4-23 Rivalry's End (spoilers probable)


GM Discussion

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5/5

Matthew Morris wrote:

Ah, the classic "I'll bring this up, but don't want to talk about it."

I found it funny that you find it fine to have NPCs autosucceed, but not PCs. What's good for the goose... and all that.

*** spoiler omitted **

In reply to the spoiler:

Spoiler:
Here's one of my characters, from when he was level 7. Definitely not impossible to make the check, just unlikely.

Monk (Zen Archer)

Sense Motive modifiers
+5 Wis
+7 ranks
+3 class skill
+2 Alertness
+2 Snake Style
+3 Skill Focus
+5 Inquisitor's Monocle
--
+27 total

Grand Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber

People are going back and forth about the impossible skill check... they should have had just boxed text to get rid of the entire discussion. The point is that they wanted a specific event for the meta-plot and they got it. The fact that he's not "gone" just because your party won initiative and one-shot him shows this. Paizo has bigger plans for Torch.

That being said, I have no issue with an NPC acting like a player. He's an amazing liar and has probably gotten lots of mileage out of his Bluff skill and innocence. Having more than one method of escape is smart too. If it were me, I'd probably be arrogant enough to have more than one dim-door item and feel that I can just poof in a round.

Grand Lodge

Wanting to make sure that I understand how something is supposed to work.

Spoiler:
Am I reading it correctly in that the touch of idiocy trap affects the first person to step on the rug in low tier (Reset = None), but it affects everyone who steps on it at high tier (Reset = Auto).

Grand Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber
sieylianna wrote:

Wanting to make sure that I understand how something is supposed to work.

** spoiler omitted **

Correct!

It also has some fairly weak magic designed to shield it from detect magic (but it's just a DC 11 Will save to throw off). On high tier, the runes around it also implant a suggestion spell.

Must be an expensive rug!

Shadow Lodge

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I'd also totally give Torch a +10 circumstance bonus given the whole context of the situation, his background, his reputation, etc.

Once upon a time in our roleplaying games, we just said things were the way they were, and we didn't concern ourselves if our rolls were high enough to win if it meant a great story was still about to unfold...

Then we walked home. Five miles. In the snow.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
wakedown wrote:
Once upon a time in our roleplaying games, we just said things were the way they were, and we didn't concern ourselves if our rolls were high enough to win if it meant a great story was still about to unfold...

That doesn't make it a better or worse way to play, of course. Just a different one.

Dark Archive 4/5

Author should have just left it off and said "Plot Device - no one sees this coming"

Dark Archive

Played this one as a PC in a "home game" and have not read the scenario.

Spoiler/Question:
Our GM ran the fight with the Spider where she never lost invisibility. How is this possible? She is casting targeted spells on the PCs.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Relmn Sarjinn wrote:

Played this one as a PC in a "home game" and have not read the scenario.

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
Greater Invisibility doesn't drop. But it is 1 round/level, which means she has approximately 11 rounds to kill everyone or she loses it.
Grand Lodge 4/5

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Andrew Torgerud wrote:
Author should have just left it off and said "Plot Device - no one sees this coming"

People would STILL be howling about not getting a Sense Motive check.

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

Mike Lindner wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:

Ah, the classic "I'll bring this up, but don't want to talk about it."

I found it funny that you find it fine to have NPCs autosucceed, but not PCs. What's good for the goose... and all that.

*** spoiler omitted **

In reply to the spoiler:

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks, I don't know all the ends and outs of how to jack it so high. Still bugs me.

The Exchange 5/5

Relmn Sarjinn wrote:

Played this one as a PC in a "home game" and have not read the scenario.

** spoiler omitted **

answer for you:
Forth level spell Greater Invisibility
The Exchange 5/5

anyone have a PC jump up to defend Torch?

I'm judging this tomorrow (and I haven't gotten to play it, but my SL PC is 10th now, so...), and was wondering. I know my SL PC would have jumped up to assist him in getting out of the room... or stopped the fight, or something. And if she'd been in the game, if I'd been able to play her thru this, I can easily see her "retiring" out to see if she could reconnect with the Torch outside the PFS.

question about the Bodyguards.

After Torch DDs away - do they brake-off combat and head out? The boss is gone, if the PCs are in the room - why not just leave them there and head out? Most likely they could easily outdistance the PCs (fast movement), and "live to fight another day"...

2/5 *

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My PC backflipped to Torch (using Total Defense), defended him, and said "Run Torch run!". I was the only one who beat him in init, so he just teleported away...

My PC also made a copy of "The Ten" before handing it over... heh.

