Shadowborn's Ongoing Playtest: Alpha Release 2 R.A.W.

Alpha Release 2 General Discussion

Week 5: Bossfight--the Pathfinder Druid (and an army of Twig Blights) vs. the Core Party plus One

Not too much to report this time around. The DM doesn't function terribly well on DayQuil, and is prone to random tangents and non sequitirs during gaming that put a severe cramp in my style...

In a nutshell, the PCs descended to the final level of the Sunken Citadel and managed to run through most of the level with little problem. Lycia's channel energy ability kept the party's HP up and the undead down. The goblins fell to Markham's maul, and the rest batted clean-up.

Then they made it to the Twilight Grove, where a pack of Twig Blights awaited them with Belak the Outcast, newly refinished according to the Pathfinder Alpha rules.

I decided to go traditional and use his Nature Bond ability for an animal companion. Since the one written into the adventure is about as scary as a rabid tribble, I opted for a medium Viper which, after the appropriate adjustments for a 4th level druid, was a fairly formidable opponent, especially when bolstered by the druid himself, a trio of twigblights, and two 1st level minions.

Speaking of the minions, the (ex)paladin was carrying Shatterspike, much to Markham's dismay. Given its +4 bonus to sunder attempts, the +2 from the Improved Sunder feat, and his 18 Str, the guy only had to roll an 11 or better to meet the DC for damaging Markham's infamous maul. He came within a single point of sundering the weapon outright, forcing Markham to accept the penalties for a broken weapon. He chose to forgo it in favor of warhammer and shield (wuss).

XP from the end of the adventure took them to 4th level. Since Ivy's player was not in attendence, I've left off her leveling for next week, so I'm uncertain what she'll do. She's up for a rogue talent, so it'll be interesting to see what she decides on.

As for the change in skills to a rank system, this was generally well received by the group as a whole. The idea that someone taking a skill at 10th level would be just as good at it as someone that's had it since 1st didn't sit well with my players. Now that there is some variation, and the system is much like the original 3.5, but without the tedious point-assignment, I'd say the group is satisfied.

I have a couple folks that might be looking forward to having characters die, so as to play something from the Alpha 2 release. They just might get their wish in this next adventure...

I know there were a couple more points to make, but I left my notes back on the desk at home, so I'll add more later.

This is excellent stuff. You have single-handedly convinced me to run my upcoming game using Pathfinder Alpha 2.

Keep us posted, please.

Hey, I made a conversion. I wonder if I'll get any kickbacks? ;-)

Well, I found my notes, and most of them are either idle conjecture, or questions that have already been addressed and answered in other threads (i.e. prereqs for Arcane Armor Proficiency).

Anyway, 4 days and counting until the next play session. My players are about to get in over their heads. I always love it when I find a way to allow them to inadvertently tweak things on a major scale. In the upcoming adventure, they have the opportunity to do something earthshattering that won't become apparent until after the adventure is over. It's things like this that really offer opportunity for gamers to rise to the challenge and take advantage of roleplaying, it gives me convenient excuses to make drastic changes to the campaign world on a whim. I'm evil that way.

Week 6: Pirates, a Black Pearl, and the End of the World (as We Know it)

Pursuing Lucien the diviner's quest for information on the great lost age when elf and dwarf coexisted in a great world-spanning empire, the party headed for the city of Queen's Port. A local religious festival had the place packed with pilgrims, forcing the part to take up residence in a seedy inn down on the dockside, paying an exorbitant price for the dingy room they all had to cram into.

That night they dined with an old seadog who slugged down his rum and told them tales of a mysterious undersea tower, whose entrance only sees the surface once every decade. The tower is said to hold a great treasure--an enormous black pearl--and a great curse. That very night was the night when the tides would reveal the top of the tower. So, off they went.

They had been warned that the old man's rival, a pirate by the name of Quenn, would likely be making a try for it. They reached the place and found they'd been beaten there; another boat was tied to the top of the coral-encrusted battlements that peeped above the swells. A half-dozen pirates awaited them atop the roof.

Combat here was treacherous. The pirates were well protected from spells and missile fire behind the battlements; the party was vulnerable to their crossbow fire. Valentina the necromancer attempted to scale the battlements, only to fall prey to a bull rush attack that forced her off. A Reflex save allowed her to grab the side of the boat and keep from falling completely into the water. Two other pirates failed to do the same to Lycia the cleric, unable to beat the DC, allowing the party to gain a foothold on the rooftop. Once Markham reached the roof, his big fists and Improved Unarmed Strike feat, combined with Cleave, left pirates sprawled across the stones and gave the party clear access to the trapdoor in the roof.

Later the party found a room with three large dragon heads, carved with open mouths, man-sized, containing flat disks of obsidian. Lucien and Valentina determined they were radiating conjuration magics using their Knowledge(arcana) scores. At this point, since these were technically magical devices, I allowed them to make Appraise rolls to determine their function. A good roll by Lucien and an educated guess by Valentina's player determined them to be portals and discovered the means of activating them.

