Mr.CoffeeCup's page

20 posts. Alias of Finger Button.


Captain Morgan wrote:
Mr.CoffeeCup wrote:

I've seen many posts on this and I wonder if I am the only GM that let the PCs ride animals without making those checks? It seems ridiculous to me that every six seconds each PC would need to handle and command the animal to continue moving.

My group was given trained mounts to ride. They rode them until there was a battle. The PCs would have needed to use Handle Animal and Command Animal at that point to use them in combat. They opted to dismount and engage on foot.

A reasonable GM would never make people those checks out of combat, much less every six seconds, no. It is probably worth clarifying the rules text just because not everyone applies common sense. Adding a "riding tactic" that specifies it isn't fatiguing would suffice for example.

I don't prefer the introduction of all the mechanics describing exploration, but that seems like a reasonable approach based on the direction the game system has gone.

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I've seen many posts on this and I wonder if I am the only GM that let the PCs ride animals without making those checks? It seems ridiculous to me that every six seconds each PC would need to handle and command the animal to continue moving.

My group was given trained mounts to ride. They rode them until there was a battle. The PCs would have needed to use Handle Animal and Command Animal at that point to use them in combat. They opted to dismount and engage on foot.

Ediwir wrote:
You'll be shocked, but I actually welcomed the ancestry change for the opposite reason ...

Thanks for weighing in. I can see your point. One of my players did not like the general +4 to Stealth for Halflings in PF1E which made them ideal rogues that other races couldn't contend with.

I like the change in PF2E where Halflings don't have a blanket bonus to Stealth, but have an option of hiding behind larger folk in order to Hide and Sneak. It gives provides a description of how the ancestry uses its natural abilities to be better in a way that others can not, making it distinct, but not completely overshadowing, the others.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

One of the things I’m enjoying about the direction the new edition is going is a focus on interesting skill feat options. I won’t speculate on ones that haven’t come up for my group yet. Maybe we will come across those in future gameplay and I will get to speak on those from experience. During my character creation attempts, I was pretty underwhelmed by the options available to me. Of course, this only mattered if I tried to make a human character or a rogue. I’m guessing many people are selecting humans to try out new feats.

I say they are underwhelming because they just don’t sound interesting. Many of them are worded in ways that mean you get a +1 bonus to something. I’m speaking of feats that give +1 to initiative or gain expert proficiency in ‘X’. Myself, and my new players, were reading through and nothing really jumps out. Other feats give access to new abilities, a step up from a bland +1. But the description is so mechanical that it gives everything a feel of reading a technical manual.

Take Hobnobber for example, a few a couple of my players had. You can Gather Information more times per day. Okay… but why? This feat is missing a small descriptor in the beginning, such as Intimidating Glare, and I had to make something up here to try and explain what this means to my players. One of my new players just read the title and thought he could sell things for more silver in town because he had the feat. Looking at Intimidating Glare, it actually says what is trying to go on. However, it is followed by four lines of crunch that basically say to remove a trait, add a trait, and don’t take a penalty if they don’t understand your language.

With the primary focus on so much crunch, the way these feats are presented remind me of the criticisms I, and many others, have of D&D 4E. The style lacks flavor that I’m looking for when I run a game. It makes running the game more of a chore and not as fun.

During the game, the rogue in my group selected the Battle Medic feat. At level 1, he felt there weren’t many viable options for him. The paladin also asked about it earlier on when he was creating his character. I became concerned for the PCs after reading up on it. The starting DC for any benefit makes it dangerous in the hands of a first level PC. Even if he had an 18 Wisdom, he would be just as likely to harm himself by critically failing, than actually healing himself. He did not have an 18 Wisdom though, and was therefore more likely to hurt himself than heal himself. This then became dead weight on his character sheet. Looking at the DC chart, this is equivalent of a severe DC for level 4 characters. When this actually becomes a reliable check, the amount healed will be so trivial that it makes it nearly worthless.

The questions and feedback above came out as a result of running The Lost Star adventure.
GM Playtest Post: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs428mg?The-Lost-Star-Playtest-Notes-by-MrCoffeeC up

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Zi Mishkal wrote:

Yeah, i interpreted it with the following critera:


I extrapolate all this from a DC 15 athletics check. I might be accused of being a little too realistic, but hey, at least when you accomplish something at my table, you really accomplish it.

