So Rohkar nearly killed the entire party...


Reign of Winter

Liberty's Edge

4 Adventurers, all first level, Spell-less Ranger, Cleric, Witch and Magus, went up the stairs, mutual startle-ment event between the party and Rohkar, party won initiative, and killed the skeletons in the first round, then Rohkar got to act. By the second round everyone but the ranger was down to 0 or less hp, while he was down to 14. The Ranger (who had the initiative action just before Rohkar) managed a Critical hit knocking him to negative 2, just before another channel negativ energy would have killed the group. This was great!


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Details please.


I think it's kind of mean to throw a 3rd level cleric with channel negative at 1st level characters, especially when said cleric really could care less if his allies live or die.

SO with that in mind, I used channel negative once. It was still almost a TPK.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

And that's why I use 2nd level as the starting level for PCs and then increase the difficulty of the foes by one to compensate. Increases survivability. (Then again, I'm also running 3rd and 4th level characters through this and increasing the difficulty even further, but that's because I switched campaigns from a sandbox to this AP.)

That said, there is a simple fix, and it's one I honestly am surprised the writers didn't go by. Have him be a Rogue 1/Cleric 2. That still gives him three levels (and a CR of 2) but reduces his AoE kill spell to 1d6. And it makes sense in the game seeing the module states he became a priest late in life... which is why I'm surprised that he didn't have a level in rogue or fighter.


I thought the same thing, Tangent. Even my players were surprised he didn't have any sneak attack. . . they just assumed he'd have a level of rogue, since he's leading a bunch of bandits.


I am confused

How did your players manage to get to his room without him knowing about them?

There are several hurdles (if they got over all of them I am impressed)

- Trap that acts as an alarm
- Bandits in the main room send a runner
- Noise from fight downstairs

I guess everyone got dropped down to zero or less by a particularly nasty channel and bad saves?

I will admit is is a horrendous battle and I had to pull some punches to stop a TPK (I didn't want party deaths at first boss fight as lots of PC killing was a hallmark of the prior GM)

Therefore I too only used one channel (that is because i forgot about it and the correct application of deathwatch)

Party was suffering horrendously from the original fight (and prior ones) and then I raised zombies downstairs (when half the party was in rokhar's room). It was going very badly- and this was with 5 PCs but they were far from fresh

Overall a very hard battle - and one that will probably remain their hardest for some time since I toned down Winter Portal (the 5ft vision and 5ft movement stumbling was getting irritating)

Liberty's Edge

2 bad channels... And by the way, I'm not complaining about this, it amused the hell out of me AND my players enjoyed the hell out of it. As for how they managed to catch him somewhat unawares, a combination of somewhat intelligent tactics (They managed to draw the bandits in the downstairs room outside and dispatch them fairly quickly, then a quick room to room sweep with a sleep spell to keep the people in the sickroom out of the fight), and some really crappy perception rolls by Rohkar (The quick GM handwave is they wandered in on him just as he finished animating the frost skeletons, which moved to attack as soon as the PC's enter the door. The Natural 1 on Rohkar's initiative didn't help him all that much. But even with all that stacked against him, he still nearly wiped the floor with the PC's. which was GREAT.

Ya see, the last game I ran (when I was still learning the Pathfinder game rather then 2e) the PC's were cakewalking most of it, but now that I've got more of the system down, the Penny Arcade comic is starting to make sense to them ( http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/11/30 ).

Not even the Players had any complaints really since they have been enjoying the challenge so far. So this is looking to be a great campaign!


This is why I've taken a house rule of "first level max HP+Con Mod+Con" for HP. Increases survivability without needing to make certain things too brutal. I would've had a TPK in RotR without it, and when I start this AP today I'm taking the same mentality.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Wait. You're giving people an extra 10+ hit points for first level? Hmm...


Yeah, my group does the same thing that Dathus is doing. Greatly reduces the odds of 1st level PCs dying due to mere bad luck, and encourages players to make PCs with pretty detailed backstories (since they don't normally need to worry about the character instantly dying because the DM rolled a 20).

