Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn

1.30/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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The Final Countdown!

Mysterious ancient artifacts from sand-choked Osirion count down the years until a rare planetary conjunction that will align Pathfinder's world of Golarion with the hostile planet Aucturn, allowing the ravenous hordes of the Dominion of the Black to surge forth and harvest the brains of the Inner Sea, remaking the world in their terrible, alien image. Doomsday Dawn takes the heroes on a decade-long journey throughout Golarion as they attempt to understand and defeat the otherworldy menace and avoid utter catastrophe. This collection of seven multi-encounter scenarios is designed to introduce the Pathfinder Playtest rules in a guided, shared playtest experience coinciding with regular surveys and feedback from players like you!

ISBN-13: 978-1-64078-087-3

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1.30/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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Not worth touching - shame for the story

1/5

This might have yielded good playtest data - I can't judge that aspect. I have run most of those parts until my group broke apart, and running it dealt quite a bit of damage.

Part 1 starts badly and the map is largely to blame for that, but things get worse. Considering the math of the playtest, and the encounter design of this adventure, it felt unfair and was absolutely not a positive experience.

My players forced themselves to play as much as they could to generate some playtest data, but I kinda hope that this one just gets forgotten.

Other reviewers like Endzeitgeist have taken more time and skill to describe the problems I had with this adventure, but it really left a bad taste and managed to kill a lot of hype for PF2. I really hope that the final product is worth it.

Looking at the feedback and grieve my players have given me, as something that was supposed to be enjoying it failed.


A Cursory Dissection of Doomsday Dawn


An Endzeitgeist.com article

So, honestly, I wrestled with myself on whether or not to post this, because, ultimately, I don’t want to come off as a doomsayer or overtly negative regarding a system I am very much excited for. However, multiple folks asked me to share my thoughts on the subject matter of this adventure-anthology, so here goes.

It should be noted that this is no traditional review; the reasons for this will become evident over the course of this discussion. I will not dissect this module regarding its mechanics, as, considering the playtest-nature of the whole enterprise, that wouldn’t really be helpful – particularly due to the fact that I think that the problems of this adventure do not lie within either mechanics or the playtesting module concept per se.

I am going to SPOIL a lot of Doomsday Dawn’s plot, so if you haven’t already finished it, please be aware of that. I also assume that you know about the module’s plot below.

..

.

So, Doomsday Dawn is a bit of a centaur-like entity, if anything. It is very ambitious in that it attempts to do multiple things that are, at least to a degree, in direct opposition to one another:

Provide a nostalgia-infused sendoff for Pathfinder’s 1st
Deliver meaningful playtest data, which requires pitting players against situations that strain the systems of the game (and thus aren’t always fun).
Tell an epic story across multiple years.
Showcase the amazing stuff that PF Playtest/2 can do.

If this sounds familiar to some of you, then that obviously would be because it is, in some aspects, reminiscent of the practices of early access AAA-videogame development, with the crucial difference that Paizo actually has the means and desire to listen to the feedback of the fans, and, at least as far as we could see so far, really takes our concerns to heart. This is no fake BETA like Fallout 76, Anthem, et al.

That being said, I often encountered two points of view:

“Doomsday Dawn isn’t fun for reasons xyz.”
“Yeah, because it has to deliver playtest data!”

The problem with this type of reasoning is that this is not necessarily what Doomsday Dawn was sold as. Sure, being intended for playtest purposes is fine and all, but a more pronounced caveat would have mitigated some of the backlash the adventure (and system) received. In a way, the advertisement of Doomsday Dawn was one component that set it up for, at least partial, failure.

To be frank, I don’t think that Doomsday Dawn succeeded at fulfilling its ambitious baseline, but not due to the reasons that most folks would expect, and not due to how advertising it was handled.

Instead, I think that the crucial failure of this adventure-compilation is, ultimately, one of scope and scale, depending on how you look at it.

So, let’s start from the top – let’s talk about the overarching story.

I actually genuinely like it. The call-backs to classic modules, the way in which Doomsday Dawn presents an obscure and cataclysmic threat, the notion of mindquakes, the sheer stakes – the story is great. Reading about The Last Theorem and The White Axiom made me excited, nay, stoked – this notion of language shaping reality ties in with several theories near and dear to my heart, and as soon as the module’s full scope becomes evident, it can genuinely send a shiver down one’s spine.

The problem of Doomsday Dawn, from a narrative point of view, is that it takes quite a lot of time to convey the atmosphere and stakes, and that the playtesting, and, more importantly, lack of room available to develop the narrative, get in the way of fully appreciating the inspired concepts of the meta-plot.

Don’t believe me?

Okay, tell me 5 details about the good guys, the “Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye.” I’ll be waiting.

Yeah, figured.

Okay, know what my impressions were? “Generic esoteric order that’s secretive for no reason, and they’re obviously utterly incompetent. Their guys slip up and tell hired muscle they’re working for a secret order? IRL, that’d be the time when I’d be out of the door.” We also have NO IDEA about their resources, customs, what they stand for, etc. – they are entirely defined through their opposition to the bad guys. We have no ideas about symbols, greetings, etc. A simple, small sidebar with at least a few details could have a) vastly enhanced the roleplaying interactions and b) actually made the PCs and, more importantly, the PLAYERS, invested in the order.

