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So I wanted to share our group's experience, add some insights from our experiences with the Playtest of Part 1, and tell how it ended in a TPK at the boss fight.
Before we begin, I'd like to say our group is very experienced. We play as the same group since 2000 and we play 3.5 and PF1 regularly. My players are very savvy combat-wise, and in our regular games, I frequently have to wrap my head around to build proper challenges to them.
As to the characters, we had:
- Half-elf Monk, with tiger style, DEX/STR focused. AC 17. He was the main front-line.
- Elf Ranger. Archery focused, High dex, AC 17 and wolf animal companion to help tanking.
- Half-Orc Druid, wild order, focused on Dex and Wis, prepared Heal and Burning Hands as 1st level spells.
- Elf Bard, Lore muse. 16 Dex, uses a shortbow as his weapon. Spells known are true strike, Soothe and Fear.
All in all, a relatively balanced party. Now, on to the playtest.
The sewer ooze encounter was a piece of cake. The players took a little (2) damage from the trash explosion, but otherwise dealt with it in 1 round.
For the Burial chamber, the players were sneaking, but were spotted because of their light source. The druid acted first and killed 3 of the 4 goblins with a well placed burning hands, and the last goblin was finished by the monk before they could even act.
The Mindfog fungus Hazard was very fun, as the Druid tried to use Survival to disable the fungus, but kept failing the DC19 check, becoming confused and repeatedly hitting himself with the sickle. He finally gave up and just used produce flame to destroy it. He then used his Heal to patch himself up.
In the vermin den room, I divided the 6 centipedes in 2 groups, in order to roll for stealth. 1 group rolled super high and remained hidden, while the other half was easily spotted by the PCs and combat began. This was where the new initiative rules became EXTREMELY confusing. Instead of just having a surprise round for those 3 centipedes that remained hidden (as it would've been in PF1), I used their stealth checks as the initiative roll, but they used their action to position themselves in the edge of the rubble and readied attacks when some PC appreached the other (now spotted) centipedes. The ranger sent his wolf pet to attack a spotted centipede, but the companion was completely demolished by 2 hidden centipedes attack. He dropped the next round. The wolf then almost died because of death rolls. The players could defeat the centipedes, but sustained a lot of damage. Having no other means of healing they went back to the city to rest and heal up.
When they got back, and since they were away for 2 days, I decided to spice things up a bit, and put 4 goblins investigating the burial chamber. This time, the players sucessfully sneaked and hid behind the pillars. The bard, knowing goblins hated dogs, used ghost sound to imitate do barks and lure the goblins to their location. Then again, the stealth as initiative rules are VERY confusing. I rolled perception for each the goblins and stealth for each of the players, to see if they could have become hidden from them. With their stealth results, some players could sucessfully hide from some of the goblins... HOW the hell do you run that? I don't know if I ran it correctly, but I ruled that hidden characters could ready an action to attack a goblin as soon as they got into range, and then used their superior stealth results as their initiative for the rest of the combat. The problem was that hidden PCs would effectively "lose" their action waiting for the enemies to come closer, while the Seen PCs could act normally from the start. It seem counterintuitive, in practice. Anyway, the players sustained minor damage and continued.
They proceeded to the fountain, spotted the idol and tried to remove it, trigerring the Quasit summons. The battle was overall interesting and balanced. The druid suffered a lot of damage even though he had 16 armor (17 with light shield up), but the +7 bonus to hit from the quasits plus poison plus wolf shapechange was savage. Since the quasits could fly, they could reach almost anyone in the room wih impunity. I think the lack of attack of opportunity for the monk really undermined his ability to be an effective frontliner. The Druid used his one Heal to patch himself up, and the rest of the players drinked from the clear fountain to recover.
None of the PCs were good with Thievery, so they couldn't open the locked door to the south. They went east, detecting the alarm trap. Slowly opening the door, they proceded to the cave with the goblins, the commando and the pyro. Failing a stealth check, the Ranger that was scounting ahead was noticed by the goblins. The battle was difficult at the beginning, as the players were cautious to enter a cave full of goblins and with a grease spell at the entrance (the goblin pyro cast it in his first round). As the mobs could attack with ranged weapons and only one or two PC in the corridor could fire back at them, they eventually entered the cave. The goblins set the trap after the druid failed his jump check (to jump over the grease area) and ended in the area of the trap. However, the druid was able to once again cast a well placed burning hands that finished 3 goblins and hurt the commando. The rest was just the PCs finishing the pyro and commando. They finished healing with a Soothe and the Healing potion and set themselves to the skeleton room.
Now this was a very difficult fight. The only way this didn't end poorly for the PCs was because the Monk was blocked the doorway and fough 3-4 skeletons at a time, instead of all 6. The skeletons with their resistances were almost immune from all damage the party could deliver: The monk couldn't enter Tiger stance as its slashing damage and fought in regular unarmed attacks. The ranger only had his longbow (P), and the wolf bite is P as well. The Druid had a sickle and produce flame, but could get some damage through acid splash. The bard sang and attacked with his shortbow. They slowly but surely chipped the skeleton's HP and won the fight. The monk was badly hurt, end they had to get back to rest and recover once again.
Recovered, all PCs but one had drank from the fountain to replenish their HP (they still had some leftover damage from the day before), so only the bard set off the Statue trap. After that, the players deduced the fountain was protecting them, the bard drank from it to recover and then bypassed the trap the second time around.
Now the boss battle against Drakus. The PCs had to spend 3-4 rounds trying to roll open the stuck door. Drakus positioned himself behind the left statue, whereas his dire rat friend was behind the right statue. The PCs opened the door and the fight began.
With his high Perception of +6, Drakus won initiative. He moved to left side of the doorway and readyed an Strike. The monk assumed tiger stance, Stepped into the first square in front of the doorway in order to attack Drakus without the cover of the Wall. Drakus used his readyed action to Strike the monk, hitting him (he needed a 7 on a D20). The monk hit with one attack, missing the second flurry attack. Next, the ranger moved in and attacked Drakus, but missed. He orderer his Wolf to circle around and flank Drakus with the fighter, which it did with a double Stride. The Druid cast Procuce Flame but missed. The bard sang, and tried to hit with his bow, but missed as well. The dire rat attacked the ranger, hitting with 2 attacks and dealing 5 damage (1 hit and a nat 20, crit). Next round, Drakus reverted his form, and with his +2 to hit and damage, easily downed the monk (1 critical with a nat 20 and a regular hit). The ranger attacked Drakus, but hit with only one attack. The wolf missed both attacks now that he wasn't flanking anymore (the monk was dying). The Monk also failed his first Recovery check, and was now at dying 2. The druid (with a potion) and the bard (with soothe) both healed the Monk, but those actions were essentially wasted, as the Monk could not wake up (he had to pass a DC 17 fortitude save - High DC for a level 3 creature). The rat missed both attacks against the ranger. Next round, Drakus moved next to the ranger, hit him with a crit and downed him. Again, the monk failed the recovery save and wouldn't wake up. The bard cast Fear, but Drakus saved, becoming frightened 1. The druid healed the Ranger. Next round Drakus moved in to attack the Bard, and with a crit (not natural 20) downed him. He then moved to the Druid. He tried to escape, but was soon overwhelmed. the monk and the Ranger never woke up (they couldn't pass the DC17 fort save). So that's it. A TPK.