04-14 My Enemy's Enemy


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4/5

I'm just starting to prep this, and so far it's a great scenario. I haven't gotten to any of the bad guy stat blocks yet, so that may change.

4/5

My impression of the scenario dimmed in additional prep and running it. I still like it, even with the following things that came up in prep and running it (in order of appearance):

Note: The party was a bard 6, a fighter (polearm master) 4, a fighter 5, a cleric 7, and an urban ranger 6, playing subtier 6-7.

1) How are the players supposed to guess that the living topiary is Antaios, and that it might make our shop keeper really sad to have his pet killed? An overturned pot of soil might not be enough for most players I know in my area. Granted, there's no consequences to killing it, but I know that I would have a problem finding out that I killed a pet that was just trying to defend his master, who's not one of the bad guys.

My table yesterday, in talking between actions, mentioned the name, so I added a sense motive check to interpret the plant reacting to it's name (I didn't do a perception check because they had an urban ranger who could take 1 for a beautiful check)... and that helped them put together that specific piece of information. They stopped attacking it (they had already knocked most of it's hitpoints off already and sent someone to run back upstairs and wake up Chert enough to bring him downstairs and calm the topiary down... allowing them to get the satek.

2) The sinkhole. This is written like a D&D 4e skill challenge (which I didn't like when I was playing 4e). And it's described as a bog, but doesn't use the rules for a bog. It acts more like quicksand, but the rules for quicksand don't call for multiple checks. This *annoyed* my players to no end. Three advanced rat swarms in waves also adds to the 4e encounter feel.

3) Lawful characters may very well not go with the flow of allowing Ylandria and Eun take them to the Twincandles camp, but insist on bringing them to the city guard/watch.... or once they get there to allow Ylandira or Eun out of their sights. They may also balk at the idea working with a Sczarni criminal gang at all. Particularly if said lawful characters are in the Silver Crusade and looking to make sure that they get their faction mission... This required a bit of fast talking on my part but I was able to manage it eventually.

4) The group of under powered mooks in the chapel where the interesting terrain traps can be set off was another 4e feeling encounter. My table found the passage to the dual trap trigger (and the ranger used that space as a sniper roost with Gravity Bow running) and didn't trigger the trap. Then Titus and Lal bombed their perception checks to hear their gang getting slaughtered, so didn't join in on the fun. It made for a *short* fight. I added the flavor that Titus and Lal were arguing as the party came up from D6 to explain how they couldn't hear the quick demise of their gang. This also was a short fight.

For the table I ran... the fights weren't much of a challenge. Then again, the table I ran had a high number of effectively built characters and effective players playing them. (For any of you who know Tetsujinnooni... 'nuff said.)

What I like about it:

I like the story feel that the mod was trying for (even when the table ran over it like a Geo Metro at a Monster Truck demolition derby). I like that there isn't an info-dump from a Venture Captain in a mission briefing, because it started off the scenario on a different foot. I like that we get to see the a brief view on the Pathfinder Society from a couple of different NPCs at the beginning of the scenario.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Really? Needing to roll 3 strength checks threw your players into hysterical anti-4e convulsions? I don't see what's so terrible about needing more than one strength check to pull someone out of a hole.

4/5

Matt Haddix wrote:
Really? Needing to roll 3 strength checks threw your players into hysterical anti-4e convulsions? I don't see what's so terrible about needing more than one strength check to pull someone out of a hole.

Considering that I and others at the table came to Pathfinder and PFS after having given 4e a shot (and then wanted to shoot it)… a 4e/LFR style encounter design will get a lot of criticism.

That being said- another part the issue with this encounter is that the scenario directs the GMto treat the hazard as a deep bog and refers to p. 427 of the CRB.

Deep bogs are 4' of water which wouldn't submerge a human and don't require a STR check at all.

However, set up the same hazard as quicksand (rules are on the same page in the CRB), with a complication that he's caught on something which requires multiple checks at a higher DC to break him free. This gives the author what she wanted to do without breaking the rules.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

Hey, people are already playing this thing! Kick ass! For your edification, I wrote the scenario, and I have never played 4E. Take that however you will.

With regards to the sinkhole, I will only say that my intention was to differentiate between simply walking through a bog filled with lumps of broken earth and cobblestones and trying to pull a prone figure up from beneath said lumps of earth and cobblestones.

With regards to Lawful characters interacting with a crime syndicate, I will definitely say that was the most major challenge of writing the scenario. I had some story elements to work from, and "try to write it so the PCs don't immediately attack the Sczarni" was at the top of my directives. Only you guys can judge how successful I was.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber
Matt Haddix wrote:
Really? Needing to roll 3 strength checks threw your players into hysterical anti-4e convulsions? I don't see what's so terrible about needing more than one strength check to pull someone out of a hole.