This would particularly have helped during the “intended TPK scenario”, which casts the PCs as hired muscle for a cause they don’t understand. This lack of connection makes the whole chapter feel, also in the read-aloud text, like a module-version of “War. War is hell.” There is no reason to sacrifice yourself per se, apart from the words of your superiors. The cause doesn’t seem worth it from a PC perspective. From a player-perspective, at this point things look better, but still. It’s just the most obvious example of the issue that plagues Doomsday Dawn throughout. I don’t expect custom angles and hooks, mind you – but knowing for what you’re fighting, feeling like you’re PART of the order of guardians against the things from beyond? That’d have been a powerful motivator for PCs and players alike. Think about it: It’d have provided this conviction that, even though you may suffer and die, you’re doing the right thing – you’re saving, literally, the world.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“The Lost Star” had me flash back to the days when Episode 1 hit the silver screens, in particular, ill-omened George Lucas’ statement that “everything rhymes.” In a way, much like the final dungeon of Rise of the Runelords #1: Burnt Offerings, we have a pretty vanilla fantasy dungeon-crawl, with a few tidbits thrown in: There would be a few hazards/traps that are a bit beyond what you’d expect, and here, PF Playtest highlights how its engine makes traps and hazards less of a “cross and invisible line for damage” thing, and more like something that can be meaningfully interacted with. This is a HUGE plus for PF Playtest, and an aspect of the system that I genuinely love. Drakus the Taker feels akin to Nualia, in that he’s a random boss that hints at the larger story awaiting. Drakus is interesting in that he highlights what the system can do with bosses. This adventure, as a whole, is decent, but suffers from the fact that a) it had less room to develop its dungeon and antagonist than RotRL #1, and b) is also a somewhat less interesting dungeon. In the original RotRL #1, at this point players were already invested in Sandpoint, had finished some smaller dungeons and encounters, etc. – here, it’s just a goblin-dungeon, like we’ve cleared about a bazillion times in various systems so far. The failure of this module, why it fails to garner the same impact, is one of scale and context – and that, alas, is a leitmotif for Doomsday Dawn.

“In Pale Mountain’s Shadow” introductory prose makes the Esoteric Order look like bumbling buffoons, which doesn’t really help the narrative. The trek through the foothills suffers from a lack of player choice and agenda, but the main failure of the module, to me, lies in the “Chamber of Planar Alignment”, which presents a puzzle that may as well not be there. Instead of presenting a gorgeous handout, a beautiful artwork, instead of having the players figure out the puzzle, it’s a series of checks. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t object to that per se, but here, this looks very much like a puzzle that should have been solvable by the players, with the OPTION to brute-force it with checks (or by waiting for the antagonists). This is not a puzzle, it’s an exercise in rolling the dice. It is abstract in the most unrewarding way possible. Considering how games have moved towards ROLEplaying, towards blending the rolling of the dice with actual roleplaying, this is, to me, a pretty big downer, and something that could have really highlighted a difference in design paradigm for PF Playtest. It’s also one of the aspects that made me rather apprehensive and something I genuinely hope Paizo will move away from.

Indeed, this ties in with another aspect of Doomsday Dawn: VTTs/player-friendly maps. They are pretty much a staple for the vast majority of 3pps out there, and from handouts to such maps, I really think that Paizo should step up their game in that regard. There is no reason the PCs shouldn’t have a keyless version of e.g. Sombrefell Hall. Don’t get me wrong: The module is a step in the right direction, with the neat keyless maps that ARE provided. I just don’t think it’s enough when compared to the handouts that modules by Goodman Games, for example, provide constantly.

Speaking of which. “Affair at Sombrefell Hall” could have EASILY been a truly remarkable adventure, but once more, is held in check by the scope it has to develop its ideas. The same meaningful playtest data could have been collected with a few tweaks: 1) make the situation more complex/include more NPC interaction. This is one of two modules herein that feature a bit of investigation, and it’s as basic, obvious and unrewarding as it gets. It feels a bit like a less nuanced version of Evil Dead. Similarly, the module could have used the valuable asset of the system regarding the streamlined interaction with the environment in combat to lighten up combat and highlight what the system offers regarding sensible interaction. The front-loaded roleplaying could have been injected in-between waves of undead for a more rounded and less redundant experience. Once more, the scale, the wordcount available, really hampers what this module could have easily been.

“The Mirrored Moon” is the adventure herein that perhaps best encompasses the issues regarding scale that plague Doomsday Dawn. This module could best be called “needless and nonsensical implementation of subsystems, the module” – treasure points, ally points, research points – I like all of these in theory. The issue of this chapter is, however, that none of these systems contribute anything meaningful to the adventure. When do you use points as an abstraction in adventure-design? When too many factors accrue to make the listing of individual consequences of actions feasible, when the if-then-diagrams would become too sprawling. I *LIKE* resource-gathering like this; I don’t object to using abstract means to determine the like. But here? There are a grand total of 3 (!!) entries for the consequence of research points, and a similar amount for ally points. Not every point ever matters, which ultimately DETRACTS from the feeling that the actions of PCs have consequences – because that third ally or research point?

It.Does.Not.Matter.