Sounds like a good interpretation. I think I put the fire too close to the water, but we'll see if it even matters. Part of me is thinking my party is either going to start firing their bows from across the river and it will turn into a shoot out or they will bypass it altogether.

Shaheer-El-Khatib wrote:
Mr.CoffeeCup wrote:

I haven't run In Pale Mountain's Shadow yet, but I am preparing it. I find making maps beforehand online to be much easier than if I were to do this in person. In person, it would all be on the fly which takes up valuable play time.

Some of the maps were very easy for me. The Ankhrav one only took me 10 minutes. However, the Gnoll camp took me 30 minutes and it could all be wasted if they bypass it.

I like the idea of not providing pictures, but the descriptions need to be spot on. The Gnoll camp map description was very confusing to me.

It took me 2 hours and it's not finished.

Ouch. I decided to stop trying to think about it and just allowed myself to screw it up. Hope it goes / went well.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I agree with many of your points. Of your list, my biggest concerns are:
- Use of signature skills. I think the mechanic isn't necessary and should just go.
- Class feats and character concepts. My group didn't look favorably on the choice limitations within the classes. One example being the variance of skill proficiency limits by class.
- Ancestry builds. I prefer some choice being granted at level one, but make choices meaningful and applicable from level one forward.
- Oddly enough, resonance hasn't really come up as an issue yet. Conceptually, I think a different solution should be used, but I have no test data to back it up.

DeathQuaker wrote:

- Wasn't clear if some creatures needed to be noticed or not -- i.e., should I have rolled Stealth for the ooze? Rolled the party's Perception vs the ooze's Stealth vs 10.

I treated this the same way for my players.

DeathQuaker wrote:

- With the +10 equaling critical success, it's easy to crit in this game--too easy perhaps? The ooze is immune to crits (something we almost missed) but it could still crit the party, and crits also happened a lot in the goblin fight. It makes things go faster, but it is SO easy to deal lots of damage in this system, it makes it more likely that whoever wins initiative wins the fight.

Agreed. Although for my game this only ever came up once. I guess it was just the way the dice fell. I've seen horror stories posted though.

I didn't force my players to take the backgrounds from the adventure. A couple did, but others picked ones from the rule book.

Mine generally liked the new action system, but the fighter still felt like he was just moving and swinging.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for pointing me to the errata. I agree with marshmallow about needing an errata for something like this in the first place.

DerNils wrote:
Nice summary, good to hear it went mostly well. What did cause the bad experience for the Paladin? The character Building process?

Thanks. I was debating putting all the notes here or not, ultimately deciding to split them up.

He was tripped up on figuring out his ability scores, which ancestry feats he had access to as a half-elf, how many paladin feats he should have at level 1, the domain power he gets with Deity's Domain, and the deific weapon ability (which gave him nothing but some confusion in the end).

Full post:
http://paizo.com/threads/rzs428nb?The-Lost-Star-Playtest-Feedback-on-Charac ter#1

Due to the schedules of my playtest group, we decided to play online and each player made their character on their own. In the end, I believe this was problematic, especially with two players new to table top role playing games. If we all got around the table and made them together, something my groups typically do at the start of a new campaign, it would have been smoother.

After running through the process a couple times, I started to get the hang of it and it felt like something I could do more quickly than PF1E. Below are a list of the problems our players had creating their first characters.

- Ability Boosts: The explanation of boosts being in multiple locations did not help players who felt overwhelmed by the sheer size of the rule book. The example given with the fighters helps, but my players weren't even looking there. As a result, some players began by giving themselves a +1 for each boost, instead of +2. One player completely left off the ability boost from his class. I would recommend integrating the example with the numbered character creation process where ability boosts begin on page 14.

- Mixed-Race Feats: A new player was confused by the wording of the Half-Elf feat. He kept thinking that he would immediately get one of the listed Half-Elf ancestry feats. I made a post on the Ancestry forum earlier about my concern here. This is a layer of complexity to character building that I feel is unnecessary, doesn’t “feel” right that players grow into their ancestry, and makes early characters feel bland. Original post is here: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs428n7?The-Lost-Star-Playtest-Feedback-on-Ancest ries

- Total Number of First Level Feats: Having different classes get different numbers of first level feats confused some new players. Aside from the mixed ancestry feat confusion above, classes get first level feats differently from others. It seems that primary spellcasting classes get a first level class feat based on options they choose, such as a Druid Order or a Bard Muse. Non-spellcasting classes, such as Fighters and Alchemists, select it outright from a given list. Some new players looked through the classes and got options mixed up. It also felt natural to them that they would just get to choose whichever first level feat they wanted, in addition to the other options. The result was a paladin with too many first level feats.