If anyone asks (no one did), I would have just said that: "Torch was too tricky and sly not to get away (if he was even here), I did that as part of a ruse to perhaps one day contact him again and gain his trust".

Which is of course a lie. Death to the Decemvirate! lol.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, Michigan—Mt. Pleasant

My players were unsure of what to do. Several of them won initiative, but they just took readied actions, waiting to see if they were going to be attacked or what. The bodyguards were like "Hey, we don't really want to fight you guys, we're just working for him. Let us go, and no one has to get hurt."

While the players didn't really like what he did, they were so pissed at the Spider for her confusion spells that they felt it was just, and were more disappointed they didn't get to be the ones to kill her. :D

They were quite shocked when they found out that Protection from Evil doesn't protect against confusion... :D (And since several of my players play the same Barb1/FighterX strong 2H weapon build, they were not happy to be confused)

Had one temp death at the hands of the lowest level char.

1/5

Eric Clingenpeel wrote:

My players were unsure of what to do. Several of them won initiative, but they just took readied actions, waiting to see if they were going to be attacked or what. The bodyguards were like "Hey, we don't really want to fight you guys, we're just working for him. Let us go, and no one has to get hurt."

While the players didn't really like what he did, they were so pissed at the Spider for her confusion spells that they felt it was just, and were more disappointed they didn't get to be the ones to kill her. :D

They were quite shocked when they found out that Protection from Evil doesn't protect against confusion... :D (And since several of my players play the same Barb1/FighterX strong 2H weapon build, they were not happy to be confused)

Had one temp death at the hands of the lowest level char.

Protection from evil does in fact protect against confusion. Confusion is a compulsion and Protection from Evil specifically calls out that it makes you immune to compulsions as well as grants you another save if you are already under the effect of a compulsion. Even though I had a wand of Protection from Evil in that fight it didn't help much, as I kept failing the save anyway.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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The original Core Book FAQ indicates it does not, but Confusion is definitely within the realm of what Protection from Evil might/should protect against. The argument is that Confusion does not directly control your mind like Dominate spells do.

* Contributor

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Andrew Torgerud wrote:
Author should have just left it off and said "Plot Device - no one sees this coming"

But then people would have been saying, "We should've gotten a check for this--even at a high DC, you should've given us a check!" And I agree with that sentiment, so there is a check that's possible, but intentionally quite difficult. (As Torch has been masquerading his intentions from the Decemvirate for years, it's reasonable that he's very, very good at bluffing.)

4/5 ****

As for protection from evil here are the two current FAQ entrires:

Protection From Evil: Does the "protection against possession and mental control" aspect work against non-evil controlling spells and effects?

Answer:
No. The spell says "This second effect only functions against spells and effects created by evil creatures or objects." So if a chaotic neutral enemy casts charm person on you, protection from evil doesn't have any effect because neither the spell nor the caster is evil.

Protection From Evil: Does this work against all charm and compulsion effects? Or just against charm and compulsion effects where the caster is able to exercise control over the target, such as charm person, command, and dominate person (and thus not effects like sleep or confusion, as the caster does not have ongoing influence or puppet-like control of the target)?

Answer:
The latter interpretation is correct: protection from evil only works on charm and compulsion effects where the caster is able to exercise control over the target, such as command, charm person, and dominate person; it doesn't work on sleep or confusion. (Sleep is a border case for this issue, but the designers feel that "this spell overrides your brain's sleep centers" is different enough than "this spell overrides your resistance to commands from others.")

So the spell must have the evil descriptor or come from an evil caster, additionally it must exercise control over the target, to help clarify confusion is specifically excluded from protection granted.

Shadow Lodge 1/5

I messed up a few times running this, but my group didn't mind. In fact, some of the Shadow Lodgers made it a point NOT to attack Torch, only the bodyguards. One (who likes to take ears as trophies... she joined Osirion, fittingly) I told she probably knew the half-orc by name.

Dark Archive 3/5 *** Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—Sheffield

nosig wrote:

anyone have a PC jump up to defend Torch?

I'm judging this tomorrow (and I haven't gotten to play it, but my SL PC is 10th now, so...), and was wondering. I know my SL PC would have jumped up to assist him in getting out of the room... or stopped the fight, or something. And if she'd been in the game, if I'd been able to play her thru this, I can easily see her "retiring" out to see if she could reconnect with the Torch outside the PFS.

