Difficulty


Carrion Crown

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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Awesome story Steel, thanks for sharing it with us. Any chance of seeing a pic of the wooden dice?


Steel_Wind wrote:
Jam412 wrote:


Especially since to get their books, they had to walk ten miles, up hill both ways... through five feet of snow!! :-)

"In the old days, we had to assemble our own polyhedral dice by gluing them together using shards of broken glass. So when you rattled them in your hand before rolling them, you'd cut your hand to ribbons first. And we LIKED it that way!"

Actually, in all seriousness, Dave, the guy who I've known forever and who started gaming as a kid in 1975, actually has some WOODEN polyhedral dice. Story goes, back in 1975, it wasn't possible to easily obtain these dice in Calgary, Alberta (and if it was, he was just a kid in grade six and didn't know any better). So his older brother made their dice in shop class. Dave still has this wooden d4 and d8 which are both somewhat off in dimensions, but are, for all that, still pretty reasonable approximations of a "proper" d4 and d8.

The numbers on these wooden dice were scratched into the wood with an empty ballpoint pen, and inked in with a blue ballpoint later. This numbering features all the "fine penmanship" you would expect of an 11 year old kid, too. The childish writing and somewhat skewed dimensions make the dice look rather quaint, if not laughable.

For all that, when you know the story behid them, they are still the coolest dice I've seen. After 36 years to know, precisely, which were your first dice and to have made them yourself? Pretty cool!

We'll leave aside any discussions of "high-impact" d20s that came with our Basic D&D blue boxed set, all of which have chipped and smoothed out over the years so that the d20 now resembles a gumball :)

Those dice were terrible. Still have mine...


Steel_Wind wrote:


The years of experience for the four are:
1975 (Dave, I've been playing with him since 1979),
1976 (Mark, co-host on the podcast, been playing with him since 1996),
1976 (Azmyth, my co-host on the podcast since last-year)
and 1977 (Charles, Azmyth's friend and old gaming buddy since '77.)

Bah these guys are kids compared to me !

;)

Dark Archive

Why is this an issue - suboptimal tactics, restrictions, etc, if TSM is stated up at a lower CR value? If it functions at a lower power (damage output, attacks, tactics) then it is less deadly = lower CR.

The full stats listed have a condition, and based upon the PCs actions there is potential consequence for those stats to come into full play. As it is written - with the various restrictions and appropriate CR -it works, IMO of course.


Auxmaulous wrote:

Why is this an issue - suboptimal tactics, restrictions, etc, if TSM is stated up at a lower CR value? If it functions at a lower power (damage output, attacks, tactics) then it is less deadly = lower CR.

The full stats listed have a condition, and based upon the PCs actions there is potential consequence for those stats to come into full play. As it is written - with the various restrictions and appropriate CR -it works, IMO of course.

I think the issue is that many of us want to think we earned a victory on our own. Many players also DM, and even some that don't will not be happy if they think the DM handed a victory to them, and they can know sub-optimal tactics when they see them.

In order to give the illusion of this fight not being a handout the players might have to be given an item to help out. There is not much difference to some, but having an item does not damage immersion for many us of.
I will probably let some of the Spatter Man's real life abilities be discovered in through research. Maybe one of the townsfolk is a former adventure, and he has a used brooch of shielding or two. Maybe the Siphon device can cut the touch attack damage in half x amount of times. I will have to work on the mechanics, but I want them to believe I am trying to kill them. They wouldn't have it any other way. :)

Liberty's Edge

wraithstrike wrote:
Maybe the Siphon device can cut the touch attack damage in half x amount of times. I will have to work on the mechanics, but I want them to believe I am trying to kill them. They wouldn't have it any other way. :)

Spoiler:

I wouldn't place too much focus on the lack of the use of corrupting touch by TSM as necessarily being determinative of the battle. In fact, in some respects, that tendency can actually make fighting TSM harder, not easier, depending on the circumstances.

This is because when TSM isn't using his corrupting touch, he is using magic missile which will also be enhanced with metamagic versions of that spell.

