

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Yikes. I was just reading this thread and might need to back off my plans to run it for my group - which is wanting more than half the sessions to be dynamic, exciting action-packed combat.
At least half of my group has claimed that an entire session without a fight would 'be boring."
I started getting concerned about SoT when I saw Chapter One being about doing a placement interview and running errands for the teachers.
So I need to think ... what's next? What else should I run? I need to get with the rest of the group and see if they want a course-change.

Apparently, there is a real desire to play PF2. I posted availability to run an AP online and got 10 interested players. In one day. Obviously this is too many for me to GM effectively, and I wish I had more free time to start an additional game to accommodate everyone.
I'm not a complete newbie to PF2, but I'm not like a pro-level GM like Ronald the Rules Lawyer. Some of the players, however, are new to PF2.
My question is: I know they are designed around 4 players, but how many players would be acceptable for an Adventure Path? (I did 6 players in Age of Ashes when it first came out, and it managed to be challenging enough - at least during the first 2 books I ran.)
What are your suggestions? I'd like to include as many people as I can without making others' experiences suffer.

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I'm about to undertake yet another attempt at PF2 on Foundry with my wife and best friend (side note - I'll be looking for players soon).

Even though a big part of me would like to write my own adventure, I think getting a new group together would benefit from the name recognition of an AP.

I've had a bad run of APs in PF2, and I'm trying to find that "Goldilocks AP."

Age of Ashes - too difficult
Extinction Curse - also too difficult
Abomination Vaults - dungeon crawling got boring

What are currently considered the best APs? I'm looking for something with better levels of challenges than Age of Ashes, more variety than Abomination Vaults, and something that might appeal to bringing in new players to PF2.

Or would you recommend stringing together Society Adventures (but not running for Society credit)? OR perhaps converting a previous edition AP (Age of Worms?)

Thanks in advance. I really want to finally run a successful PF2 game (after three failed attempts with different groups).

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CorvusMask wrote:
Trip usually helps whole party, especially characters unable to go to flank, but one of its biggest use is honestly making enemies waste one action to stand up from prone.

But your character is wasting an action to attempt to do something they have a good chance at failing?

I just don't see how it's a good return on investment.

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keftiu wrote:
Was there any debuffing of the enemy - Trips and Shoves, Demoralize, spells and the like? In PF2, using all three actions to attack on your turn is generally considered sub-optimal, and the game expects that negating your opponent's advantages is just as important as hitting them.

I don't understand this at all. Trips, shoves, etc. are all attacks, correct? They all contribute to (and suffer from) the MAP, right?

How is it going to help you at all to do this? Every time I've tried it, it's a completely wasted effort.

This image (from the 2e AD&D PHB) always resonated in my mind as an elf with a more average body type. Just for inspiration purposes....


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Helvellyn wrote:

I know this sounds like an IT tech asking you to check if a PC is plugged in, but are they calculating their proficiency bonus to the roll accurately? I’ve done a fair few society games where a character keeps getting dropped in combat and upon checking their character sheet they have forgotten to add their level to the proficiency bonus. In particular they have forgotten to add their level to AC, saves, spell DCs and attack rolls.

I probably isn’t that but I have found it is something worth checking before you start looking elsewhere.

In my case, it should all be done automatically on Foundry VTT.

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Dancing Wind wrote:
Harles wrote:
You don't need to meticulously count XP between chapters when you're doing a story-based game.

You don't have to do that with APs.

At the beginning of each book, look for the sidebar "Advancement Track". It's usually on the first page of the adventure. That will tell you exactly when characters level.

For example, "Zombie Feast" (Part 1 of Blood Lords), has the following suggestions
1. The characters begin this adventure at 1st level
2. The characters should reach 2nd level once they've cleared out their new manor.
3. The characters should reach 3rd level after exploring the Bone Shards hideout and Graydirge Bank.
The characters should reach 4th level by the time they complete the adventure.

If you're meticulously counting XP, you're making it much harder than you need to.

I'm not doing that. Paizo is. (Or at least, they were in the earlier APs that I have tried.)

To shoehorn all the XP into the AP chapters, they seem to cram in a lot of Severe encounters just to get the characters to a specific level, when it would be simpler (and better serve the story) to make Milestone XP the default. By doing this they can have encounters that fit the story & don't risk slaughtering the party on an unimportant encounter that isn't telegraphed in the module.