Ability checks are almost never the appropriate answer.

4/5

OamuTheMonk wrote:
Hey, people are already playing this thing! Kick ass! For your edification, I wrote the scenario, and I have never played 4E. Take that however you will.

You've saved yourself a lot of headache in that (in my biased opinion).

OamuTheMonk wrote:
With regards to the sinkhole, I will only say that my intention was to differentiate between simply walking through a bog filled with lumps of broken earth and cobblestones and trying to pull a prone figure up from beneath said lumps of earth and cobblestones.

I can appreciate that difference in feel, and I know that's what you were going for. But rules lawyers will tear things apart... and I was running the mod for one (which is how we got so far down into "why it didn't work and what would work").

OamuTheMonk wrote:
With regards to Lawful characters interacting with a crime syndicate, I will definitely say that was the most major challenge of writing the scenario. I had some story elements to work from, and "try to write it so the PCs don't immediately attack the Sczarni" was at the top of my directives. Only you guys can judge how successful I was.

Well, they didn't attack immediately. They actually didn't end up trying to haul the siblings into the guard after a bit of fast talking on my part (Also, there was a Sczarni on the table going "Uh guys? Faction mission?").

The fast talking included things along the lines of "This area is an area where gangs like this *are* the local guard and public works department. They built the barracades to keep out the flooding." (which in retrospect and additional reading about Magnimar, it's more like "they're helping out the local guard and public works dept.").

The fast talk combined with the siblings admitting that they made a massive mistake in trusting their "cousin," turning Titus and his goons over to PCs, and making an oath to get out of the narcotics business, is about the only thing that kept the Lawful types on the table from trying to take on the siblings.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Ran this cold last night and it went very smoothly!

Spoilers abound!

*apologies for the lack of names with these NPCs, I don't have the scenario handy and had zero prep time for the game*

I ran the old woman NPC at the start the same as the old woman who runs the orphanage in First Steps part 1 -- a bitter, angry, old racist. It went over quite well. The group had a tengu and she refused to let "that pointy-beaked [redacted]" into her friends store, so he had to wait outside. They checked up on the horticulturalist first, before investigating the space downstairs. Upon opening the door, the hedge creature started combat.

Dang, those two large sized slam attacks (with it's power attacking morale) really took a bite out of party resources (~40 damage a round, ~60 when I crit with one). Killed the cavalier (who was in front), who then got BOL'd. No one else stepped forward, so it killed the cavalier again. A second BOL, and the cavalier got out in time for the gunslingers (2x of em) to drop the beast.

They found the bloodied kerchief and proceeded to track down the Twincandles. They came across the sinkhole and rushed up, right as the rats exploded from the grates around them. The cavalier tossed in a grappling hook, and I rolled randomly to see if the guy would grab hold (figured he was blind down there, 50% miss chance?). They ended up pulling him out on the last round with a successful STR from the cleric, the cavalier, and his horse! Ylandria spilled the beans and lead the PCs to her leaders.

They parlayed with the two Sczarni dons and then headed into the crypt. The trap room went as expected (killed all the scrubs in two rounds), but I had one of the instigators flee out of the room to warn the BBEGs. At this point the rogue quaffed his potion of gaseous form and the ragechemist started buffing himself. The rogue waited for the PCs to pass through, before buffing himself and stealthing up. When the PCs entered the cyclone room, the ragechemist leapt down and roared, signaling for the rogue to move in.

The combat was brutal, entertaining, and beautiful, and went as follows.

Spoiler:

Round 1: The entire party is in the tunnel between the two rooms. The BG rogue instagibs the gunslinger in the back (12d6+2), and 5' steps toward the support cleric who is in the tunnel. The cavalier steps forward, and engages the BG alchemist. Wounded cleric advances into the room, getting shanked by the rogue as he leaves. Other cleric advances as well. Second gunslinger attacks rogue, misses three times >.<.

At this point I realized that the rogue could continue his assault, getting flanking with his buddy, and taking 3 attacks around with sneak attack. That seemed a little much for the group of now 4 playing up in a season 4 game. So I decided that the alchemist wouldn't be thinking that clearly, and dropped a darkness on the group instead. Only the cavalier and the alchemist can see now, and no more sneak attack on the severely hampered PCs.

Round 2: The PCs hear the rogue swear, followed by him realizing that he has a wand of fireball. The explosion drops the wounded cleric. The gunslinger drinks a potion of invisibility. The alchemist and the cavalier trade blow for blow. The alive cleric heals. After dropping his fireball, the rogue starts sprinting around "the long way," back to the secret entrance to the final room.