In order for TSM to succeed with corrupting touch, he still needs to actually hit the target. This isn't too hard as the incorporeal touch attack bypasses the PCs armor. Still, TSM only has +5 to his corrupting touch. Assuming a touch AC of 11, TSM will still miss 25% of the time. A higher dex fighter will have an even better Touch AC.

When TSM does hit with corrupting touch, the average damage is 21 points; however, it still permits a save. The DC to save for half is 17. A 3rd level fighter with a Constitution of 16 will have a +6 Fort. So not only is there a 25% chance the touch attack will outright miss, 50% of the time, a fairly run-of-the-mill fighter will make his save to take half of 21, i.e., 10 points.

In contrast, TSM's maximized magic missile will do 20 points, no save, always hits. TSM's empowered magic missile will do, on average, 19 points, no save, always hits, and lastly, TSM's normal magic missile will do, on average 15 points, no save, always hits. Note that TSM also has metamagic mastery 1/day, so he can spontaneously mazimize one of his normal magic missiles, too, giving him three maximized magic missile spells, in total.

Unlike when using corrupting touch, 3 maximized magic missile will always yield 60 points of damage, guaranteed, to any one target that isn't protected by a shield spell. That's pretty much certain death to any 3rd level character under almost any circumstances you can dream up if that damage is dealt out over consecutive rounds.

My point: TSM is even deadlier with his magic missiles than he is with his corrupting touch if you direct him to kill his foes without mercy.

While a poor fort save class like a Wizard would probably prefer to take the magic misisle attack, a high fort save class like a fighter is better off facing TSM's corrupting touch over the course of the fight, especially at the beginning of the battle when the damage from TSM's spell attacks is both certain and relatively high.

As has been mentioned a few times in the thread, the biggest issue in terms of the difficulty of the fight is who the metamagic versions of those magic missile spells are targeted against.

Note: TSM has combat casting, so the likelihood that he will provoke by casting his magic missile spells is pretty low. He succeeds on a concentration check with a roll of a "4"; accordingly, he only provokes an AoO 15% of the time. (Concentration DC for a metamagic version of the spell does not change the spell level for concentration DC purposes. A defensive casting of magic missile requires a roll of 17. TSM is CL8 with a concentration of +13)


Steel_Wind wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Maybe the Siphon device can cut the touch attack damage in half x amount of times. I will have to work on the mechanics, but I want them to believe I am trying to kill them. They wouldn't have it any other way. :)
** spoiler omitted **...

concentration check and other stuff:

The 13 is before combat casting is applied. With combat casting applied it is a 17. He autopasses level 1 spells, and only need to roll for his 2nd and 3rd level spells.

Caster level +8, Int mod +5, Feat +4 = +17

2nd level spells = DC 19

3rd level spells = DC 21

PRD: When you make a concentration check, you roll d20 and add your caster level and the ability score modifier used to determine bonus spells of the same type.

When you make a concentration check, you roll d20 and add your caster level and the ability score modifier used to determine bonus spells of the same type.

Failing concentration checks does not provoke an AoO. It means the spells fizzle.

Thanks for the recap on corrupting touch. I have never used a ghost so this will be something new for me.

I will drop the lessening of the corrupting touch, but I still might provide magic missile help, if the party seeks it out.

Liberty's Edge

Spoiler:

Re Spell Fizzle: Quite so. All this touch stuff had me crossing wires there.

And yes, I looked at the +13 and thought that was reflecting a +5 for combat casting. He won't even fizzle. I assumed Paizo had added that in (they usually do -- a lot of people are going to miss it).

Re: Research on TSM and magic missile:

This shouldn't be determinative. TSM was not known by the authorities or Warden Hawkran to be particualrly adept in this spell. Indeed, TSM's ability to prepare and cast spells without his spell book was the reason the prisoners were able to break out in the first place -- and the authorities had no clue that TSM could do it.

So, without intervention from, say, the spirit planchette, there is no reason for the PCs to know about it at all. I don't think Vesorianna knows about it either.

I've also done some more thinking about the brooch of shielding and the more I think about it, the more I think my idea is only partly right. The underlying item needs to be changed.