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Dargath wrote:
Harles wrote:

I'm not bragging - actually the opposite.

I manage to average out to a TPK every three sessions (or approximately 12 hours of game time). This is across different groups and different Adventure Paths.
So I'm left wondering - is it just me? Am I a Killer GM when it comes to running Pathfinder 2e? Or is it the Adventure Paths that are extremely difficult? (I was running Age of Ashes and then Extinction Curse.)
But in the process, I've managed to sour three different groups (more than a dozen people) on Pathfinder 2e.
Has anyone else had a similar experience?
Grass is always greener syndrome I guess. Have a lot of friends who complain 5e is too easy and there’s no challenge or risk and/or have to go way out of their way as a GM to make it hard and I personally love how deadly PF2E is. This planet is weird. Some people get sour on a game because they die, others because they never die. Strange planet.

For my most recent group who had a TPK, the dichotomy between the lethality of the system and the expectation that a party would be able to experience the story of a 20 level Adventure Path was too strong. It killed all the enjoyment of the AP. They got the mentality of "I guess this is just going to be a series of difficult combat encounters, rinse and repeat."

It's really a shame too. The system mostly works for me - better than 5e. But the encounters should probably be 2 levels easier to reinforce that the story is the most important part of the game, and then the "filler" encounters should be minimized in an AP. You don't need to meticulously count XP between chapters when you're doing a story-based game.

Do you think the Proficiency Without Level variant would help avoid TPKs? For example, would it decrease the likelihood of devastating critical hits by monsters? Would it decrease the monsters' AC to a sufficient level where the players might feel they aren't missing the majority of the time?

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SaveVersus wrote:
Harles wrote:

I guess I want to start with the rules and make sure I'm running everything correctly before looking at retraining three decades of GMing habits - though some of that might be in order (especially since I've had this Killer GM title following me since 3rd edition D&D - when the focus of the game turned very tactical and the rules became very precise).
Some of the advice I've been getting has been kind of diametrically opposed, so it's hard to know what to do.

If you've been known as the killer GM for 30 years, and it's not "accidental" TPKs (bad luck rolls, etc.), then I think you should lean into it as long as it's fun. Maybe look at some Old School Revival stuff.

Otherwise, you need to learn how to keep the game moving forward.
For example, if Locked Door A is not important to the plot (just a treasure room), then a failed lockpick roll means the door stays locked and you don't get to try again.
If Locked Door B is important to the plot, then that Door has to open no matter what. So a failed lockpick roll instead opens the door, but the picks break, or the door opens, but guards are alerted.

From a combat perspective, if the fight is leading to TPK Town, you need to do something about it. Either fudge monster HP (lower it), or fudge die rolls behind a screen ("miss" more often).
If you're better at miniature combat than the players, you need to dumb down your playstyle so you don't wipe out the party.
If you're down to one player, the enemy could demand surrender, or tell the player to run and tell everyone what a badass the monster/villain is.
If the party does TPK, you still control the narrative. The party wipes, but wakes up in a cage/cell and now they have to escape. Book of the Dead came out; revive the party, but they have to take ghoul archetypes.
If the party TPKs, they are resurrected and owe a debt to the benefactor who paid for it.

The story doesn't continue unless you turn the page, so it's your job to keep these things in your pocket and avoid...

My players all hate OSR and what they call "expendable characters" - so I'll need to go in another direction.

Since we play on VTT and I display dice rolls - I'll need to conceal those if I'm going to fudge.
Back in the day (running 2nd edition AD&D) I'd make all die rolls behind the screen and keep a running tally on all characters' HP just to make sure I didn't kill anybody. There were much fewer deaths, as you might imagine, but I knew the game wasn't actually a game: it was my friends sitting around and listening to me tell a story (and they had little control over it).
I have trouble believing that I'm so much better tactically than the playtesters and designers of PF2. I'm regularly dropping parties (across three different groups) with what are considered standard encounters (even if some are Severe they aren't beyond what a party are expected to handle).

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NielsenE wrote:
If the Killer GM title has been following you through multiple editions, I think you have your answer; and if you don't want it that title, you need to look at retraining your GM habits.

