Sylvan Scott's page

59 posts. Alias of David Rust.


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Kelevrax wrote:
Your maps are awesome, I'm going to use B4 and B5 because I just couldn't figure out how to make them, making the maps for Tabletop Simulator is a pain, you just saved me and my game, thanks.

You're very welcome! :)

PsychicPixel wrote:
The issue with that is it would just trivialize too many high end encounters. The best course of action for any fight would be use shrink until success upon success you win basically, since you could at that point wall the creature into an area and plink it to death.

Surely, though, that's an argument for bolstering ... once the target makes the save, they're immune to such attempts for a day, afterwards, or something.

Mind you, that's just off the top of my head.

PsychicPixel wrote:

There's really no combative benefit for shrinking allies it seems to be more for exploration/infiltration. Since it doesn't change anything for combat other than reach.

If you were to be able to use it on enemies however, it would be so ridiculous against large or larger creatures because you eliminate their range. Kraken attacking with it's 60ft range? Shrink it and now it has to enter your square to attack.

Yeah, exactly!

I would think that there would be a version of the spell that can be used to diminish enemies (albeit not to "Tiny" size at one go ... more like 1 size category at lower levels and more at higher...)

Hey there, fellow gamer-folk,

Has anyone else noticed that "Reduce Person" (now known as "Shrink") requires a "willing target"?

How is this spell useful in any but the most limited cases? Also, how is there not a higher-level spell that reduces size requiring a Saving Throw?

Does anyone think this could be a typo or oversight? Or is the game just ruling out that kind of transmutation attack?


Byron Zibeck wrote:

One suggestion I tried with Undarin...write down when each effect expires and just track the round...much easier than tracking each effect separately.

The bolstered thing needs work though, especially since it is not clear if it applies to all similar effects, effects of identical monsters, etc. It seems to vary from ability to ability.

Depends on the creature. The ghasts in Sombrefell have their noxious and sickening aura of bad smell. When you save versus one, you're only bolstered against that one. But if you have multiple ghasts with overlapping areas of effect or moving enemies that constantly expose PCs to differing, overlapping effects, it becomes really tough to chart.

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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Sylvan Scott wrote:
Maybe it's because it's so late and this was a very crunchy game session requiring tracking so many conflicting and overlapping conditions, spells, powers, and abilities that I'm figuratively seeing cross-eyed right now. But maybe I'm starting to think that this version of the Playtest, even with the updates, just isn't that good of a game. Parts of it are, sure; I really like several parts of it! But so much of it ... hurts. It's just not enjoyable.

The tracking complexity of mid to high gameplay took me completely off guard. Low level play has been a real delight but higher level play seems to assume that you'll be using electronic tracking aids and some form of quick reference materials.

I'm having a hard time with this myself. I'd rather have comprehension complexity than tracking complexity.

I, too, completely loved numeric conditions at lower-levels. I ran into a few problems tracking them starting in "Sombrefell Hall" (especially in figuring out who was bolstered to which undead's special ability and for how long) but it really got complex and burdensome during "Undarin".

The difficulty comes in how many can be active simultaneously.

If the amount of conditions are few (regardless of whether they are created by PCs or critters) this is a joy and makes things really easy to track! But once we get up there in how many spells and abilities can spawn trackable conditions, it becomes too cumbersome.

I'm not sure how I would address that.

I mean I really like this idea! But it doesn't scale well, it would seem.

Anyone have any ideas we could pass on to the developers?

Or, perhaps, is this just something Kai and I are running into as a problem?


pauljathome wrote:
The other thing I did was to decide that for demon hunters all demon knowledges started at Medium and not hard.

That's an excellent idea!

Mark Seifter wrote:
No worries, you found a useful bug that we need to fix. It's natural that if you're emotionally invested, a playtest can be frustrating. But it's how we're going to make the game better. And if you need to step back for breathing room at any time, that's cool too. Thanks for your help!

Thank you, Mark.

Going forward, I'll still try to keep my comments constructive and actionable.

Be well and happy gaming!


Tridus wrote:

@Colette Brunel

Just wanted to say I appreciate your writeups, especially after the group I'm playing in got utterly curb stomped in Mirrored Moon last night. It's certainly nice to not feel alone in it.

On the first encounter, no less. The poor Wizard only had two outcomes for his spells:
1. He cast Magic Missle and did damage.
2. The sea monster critically succeeded on its save.

That was it. There was literally no other outcome. Talk about feeling ineffective. :( Our DM (a very experienced 1e DM and someone who seeks to provide a challenge and have monsters act sensibly, but will not generally play to ruthlessly murder the party) actually thought the Wizard had miscalculated his save DC because it was so easy to make.

We only really investigated two hexes so I don't know how well that worked, but it felt like we needed pretty high rolls to succeed. That's a theme throughout the playtest, but it felt worse here.

DM also wondered if maybe he was supposed to weaken encounters for a party of four or something. When it can take half of the Fighter's HP in a single attack, it certainly feels overtuned.

I do have to wonder why that sea serpent is in there, at all. It's so beyond the PCs' ability to defeat it (especially using the underwater combat rules) that our ref had to hand-wave our escape just so we didn't all die.

And if dying was an option, we would have expected there to be something important about the encounter or at least have it balanced against the level of the PCs. But the critter moves too fast and quickly gets out of range before anyone can do anything.

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Mary Yamato wrote:

There's a real conflict here: it's a playtest, but it's also the playtesters' introduction to the game, and if it is a miserable grind, that will tend to poison the playtester's enthusiasm. Since they are some of the keenest players around, and you want them to be spreading their enthusiasm to others, this is a big problem.

Can you say what proportion of your malaise is the unwinnable scenario, and what proportion is the excessive fiddliness of high level play?

An excellent question; not easy to answer.

But I shall try...