We did. We were a 50/50 split of Shadow Lodge to "everyone else". When the fight started, Torch Dim Door'ed out, my rogue backflipped through the window, the (SL) witch ran for the stairs and our fighter colleague stood there like a lemon. Having aced some acrobatics checks, the GM let me catch up to Torch - who told me to stay in the society as a double agent. I ran back to the fight just in time to kill-steal the last barbarian.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, Michigan—Mt. Pleasant

Robert A Matthews wrote:
Protection from evil does in fact protect against confusion. Confusion is a compulsion and Protection from Evil specifically calls out that it makes you immune to compulsions as well as grants you another save if you are already under the effect of a compulsion. Even though I had a wand of Protection from Evil in that fight it didn't help much, as I kept failing the save anyway.

As Pirate Rob quoted the FAQ clarifies that Prot Evil only protects against compulsions that try to directly control characters. Confusion just messes with their heads.

Grand Lodge

A couple of additional spoiler-like questions, I ran across when running the module, which I am putting here in the hopes the author will answer them for other judges

Shadow Lodge Faction mission:
The encounter says to obtain the ledgers and modify them using Linguistics before turning them in. However, the faction mission summary states that the unaltered books can be turned in. I went with the encounter text and the PC's failed because neither had linguistics which is trained only, but the summary does not match the encounter.

Bodyguards:
Do the bodyguards fight to the death once Torch has escaped? Tactics say they protect Torch, but Morale says that they fight to the death.

DM Rewards:
Do DM's get Unexpected Prestige and Fool Me Once or do they have to choose one?

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Re: The shadow lodge faction mission
It appears that the idea behind that mission is that the PCs replace bunch of names, use Linguistics to make it look real, then when it turns out that the Shadow Lodge can no longer give out Prestige, have to remember what they did so they can tell Ambrus Valsin what the Shadow Lodge was up to. So it's supposed to be kind of contradictory.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Andrew Christian wrote:
So you are upset that an NPC with a major NPC plot point had a skill check the equivalent of a bluff optimized PC skill check?

Yes...yes I am.

1) As discussed ad nauseam for The Dalsine Affair, being on the sidelines watching the story rather than participating in the story are not fun. Having an "unbeatable" skill check for the sake of having a "cutscene" is not fun. Having the party have virtually no chance (short of a divination wizard who gets initative) to capture Torch simply because the powers that be demanded that to be the end of the story is not fun.

2) Along with other things, is one of the problems with season 4, optimized opponents that we need optimized characters to defeat. Apparently making the combats over the top isn't enough anymore, now the skills have to go there.

Spoiler:
Whether it's the one-shot kill clockworks (on a level 7 with a buffed up AC of 28 who is taking -4 to all hits and a CON of 16), the web/nausea/4d6 damage/dex damage big f-you mid-scenario (causing two of the party to end because of lucky rolls at 1 DEX each), the dominating-confusion casting-invisible crap that follows, or the crit-build barbarian/rogues apparently now the only way I'm supposed to play is through optimization. Woe to the casual group or the casual players.

I swore I wouldn't be the cheese-weasel that buys the Clear Spindle Ioun Stone....now I'm glad I violated my own complaint on one of the dumbest items ever allowed in society simply because it let me actually survive this rancid crap.

Terrible scenario, TERRIBLE ending to the Shadow Lodge (and one I saw coming a mile away once it was announced that it was a huge "twist"), and one that I'll be glad has no relevance after this month.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Don't really want to have this argument on the forums with you. But I think you are over reacting. We've shown above that it isn't hard to make a guy capable of getting the 41 without too much investment.

And I'm not sure that organized play has ever been, in any of its incarnations from living city until now, a good place for casual play.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Andrew Christian wrote:
Don't really want to have this argument on the forums with you. But I think you are over reacting. We've shown above that it isn't hard to make a guy capable of getting the 41 without too much investment.

You've shown that there is a particular build that makes it possible to roll something around a 16 to notice what's going on, a build that for all intents and purposes will make that character a one trick pony to notice what's going on in this scenario who will invest a lot of their abilities and points into sense motive.

I agree with Andrew Hoskins, they should have just written it as boxed text...would have been the same result.

Quote:
And I'm not sure that organized play has ever been, in any of its incarnations from living city until now, a good place for casual play.