Round 3: The cavalier attacks, and the alchemist attacks the flat-footed cleric. The cleric heals. The gunslinger exits the darkness, unable to find the rogue. The rogue runs more.

Round 4: Repeat of round 3.

Round 5: The rogue drops a fireball from his ledge above, killing the cleric. The cavalier drops the alchemist. The gunslinger hides in the previous room, not wanting to go into the dark, now exploding-again room.

Round 6: The rogue fireballs and the cavalier rushes up, bull-rushing the rogue off the ledge and following him down.

Round 7: The rogue runs back up, gets hit by an AOO as he goes, and fireballs one last time from the ledge. The cavalier goes down. The gunslinger does nothing...

After a couple of minutes, the gunslinger sneaks into the room. He comes across the rogue sitting on the ledge, next to some empty potion bottles and drinking from a flask of hard liquor with a still shaking hand. He's muttering to himself, "freaking Pathfinders man..." The gunslinger raises his musket, cocks it, and shoots the rogue in the back of the head. Natural 20, confirms. 70+ damage. Rogue has just enough time to turn to the left and infringe on copyright material.

He manages to get out: "Clever girl," just before his head explodes and his body falls into the black.

A couple of minutes pass and the darkness clears, revealing a charred pit littered with bodies.

Excellent game.

-----------------
Overall, I don't know how much of my enjoyment was just the final fight or the story in itself. I liked how it's a "non-traditional" introduction and development, as well as chock full of good RP and flavor. I think it'll become one of my favorite Season 4 games, but I'd like to sit down and actually get a chance to read it before I have to run it again :D


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
TetsujinOni wrote:
Matt Haddix wrote:
Really? Needing to roll 3 strength checks threw your players into hysterical anti-4e convulsions? I don't see what's so terrible about needing more than one strength check to pull someone out of a hole.
Ability checks are almost never the appropriate answer.

What would be a more appropriate thing to roll?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

Matt Haddix wrote:
What would be a more appropriate thing to roll?

I'm curious, myself. I toyed with CMB, but what's a sensical way to set the CMD of a sinkhole? I felt like Strength checks made the most sense to simulate the gradual hauling of a person from a muddy, caved-in street.

Walter Sheppard wrote:
(describes a bloodbath)

Holy Crap! Sounds way more lethal than intended! Did everyone have fun, at least?

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

One way that situation might have been handled is a "breaking an object" rules with Strength. So, you don't need three Strength checks, you need to break the character out of the tar, and it has Hardness 3, 10 hit points, and you do 1d8 + Str damage. For a raging barbarian, one really good tug might do it.

Dark Archive

I ran this last night and had a blast.

End encounter spoiler:

The last encounter was absolutely brutal on the party. I'm pretty sure I could have TPK'd them if I'd went all in. Unless I misinterpreted any of it (this is from memory so may not be 100%):

Prepared and buffed bad guys!
2 * 5d6+3 explosive bombs a round with 10ft splash damage!
7th level fireballs!
9th level hasted and shielded rogue with 5d6 sneak attack and poisoned blade (AC 25 I think)!
10ft radius acid spillage and obscuring mist (for 1 round)
Hasted claw/claw/claw/bite (+13/+13/+13/+13) on the alchemist if I recall.

The rest of the scenario was a walk in the park for the party (1 plant, 3 rat swarms, 6 mooks and 3 medium elementals in total) so I didn't feel so bad hitting them hard for a CR10 encounter at the end.

All in all I very much enjoyed it, great job!

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

OamuTheMonk wrote:
Matt Haddix wrote:
What would be a more appropriate thing to roll?

I'm curious, myself. I toyed with CMB, but what's a sensical way to set the CMD of a sinkhole? I felt like Strength checks made the most sense to simulate the gradual hauling of a person from a muddy, caved-in street.

Walter Sheppard wrote:
(describes a bloodbath)
Holy Crap! Sounds way more lethal than intended! Did everyone have fun, at least?

I guarantee that they all had a ...blast!

YEEEAAAAHH!!

Honestly though, everyone had a good time.

As far as lethality goes... it could have been a lot worse if I had been so inclined.

Spoiler:
Initiative wise, after gunslinger 2 missed, there was nothing really stopping the rogue from taking a 5' step closer, dropping three attacks with flanking from his reach companion, and dropping him. Subsequent round would have likely seen the cavalier drop, with one cleric juggling the options of who to breath of life before getting flattened himself. The cavalier just didn't do enough damage to survive 2v1 against the alchemist and the rogue. At least with the fireball, he had a chance of taking 3.5d6 instead of 18d6 a round (plus bleed, haha).

All that said, I definitely would not label this game as too lethal. I think it was just a series of unfortunate events in my game. Other parties should find it challenging, but winnable with less cost to the party. Which is the right balance for 99/100 fights, IMO.

