Righty, so I've got some experience running world of darkness (vampires, hunters, and vanilla), and have played enough of dnd 3.5 and PF to know the basics, but I've never run PF (nor dnd) before - and thus, I fear I lack the "feel" and "touch" with regards to how dangerous encounters are.
In short, I'm a bit afraid that I might accidentally kill the PCs, especially when 1 of them is a newbie to dnd, another is a rookie, the third is also a newbie to PF&dnd (but has lots of expertise with tactical games and is quite good with odds) while the fourth is quite experienced.
Let's take a look at the party, shall we? 25 point buy
Firstly, a Dhampir Ninja, high dex, cha, then str int. Point-Blank with shurikens and shortbow, Katana for close combat. (Experienced)
Ratfolk Alchemist, Int Dex Con. Not sure what he plans, but he can deal dmg with the bombs. Newbie, but I'm quite confident he can handle the combat tactics. (The guy is an expert at finding loopholes in rules - anything I should be cautious of? Also, who crafts poisons? Nobody I know. Is it too powerful if I let him craft poisons way faster than what the basic crafting rules suggest? For example, two days instead of a week and can create a larger batch (many doses) of a single dose. The poisons didn't look to dangerous (to NPC's) either).
Human Druid, Wis, Dex and some str and con. Not sure what he'll do either, but a newbie - and not too good with tactics. She has a bear, and likes to try and cast entangle to a single giant centipede while in a crypt. >.>
Catfolk Summoner - with a winged snake (does not fly yet) and high Cha and Dex and the master summoner archetype, I think she could wreck quite a lot of things (especially in a few levels)... If she either gets a lot of help from the other players or is given some time. I don't think she's ever played any tactical square based combat games...
1st question: As you can easily read from above, I'm not too confident with some of the players being able to pull their own weight in combat - I'm no master tactician either, and the game is a lot more than just positioning and concentrating fire. But generally speaking, I don't want to do combat through the PCs. I'm highly tempted at giving them advice, but then again, I feel they should learn the ropes by themselves. What do you think? Is dm giving advice on combat a bad thing?
2nd question: The party lacks channeling. And healing, apart from that 1 or 2 cure light wounds the druid has, and the alchemist (who can't yet use it on others). In addition, the Dhampir is a bit challenged when one thinks about how potions use positive energy... I *know* this will be a (mechanical) problem... Or will it be? Are there enough holy waters and stuff lying around? I'm also guessing that the players (especially the newbies) who are also familiar with less mechanical roleplaying, and can surely create crafty solutions (The *Rap Rap* for example). Should I be prepared to let them find an additional potion or two? How many skeletons or zombies are enough of a challenge for a group of this kind? I mean, the alchemist kinda insta-kills everything (throwing a bomb to a square between two opponents, touch AC 5, splash dmg 5, save halves with DC 15 IIRC).
3rd question: Regarding the Alchemist, mostly. The certain skeletons burst into flames at some point - so flaming skeletons. But should they be fire immune even before that? It's not mentioned anywhere. And if yes (I'm thinking yes just to prevent the ratfolk from killing everything with bombs) - does almost totally disabling the strong dps in the team nerf the party too much?
4. The party. Look at it. It's a carnivale). The party doesn't feel particularly strong, either - And just looking at the team, even if two of them have high CHA, it should be a rough journey convincing the villagers that they really are on their side.
Question: Should PC's be given penalties to, say, diplomacy rolls because the townspeople generally hire lowlevel adventurers to kill rats FOR them, instead of talking to rats? Since the party doesn't feel too strong, if I do decide to give them penalties because the town distrusts these freaks - is it too much? I mean, if they are going to have trouble in combat, is it unfair to also make social situations hard? Or are these two completely different things that should not be mixed together? They do receive xp for social things too... And I fear I might give them a bit too hard time if I give them penalties for choosing and creating flavorful party.
