So, my friends and I went to Dragon*Con to play a little PFS. We really wanted a chance to experience playing together, so we were pretty pumped. We realized that there was a level 5+ game, and a level 7+ game. In preparation, we played through a slew of scenarios both before and during our downtime at the Con(since there were only a total of 6 scenarios and 14 slots, we had plenty of spare time).
We knew we couldn't possibly get up high enough for the level 7 game (though one of us would, because he had played PFS previously). But we did get into the evil module that is 2-03, and came close to a party wipe. One person survived, but failed to succeed in a grapple/pin that would have allowed characters to return after a raise dead(this isn't a spoiler, it was simply our situation). As it was, the rest of the party could only be brought back with a resurrection. Lacking THAT much Faction, characters were lost for good, time to reroll.
PFS succeeded in making us attatched to our characters which is a good thing. Unfortunately, the proof of that is that some of our group have sworn off PFS for good. The thought that a random DM, or a module with a high mortality rate can scratch characters they spent hundreds of dollars for the privelege of playing and put 60+ hours of play into isn't a risk they want to take again.
We all had fun, and I will at some point play PFS again. I hate that some of my friends won't. I know serious consequences are needed, because without something on the line, it isn't nearly as exciting when you DO succeed. But, not everyone plays Diablo hardcore, and it's a shame there isn't some mechanism for a session to be scratched.
Here is the kicker... looking at the rules afterward, the NPC being pinned only had 1 chance / round to escape, not the 2 the DM mistakenly gave(basing it off attacks, not off it being a standard action). All was lost for rules error (can't blame the DM, not one of us realized this at the time).
I discovered organized play campaigns in 2006 and was instantly addicted. I too spent a lot of money traveling to conventions and leveling my characters. Sometimes I would make a specific character for the region I would be attending a convention in. I suffered over a dozen character deaths in the three years of Living Greyhawk that I participated in. I understand the frustration that comes with the hours of work and dollars spent advancing characters that end up lost forever. I can't tell your friends to not care about what happened, to shrug it off and try again. That's not going to connect with them. But if I wanted to play in a system where there were never any consequences I would play a game with a "save" function. I thirst for situations like yours, where the fight is desperate and it comes down to the actions of one player to save everyone. From what you have stated I think you feel the same way. After the sting of the loss begins to heal, I hope your friends will reconsider their decisions. The scenario was a very tough one, and theirs was not the only perma-deaths at the convention. The combination of a remote location and a dangerous opponent had unforeseen consequences. I wish there was a better answer to your situation. I hear what you're saying though, & your friends do have my sympathy.
Earlier this year I was GMing some players and they permanently lost their characters in the last act. Because they had multiple PCs the pain of the loss wasn't as great and they can laugh about it now. Perhaps your friends will try playing PFS at home and spread the risk over a few different characters instead of placing all their eggs in a single basket. I know that suggestion may not help because many feel the 'sweet spot' is reached in the levels around 5-7.
I'll echo Doug's sentiments. The group I DMed for at Dragon Con thought this was a very tough module and they didn't make it all the way through. However, due to excellent team tactics, some poor DM rolls, and some lucky breaks for players' rolls, it all worked out in the end and they had no one die. They had someone come close but the party was able to stabilize him 2 negative hitpoints from death.
Also keep in mind, death is a probablity in any PFS Scenario. I also ran Shadows Fall on Absalom this weekend with a very experienced group of players. Unfortunately, their dice weren't on their side and they had one of the four die. Luckily he had enough PAs to be brought back.
Its the the breaks and it happens. As a DM, there is a lot going on during a game session and a lot to keep up with, including faction missions, combat strategies for enemies, and all the rules in a 500+ page rulebook. Unlike a home game when you know what characters are going to be there each week, it is much easier for the DM to prepare. I made a few mistakes this past weekend at Dragon Con but I gave the players a heads up before hand -- if I miss a rule, forget a rule, or misread it, let me know and we will correct it on the spot.
I can't speak for all DMs out there. But, I don't set out to kill a party of PCs. I let the dice fall where they may but I am always rooting for the party to prevail. It is one reason I don't use a DM screen.
I hope that after the bitter taste of death fades from your group, you guys decide to give PFS a chance again. Rebel's Ransom is a particularly deadly module and probably not a good judge of PFS as a whole.
|Dave the Barbarian|
As a GM with almost 40 PFS Scenario's under my belt, I can tell you that I really hate it when PC's die. I like a good tough challenge as do most players. I agree with Double Doug that a handful of PC's makes the death easier to handle. We had a TPK at the convention last weekend and it was a bummer, but everyone took it well. I also ran a Tier 5-9 scenario for four players that came within one round of a TPK. Luckily one player crit the bad guy with a trident and killed (How many times can you claim you killed the bad guy with a trident!). Otherwise it would have ended badly.
Encourge your friends to stick with it and create some new PC's. Possibly a Bard who can sing the songs of battle from your fallen comrades.
Losing a character I can completely understand, but after a while, errors in rules calls and forgetful players start to weigh on a party. The barbarian that forgets to rage before he grapples a BBG, The forgotten bonuses to pin from a grapple, the allowed multiple attempts to escape per round allowing the Big Bad Guy an opportunity to Blast the party down with AoE. Forgetting that the bad guy can only cast a spell so many times. These things matter and in one of the games I recently played in, all of these things lead to our total party demise.
I feel your pain Zape. Next time I have the opportunity to get a higher level PFS character, I will kill first and ask questions later..
|Todd Morgan Regional Venture-Coordinator, Midwest|