- Other Paladin Creation Comments: The paladin player got a deific weapon ability which sounded great. He used a longsword and shield; iconic for a paladin, right? Having an exception to the rule for this ability added some unnecessary complexity to his character and a slap to his face for showing him a cookie but keeping it out of reach. He selected the Deity’s Domain feat. However, he then had to balance looking at the paladin section of the book, looking at the cleric section of the book, and looking at the spell selection of the book simultaneously to build his character. It was overwhelming for him. With the way table 3-9 and 3-10 are constructed, he was confused about what he was getting as well. Having spells listed by deity in 3-9 and powers listed by domain in 3-10 really got him mixed up. I don’t have a suggestion for this except to streamline this somehow. Having separate spells by deity and powers by domain seems counter to one of the playtest’s objectives (as I understand it) of simplifying the various resource pools for players.

- Players not like organization of character sheet indicating proficiency rank mixed in with all the modifiers, including proficiency modifier

The questions and feedback above came out as a result of running The Lost Star adventure.
GM Playtest Post: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs428mg?The-Lost-Star-Playtest-Notes-by-MrCoffeeC up

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Some players in my playtest group feel that the removal of certain Racial Features that existed in PF1E, such as the Halfling’s bonuses to Stealth, mean that we no longer have the problem where “Humans are the masters of the world, but no Human will never be as good as as a Halfling at sneaking around, so why bother being anything but a Halfling if you’re going to play a Rogue.” One of the key issues in PF1E is that certain races are just inherently better than Humans at doing certain Class-based tasks. Despite the fact that Humans are supposed to be the most adaptable, most skilled, and most populous, these inherent racial bonuses lead to explosions of Halfling Rogues, Elf Wizards, Half-Orc Fighters, and so on. Combined with the inherent racial attribute bonuses, there’s almost literally no reason to play a Human (other than roleplaying potential) in 1E, or, indeed, most D20 games. I enjoy this benefit of the system, preferring abilities that open up new options or aspects of the game such as the Dwarf's Boulder Roll or the Gnome's Animal Accomplice.

However, to me, growing into an ancestry over time doesn't feel right. This contributes to a feeling that level one characters are just more bland now than they were in PF1E and earlier levels are not as enjoyable to play. I much preferred PF1E's system of alternative racial traits from the APG / ARG. I don't believe all members of a particular ancestry are alike, and there should be options as a result, but those options should be granted from character creation.

The questions and feedback above came out as a result of running The Lost Star adventure.
GM Playtest Post: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs428mg?The-Lost-Star-Playtest-Notes-by-MrCoffeeC up

2 people marked this as a favorite.
QuidEst wrote:

Un-gripping is not an action; it's only re-gripping that costs an action.

I've been looking for more information on this and the only places I have seen this described in the book are under the description of Hands (p.184) and Method of Use (p.345). Both describe using an Interact action to "change your grip," irrespective of releasing your grip or re-gripping. Oddly enough, the Interact action doesn't mention changing your grip in the description at all.

I interpret this the same way as the OP.

My players were also unhappy with having to spend an action to get any shield benefit.

MMCJawa wrote:
eh...I would rather just have it be a free action, than to start going down the pathway of creating an entirely new type of action that doesn't slot into the three actions and a reaction system. Cleaning up actions is one of the best things about PF 2E.

I agree.

thelostgod wrote:

As a long-time GM, I'd just like to say that the arbitrarily growing DC numbers and, as a result, the need for a chart like Table 10-2 is a nightmare for running the game smoothly.

It seems to be that you're setting the difficulty of a task twice, for one. Also, since the chart does not grow in a linear fashion (sometimes +1 between levels and sometimes +2 or +3), there is a need to have your book open to page 337 the entire game.

To me, it would almosts be easier to just ask each player what their total bonus to a skill is and then set the number on-the-fly according to how much chance of succeeding you feel they'd have. NOT a good solution by any means, but still quicker and (potentially) more reliable than the current chart.

