Disappointing Player Experience


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Liberty's Edge

I would like to express my concern that adventures marked as suitable for first level organized play - adventures which feature exclusively low cr monsters in every other encounter - can climax, for example, with a cr3 Bugbear that on average dice rolls will zero almost any first level player-character in a single blow.

Making an adventure challenging is part of the role-play experience, but including such a monster is not challenging. It presents practically no tactical option for success to a first level group, excepting the use of certain spells/effects to which the party may have no access. Not to mention the lack of challenge faced during the rest of the adventure as a result of such heavy single monster weighting.

Challenge is about overcoming odds and I believe there should be a reasonable assumption that those odds can be overcome with reasonable loss to the party. Designing encounters to kill low level pc’s can seriously sour a player’s experience, especially those who are relatively new to the hobby.

I understand that the decision to run modules is taken by individual DM’s, but thought it best to take this opportunity to express my extreme concern and disappointment at such module design.

5/5 5/55/55/5

I'd highly recommended that you run first steps for a first level character-especially if everyone is first level. The difference between a character with 150 gp worth of equipment and one with 600gp in equipment is pretty big. The difference between first level and second level in terms of survivability is HUGE.

5/5

Hi Tinywytch,

I'm sorry to hear you had a disappointing experience, unfortunately there are a few scenarios that are extremely deadly at level 1 and I think it was moreso that the developers were playing with an idea and have kept it to a mimimum though.

One thing I would suggest, would be to go to the product page for that specific scenario and leave a review. The developers look at those when making design decisions and can take your point of view into consideration when looking for a new design idea.

5/5 *

A CR3 bugbear (I presume it was an advanced regular one?) will deal 9-10 damage, which will not kill any level 1 character in one hit. It MAY put a wizard or sorcerer into negatives, but everyone else should be ok. Almost all level 2 characters would be also ok. Did any of the characters that went down to this bugbear had 10 or less CON? If so, I have no sympathy (take it as a learning experience. 12+ con for PFS or at least toughness).

Remember subtier 1-2 scenarios have to include the assumption of some level 2s in the party (even sometimes a level 3). If you assume everyone is level 1, then the first time a full party of level 2s plays the adventure they will come to these boards and complain that the adventure was too easy.

Like BNW said, if you have a table of ALL level 1s (especially fresh level 1s) strongly consider playing the First Steps series first. It is explicitly made for level 1 characters and balanced for only level 1 characters. There is always the chance for death (such as a crit from a certain npc), but its more rare. Another option is the sanctioned module Murder's Mark (which is meant for level 1 characters, and I consider it on the easier end of the difficulty scale)

PFCBG took my last suggestion, which is to go to the individual scenario's product page and leave a review. Those will inform the campaign staff of common trends, such as which scenarios end up being extra deadly.

5/5 **

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

It's too bad the 1-5 scenarios aren't statted out into Tiers 1, 2-3, and 4-5.

The Exchange 5/5

CRobledo wrote:

A CR3 bugbear (I presume it was an advanced regular one?) will deal 9-10 damage, which will not kill any level 1 character in one hit. It MAY put a wizard or sorcerer into negatives, but everyone else should be ok. Almost all level 2 characters would be also ok. Did any of the characters that went down to this bugbear had 10 or less CON? If so, I have no sympathy (take it as a learning experience. 12+ con for PFS or at least toughness).

Remember subtier 1-2 scenarios have to include the assumption of some level 2s in the party (even sometimes a level 3). If you assume everyone is level 1, then the first time a full party of level 2s plays the adventure they will come to these boards and complain that the adventure was too easy.

Like BNW said, if you have a table of ALL level 1s (especially fresh level 1s) strongly consider playing the First Steps series first. It is explicitly made for level 1 characters and balanced for only level 1 characters. There is always the chance for death (such as a crit from a certain npc), but its more rare. Another option is the sanctioned module Murder's Mark (which is meant for level 1 characters, and I consider it on the easier end of the difficulty scale)

PFCBG took my last suggestion, which is to go to the individual scenario's product page and leave a review. Those will inform the campaign staff of common trends, such as which scenarios end up being extra deadly.

you know, you had me except of the bolded part.

The bolded part is purely opinion, and play style. Mine differ.
We could make an entirely new thread for it, and not derail this one...

5/5 *** Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

CRobledo wrote:
A CR3 bugbear (I presume it was an advanced regular one?) will deal 9-10 damage, which will not kill any level 1 character in one hit.

Assuming I'm right about the adventure, which I am 99% sure:

The Bugbear in question uses a horsechopper at +9 for 1d10+6 damage.