5. The party just beat 6 villagers, and then they went to the false crypt, and found loot. Question is - if they should choose to go straight to the ruins, do they have a chance of survival? I personally would find it more interesting if they tried to snoop around the town more - any ideas how I should do this? They don't have any idea about what's really going on ( they know it's a prison, and that it burned). Is it possible/Likely that they just run through the whole complex? The players (3 of 4) aren't exactly clear on the mechanics of skills and stuff and what can be done. The rat tried to find out who all died in the fire by asking around - I later realized that he did, in fact, well play out a session of "gathering information", and rolled for him when they had already left - I was thinking about hinting at the memorial, that should keep them occupied. It's now the eve of their second day in Ravengro, no rain yet...
6. Haunts. I was thinking making them also vulnerable to holy water, maybe even pouring potion of cure light wounds over the area (again, given the lack of channel). Any ideas if this makes things too easy?
7. Journal of Father Charlatan. I can't find it anywhere, is it anywhere to be found? It's mentioned in the book...
8. Encounters. Is there something that I should be especially aware of? I mean, with a new group of players, I'd rather not TPK them - especially I don't want to wipe them using something I had no way of knowing would wipe them. What encounters usually cause trouble for parties? Also, how long did it take for your party to finish the first part (in In Game days? In play sessions)?
9. Any other advices to give for a new dm?
Thanks, and cheers! Waiting to hear your advices and thoughts!
Wait....Ratfolk and catfolk in the same party? My hats off my group would explode with that combo lol.
Ill answer some of your questions here.
1. Advice isnt bad. You may want to wait until after the session. Make sure they know that retreat is a possible option and that all encounters are not necessarily going to be auto wins. Some times you just have to regroup.
2. Channeling is overrated. IT helps but the PCs can get by without it. I would be more worried about the Dhampir needing neg energy to heal then the rest of the gang. Maybe make it possible for him to buy inflict potions or wands. He will need them. He has a good chance of being a goner if he drops during a combat. The rest of the group wont be of much help. The good thing is they seem to be heavy on companions/summons so those can soak up some of the damage.
3.I dont have the stat blocks handy but I do not remember any fire immunity or resistance. Bombs tend to be harder to use once the distance has been closed. He wont want to splash the party. So I say mix it up. Let him have some skellys early but then have them surprised later on.
4. Hard call. Their lives would be miserable at my table but I usually dont allow monster PCs. You could turn a blind eye since they are new and treat them as core PCs. You could also treat them as a freak show. Ask your players how they feel about the setting. Make your choices based on what they want.
5. Well they could go straight to the prison. Get their ass handed to them and crawl back to town to regroup. You may want to drop hints against this if you feel they are too proud or too green at Pathinder to retreat. Use NPCs to your advantage. The little girls with the creepy song went over really well in my group. There is also Kendra, a priest, sherif, town council, use them to lure the PCs into town. They can learn about whats in store for them at the same time as make allies with the townsfolk.
6. The holy water idea works just fine. Remember to remind them of the haunt siphons too!
7.sorry dont recall you may have to review the AP.
9. Hit the forums often. Be glad to help. Have fun!
My group is part way in to book 5. Just to start things off your party is going to have a hard time doing anything. Ustalav people are so insular its insane....these guys dont ever tolerate gnomes much less a bunch of monsters. Dhampir MIGHT be able to function but a man sized rat and cat with a winged snake are going to get killed on sight.
1. Advice isnt always bad. Reminding them about knowledge skill would be better. They will let the PCs identify a monster and thier abilities. Give the knowledge skill a good read over.
2. Healing is going to be important but i think that thier are plenty of way to get it. Potions scattered about and what not. Damphir is preaty screwed though. He will have no way to heal in the book other then sleeping. He will not be making it through HoH alive unless you DM fiat him through.
3. I wouldnt worry to much about the bomber. the prison is close quarters and some stuff isnt going to be effected by it.
4. Refer to first paragraph. The cat and rat would be attacked on sight as monsters. The human will do fine as long as he leave the bear out side town. The damphir might be ok if we can stay out of the way.
5. First , If they killed those 6 guys thier trust should be at 0 and the AP is over. At 0 trust they are run out of town and the villagers try to kill them. Since it sounds like that didnt happen ill tell you my party was level 2 when they got inside and level 3 before they went into the basement.
6.I allowed holy water to effect them. It made it a little easier but not to bad. I would say no to the potions. They also have those haunt syphons.
7. dont recall it either. Check the section with his cell.
