The last encounter in HoH(spoilers ahoy)


Carrion Crown


So finished HoH the other night and we concluded with the encounter against Splatterman. Just wondering what other GMs experiences were. The party took him down with seemingly little risk it took awhile but it didn't feel very dramatic. The party had dealt with four other encounters (gray ooze, ectos, crawling hands, and the maiden) so they didn't come in with all resources to bear. The thing is I thought this would be a deadly encounter and while it can be with Splatter's corrupting touch if he holds back and uses the tactics (e.g. dire rats, centipedes and magic missiles). He did kill an NPC (2nd level fighter that was being used as the Sheriff) but only because he used the corrupting touch. The party wasn't uber or all that unusual (cleric, magus, barbarian 3rd level with aforementioned 2nd level fighter).
Anyways just wondering how others found this battle?


I found running him to be more about obnoxiousness then challenge. His insubstantial state drags out the battle, but he had to enter the line of fire and start nuking people with the magic missiles or corrupting touch to pose a threat. Though part of that was that I got really unlucky with the summons - I always rolled a 1 on the 1d3 when I went for multiples, and whatever I summoned got a single attack off and then died. I also kept bombing the damage rolls for my magic missile. I did not have him come out of the oubliette until he ran out of summon spells, and I had him attack when the haunt started up.

Amusingly enough they didn't collapse the room - they fought the haunt entirely with holy water, disrupt undead, etc.

The party exhausted themselves putting TSM down, but they did it. They'd fought the grey ooze, Gurtis (who got one attack off and was then killed by a critical hit), and the Lopper before they faced TSM.


My group was completely immune to the Splatterman's Magic Missile barrage thanks to the alchemist providing everyone with shield potions. I don't know whether or not he had snuck a peek but it caused me to rely a lot more on the Corrupting Touch. Though I tried to avoid completely overwhelming them with it. But my group was pretty annoyed how he kept going between walls and into cells to avoid them and then would pop back out.

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Darkstrom wrote:
My group was completely immune to the Splatterman's Magic Missile barrage thanks to the alchemist providing everyone with shield potions. I don't know whether or not he had snuck a peek but it caused me to rely a lot more on the Corrupting Touch. Though I tried to avoid completely overwhelming them with it. But my group was pretty annoyed how he kept going between walls and into cells to avoid them and then would pop back out.

One rules nitpick - I assume you meant shield infused extracts, because potions can't be made from personal range spells. (Not trying to judge, just educate. This is a common misconception, and if you as GM are cool with potions of shield and true strike, etc, go for it.)


Ah great, that would have made it a lot more difficult. ;) Our group has barely used crafting in the past and I'd forgotten about that little rule. If I run CC for another group I will be sure to keep that in mind.


Warning: I'm just a player, and I haven't read how the adventure is written, just how our judge ran it.

We lost a PC to the Splatterman and had to retreat and regroup to face him again. That time, it was also touch-and-go until my PC, in a fit of pique, ostentatiously tore out one of the pages in the Splatterman's spellbook. To our surprise, that did him 1d6 damage and enraged him. So we all gleefully passed the spellbook around, ripping out pages. The Splatterman killed a different PC in this second go-round, but the rest of us finished him. It ended up being quite a memorable fight, one of the best of the AP so far (we're nearing the end of the second adventure now).


My players burned the spellbook as soon as they found it. The splatterman made the very foundations of Harrowstone shake with his rage but since it took them a few days to reach him he was back at full health.


Interesting to hear other experiences. I would say my experience running it Splat was hard to hit and obnoxious but not an overwhelming threat. In hindsight I could've been more ruthless with his corrupting touch or even reducing the targets to 2 rather than 4 for his magic missiles.

The group did use the book against him but that was with some heavy hints.


I did 1 round of by the book tactics which caused my PCs to disregard him as a threat. I then took down the healer with an AoO with my corrupting touch. I then almost took down the sorcerer with all my magic missiles aimed squarely at him (darn sorcerer was quite hardy). That's when they took the fight seriously.

