Your Best "Surprise!" Moments in PFS *Spoilers*


Pathfinder Society

Silver Crusade

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Just for the fun of it (and to grow a sense of community), spout off your favorite moments in PFS that either made you or your players have a reaction of basically "Oh CRAP!". We've all got a few glory/horror stories, so lets hear em!

Probably the top story for me was as I was running First Steps Part II. The players had gone through all the intro text, figured out what they needed to do, and headed in.

And then....:

They met the "friendly" ghoul, and despite having been told by a faction head "KILL UNDEAD THINGS, ALWAYS", they trusted it. They stroll along, scouting out the place (nearly dying to the wind trap, one character asked another how "wind" was pronounced in Kelish. WHOOSH!). They get to the beetles, clean that out, and head towards the room with the blindhelm. However, they had first noticed the pile of refuse, and detect magic showed there was something magical. No one wanted to climb in, so they had the ghoul go crawling in. As they fight the blindhelm (blinding half the party), they totally forget about the ghoul. The party of 5 is withdrawing back towards a larger room so they can get some decent flanks, when the cleric gets hammered. At 0 hitpoints, and had been the rear guard. Well, the cleric full action withdraws...adjacent to the ghoul. The blindhelm follows, misses with its attack, and the player thinks he's safe. And then, in my best creepy voice (about a 3/10 on the creepy scale), the ghoul says "But you look sooooo *tasty*....and I'm sooooo HUNGRY!!!". The table drops dead silent, and then the cleric's player announces "Holy S***!" Full attack ensues on a blinded flanked foe. More than enough to perma kill the player's character. The rest of the party is just stunned. The party falls back to absalom, and I let the slain cleric take a whack at the scenario with a new pregen (more than 3 encounters left, and its a repeatable scenario). Long story short, it turned into a rather epic 5.5 hour module...but the party felt supremely victorious when they returned to Absalom.

So, lets hear your stories! Tell them in a group, or space them out over several posts, its up to you!

Grand Lodge 5/5

Great topic. Mine are from Eyes of Ten. I ran the full arc over a weekend for two different groups in June and July last summer. They are, of course, true Pathfinders through and through. Huge spoiler alerts below.

Spoiler:
The first is in part 3. The party is competely fooled by Adril's simulacrum in the arena. They battle all the creatures in the center of the arena, still scratching their heads and asking, "what the hell?" when trying to figure out what is going on with him. They get to the final combat, are decimating him, and are still like, "WHAT THE HELL?" Finally, when the simulacrum drops, and turns into a puddle, I got six voices in unison saying, "Ah."

Same group as above, they think they have the situation well in hand when the two purple worms explode from the floor in part 1. There were several exclamations of owe crap and worse when the stone golems were vomited forth, right next to a squishy PC or two.

The third Instance is in part 4 when the PCs get out of the shadow room and start exploring the upper levels of the tower. They arrive at the pillar of angel souls and all of their mouth's drop because they think is is a completely evil device. It is then, that most finally come to the realization that the Decemvirate is not good at all, but in act tow a neutral line. This was cemented in may of their minds when they find that instead of the Decemvirate killing their most notable enemies, they trap them for later Pathfinder Society use in a mirror of life trapping.

Both groups also very much enjoyed the tying in of a certain barbarian and witch from previous adventures when they came to the realization that they helped the barbarian live in Frozen Fingers of Midnight.

All five moments above were awesome realization moments by the PCs at both of my tables.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

We should probably indicate in the thread title that this will include massive spoilers.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Chris Mortika wrote:
We should probably indicate in the thread title that this will include massive spoilers.

Already done.

Grand Lodge

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This one time I was running a scenario in which Drandle Dreng doesnt wake you up in the middle of the night to tell you about. One player almost died of shock.

Silver Crusade

godsDMit wrote:
This one time I was running a scenario in which Drandle Dreng doesnt wake you up in the middle of the night to tell you about. One player almost died of shock.

That cracked me up too. :P

Lantern Lodge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, South Dakota—Rapid City aka Black Powder Chocobo

Alexander_Damocles wrote:

Just for the fun of it (and to grow a sense of community), spout off your favorite moments in PFS that either made you or your players have a reaction of basically "Oh CRAP!". We've all got a few glory/horror stories, so lets hear em!