The fiddliness of high-level play was definitely a part of it. I had to keep checking rules and putting more graphics on our battle map to indicate overlapping areas of reverse gravity, swamp of sloth (or whatever the Hezerou has), the PCs' divine, anti-fiend field or blessing, making all those "hidden" Perception rolls (such as for the Omox), and deal with all sorts of Enfeebled, Grabbed, Grappled, and differing conditions with different end-points and countdowns.

I'd say that about a third of my problems were keeping track of all the nonsense. Of the remaining 66.67%, I'd say that about half (33%) was the unwinnable scenario and the last 33% would be level design: aka the fact that this was nothing but a slog.

So, oddly, in answer to your question, it turns out about equal portions contributed to my unhappiness:
33.3% ... Keeping track of everything
33.3% ... The "unwinnable" scenario
33.3% ... The slog of endless combat

Does that make sense?


EberronHoward wrote:

I mean, the difficulty of "Heroes of Undarin" and the nature of PF2 are two different things. HoU was, as you said, made to be an unwinnable scenario, made to test when (not if) the PCs would fall in battle. Paizo has been fiddling with the Dying Rules to get "dying" to their preferred ratio, and the results from this will help them know where they are at with the current rules.

But I do commiserate with you. Haven't gotten to HoU yet, but "Affair at Sombrefell Hall" really wore me and my group out. We're limping through "Mirrored Moon" and are probably going to do some PFS scenarios before going back into the meat grinder. I suppose it's like going into "Tomb of Horrors" expecting an average dungeon.

An excellent analogy. It is exactly like that!

And, yeah: Sombrefell Hall also wore out one of my players who, later, admitted to me that the slog-like nature of it made him want to quite some 4 hours before it actually ended.

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Noted, thanks.

Say, Mark: I just want to say it is not my intent to be a surly, annoying, demanding, entitled gamer. Some of my review was doubtless more snarky than necessary. I have only 1 published module to my name from years and years ago. You are an expert currently working in the industry. I do not, in any way, want to impugn your skill and experience.

I've been a bit unhappy with some things, of late, and I believe that may be making my participation in the Playtest to be more combative than intended or necessary.

My apologies.


pauljathome wrote:
TOZ wrote:
No one plays Pathfinder strictly as written.

While I agree with that I think that I'm not alone in trying to run the playtest as closely to what I think is RAW as I can bring myself to do :-). I'm being stricter with myself than I am even in PFS.

That said, there are still gazillions of places where the rules are so odious that I can't bring myself to follow them or where they're sufficiently unclear that I have to wing it or where the adventure is sufficiently badly written that I have to change SOMETHING.

And, of course, I am making LOTS and LOTS of mistakes running things. This game is quite complicated and I don't have the months or years of experience that a GM normally has by the time they make it to 12th level play. Combined with lots of poorly written or missing rules, lots of rules changes, and lots of quite minor (and seemingly totally gratuitous) changes from PF1.

Same boat, here.

I'm playing this incredibly strictly. After all, that's what I expect Paizo wants and needs: real play-testing by actual gamers in the trenches.

The result of this is that I'm running into tons of really rules-broken scenarios and situations that seem to be a combination of simplification of PF1 rules and rushed module design that has bugs and mistakes.

In many ways, I'm wondering if PF2 is kinda like their take on DND5 rather than an evolution of PF1.

Does that make sense?

I mean, if it is, sure... I get that. DND5 is a damn fine game! But it's really, very different from PF1, DND3.5, and DND4. Trying to find a single system to comprise a blend of those would be really tough and potentially unwieldy. If that's, indeed, what they're trying to do. I dunno; that just sorta popped into my head, the other day.



pauljathome wrote:
I still think that 2E has the possibility of becoming a game that I personally will enjoy more than 1E in its current bloated state. But I admit that I'm getting less and less optimistic about it as time goes on.

Sadly, that's how I'm feeling, too. The weird thing is, the game seems almost entirely new rather than an upgrade or series of fixes to a new edition. While not to the depth of the problem, it reminds me of 4E's change from 3E, right now.

pauljathome wrote:
I fully expect the actual 2E to be significantly different than the Playtest version. I expect Paizo to fix 2D10 of the major problems and only introduce 1D12 major problems with those essentially untested fixes. My hope is that those 2D10 roll high AND cover almost all of my top 15 flaw list and that 1D12 rolls low and doesn't create any game breakingly bad fixes.

<laughs at your analogy> You, my friend, are someone I like! :)

Agreed, too.

It's not like the Paizo folk are bad or untalented! These are really skilled individuals who work under very difficult situations of social media scrutiny and an enormous amount of expectations. I totally take my hat off to the difficult task they've undertaken!

I'm really hoping that what comes out of this is evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, though; like 2E to 3E or 3.5E to PF1. I'm getting a bit slow in my aged, addled brain for learning new systems all the time ... even good ones!

pauljathome wrote:

I think that my biggest concern right now is that I have strong reservations about what and how they're play testing things. I am NOT accusing them of malice or anything of the sort. I just often think that they're acting as if they have blinders on, they're asking questions and testing in ways that seem to me very, very biased towards getting the answers that they (likely quite unconsciously) want.

This particular chapter of Doomsday Dawn seems like a moderately good example to me. I think there is going to be a MASSIVE self selection going on with this scenario. Players who enjoy the combat mini-game (and are likely to be better than average at it as a result) seem much, much more likely to make it through the grind and participate in the reviews than people like your players who will be quitting in disgust.

I'm also not really sure what they expect to learn. Optimized Clerics are wonderful. Optimized martials equipped with the only holy weapon in the group are going to do WAY more damage than any other martial. AoE spells are somewhat underpowered, other spells are significantly underpowered. Druids mulitclassed into Paladins are WAY more powerful than wild shaping druids. 12th level play is very complicated.