It's a well balanced and well written scenario.

5/5

Walter Sheppard wrote:
OamuTheMonk wrote:
Matt Haddix wrote:
What would be a more appropriate thing to roll?

I'm curious, myself. I toyed with CMB, but what's a sensical way to set the CMD of a sinkhole? I felt like Strength checks made the most sense to simulate the gradual hauling of a person from a muddy, caved-in street.

Walter Sheppard wrote:
(describes a bloodbath)
Holy Crap! Sounds way more lethal than intended! Did everyone have fun, at least?

I guarantee that they all had a ...blast!

YEEEAAAAHH!!

Honestly though, everyone had a good time.

As far as lethality goes... it could have been a lot worse if I had been so inclined.

** spoiler omitted **

All that said, I definitely would not label this game as too lethal. I think it was just a series of unfortunate events in my game. Other parties should find it challenging, but winnable with less cost to the party. Which is the right balance for 99/100 fights, IMO.

It's a well balanced and well written scenario.

Holy cow, your cleric had access to three scrolls of breath of life in a 3-7? (because obviously you can't cast it yourself by then) I wish my players were that prepared for such situations!

Silver Crusade

So we played low teir and the thing was a cake walk. Our group was mediocre, I mean we weren't crazy powerful ether. We were all muts.

4th (1 Barb/3rd Ranger)
3rd (1 Sor/1 FTG/1 Gunslinger)
5th (1 Sum/1 Gun/3 Rog)
4th (1 Sum/3 Barb)
4th (2 Sorc/ 2 Rog)

Interesting story. Bringing him back was a surprise but the foreshadow in the beginning was a giveaway. Oh the drugs were a nice moral quandary.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Walter Sheppard wrote:
OamuTheMonk wrote:
Matt Haddix wrote:
What would be a more appropriate thing to roll?

I'm curious, myself. I toyed with CMB, but what's a sensical way to set the CMD of a sinkhole? I felt like Strength checks made the most sense to simulate the gradual hauling of a person from a muddy, caved-in street.

Walter Sheppard wrote:
(describes a bloodbath)
Holy Crap! Sounds way more lethal than intended! Did everyone have fun, at least?

I guarantee that they all had a ...blast!

YEEEAAAAHH!!

Honestly though, everyone had a good time.

As far as lethality goes... it could have been a lot worse if I had been so inclined.

** spoiler omitted **

All that said, I definitely would not label this game as too lethal. I think it was just a series of unfortunate events in my game. Other parties should find it challenging, but winnable with less cost to the party. Which is the right balance for 99/100 fights, IMO.

It's a well balanced and well written scenario.

Holy cow, your cleric had access to three scrolls of breath of life in a 3-7? (because obviously you can't cast it yourself by then) I wish my players were that prepared for such situations!

The cavalier had two that were both used on him in the first encounter. Then the cleric had one I believe.


Running it this weekend and finished my first pass on the scenario and the stat blocks.

As with other scenarios, I made a cheat sheet of all monster stat blocks, including the BBEGs with some missing buffs listed in the "Before Combat" section of their statblock (with corresponding "Basic Statistics" blocks to compensate). Also no stat blocks spread across 2 pages!

I have uploaded it to the GM Shared Prep folder.

Items I found annoying in prepping:
1. The tactics call out for a lot more buffs than are shown in the stat blocks. shield, haste, bomber's eye... Not to mention the UN-called out ones (blur, displacement, truestrike).

2. Errata: in subtier 6-7, tactics for the alchemist BBEG say that he drinks his potion of resist energy (acid), but he doesn't have one listed in this subtier.

3. Would it kill the scenario's word count to add in the statistics for poisons/diseases used in the scenario... I hate having to check the PRD/GMG for those.

4. Usually casters with spellbooks/formula books/familiars have a list of the spells/extracts included in those. Since it wasn't specified what was in his formula book, I assume it would be only his prepared ones (sad).

Sovereign Court

So, not sure how this adventure was supposed to be intended, but during the whole adventure, we only had one character get hit twice.

we had 2 6th lvl summoners in our group and all first fights were pretty much low key, and almost slept through the rest of the adventure.