If not every point counts, why bother with the point systems anyway? Why not state: 2 allies = x; 4 equals =y – this just creates a false illusion of a degree of differentiation that is just not here. In fact, most GMs would probably improvise a more nuanced action-consequence ratio here. Why bother at all with the point systems? Oh yeah, to showcase them. Thing is, while I LIKE them as concepts, their implementation here is so clumsy, it’d be funny, were it not so sad. I am almost 100% certain that this part of Doomsday Dawn was cut down from something that could have been so much better, that, you know, actually had a reason to use points?

“The Heroes of Undarin” could have been an amazing offering; in a way, daring to include it, is great. Players should be aware that there’s danger, that they may well be wiped out. Problems here range from the lack of environmental interaction points to the very unfortunate narrative issues bred from the introductory/denouement flavor texts and lack of information about the cause of the order. With a different framing, I am pretty sure that this wouldn’t have received the same level of disappointment, and instead elicited cheers for heroic blazes of glory. Another issue from a psychological perspective would be that the B-team, ultimately, doesn’t matter to the PLAYERS. While their A-team is attaining the White Axiom, a series of combats happen. Why not let the players play the process of attaining it, succumbing to the trauma, barely keeping it together as the B-team tries to keep them as safe as possible against the approaching onslaught? Switching characters would have added A LOT to this one. Again, scale. And what about making the performance of the doomed B-team actually have, you know, consequences regarding the whole plot??

“Red Flags” is easily the best stand-alone module herein: The characters are quirky, the metaplot components matter; we get actual roleplaying, the system showcases how it can blend interaction/exploration/roleplaying, etc. – This is a genuinely well-made and fun ADVENTURE I enjoyed. It showcases the strengths of the system, is fun to play, and it’s a tragedy that it shows up so late in the book. If this one had been included earlier, I bet more groups would have stuck with the playtest to the end. While it could have used more key-NPCs to interact with, it’s also the only adventure herein that doesn’t suffer from the scale-issue: It presents a comparably humble premise and delivers on it. It doesn’t feel like it needed a couple of pages to work as well as it should. (Though, handouts/artworks depicting the heist-relevant rooms would have been AWESOME…just sayin’…)

And then, there’d be “When the Stars Go Dark.” This is, in a way, the chapter of this module that highlights best a crucial component of what PF Playtest does infinitely better than the 1st edition. The finale, the rules presented for the White Axiom? They are AMAZING. I love the final encounter to bits. That being said, this chapter does have issues that look like compromises on…bingo…scale. Where is the read-aloud text, or better, artwork showing the revelations the PCs have?

This brings me to my main gripe with the finale, which has less to do with content, and more with art. That artwork of the star-spawn at the start of the module elicited a groan from me. It’s not creepy, it’s goofy. Also: Cthulhu et al are SO played out anno 2018/19, and the module frankly doesn’t need them, when it has malignant theorems and Ramlock himself, as great examples how you can provide fresh creatures that are lovecraftian, and not a rehash of the done-to-death mythos critters.

Ramlock gets an amazing artwork. The issue is, that the artwork fails to hit home regarding its impact, as we don’t have a scale reference. Reading the text, seeing his ginormous face approach, realizing how grossly mutated he is, how vastly swollen, is an AWESOME image that begs to have a visual representation. The artwork of Ramlock, sans scale, makes him, courtesy of the lack of…scale…look like a humanoid-sized monster and makes him miss the mark regarding his grotesque and epic proportions. He loses much of the impact.

Similarly, the veinstone pendulum, the whole set-up of the final battle – if anything ever warranted the talent of Paizo’s amazing artists, it’d be that final scene. While I would have loved to see a bit more exploration of Ramlock’s Hollow prior to the finale, this is, alongside “Red Flags”, by far the most structurally-sound adventure herein, and it really made me excited for the future. The “Ashen Man”-encounter is also nice, has a glorious artwork and is really cool – easily one of my favorite roleplaying interactions in the whole module. We need more of that type of Lovecraftian horror, and less simple quoting of mythos monsters to be hacked apart. The only failure in scale of this last module, would thus pertain the choice made in art-direction.

The conclusion of my dissection can be read here!


Great Art, Poor Adventures

2/5

NO SPOILERS

Doomsday Dawn is a 96-page softcover book designed to play-test the rules for the upcoming second edition of Pathfinder. The adventure is divided into seven chapters, each of which is designed to take a couple of sessions to get through. Although the chapters link to tell one overall story, each jumps forward a couple of years in Golarion-time and many require the creation of new PCs.

I was very excited by the idea of Doomsday Dawn when it was first announced, as it promised to involve a cool (and long-dangling) plot thread that has been part of Golarion lore for several years. I'm one of those people who are more into story than mechanics, and I couldn't wait to see what kind of awesome adventure Paizo had in store as it transitioned Pathfinder from its first to its second edition.

Unfortunately, I was very disappointed by the experience. I played through the first four chapters before dropping out (along with the rest of the group). Although the product itself is high-quality, with some great artwork and layout, the storytelling is poor and the encounters forgettable. There are few NPCs to interact with, few opportunities for good role-playing, few interesting choices to make, and very little player-facing information on what the heck is going on (behind the scenes) until very late in the book. I think I was expecting a package of well-written Pathfinder Society scenarios that tied together into one awesome story, and instead I got a collection of encounters, poorly tied-together, that I would rather have just played in isolation as exercises in tactical combat without the expectation of role-playing and plot development. To be fair, a really good GM could probably smooth over some of the rough patches and add some extra material to tie things together better, but that's a lot to ask someone who is trying to figure out a whole new rules-set alongside the players.