Is there any way to fix this so that DCs are set and the "level" and "difficulty" simply exist as modifiers? That way we could actually memorize the DC scaling and then control it from there.

I agree. I made DCs on the fly often when running it because it keeps the game moving. I hate having to refer to tables.

The only time I ended up using the table was to describe the difficulty of a task to the PCs for something that was obvious. I wanted to give a frame of reference and try to keep some semblance of immersion, not just say, "It's a DC of X." For example, climbing the ledge in A7 (DC 15) was a severe challenge for the level 1 PCs.

Also, it doesn't make sense to me to include the table but then include actual DCs throughout the adventure. There was a lack of consistency. If the table is integral in the game, then reference it or say that a task is a high difficult task for level 1 PCs.

So many DCs in the adventure were more than extreme for the party too, it didn't make sense to me. Maybe that is one of the things they were trying to "stress test."

The concept of compositions sounds good to me, but the implementation and description left me puzzled. I tried to listen to the Know Direction podcast with Mark Seifter that explained some of this after I ran the game, but the way it was explained on the podcast didn't translate in the rulebook and didn't answer all of the questions I had. I don't think players should have to hunt for podcasts to understand the rules either.

As written, compositions are a special type of spell that require you to use the Performance skill as a part of their casting.

- Does this mean that a Bard can say they are going to play the flute or do they need to actually make a Perform skill check when playing?

- If a skill check is required, what is the DC?

I don't like the idea that a Bard can fail to cast a spell. Compositions seem core to the class and other spellcasters aren't restricted in any manner like this. On top of that, building DCs for each of the compositions a bard would have to cast is an awful lot of prep work for a GM for something that should be simple. If that isn't part of the design, then the composition description should not explicitly state the use of the performance skill. There is no need to add mechanics to something that is just roleplayed.

As an aside, I really liked the critical failure description for Perform.

The questions and feedback above came out as a result of running The Lost Star adventure.
GM Playtest Post: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs428mg?The-Lost-Star-Playtest-Notes-by-MrCoffeeC up

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I haven't run In Pale Mountain's Shadow yet, but I am preparing it. I find making maps beforehand online to be much easier than if I were to do this in person. In person, it would all be on the fly which takes up valuable play time.

Some of the maps were very easy for me. The Ankhrav one only took me 10 minutes. However, the Gnoll camp took me 30 minutes and it could all be wasted if they bypass it.

I like the idea of not providing pictures, but the descriptions need to be spot on. The Gnoll camp map description was very confusing to me.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

#2: What Skill is it to know what an Ooze is and what's up with it? Or an Undead creature? Or anything really. I winged this based on PF1, but a new player would have no idea and find different GMs with wildly varying definitions as well.

I ran into the same problem. For me, it didn't come up with the ooze, but I wanted them an opportunity to understand what a faceless stalker was. I ruled Occult, but other GMs could make other calls here, rightfully so.

These are my notes for running The Lost Star. A lot of questions and comments came up during the game, but I will post those separately in the other forums based on the READ BEFORE YOU POST sticky in the General Discussion. I will refer back to this post in others I make that resulted from these sessions.

Hope this helps!

Session Preparation - 6 hours est.
This is an estimate because a some of this time was spent just looking at the rulebook for the first time. My preparation included building a character to join the party, setting up the virtual tabletop and maps, making sure everyone was connected for our group call, and answering questions for the new players leading up to the session.

Party Composition and Character Creation
Players had about a week to prepare their characters. Each approached it very differently. The new players originally expected to roll for stats, but I told them that we would be doing the standard build.

Gnome Druid - A new player to TTRPGs. I didn't hear much from him leading up to the first session. I found out afterwards that he had a lot of trouble at the start, but looked at a video online that was prepared by someone, not sure whom. When we started, his character was prepared pretty well.

Half-Elf Paladin - A new player to TTRPGs. He played one session of Pathfinder of 1e right before we started getting ready for the playtest. Yes, that caused a little bit of confusion in the beginning. He had a lot of trouble building the character, feeling overwhelmed by the rules. In the end, it did not come out as a good experience for him.

Gnome Sorcerer - A veteran player for longer than myself. He's played the same systems as me plus many others. I didn't hear anything from him leading up to the game, but a few questions came out as we started. I'm assuming he built it right before we started. Most of his questions came out during the course of the game as comparisons were made with P1e.