I gave my PCs a chance to work out Splatterman's fears and tactics by using sense motive. I felt this was fair, and it tipped them off on how to defeat him (rip the pages from the book). Also the PC who had the spellbook also had shield running. I wanted to give them a chance to work out what was going on, rather than assume the GM was being a jerk and refusing to aim magic missiles at the one PC that was shielded.

After they passed their sense motive and started taking him seriously, they proceeded to rip ALL the pages from the book dealing quite a bit of damage. They were surprised after the game when I mentioned how many hit points he had.

Silver Crusade

It was a great battle for my group, despite having 3 of 4 characters having some way of either channeling positive energy or disrupting undead, magic weapons aplenty, and some unused haunt siphons. I rolled really disappointingly for the collapsing chamber damage, but then they started getting hit with those magic missiles and got scared, fast. Spreading out the magic missiles really wasn't cutting it, so once a PC did something that could actually harm the splatterman, he got to enjoy the next mm all by himself, and THAT put the fear of Pharasma into the party.

In the final round, the thief cleric had to choose between using his last channel energy to harm the haunt or heal his friends (one was disabled, another was in negs, and the remaining 2 were both in single digits) and he chose to harm the haunt, rolled miserably for his damage, but so did the splatterman for his save and it took off his last few hitpoints.

All in all, it was one of my favorites of the encounter.

For the first few rounds I forgot that the whole chamber was difficult terrain after the collapse. Remembering that makes it a whole lot harder if your party relies on melee damage.


For my players this was actually a very hard fight.

The party consisted of two warriors (shield and bastard sword and two handed fighter) a wizard, a inquisitor and a rogue. They went through the lopper, the mosswater marauder the maiden and the hands and the gary ooze in a single session before meeting the splatter man...

The haunting almost got the rogue unconscious (wisdom 7 :P) and they provoked the collapse (the two handed weapon fighter hitted really hard the walls, I used hardness 10 as they were in a very bad condition) only the rogue avoided the damage and that left them in a really bad shape when the splatter man appeared from his cell...

Only summoned the rats once and used the magic missiles dividing them among the players (it was funny, they usually kept themselves separated enough so he couldn´t target them all with the missiles so several turns some of them were hit by two or three missiles, ouch)

I kept moving the splatter man from one place to another, even provoking opportunity attacks, using the dense terrain to keep the melee PC´s away.

Meanwhile the wizard had the feeling in his guts that ripping the book would harm the splatter man (Some cinematic vision I gave him, he suffered the vision of his name being written in his room at kendra´s home) but he avoided doing it because he wanted to keep the spells in it! Finally he started to do it... with great pain.

Finally they managed to kill him with some nice throws and consuming almost all the healing potions they found.

In the end all my players were amazed with the adventure. They said it was one of the best the´ve ever played and really enjoyed playing through it.

We are actually taking a break from Pathfinder as one of my players is DMing a Deathwing campaign and another one plans to DM a couple of sessions of Star Wars, but they all agreed to play Trial of the Beast to see how the story develops.

PS: Ok, I´m actually from Spain, so my English is not as good as it should be. So, excuse me for any mistakes writing this. Just don´t poke out your eyes :P

Grand Lodge

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Your english is great mi amigo.

Thanks for the account.


Wyrd_Wik wrote:

So finished HoH the other night and we concluded with the encounter against Splatterman. Just wondering what other GMs experiences were. The party took him down with seemingly little risk it took awhile but it didn't feel very dramatic. The party had dealt with four other encounters (gray ooze, ectos, crawling hands, and the maiden) so they didn't come in with all resources to bear. The thing is I thought this would be a deadly encounter and while it can be with Splatter's corrupting touch if he holds back and uses the tactics (e.g. dire rats, centipedes and magic missiles). He did kill an NPC (2nd level fighter that was being used as the Sheriff) but only because he used the corrupting touch. The party wasn't uber or all that unusual (cleric, magus, barbarian 3rd level with aforementioned 2nd level fighter).

Anyways just wondering how others found this battle?