She's quite mean and fairly easily downs level 1 characters in one hit.

That said I think she's an interesting foe that for some parties will be fairly easy and others will be quite difficult. She's a scary brute with a reach weapon. This makes her difficult to approach however her tactics tell her not to rush forward and kill the PCs. She's reasonably vulnerable to ranged attacks and will saves. Also enlarge person and or your own reach weapon really helps out as well.

If you have a party comprised of 1st level characters who are unprepared for the variety of challenges out there you are going to have a lot of trouble with this scenario, and I think that's appropriate. She's an APL +2 encounter, and should be hard.

Although it just occurred to me, maybe I'm asking the wrong question. Maybe the question should be: are APL+2 "Hard" encounters appropriate and how often should we face them?

Monster Statistic Notes:

A CR 3 monster should have about the following Stats (Actual Monster)
HP: 30 (31)
AC: 15 (17)
Attack: +6 (+9)
Damage: 13 (11.5)
Good Save: 6 (6)
Poor Save: 2 (0)

Since she doesn't have any immunities to balance it out, lets say her +2 to AC balances out her -2 to will saves. That leaves us with a slightly low damage, but a surprisingly accurate attack bonus. All in all reasonably close to what a CR 3 threat should be.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne

I keep seeing the "play the First Steps" recommendation a lot when starting deadliness for PFS adventures is brought up. While it is good advice it only works when people ask about such things. Problem is, most newbs aren't going to do the prerequisite research to find this out before they actually try PFS. So some new DM says "let's try PFS" downloads a current mod (i.e. one of the challenging year 4 mods) and promptly ends up with dead players with a bad taste in their mouth. This doesn't really encourage people to play more PFS.

And, yes, I can think of a specific bugbear boss in a Year 4 mod that can drop 1st level PCs in one hit and kill them outright on a crit which it has a very good chance of scoring.

1/5

You will run into that situation a lot at first level. There is not much you can do about it. Any 2-handed weapon high Str enemy will do that. Heck not even first steps is immune from that situation. The almighty Leadford has killed quite a few newbies and he has help. I don't think that writers are going to shy away from one of the classical adventuring types just because they can possibly one shot a low HP character.

The Exchange 5/5

trollbill wrote:

I keep seeing the "play the First Steps" recommendation a lot when starting deadliness for PFS adventures is brought up. While it is good advice it only works when people ask about such things. Problem is, most newbs aren't going to do the prerequisite research to find this out before they actually try PFS. {b}So some new DM says "let's try PFS" downloads a current mod[/b] (i.e. one of the challenging year 4 mods) and promptly ends up with dead players with a bad taste in their mouth. This doesn't really encourage people to play more PFS.

And, yes, I can think of a specific bugbear boss in a Year 4 mod that can drop 1st level PCs in one hit and kill them outright on a crit which it has a very good chance of scoring.

bolding mine.

Some new DM says "let's try PFS - but I don't want to play the FREE Introduction scenarios, I want to run this other one...."

what?

So... we, as players and judges, should recogmend that players "trying out" PFS should play some sort of Introduction adventure... like First Steps.

The Exchange 5/5

I don't think we should draw any conclusions from one player's bad experience.

The Exchange 5/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I concur with tinywytch: if a scenario advertises a "subtier 1-2", it should be possible for players to succeed with, say, a well-balanced party of 1st-level iconics, rolling a little below average. I think that tinywitch's example encounter is tough, but do-able with good tactics: ranged combat, and using the features of the encounter space to the party's advantage.

I understand that "First Steps" is available, and is "PFS with training wheels". My position stands.

Grand Lodge 4/5

There's a lot of responsibility placed at the foot of the GM to choose an appropriate scenario for newbies, and, if failing that, communicating the danger of the foe to the new adventurers.

GM: "This bugbear villain's arms bulge with muscles. It's weapon is nearly half the size of your torso and it looks like it could cleave through your armour without raising a sweat.

You think that you may need to think strategically if you want any chance of taking this beast on and living to tell the tale."

When new players hear that, they sheath the sword, pull out the crossbow or alchemist fire and fire off their spells. They change their tactics accordingly, use the resources they need to survive, and stand a better chance than what they would if they have a 'nasty surprise' GM.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/5 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

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KestlerGunner wrote:


GM: "This bugbear villain's arms bulge with muscles. It's weapon is nearly half the size of your torso and it looks like it could cleave through your armour without raising a sweat.

You think that you may need to think strategically if you want any chance of taking this beast on and living to tell the tale."