After defeating Quenn and the remainder of his crew, bypassing an intricate lock and a potential deathtrap of a flooding room, the party arrived at their destination. The fist-sized pearl was held in the mouth of a dragon statue, standing in a bare spot on the floor of an otherwise flooded room, swarming with sea snakes. Valentina decided to show the party the efficacy of necromancy by using a magic item to animate the corpse of a dead pirate and sending it out to do the party's dirty work. The zombie ignored venomous bites and made its way to the statue, heaving and pulling for a full minute before making its strength check and pulling their prize free...thus destroying the magics that kept the water out of the tower. The remainder of the evening was a tense, round-by-round attempt to get the pearl from the zombie and flee the tower before it was completely filled with cold seawater. They did make it, but with only two rounds to spare.

Oh, and as a bonus for me, they managed to kill every good hero in the campaign world, excepting themselves, in the process. Now I get to roleplay a dark age that they brought on inadvertently. I love it when a plan comes together...

Whoops. Completely forgot to list a few high points utilizing the rules in the party's fight with Savage Quenn. Since the party was 4th level, and this module was originally slated for levels 1-2, I bumped him up, making him a 6th level character, ftr3/rog3. He gave Markham quite a bit of trouble. First round tactic was to light a smokestick while his men covered him. Combat Expertise allowed him to bump his AC up to 24 for the fight, and his rogue talent of bleeding wound, combined with a couple of well placed sneak attacks, had the fighter hurting bad after a few rounds. The Pathfinder versions of these feats worked well together and Quenn was a formidable opponent while he still had his cannonfodder minions up and in the fight.

After a delay for Mother's Day, we're back in action.

I just realized the party roster is back in the thread in the Alpha 1 section, so let me refresh here:

Markham, male human fighter 4, NG (bruiser, fights warhammer/shield or 2-handed with a maul)

Lycia, female half-elf cleric 4, CG (Domains: Liberation and Luck)

Ivy, female half-elf rogue 4, CN (tends to be a sniper-style sneak attacker, but she's coming out of her shell now that she's got more HP)

Lucien, male elf diviner 4, CG (Amulet bonded item)

Valentina, female human necromancer 4, CN (Bat familiar)

Lucien's player was out this week, and the DM had papers to grade for Monday, so the play style this time around was fast-n-loose and short-n-sweet.

I took great delight in having my players inadvertently bring about a dark age during their last adventure, so now they're finding that they've managed to snuff out the lives of, presumably, every good aligned hero in the game world, excepting their own party members. Lots of good role-playing opportunities here.

I decided to start off the gaming session by testing out the new rules for diseases. Since the room they're staying in isn't exactly up to health code standards, I rolled Fort saves for them in secret to see if any of them contracted the shakes from contaminated bedding. The DC 13 would be fairly easy for most of them to make, and I was planning on them having access to a cure disease scroll, so I let the high level for it slide. I rolled a natural 1 for Lycia. She wakes up the next morning after their adventure down 8 points of Dex and twitching like an electrified weasel. Valentina's Heal check, confirmed by Lycia's self-diagnosis confirms that she's likely to be gone in a day with the way the disease is progressing. Markham and Ivy head out to find help while Lucien and Valentina tend their patient. Meanwhile, they start to notice that all is not right in the city of Queensport, finding near-riot conditions up on Temple Road.

Several Diplomacy rolls later, they've acquired the needed scroll and determined (at least in Markham's mind) that something is seriously wrong. (Ivy still thinks it could be a coincidence that all the clergy of Astarte died of poisoning from an alchemical accident around the same time the high priest of Pallos choked to death on a chicken bone while having a midnight snack...)

The actual adventure hook happens when Lycia has a dream about the ghost of a dead sun-priest who points accusingly at her, telling her that she is to blame, and must atone by retrieving "the Censor from Whitefang." Appropriate Knowledge rolls point them in the direction of a fortress in a mountain pass between Queensport and a sister city, jointly manned by forces of both settlements. Apparently, the Censor of Glory is supposed to be headed through the pass into safe-keeping of the temple of Sonus in Queensport. Off the PCs go, only to find that the once-formidable fortress has been attacked and severely damaged by an obviously powerful foe.

The remainder of the evening was mostly a cannon-fodder hackfest, during which Markham reveled in his newly acquired Cleave feat and the rate at which he could level goblins and bugbears with it. Also, the high Perception scores of the elf-blooded PCs garnered them clues that the goblinoids weren't the only forces involved in the sacking of the fortress.

My sticking point on the rules for this evening had to do with the CMB. At one point the party were faced with three worgs. Their big thing, of course, is their trip ability. However, only one party member's DC was met during the course of the combat. Lycia's DC19 meant that the worg attacking her had to roll a 12 or better to take her down. Against Markham they only had a 1 in 4 chance of a successful trip attack. Since the worgs' extraordinary ability doesn't provide any bonuses, they are left with BAtB + Str mod, making them not quite so fearsome as it seems they should be.

Also, some questions: Would flanking provide any bonus to the maneuver roll? Do the old modifiers for multiple legs raise the DC of the attempt as in 3.5?

Sovereign Court

good reporting, yeah a lot of monsters are seriously nerfed with the new CMB rules, as are any non-full BAB classes. A lot of monsters that have a grapple or trip ability as their main schtick are dying off with barely any effect. the DC needs to be lowered to 10+ or else theres really a backwards compatability issue at stake.

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