It's mostly a thing in d20-based systems (3rd-5th edition D&D, PF 1 & 2). In other systems it's not as bad. For example in 2nd edition AD&D - never had a party wipe, and only a very rare character death at all. Never had a character death in PBtA games (Dungeon World or Monster of the Week) or FFG's Star Wars. Character deaths are expected in Call of Cthulhu - but I don't think I had them more frequently than expected.

The main reason I bring it up here is that TPKs happen in my PF2 games with an almost ridiculous frequency. I've had about the same number of TPKs in 5e D&D, but that is spread across nearly a decade of GMing.

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NielsenE wrote:
The other thing that I'm a little worried about is it often sounds like the OP is looking for a silver-bullet/missed rule that will magically fix things. They've been answering questions on hard facts, but have avoided responding to any of the replies that talk about the softer/subjective GMing skills.

I guess I want to start with the rules and make sure I'm running everything correctly before looking at retraining three decades of GMing habits - though some of that might be in order (especially since I've had this Killer GM title following me since 3rd edition D&D - when the focus of the game turned very tactical and the rules became very precise).

Some of the advice I've been getting has been kind of diametrically opposed, so it's hard to know what to do.

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Paulyhedron wrote:
I've read this thread through twice now and part of me is wondering if this isn't a troll post? I've been in a tpk (Abomination Vaults), but only the one in my entire gaming life (2004). So I am not sure.

Hey there. Assuring you this isn't a troll post.

I can give you a few examples of PF2 TPKs I've had, as well as encounters that were so difficult the party just gave up. Alas, no full details because some of them were a couple years ago now. Some of these were admittedly due to my learning the system - especially one of the Age of Ashes TPKs.
Putting in spoiler tags...
Adventure Path TPKs and Give-Ups:
Age of Ashes: Book 1, Greater Barghest [TPK]; Age of Ashes: Book 2, Dragons in the Jungle [TPK]; Age of Ashes: Book 2, Monkey cultists and dragon door hazard [TPK]; Abomination Vaults: Book 1, Wood Golem [gave up]; Abomination Vaults: Book 1, Worm that Walks spellcaster [run away - half TPK]; Extinction Curse: Book 1, Demon Worms [TPK].

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Captain Morgan wrote:
Harles wrote:
** spoiler omitted **...

Having reviewed this finally, I do think you had room to make this less deadly. One glaring moment for me: requiring the sorcerer to use an action for a Medicine check to tell how close the enemy is to dying. That isn't the in the rules. Personally, since I switched to VTTs I just display enemy health bars. No numbers, but either a bar or some sort of mod that says whether a creature is badly injured, near death, etc. Wounds should be visible apparent, and while creatures mechanically don't get worn out as their HP approaches zero in narrative they should be looking worse for wear.

That said, the house rule you applied isn't an outrageous one, and feels intuitively consistent with how actions like Seek and Recall Knowledge work. However... it is the sort of house rule you may need to bend. It sounds like the sorcerer taking that action is what prevented him from successfully fleeing. I would have either let them figure this out as a free action, or advised the player that spending the action would mean getting attacked.

You also could have had the injured monster focus on healing and eating any of the bodies around it, instead of pursuing. Occasionally going for the downed character may make you seem like a cruel GM but actually helps the party survive. (And in this case it would be extremely in character for the creatures.)

It also seems like attacking the revived, prone champion instead of any of the standing characters might have been a turning point. You also could have pointed out the enemy would be acting next in the initiative so healing the champion at that moment wouldn't help. (Side note: did you remember to move the champ's initiative when they were knocked out?) Now, some people resent having the GM make suggestions like this, so this isn't a sure fire best practice... But it is something to consider if your players are missing tactical considerations, especially if they should be obvious to their characters.

Nothing you did was...

Yes, I moved the initiative of the Champion after they dropped.

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AlastarOG wrote:

I understand why your group chose that OP, but as a forever GM I can say to anyone that wants me to run pf1e or 5e that I simply flat out refuse.

I don't have the time or energy to deal with that nonsense anymore.

Players still come to my games, my current Isekai campaign has a waiting list of 5 players if any of the 6 main ones abandons it before we get started.

You get to choose what you want to run, if they want to run something else, they can GM

(One of my players has been trying to restart our skulls and shackles campaign for like... A year and a half and just not doing it, when he does I played an aeromancer arcanist in there and I was about to get icy prison...)