You bring up a very good point regarding play-balance. While the GM is usually on-hand to balance things out, this PF2 system seems to work more of those controls directly into the core rules. For me, there are so many rules and subtle differences now that I keep confusing one edition's ruling from the other's.

Hmmm... Let me see if I can say that in a more constructive and "explained" way...

A significant problem that I'm finding with the Pathfinder 2 playtest is that the game, itself, is more revolutionary than evolutionary. It is a complete do-over in many senses. But, at the same time, it uses 90% or more of the same terminology as first edition. But many of those terms now have such significantly different meanings (or subtle changes) that they can easily get confused. For people who have spent years learning and memorizing the rules of first edition, this makes adjusting to 2nd edition more difficult than learning a completely new game system. It's not just learning new rules: it's learning rules that sound similar to rules you already knew and, then, end up getting confused by subtle and not-so-subtle differences. My nearly-a-decade of experience with PF1 is clashing with the differences in PF2. Many of the new exceptions in the Playtest rules (or the special cases) are summed-up in only a couple words and easily missed or overlooked because the player's or GM's brain thinks it knows this stuff, already.

Does that make sense? I'm hoping that explains what I think is at the core of my difficulty with these rules.


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avr wrote:

Personally I'm waiting to see if PF2 gets substantial changes which make it better before I even try to promote it to my friends. As it is the feeling of 'everything is nerfed' would sink it and taint its image enough to stop a second attempt, I think.

Not that these people think that PF1 is perfect. They have played enough of it to have expectations of PFthough.

I hear ya.

And, yeah: PF1 has plenty of flaws. I'm not particularly fond of how spontaneous casters are handled nor barbarians with their rage.

But, over the years, the gradual house-rules and home-fixes have provided a really good social framework of fellow GMs to address these issues. Plus, plenty of fixes from Paizo have been excellent! Unchained, comes to mind, with regards to the Crafting rules.

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pauljathome wrote:

It is indeed very, very tiring.

We made it through all of Event 1 in a 5 hour+ scenario.

As the GM I wasn't really enjoying myself. I offered the players the choice of continuing or not (by this point its pretty obvious to the players that they're very likely going to die). They all chose to continue.

I'm taking a breather in between, mind. Running this once every 2 weeks is enough for me. Every week would be too much.

I HAD stressed in character how absolutely essential their mission was and how they HAD to hold on as long as they possibly could. Partly to manage expectations. I know that, as a player, I'd be SEVERELY peeved to face wave 2, barely survive, only to be crushed like a bug in wave 3 (I think there is about a 60% chance they'll die in Wave 2 and a 40% chance they'll make it to wave 3 and die there. They've shot a LOT of resources to survive Wave 1).

I'm just ... feeling totally disconnected (more and more frequently) with 2E. If the final product ends up being anything even remotely like the playtest version, I'm really not going to enjoy it at all. And the more today has gone by, the darker my mood has gotten.

I appreciate your support (you clearly get it); I'm just looking at all the TPKs people are reporting, all the arguments over rules interpretations, all the rising tide of dread while the official channels keep saying "this is the greatest thing since sliced bread" rather than giving us any hope that the problems so many are talking about are being heard...

I feel like that adherent to 2nd edition AD&D who refuses to go on to 3rd edition because 2nd was "perfect". And I swear: I'm not that gamer! I love so many different systems! But the more I see the divide widening between people who are having real problems with the Playtest and those who defend it: the more I feel as if there's a portion not being listened-to ... that, in fact, the decisions have already been made and this is going to be the direction the game goes in.

I think that may be compounding my problems with the Playtest: that as things get increasingly monotonous, I'm losing drive, ambition, and desire to play it.

Does that make any sense?

Or, honestly: am I just a fluke, here? I mean, I could very well be too close to my reactions and be the only one having this many problems.

It's hard for me to see.

Ran this last night.

The characters didn't hit the ceiling and were stranded about 40-feet up.

Interestingly, the spell doesn't penalize floating characters in any way except for movement. So, they used their vantage point to use ranged attacks on the Glabrezu and the one Hezerou that showed up.

Also, they got lucky with a banish spell in Round One and sent one of the two Glabrezu, packing. I rolled so badly on the critter's save that it just vanished back to the Abyss.

There's also the problem of floating at 40-feet and moving along the "plane" between the two gravity zones.

There are no rules provided to cover it!

I adjudicated that unless they had a way to move magically, they would (at best) be able to "swim" or flounder around in the air, moving at most 5-feet per action spent on movement. Since the map put church pews in there, and the Glabrezu had caught those in the area of effect, one PC very smartly decided to kick-off against one pew and propel his character to the edge of the reverse gravity where, then, he was able to use the Cat Fall Feat to reduce the damage from falling to negligible.

I was surprised that there was no penalty on attack rolls mentioned in the spell description at all. Because, honestly, floating about at the top of a 40-foot column of reversed gravity or bouncing about between one zone of gravity and another, should play havoc with one's equilibrium and coordination.

But, as it was, I figured that they were screwed enough in this adventure, as-is, and didn't need any more curtailed abilities. Even with the lucky failure of Glazebru #1 on its Will save to avoid being banished, I still knew the PCs were screwed.

Oh, and I did do the whole "dent the columns to bring down the ceiling" thing but, honestly, the demon didn't really get the chance before the PCs closed with it (getting out of the reverse gravity) and occupied all its time. The placement of pillars even prevented it from fleeing after a bit once its mirror image got taken out.

All-in-all it was a very frustrating run.

I'm glad it's over.

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Good evening, fellow GMs,

I just finished running session one of "the Heroes of Undarin". It's almost midnight, here in Minnesota. I'm exhausted and drained. I knew what the adventure was like before running it but, honestly, it's so much more draining to run a game knowing you're going to kill your players' characters than I thought it would be.