8. I dont follow listed tactics so I tend to mak every fight harder... I've got a pile of bodys 5 books long with most people on thier 8th characters. The splatter man and lopper are going to be hard. The burning skeletans can be a tpk if they get surounded. Old ember maw is going to kill a guy atleast. There are plenty of encounter that will tpk if they arent careful.
9. New DM advice....hmm. Try to get familar with the rules in general. My first PHB has highlighter and little tabs sticking out all over the place. Read each monster entry and try your best to know what they do. Get good at improvising. My players have that " ya ya ya , but whats over there? " syndrome.
1 - Job of the GM is to make things interesting. Advice in combat is a good idea to a point, but never try to push tactics past a "are you sure?" or "might be better to do X because Y" or "Let me clarify how Z works..." (the last is often important when players want to, say, jump down a 40' hole without considering how falling damage works).
2a - See how things go for them. If they run out of potions early and can't afford to buy more, let Kendra "find" a collection of supplies her father left behind (a few CLWs for example). Also make sure to stock the town shops. A wand of CLW is a very good idea; the druid and alchemist can both use it without needing to roll UMD. Also remember wand prices are for a full 50 charge wand; it is only half price if it has 25 charges.
2b - Yeah, the dhampir is going to have issue with that negative energy need. Potions of inflict harm won't really be around and you don't have anyone around who can use it without UMD. I don't know how to get around that short of some GM trick (a special filter cap he puts on Cure potions that changes it to Negative Energy when he drinks it... or simply removing that quality from the race entirely).
2c - This is a problem with Alchemists; they are really good in situations of just a fight or two a day. Once they have to do more than 2 fights in a day, the Alchemist will run out of daily bombs and it will be easier. Do not be afraid to toss a few extra monsters in or have them attack in waves. Also have them come at the party from several directions and not to clump up.
3 - I don't think bombs do fire damage specifically, but you could have the bombs ignite the skeletons directly. Also, it is perfectly fine to have fights in which one character or another is less useful. For example no sneak attack against oozes, animated objects, and constructs will cause some annoyance to your Ninja.
4 - You don't have to penalize them substantially. You can turn it into some interesting Roleplaying events, in fact. Townsperson sees the rat, screams, turns and runs into the catfolk, screams, turns and runs into the bear, screams, drops to the ground and starts sobbing. If you want to push it though, use the diplomacy rules and start NPCs at a lower level of trust when interacting with the catfolk and ratfolk. The PC can still overcome that with a very good diplomacy roll.
5a - First have a discussion about skills and uses. You can explain that there are ways to gather information in town, both from the locals and from various libraries. Second have Kendra, in game, drag them to her father's library. Have them find some book out that gives the basic level info on one or another category (as described in the AP). Then explain that with a day of work and some knowledge rolls, they can research further info.
5b - If they want to go to Harrowstone, suggest maybe they scout a bit first, get some local info, etc but if they push it then let them. At level 1 it will be hard to get far without serious injury. Remind them that retreating is always an option and be a bit easy on them the first time they try to run.
6 - That's what I did. One of the only viable ways to defeat some haunts. Though remember that a haunt is not the same as a haunted object. The first is like a magical trap, the second is just an Animated Object (like the scythe or manacles), though feel free to treat them as the same thing.
7 - No, though someone posted on here what they wrote up, so you could use that.
8a - Some of the animated objects can cause problems with 10 hardness (ignore first 10 points of damage from most damage types). The furnace that shoots the 4d6 searing bolt touch attack can easily kill players in one shot. I've heard the lake can be rough, though my players stayed far away from it. The Lopper and Splatterman can both be very rough if the players are unlucky. None of my players have died, but that was due to luck in some of the tight places.
8b - My group (monk, cleric, bard, druid, wizard) is going to wrap up things on day 14 in game. They caught Gibs on the 12th day, had the council meeting on the 13th. They did a lot of investigations in the first 10 days. I also let them make up tasks around town to gain trust points. They took 1 day to clear out the top floor, 2 for the middle, and 1 for the basement. The number of sessions has been around a half dozen.