2 eidolons took out the plant, and were actually putting it back in the pot while it was still raking and clawing.

rat swarms were defended against with a wind wall.

sewers were pretty much mapped out. one of the summoners summoned earth elementals and she spoke terran. got the lay of the land and how many people were in each room due to tremorsense.

the other summoner had her eidolon kick open the door, and she casted enthrall on all 6 ranged goons. then used diplomacy to get them to friendly and they told us everything. she could have had them help us in the last fight, but the boss fight was over before it even began

first summoner recasted summon monster and then had the earth elementals use earthglide and go and grapple the two end boss guys, they came out of the ground right under them and grappled them in the suprise round. then in the first actual round, they did a half move into the ground and dropped grapple which pretty much trapped the guys in the stone floor from the knees down.

if it wasnt for the funny roleplaying we had - mainly between the 1/2orc barb with a 7 intellegence and the two eidolon's each with 7 intellegence, the whole adventure would have taken less than 45min

that included the two summoners casting mend on everything and fixed the shop, the pots, the windows.
one of them even repaired the hankerchief and got to wear it!

5/5

Mackaylee wrote:


first summoner recasted summon monster and then had the earth elementals use earthglide and go and grapple the two end boss guys, they came out of the ground right under them and grappled them in the suprise round. then in the first actual round, they did a half move into the ground and dropped grapple which pretty much trapped the guys in the stone floor from the knees down.

There's nothing to suggest that an earth elemental can bring another creature along when earth gliding. It doesn't leave behind a tunnel or hole, so it seems there wouldn't be any space for it.

@Enthrall--even a single attack breaks the entire thing, so I'm assuming bad luck happened and every single target failed the Will save to negate (or else the one that succeeded could break it). Even so, if I was the BBEGs, who watch this part to spy on the PCs, I would have ensured that some small offensive happened during the enthrall, thus bringing all of the formerly-enthralled immediately hostile, as per the spell description.

If the party was having a hard time and the GM was trying to be nice, that's one thing, but I'd say if people slept through the adventure, the GM was doing a disservice with those two points.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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

Not to mention that enthrall has a one round casting time, giving the archers plenty of time to begin combat -- completely negating the possibility of enthrall working.

Sovereign Court

not really to any of the above.

1 round as long as they hear the caster and the caster has their attention - which, kicking the door in would do that. if the caster is out of sight, where would they fire their arrows?

if they fail their save, no matter what mental state they are in, they are enthralled.

should they make the save - which wasnt the case here:
If those not enthralled have unfriendly or hostile attitudes toward
you, they can collectively make a Charisma check to try to end the
spell by jeering and heckling.

also, there is nothing to suggest that earth elementals are not allowed to hold on to something, start the earth glide and then let go either.

but, its not like any of the above actions were my call, i wasnt the DM, only an observer.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

Point of rules clarity -- the person recieving the grapple gets escape check with a +4 to it if they are being moved into a hazardous area (like through rock).

"You can move both yourself and your target up to half your speed. At the end of your movement, you can place your target in any square adjacent to you. If you attempt to place your foe in a hazardous location, such as in a wall of fire or over a pit, the target receives a free attempt to break your grapple with a +4 bonus."

Also, you must succeed your maintain check at the start of combat to hold the target before you can move them.

Second tidbit -- Both burrow and earth glide mention nothing about taking or not taking creatures with the gliding creature, btw.

Also, why couldn't the guy have just pulled himself out of the churned earth? Sure, the elemental has earth glide, but the guy doesn't. He's meaty flesh being drug through the ground.

Debate away!

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Mackaylee wrote:
1 round as long as they hear the caster and the caster has their attention - which, kicking the door in would do that. if the caster is out of sight, where would they fire their arrows?

The caster may not be out of sight. The spell requires line of sight. To quote the Core Rule Book's chapter on Magic, under Aiming a Spell:

"Target or Targets : Some spells have a target or targets. You cast these spells on creatures or objects, as defined by the spell itself. You must be able to see or touch the target, and you must specifically choose that target. You do not have to select your target until you finish casting the spell."

So, to cast Enthrall, you must see the targets and perform for them for a full round. If any combat breaks out, the spell is nullified. It's a great spell, but can be very difficult to use -- especially against waiting archers.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Folks, we can go back and forth about this as long as we please. The specific rules issues are besides the point.

Mackaylee's point is that this scenario is easy if the GM softballs encounters. In Season 4, when it seems that every scenario is deadly, deadly, deadly, that's good to keep in mind.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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

I agree. However, I do want people to realize that Enthrall is not quite the "I win" spell that it was portrayed as. This is a GM board, so GM's should realize how spells like this work.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

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Also make sure you know how alchemists work for the final encounter. If I hadn't known that crits on bombs only double the first d6, or that he can't have Fast Bombs already at the low tier, I would have died in this one.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Fair enough.

And, if I can break my own advice for a minute: this isn't the first time I've had summoners / druids / whatnot try to use earth elementals as mappers and "cheat codes" to view an area beforehand.

(I had a player use earth elementals to map out the entire plot of "Mantis' Prey" once. Boy howdy, is that scenario dull if the PCs have the place mapped out before they step foot in it!)

So, what is your take on this tactic?