Now that the playtest is over and a lot of people have grumbled about the experience, there's been a counter-argument in the forums that "playtesting is work, and isn't supposed to be fun." I can accept that, but that's not the view that was circulated and led to such excitement among the community. I think, unfortunately, my participation in the playtest has led me further away from embracing second edition than I would have been if I just went in with my eyes closed and hoped for the best. As for Doomsday Dawn, my recommendation would be for hardcore Golarion-lore fans to download the free PDF (something we have to give Paizo credit for) to see how it resolves that big story-thread, but for other Pathfinder fans to leave it alone.

SPOILERS!:
I'll start with the book's strength: it's really pretty. The cover artwork (featuring Harsk and Seoni assaulted by mummies) is beautiful, and most of the interior artwork is of similarly-excellent quality (look at the Hidimbi on page 57 or the Ashen Man on page 90). The art that starts each chapter is weaker, but still, on the whole, Paizo has a great thing going with its selection of artists. The book itself is laid out well, with a sidebar on each right-side page indicating which chapter is being looked at, notes from the designers interspersed throughout to help the GM know what the goals of each chapter are, well-designed maps (even those not part of the printed flip-mats are good), and more. The inside front cover is a map of Golarion indicating where each chapter takes place, while the inside back cover is a hex map (suitable for photocopying if the encounter locations are removed) that ties into the fourth chapter. All in all, it's a high-quality production, especially when you realise this is just a playtest document and will be obsolete in a few months--it's of better physical and artistic quality that most publishers' premiere output!

The adventure itself concerns a set of mysterious artifacts (recovered from ancient pyramids in Osirion) known as the "countdown clocks." The countdown clocks herald some sort of world-wide cataclysm, and first appear in a module from 2008 (!) called The Pact Stone Pyramid. Doomsday Dawn reveals that the countdown clocks are ticking down to when the planet Aucturn will be in the right celestial conjunction with Golarion to allow for an invasion by the Dominion of the Black and the release of a Great Old One that will destroy the entire planet! Even adventure paths only deal with the fate of a city or a country, and this is the first Paizo story I know about where the entire planet is at stake--it's pretty exciting stuff. The backstory, explained in a two-page section, is pretty complicated stuff, involving a "mind-quaked" priest named Ramlock, his development of the Last Theorem (and the missing White Axiom), portals to Aucturn, the Dominion of the Black, the pharaohs of the Pact Stone Pyramid, cultists called the Night Heralds, and more. I was fairly lost reading through it for the purposes of this review, but had far less of an idea of what was going on as a player. Anyway, I'll go through each of the seven chapters in a separate paragraph below.

Chapter 1, "The Lost Star", starts things off poorly. It's set in Magnimar just before the events of Rise of the Runelords, but doesn't really have a link apart from the fact that the giver of the adventure hook, Keleri Deverin, is cousin to Sandpoint's mayor and plans to travel there for the Swallowtail Festival. The chapter dumps the PCs into Keleri's house as friends/allies summoned to help retrieve a family heirloom stolen by a bunch of goblins from her basement vault. The goblins belong to the Mudchewer tribe and can be tracked through the vault to a sewer complex called the Ashen Ossuary, where their "hobgoblin" leader, Drakus, is revealed as a faceless stalker. It's essentially a very, very basic dungeon crawl, with goblins, skeletons, a giant caterpillar, and some traps. Really, it's about as generic as a D&D-style adventure can get, at least until the very end where (potentially) Keleri reveals that she is a member of an organisation called the Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye which looks after mystical secrets and tries to stop dangerous cults like the Night Heralds from using them to cause harm. There's some backstory here, but the PCs can't engage with it even if they find out about it.

Chapter 2, "In Pale Mountain's Shadow", has players create a new set of fourth level PCs for an adventure set in Katapesh. There's a race between the Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye and the Night Heralds to penetrate the Tomb of Sular Seft and get a countdown clock so they know when the apocalypse is coming (as Buffy says, "If the apocalypse comes, beep me."). One of the criticisms I have of the entire adventure is that there's very little background provided on the Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye, which results in the PCs being members of the group just because they're supposed to be. Anyway, this chapter tests out the wilderness travel rules and some wilderness-themed hazards and monsters (such as a manticore and gnolls) before the PCs reach the tomb. Inside, there are elementals, a poorly-described puzzle, and a dude who has been trapped for millennia named Mabar who is the key to the PCs getting any background information about what's been going on so far. Reading the chapter after having played through it, I can recognise that there are some good story elements that just didn't come up during the actual session--I'm not sure if that was the GM's or the adventure's fault.

Chapter 3, "Affair at Sombrefell Hall," is set in Ustalav and has PCs creating a new set of 7th level characters. One of the reasons I found the playtest such a chore was that it was a real pain to create or level up increasingly high-level characters in a new rules system while still sticking to the "one chapter every two weeks" schedule that was necessary in order to keep up with the surveys. Some pre-gens for those of us with limited time would have made a big difference. Anyway, the PCs are asked to travel to a manor on the shores of Lantern Lake to ask a scholar, Verid Oscilar, to return with them and share his knowledge about the Dominion of the Black. (I really wish that the chapter had tied in Dr. Quolorum, a fellow academic at the Sincomakti School of Sciences from The Phantom Phenomena into this adventure, as his travels are centered in the same area!). What actually happens is that the PCs arrive at the manor, Oscilar refuses to leave until he finishes a project, and the manor is assaulted by wave after wave of undead in a test to see how long the PCs can hold out. The adventure has some flaws in it, particularly with failing to address what happens if the PCs try to intimidate or charm Oscilar into leaving right away (as my group did), expecting the PCs to spend a game-day or more poking around the manor before anything interesting happens (a lot of PCs aren't going to be the type to rummage around someone else's house), and having a location site that's pretty big and complicated to draw and not either using an existing flip-mat (Haunted House or Pathfinder Lodge, for example) or having it be one of the ones specifically released for the playtest. All in all, there's a lot of combat in a very lethal adventure with very little story development from the players' perspective.