"Being unafraid of death, my heroic steed charges forward, nostrils flaring, and smashes into the bugbear with his hooves!"

GM: "The monstrous creature grins through a maw of yellowed teeth. As he drives his blade through your horse, he meets your gaze with his own and mouths the words 'horse chopper.'"

"JINFU, NO!!"

1/5

Agreed. I think in this situation, there are right and wrong tactical choices that the party can make. If you have a new players table, I think you as a GM should give a little advice if needed (and wanted).
Things like:
Utilize your meat shields
Kill off two-handed weapon users at range
Gain cover/utilize obstacles

There are much bigger gotchas in PFS than a bugbear with some nice damage. I just played in a scenario full of lvl 1-2 humans and had a final combat in the middle of a darkness spell. Definitely not the scenario for brand new characters/players.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne

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KestlerGunner wrote:

There's a lot of responsibility placed at the foot of the GM to choose an appropriate scenario for newbies, and, if failing that, communicating the danger of the foe to the new adventurers.

GM: "This bugbear villain's arms bulge with muscles. It's weapon is nearly half the size of your torso and it looks like it could cleave through your armour without raising a sweat.

You think that you may need to think strategically if you want any chance of taking this beast on and living to tell the tale."

When new players hear that, they sheath the sword, pull out the crossbow or alchemist fire and fire off their spells. They change their tactics accordingly, use the resources they need to survive, and stand a better chance than what they would if they have a 'nasty surprise' GM.

Correction. Experienced D&D players who are new to PFS will do that. New players won't even know what Alcemists Fire or "good D&D tactics" are.

I think we are all forgetting just how "newb" newbs can be.

In a perfect world they would have an experience DM well versed in most of the things these forums discuss. Who would pick an appropriate adventure for newbs and perhaps sit them at a table with more experienced players who are willing to show them the ropes. Certainly this is the sort of thing I strive for when I coordinate games. But we don't live in a perfect world.

Certainly at my gamesdays we only get new players in ones and twos. It is impractical to make all of the regulars play the First Step mods over and over again everytime we get a newb. So the only practical solution is to put then in whatever low level table is available and hope the experienced players will help them out.


Lab_Rat wrote:
There are much bigger gotchas in PFS than a bugbear with some nice damage. I just played in a scenario full of lvl 1-2 humans and had a final combat in the middle of a darkness spell. Definitely not the scenario for brand new characters/players.

Amen. My immediate thought was "Just wait a few adventures, and you might be begging to go back to fighting CR 3 bugbears..."

:-/

Dark Archive 4/5

It's pretty easy to tell what scenario the OP is talking about if you've played it, and I agree that it is a tough encounter. However, if you've got a party of six level 1s, I fully believe it is a beatable encounter.

KestlerGunner's suggestion of hinting at how tough the opponent may be in melee is appropriate, and one that GMs should consider in their descriptions of an enemy. Also worth noting is the enemy's tactics in this scenario, which include spending an entire round not attacking.

Foes that can get rid of her weapon of choice would also do well in this area. If you see a character with a big shiny reach weapon, casting grease on it is a serious game-changer.

Grand Lodge 1/5

CRobledo wrote:
A CR3 bugbear (I presume it was an advanced regular one?) will deal 9-10 damage, which will not kill any level 1 character in one hit. It MAY put a wizard or sorcerer into negatives, but everyone else should be ok. Almost all level 2 characters would be also ok. Did any of the characters that went down to this bugbear had 10 or less CON? If so, I have no sympathy (take it as a learning experience. 12+ con for PFS or at least toughness).

Played an adventure Saturday that dropped my lvl. 5 Cleric with 48 hp. in half, 2 times. We were playing a 1-2 scenario, because everyone was lvl. 1 except for me and one other PC who was a lvl. 4 wizard.

Anyways, in one of these fights, I got dropped for 28 hp from one hit. Granted it was a CRIT but that would have shredded a lvl. 1 PC.

Then there is the issue of what would have happened if this beast went after a party of lvl. 1s. It was normally dropping 14-15hp dmg per round and had a +6 to hit modifier. That meant that if it wasn't tangling with my lvl. 5 25AC cleric who could take its hits, it could have easily TPKed a lvl. 1 party.

Silver Crusade 1/5

If he's talking about the scenario I think he's talking about, the 2nd encounter in that scenario actually has the chance to be more deadly then the "boss fight".

Spoiler:
I'm assuming he's talking about Rise of the Goblin Guild

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne

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Adam Mogyorodi wrote:

It's pretty easy to tell what scenario the OP is talking about if you've played it, and I agree that it is a tough encounter. However, if you've got a party of six level 1s, I fully believe it is a beatable encounter.