By the end of it, as we were breaking up, I asked if they wanted to set-up a special run between now and our normal, next session in two weeks: to see if we could finish it.

They had made it through about the first third of Wave 1/Event 3. We stopped because one player had to go (other commitments; he volunteers some days) and another also had to leave because combat had taken so long and his ride back to Wisconsin had arrived.

None of them wanted to go on. To quote one: "It was a slog".

And, honestly: I was glad. It was a slog for me, too.

I get that the goal of this adventure is to stress-test characters, seeing how long it takes to kill them. And I get that this is a necessary part of play-testing.

That said, it was such a grind. And I had to wear my enthusiastic "GM Face" the whole time, running it like it was any other adventure.

It was the Pathfinder equivalent of the Kobayashi Maru. Only despite how cool that kinda sounds, it wasn't. It felt like a relentless death march and, for me, that's just not fun. At all. And it wasn't for my players.

So, yeah: we won't be continuing this one. We'll go on to the next.

But, still, I'm not sure I want to. I'm so worn out.

Maybe it's because it's so late and this was a very crunchy game session requiring tracking so many conflicting and overlapping conditions, spells, powers, and abilities that I'm figuratively seeing cross-eyed right now. But maybe I'm starting to think that this version of the Playtest, even with the updates, just isn't that good of a game. Parts of it are, sure; I really like several parts of it! But so much of it ... hurts. It's just not enjoyable.

Is anyone else having these feelings?

Or, to the contrary, does anyone else have any suggestions that could rekindle my cheer and enthusiasm for the Playtest?

I've been playing tabletop RPGs for 38 years and I've not encountered so troubling a game session before. This really did a number on me.

Any encouragement or commiseration welcome!


Franz Lunzer wrote:
Sylvan Scott wrote:
breaking of pillars stuff

Interesting work you made there.

I think I'll go a simpler route:
The pillars are already old and in bad shape, so for me / my game, they are already "broken", but not "destroyed" yet (they need one more "dent"). As for hardness, your numbers sound about right, I'll pick 35 hardness.

How much of the roof will come down will be an interesting thing to figure out, but it will do about 4d10 bludgeoning damage (for 40ft height and individual pieces being smaller or larger).

This clearly is a deviation from the playtest-setup, so I'm not too sure how to report this though.

I'm going with a hardness of anywhere between 28 and 30 with 2-3 dents required for destroying them.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

My main thoughts on the ghosts are that they've been inside the aura for longer than a round already when combat begins and are thus unaffected.

My assumption on the creatures trying to get downstairs is that they generally aren't suicidal and thus don't want to leave enemies behind them, since getting trapped between two groups of enemies really sucks. They're willing to leave distracted PCs behind...but generally only reluctantly even then.

I'm of two minds on this.

Later, the risen dead are clearly just-now activated and didn't exist, before-hand. I was thinking the same for the ghosts.

Then again, if the lich and demilich have been down there for centuries and, only just now, awoke ... you could be right.

Joana wrote:
Sylvan Scott wrote:
Is that fox from something specific that I'm just not familiar with?
It's Vimanda, a rakshasa monk from Escape from Old Korvosa.

Oh, cool! Thank you!

ClanPsi wrote:
Sylvan Scott wrote:
By the way: I love your user icon! Is that fox from something specific that I'm just not familiar with?
I have no idea. Presumably it's just one of the stock options from the site which I selected way back when I created my account.

<chuckles> Well, still a cool icon! :)

Dasrak wrote:
Sylvan Scott wrote:

And if she, like the others, are here to go after the heroes in the basement with the White Theorem, isn't she just going to fly, incorporeally, with her 60-foot movement down those stairs without anything to stop her?

The more I think about it, incorporeal critters in this are a mismatch for the stated goals.

I'm pretty sure the monsters stop to fight any PC's that are actively guarding the stairs. If the monsters were just trying to bypass the PC's without fighting, it would be effectively impossible to win; you just can't block movement in a reliable way like that in PF2.

(though admittedly incorporeal and teleporting creatures are pretty hard to confine in PF1 as well)

True, true...

Mostly, I was thinking that the banshee being added is particularly un-containable. She's only added to increase difficulty for 5 PCs but she drastically changes the entire calculus of the encounter just by being incorporeal.


Once the Demilich-and-friends appear, the Demilich's aura of baditude (aka flying, telekinetic debris) pounds the living crap out of the shambling mummy-retainer corpses.

I think I'll have to have the flying skull-of-doom move elsewhere on its turn to allow more cadavers to escape the churned soil and actually have a chance of...

Aw, who'm I kidding? They're cannon-fodder. Only the banshee stands a chance of hurting anyone. (We have 5 PCs so, now, there's a banshee.)

And if she, like the others, are here to go after the heroes in the basement with the White Theorem, isn't she just going to fly, incorporeally, with her 60-foot movement down those stairs without anything to stop her?

The more I think about it, incorporeal critters in this are a mismatch for the stated goals.

I think I'll have to override the goal in her case and just have her attack the PCs.

Just realized something while going over the module again and familiarizing myself with the updated critters and their abilities.

Ghosts are not immune to fear or mind-affecting effects.

Therefore, in Wave 2/Event 5, the position of the ghost mages is decidedly within the area-of-effect of the lich's fearful presence. Nothing about that Bestiary ability says that it does not effect allies.

And, so, I pre-rolled their saves.

Naturally, all succeeded but not critically. Therefore, on the first round of combat, the ghost-mages will suffer from the Frightened-1 condition.

This seems ... wrong.



As a side-note, I started looking at how they handle breaking things, now, and am considering having the larger demons just try to break those annoying pillars.