Liberty's Edge

That kinda takes all the fun out of it...
Part of the fun of low level play for me both as a GM and a player is that's the 'death could be around every corner' portion of the game... You feel like you've gotten more powerful when you can waltz through encounters that used to scare the crap out of you...


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Actually, after looking over the info on Rohkar, I suspect he's nearly killing (or TPKing in some cases) the group because the GMs are not using the recommended strategy for the cleric. His write-up states he uses Channel Energy to heal his Skeletons and Zombies. It does not state he uses it as a weapon against the PCs. This may be because he's hiding what he is from others and thus has gotten used to not using Channel Energy as a weapon... or the fact he doesn't have Selective Channel and got out of the habit because while he doesn't care especially for the lives of his bandit band, a mobile and fast meatshield is always handy.

If you go by his recommended tactics, he uses a poisoned weapon and a Fear spell against the PCs... but otherwise doesn't use his most potent ability to kill off the entire group.

That said? I'm going to have him use it as a weapon against the group (at least once), but half of that is because the group is level 3 minimum and thus have the hit points to survive a couple bad rolls.


I plan on having Rohkar burn one or two channels (after using death knell) to efficiently kill his men (my players stabilized the bandits and shoved their unconscious bodies into a bedroom) before animating them. That leaves him at least two channels to use to heal his zombies and one to harm the players as a last resort. That'll make it a close finish, I'm thinking.

One PC is a secret (ssh...) priest of Sarenrae so I'm hoping to have an interesting dialog about keeping one's faith hidden. That is if they don't just kill the guy on the spot.


Holt wrote:

That kinda takes all the fun out of it...

Part of the fun of low level play for me both as a GM and a player is that's the 'death could be around every corner' portion of the game... You feel like you've gotten more powerful when you can waltz through encounters that used to scare the crap out of you...

Different strokes, I guess.

You can still get the same "feel more powerful" effect at any level. A few more hp doesn't change that. At one level you struggle against a single troll, a few levels later the Frost Giant has 4-5 as bodyguards. A few levels after that the BBEG has 4-5 Frost Giants.
It's the nature of the leveling process in D&D.

You don't need to be 1st level and likely to die from a lucky crit, or as in this case TPK to a couple of channels.


Zhangar wrote:
Yeah, my group does the same thing that Dathus is doing. Greatly reduces the odds of 1st level PCs dying due to mere bad luck, and encourages players to make PCs with pretty detailed backstories (since they don't normally need to worry about the character instantly dying because the DM rolled a 20).

Speaking of the DM rolling 20s. I didn't confirm it, but almost dropped a PC with the initial zombie encounter. They rolled poorly, and I had two hit one(only Fighter in range) and both hit. One for max, one for not, total of 16 damage in one turn. So glad I gave them the bonus HP now.

"Holt wrote:

That kinda takes all the fun out of it...

Part of the fun of low level play for me both as a GM and a player is that's the 'death could be around every corner' portion of the game... You feel like you've gotten more powerful when you can waltz through encounters that used to scare the crap out of you...

It would, if I didn't stop pulling punches because of said higher HP and punish poor decisions with the worst outcomes. My players have taken their HP as a blessing in disguise since it's been one of the only ways they've survived certain death. Like I mentioned, Ripnugget was an almost TPK even WITH the bonus HP(Ranger was left with 7 HP when Ripnugget was down to 1).

I am mostly GMing newer players, and I want them to enjoy their experiences, and learn that as fun as Pathfinder is, the dice can get real bad real fast. I'm gaining a reputation as a GM who rolls high, even though I've only killed one character.


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Almost completely irrelevant here, but I give 1st level PCs some extra hp as well. I use the alternative rule presented way back in one of the PF Beta rules, and give them extra hp according to race: Elves and gnomes 6, dwarves and halforcs 10, everyone else 8. It makes a world of difference at 1st level IMO. But then, this might not be for everyone.