KestlerGunner's suggestion of hinting at how tough the opponent may be in melee is appropriate, and one that GMs should consider in their descriptions of an enemy. Also worth noting is the enemy's tactics in this scenario, which include spending an entire round not attacking.

Foes that can get rid of her weapon of choice would also do well in this area. If you see a character with a big shiny reach weapon, casting grease on it is a serious game-changer.

Again, the problem is not how beatable the encounter is for experienced players. The issue is how beatable it is for newbs.

5/5 *

Eric Saxon wrote:
Anyways, in one of these fights, I got dropped for 28 hp from one hit. Granted it was a CRIT but that would have shredded a lvl. 1 PC.

There is no way to fix the crits situation except GM dice fudge. This can happen (and DOES happen) in first steps part 1. You hear the stories all the time.

Dark Archive 4/5

Bigdaddyjug wrote:

If he's talking about the scenario I think he's talking about, the 2nd encounter in that scenario actually has the chance to be more deadly then the "boss fight".

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
Almost certainly. The bugbear fighter is a CR 3 opponent, and actually has the potential to only be a CR+1 encounter for a level 2 party. A group of level 1s will have to be clever and not rely on brute force, because she has them beat there. However, I don't see that as a flaw.

A party of the four pregens could handle her if they played smart. Valeros and Meresiel would be wise to NOT approach, and instead make good use of the huge amount of alchemist's fire they have found. Ezren could throw his staff or use it to cast grease through his bonded object, and Kyra could bless her party and use shield of faith on Valeros or Meresiel for when the brute approached.

trollbill wrote:
Adam Mogyorodi wrote:
Again, the problem is not how beatable the encounter is for experienced players. The issue is how beatable it is for newbs.

So because new players may play a 1-2 scenario, none of them should have tough encounters? I very much enjoyed Goblin Guild, and I spent several fights thinking my character was about to die.

If you are GMing a bunch of new players, you are ALLOWED to give hints.

"You know that you'll provoke an attack of opportunity if you move through these squares, right? This enemy looks strong enough to splatter one of you; maybe you should use a weapon that doesn't require you to be up close and personal."

Grand Lodge 5/5

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trollbill wrote:
Again, the problem is not how beatable the encounter is for experienced players. The issue is how beatable it is for newbs.

I disagree. In a situation where the combat isnt likely to be a pushover, like this one, and the party has new players, the GM and other players should be give helpful suggestions to the new players for things they could do that they may not already know (move into flank, target the guy who doesnt have cover, focus fire, etc).

The real problem is that scenarios are written for a certain tier. Even breaking them down to a subtier, the party is supposed to be at least somewhat challenging for a brand new character with 150gp all the way through a lvl 2.2 character who would probably have about 2650gp (over 17xs more) worth of gear.

Im not saying Paizo does a bad job, it's just difficult when you are trying to cover such a range. All scenarios suffer from this at times, though I think the discrepency is greatest at subtier 1-2.

Just let me say that yes, that scenario can be rough, I'm sorry the OP didnt have a good first play experience, and I empathize. I hope your next game goes better. :)

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne

Adam Mogyorodi wrote:
Bigdaddyjug wrote:

If he's talking about the scenario I think he's talking about, the 2nd encounter in that scenario actually has the chance to be more deadly then the "boss fight".

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

trollbill wrote:
Adam Mogyorodi wrote:
Again, the problem is not how beatable the encounter is for experienced players. The issue is how beatable it is for newbs.

So because new players may play a 1-2 scenario, none of them should have tough encounters? I very much enjoyed Goblin Guild, and I spent several fights thinking my character was about to die.

If you are GMing a bunch of new players, you are ALLOWED to give hints.

"You know that you'll provoke an attack of opportunity if you move through these squares, right? This enemy looks strong enough to splatter one of you; maybe you should use a weapon that doesn't require you to be up close and personal."

I never said gimping these scenarios was the solution. I was simply clarifying the problem under discussion and pointing out why it was a problem so that people wouldn't get sidetracked by something that really wasn't an issue.

1/5

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trollbill wrote:

I keep seeing the "play the First Steps" recommendation a lot when starting deadliness for PFS adventures is brought up. While it is good advice it only works when people ask about such things. Problem is, most newbs aren't going to do the prerequisite research to find this out before they actually try PFS. So some new DM says "let's try PFS" downloads a current mod (i.e. one of the challenging year 4 mods) and promptly ends up with dead players with a bad taste in their mouth. This doesn't really encourage people to play more PFS.