Consider what it likely to happen. The party finds the following in the oubliette of The Lopper:

Quote:


120 gp, a broken masterwork heavy crossbow, a masterwork longsword, a +1 heavy mace, a stone of alarm, and a brooch of shielding.

Not sure about your party, but were that to be the treasure found by my players, I'm guessing the chances are very high that the Wizard is going to ask for the brooch of shielding.

That's the sort of result that isn't going to aid the party nearly as well as intended.

I think it would be far more helpful to the overall success of the party if the shielding property from the brooch of shielding was instead added to an actual +1 light steel shield

Basically, put the property on the one item a Wizard is certain to not claim. A wizard with a bonded item will then likely use his shield spell when he sees the fight against TSM unfold and there is a far greater chance the party can actually survive the encounter that way.


Steel_Wind wrote:
** spoiler omitted **...

good idea:
I just have to find a way to make the shielding property temporary, but still make sense within the story. I also need to find an alternate way to introduce it if nobody decides to use a shield. I do agree that nobody knew about his spellcasting though, so that is out the window.
Liberty's Edge

Spoiler:

If you are worried about the party selling it, leave this shield with only 60 points of absorption ability left on it. That should take care of the +1 light steel shield (of shielding) :)


Steel_Wind wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
I was saying what if the item just is not used due to fighting style, and not wanted. Maybe the two weapon or 2 handed weapon melee type does not use shields. The damage dealer might be an archer. A ring of protection might work or an amulet of natural armor.

With all these spoilers it is like we have a secret club or something.

Liberty's Edge

Spoiler:
A +1 light steel shield (of shielding) is going to be slung by somebody even if it isn't "equipped and used" per se, if for no other reason than to make sure that loot is swagged and sold.

If such a shield is worn, even on the back, it will work to absorb the magic missile attack. Admittedly, not as cinematically as you might prefer, but that's another matter.


James Jacobs wrote:
liondriel wrote:
I had thought to use the fast XP path with my rationale being that by the end of this AP when the players are aimed at around lvl 16 or 17 (usually) it would give them one whole level extra. That did not appear excessive to me, but am I giving my (rather experienced) players too much of an extra boost?
That's not really something I can really answer. I'd say that letting an experienced part get to higher levels would make the adventure super easy... but that might still be fun. Not everyone equates "almost impossible" or even "really tough" to mean "fun."

I've never had difficulty ramping an encounter up slightly on the fly. Some of the easiest ways to do it at the table:

* Multiply foes HP by 1.5 (more than that may be noticed by players)
* Give the foes the benefit of a bless spell
* Clone foes (or have more arrive 1d4 rounds later)
* Give foes some additional attack mode (flaming, chilling, poison, acid, ...)

The primary unbalancing result is that this can run the players out of comsumable resources (spells, healing) faster than you or the module realize, leading to a TPK in even an unadjusted encounter. This is the kind of thing to do judiciously, to increase the fun, never to penalize or distress players.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

After looking at TSM, I can see that he is not a CR6 challenge like statted, but minimum 8 (add just one CR to his normal CR 7 because he doesn't have all of his ghost powers).

Spoiler:
Just because he doesn't have high level spells to fill his spell slots and has do make due with empowered and maximized low level spells does not stop him from being a full CR7 wizard at all. He might not have fireballs or lightning bolts, but those maximized Magic Missiles do almost as much (and there are no saves with MM to reduce damage).

I think I will drop his level to 6 to give the player's half a chance (and keep an open mind about brooch of shielding too).

It does look like Steel Wind is correct in his assesment, the GM does have to play TSM to lose not to wipe the party.


Spoiler:


It does look like Steel Wind is correct in his assesment, the GM does have to play TSM to lose not to wipe the party.

And that's why I'm just going to re-build him to be less dangerous, so I can play him strongly versus the players without a TPK.

Sczarni

Ice Titan wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

meh...I, for one, appreciate that there might just be a really tough combat encounter in an AP.

So far as I can tell, the only things that could possibly threaten my players since Council of Thieves was released were:

spoilers below

Spoiler:

Shadow Triceratops. Even then, it died a horrible death fast.

Vamps in CoT book 5. Died to glowing artifact of doom.