9 - Your job is to make things interesting. Not fun, not easy, not hard, just interesting. Players will want to do things for which you have no script. Generally go with it because they want to do it and so it will be inherently interesting. Always keep the larger picture in mind though.
For example, they want to get a mob together to burn harrowstone to the ground? Sure, let them roleplay it all with various bluff and diplomacy and intimidate rolls. Then they lead the crowd up and get into the grounds. Now the mob is very nervous and no longer sure about going inside. Maybe the skeletons from the lake rise up and the townsfolk flee, or there is a swarm of stirges, or splatterman's spirit makes everyone see bloody names (like it does for the one who holds he's cursed spellbook) and runs for it. Players should have fun but don't get to completely screw over the entire adventure. And it is certainly preferable to saying "no, now get back to researching".
The most important skill is improvisation (and making interesting voices, I guess). Planning too much will make you upset when players, who have no insight into your plans, deviate from them.
On the Alchemist: I can't remember when they get the option to take this but Tanglefoot bomb can be very dangerous against incorporeal undead. It's supernatural so it affects them and they have no strength score (to burst out) and no slashing damage (to cut themselves free). I've been fortunate that my alchemist didn't have it during fights with ghosts and spirits. Even now though I can see it is going to be dangerous for big fights ahead.
Tanglefoot Bomb replicates Tanglefoot bags but using their bombs (they do damage and then whatever they hit directly has to make a save or be trapped motionless - and everything in their bomb area is entangled).
Well, you are apparently already a fair bit into your game, so I hope you are not using the trust system as written... there are simply not enough points to keep the party in the towns good graces. If you are using it, I recommend just following logically how the town should feel about the party. It's not a if their particular make-up wouldn't already penalize them.
As for your mentioned issues, the group make-up is actually rather potent. Alchemist, Druid, Summoner, Ninja is a rather powerful group combination and will get very good at the mid- to high levels. With the Alchemist and Druid there is enough healing going around to keep the group going.
The problem will crop up with Restoration effects. I highly recommend that you advise your Alchemist player to learn Lesser Restoration as one of his first second level extracts and have him prepare potions of it... you will need them, constantly.
As for the encounters, the last encounter is tough to adjudicate as a GM. While the rest of them were mostly pushovers for my own group ( which has an even more powerful set-up: Gunslinger, Paladin, Cleric, Wizard, Sorcerer ), the Splatter Man can either be totally trivial ( if run by the tactics in the book ) or totally mortal ( if you run him on your own tactics ).
I found a good middle ground, by him keeping the Paladin down with Magic Missiles ( after finding the three other party members had cast Shield on themselves ( the Gunslinger has one level of Alchemist ) ), so that him and the Cleric were tied up keeping the Paladin alive. The Splatter Man was eventually worn down by Magic Missile spam by the Sorcerer and Wizard.
Thanks for all the advice so far!
Touching a rules subject here (I might want to talk about it in the rules forum, thoug).
They haven't yet encountereted any incorporeal undead, but the alchemist threw me a question I couldn't yet answer. How do the bombs affect ghosts, should they encounter any? What about explosive bombs (that set targets on fire on direct hit)?
I'll post a my thoughts about this in the rules forum.
So far, I've decided to mod the trust system so that they don't loose the default 1 point of trust per day if they spent time during the day interacting with the villagers and generally being good people. I've decided to take a bit softer aproach on the racial problems - they weren't driven out of town simply because how they look, but the more exotic ratfolk and catfolk have had a hard time getting anything out of the townfolk.
Ah, yes. For some reason, after researching stuff and learning that the Whispering Way's members are often undead, the dhampir and the catfolk spent a night creeping around the villagers houses, peeked in, and tried to use "detect undead" to find out who, if any of them, would be an agent. The Dhampir also decided that since they weren't given access to the townhall, he would go inside in the nights to study, picking open the windows...
Of course, this depens a lot on me, the group, and the way I want to do it, but I'd still want to hear some opinions on this: Should I just roll a guard's perception against his stealth to see if he is spotted on the nightly journeys? Should I just allow this (ie, have other people find it too hard for their pc's to legally gain access to the libraries)? Or should I just outright deny this (since usually you don't have the whole night worth of time and you can't leave the books there open for the next night etc)?