I disagree with this general notion that character death irrevocably leads to a bad player experience. Especially when we're talking about low level characters that have little personal attachment to the players.

In fact, I always considered character death one of the great strengths of 1st and 2nd Edition DnD where it was more than common.

Death/struggle/skillful play are what make DnD/Pathfinder more then just storytelling time. Its what allows us to be playing an engaging and thought provoking GAME with choices that mean something.

Plenty of parties have defeated that specific encounter, even using all 1st level pregens. Is it challenging? Yes. But personally that only gets me more fired up about PFS and what challenges it can offer in the future.

5/5 RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

I've run the scenario in question a few times. With a party filled with "newbie" players, that fight was a heroic challenge. They avoided the first opportunity for things to go wrong, but had a brutal time fighting that bugbear. I then ran it for a party of similar power, but whose players included a pair of tactically-minded optimizers. They breezed through the fight with little effort.

I agree that it is vital for GMs to offer suggestions and advice to newer players while they learn how to use their abilities. Some encounters leave enough "wiggle room" for errors and suboptimal decisions. Others require parties to bring their "A Game".

5/5 *

There are also GM variables that we don't know from the OP. In the scenario in question

Spoiler:
did the GM use Dazzling Display first, as stated in the tactics, or did the bugbear start tearing into people on the first go? Did some of the characters get pelted by the trap immediately, and got pummeled right after?

As we all know, no two scenarios get run 100% the same. Even the same scenario by the same GM will have minor differences based on player actions.

Silver Crusade 4/5

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Seth Gipson wrote:
trollbill wrote:
Again, the problem is not how beatable the encounter is for experienced players. The issue is how beatable it is for newbs.

I disagree. In a situation where the combat isnt likely to be a pushover, like this one, and the party has new players, the GM and other players should be give helpful suggestions to the new players for things they could do that they may not already know (move into flank, target the guy who doesnt have cover, focus fire, etc).

The real problem is that scenarios are written for a certain tier. Even breaking them down to a subtier, the party is supposed to be at least somewhat challenging for a brand new character with 150gp all the way through a lvl 2.2 character who would probably have about 2650gp (over 17xs more) worth of gear.

Im not saying Paizo does a bad job, it's just difficult when you are trying to cover such a range. All scenarios suffer from this at times, though I think the discrepency is greatest at subtier 1-2.

Just let me say that yes, that scenario can be rough, I'm sorry the OP didnt have a good first play experience, and I empathize. I hope your next game goes better. :)

Agreed that subtier 1-2 is tough for this stuff. There are some adventures that are fine for a party of level 2 players, but too tough if everyone is level 1 (especially with just starting 150 gp worth of eq). Others are just right for level 1 noobs, but boring for level 2 PCs.

I agree with the earlier suggestion that 1-5 subtiers could be divided better as 1, 2-3, and 4-5. Or if that's too many subtiers for a single adventure, maybe they could start doing some 1-3 adventures with subtiers of 1 and 2-3. Or 2-6 adventures broken up by 2-3 and 5-6, so that level 1s wouldn't get stuck in adventures that are too tough for them.

Or at the very least, a disclaimer on some adventures that the subtier 1-2 might be too tough for a party of only level 1 PCs would be useful. There are plenty of 1-2 scenarios that would be fine for all noobs, but this is one of those that clearly isn't.

1/5

In answer to the OP, that particular encounter is the toughest lvl 1 encounter I've come across in PFS (criticals from greataxes and scythes notwithstanding).

Dark Archive 4/5

I don't think it's nearly as deadly as a certain season 2 scenario that will not be named.

5/5 *

Adam Mogyorodi wrote:
I don't think it's nearly as deadly as a certain season 2 scenario that will not be named.

Indeed. I ran the scenario in question (the OP's scenario) 5-6 times last Gencon and never killed anyone with the bugbear.

One man's nightmare is another's cakewalk.

1/5

Tinywytch wrote:
I would like to express my concern that adventures marked as suitable for first level organized play - adventures which feature exclusively low cr monsters in every other encounter - can climax, for example, with a cr3 Bugbear that on average dice rolls will zero almost any first level player-character in a single blow.

The bad news is that feeling of being over-matched by the big bad evil guy is not limited to first level scenarios.

Quote:
Making an adventure challenging is part of the role-play experience, but including such a monster is not challenging.

As you gain more experience playing with different groups and as you read about other people's experiences, you'll realize one important thing:

Outcomes are highly circumstantial.

In other words, the party make-up and player skill level can be the difference between a TPK and nobody taking a hit. And let's not forget the Dice Gods.