Bony Boss for KM book 3. Only a challenge since he got a "meatshield" ally to account for my 6 PC group.

I expect a few of the ridiculous critters in KM 6 (and maybe the armies in book 5) will pose a challenge, but there's no telling yet.

So, even if the party is tweaked to the nines, as is their usual method, and comes loaded for ghosty, if there's still the possibility (even a likelihood) that they could lose, I'll take it. It's become tiresome to have to "special order" any encounters that are meant to be more than a cakewalk.


Ehhh he is not that much tougher than a normal Ghost which is CR7. To me since the Magic Missile spells will do about as much at the touch attack he is about a CR7, though on the high end. Also he has lower AC, lower HP than the "stock" ghost out of the B1.

I will try to make sure they are level 4 by that fight, but honestly 4 level 4's should be able to take on a monster who is trapped in a certain area. If they can't, well thats on them ;)

And I also agree, I am playing Second Darkness right now, and we almost haven't had a challenging encounter, and that is after the GM admitting to upping some of the encounters. And we are a group of only 4 PC's, though sometimes a 5th (1 time) and not completely all optimal.

So to me having something your forced to play "up to" and have a possibility of losing/dieing to is part of the game.

Since he could potentially be dead in 2-3 rounds with a smart party, or he could potentially TPK a dumb party in the same amount of time, which is good for a boss fight.


Why not just tweak TSM to make him a bit less deadly?

Swap out the metamagic feats, say. That nerfs him considerably right there.

Doug M.


Ice_Deep wrote:

Ehhh he is not that much tougher than a normal Ghost which is CR7. To me since the Magic Missile spells will do about as much at the touch attack he is about a CR7, though on the high end. Also he has lower AC, lower HP than the "stock" ghost out of the B1.

I will try to make sure they are level 4 by that fight, but honestly 4 level 4's should be able to take on a monster who is trapped in a certain area. If they can't, well thats on them ;)

And I also agree, I am playing Second Darkness right now, and we almost haven't had a challenging encounter, and that is after the GM admitting to upping some of the encounters. And we are a group of only 4 PC's, though sometimes a 5th (1 time) and not completely all optimal.

So to me having something your forced to play "up to" and have a possibility of losing/dieing to is part of the game.

Since he could potentially be dead in 2-3 rounds with a smart party, or he could potentially TPK a dumb party in the same amount of time, which is good for a boss fight.

How is a level 3 party going to kill him in 2 to 3 rounds? IIRC level 3 is where the party should be at.

Assuming the GM is in evil GM mode the cleric or paladin gets taken out first. Then the melee threat(assuming that melee person was not the paladin) or arcanist, depending on who presents themselves as the greater threat at that point.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I can't see taking him out quickly either. He's got a (relativily) huge amount of HP (67 something IIRC0, and takes half damage from any PC physical attacks (assuming they even have magic weapons!), and is likely to save against any channel ability. The most potent things the PCs are likely to throw at him are their own magic missles and some of those ghost touch arrows (if the PCs have any left).


Notice I said level 4 party, not level 3.

I am speculating between Channel Energy (9-10 pts a round), Magic Missiles (4pts a round), and the damage from the fighter (20+ pts a round, so 10 a round) they should be able to kill him in 3 rounds.

Remember he can't leave a certain area so if they die it's the parties fault for not just leaving that area and coming back prepared.


Hey I understand where you coming from, this it really group dependent. I think between the 3 "major" players, we have about 50 years of gaming experience (not trying to brag, just saying), and 60% of the group has many years of GMing experience.

In my past experience only the really tough things that were TPK's in other AP's (example RotRL giants), would get 1-2 kills at most, and a lot of those are due to the minor mistakes the players make.

Like I said I will let them get to level 4 before that fight, by having them level the fight right before you almost guarantee they are totally 100% fresh for the final fight. 2,400 exp isn't going to kill anything as far as "being into level 4" so thats not a issue right?

And to me I compare him to a normal ghost, he has less AC, HP, and the attacks are the same with the exception of magic missile. Now since he can use his Touch attack without worry of running out (both a regular Ghost, and the Splatter Man) wouldn't you say if he is to hard for a 7CR, then a ghost is also to hard for a 7CR?