And Andrew, that is where our opinions differ. PFS should be a good place for all players, not just those that like to optimize, or those who want to ride every scenario on the edge. That group of players that should be included are absolutely casual players, and kids who don't know how to optimize, and those that just want to make a good Pathfinder vs. the latest Ubermench. I believe that until recently (i.e. Season 4), playing PFS worked just fine for casual players. Now you get one kid at your table who can't concentrate, and/or the significant other that's just along for the fun and you're watching your group get stomped. I've now lived twice in season 4 only because of these damn powerbuilds. Franky it's not fun to watch your character get stomped to death or near death on the freakin' surprise round in any scenario, which is becoming the norm rather than the exception, and Rivalry's End is just another example of that, to the extreme.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Ryan, I haven't been present for your experiences, so I don't know who the other players were, who the GMs were, or what scenarios were so tough for you. I know you've seen several of my characters, and while they are competent, the don't tend to hit the high side of optimized and usually are versatile.

I have not had the same experiences as you, either as a GM or a player. Yes there are players in our region who optimize excessively, and some tough scenarios. We also have some GMs who try too hard as well. But overall I enjoy season 4 more than zero and one, which for both story and challenge were weak.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Andrew Christian wrote:
But overall I enjoy season 4 more than zero and one, which for both story and challenge were weak.

I don't think it's fair to ever bring season 0 into a discussion on difficulty (since it's not even Pathfinder), and with Season 1 everything was new and the training wheels were still on with the new system. I can't speak to the Season 4 metastory, since I haven't gotten anything out of it at all (which may be speaking to the Season 4 metastory, or it might betray the fact I've not played that many scenarios in Season 4).

That all said, for Season 4:


  • I've murdered half a table in the surprise round/first action in one game
  • While GMing nearly murdered a table another game where only the presence of an uber-build saved the day
  • I've watched a GM pull WAAAY back in order to prevent a series of multiple TPKs on a nearly perfectly-balanced but unoptimized group
  • I watched as a player two characters get steamrolled and killed by near-unbeatable NPC builds in another scenario
  • I've watched optimized builds plow through a scenario that would have killed everybody else had that one player not been there on two occasions.
  • One scenario broke my cardinal sin of gaming by making most of the table sit out most of the combat (oh this is fun)
  • The Disappeared was actually a fun scenario.
  • Oh, and in one scenario we played with Goblins, and it was fun.

That's 7/9 season 4's. At this point I think I've identified a trend, and it's one I'm tired of hearing isn't a problem.

And to go back to the original point, the biggest complaint about this particular scenario (the first point actually) was that it's back to the "you just get to watch". That's not fun. Why not let the players...

Spoiler:
just capture Torch in a fight with him? I mean he can just break out later, or maybe it's part of his master scheme. This is regardless of the fact that I think turning him into a "bad guy" was a major cop-out, especially when most people still agree with him and want to see him succeed.

Terrible, terrible scenario on multiple levels.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

From another point of view, I would find it incredibly unbelievable if the PCs managed to out trick Grandmaster Torch. The man is the best information broker we’ve seen in the campaign and is one of the best secret-keepers in the campaign. (He kept the fact that he was the leader of the Shadow Lodge hidden for 3 seasons.) I would find it very suspect if it was easy to see through Torch’s lies. The DC should be hard.

True, we could just cut scene away the lying, but as Ron said earlier in the thread, there would be people complaining about the essential GM fiat. This way, we have a DC set for those people who want it and everyone else gets their effective cut scene. Plus, there’s now a really huge challenge for players. Much like people can claim that they beat Waking Rune on hard mode, people can claim that they saw through Torch’s bluff. Sure, it’s going to be really hard, but those few can wear it as a badge of honor. While it shouldn’t be a common occurrence, a couple of those thrown in to the campaign can help it like a good spice.

MisterSlanky, I’m not saying that the trend you’re seeing doesn’t exist (although I look to later season 4 and see a better balance than earlier season 4). However, I do feel that the Grandmaster Torch encounter is entirely fair and is not an example of unfair season 4 encounters. I think it’s more of a sign that Grandmaster Torch is not out of the PFS storyline just yet.

As a side note about Dorianna – I got to play Shadow’s Last Stand Part II today, and I was reminded about how bad she is in that scenario. It’s given me a new appreciation for this encounter. (Also, any encounter based off confusion is going to have high variability due to the nature of the spell.)

4/5

Just ran this for the second time, this time for the high tier. Barbarian 6, Witch 5, Zen Archer 7 and level 7 Merisiel.

PCs made the gather info check to get wind of the clockwork soldiers, so the Zen archer loaded up on Adamantine weapon blanche.

The clockwork soldiers made quick work of the barbarian, knocking him to within 1 HP of death (the Witch thankfully had Stabilize). Merisiel was surprisingly effective with Sneak Attack and crits until one of the soldiers took her rapier. The Zen archer, Merisiel, and the Witch, managed to wear down the constructs by moving backwards and avoiding full attacks. Merisiel managed to finish one off with a thrown dagger crit.