Chapter 4, "The Mirrored Moon," has the problem that, no matter what happens in previous chapters (whether the PCs succeeded or failed), events play out exactly the same. The premise is that the Eye have learned about the Night Heralds' attempts to contact the slumbering wizard Ramlock, and that both the Eye and the Night Heralds are racing to find Ramlock's lost tower in the River Kingdoms. This chapter uses a wilderness hex grid and tests overland movement and a "one encounter per day" paradigm (a.k.a., "hexploration"). Our GM gave us (presumably by mistake) a photocopy of the marked hex map in the back of the book, so we knew exactly where encounters would be, even if we didn't know what type they would be. The premise of the adventure is very different than the others, as it uses "ally points," "treasure points," and "research points" to track how well the PCs are doing in gathering resources to help with what I guess is presumed to be a big battle with the Night Heralds at Ramlock's tower. Most of this is explained pretty poorly, as abstract trackers and mechanics need to be carefully integrated into an adventure to seem justified to players. What basically happens is the PCs wander around, meet creatures (a dragon, some cyclops, a lake monster, etc.), do some simple fetch/messenger quests to gain allies, and then have a big battle at the tower. It all seemed very simplistic and cheesy when I played it (like a bad board game with a little role-playing tacked on and every single skill check DC seemingly pegged at the magical number of "26"). This is where I dropped out, so the rest of the review is based purely on reading the subsequent chapters.

Chapter 5, “The Heroes of Undarin,” is designed to result in a TPK, though the players won’t be told this! The premise is that the PCs are grizzled crusaders from the Worldwound (new 12th level characters), and they’re tasked with escorting the (off-screen) PCs from the previous chapters as they undertake an important mission in the demon-haunted wastelands. In order to decipher the true meaning of Ramlock’s text, The Last Theorem, the Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye needs to recover the fabled White Axiom—which exists scrawled on a cave underneath the ruins of the city of Undarin. (I’m not exactly sure why the Eye needs this info, and suspect it might be better left there, but that’s neither here nor there.) The plot stuff is only in the background, because how this chapter plays out from beginning to end is 100% pure combat: the PCs have to defend a ruined temple for as long as they can, against wave after wave after wave of demons and undead. These are some amazing, earth-shaking battles, and the temple flip-mat is given some cool terrain and features to spice things up. There’s no role-playing and little story, but I have to admit it sounds like a blast to play (as long as you weren’t expecting anything with more depth).

Chapter 6, “Red Flags”, looks to be the best adventure of the bunch. The PCs are sent to infiltrate a gala in the Shackles at a mansion where the last known copy of The Last Theorem is kept securely in the vault. The way the PCs proceed in the gala is handled in a free-form manner, with lots of opportunity for role-playing, information gathering, deception, stealth, and more. There’s a really interesting story here, and the chapter reads like a good PFS scenario as the PCs realize they have to race to retrieve the book before a rival “party guest” from the Night Heralds gets into the vault first. I think if an adventure like this had occurred earlier in the book, it would have left a better taste in my mouth about the whole playtest.

Chapter 7, “When the Stars Go Dark”, is a suitably epic climax to the storyline. Using The Last Theorem and the White Axiom, the PCs can enter a demiplane called Ramlock’s Hollow and disrupt something that’s kind of like a giant countdown clock, the Veinstone Pyramid, to stop the conjunction of Golarion and Aucturn. But of course, they have all manner of cosmic-level threats to overcome, including Ramlock himself who attacks during the lengthy ritual needed to disrupt the Veinstone Pyramid. Earlier in the chapter, the PCs have the opportunity to undergo some visions to learn about the backstory to the entire adventure, but I think it’s probably too little, too late. Anyway, the chapter would be a great opportunity to test out the playtest rules in some high-CR confrontations.

I *almost* regret not sticking with the playtest longer in order to experience the last chapters of Doomsday Dawn, as they seem better written and more interesting than the earlier ones. Further, I think if I had gone in with lower expectations and if there had been more time allotted in the schedule so that creating new PCs and finishing chapters didn’t have to be done in such a hectic manner, I would have enjoyed the whole thing more. But all of that is in hindsight, and I suppose what matters now is the legacy of this book going forward now that the playtest is finished: it wraps up the “Aucturn Enigma” plot thread and offers some more insight (though not much) into the Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye, the Night Heralds, the Dominion of the Black, and more. As I said in the introduction, however, there’s not enough of interest to make this anything more than a curiosity unless you really need to learn some additional lore on these topics.


Don't bother

1/5

In short, this story and plot deserved far better.