Probably the top story for me was as I was running First Steps Part II. The players had gone through all the intro text, figured out what they needed to do, and headed in.

** spoiler omitted **...

Spoiler:

My players were somewhat the same way; they were wary (particularly the Paladin). The dwarf inquisitor always was the one next to the ghoul to keep an eye on her, but never had enough of a oh-crap moment to spring her while in another combat).

The haunt in that same adventure was quite the surprise for two players who failed Will saves and jumped in at the same time via compulsion... then failing and jumping back in after being pulled out!

The biggest surprise of the night for them was that the Paladin, who was Color Sprayed two other times (once in Part I and earlier in Part II by the sorta crazy party Illusionist) was the only one to resist the Skulk's Color Spray, chased after him, and one-shotted him with a heavy pick critical hit just before he escaped with the jade katana.

The Exchange

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Had a group playing Rescue at Azlant Ridge open the vault and see the feet of the huge Azlanti iron golems at the bottom of the staircase. One player had an epiphany. He possessed a golembane scarab and they had just brought in a wagonload of crossbow bolts. Making the assumption that the golems were going to be hostile at some point, he proposed they take out the golems from the entryway using his crossbow. Everyone drank the Kool-Aid and went along with the plan. I kept a poker face. All four golems were reduced to scrap metal and the players congratulated themselves for avoiding a difficult encounter. The continued on and obtained the Azlanti puzzle-cube. When they exited the vault the huge Angazhani Champion made his appearance and they collectively realized what they had done to themselves. There was much wailing and lamentation.

They actually survived, but only because the Angazhani Champion was not statted correctly as a CR 14 opponent--and I rolled a nat 1 against a hideous laughter at a critical moment.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

”First Steps Part II”:
I never had Maurat Zergo (the ghoul) travel through the dungeon with the PCs. 4 of the 6 times I ran the scenario, she led them to the secret entrance and they let her wander off on her own. So there was some conversation between the dumb barbarian and Maurat and she kept asking, while looking at him hungrily, “Maurat eat you now?!” To which the reply was, “No, later you eat, now mission.” This group went right to the control room, and were having trouble with the kobolds (I think the rogue opened the other door, so they were fighting all 8 kobolds at once), and the Barbarian retreated into the other room, where Maurat was waiting. Saw him all bloody and says, “Maurat eat now!” To which the player actually cried out in horror.

Silver Crusade

Let's see. Favorite surprise moments. Hmmm...

Spoilers for The Pallid Plague:

Spoiler:
I loved the zombie animals in the first fight exploding when they die, in a slam attack of blood, guts, and FLOWERS!!! Really surprised the players. I call them undead pinatas.

City of Strangers. Miss Feathers. Nuff said.

I'm sure I'll think of more later.

Silver Crusade 5/5

In Tide of Twilight:

Spoiler:

The PCs were crossing the river. The group's barbarian was eager to show off his manly prowess, and decided to jump across instead of using the trapped log. His jump fell short by one square and he landed in the water, exactly in the square with the hidden crocodile. Once the other players managed to stop laughing, a chaotic fight ensued, with other PCs rushing into the trap in attempt to join the barbarian in the battle.

Silver Crusade

Fromper wrote:

Let's see. Favorite surprise moments. Hmmm...

Spoilers for The Pallid Plague:
** spoiler omitted **

City of Strangers. Miss Feathers. Nuff said.

I'm sure I'll think of more later.

I loved that bit.

Spoiler:
My lore oracle spent several minutes running every knowledge check he could think of to figure out why flowers were coming out of zombies. All he got himself was a headache.


Jussi Leinonen wrote:

In Tide of Twilight:

** spoiler omitted **

Fantastic! Glad to see that on this kind of list!

Ron Lundeen (author, Tide of Twilight)

Scarab Sages

In the Shadow Gambit:

Spoiler:
When they figure out that they are facing off against a bard, they figured it would be a cake walk. Four rounds later, the party has been decimated. My wife looks at me and says: "Bards are gay."

Silver Crusade

Thought of another one:

Feast of Ravenmoor.

The whole thing.

Really fun adventure - just one surprise after another. I highly recommend that everyone try to play this at some point.

Silver Crusade

Sanakht Inaros wrote:

In the Shadow Gambit:

** spoiler omitted **

LOL

This has become a recurring joke in our group, actually. After narrowly defeating the final battle in that adventure, and one other where we similarly got our butts kicked by a bad guy of that type, we're all paranoid about having to face any more of them.