I'm going to say something that PFS will not like, but, all four person groups are not the same. A party of four Sorcs with Obscuring Mist and Endure Elements are not going to perform like one with a Paladin, Druid, Ranger (archery), and Cleric. Alternatively, give those Sorcs Color Spray and Sleep and you may be coup de grace'ing your way through every encounter.

As someone or several ones have already suggested, the scenarios have to contemplate a baseline party. In this case, that includes some level 2's. My 2nd level Barbarian did that mission. He got chewed up by all the AF throwing goblins, but he one-shot that bugbear with his own crit.

Quote:
Challenge is about overcoming odds and I believe there should be a reasonable assumption that those odds can be overcome with reasonable loss to the party.

Challenge is determined by the preparation, skill, robustness, and adaptability of the one (or ones) undertaking the challenge. Good RPG scenarios put the onus on the player to play smart. As others have chimed in, that bugbear can be softened up from range and his mooks are sufficiently wimpy to be put down from range as well.

Quote:
Designing encounters to kill low level pc’s can seriously sour a player’s experience, especially those who are relatively new to the hobby.

Wait till you've put in a year or two on a guy and you have him die because of a failed save. PC death is a sour experience whenever it occurs. But you want it to be a bad experience, that means you're passionate about the game and it will motivate you to learn from the experience.

Quote:

I understand that the decision to run modules is taken by individual DM’s, but thought it best to take this opportunity to express my extreme concern and disappointment at such module design.

I hear some people telling you to run First Steps instead? That I don't really understand. As has been mentioned, Ledford is every bit as deadly as that boss you just faced. Not to mention a sorc in the back doing 1d6 with touch attacks.

PFS can be a cruel mistress. When she slaps you for seemingly no reason, figure out what the reason was. Next time you'll see it coming and catch her hand before it strikes.

That and don't forget to make your weekly sacrifice to the Dice Gods (or buy a re-roll T-shirt).

Welcome aboard (you're officially hooked)!

4/5

Adam Mogyorodi wrote:
I don't think it's nearly as deadly as a certain season 2 scenario that will not be named.

I don't think we should use said season 2 scenario as a basis for comparison, heh heh.

5/5

N N 959 wrote:
I'm going to say something that PFS will not like, but, all four person groups are not the same. A party of four Sorcs with Obscuring Mist and Endure Elements are not going to perform like one with a Paladin, Druid, Ranger (archery), and Cleric. Alternatively, give those Sorcs Color Spray and Sleep and you may be coup de grace'ing your way through every encounter.

Haha...why would "PFS" not like that?

That's the entire point, and the joy and risk of PFS...getting a different play experience everytime you sit down. Of COURSE every table is going to be different. Sometimes, you're going to have a laugh-out-loud buddy cop movie, complete with a blooper reel. Sometimes, you'll be at the edge of your seat, and everything between life and death comes down to the Hail Mary play. It comes down to who's in your party, who's your GM, what class combos you have, how the dice fall, and a million other unnamable factors.

Of course you don't know what the outcome is going to be. And there's going to be risk. Because if there wasn't risk, then the GM might as well hand you the chronicle sheet right after you sit down.

I'm sorry if you had a bad experience. Sometimes they just happen, for a whole lot of reasons. But please, don't think that one bad experience will mean all bad experiences. There's a lot of us who love the game and the community, and come back week after week. We can't all be wrong, can we? :-)

Dark Archive 4/5 5/5

As the event organiser we were looking to kickstart PFS again in our area. For the newbies we ran We be goblins in the first session and we had two other scenarios for our returning players. Second session was going to be First Steps 1 but we only had two newcomers for that session so I decided to run Rise of the Goblin guild to give two of our DMs a chance to play through a new scenario. I think in prepping the previous run I had noted the BBB could hit like a train and I may have to show some care there but my first group of mostly 2nd levels breezed through.

So as followup to We be goblins it seemed ideal so we had fun breezing through players 1 shotting all the goblins and then Tinywych wins initiative and get close to BBB with her ranger. Then BBB crits for 41 damage (or 29 if you fudge it and dont triple the six). Cavalier charges in and gets bashed for a regular 13 damage on the next round. We run out of time but with two 1st levels left chances of survival not good

In other words a crap end to an otherwise verry good day which most of us enjoyed. I certainly did till the last 5 minutes

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne

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Combatbunny wrote:


I disagree with this general notion that character death irrevocably leads to a bad player experience. Especially when we're talking about low level characters that have little personal attachment to the players.