When this product was announced, I was so excited to see how Paizo handled this situation. Now that I know, my disappointment is high. Using the PF2 playtest rules, the entire module feels far too "gamey", almost like a video game, with not enough energy devoted to story, plot, and internal logic and consistency. What's more, while the cover art and some interior art is fantastic, much of it is far too cartoonish and amateurish for a module with the title 'Doomsday Dawn', and instead of adding to the feel of the adventure, detracts from it.

My, how far Paizo has fallen. Not recommended.


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Note that this product discussion thread is for discussion of the book itself. Discussion of the playtest rules, or of how the playtest will work, or of the playtest edition in general should be posted in the Playtest Forum.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So the countdown clocks of Osirion are the basis of this adventure? Very cool; that plot hook from The Pact Stone Pyramid was just begging to be expanded on.


Will this be available as a free download or is the softcover the only way to experience the adventure?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
GreatKhanArtist wrote:
Will this be available as a free download or is the softcover the only way to experience the adventure?

From the Playtest page:

Quote:
All Pathfinder Playtest products will be released as FREE downloads exclusively at paizo.com on August 2, 2018.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The adventures are taking place over the course of seven years will be interesting.
I hope they take place in different Inner Sea nations and are not 100% dungeon crawls, but offer 5% world story at least.
I'm also looking forward very much to an eventual "Inner Sea Guide 4719" with an advanced timeline from all 24 Adventure Paths (and Varisia maybe called New Thassilon?).


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Feros wrote:
So the countdown clocks of Osirion are the basis of this adventure? Very cool; that plot hook from The Pact Stone Pyramid was just begging to be expanded on.

OMG! Is it really the countdown clocks?! So stoked! Love the 10-year angle especially!


I hope the Neh-Thalggu get the respect and love they deserve.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

According to Occult Mysteries, the Countdown Clocks might reach a special conjunction on 4718 AR - which corresponds to 2018 in real life. The last time such a conjunction happened was 4606 AR, when Aroden died. I know the developers have said no massive cataclysm will usher in 2nd edition (as has been the case with every iteration of, say, Forgotten Realms), but I'm definitely hoping for something special.

Maybe kill off one of the less popular deities? I'm looking at you Alseta the Welcomer.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Oh no not Alesta the welcomer! What would we do without her? And her welcomingness? Oh the inhumanty


Does anyone know whether or not a GM will be able to read and run some of the seven parts without being spoiled about information relevant to other parts?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Milo v3 wrote:
Does anyone know whether or not a GM will be able to read and run some of the seven parts without being spoiled about information relevant to other parts?

This is very very very unlikely.


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James Jacobs wrote:
This is very very very unlikely.

That's unfortunate. That means I'll be stuck having to decide between GMing the whole thing and never getting a chance to play at all during the playtest or having me and my group all get spoiled to parts they plan on playing in. :(

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Milo v3 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
This is very very very unlikely.
That's unfortunate. That means I'll be stuck having to decide between GMing the whole thing and never getting a chance to play at all during the playtest or having me and my group all get spoiled to parts they plan on playing in. :(

yeh, I think I will probably elect to go with the spoiler route as I wanted to have everyone from experienced to beginner GMs to playtest the system.

Is it worth playing Pact Stone Pyramid beforehand?

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

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I'll say this about spoilers and adventures. I've been heavily involved in Adventure Paths that I've later been a player in. As long as you can comport the knowledge you have as a human player with what you have as a character, this all still works. Sure, you might not be surprised with some of the reveals and what not, but it really doesn't keep you from playtesting the new system (which, if I may be selfish, is FAR more important to me).

Scarab Sages

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I have 16 people wanting to be involved, of which only two do not GM in some capacity, anything from having GMed 2 games to having GMed for decades. I think it is more useful to get the playtest experience from a broad range than just the selection of the most experienced GMs....so that is the decision :)

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

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That sounds like a solid plan. We'd love to hear from both GMs and players with varying levels of experience with the current system. Thanks for helping out with this endeavor.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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And to be honest, having feedback from GMs who run the whole thing through themselves AND feedback from GMs who round-robin each chapter is both great feedback to have.


Adam Daigle wrote:
I'll say this about spoilers and adventures. I've been heavily involved in Adventure Paths that I've later been a player in. As long as you can comport the knowledge you have as a human player with what you have as a character, this all still works. Sure, you might not be surprised with some of the reveals and what not, but it really doesn't keep you from playtesting the new system (which, if I may be selfish, is FAR more important to me).

I have people new to roleplaying in the group and I myself have never been an actual player of a Pathfinder game (GMed for the group since I discovered Pathfinder in 2013), so I'm not entirely sure on how effectively various people will be at not accidentally metagaming.

That said, we are definitely going to playtest the new system regardless of if I have to GM the entire thing, or if we find a way to change who GMs each part without harming our experience.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Milo v3 wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
I'll say this about spoilers and adventures. I've been heavily involved in Adventure Paths that I've later been a player in. As long as you can comport the knowledge you have as a human player with what you have as a character, this all still works. Sure, you might not be surprised with some of the reveals and what not, but it really doesn't keep you from playtesting the new system (which, if I may be selfish, is FAR more important to me).

I have people new to roleplaying in the group and I myself have never been an actual player of a Pathfinder game (GMed for the group since I discovered Pathfinder in 2013), so I'm not entirely sure on how effectively various people will be at not accidentally metagaming.