They made the Perception check (Merisiel again, taking 10, no less) for the Web/Creeping Doom and the Rugs. Disabled the traps and started in on Ouidda.

Ouidda got the Barbarian with a Dominate and the Zen Archer with a Hold Person. Witch slumbered the Barbarian to keep him from slaughtering the party. Merisiel located Ouidda by hearing her cast, allowing the witch to glitterbomb her. Witch got off his own Hold Person, and Zen Archer broke free and nearly killed Ouidda with a flurry.

Back at the Cypher Lodge, everyone fails the Sense Motive check (naturally) and Torch kills Ouidda. He rolls a 5 for initiative. Zen Archer flurries, and Torch goes down. They wipe up the bodyguards (but not before a crit nearly kills the Barbarian, again).

I didn't expect them to capture Torch at all, and had some doubts about them getting past the first encounter. I suppose the Zen Archer should have had his bow out (don't know if he had Quick Draw, but I doubt it). Other than that (and I'll concede that could make a huge difference), it was a clean capture.

Players had a good time. Their verdict: "short but hard." But we like a challenge.

I've run it twice now, and I'm scheduled to play next week. I really like it, and my favorite part is seeing how different parties react to the reveal. The low tier party I ran just shrugged (Torch escaped handily) and walked away without a fight. The high tier jumped into kill mode without hesitation.

Grand Lodge 4/5

We did it yesterday with a mix of characters in the 6-7 tier. My tower shield specialist, a two-hander beatstick fighter, a wizard, an magus and a Kyra pregen.

First Encounter:

The soldiers put the hurt on our melees. The two hander took a big massive bite out of two of them with a really nasty cleave. They hit my fighter more than she's been hit since 1st level. Nasty. Dropped the other fighter in 3 blows.

Second Encounter:

All of us had done Shadow's last stand, and my fighter (having nearly killed the party bard in that encounter with the Spider) was particularly paranoid. (Clear Spindle AND a scroll Supress of Charms & Compulsions) walked into the room with a Magic Circle of Protection vs Evil rocking. That is the only reason we survived. We all survived the web but were too far to get to the door before the swarms came at us... BUT.. the Creeping doom is a summoning.. so we got to watch them get stopped 10 feet short of the Mgaus.. who had backed up to keep from breaking the line of travel to the softer characters. Needless to say watching those swarms pile up at the 10 foot mark was scary.

Third Encounter:

We found (courtesy of detect magic) the rugs were 'magical'. One of us made a claymore comment and tried to figure how to get past it (No trap monkey) since the GM said we couldn't walk around it. So we burned it and waited for the 'glow' to go away. While we waited we watched the door and discussed what we were going to do (out of character).
After a quick set up involving Invisibility Purge, Haste and a few other choice spells, my tower shield specialist headed in with the cleric right behind. The dominate hit and thanks to the PfE and Clear Spindle I made my save.. and walked over to slap her with the flat of my +1 adamantine bastard sword (known locally as 'Bard Beater'). The other fighter flanked and we put a hurt on her. She responded with a confusion at ground zero. The 2hander and cleric saved, Spider, me and the magus didn't. Wizard hit me with a dispel magic and I was free. I realized that she had to go. So another slap with a 2hand from the other fighter and a promell strike from me and she went down like a bag of rocks. Then it was a round of disarming the magus to keep him from hurting himself or others. (Got 27 points of non-lethal courtesy of him for that)
My fighter was grinning broadly as she 'Al Bundy'ed the Spider into a few doorframes on the way out.

Finale:

Naturally none of us saw the coup coming. (41 DC wtf?). Torch rolled badly for init. The bodyguards.. almost as badly. The rest of us went before them (save the Kyra of course.)
My fighter walked up and smiled at Torch. "This is Bard Beater..' Then vital striked him, the 2hander having just hit him for a good bit. Then the cleric on her turn hit him with a searing light and he dropped before his turn.
The body guards flanked me and the 2 hander. Two nasty falchion hits and the 2 hander was hurting. I took 1 hit (with a 30 AC, courtesy of the Wizard's haste) and was a 'bit miffed'. He took two more hits and went down in the next round. Then one of the bodyguards hit him to make sure he stayed down. (-27 WAY past con). 3 body guards. Magus gets mauled, I take a hit. Wizard helps me drop one of my flankers. (BEST MAGIC MISSILE EVAR!)
Then the magus goes down with a -2 and takes another hit that puts him to within 1 or so of con because the guards didn't want the cleric bringing him back. (After he dropped one of them with NL damage.) So I 'occupied' his attention while the cleric brought him back to the mid 20s with a good roll heal spell. I FINALLY drop the last bodyguard with another MM assist from the wizard (yay!)
Nasty nasty fight. And yeah..after they killed the other fighter, she felt that the rules of the fight went to 'no quarter' so she killed the last bodyguard.