Elf Bard - Played by the myself to round out the numbers and party composition. I've been playing TTRPGs for about 10 years, mostly D&D 3.5e, 4e, 5e, and Pathfinder 1e. I made a few characters to make sure I understood the character creation rules to assist the other players. It took me a while to build the first one, but I think I got it down to about 30-45 minutes per character later. Most of the time is figuring out class-specific stuff which I may post about in the class forums.

After the first session, two new players joined and the Bard went back to town to hang out.

Human Fighter - A veteran player for longer than myself. A few questions came through leading up to the session, mostly about party composition and players since we have never gamed together before.

Human Rogue - A veteran player for longer than myself. The only comment I heard during character creation was that he had more skill proficiency ranks to distribute than skills he cared to take.

Playtime - 8 Hours: Session 1 = 3hrs; Session 2 = 2.5hrs; Session 3 = 2.5hrs
Includes the general background and exploration. Concluding the adventure was handled via email afterwards. I gave a general backstory for meeting and knowing Keleri over via email.

--- Session 1 ---
We started the session with everyone at Keleri's vault where she explains everything with Talga. Then we jumped to the entrance to the Ashen Ossuary. Trying to keep the game moving as quickly as possible since we did not have much time, and focusing on playtesting elements, I decided to gloss over much of the roleplaying opportunities in the beginning. The PCs had the map, but didn't know what was in the rooms.

The veteran player asked about lighting and we were stuck for a little bit figuring out how we were going to handle that. New players were wary about taking any steps forward. I think this is because they saw the map for them and this was their first time. The druid picked up a piece of garbage, cast light on it, and started throwing it forward. The battle with the ooze wasn't terribly dangerous. I didn't roll well for its attacks so it only did minor damage with the slime wave. The effect of the creature was nice to have instead of just attempting to hit with pseudopod one or more times and then going to the next in the initiative. It took a few rounds just because its HP was pretty high and it was immune to crits.

The druid tried to sneak up to look around the corner but kept kicking rocks all over the place, so decided to stop that tactic. He then through his glowing garbage ahead and looked around. The paladin stepped into the room and that's when I gave the goblins shots with their bows before rolling initiative because of all the commotion with the rocks and the glowing garbage light flying into the room. This battle went pretty well for the PCs. I don't think I tracked the light as best as I could have. Also, based on the description of the room and map, I was initially confused. It was hard for me to tell that the black areas in the middle were the pillars, but that is what I went with and said that the light didn't shine around the other side of them. The PCs dispatched the goblins pretty easily.

The majority of the first session was spent here.

The druid wanted to check out the bones. I let him use untrained Medicine check to determine that the charred bones were not from a natural fire, but wouldn't be able to figure out the cause without being trained. I tried basing this off of Proficiency-Gated Tasks (p.336). I let this lead, though, to a use of the Sorcerer's training in Arcana to make a check. He succeeded and determined that it was an awful lot of Alchemist's Fire that caused the burns. This led them to look up in the ceiling to see if it poured down where they figured out the details of the ancient trap and history of this area.

The group decided to be completionist and stay to the left when searching out the rooms. It was a straight-forward fight with the centipedes winning initiative. They almost fully surrounded the paladin who was a little ahead of the party in the room. The party killed the centipedes at an okay pace, but there was a pretty large group of them so they got to go for two or three rounds. The druid used burning hands which helped by hitting 3 of them, but he did it with the paladin in the middle of the spray. The paladin got to use retributive strike once, which worked out well by killing the centipede before the attack got off. The paladin made 3 saving throws vs the poison before failing on the critical hit which hurt the most. He saved twice more after that. Overall, he rolled really well on these saves and he likely would have died if his rolls were slightly below average. In the end, he got down to 2 HP thanks to the bard's healing and his lay on hands.

--- Session 2 ---
I decided to stop rolling secret GM checks beginning with this session. It just became too much for me to do. There were 5 players now, so I had to make some encounter adjustments. I found the process really easy to do; I THINK I did it correctly. My adjustments were as follows:
- A6. High, Character Adjustment = 20 = Character level -2 = -1 level creature = no new creature added
- A7. Severe, CA = 30 = CL-1 = 0 level creature = +1 Goblin Warrior
- A8. Severe, CA = 30 = CL-1 = 0 level creature = +1 Skeleton Guard -- haven't looked here yet
- A10. High, CA = 20 = CL-2 = -1 level creature = no change

A4. The druid inspected the body and made a critical success on the medicine check to determine a vampire wasn't the culprit. They wanted to try to recall knowledge to figure out what it was. I allowed an Occult check to determine the creature. None were trained, but someone rolled high enough. I gave them the name of the creature, but they didn't know anything about what it is.