That said, we are definitely going to playtest the new system regardless of if I have to GM the entire thing, or if we find a way to change who GMs each part without harming our experience.

And on that note... gamers will ALWAYS metagame. Getting feedback on how gamers metagame the playtest adventure isn't a core mission of the adventure, but it's still valuable information.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

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Milo v3 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
This is very very very unlikely.
That's unfortunate. That means I'll be stuck having to decide between GMing the whole thing and never getting a chance to play at all during the playtest or having me and my group all get spoiled to parts they plan on playing in. :(

Keep in mind that there will also be four different Pathfinder Society Playtest scenarios coming out across August and September, providing more opportunities to play in case you end up deciding to GM Doomsday Dawn.

Dark Archive

I will GM the first scenario and then probably play in the second one.

Dark Archive

What levels are the seven scenarios for?
Scenario 1: level 1-4
S2: 4-7
S3: 7-10
S4: 10-13
S5: 13-16
S6: 16-19
S7: 19-20?

I imagine the map folio is for 4 of the seven scenarios - which ones?

Thank you for your time! :-)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Marco Massoudi wrote:

What levels are the seven scenarios for?

Scenario 1: level 1-4
S2: 4-7
S3: 7-10
S4: 10-13
S5: 13-16
S6: 16-19
S7: 19-20?

I imagine the map folio is for 4 of the seven scenarios - which ones?

Thank you for your time! :-)

We haven't revealed that information yet, and are unlikely to do so until we're ready to launch the playtest itself in a little over a month.

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Marco Massoudi wrote:

What levels are the seven scenarios for?

Scenario 1: level 1-4
S2: 4-7
S3: 7-10
S4: 10-13
S5: 13-16
S6: 16-19
S7: 19-20?

I imagine the map folio is for 4 of the seven scenarios - which ones?

Thank you for your time! :-)

We haven't revealed that information yet, and are unlikely to do so until we're ready to launch the playtest itself in a little over a month.

Thank you for answering, James!

This both ships and is downloadable on august 2nd, isn't it?

Will you be doing previews before that (or showing the flip-mat art) or will there be nothing of the sort?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

What we know from PaizoCon: Parts 1, 4 and 7 are (to be) played with 'the same' characters at different levels.

The other parts are to be played with other characters (some or all of those might have information on how to build characters for that part).

I don't think that we are going to level up during any one part of the Adventure.

Dark Archive

Franz Lunzer wrote:

What we know from PaizoCon: Parts 1, 4 and 7 are (to be) played with 'the same' characters at different levels.

The other parts are to be played with other characters (some or all of those might have information on how to build characters for that part).

I don't think that we are going to level up during any one part of the Adventure.

Thank you for the info, Franz.

That sounds like pregenerated iconics could be involved.
If you can't level up, you'll have to use a pregen of another level, because the 7 parts are supposed to cover most levels.
It would also make sense for Paizo to gain player feedback about each of their iconic classes at different levels.
But it would limit the playtest about this module to predetermined builds...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Marco Massoudi wrote:
Franz Lunzer wrote:

What we know from PaizoCon: Parts 1, 4 and 7 are (to be) played with 'the same' characters at different levels.

The other parts are to be played with other characters (some or all of those might have information on how to build characters for that part).

I don't think that we are going to level up during any one part of the Adventure.

Thank you for the info, Franz.

That sounds like pregenerated iconics could be involved.
If you can't level up, you'll have to use a pregen of another level, because the 7 parts are supposed to cover most levels.
It would also make sense for Paizo to gain player feedback about each of their iconic classes at different levels.
But it would limit the playtest about this module to predetermined builds...

No pregens at all. One of the important parts of Doomsday Dawn is we wanna know what the process of creating characters is like, and want to test the game under a completely open imagination umbrella, rather than limit things to a dozen or less set-in-stone characters.

The game's played best with YOUR characters, after all, so we need you to make characters for the playtest.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

James Jacobs wrote:
launch the playtest itself in a little over a month.

How scary is that phrase for you all?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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James Jacobs wrote:

No pregens at all. One of the important parts of Doomsday Dawn is we wanna know what the process of creating characters is like, and want to test the game under a completely open imagination umbrella, rather than limit things to a dozen or less set-in-stone characters.

The game's played best with YOUR characters, after all, so we need you to make characters for the playtest.

Taking James' logic a bit further, you might recognize that testing the creation of 1st-level characters is SUPER important, but so is testing leveling up, and so is testing the creation of higher-level characters.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
launch the playtest itself in a little over a month.
How scary is that phrase for you all?

For me? Not scary at all. Exciting and stressful, but not scary.


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We're beginning to rally our troops around here, so what would be the best size party to shoot for?

Paizo Employee Designer

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Castilliano wrote:
We're beginning to rally our troops around here, so what would be the best size party to shoot for?

Honestly whatever size your group would probably want to play Pathfinder with (though in at least some portions, we'll need you to have somewhere between 4 and 6 PCs, the most common range of PCs in most groups).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber
John Compton wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
This is very very very unlikely.
That's unfortunate. That means I'll be stuck having to decide between GMing the whole thing and never getting a chance to play at all during the playtest or having me and my group all get spoiled to parts they plan on playing in. :(
Keep in mind that there will also be four different Pathfinder Society Playtest scenarios coming out across August and September, providing more opportunities to play in case you end up deciding to GM Doomsday Dawn.

John —

Working on PBP Gameday right now.