We faced one as the main bad guy of yet another adventure last week, and we were all terrified of how badly that final fight would go. Ironically, we kicked his butt in one round.

Scarab Sages

After seeing what bards could do (my main PFS character is an Osirion Bard), my wife now wants to play one after she retires her sorceress. (Which is kinda annoying, I've been playing longer and haven't retired a chracter yet. She's nearing her second.)

Grand Lodge 5/5

The Twofold Demise (tier 3-4):

Spoiler:

The players capture and interrogate the shadow lodge operatives who assault them in the market square. They give cryptic hints about the lodge's defenses, but the PCs fail their knowledge checks to identify the creature being described. Cue the PCs going up against a troll with no source of fire or acid damage.

The Dalsine Affair:

Spoiler:

Sadly, no Taldans or Qadira in the group to witness the Pasha offing the Baron. But then 2 rounds later, the real Chalfon Dalsine comes out of invisibility and one-shots the party ninja, my group's first PC death.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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As a local coordinator and very regular GM, I find it difficult to actually be surprised by any encounters lately when I do get to actually play. I've ran a fair number of scenarios and read a good deal more for future planning. This means checking the Bestiaries for monsters included in adventures, just to make sure I'm familiar with them.

However, I got to play in a game recently that I was COMPLETELY surprised by the final encounter. I had never even heard of the creature, as I try to avoid reading all of the Bestiary entries for this reason.

FURY OF THE FIEND:
I had just assumed that the big scary spider on the scenario cover, based on the title as well, would just be a huge fiendish spider. But then it started firing beams from its eyes. LASER BEAMS. AS A FREE ACTION.

I nearly had a heart attack. Not to mention that I have a ridiculously-high level of arachnophobia in real life, making it quite the experience. But definitely a memorable one, and one of my favorite Society moments I've had.

Scarab Sages

Fury of the Fiend, we didn't finish that.

Spoiler:
The morlock cleric was whupping on them. For some reason, I can think in 3d, the players couldn't. I was hoping to get to that encounter because my wife was at the table. She's been gaming for a couple years and is always good for a few laughs because of her reactions.

The Exchange

Morlock Cleric was pretty easy. The laser beams were not fun though.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber
godsDMit wrote:
This one time I was running a scenario in which Drandle Dreng doesnt wake you up in the middle of the night to tell you about. One player almost died of shock.

There's at least two of those that I know of. I run them as having the same runner as ever wake you up at midnight.... then tell you not to pack your gear because they're just letting you know you have a meeting in the morning.

Scarab Sages

Chernobyl wrote:
Morlock Cleric was pretty easy. The laser beams were not fun though.

I ate them up. They simply can't think in 3 dimensions. Even when I drew it out for them, they were seriously overthinking it.

5/5 Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Central & West aka Harley Quinn X

Devil We Know, Part IV: Rules of the Swift:

(High tier version)
As the party approaches the Swift Prison, the constable talks to them about the Derro invasion. If asked what to expect, the constable tells the party about a rust monster and how they locked it inside the prison.

As this point, all four party members start disrobing and taking off armor, switching weapons to their "expendable" weapons, sending in the summoner's eidolon ahead, and panicking as they enter the prison. (For the sake of suspense, I rolled a dice a few times behind my binder, to look sneaky.)

When they get to a certain room, they find the rust monster already dead, and breathe a sigh of relief. Then a Huge Earth Elemental pops up as soon as they let their guard down.

5/5

David Montgomery wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Woah! That's a surprise befitting the thread. Congrats on VL David!

Sovereign Court 5/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

My first steps Pt II:

Spoiler:
The newbies decide to attack the ghoul. Barbarian charges, one full attack later, he's down to 2 HP, paralyzed and suffering ghoul fever. It was their first "Oh crap" moment. After that, they proceed to run the dungeon backwards, don't make any allies, and still kill the skulk due to alchemists fire.

Best moment was when they opened the prison cells. "There's a horrid stench, decay, rotted meat and mold." *points to barbarian* "You're nauseus" *points to barbarian #3* "You're nauseaus" *points to rogue* "You're nauseaus" *points to barbarian #2, with ghoul fever, "You're salivating." Player of barbarian #2 starts freaking.

I love GMing for children!

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