My group didn't have much trouble with the Splatter Man. The PCs with magic weapons and ghost touch accessories used those to ready an action or target him with AoOs when he tried to cast his summon spells, which caused them to fizzle, and on his second summoning attempt he cast defensively but blew his roll. He did get off one or two maximized magic missiles, but while the front line fighters were distracting the ghost, the party's gnome summoner (who had been tormented by the Splatter Man up to this point and was carrying the spellbook) decided to write "Hean Feramin" on one of the pages. I ad hoc'd that doing this effectively ruined that page of the spellbook, tipping her off that all they had to do was rip pages out. The enraged half-orc barbarian then grabbed the spellbook from the gnome, rolled a monstrously successful Strength check, and tore it in half like a circus strongman with a phonebook. End of Splatter Man encounter. =]

By contrast, they had lots of difficulty defeating the Lopper. The wraith would wound the weakest party members (focusing most of his wroth on the halfling cleric to prevent channeling and healing), then step through a solid wall into an adjoining cell. By the time the melee hitters (including the barbarian with the Lopper's handaxe) could surround him, he'd attack and then step back through the wall to torment bleeding or dying party members he had left on the other side. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun running the Lopper!

Silver Crusade

The Lopper was great! Only me forgetting that Vortch's flames should have triggered the Father Charlatan haunt on the party cleric and some extremely lucky criticals stopped a TPK at his hands. The players were just too clever for their own good, and working to flank the Vortch triggered the Lopper, though Vortch was at Death's Door by then. Still, would have been different if I had remembered to drop the Cleric and not waited until the Lopper hit him... *sigh*

All of the Boss Fights in Harrowstone were really enjoyable, IMHO.


Likewise the Lopper was a memorable and challenging battle for the party. No fatalities but it was a skin of the teeth situation for some of the melee types. The wraith axe murderer was great. As for the others the party first met the Piper and part of it was the atmospherics but it was a good first introduction that and I may have added and or toughened up some of the stirges.
I sort of messed up FC not realizing exactly how he was activated. The Mosswater while creepy to the party wasn't much of a challenge.
It was a fun adventure and it was actually nice to run an old fashioned dungeon crawl.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

Our group has not realized that the items are significant to more than Vesorianna, so they're just carrying them around.

They barely pried open the portcullis with all five of them lifting, then let it drop behind them, and when their names started showing up on the walls, ignored the letters and instead tried to look around that cell block for "the source."

They never even ran into the Splatter Man; they ran into the ooze, fought and killed that, and by the end of that battle two of them were unconscious from Wisdom damage. They dragged the two over to the portcullis, realized they could not lift it and force-fed those two lesser restoration potions to get them on their feet to help with the portcullis. Then they got the hell out of dodge and nursed their wounds in town for nearly 4 days.

On the other hand, they came back with a vengeance and crushed the Mosswater Marauder; as soon as the skulls even started moving they pulverized them, and the Marauder went soon after due to positive energy from the cleric.


I am concerned for my players. The party (monk, druid + companion, wizard, melee cleric, buffing bard) isn't very well suited for the encounter and the wizard has both the book and a strong need to learn the spells within. Against a highly maneuverable target like SM only the wizard has any range options (he's also the one with the bow), though the monk has MW shurikens they aren't exactly high damage.

I'm planning to give a few hints as to how the book can be destroyed to harm the SM, I just don't see the wizard giving up the spells he does not yet know. I suspect the monk and druid to be completely bored while the bard doesn't do much more than sing and then stand around bored. The bard already hates me for having so many undead immune to his mind-affecting spells and abilities, heh.

Anyone else run into trouble on this encounter with a melee-centric group?


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i just wanted to be the first one to point out that the masterwork shurikans your monk has wont do anything to the splatterman because he's a ghost and can only be harmed by magic or magic weapons, with ghost touch weapons and force effects the only things that do full damage due to being incorporeal. haven't run it yet, tho my party is also more martially inclined so should be interesting.


captain yesterday wrote:
i just wanted to be the first one to point out that the masterwork shurikans your monk has wont do anything to the splatterman because he's a ghost and can only be harmed by magic or magic weapons, with ghost touch weapons and force effects the only things that do full damage due to being incorporeal. haven't run it yet, tho my party is also more martially inclined so should be interesting.