In fact, I always considered character death one of the great strengths of 1st and 2nd Edition DnD where it was more than common.

Death/struggle/skillful play are what make DnD/Pathfinder more then just storytelling time. Its what allows us to be playing an engaging and thought provoking GAME with choices that mean something.

Plenty of parties have defeated that specific encounter, even using all 1st level pregens. Is it challenging? Yes. But personally that only gets me more fired up about PFS and what challenges it can offer in the future.

Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Page 36, under Dealing with Death.

"Consider, however, that for players new to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game in general, a violent death in a first experience can turn them off to the campaign and the game altogether. While we do not advocate fudging die rolls, consider the experience of the player when deciding whether to use especially lethal tactics or if a character is in extreme danger of death, especially when such a player is new to the game. Most players whose first experience in a campaign results in a character death do not return to the campaign."

Seems Paizo doesn't agree with you.

Don't get me wrong. I think your opinion matches that of most invested players, including my own. And most of the people reading this thread right now are invested players. But, again, we aren't talking about invested players, we are talking about newbs that we would hopefully like to eventually become invested players. Chasing them away by insisting they can and should play like the pros is not good for the hobby. PFS needs both newbs and invested players to keep growing and stay strong. Unfortunately, what is good for one group is not always good for the other and neither group should be ignored.

1/5

Eric the Blue wrote:
So as followup to We be goblins it seemed ideal so we had fun breezing through players 1 shotting all the goblins and then Tinywych wins initiative and get close to BBB with her ranger. Then BBB crits for 41 damage (or 29 if you fudge it and dont triple the six).

My 1st level archery ranger NEVER got into melee for exactly this reason. I knew he'd run the risk of an insta-death against the wrong foe. Since then, I've gotten a barb to level 3 (who has critted a BBEG at least twice) and my 1st level sword and board ranger survived Ledford (but did go negative thanks to Halli).

The bottom line is that I know melee is dangerous and I am one unlucky role from perma-death throughout 1st level and even 2nd. Probably good to point that out to complete newbies at the start. Nevertheless, I feel your pain as acutely as I do Tiny's. No decent person likes to see PC's have a bad experience.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

I recommend the first swathe of Season 0 scenarios for 'new' players. Between Silken Caravan, Silent Tide, Black Waters , Prince of Augustana there is a lot of variation there in terms of story and scope and I dont think any of the battles are particuarly deadly. It also introduces the story of the Society as it was originally. If a character pops out at level 2-3 at the other end of these season 0 scenarios then that should hold them in good scope for things to come in later seasons.

4/5 5/55/55/55/5

Season 0 running at 2pp like the rest of the seasons now?

The Exchange 5/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Shifty, yes. If a scenario offers only one PP, then a second PP is gained from completing the assigned mission.

4/5 5/55/55/55/5

Ahh ok thanks! I had seen refernce to old material only issuing one, but the PFS guide only seemed to say anything about 2.

I had been interested in going all retro and running some S0 material, now I think I will!

2/5

I'm going to chime in on the whole "First Steps" recommendation here.

While First Steps are a nice way to introduce new players to PFS, they aren't less deadly than a normal scenario. I've dropped whole parties in both parts 1 and 2. Sometimes dice and luck just don't work in the player's favor.

GMs should remember that with new players, that they shouldn't let them go at it blind. Offer tactical choices, explain the risks of maneuvers and even let them know what their choices are.

Spoiler:

My last TPK was on #2. Party of 4, bard with a wand. This was the 2nd game for all players. 3 players failed the ghoul's paralysis save, and the bard was dropped with a crit while the other 3 were still paralyzed.

If you have a party of all new players, consider the Beginner's Box scenarios. You have more fudge-room as GM, and can take the time to explain the situation and options.

As for my TPK of new players, we're actually starting up an AP so they can learn how to play before jumping back into PFS.

2/5

I would recommend First Steps, not because it's safe for newbies, but because it showcases the range of tasks Pathfinders are required to perform: Diplomacy/Sense Motive, Survival/Outdoors stuff, Investigation/City stuff, as well as Dungeon crawling.
It also demonstrates several conditions: paralysis, blindness, etc.
It makes for a good learning curve, before the player has to commit to their PC, giving them time to rebuild before 2nd to patch any holes.

Going through them also highlights the need for preparation and good tactics.
The other low-level scenarios I've played can be fun, but not nearly as instructional.

Cheers, JMK

1/5

Chris Clay wrote:

I'm going to chime in on the whole "First Steps" recommendation here.