Please note, however, that those reaching all the way to the ceiling are denoted with black tops ... like the walls. The pillar in the north-west foyer (about 25 feet away from the broken-down, main door) is different. In that case, I'm viewing it has difficult terrain or a raised dais: a broken-off pillar that only goes up a few feet.

That said, I've been going over materials strengths via Hardness on page 354 of the Playtest book trying to figure out how difficult it would be to break those pillars. In short, it would take more than 2 dents to give any one of them the "broken" condition.

I'm essentially trying to engineer the hardness of stone pillars which, using the nomenclature of this new system, would be something like a "Structure" thickness of ordinary stone. Since normal (ie: "not thin") stone has a hardness of 7, it would clearly be higher than that. And, looking at Adamantine and other special materials (in the "Crafting with Special Materials" section), it seems that regardless of the quality of the crafting, "Structure" doubles "Item" hardness. Therefore a stone structure should have a hardness of 14, right?

But then we get into thickness of that structure.

A rocky cliff should have more hardness than a rocky pillar and a 2-foot-diameter stone pillar should be tougher (ie: "more hardness") than a pillar made out of stone, twice the diameter at 4-feet across.

So, the question comes to be, "When thinking of a stone structure, what are they thinking of?" I'm guessing walls. And, cross-referencing with the original breaking-stuff rules, stone comes in as having a "per 15-inches thickness".

Therefore, if a standard stone structure (a wall) is assumed to be 15 inches thick and have a hardness of 14. On the map, the pillars are between 4 and 5 feet diameter. For simplicity's sake, I think I'm going to go with their hardness, therefore, to be 3-times normal due to thickness but lessen that, somewhat, because of how old they are and how crumbly the whole temple looks.

Therefore: the temple pillars (in my game) are going to have a hardness of 44/45 minus a fair number of points due to age, structural instability, and overall crumbliness leaving each with a (again, for simplicity's sake) 28-30 hardness (2-3 dents).

Given some of the bigger demons can dish that out fairly easily with a couple blows (ie: "dents"), I'm thinking the roof may be coming down in some sections once the big bads find out that they're too big for their badness to be unleashed, effectively.

Sound good?


Mudfoot wrote:

The RAW for Reverse Gravity implies but doesn't state explicitly that you stop dead as soon as you hit the top.

If it were a real force field, you'd accelerate upwards at 1g until you got to the 40' level (by which point you'd be moving at 15.5m/s = 34 mph) and then decelerate at 1g for the next 10' of normal gravity and bang into the ceiling at 13m/s = 30mph. Because if you then have 10' of normal gravity to decelerate, you'll effectively have fallen 30' (40-10). Then you stop (or bounce slightly) and fall down 10', then decelerate for the next 10' and go back up again, whereupon you oscillate 10' above and below the top of the spell effect cylinder, gently bumping the ceiling every 3 seconds and getting quite seasick.

After a while you might lose enough energy to come to rest as the spell description indicates at the boundary. This could be sped up by deliberately reaching out to the ceiling, as long as it's close enough, but with no ceiling it could take a while: each 80' fall-up-and-down cycle takes 6.3s, lessened while you can reach the ground.

Whether that all makes it a useless tactic for the demons is another matter. Provided the demons can get past it and reach the steps it seems entirely valid to me.


You rock! That is an excellent breakdown of how the physics would work in the area of that spell!

I know it goes beyond the scope of the playtest but I think I'm going to use that should it come up in my game when I run it this coming Saturday. :)

Also: I studied physics back in my college days as well as astrophysics but the mathematics was always something that my brain would rebel against. I really respect the work you did on this!

Thank you!

ClanPsi wrote:

I don't get the point of not showing maps. I run pre-made adventures because I don't want to spend the time being creative. If I wanted to create my own maps I'd make my own campaign along with them.

Your maps were a fantastic help. Thank you!

Yeah: I said the same thing in my feedback survey. When I pick up a module, I want everything laid out for me.

And I'm happy you enjoyed my maps!

By the way: I love your user icon! Is that fox from something specific that I'm just not familiar with?

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One of my players asked a very solid question while creating his "demon-hunting hero" for "Heroes of Undarin". Basically, "So, what do we actually know about demons"?

Good question.

The module/adventure doesn't say.

So, I created the following hand-out. You may wish to use similar logic in your own runs of the adventure. I'll let you folk know how it goes.


The median level of demons (as a group) in the Playtest Bestiary appears to be around 10 or 11. Most are "Uncommon" which is a "high" DC for "Recall Knowledge" checks with Lore. Almost all of you would have this sort of experience given your backgrounds. I would adjudicate that knowledge of a group or type of critter (ie: "demons") would come from encountering differing types of them over time. This would increase rarity of knowledge but not level. So, if we shift the average of "high" (for "uncommon" creatures) to the right on the DC chart and use a level of 10 or 11 we would get a DC of 29/30. Since this knowledge would be gained over time (like taking a 20; but I don't see this in the Playtest rules ,,, at least not by that terminology), if we go off of logic, I would say that you would probably have some basic knowledge, having gotten at least a '20' several times in your long careers of fighting demons.

Since you are level 12 characters, I'll limit your information to creatures of up to 1 level higher than you: lvl-13.

So, here's what you know:

Demons are fiendish natives of the Abyss who seek to twist mortals to sin. Demons seek to drag more beings into the pit following their death and final judgment. Many different types of demons exist; they possess weaknesses to cold-iron and good sources of injury and damage.