I chose the system (after I got buy-in from the players). I presented a few Adventure Paths for a vote, with my recommendation being Strength of Thousands - because it had good reviews and hopefully more balanced encounters.

They were against Strength of Thousands because a few of the players absolutely did not want to run with the free archetypes and wanted no magic characters.
They were against Abomination Vaults because they didn't want a dungeon crawl.
They were against Agents of Edgewatch because it was similar in theme to a previous campaign we'd done in another system where they served on a town watch.
They were against Agents of Alkenstar because it wasn't a "full campaign" and didn't like the technology aspects.
So they chose Extinction Curse over the others. In hindsight, I should've either written my own adventure or toned down the fights appropriately.
However, I did play through simulated sample fights solo throughout the first book just to see if it was as deadly as Age of Ashes (which went badly for a previous group). I didn't have any major issues, even with basic tactics for the party.
The party for whom I was GMing Extinction Curse failed. I can blame a combination of having a slightly underpowered party (because some may have missed an ability boost, didn't equip their magic items, made characters without some of the better attack cantrips, etc.) and using sometimes actively bad tactics (instead of merely "not optimal" tactics - like I did in my example).

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Candlejake wrote:

Oof that encounter in EC is a harsh one. And right next to it is another dangerous one.

The two crits are honestly unfortunate and probably the reason for the TPK. I think the encounter says the enemies try to shove PCs into the open grave so maybe you could have done that instead.

I was really worried going into this encounter. Aside from one person my group aren't gamers, they aren't very tactical and while they had 5e experience that one is easier. But the encounter set up the theme for future encounters in this AP which is my wife's dragon barbarian absolutely decimating enemies. In the end it comes down to the rolls and two crits can quickly turn the tides at low levels.

As to why this keeps happening I'm still baffled.

The party never actually got close enough to the open graves to be pushed in. Otherwise the creatures would have to drag them to the area and push them in. Or just stand there and take ranged attacks, since the creatures had no ranged attacks of their own.

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Well, last night's discussion included a ranked voting of where to go next. No one chose sticking with Pathfinder 2e as their top vote.
Complaints that came up were...
it's too deadly/characters are expendable
we fail too often
it requires too much system mastery (and studying)to have fun with the system

Even if it were possible to convince them otherwise by changing my GM style, it seemed they had already made their decisions.

So I'll take the advice in this thread and apply it to future games I run.

It does kinda stink that my attempt to run PFS at the local game store fell apart after one game due to no interest and this game has also collapsed - all in about 2 weeks.

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Kasoh wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Kasoh wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
It sounds like you just need to ratchet down the difficulty and not tell your players you're doing it.
Don't lie to your players about this kind of thing. Its quite disrespectful. If that means that they don't like the difficulty of the game and want to play something else, its probably best to respect that.

I don't think that tracks. If the issue is the difficulty, PF2 made it really easy to lower the difficulty. The problem is players and GMs are really adverse to knowingly making things easier. And maybe there's a game the players would like more with those adjustments, but the GM isn't responsible for learning a new game for them.

I also don't see a meaningful difference between changing the difficulty level from what is written to changing plot details or removing triggering content, and neither of those are things the GM needs to inform players of. Just do what you need to do to make the game fun. Or just don't play at all, I guess?

Different tables mean different social expectations and all, but if I learn the GM has been softballing me the entire game behind my back, I won't play with that GM anymore. Either the table can hack it or it can't. And it certainly isn't going to do the group any favors if they go on to other tables with deluded expectations of how the game works. That's setting people up for failure.

The players have explicitly said they do not want it made easier for them. Respecting that choice seems easy enough. Because when someone tells you that they don't want something, then you do it anyway--that's transgressive and rude behavior.

If that limits the games the group is willing to play that limits the game the group will play. /Shrug. It also depends on if this is an established group looking for a game or a GM looking to play PF2. The former can get by with something that suits their tastes. The latter has to find a way to stop killing people repeatedly.

Yeah, the group voted for the harder AP when presented with the choices. They have been hesitant for me to apply Weak templates to tough monsters. They don't want me fudging die rolls. But they, rightly, get frustrated when there are TPKs.

So I don't know. Maybe it's not the system for them. Maybe I need to write my own adventures for a while. But this may all be for nothing - I'm meeting with them in 10 minutes to see if they even want to continue playing at all.