As a 7CR it's completely acceptable for a part of level 4's, it's a epic boss fight as it should be with 1-2 party deaths (which will have little effect due to the potions they have).

Now one thing I will say is I am not "relentless" when it comes to combat, I don't play the monsters that way unless it's really called for story wise. So yes I will focus on one player, but it will most likely be the fighter, and they can keep him alive for 3-4 rounds I think (which should be long enough to kill the BBEG). If someone else gets close (a softer target) well thats what they get right? ;)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

An area that is mostly difficult terrain. After they've taken a fair amount of damage from the preceeding haunt (which I understand to take place immeadiately before the TSM fight: before there's any time to heal up). Let's assume the PCs win initiative, and spend that first action attacking the TSM or otherwise realizing that this is going to be tough (ie they don't run away as their first action). Then, they realize, come their 2nd action, that it's time to book it. For fighters, dwarves, or other slow characters, it will take at least 2 turns to get out of the cellblock and around the next corner (due to difficult terrain).

If the GM wants to get really nasty, he can rule that the TSM can see through the walls by shifting his gaze to the ethereal plane, and then shoot his MMs until the PCs are all the way upstairs or further.

That's 3 turns that the TSM can blast an already wounded party. Someone will die. Won't be a TPK, but it's a PC death at the least.


I'd like to point out that you have 9d6+9 free damage against him if you have his moldy spellbook (an item that is pointed out to the players) and you position yourself properly (out of sight and within 30 feet).


I did notice the spell book, but I don't know hot to relay to the party that it can help in getting rid of him.

Sovereign Court

wraithstrike wrote:
I did notice the spell book, but I don't know hot to relay to the party that it can help in getting rid of him.

The ghost woman tells you that the items are keyed to the spirits and can help to defeat them.

Follow that with: "Give me my spellbook, now! How dare you even touch it with your filthy hands! If you harm that book your death will be slow and terrible!"


GeraintElberion wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
I did notice the spell book, but I don't know hot to relay to the party that it can help in getting rid of him.

The ghost woman tells you that the items are keyed to the spirits and can help to defeat them.

Follow that with: "Give me my spellbook, now! How dare you even touch it with your filthy hands! If you harm that book your death will be slow and terrible!"

I missed that part, but that is why I have you other DM's to set me straight. :)


I understand wanting to feel like you've earned a victory. I still think that if played up correctly a victory can feel well earned from a "sub-optimally" played TSM. It's all in the presentation, a DM's job is actor as much as storyteller.

Maybe my group isn't as "hardcore" as others but I still think he can be quite the menacing threat even with his tactics as written. He's a horrifying spectre who can go through the walls themselves in a very cramped area which gives him a huge advantage (both mechanically and in a morale sense since he can toy with them). He could re-emerge anywhere he chooses to kill with a mere touch or send writhing, screaching ghostly maggots to burrow through your flesh (disguised magic missiles), cackling madly the whole time. He could be a thematically scary foe and one that I'd feel lucky to slay if I were playing.

I guess the difference is that if I were a player then I'd focus on what he is as a character/figure/foe instead of a jumble of numbers. It's just a different approach, I've always seen the numerical aspect as a means to the story and not the other way around. To each their own.

Shadow Lodge

Luther wrote:
I understand wanting to feel like you've earned a victory. I still think that if played up correctly a victory can feel well earned from a "sub-optimally" played TSM. It's all in the presentation, a DM's job is actor as much as storyteller... I've always seen the numerical aspect as a means to the story and not the other way around. To each their own.

+1 to this. The numbers are all in the background anyway and there's no reason for the players to ever know what they are. From their end all they get is "horrifying spells and effects are flying at you" not "he casts his 2nd empowered magic missile and has 2 more of those left today..."