The Weaknesses of Sin
Demons are creatures of sin, and despite their overt displays of strength and magical might, these sins corrupt them. Each demon has weaknesses tied to the sin or sins most associated with them.
Demons of Envy generally possess a weakness to Fire
Demons of Gluttony generally possess a weakness to Positive Energy
Demons of Greed generally possess a weakness to Acid
Demons of Lust generally possess a weakness to Cold
Demons of Pride generally possess a weakness to Sonic
Demons of Sloth generally possess a weakness to Electricity
Demons of Wrath generally possess a weakness to Cold

Additionally, many demons can cast the Abyssal pact ritual to coax others of their kind into servitude. This is, essentially, the "Summon Demon" ability from 1st edition. The creature can call in a favor from another demon with a level of, at most, twice the spell level of the Abyssal pact, two demons up to 2 levels lower than that, or three demons up to 3 levels lower than that. If the ritual succeeds, the summoner owes the summoned demons a favor, depending on their nature and eagerness to pursue whatever tasks the summoner had in mind.

Demons you have heard of (using the Playtest Bestiary) include the following:
Blood Demon (Babau) ... sin categorization: "Lust"
Lust Demon (Succubus) ... sin categorization: "Lust" (duh)
Quasit ... sin categorization: "Pride"
Slaver Demon (Kalavakus) ... sin categorization: "Greed"
* Slime Demon (Omox) ... sin categorization: "Envy"
Sloth Demon (Dretch) ... sin categorization: "Sloth" (also, duh)
Toad Demon (Hezrou) ... sin categorization: "Sloth"
* Treachery Demon (Glabrezu) ... sin categorization: "Envy"
Wrath Demon (Vrock) ... sin categorization: "Lust"

*Those, above, marked with an asterisk are considered the toughest that you know of: your equal or even tougher.

Beyond these, you've heard rumors of more powerful types going by such names as Marilith, Shemhazian, Balor, Nalfeshnee but have no personal experiences or even much knowledge about them in a general sense. Specific Lore ("Recall Knowledge") checks will be allowed during the game for you to recall more specific information.

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Dragonriderje wrote:
Lyee wrote:

So, something I found.

The map has 5ft squares. And the church has nice, big, square floor tiles.

Each of those tiles is actually a 2x2 grid. The lines dividing up the tiles are really faint, and depending on your screen, pdf reader, print quality, etc, can easily be missed entirely, making the clearly-defined floor tiles look like they're 5ft to a side when they're 10ft.

On the offical Roll20 flip-map pack, this is clear, as the grid is integrated with Roll20 and set to the right scale. Apparently, the other person in my group had DM'd the entire module with only 25% of the grid spaces it should have had.

I had two huge creatures stomping through the church with plenty of room on either side of them.

I must disagree. Yes the church floor is tiled, but to me, it is clear that the tiles are just decorative and that the consistent, mostly-opaque grid lines are meant to show the 5-foot squares. It's more clear if you look at the outside area of the map, the study, or the stable, where the floor design is different. No evidence of additional gridlines, in my opinion.

But, this seems like a good solution to the problem: double the scale of the map.

I've already run my game and had the Treachery Demons Kool-Aid-Man themselves through the temple, using actions to destroy pillars in their way. It worked out ok, but probably reduced the Demons' effectiveness slightly (which is fine, because the PCs have much bigger issues coming)

I may have some insight as to what happened. Or at least a possible clue.

To get where I'm coming from, though, you should understand how I run my games.

I use Photoshop with various layers turned on/off for "Fog of War", secret rooms, creature Tokens, PC Tokens, etc... In order to run these Playtest adventures, I open the PDF version of "Doomsday Dawn", right-click on the embedded map image, and save it before opening it up in Photoshop to prep it for my run.

When I first did this, the map came out maimed; distorted and stretched. No other map that I did this for (in the previous adventures of "Doomsday Dawn") acted like this. Furthermore, when I went back to do it, again, I would frequently not get this problem.

I'm thinking that it was distorted to fit into the final, published version and, perhaps, this indicates that it was originally larger and of a slightly different shape/proportions. Hence, maybe this points to the floor tiles being truly representative of the initial, intended scale of the place.

But, that said, even in the PDF, the grid that overlays the map clearly says "1 square = 5 feet" on it and those squares contain 2 floor tiles on a side.

So, while it may be that this is a bug that came up when they were preparing the final version of the adventure, we still are stuck with 50-foot-high ceilings, a temple too narrow for 1/3rd of the critters attacking it, and references to 10 events when the adventure says there are only 9.

("THERE ... ARE ... FOUR ... LIGHTS!")

So, yeah: I may re-size my map. Or, I may look into "damaging/breaking things" and see if the Huge-or-larger critters can start taking down the pillars in the temple.

Because, as my friend and co-GM puts it, "I may take up a 5-foot Space but to go down a 3-foot-wide hall, I don't have to squeeze and it doesn't slow me down."

But if we're here to test the rules and adventures, as written and presented, we're finding some real problems...


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Feros wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

So what is the tenth event?

I still vote for a quasit as Event 10.

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While prepping for next weekend's running of this adventure, I was giving the module a second read-through and discovered a potential typo. It's not too crucial but I was wondering what others thought of it.

On Page 62 in the "Lighting" sidebar, it says "The sun has fully set for Events 6 through 10". Additionally, under "Concluding The Chapter" on page 67 in paragraph 3, it says "If, somehow, the characters managed to survive the assault, defeating all 10 events...".

There are several ways to interpret this:

  • 1. These are, as I suggest, just typos,
  • 2. There was originally an Event 10 that got removed for publication but the sidebar/relevant-text never got updated,
  • 3. The section "Concluding The Chapter" was supposed to be "Event 10", or
  • 4. We, the playtest GMs, are supposed to invent a truly stunning and awful final encounter to shatter any surviving characters and break the wills of their players.

Personally, for the fun of it, if any of my players' characters survive all the way to the end, I think I'll throw in a quasit for Event 10 so someone can step on it and roar to the blood-read heavens in victory...



Basically, the whole adventure is a bunch of "Mini-Games" with some combat encounters thrown-in, between them.

That sea-monster really nearly killed us, though...