For reference::

Earth Glide (Ex)

A burrowing earth elemental can pass through stone, dirt, or almost any other sort of earth except metal as easily as a fish swims through water. If protected against fire damage, it can even glide through lava. Its burrowing leaves behind no tunnel or hole, nor does it create any ripple or other sign of its presence. A move earth spell cast on an area containing a burrowing earth elemental flings the elemental back 30 feet, stunning the creature for 1 round unless it succeeds on a DC 15 Fortitude save.

Tremorsense (Ex)

A creature with tremorsense is sensitive to vibrations in the ground and can automatically pinpoint the location of anything that is in contact with the ground. ... The ability’s range is specified in the creature’s descriptive text.

First, it's incumbent on the caster to explain what she wants the earth elemental to do, because otherwise summoned monsters just hit and bite on things. (And I know that Mackaylee has taken the Terran language.)

Second, for many creatures, there's a functional time limit of rounds. One round to get the instructions, a few rounds to move to an area and start exploring, a round to return to the caster, maybe doesn't leave that many rounds left for the elemental to explain what it saw.

(This is less a problem with Summoners, because their summoned creatures hang around for minutes.)

And we haven't addressed the problem of druids wildshaping into earth elementals for extended trips investigating the villains' lairs, immune to harm except by a very uncommon spell.

Shadow Lodge

Chris Mortika wrote:

Fair enough.

So, what is your take on this tactic?

This tactic doesn't really give the PC's exact knowledge of what's going on in said room. Unless the Earth Elemental pops his head up which would probably give the bad guys opposing perception checks to see it, he probably can't see what is in the room. He can tell how many people are moving around in the room, but other than that, it's not a tell-all kind of tactic in my opinion.

The Exchange

To be honest, I think this is something that has been struggled with since boxed module adventures have been released on store shelves.

I know theres a difference between the idea that the players may have peeked at the module prior, and when the map is being requested to be drawn out in front of the whole party to see.

In this situation, I typically, roleplay it into the adventure:
Someone is selling maps of the local abadoned cathedral that is now the dungeon crawl.
or
in the above situation, the earth elemental could come back and report 76 detected bodies of movement - as he was not requested to deferentiate between all sources, nor would the elemental have the intelligence to potentially count that high.
36 sewer rats
10 humans
2 other earth elementals doing the same thing
5 rabid stray animals
ect...

i would also ask if the character - summoner, druid, ect - has taken any special efforts or if they have dedicated skills to specialize in this type of 3 demensional navigational mapping skill.
do they have profession cartographer or craft maps or orienteering.

how many people do you know of that can successfully draw downtown and place all the landmarkers correctly?
incorporate some type of skill check or ability check for the person to successfully navigate or for them to have it drawn out.

another idea would be to take the spot light away from these individual players, and open it up to the whole party.
let the table do some information gathering or diplomacy to see if they can find someone to supply them a map. or find a long lost tome in the library that has details on the layout
make it a group effort, a mini quest in its own right.

anyways, thats just my 2 cents worth.


Ill_Made_Knight wrote:

So we played low teir and the thing was a cake walk. Our group was mediocre, I mean we weren't crazy powerful ether. We were all muts.

Yeah, we played with a solid 3-4 party, so we played low and had a pretty easy time of it as well. I think we finished in 2.5 hours and no one dropped.

2 Oracles
2 Alchemists
2 Small mounted chargers

The two bosses didn't hear us. We beat the alchemist in initiative, and stomped him into the dirt in round 2 or so. He couldn't really do a whole lot.

Honestly, I expected to have more of a challenge. Our DPS was not all that awesome. Our only control was a couple of murderous commands that landed, but that actually ended up being all we needed.

4/5

Furious Kender wrote:
Honestly, I expected to have more of a challenge. Our DPS was not all that awesome. Our only control was a couple of murderous commands that landed, but that actually ended up being all we needed.

To be fair, I think we lucked into having the right makeup to squash this. We had fire for the first encounter, two alchemists to deal with the swarm, and enough DPR and crowd control to deal with the two pairs of baddies.

Even so, I agree that this was unusually easy for a Season 4 scenario.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Chicago aka thunderspirit

redward wrote:
Furious Kender wrote:
Honestly, I expected to have more of a challenge. Our DPS was not all that awesome. Our only control was a couple of murderous commands that landed, but that actually ended up being all we needed.

To be fair, I think we lucked into having the right makeup to squash this. We had fire for the first encounter, two alchemists to deal with the swarm, and enough DPR and crowd control to deal with the two pairs of baddies.

Even so, I agree that this was unusually easy for a Season 4 scenario.

Agreed on all counts. We also had several PCs who could play the face, making the initial encounter smooth, and a tricked-out initiative monkey to get the jump on the last one.