Both my GM credit character AND my figher (I've run and played it) are of the mind that when Torch comes back, they will NOT support him (my GM credit was on my SL character..she feels EXTREMELY betrayed) and will consider anyone allied with him as a 'Rogue Shadowlodge' member. And put them down like the rabid dogs they consider them as.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
sieylianna wrote:
I went with the encounter text and the PC's failed because neither had linguistics which is trained only, but the summary does not match the encounter.

Those PCs should have earned their prestige, as the actual mission was to turn in the intact list of Shadow Lodge operatives to the Grand Lodge. Torch's orders were meant to thwart that effort and let him keep his contacts secret from the Decimvirate.

4/5

I'm the midst of taking a group through this on Play-by-Forum, on the lower tier. I was expecting the first encounter to be challenging. Boy was I wrong.

The PCs heard the clockwork sentinels coming and set up an ambush. There's a gunslinger in the group, and on the first round of combat, he fired off two shots. Both crits, both confirmed. And down went two of the clockworks. Shortly after that, another character crit the third clockwork with a swipe of his blade - didn't kill it, but took it close. All-in-all, after two rounds of combat, all the clockwork structures were down. The three crits made very quick work of that encounter.

Can't wait to see what happens when they meet Ouidda!

Shadow Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, Michigan—Mt. Pleasant

I've run this twice, and sat in on a third running of the end, and all three went the same way. Everyone let Torch go. I didn't tell them to roll init, just asked for reactions. The only aggressive one I got was after I said he was grabbing his cloak which was when one player got frustrated and wanted to stop him, so we rolled init, and he rolled a one. Some of these player's characters could have easily taken Torch out if they'd have wanted to. So its definitely not a box-text getaway situation.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

MisterSlanky wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
But overall I enjoy season 4 more than zero and one, which for both story and challenge were weak.

I don't think it's fair to ever bring season 0 into a discussion on difficulty (since it's not even Pathfinder), and with Season 1 everything was new and the training wheels were still on with the new system. I can't speak to the Season 4 metastory, since I haven't gotten anything out of it at all (which may be speaking to the Season 4 metastory, or it might betray the fact I've not played that many scenarios in Season 4).

That all said, for Season 4:


  • I've murdered half a table in the surprise round/first action in one game
  • While GMing nearly murdered a table another game where only the presence of an uber-build saved the day
  • I've watched a GM pull WAAAY back in order to prevent a series of multiple TPKs on a nearly perfectly-balanced but unoptimized group
  • I watched as a player two characters get steamrolled and killed by near-unbeatable NPC builds in another scenario
  • I've watched optimized builds plow through a scenario that would have killed everybody else had that one player not been there on two occasions.
  • One scenario broke my cardinal sin of gaming by making most of the table sit out most of the combat (oh this is fun)
  • The Disappeared was actually a fun scenario.
  • Oh, and in one scenario we played with Goblins, and it was fun.

That's 7/9 season 4's. At this point I think I've identified a trend, and it's one I'm tired of hearing isn't a problem.

And to go back to the original point, the biggest complaint about this particular scenario (the first point actually) was that it's back to the "you just get to watch". That's not fun. Why not let the players...** spoiler omitted **...

Again, I haven't been anywhere near the tables you've GM'd or played, so I have no basis to discuss those situations.

I really am not going to try to invalidate your experiences, because they are what they were, and your perception of them is how you feel.

But all I can do is reiterate, that I've run or played all but 1 season 4 scenario (and many of them I've done both), and I'm not experiencing what you have.

As for Torch:

The above example I gave is not a one-trick pony Bard. Its a fairly standard bard with a 14,000gp investment in Charisma (what Bards focused on social stuff wouldn't invest almost 100% of their gold in that sort of thing?) and an investment of 1 feat and 1 racial ability into Performance.

So I'm not seeing how its overly optimized for Sense Motive.

The point being, that its possible with an average build to get the 41 DC.

Additionally, when I ran this for 4 players, 3 of the 4 beat him on initiative. The Gunslinger's gun jammed, and the other two attacked body guards.

The point being, he doesn't automatically disappear during the surprise round. He just kills Ouida in the surprise round.

A well placed spell that dazes, stuns, or dazzles him will keep him from getting away.