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Finished Mirrored Moon last Saturday.

Beginning Heroes of Undarin Saturday after this coming one.

(We're a bi-weekly gaming group.)

So, in prepping for "The Heroes of Undarin", one of my playtest players wanted to know if he could take +3 elven chain for his +3 armor that he gets as part of character creation. He is creating an elven ranger who has spent the better part of the previous decade battling the forces of the Abyss in the Worldwound and, now, is traveling the land with the other PCs avenging the dead mortals and ridding the land of evil.

Since I know that the purpose of this chapter is testing the impact of magic items on combat and staying power, I have been inclined to say yes.

I mean: who better than to have a freakin' suit of elven, mithril chainmail than moderately-high-level elf who has just spent most of his recent life fighting demons?!! That's just ... appropriately cool!

But when I looked into it a bit more, I found that elven armor is very high-level as far as items go. And, in terms of game mechanics, all it does is have a lower Bulk than equivalent armors and lack the noisy condition. So, basically, it only has practical impacts upon Encumbrance/Bulk and the occasional Stealth check. And, yet, it's a very high-level item.

I've decided to tell the player, "No", because—in some conceivable scenario—that non-noisy armor might have an impact on how the adventure plays out. I sincerely doubt it but, hey: it's possible. And I don't want to allow something that could skew the results of the playtest.

What are your thoughts on this?

Sure, making it a high-level item for the sake of role-playing makes sense, when we're just doing a one-shot adventure it doesn't look like this is all that well-balanced. Every other magic item has a lot of intrinsic balance with other items (mechanically speaking, that is) but this ... this just seems to be bling.

Again: thoughts?


So, Vampire Spawn Rogues ... right out of the Playtest Bestiary.

They don't have Thievery.

But the adventure advocates that "if their entry is blocked, they use spider climb to search for entrances on the second floor."

The only entrances on the second floor are the balconies in back. Oh, sure, there are those windows on the 1st floor rooms in the back of Sombrefell Hall, but they're looking at the 2nd floor.

And the Hall doesn't have a 2nd floor in the front.

Several rooms mention windows that are not on the maps. I went through and tried to figure out which rooms were supposed to have windows that got left out of the maps by accident and which did not. I spent hours re-doing the map ... especially the 2nd floor which was bigger than the corresponding section below it. (I invented a patio area, in back, beneath the 2nd floor bedrooms.)

So, anyway, I had the Vampire Spawn Rogues that had no Thievery, break in on the first floor. I gave one Thievery (improvised to fit in with the rest of their Skills) and had the other just break a window. The one with Thievery actually lasted a while because, after jimmying a window open and Stealthing into the Hall, he was able to use Stealth to his advantage and try to locate the hiding professor. Still, he died once the PCs found him.

Anyway, this map and adventure seems strangely lacking. Are these little mistakes an artifact of poor game design, intentional "mistakes" intended to see what GMs would do to address problems, or oversights?



I'm gonna use Ilvoresh's unseen servant in a creative way ... by having the brain collector order it to "feed and tend to the humans" and, essentially, have this non-combat critter keep getting in the way ... essentially roving, annoying, difficult terrain.

The Narration wrote:
Sylvan Scott wrote:

I hope the pre-embedded grids don't mess things up for Roll20!

I had to do quite a bit of re-sizing by hand, but I was able to get your grid and theirs all lined up. It's not like I didn't have to do the same thing with the "official" map for the tomb that I copied out of the PDF. Took a few hours but I'm all set up with maps, monster tokens, etc. to run the game on Friday.

What's weird is that Paizo released a free map pack for Doomsday Dawn to use with Roll20... but it only contains four of the twenty or so maps in the adventure. So I'm still going to have to copy, paste, upload and re-size most of the maps for the campaign myself. At least I taught myself enough about how it works that it hopefully will be easier going forward.

Thanks again for the maps!

You're very welcome! I hope your players get good, solid use out of 'em!


Franz Lunzer wrote:

Yeah, noticed that too. The upper floor extends beyond the ground floor's walls.

Also those arching staircases? They are more like ramps. They cover 15ft. of elevation in a distance of about 60ft.. That's either really long or very small stair treads.

Maybe, long-past, the ancestors who had the manor built were half-giants? :)

Has anyone else looked at the maps for the first and second floors of Sombrefell Hall and noticed that they don't match? When I took them into Photoshop to create layered regions (which I could show/reveal on my TV monitor to the players) this became really obvious.

Basically, just count the depth of squares on the 2nd Floor and notice where the upper part of the stairs match the stairs on the 1st Floor map.

From the edge of the railing (overlooking D2) to the back wall (with the balconies) it's 8 squares. At 5-feet each that's 40 feet from the front of the railing to the rear wall of Sombrefell Hall.

But on the 1st floor map, if you line up the top of the staircase in D2 with the top of the staircase in the 2nd floor map, you find between 4 and 6 squares (20 to 30 feet) between D2 and the back of the house. It depends on how you line up the upper landing, to be sure, but those diagonal walls at the rear of the house only allow for lining up the two floors in a few, limited ways.

I know there are trellises on the back leading up to the balconies, but the balconies are an additional 5 to 10 feet jutting out towards the lake.

Basically, the 2nd floor looks as if it has a 20-foot-deep alcove beneath it.

So, uh, as I prepped for this game: that area became a sun-sheltered deck, the trellises protected from sunlight off the lake.

Anyone else notice this? Or interpret the maps differently?


Fumarole wrote:

Your Sand Flats map shows a 20' diameter quicksand, but the adventure calls for 20' radius. I wonder which is correct as 20' radius does seem rather large.

I also created and shared some maps with the community, check them out here if you're interested.


You're right!

Yeah, this is another argument for supplying maps with every module!