Furthermore, feeling like you've "earned" a victory is always an illusion. The DM has all the power and any day of the week can build encounters that are guaranteed TPK's. D&D is not a competitive zero-sum game where the DM is against the players. If that were the case the players would lose every single fight every single time without exception. The players win a fight because the DM carefully selected CR appropriate encounters, gave them special rewards like Steelwind's brooch of shielding and super ghost gun thing and intended them to win all along. Yes, we want the illusion of it being difficult, and sure sometimes that means killing a character to reinforce the suspension of disbelief. But players never "earn" a victory. They are supposed to win because they are the protagonists of the story.


sabedoriaclark wrote:
Luther wrote:
I understand wanting to feel like you've earned a victory. I still think that if played up correctly a victory can feel well earned from a "sub-optimally" played TSM. It's all in the presentation, a DM's job is actor as much as storyteller... I've always seen the numerical aspect as a means to the story and not the other way around. To each their own.

+1 to this. The numbers are all in the background anyway and there's no reason for the players to ever know what they are. From their end all they get is "horrifying spells and effects are flying at you" not "he casts his 2nd empowered magic missile and has 2 more of those left today..."

Furthermore, feeling like you've "earned" a victory is always an illusion. The DM has all the power and any day of the week can build encounters that are guaranteed TPK's. D&D is not a competitive zero-sum game where the DM is against the players. If that were the case the players would lose every single fight every single time without exception. The players win a fight because the DM carefully selected CR appropriate encounters, gave them special rewards like Steelwind's brooch of shielding and super ghost gun thing and intended them to win all along. Yes, we want the illusion of it being difficult, and sure sometimes that means killing a character to reinforce the suspension of disbelief. But players never "earn" a victory. They are supposed to win because they are the protagonists of the story.

When the ghostly maggots don't do anything the players catch on real quick.

The players can earn the victory. It does not have to be an illusion. All the DM has to do is put them up against a monster than can beat, but are not guaranteed to beat. If they can pull it off then they earned it. It has nothing to do with a player vs a DM. You will notice most of the complaints here are from DM who want to challenge the players.
I will not say the PC's are supposed to win. I will say they are given realistic odds of winning. There are many DM's here that don't hand victories out. Carefully selecting an encounter does not lead to an auto-win.
The idea that a DM can make rocks fall is not even a point here. The point is that the DM's want to challenge the players, and let them know they really might die if they don't "bring it". As written I don't see this encounter worrying me too much.

Shadow Lodge

wraithstrike wrote:


When the ghostly maggots don't do anything the players catch on real quick.

The description could signify a million things. All they know is something hit them for x damage. It could be a spell or a spell-like ability or a supernatural ability. It could be something he has a limited number of or something he can do at-will. It could even just be a fancy description for a special attack like a corrupting touch or something.

Players that immediately guess it is a specific spell are players that have had lazy DM's who default to game-language, only play things that are in the book, and never go outside the box.

wraithstrike wrote:


The players can earn the victory. It does not have to be an illusion. All the DM has to do is put them up against a monster than can beat, but are not guaranteed to beat. If they can pull it off then they earned it. It has nothing to do with a player vs a DM. You will notice most of the complaints here are from DM who want to challenge the players.
I will not say the PC's are supposed to win. I will say they are given realistic odds of...

The PC's are absolutely supposed to win if the DM wants to keep playing or have any chance of completing the story. Sure we want it to be a challenge because that is a source of the fun, and yes character death is a real possibility, but the challenge is manufactured. It is carefully and falsely chosen to heighten the tension. Real life doesn't work like D&D with CR appropriate encounters conveniently waiting for you in each new scene. PC's win because they are the protagonists of the story. It's the same reason Luke destroys the Death Star, and Harry Potter defeats Voldemort. Along the way we suspend our disbelief enough to enjoy the ride, but no one really doubts who is meant to win.


We have in a group of 5 PC including one good / sun cleric and one Life Oracle.

Do you think this will be too good against undead with channeling?


sabedoriaclark wrote:


The description could signify a million things. All they know is something hit them for x damage. It could be a spell or a spell-like ability or a supernatural ability. It could be something he has a limited number of or something he can do at-will. It could even just be a fancy description for a special attack like a corrupting touch or something.

Players that immediately guess it is a specific spell are players that have had lazy DM's who default to game-language, only play things that are in the book, and never go outside the box.