1) Can you name the scenarios and their levels?

2) Are they going to be free?

If they’re free I don’t have to worry about scenario support deadlines. If they’re not free, i do.

Hmm


I thought of this only now, but my group is just me and my 2 players... I'm sorry we won't be able to give you a lot of feedback! Will we still be able to play it, maybe reducing the number of opponents encountered, or perhaps should we have 2 characters for each player?... =/

Paizo Employee Designer

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Roswynn wrote:
I thought of this only now, but my group is just me and my 2 players... I'm sorry we won't be able to give you a lot of feedback! Will we still be able to play it, maybe reducing the number of opponents encountered, or perhaps should we have 2 characters for each player?... =/

For the purpose of the playtest, two characters per player is probably going to work out best.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Roswynn wrote:
I thought of this only now, but my group is just me and my 2 players... I'm sorry we won't be able to give you a lot of feedback! Will we still be able to play it, maybe reducing the number of opponents encountered, or perhaps should we have 2 characters for each player?... =/
For the purpose of the playtest, two characters per player is probably going to work out best.

Okay! Consider it done!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Franz Lunzer wrote:

What we know from PaizoCon: Parts 1, 4 and 7 are (to be) played with 'the same' characters at different levels.

The other parts are to be played with other characters (some or all of those might have information on how to build characters for that part).

I don't think that we are going to level up during any one part of the Adventure.

Thank you for the info, Franz.

That sounds like pregenerated iconics could be involved.
If you can't level up, you'll have to use a pregen of another level, because the 7 parts are supposed to cover most levels.
It would also make sense for Paizo to gain player feedback about each of their iconic classes at different levels.
But it would limit the playtest about this module to predetermined builds...

I think you misunderstood my comment but Mr. Wertz and Mr. Jacobs already corrected my assumption.

From the Paizo-Friday Twitch Stream we now also have a rough estimate of the duration of the chapters: Erik Mona gave an answer to the question and said "about 5-8 hours", but that it would also depend on the group, chapter, GM-style and so on.


Three more weeks. Whenever you can tell us the levels for each scenario it would be much appreciated.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Jason S wrote:

Three more weeks. Whenever you can tell us the levels for each scenario it would be much appreciated.

I'm curious: what will the knowledge of the levels for each scenario help you now?


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I have three playtest groups and I'm trying to plan out which scenarios I'm going to run them through. In addition to the playtest scenarios, I'm also converting PFS scenarios on-the-fly.

Playtest will not last forever, so the time between games will be compressed. I'm a busy guy, so the sooner I know the sooner I can prepare.

I have a group of 4-6 adults that has never played RPGs before, let alone Pathfinder. In a way this will be the easiest group.

Another group is 4 kids that are level 2 that just started Pathfinder.

The last group are 6 veteran players that have characters ranging from levels 1-8. This group will be more open to jumping around in levels for the playtest, but they only meet once per month.

It's only 3 more weeks and I don't think there is anything to gain by not telling us the level range of the scenarios, and it would really help me in planning for my 3 month blitz. /shrug

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The playtest itself, as it involves Doomsday Dawn, is going to be relatively well structured and will involve more than just revealing the level ranges. We want to present all that information at once in an organized manner, and that takes time to orchestrate when we've got dozens of other metaphorical plates to keep spinning at the same time. As we get closer to Gen Con though we'll be releasing those spinning plates for folks to take over... just a little bit more patience is required on your part. Thanks for understanding!


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Ultra-excited to see the email! I cannot believe we are so close to the beginning of the Playtest.

Dark Archive

24 days to Gencon & the playtest.

It will be interesting to see if this ships earlier, later or at the exact date...

Dark Archive

John Compton wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
This is very very very unlikely.
That's unfortunate. That means I'll be stuck having to decide between GMing the whole thing and never getting a chance to play at all during the playtest or having me and my group all get spoiled to parts they plan on playing in. :(
Keep in mind that there will also be four different Pathfinder Society Playtest scenarios coming out across August and September, providing more opportunities to play in case you end up deciding to GM Doomsday Dawn.

Has this been changed to three PFS scenarios on august 7th (which would be generous enough imo) or will there be more in september?

Thank you for your time and dedication! :-)

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:

Has this been changed to three PFS scenarios on august 7th (which would be generous enough imo) or will there be more in september?

Thank you for your time and dedication! :-)

We'll have three adventures premiering at Gen Con and releasing to the public just after the convention, with one more coming out on September 26th. As it happens, we just released a Pathfinder Society blog that has a lot more to say on what Organized Play has to offer for the playtest at Gen Con and beyond, including titles and levels for each of the scenarios, rewards you can earn for playtesting, how to give feedback, and tips for running playtest events.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Yay, I just received my shipping notification!

Now it'll just be 2 to 4 weeks until it gets to Germany... grmbl...

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Weird getting shipping notifications but no pdf :-(
Waiting til mine reach the Netherlands...

Dark Archive

Nullpunkt wrote:

Yay, I just received my shipping notification!

Now it'll just be 2 to 4 weeks until it gets to Germany... grmbl...

Ah, ein Landsmann. ;-)

I'm curious about when you will be getting your shipment, where do you live?
I'm from Köln & should receive this between 1st & 3rd of august from my local flagstore, depending on how long customs will take.
Ich drück dir die Daumen, dass du es schneller hast!

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