The druid entered with light coming off of his piece of garbage. They saw enough "outside the chamber" to make the check without entering. I don't think a mechanic based on "entering" a room works well. Use actual distances please. The druid disabled the hazard and searched around. I told them that there was pollen residue on the ground and that he was able to figure out that goblin feet entered the room but came out "stumbling" based on survival checks.

The party looked around and found the idol. The rogue removed it with his Thieves tools. While discussing what to do about it, the Paladin drank the water because he was bored, or just to spice things up, and critically failed his save. He used his hero points and prevented the sickness. The veteran PCs expected the idol to be a trap, but I wasn't sure what would be an appropriate skill in this situation. I started with religion checks which were attempted by the paladin and druid with poor results. I then allowed the sorcerer to try arcana which he succeeded. Was the idol supposed to radiate magic? I said no, but the case could have been made I guess.

The party started to approach and saw the dim light from above. The druid sent his bear down causing initiative rolls. The PCs waited at the top of the stairs, but the goblins doused the fire pit with water and moved a little. The PCs, expecting the goblins to rush them up the stairs, single file, moved forward. The rock trap was sprung for max damage on the paladin. The battle went pretty simply here. The fighter got to use sudden charge which he loved. The paladin finally used his shield block, taking a dent in the process. There were many concerns about readying actions in the end which I will leave for a post under Playing the Game.

We ended here without any searching around.

--- Session 3 ---
The party started by exploring around. They found the stash and secret door. The rogue picked the lock and the party decided to rest before proceeding further.

The party went through the passage and searched through the chests. The rogue disabled the poison trap, but not the lock. His first Thievery roll on the lock was a 21. Realizing how quickly his locks would break, he stopped. The paladin stepped up and swung his hammer to break the lock. Drakus came around the corner to see what was going on. He won initiative, changed form, moved up, and got a swing in on the paladin. The party wailed on him, rolling below a 15 maybe once, and took him down on round two. I didn't make an adjustment to his difficulty for a 5 person party. The party then moved to the shrine.

I allowed recall knowledge in religion to figure out info instead of NEEDING Pharasma lore. At level 1, what is the likelihood that someone will actually have this? The religion check beat the DC by 5, so I gave it to them and they all got Pharasma's blessing. They used the key to get to the sanctum.

The party came in and took everything then headed back to the final room they missed. Simple.

They opened the door leading to the hallway and stepped forward. With the blessing, the trap didn't spring. They looked it over then moved on.

Based on the time left we had for session, I hand waived the battle. The PCs had tactical advantage from the beginning with some with some level 0 creatures. They used detect magic and found the items on the body.

The party decided to give the items from the chest back to their owners. I let them pick the level 3 items they received. I followed up with an email describing what was learned afterwards. No one knew Aklo (Would anyone at level 1?) so Keleri gave it all to them and I rolled society checks for the party to know what Necerion was up to.

Nullpunkt wrote:

I am struggling to work out how to use Encounter and Exploration Mode at the table.

I found it a bit tricky as well. I think your choices were spot on.

I've run through a single session of Lost Star on Roll20 and we didn't finish.

I started the Ossuary asking what their tactics were as you did, but I had new players that haven't played table top RPGs before and it was a bit tricky working it out from that perspective. Eventually I got to a point where they were all just "looking out for danger" as they moved through. Since it was on Roll20, the new players just wanted to move their tokens around. I found it better narrating what occurred and tell them where they are when something interesting happens, rather than having them "Explore" inch by inch on the map. It really started to bog down the game for us which we were trying to fit into a 2 hour window.

I also tried to be specific for my players when we were transitioning modes, but it didn't come out well from a narrative standpoint and just seemed to have the game focus on mechanics. It really breaks immersion when I say to everyone we are now going to Exploration Mode.

My preference would be to leave them in Exploration Mode as long as possible and give them the option of changing their tactics to Sneaking.