What do you do when players start making spellcraft checks? Even if you change the appearance of a spell or special attack or change the mechanics so I don't spellcraft it into something different so I am not worried unless it does something special.

wraithstrike wrote:


The players can earn the victory. It does not have to be an illusion. All the DM has to do is put them up against a monster than can beat, but are not guaranteed to beat. If they can pull it off then they earned it. It has nothing to do with a player vs a DM. You will notice most of the complaints here are from DM who want to challenge the players.
I will not say the PC's are supposed to win. I will say they are given realistic odds of...
The PC's are absolutely supposed to win if the DM wants to keep playing or have any chance of completing the story. Sure we want it to be a challenge because that is a source of the fun, and yes character death is a real possibility, but the challenge is manufactured. It is carefully and falsely chosen to heighten the tension. Real life doesn't work like D&D with CR appropriate encounters conveniently waiting for you in each new scene. PC's win because they are the protagonists of the story. It's the same reason Luke destroys the Death Star, and Harry Potter defeats Voldemort. Along the way we suspend our disbelief enough to enjoy the ride, but no one really doubts who is meant to win.

I only see it as false if the DM fudges dice, and some do. There is nothing wrong with it, but to say it is false is misleading. The DM does not have to let the party win. Running away is always an option, well most of the time anyway. I have ran away before, regrouped, and after rethinking strategy the 2nd fight was easier. The PC's are meant to win, but that is not the same as supposed to win. Supposed to win, sounds like a forgone conclusion to me. Campaign haves ended due to TPK's, even at the hands of the last boss. Most GM's do try to make sure the players have pretty good odds, but it is not so across the board that GM's who play the part of story facilitator, and impartial referee are not heard of.


A friend and I are going to be co-GMing this AP in a couple of weeks. After much discussion we decided that whenever TSM damages somebody a letter from their name appears on their body in the form of an ugly, painful scar. Also, no matter how many missiles he throws at somebody he can only add one letter per round.

What happens when he spells out a persons name? He gains power over them. It'll work like a confusion effect that requires a will save each round to resist. Fail enough times and he dominates a person. At least that's one possibility we've been playing with.

Ultimately it encourages two things, one it spreads out his attacks on purpose and two it means he wants the PC's alive so he can unleash them on the town as his own minions.

And that solves our problems with the Splatter Man while maintaining an air of horror.


wraithstrike wrote:
When the ghostly maggots don't do anything the players catch on real quick.

They aren't illusions, they're just magic missiles disguised as such. If they don't do damage due to a shield effect being up then just describe them as passing through the character's body, leaving a cold and unsettling feeling as it does so. Ultimately it does nothing but you can always give them reason to doubt or worry. sabedoriaclark gets the idea, it's just about showmanship. So what if your players can figure it out based on that little clue? It isn't perfect. If your players are the kind to overscrutinize every scrap of info in an effort to figure out the background mechanics when other groups would be focusing on the aesthetics then this approach is probably not the best for them.

Pendagast wrote:
Many worms in a can.

Many people find a word to be offensive. Those people are silly, yes. The more respectable ones disagree with the context of it. A simple word can be a convenient vehicle for a hateful, ignorant, or altogether unecessary attitude. It is that attitude people take issue with and not the word itself. To suggest we stop using a word entirely is a bit much, regardless of whether one takes offense or not. To remove that negative power and implication from a word or its misuse is the right way to go about it, not merely arguing the semantics.

It's a campaign that promotes civility and common decency. I'm alright with that. Sykes is issuing a plea, not a command. The Policial Correctness Police are not going to break down your door if you disregard it.

wraithstrike wrote:
Most GM's do try to make sure the players have pretty good odds, but it is not so across the board that GM's who play the part of story facilitator, and impartial referee are not heard of.

Pretty much this. I recently concluded my Council of Thieves game and was fully prepared for the event that the party wiped entirely and the bad guys won. This is why the APs include a "What if X bad guy wins?" section in the back of each finale. I don't believe that victory for the players should be a surefire thing. Victory is not an entitlement, it is something to be earned and that cannot happen unless there is a real chance of defeat.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

The Splatter Man is most likely to start combat with a 4th level spell and he does by casting his summon monster. If he then splits the magic missiles up as listed and the party heals up, the GM would likely change his tactics at that point to concentrate fire (as the suffering ends and probably enrages him further).