I got to run this last weekend at the high subtier. It was actually a pretty good group, all experienced players. We only had a single level 7 I believe, with mostly level 6 players and one level 4. This was a 7-player table.

They did an excellent job at the shop, although the topiary got some really nice hits in before it was dispatched. In the higher subtier, the topiary being large makes it extremely hard to move in the store, most of the time it had to stay in its room and attack through the doorway. only 1-2 of the players could engage it at one time, as quite a few of them were stuck fighting against the vine trap to get into the back room.

The sinkhole encounter was easy as well, with STR checks made before the 5 rounds without trouble. I didn't think there were many problem with this mechanic, as people were aiding and making sure multiple attempts were occurring every round.

They also had little trouble in the archer/water elemental room, although it was quite hard to understand how the trap worked and when the lightning bolts came down. I think this description needed a bit of work to make it a bit clearer. However, the BBEGs heard the group and had time to buff up. Since this guys were well seasoned, I did all the buffs in their stat blocks. Alchemist had displacement up, haste, shield, etc...

They get to the final room and this is where things get ugly. Having looked at their tactics in the last room, they knew these guys were mostly melee fighters so both decided to start up the stairs and range them down. The fight started when their wizard won initiative, and casted create pit under them (thinking about it earlier, you probably need line of effect to the floor you want to make the pit in, and they were way up), but both of them made their saves. Angry at the wizard the hasted alchemist lobbed 3 bombs in one round against the conga line of adventurers coming in the little tunnel. This was followed by a fireball from the fellow rogue. Results were one dead wizard and the rest falling back to lick some wounds in the previous room.

I was going to have them follow them and attack, when the ninja decided to use vanish trick and go in there to setup an ambush. But alchemist had see invis up and caught him. The rogue started to acrobatics to get in flanking while the alchemist used her spear to give him a flank. I think 2 more players were knocked out. The remaining ones, led by the buffed magus, were able to push through and finally take the rogue down, with the alchemist following soon after.

for a 7-player party, it was much more challenging that I anticipated. the final fight can be brutal, especially if given time to buff which seems it should happen a lot more than not.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

redward wrote:
Even so, I agree that this was unusually easy for a Season 4 scenario.

I hope so. My crew could use a breather from the beatdowns I've been delivering to them. :)

4/5

I played it over the weekend at TotalCon in Boston. It ran fairly smoothly, in part to meeting a new player/GM that weekend that was a blast to play alongside making it very fun.

Sinkhole: We had a summoner who earth glided a small earth elemental into the sinkhole and push the drowning guy up from below.

The archer/elemental room is a lot deadlier if the party doesn't find the secret passage and learn the trigger phrases for the trap. Which my party didn't. [The party didn't ask to search, and I didn't say anything because I didn't want to spoil it.] Knowing it was there, I did miss the sniper roost.

My gunslinger/magus got caught between the wall and two water elementals, and played the yo-yo game until the battle cleric squashed them.

We had two deaths on the last fight. The BBEG got the drop on us in initiative and set off a fireball in the face. And proceeded to continue to throw three more fireballs because we didn't go into the room (and tried to heal the party while in the corridor. I think most of the players didn't think he could unload 4 fireballs). I didn't because my character does not have front liner AC and does not go into a room alone.

5/5

mgcady wrote:

I played it over the weekend at TotalCon in Boston. It ran fairly smoothly, in part to meeting a new player/GM that weekend that was a blast to play alongside making it very fun.

Sinkhole: We had a summoner who earth glided a small earth elemental into the sinkhole and push the drowning guy up from below.

The archer/elemental room is a lot deadlier if the party doesn't find the secret passage and learn the trigger phrases for the trap. Which my party didn't. [The party didn't ask to search, and I didn't say anything because I didn't want to spoil it.] Knowing it was there, I did miss the sniper roost.

My gunslinger/magus got caught between the wall and two water elementals, and played the yo-yo game until the battle cleric squashed them.

We had two deaths on the last fight. The BBEG got the drop on us in initiative and set off a fireball in the face. And proceeded to continue to throw three more fireballs because we didn't go into the room (and tried to heal the party while in the corridor. I think most of the players didn't think he could unload 4 fireballs). I didn't because my character does not have front liner AC and does not go into a room alone.

It was a great table! I had lots of fun running it for you guys. We actually only lost the cleric, even though it seemed like we would have two deaths for sure. Miraculously the underleveled bard managed to survive the whole ordeal.


I had a blast on this one as well. My aloof gnome did the cardinal PFS sin and split the party. While they were debating what to do with the secret passages revealed I invisibled myself and went into the boss room. I put them both down with a heavens oracle color spray and aqeuous orb. While the other PCs fought the other room they heard gnome laughter.