The Narration wrote:
Thanks for these. The fact that they didn't include maps for half the encounters in the adventure was extremely annoying. I've got enough on my hands familiarizing myself with the module, the monsters, the NPCs and the new rules without also needing to draw a bunch of new maps. It wouldn't be an issue if it were an IRL game where I was drawing with wet-erase markers on a battlemat, but running it on Roll20 makes drawing new maps a major pain.

You're very welcome!

Usually, I just throw together maps in Photoshop with the PCs' tokens in their own layers and monsters/NPCs in their own layers. Then, hooking up my laptop to the TV, everyone can see it, we can zoom in (for those of us with bifocals and other visual impairments), and do battles in fairly good comfort.

I hope the pre-embedded grids don't mess things up for Roll20!

I tried using Roll20 but I must be doing something wrong; I just can't figure it out.


Cyrad wrote:

I agree with Debbie Do--I mean--Captain Morgan here. A playtest goal of Part 2 was seeing if GMs are okay with drawing their own maps using some provided instructions. If you feel it's enough burden to have to get some pre-made ones, that's some very valuable feedback data.

Personally, I liked the idea, but not the execution. The maps instructions were too specific and poorly presented. I'd prefer a list of features or a statblock instead of a giant block of text telling me what to draw.

I agree with both of you ... to a degree.

That's why I waited until after the surveys for that portion of the playtest had ended.

I did find one of the battle maps questionable, though. The final map covers a very key part of the characters' journey: right outside the dungeon. As it is, not having that supplied in the module made me a bit frustrated. Anything that could significantly impact the result of getting into the tomb should at least have its own, provided map.

But, that said, it was easy for me to whip one up.

Then again, on what must be the third-hand by now, the Gnoll Camp map was very poorly described compared to the others. I had to draw it 3 times before I finally got it right! (I think I got it right. I'm still unsure.)

But, yeah: I definitely hear your point.

I'm providing these maps for those who want to play the module but not do the build-a-map parts.

Hope that explains it.


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Here we go... I hope this works; I've not done DropBox, before.

I have each of the Battle Maps in there as well as a single ZIPped file for mass-download, if you like.


Let me know if this works!

I hope folk enjoy them!


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Hey there, everyone,

In case there are some refs out there who need quick Battle Maps for "In Pale Mountain's Shadow" here are the maps I came up with for my group. I created them using assets I purchased and my own Photoshop skills. I tend to display these on the TV from my laptop but I suppose they could also be printed out.

I figured I'd share them, here, for refs who may need them and don't have the time or inclination to draw up their own.

If anyone is interested, let me know: I'll try to find a way to post them.

Does anyone have any suggestions for the best means to post a ZIP-file of PNG-images? By that, I mean, the method that a majority of folk, here, would prefer to use.


I'm fond of Backgrounds, so far, but would like to explore them in greater depth when it comes to creating them for a GM's specific campaign. For example, what if a referee crafting a setting wanted to include some potential Backgrounds that offer only a single Ability boost but extra Skill feats or Skill trainings?

For example, using the "Magical Survivor" example, above, I could envision a variation that boosts a single physical Ability score of the player's choice but grants a bonus to Perception. (Or something like that.)

Do you see what I'm trying to describe? I hope I'm making this clear.

Basically, I'd be interested in a ruleset for developing Backgrounds that are still play-balanced but not necessarily using the Ability bonus/Skill bonus/training format that they all share, at the moment.


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I have a house rule for combat that's really proved helpful when dealing with creatures with reach who attack past a front-line combatant to reach someone just behind the first.

It just feels logical.

Reaching Past
When a creature with reach attacks a target more than 5 feet away with natural or non-weapon melee attacks, any character adjacent to or in a direct line between the creature and its target, is allowed an attack of opportunity against that creature.

Sara Marie wrote:
Removed some posts, if you aren't posting here to help, move along, this isn't the thread you're looking for.

Thank you. I wasn't sure how do deal with that. So I kinda just moved on and posted an update.


Matt Filla wrote:
Sylvan Scott wrote:
I don't entirely believe what he said, but he claimed he hadn't been cheating but admitted to fudging combat rolls and saving throws.
How is that not cheating?


Sorry: I should have been more clear.

He claimed he hadn't been cheating on his initiative rolls as I had thought he was. He just admitted to cheating on other rolls...


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Good day, one and all,

Thank you, everyone, for your insight and suggestions. I eventually spoke to him, face-to-face. I don't entirely believe what he said, but he claimed he hadn't been cheating but admitted to fudging combat rolls and saving throws. He was a bit chipper about it and took full responsibility.

On the other hand, it's similar to what we all do as kids: deny the crime we got caught for and hope to evade punishment by copping to other crimes (not knowing how much the accuser knows and hoping that, by admitting it, you lessen any repercussions).

At least it didn't turn into an explosion.

My plan will be to introduce a shared dice rolling system of some sort.

I normally hook my laptop up to the HDTV in my friend's living room so I can share maps (I erase blacked-out sections in Photoshop) and player aids. What I think I'll try to do is see if I can find a shared log-in dice roller I can put onto the screen and have all the players log into it. I can do it under the rubric of "Hey: isn't this a cool widget" and still not call undue attention to my problem gamer.

The problem is, I don't mind a certain degree of fudging: I fudge die rolls all the time to keep my players alive. (In the last session, I actually rolled three criticals against one player so I fudged the last two and dealt damage normally.) My dilemma is that "once in a while" is okay. Statistically significant alteration of one's die rolls on a repeated basis is not.

My solution would put everyone out in the open.

Yes, I already use Hero Points (so they can save themselves) but I still end up feeling ... awkward about the solution.

I know I'm an old, greying geek who's been playing long into his years of bifocals and bad hearing, but I wouldn't mind perspectives from fellow gamers who may have an alternate approach.

Thank you, one and all, again.


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