Ah, yes, well that'll be interesting. The monk can use the handax but might be scared to do so, the druid has his magic Irish beatstick, the wizard has those fancy arrows and spells, the cleric has channel energy... my poor bard; I guess he gets to break out the mop and clean the walls (though as a gnome, he probably wont be able to reach the writing. Guess he'll have to stand on the equally useless cat companion).

Thanks for the tip. I haven't fully evaluated the fight as my players have only cleared the top and boring half of the main floor. I suspect they are 2 sessions away.


And here I was worrying about my players in this fight.

Party - Druid + mountain lion, cleric, monk, wizard, bard. All newly level 4.

First, the haunt was basically useless. 2/3rds of the party made will saves each turn and the rest used holy water to wash their names off the wall (doing 1 physical damage for each smashed vial). The entire party passed the reflex save when the ceiling fell in, so all but monk and cat took 7 damage).

Splatterman came up on round 3 and died on round 6 with only two spells cast (failed his DC31 concentration check to cast his dire rats).

The druid cast enlarge and shillelagh on himself and magic fang on his cat. The wizard cast enlarge on the monk who had the hand ax (+1 ghost touch). The bard sung and helped with the haunt. Cleric buffed and channeled to heal all of the haunt's collapsing room damage.

Had three cases of ~17 damage hits against SM while he only did two volleys of maximized magic missile. The summon rats was interrupted and the corrupting touch completely whiffed (rolled a 2, sigh). The players were also very lucky; they passed the incorporeal checks more often than not.

Maybe the Lopper can kill one or two of them...


MurphysParadox wrote:

Splatterman came up on round 3 and died on round 6 with only two spells cast (failed his DC31 concentration check to cast his dire rats).

The druid cast enlarge and shillelagh on himself and magic fang on his cat. The wizard cast enlarge on the monk who had the hand ax (+1 ghost touch). The bard sung and helped with the haunt. Cleric buffed and channeled to heal all of the haunt's collapsing room damage.

Had three cases of ~17 damage hits against SM while he only did two volleys of maximized magic missile. The summon rats was interrupted and the corrupting touch completely whiffed (rolled a 2, sigh). The players were also very lucky; they passed the incorporeal checks more often than not.

Interesting. I'm planning on doing the summoning before TSM rises from his hole, so he won't have to contend with concentration checks there and he can come out missiles blazing. What are you referring to vis-a-vis "incorporeal checks"? I thought with incorporeal foes magic weapons and non-force spells do half-damage, no "checking" required. "incorporeal checks" sounds like the miss chance for total concealment, but I didn't think there was any such check against incorporeal foes. What am I missing?


MurphysParadox wrote:
The wizard cast enlarge on the monk who had the hand ax (+1 ghost touch).

It only functions as ghost touch when used against the Lopper.


My group did ok, but I also held back. If I had not held back the party would have died.
Those metamagic'd magic missiles were putting a hurt on the party. I did not even go to corrupting touch.


Siiiigh

My reading comprehension check was totally botched. I had it in my mind that incorporeal meant 100% miss chance from normal weapons and 50% miss chance from magical weapons and spells. I see now that it is 0 damage from non-magical sources, half damage from magical sources, and 50% miss chance from magical non-damaging sources.

Guess that would have made the fight far more interesting.

As for the hand ax, you are correct and I, again, can't read very well. I skimmed the description and saw the italicized "+1 ghost touch" and ran with it. I now remember that bit about "only against the lopper" from my first complete read through, but I guess I forgot it.

Now don't I feel like an idiot.

As for summoning, definitely do it before the Splatterman emerges. You'll need to summon them into squares adjacent to the oubliette hole due to line of sight rules, but they get to act that turn, so no big deal.


I completely disregarded his listed tactics and played him as hardcore as I could. Had a 6 person party at the start of the fight. One PC dragged the only other surviver ( at negitive 6 hp ) out after the fight.

Edit - same thing goes for all the monsters really. My games been a blood bath with a trail of corpses 5 books long so far.


Tagion wrote:
My games been a blood bath with a trail of corpses 5 books long so far.

Sounds like your players are perfectly happy making new characters all the time. My players are so invested into their character's backstories that death all over the place wouldn't be too fun for them. Not that they can't die, but it should be pretty rare in my campaign.