The Exchange

Can I ask a perhaps obvious question? - besides the one I just asked...

what are the two boss guys doing in that room?
there’s no furniture...
there’s nothing to look at...
there's really nothing in there for them to do...
they are in that room the whole length and breadth of the party moving through the dungeon floor...

are they seriously just waiting for adventurers to come into their secret lair and attack them?

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Checking the item-dissembly of the chained-up minions? Quality control? Trying to find the kitchen?

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Quote:

Rosencrantz: Shouldn't we be doing something... constructive?

Guildenstern: What did you have in mind? A short, blunt human pyramid?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

They are drug dealers, they may be Waltwer Whiting it up and cooking some new batch.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

redward wrote:
Furious Kender wrote:
Honestly, I expected to have more of a challenge. Our DPS was not all that awesome. Our only control was a couple of murderous commands that landed, but that actually ended up being all we needed.

To be fair, I think we lucked into having the right makeup to squash this. We had fire for the first encounter, two alchemists to deal with the swarm, and enough DPR and crowd control to deal with the two pairs of baddies.

Even so, I agree that this was unusually easy for a Season 4 scenario.

With regards to difficulty, I can definitely say I was trying to err on the side of "less lethal," in that I don't have a lot of experience with how PFS scenarios are supposed to unfold (and my home game is pretty deadly, so i didn't want to use that as a benchmark). Most of the changes Mark made in the editing process seemed to turn the lethality knob back to the right, but I'm seeing more than a few deaths in this thread, so I have to think the lethality is pretty drastically affected by party makeup.

And yeah, the two guys were both pretty strung out on the merchandise.

Shadow Lodge

Quote:
2) The sinkhole. This is written like a D&D 4e skill challenge (which I didn't like when I was playing 4e). And it's described as a bog, but doesn't use the rules for a bog. It acts more like quicksand, but the rules for quicksand don't call for multiple checks.

It's a combination of the two. When the sinkhole initially formed, everything above it got sucked into it. Now that it's stable, everyone who stuck in it is slowly suffocating, and needs to be pulled out with some force. Anyone who steps into it now doesn't get pulled in like quicksand, but is instead wading through it like a bog.

Shadow Lodge

Is it just me, or is it impossible for the two final bosses to hear what's going on in D5? It's a DC 30 perception check, and the alchemist only has a +12 modifier in Tier 6-7. In Tier 3-4, it's a +9 modifier. In both tiers, the rogue only has a +1 modifier. The scenario seems to assume that both npcs are fully buffed when combat starts.

There's a lot of text spent on what would happen if one of them can hear the fighting, when Terliss has zero chance to do so, and Chawda can only succeed on an 18+ in Tier 6-7.

Shadow Lodge

When I ran it, it felt like there was way too much exposition occurring with minimal PC interaction between the sinkhole and the dungeon.

The Exchange

keep in mind there are bonuses/penalties to perception that should be taken into consideration:

Perception is used to notice fine details in the
environment. The DC to notice such details varies depending
upon distance, the environment, and how noticeable the
detail is. The following table gives a number of guidelines.

Detail Perception DC
Hear the sound of battle –10

Grand Lodge

Played it at low tier, with a level 7 along for the ride.
We found it fairly easy, although the party ninja nearly got dropped and the urban druid was utterly shredded by attacks of opportunity in the final fight. I also nearly fell victim to the stepping stones in the second-last room.

I think one of the aspects I like about this mod the most is the description of the dungeon environment. I felt like every room was interesting and showed great flair for imaginative dungeon design. Gozreh is now a much more interesting god to me as a result!

The most confusing aspect was the Grand Lodge faction mission. I'm digging around for clues about Lydia Hob, and a accident far off at Sea to the good ship the Cormoran, when my GM has to take me aside and say 'You've got a Wayfinder, that's all you need." I was very confused but I took the 2 prestige and kept quiet.

Shadow Lodge

I was the urban druid in the same KestlerGunner was in.

I actually thought the difficulty level was spot on. I haven't really liked the overly challenging season 4 ones, and even though we had a level 7 with us, it felt a lot like our success was dependent on the party makeup, some clever/risky tactics and being in the right place at the right time. More scenarios should be like that.


I am getting ready to run this as T6-7 for my group this weekend.

tactics issues:
Has anyone had any issues where the rogue BBEG failed his UMD checks to activate his wands? It seems like a bad roll would seriously change this encounter. I know we are constrained to tactics as written, but how did everyone else handle the missing extracts from the alchemist that CRobledo pointed out? With that it seems that the rogue's wand of haste only has one charge on it (I would assume he would use it on himself even if the alchemist is potentially more deadly with it).

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