Liberty's Edge

MisterSlanky wrote:
... Terrible scenario, TERRIBLE ending to the Shadow Lodge (and one I saw coming a mile away once it was announced that it was a huge "twist"), and one that I'll be glad has no relevance after this month.

Wow. An example of how different groups will have different experiences and goals.

Played it on 6-7 and GM'd it on 3-4. I rather liked the scenario (yes, I almost got went down in the combat many have complained about). Neither group was by any means optimized, but it wasn't super difficult to complete. A couple of faction missions were nearly impossible for the paricular builds that got them, but I don't think that is unreasonable.

Silver Crusade 4/5

My big complaint was the final scene. Apparently, we're supposed to see Torch as the enemy and feel betrayed, but a lot of my characters (even those who weren't in the Shadow Lodge) would either still agree with him and his methods, or else not care enough to see him as an enemy. There are a lot of Pathfinders who just play along with the Decemvirate, but are more interested in their own (or their faction's) goals than the Society.

Grand Lodge 2/5 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Yeah, when I got to the last scene, I didn't really understand that a fight was starting. Torch kills Ouidda, and then the GM said to roll initiative, and I went first. I had no idea, IC or OOC, why we were in initiative or why this event was supposed to be seen as hostile or threatening to us. "Oh noes, the good guy killed the BBEG! We'd better take him down!" Huh?

The Exchange 5/5

I ran this this weekend for a group at sub-tier 3-4... a very diverse group.

Three PCs at 7th level, a 4th level, and two thirds. They were kind of worried as it was a season 4 scenario, and so played down even though they were APL 5 + a little.

4 PCs were Shadow Lodge, one was Lantern Lodge and one Grand Lodge - so they had all the Lodges covered.

Some random observations:

1) The Grand Lodge faction mission told them there were Constructs to be encountered.

2) Went in as wealthy gamblers. There needs to be a mechanic for gambling... I'll put more work into this when I run this again. I expected the PCs to go in as gendarmes or in servants outfits, but all decided to go in as gamblers or guards. Flashed some cash and got in. I used the urban tavern flip mat for this set up and it worked great!

3) In setting up the encounter with the swindlers in the wine cellar, I sort of set this to be a comic encounter. The PCs stealthed into the cellar (all rolled good), and heard people (a good perception roll) whispering around the wine rack. The PCs decide to ambush them, and stealthed up. The lead PC (a monk) leaps out to ambush them and sees... three guys in nice clothing all standing on different barrels, with some metal widgit in their hands - all looking very surprised to see him. Rather then attack the first NPC, he kicks the barrel out from under him (and the NPC lands on his feet!), and the rest of the PCs pile around the corner. After trying to scare them off, one of the PCs looses patients and just starts a fight, which runs about two rounds while they render the swindlers unconscious, stuff them in the empty barrels and set them off to the side. Good fun roll play.

3) I LOVED the fact that the perception DCs for the players to detect the Clockworks was already assigned! (I "ran the numbers" and didn't get the same DCs, but maybe I overlooked something.) The PCs ambushed the clockworks in the hall outside the first room. I missed with every net I shot! Dang it! kept rolling < 5! I did get in some good swings on the monk, but in the end they all went down - with only one Crit rolled, so they got two trys for the Sprocket... and got it in one.

4) Good trap detection (good perception & all the PCs were patient and maintained stealth) got them past the traps. I did have a question on the web trap though. The trap has a Detect/Disable DC of 27... but the hidden catch can be detected with a DC25. ??? I figured this was so parties with no way to disarm magical traps could still "disable" the trap.

5) Sidesteped the carpet trap, as I figured it was in the room center (walk around the edge of the room and you're ok - how else does the Spider get past it herself?). When the fight started (as they opened the doors), one of the PCs almost forgot and stepped into the room center... almost. The PCs rushed her, but I still got the Confusion spell off - cast at ground zero (and the Spider made her save). Confused the Bard-barian (Bard/Barbarian) - but the Heavens Oricle colorsprayed him down ('sprayed two PCs and the spider, and the only one to miss his save was the Bard-barian). Numbers carried the day, and they just out-actioned her.

6) Getting out of the gambling hall... with a body? They used "disguse" to make the spider look like a gambler whom had indulged a bit to much in wine... carried her out of the wine cellar and out of the hall and off to the lodge. great fun.