Namely, I'm a bit surprised about this - it wasn't something I expected, and I want to know if I should reward the player/character for thinking it up, refuse it because (insert reason here), or simply state that there's a chance of getting caught (perhaps giving a bonus on the check for him since I think the chance of getting caught is quite small).
A quick recap on what's happened so far:
They disabled all the rioters in the graveyard without killing anyone.
They "remembered" the basic things about the harrowstone and whispering way.
They asked around if people had records about who died in the fire (people promised to look for the records without answering immediatly). (I took this session as if they had simply used "gather information" and the following day asked for a roll - 15 revealed that the warden, the wife, some guards and some prisoners died, and told them about the statue).
They went to the crypt without mentioning about it to anyone, in the night, and looted it.
They saw some card games in the tavern, cheked the cellar for possible torture room, and heard the little girls creepy song.
They went to the Statue, found a V. Decided to camp there, and luckily, gibs came along. They were tardy enough to allow him to write the second letter, though they didn't check what it was, and rain washed the letters away later. They didn't kill him, though, but dragged him back to his house, healed him, slapped him awake, and after determining he knew nothing of what had happened, decided to camp it out with him, waiting for the next night. (One of the players quite soon deducted that he was possessed, others didn't quite believe it, but I allowed detect magic to detect a faint, diminishing aura, though a failed roll didn't reveal the school). Next session will begin with them in his hut, waiting for the dawn and then the following night.
I'm trying to introduce supernatural into the game bit by bit. So far, unexplained things they've seen have been: The text on a grave, the gaming cards, and gibs weird actions. They are quite sure that the professor was, in fact, a necromancer, and thought about trying to use the spirit board to communicate with him - they know what it is (simply through description) - but they don't know the mechanics of it (I'll let them find out by using it, since they really fumbled their rolls).
Thanks for all the comments, I'm more than happy to hear more of your thoughts, ideas and suggestions!
|Scott Williams 16|
Ghosts are Incorporeal pg301 bestiary, your alchemist’s bombs are supernatural abilities (Su), so they will damage them, buuut, it will only take half damage as it comes from corporeal source.
As for the sneaky part, do not deny the pcs anything just because: if you feel that the party will enjoy the sneaky sneak part of it, do it. These are country bumpkins, I would be unlikely they would be very good guards. But do not just give it to them.
Also, with the 25 point stat buy, they are much stronger than many pcs, you do not have to pull punches with them, they will handle it just fine.
The Core rule book says that the party will handle about 4 battles with monster CRs eqaul to the average party level: with a 25 point buy they can often handle 5 or 6 battles. After they reach about 6th to 8th level it will balance out to about 4 or so, but they will still be mighty tough.
Instead of potions, throw in a wand or two for them. Or if you are that worried, give them max hit points.
Sounds like you're having fun and doing pretty well so far!
Good idea on the Trust system. I also recommend giving them some extra trust-gaining opportunities beyond what's written. Basically, hand out trust points whenever they do something good for the town. It'll make the players feel like they're doing well, which is fun.
For the lockpicking thing, I'd say don't make it risk-free, but don't make it cataclysmic if someone sees him. Make him roll stealth against whatever DC you like. If he fails, maybe somebody notices the unlocked window, or sees a shadowy figure doing suspicious things, and the next night the windows are all barred shut so he can't get in anymore. Play up the mood, not the actual threat.
As far as encounters go, the rough ones are: Animated scythe (crazy DR - let them kill it with Holy Water), burning skeletons if they don't kill them quick (again, break out the Holy Water, give them some extra if they run out), the Lopper, and The Splatter Man. Really, don't have the Splatter Man use his corrupting touch or it'll be a party wipe.
So, we had another session tonight.
The party sat out with gibs, three of them watching from a nearby barn, and one camping with him as he slept. They basically took him as a prisoner.
Since I didn't know how long they'd camp with him, and I still wanted to incorporate a bit of unnatural every day, I decided to hit them with the imprisonment thingie (locked in a cell). When they changed guards (the ninja came in), the hut slowly transformed into a cell and gibs disappeared. After he "woke up" still staring out of the windown, he called the others inside, questioned Gibs a bit more (he was oblivious), but otherwise took it a bit calmly. They then decided that they would ship Gibs off on the next caravan that passes through, paying for his journey and upkeeping for a month in somewhere else.