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breithauptclan wrote:

Yeah, then all I can say is to stop using your dad's loaded dice.

Alternatively, do you have any other players who are more experienced with PF2? First, if the veterans are still running into major problems, then that would be an indicator that something is amiss on your side of the screen. If nothing else, the Play-by-Post forums are always short GMs.

Also, maybe have a mixed group - some veterans and some newcomers. See how that goes.

Haha. All the dice rolls are handled on Foundry, so I can't even change the results.

I don't have any friends still playing PF2 - probably because I've been an unintentionally bad ambassador.

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Captain Morgan wrote:

Ugh, I knew exactly what encounter it would be as soon as you said two 3rd level creatures. I hate that fight. Nothing signifies you're walking into a severe battle. It didn't TPK my group but it knocked all but one out, and that one led the monsters away from the party and then an NPC bailed them out. I think it played a role in ruining one of my groups as well. EC has a difficulty problem that is exacerbated by an identity crisis. Players build circus performers and then get thrown into a meat grinder. If you've got new players, I highly recommend using weak adjustments, or level the party ahead of schedule, or something.

I'm playing Abomination Vaults and it is much more reasonable, IMO. I have an experienced group of players and they still had a few hairy encounters, but it feels much more reasonable.

I've run AV for another group, and while we didn't have any TPKs, that group thought it was too difficult for their preferences.

This group was turned off by the concept of a "dungeon crawl." They voted to play EC, even after I told them it would border on being more difficult than other Adventure Paths.

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The Raven Black wrote:
Did the opponent use an action to Seek (or Medicine RK) to check that the Champion had been revived before attacking ?

No. Do you think they should have in these circumstances?

The creature is adjacent to the healed character. The creature is at least moderately intelligent (has an average Intelligence score and +1 in Wisdom). And then also has the ability called "recoil from wasted opportunities" which means that it takes 1d6 mental damage anytime a dying creature is healed because a "good meal" is taken away.
I think it seemed perfectly logical and fitting of the theme of the creature. I wouldn't have used this strategy automatically for just any creature.

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breithauptclan wrote:

The only other thought that I have is that you are unconsciously metagaming.

Enemies don't automatically know about the party composition and abilities. So they shouldn't be able to tell the difference between a Gnome Sorcerer and a Gnome Monk immediately. Same with a Lizardfolk Cleric with light armor and a glaive and a Lizardfolk Fighter with light armor and a glaive. Or Half-elf Champion with a shield and Half-elf Fighter with a shield. And the difference in tactics that would be optimal between those different characters is noticeable.

Stride up to a Sorcerer and grapple -> good.
Stride up to a Monk and grapple -> not so good.

Run past the Champion and attack the Cleric with glaive -> good.
Run past a Fighter to attack a Fighter with glaive -> here, eat two AoOs.

But from the description it doesn't look like you are actually doing this. At least not in this particular encounter. Still something to keep in mind. Especially when dealing with enemies that out-level the players. Playing them in a perfect tactically optimal way is harsh.

I understand. I try to use really basic tactics for most creatures. Bestial monsters typically move and attack the nearest opponent. They may switch their attacks if they are hit recently by another target. Unless they are especially ravenous they don't attack unconscious/dying characters. Usually I don't do trips or demoralize for less intelligent foes. It's just straight up move and then multi-attack.

When running intelligent foes - unless they have some additional information - they operate under the assumption that no one is a caster unless that character casts a spell first. They don't assume characters have reactions/attacks of opportunity unless they see it first.

I do flank with lower intelligent creatures and attack prone (or otherwise compromised) characters. I don't think that's beyond the expected behavior of creatures (like wolves) that are pack hunters.

I don't purposefully spread out to avoid area effect spells with unintelligent creatures or intelligent opponents who aren't expecting those kind of attacks.

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WatersLethe wrote:
OP has a bright future in professional gambling

My dad was actually a frequent gambler - mostly Blackjack and horses. Too bad he never GMed. Haha.

The frequency of my TPKs seems that there must be something else going on besides my luck. Every 12 hours or so of gameplay to have a TPK seems well beyond the impact of dice rolls.