Voomer wrote:
Tagion wrote:
My games been a blood bath with a trail of corpses 5 books long so far.
Sounds like your players are perfectly happy making new characters all the time. My players are so invested into their character's backstories that death all over the place wouldn't be too fun for them. Not that they can't die, but it should be pretty rare in my campaign.

My players know that adventuring is a harsh business that could claim thier lifes at any time. If they could just stoll in to a place and claim the loot with very little chance of dieing then why bother?

Dont want to sound like a d*ck so ill clear up a few things.

1. We roll in the open. This goes for the GM as well. What happens , happens.

2. I player the enemys to win. They arent just thier to be killed. They accually want to survive a fight too and will do what ever they can to do it. If their tactics arent reflecting this , they get changed.

Ya players die alot , but thats just part of the game.

Edit - maybe I should tone it down little though. A few on my players are on PC number 12.


Long ago I figured out that each group works out a feel for the game that is different than other groups.

My games always end up running like a group of mercenaries-with-hearts-of-gold (or, if not hearts of gold, definitely hearts for gold) where in character death is unheard of. On these boards I see groups described where everyone is chaotic-neutral-because-evil-isnt-allowed-on-the-sheet townsperson killing story wreckers or groups where each player could field a legal baseball team with their dead characters.

That said, the in-game tactics for Splatterman, in fact the entire Adventure Path, takes the approach of "good characters that the players like to keep around". You can easily run Slaughterman as a PC killer; he fires four maximized (5 damage) magic missiles twice in combat. 40 damage is going to kill a PC; in fact, depending on the state of the haunt, 20 damage each might kill two PCs. It certainly makes the fight more exciting!

Though it begs the question how do the PCs know what's coming and how can they adequately prepare to face maximized magic missiles? Maybe they learn it by losing a PC or two and then coming back the next day; I suppose in a game where death isn't too surprising, this wouldn't be too unusual a tactic.

Know what else makes the fight exciting? Not screwing up the rules like I did.


Tagion wrote:


Ya players die alot , but thats just part of the game.

I don't for a second doubt the legitimacy of your style of play, but it isn't the only style. Sure, the possibility of death is necessary to create tension, but you can have an entire campaign with no PC death but plenty of excitement and tension. I and my players prefer a game with a lot of character development and exploring aspects of character background, and you can't really do that if the characters are dying every few sessions.

As an aside, I'm amazed you've managed to kill so many PCs. I haven't held back on any aspect of the Harrowstone module so far (in fact, I've added to the difficulty in several places) and I haven't gotten close to killing any of the PCs (but they haven't yet gone into the lower level). Are your PCs particularly reckless or untactical?

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Tagion wrote:

Had a 6 person party at the start of the fight. One PC dragged the only other surviver ( at negitive 6 hp ) out after the fight.

Edit - maybe I should tone it down little though. A few on my players are on PC number 12.

You must be making substantial changes to the CR of the encounters, either that or your PCs really are struggling. Or perhaps you are adding no extra treasure (module has treasure for 4 PCs, not 6).

I play with 5 PCs, 20 point build, experienced pros, and I have to up the CRs considerably to cause any kind of challenge to them. I play all monsters hard-ball too (to the limits of their INT score).


I must be doing something wrong. With a wizard and his disrupt undead (ranged touch attack, no saving throw), an inquisitor with disrupt undead (ranged touch attack, no saving throw), a cleric with channel energy (healing more than damaging), and magical arrows/bolts doing half damage to an incorporeal creature it seems to take a lot to really bother this crew. They walk in, point their fingers at the bad guys, pull the proverbial trigger and then blow the smoke off their fingers when finished.

I had more success challenging them with the Lopper's high damage and regenerating ways.

EDIT: I think the problem might be that I have a composition of 6 players using the 20-point buy method. I knew these APs were supposed to be for 4 players, but I wasn't aware that it also assumed a 15-point buy. In some places, I had beefed up the encounters to account for the extra 2 players, but wasn't aware of the extra points, as well. Well, I'll have to keep that in mind in the future.


20 point buy seems correct, but you must account for extra players.

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