While First Steps are a nice way to introduce new players to PFS, they aren't less deadly than a normal scenario. I've dropped whole parties in both parts 1 and 2. Sometimes dice and luck just don't work in the player's favor.

I had a near TPK in the first one. They key to avoiding them is, imho, making sure I:

1. Don't inadvertently meta-game as DM. You'd be surprised how easy it is to metagame NPC combat tactics without thinking about it. One major example is DM's who have all the NPC's act in a coordinated fashion without them having to communicate at all IC.

2. Take every inch of DM tactics discretion you're given and make sub-optimal combat decisions just like new players do. You can burn a whole round's worth of actions by having one NPC give complex orders to another NPC. Or have a low INT NPC ready an action to do something that's highly unlikely to occur.

Sovereign Court 5/5 5/5 ** Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston

My early PFS experiences were a bit sour. In my first mission, I had to surrender to the boss of First Steps 1. The fight was an absolute slaughter - my pregen Lirianna was the only PC standing, and we hadn't managed to take down a single opponent. My second scenario was really good, but my third scenario ended up in a TPK before the GM realized he had made a mistake and rewound it. My fourth mission, I nearly died as well. To be honest, I seriously considered quitting the campaign. Why? Because it isn't fun to go out and get pummeled to death in every single scenario. To me at the time, it felt near-impossible to level up a character given the lethality of the campaign.

Then I played the rest of PFS.

PFS is not an overly difficult campaign, on the whole, but the deadliness does seem to be all over the map. There are, I'd say, about 6 really, really deadly 1-5s, which I am listing below:

The deadlier 1-5s:

The Darkest Vengeance
Voice in the Void
The Citadel of Flame
The Temple of Empyrial Enlightenment
Rise of the Goblin Guild
Severing Ties

Beyond that, there are a few 1-5s that are difficult, but it's pretty rare that you'll have a large amount of death at that level, in my opinion. This is a good thing. Even as an experienced, invested player in PFS, I still would say that I would be *extremely* disappointed if either of my low-level characters [a film noir private eye who monologues, and a kitsune bard storyteller] died. Would I still play? Of course. But I would *not* be happy about it, and I imagine that if I hadn't had as many good experiences with PFS, the choice would be harder.

One of the things that we have to realize is that people come to PFS for one of two things - combat and roleplay. Some people love to get in there and smack things. For them, character death is not as disappointing. For a roleplayer, however, permanent death can be excruciating. It's not about the loss of EXP, gold, whatever - it's about the loss of an idea, the loss of a character concept. A roleplayer may feel that they can never use the personality that died again, at least, not without a few raised eyebrows.

This is why, as a GM, I am very generous towards new players when it comes to death. Unless your build is patently awful, unless you are a complete wimp when it comes to the combat side of the game, I try to be generous at lower levels. At higher levels, I bring the pain. A GM's purpose is to provide an enjoyable experience for all at the table, and an unavoidable, accidental death, while realistic, is not a satisfying experience for anybody at the table.

Some of you may not have experienced this - you've never been in those really dicey scenarios. The table gets very quiet, and there's an uncomfortable air in the room as everybody decides whether they want to save themselves or fight as a team. The sound of every dice roll reverberates through the air as if it had been dropped in an echo chamber. No more jokes, no more laughter, no more easy-going banter...just rapt attention, and focus on the die.

This sort of a situation can end in one of two ways. If it ends in death for the PC at the table, then there is disappointment and anger. If it ends in a narrow success, there is rejoicing, excitement and happiness. For me, when it gets to those moments at the low levels, especially with new players, I see no reason to disappoint. As a GM, you have the unique power to leave a very strong memory in a person's mind. I prefer to leave positive memories behind than negative ones.

4/5 5/55/55/55/5

LOL I've been on a few of those deadly 1-5's too!

I reckon you missed a more recent 'trilogy' though that also had a decent bodycount.

Sovereign Court 5/5 5/5 ** Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston

Shifty wrote:

LOL I've been on a few of those deadly 1-5's too!

I reckon you missed a more recent 'trilogy' though that also had a decent bodycount.

I must have, because I really have no idea what you're talking about. :P

Speculation, only difficulty-related spoilers:
Are you referring to The Quest for Perfection? If so, I haven't played or ran it yet, and haven't heard that it's particularly deadly - but I really don't know much about it. You could also be referring to Shades of Ice, which I didn't find to be particularly deadly. Shades of Ice isn't really all that new, though.

5/5 *

Although technically a 1-7,

Spoiler:
The Dalsine Affair
is regarded as a killer 1-2 as well.

4/5 5/55/55/55/5

I would be talking about that quest :p

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