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We're going to meet tonight - one week after the TPK. In my previous correspondence with the group via email, I tried to offer a re-do of the encounter and suggested applying the Weak template or letting them try the fight at 3rd level. I also tried a few basic suggestions (stay mobile, think of something to do other than a 3rd attack, retreat sooner if it's going badly, etc.). All of these were met with what I'd describe as hostility from about half the group.
While I can understand the frustration, I don't think they're at a good place to revisit the encounter, the system, or perhaps even me as a GM.
So I'm left with the feeling of having disappointed yet another group. This isn't the first TPK I've had with PF2, as I alluded to in the first post. It's not even the only group of players I've TPKed. I also frequently TPK groups in other systems, such as D&D 5e.
Should I just run easier encounters for everybody, across the board?

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breithauptclan wrote:

When your only defensive character goes down at the start of round 1, that is bad news for the party.

Now, about that...

Champion had their shield raised. It is possible to get a crit and a hit against a champion with their shield up, but not common. But to drop the Champion as a result seems off.

What about Shield Block?

A steel shield has hardness 5. Champion is listed as having 34 HP. Crit on 1d8+4 is max 24 damage. Hit is max 12. Subtract 5 from the shield block and the Champion would be taking 31 HP and have 3 left. Worst case.

With a wooden shield only having hardness 3 that would still leave the Champion at 1 HP.

The Champion had a steel shield, and I recommended it. Ultimately, the player decided to save his reaction to use the Glimpse of Redemption reaction to try to save the cleric. He's also very nervous about the shield being destroyed, despite my efforts to encourage him to use the ability.

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breithauptclan wrote:
NielsenE wrote:
Looks like the champion ate two crits and a hit in the first round.

Ah. I see the bite crit listed there too. Didn't notice that one.

But two crits and a hit out of three attacks against a champion with raised shield is rather uncommon.

+12 attack vs AC 21. They need a 9 to hit, and crit only on 19,20. For the two first attacks. For the second sword attack they need a 14 to hit and only crit on a 20.

So: 19+, 14+, 19+ => 10%, 35%, 10% = .1 * .35 * .1 = .0035 or 0.35% chance of happening.

It's possible I had the creatures flanking the champion at that point - I'm not sure.

The subsequent critical bite was because the champion was prone and hadn't raised her shield - so that one was easier to pull off.

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breithauptclan wrote:
The cleric did a two action heal on the champion, rolled 1, so restored her to 9 hp.

Yeah, sucks when that happens. It is too bad that hero points can't be used on healing rolls.

The party is officially out of magical healing.
Not quite. I didn't see mention of Rejuvenating Flames being used. That does do some healing as well as some damage. Not much of either though.

Yeah, I don't recall the sorcerer using that one (though I did in my simulation with their characters). Honestly, that player is the one with the most PF1 experience, and I think that counts against him in some cases. He frequently forgets things like focus spells.

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NielsenE wrote:

Tactically is sounds OK from the GM side. Though I probably would have had one of the vermleks cast fear in that second round rather than full attacking -- yes its likely less effective than the attack (especially with all the crits you were rolling), but it doesn't feel like softballing while likely giving the party a bit of a chance to recover. Concentrating fire on a single PC with an above level threat is likely to drop people fast, maybe not as fast as happened there with double crits.

Also did you roll the vermlek's initiative separately or on the same initiative? (I can easily believe both still went first when rolled separately) I strongly believe that 'group initiative' is a mistake in PF2 (aside from maybe pairing up large groups of level -2s or similar) and something GMs need to avoid -- parties need a chance to react/adjust after seeing how powerful an opponent is.

I used individual initiative for both the creatures - they just happened to beat all the characters.

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MaxAstro wrote:
Harles wrote:
Temperans wrote:
What was the enemy that they faced, or at least what level was it?
They were facing two CR 3 creatures. I'll be posting the full details in spoiler quotes in a subsequent post soon, since the encounter came from a published adventure.

Hm... Two level 3 creatures is a severe encounter for a level 2 party. I could definitely see that fight going badly if mismanaged at all, or just with bad die luck. Especially at low levels, a couple bad rolls can turn a severe encounter into a death spiral pretty fast.

Were the party underlevelled compared to where the adventure expected them to be?

Do you use XP levelling or milestone levelling?

EDIT: Was the party at full health/resources going into the fight?

I use milestone leveling. They are at the level that is recommended by the adventure.

The party was at full health. The sorcerer was down to one 1st level spell and the cleric was down to two 1st level spells and one use of Heal from the healing font.

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