I'm wondering why he is described as a CR2 when he has 3 levels in cleric.


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An NPC without racial hit dice has a CR equal to character level minus one. (Minus two instead if the NPC only has levels in NPC classes like adept, aristocrat, commoner, expert, or warrior.)


My group was level 2 and consists of 5 PCs and it still was a very exciting fight. No casualties, however (only some almost-casualties).


All NPCs are CR = Class Levels -1. So his CR is correct. I think we were second level when we fought him and survived fine.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Well, that's the thing. You were 2nd level. Most parties that suffer TPK from him are 1st level... and the GM used him effectively rather than have him only use his Channel Negative Energy to heal the undead.


Perhaps you missed some encounters in the wilderness. I added only one extra random encounter and my group was still level 2. I think the encounter is basically meant for level 2.


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He tried to sneak past gunslinger in one of ours, got capped in the head and thrown off balcony:-)


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If you look at the recommended leveling, it recommends leveling them to 2nd level "by the time they find the Winter Portal" - or in other words, they should reach level 2 just before the Winter Portal encounter... or at it. Oddly enough they level you up quicker after that with the recommendation of level 3 when you reach Waldsby, and only reach level 4 just before they fight Radosek.

Mind you, my group was levels 3-5 (one level 5, two level 4, and three level 3s) entering into RoW as I'd been running a campaign prior to this. I upgraded enemies to compensate for their higher level, and the Lodge was not a TPK for me (though it would have been if I played intelligently and had allowed the party leader to split the party in the middle of a snowstorm at night to try and smoke out the lodge after having previously set off the crossbow alarm (the party successfully hid and used a fox familiar to convince the guards that an animal had tripped the trap).

Ironically enough, the crossbow trap had been reset and despite stopping JUST before I was going to have the trap trigger and search, the rogue failed to find it and triggered it again. What was worse, the bandits rolled a natural 20 prior to that for a Perception check and saw the group coming (in the morning after having rested up). If not for a cunningly-used illusion of a fallen tree that had both most of the bandits AND most of the party fail their saves? Well, it would have been much uglier. Even then, Rokhar proved to be quite a dangerous foe. :)

So... as-written, a normal group of four would have a very hard fight against the raiders AND then Rokhar and his Ice Skeletons (which do area effect cold damage each round and with each strike, and explode for more damage when destroyed). If you have Rokhar using Channel Negative Energy intelligently? You need to have bad luck with Rokhar and really good rolls for the PCs for a 1st level group to prevail.

Silver Crusade

Tangent101 wrote:

If you look at the recommended leveling, it recommends leveling them to 2nd level "by the time they find the Winter Portal" - or in other words, they should reach level 2 just before the Winter Portal encounter... or at it. Oddly enough they level you up quicker after that with the recommendation of level 3 when you reach Waldsby, and only reach level 4 just before they fight Radosek.

If you followed the experience track, it means they should have reached 2 before they even arrived at the winter portal. Sometime after Rohkar during the next skeletons, or frost firs.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The campsite is not the Winter Portal. The Winter Portal itself is the encounter with a certain spear-wielding guardian. Thus what I said is accurate. In any event, the fight against Rokhar will most often be with 1st level characters unless the GM chooses otherwise. And if the players just moved through all the existing encounters without taking time to rest? Then you will probably have no spellcasting capabilities left, little healing capability, and even wounded warriors. Further, hypothermia may be a problem with some characters meaning that taking the Lodge is now a matter of life or death.

Thus the TPK situation.

Even if you did have players at level 2... without having slept, spellcasters won't have gained new spells and thus will still be pretty much useless unless they have a crossbow or the like... and once melee starts, ranged attacks become quite difficult for most casters. (Why take Precise Shot and its prerequisite if you're going to do most of your fighting with magic?)


I remember my player group was very careful. They basically lured some bandits outside. They also managed to convince the half-orc rogue to stand aside.
Nevertheless, they still had a tough fight, but finally they managed well enough.

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