I just don't see a party healing five points of damage for each PC, though. So the Splatter Man will be enjoying seeing his rats nipping at the PCs and several of them bleeding. Magic missiles hurt (not in a mechanically defined way but it would hurt) and the Splatter Man gets excited by that kind of thing. The Splatter Man lives for gory messes when he kills. That's all he really lives for beyond the study of language.

At this point, I might even allow the PCs to make a Knowledge check to understand the Splatter Man. If succeed, they may perceive that if the healer heals everyone right away, the Splatter Man may switch tactics in his rage. Let the PCs choose to manipulate him into either spreading the pain or concentrating fire. Let them use their skills and make a choice.

If the PCs don't heal up, the Splatter Man will then follow up with another burst of magic missile spread out. If a healer then heals the group I could see the Splatter Man getting angry and hitting the healer with all of his next missiles. He'll adapt as his temper takes over when his twisted enjoyment of torturing people is thwarted.

Changing the combat to have the Splatter Man instead try to slay one foe quickly doesn't match his MO. He's also supremely arrogant, so he shouldn't think the PCs can defeat him. "Why kill 'em quick, they can't hurt me! I'll make them all bleed! Mwa ha ha ha!"

As a GM, if I don't roleplay an NPC and instead metagame him I think I'm not doing my job. PF isn't a mechanical struggle between the hit points and bonuses of the characters versus the hit points and bonuses of the NPCs. It's a group of desperate and scared heroes bleeding and screaming as they hack with limited success at the insane ghost of a madman who is playing with them and torturing them with his magic and supernatural power. They will try anything to stop him if their weapons fail maybe even having to run away.

If my players get angry at the Splatter Man (not just their characters, but the players themselves actually feel emotion) then I'm doing my job as GM. Whether the PCs live or die, they truly experienced this story. Otherwise, if I just try to win by metagaming with hit points of damage I would feel like a I had failed overall even if I challenge the players in a mechanical sense.

Just my take on the Splatter Man. He seems properly written up from both a mechanics and RP sense. And he should be a terrifying and cruel foe to face. With no guarantee of victory.


Take your discussion about that homosexual term to another thread, please. I just don't understand your need to make gigantic, off-topic posts.

Now, on to the issue at hand:
Depends on your group of players. I have played with many people. Some were good at playing their characters (as well as role-playing; they are not mutually exclusive), fighting as a team and generally being efficient. If I played the opponent as a "Lulz 1 missile per person because I am soooo random and crazy" kind of opponent, they would mop the floor with him.
On the other hand, I have also played with groups of players that were simply bad at all things mechanical: they were mostly there to listen to the story, so to speak, and couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. In that case, you can play the opponent as the "random" guy.

The most challenging groups are the mixed ones: veterans with newbies. The vets will mop up the encounter on their own, and the newbies might feel frustrated that they hog the spotlight (it's happened, trust me). There, I really have no good advice to give you. If the newbies are receptive to learning, they will improve with time and advice and learn to enjoy the challenges. But not all do.

As a side note: I've DM'd all of Paizo's APs, almost invariably using the monsters to their full extent, and I've found them very well balanced (with a few exceptions... The Hook Mountain Massacre being one of them!). My players agree. I encourage fellow DMs to play each and every opponent as best as they can; although PF isn't a game of "DM wins only if there is a TPK", I believe the risk of a TPK, or of a death in the party, has to be real.
Of course, I encourage and give as much advice to newbies as possible (going so far as to explain to them, during the game, why taking such and such course of action is not a good idea, in game terms), but in the end, if you're too soft, your players will end up feeling invincible.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Yea! Haunting of Harrowstone looks like it'll be a hard module!!

I WONDER HOW MY PCs WILL HANDLE IT??

<attempt at thread recovery />


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

You know, I was having second thoughts about my previous post, and came back to edit it, but looks like we can't do that, so it will have to stand.

I apologize for further derailing the thread.

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