I rolled for how often (and when) would the next caravan through the town arrive, and the result was that it would arrive in two or three days (two days, conveniently enough, the townhall meeting is scheluded for tomorrow, as is the next letter. Of course, they don't know this yet).
Other than that, they managed to find the dusty stone and recognized it, but made no move towards it. I don't think they'll be honest about it. They also saw the Flesh Golem Manual, but were acting a bit suspiciously, and didn't yet acquire it.
On other news, the druid player feels a bit left out of the group, ICly, and since she decided that he would be from a small tribe, with negative Cha score, was kinda anti-social person. Also, everybody else in the group sees in darkness/low light, except for him, and since the ratfolk and dhampir characters already know each other from a shared background, she feels even more left out.
We tried to address this problem by reworking the character's background (nomad tribe instead, and he was always the person who wanted to go to the cities to buy necessities and sell furs and leathers), archetype (Mooncaller for getting lowlight vision at next level, and added to Pack Lord for more animal companions. She really enjoys her bear, now that she realized it's full potential (she kept thinking of it as a cub because of it's small size).
I also suggested that she and the Summoner's player should take some time together, perhaps tie their backgrounds a bit together or their characters could get to know each other, in order to tie the group more strongly together as a team. Any other advices? Oh, we also swapped the stats around a bit and got rid of the negative cha mod, just to make her feel like the character was -less- anti-social, and perhaps work up the courage to get up and do stuff with the town's folk.
Mostly, problem is that two of the players (ratfolk and dhampir) are dominating the game quite a bit. They are usually the ones to do things, come up with plans, and handle the talking. How can I encourage the other two get more active as well?
Also, the same two players, more experienced in boardgames, dominate combat as well. I was wondering if I should declare that you can only speak when it's your turn (the free speak action), to give the other two players time to think about what they want to do and make up their own mind about combat, instead of just being pawns for the other two... Or should I just first talk to the dhampir and ratfolk about this problem? What other ways there are to work around it?
And another session went by. This time, I tried to make things more interesting by starting it all off with a couple of encounters, instead of the usual chat-people-up-and-research.
Well, We fired up with the characters finishing their researches at the evening, and discussing about what to do next, while a knock was heard from downstairs. Then Kendra's scream. The druid was quick to get up and slice and dice the professor into small bits with his scimitar.
The characters alerted the church, checked out the graveyard, figured out that Professor had risen instead of being dug out, and were ambushed by a few raising skeletons. Somehow, the Ninja Dhampir again took the hits.
Later in the night, they tried the spirit board... With nearly no success whatsoever. The Ninja got possessed by the spirits, but nothing bad happened. Because the spirits really don't know anything useful, and the characters had no idea about how many questions they would, and chose their questions badly, I decided to help them by allowing them a little bit of leeway - the spirit board would answer one question per day, but for each day it remained unused, it would "store" energy for more answers, for a maximum of 3 answers.
The players asked: Who killed Professor Lorrimor? (Spirits did not know).
Who are we talking to? (Since no particular spirit was requested, they talked to a spirit of a villager who's grave they had seen earlier as part of the strange event).
And third, the Dhampir got possessed.
Next morning, town's meeting. The PC's talked themselves into the job, saved all the citizens and managed to prevent the hall from burning, with a few lucky rolls.
And then they rolled a few lucky rolls more, managing to discover everything about Harrowstone's history, and learn about the five prisoners, and discover all the basics about the prisoners, plus Lopper's and Father Charlatan's information. This brought them to just over lvl 2. Luckily, they also learned that the memorial had been smeared with bloody letter, again. Unfortunately, they have missed the second letter, and are a bit lost with it. They decided to visit it each night from here on.
Since the fact that there's no healing available for the dhampir really slows the party down, I decided to allow the alchemist to add "inflict light wounds" into his list of formulae. He didn't pick the infusion discovery, though, so if he wants to get some use out of it, he needs to make potions of inflict... Which will eat some resources.
I'm fairly sure that they'll spend the next day or two researching, before actually heading out.