7) Encounter with GMT... roll the sense motive? the best Sense Motive in the party rolled a 20 and failed, by more than 10. HA! Roll Init. Order go's

PC
3 Guards
4 PCs
GMT
last PC

First PC goes - "huh? Something going on? GMT killed her? I'm Shadow Lodge, what he says goes. I'm confused... I delay."
Guards move to between GMT and PCs, draw weapons and ready actions (to attack anyone trying to attack GMT).
PCs take differant actions. One Colorsprays two guards and GMT - one guard goes down. One readies an attack (shot) if Torch does anything. One stands back and talks to the guards. One attacks a guard (for 30+ HP I think).
GMT 'dim doors away'
...

and a few rounds later the PCs have dropped the guards (most still alive).

More than one Shadow Lodge PC was going... "huh?"

The only one who seemed happy with the outcome was the Grand Lodge PC...

Liberty's Edge 5/5

I've given it quite some thought on to why I felt that organized play wasn't for casual players. Perhaps this is best discussed in another thread, and if necessary I can certainly create one.

But just like GM's who prefer to have complete autonomy to do whatever they feel necessary to provide a challenge, can't do that in Organized play... players also have to adjust their play style to some degree to fit into the campaign.

There are options you can't use, that you might be able to in a home game. There are types of play (PvP) that are not conducive to organized play.

Just so, the casual gamers will need to be extra careful on which game days, scenarios and GM's and other players they sign up to play. If you don't like a certain GM, and he's the only guy running a particular game day, don't go to his game day.

If you are a casual player, and you know a certain GM is always running "hard mode" then don't sign up to play at his table.

If you know that the game day is only going to have players you don't like (or don't like their style of play), don't sign up to that game day.

And I feel it is the GM's duty to gauge the style his table prefers, and cater to that table. If the table is all optimized characters that want a super challenge, then within the scope of the scenario, take the gloves off. But if you have a table of children and casual players, then pull back some, give some breaks, let them be more creative.

A good friend of mine's first PFS experience was with Rivalry's End. He enjoyed himself enough that he signed up for the evening session at Village Games to play my wife's first ever GM'd table of Pallid Plague, and he enjoyed that too. He's coming back next month to play more at Village Games during our double header. I'd consider this friend of mine a casual gamer.

Shadow Lodge 1/5

Its not unbeatable. Found out the hard way that a type of wizard gets to act in all surprise rounds...

The Exchange 5/5

Ninjaxenomorph wrote:
Its not unbeatable. Found out the hard way that a type of wizard gets to act in all surprise rounds...

yes, but what does he DO?

I run that type of wizard (two different PCs in fact), and each time it's always a question of...

GM: "your in the surprise round, and you won Init., but you don't detect anything out of the ordinary - what do you do?"
Me #1: "ah... I ready to colorspry any enemy who pops out of nowhere!"
Me #2: "ah... I cast Vanish."
Me #3: "I delay to see what is going to happen..."
Me #4: "I run and hide behind the barbarian meat shield!"

what's the wizard going to do in this event before Torch goes? attack the Grand Master? Yeah... sure.

Now, if it were Drengle Drang now, him I could see all the other PCs jumping on the dog pile.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

One thing that I haven't seen anybody mention yet - Torch isn't the only faction head in this. Guaril Karela is around too. Sure, he's too late to help in the last fight, but don't ignore him. He's just as important to the Szcarni faction as Torch is to the Shadows. When you're doing the mission briefing, play him up. When he gets to the party right after Torch does his thing, PLAY HIM UP! There's likely a lot of confused players as well as characters - use him as your mouthpiece. He may not have seen it coming (or maybe he did...) but can probably put things together pretty quick.

Treating him as just another mission informant is doing a vast disservice to him and the Szcarni faction.

Liberty's Edge

Jiggy wrote:
... I had no idea, IC or OOC, why we were in initiative or why this event was supposed to be seen as hostile or threatening to us. "Oh noes, the good guy killed the BBEG! We'd better take him down!" Huh?

We picked up on it from what he said he was going to do.

The Exchange 5/5

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My PFS Lavode De'Morcaine wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
... I had no idea, IC or OOC, why we were in initiative or why this event was supposed to be seen as hostile or threatening to us. "Oh noes, the good guy killed the BBEG! We'd better take him down!" Huh?
We picked up on it from what he said he was going to do.

GMT says::

“My endless thanks to each of you, Pathfinders, for your loyal service.”
To any Shadow Lodge faction PCs, he adds, “And particular thanks to you, for trusting in me and diligently helping me burrow my way back into the good graces of the Decemvirate.”
Without pausing he concludes, “But now I’ve finally got something to hold over the Decemvirate, so I’m striking out on my own.”

how does this lead to "... We'd better take him down!" ? and not to
"can I get invited to the retirement dinner?"

Wait, is the PFS one of those organizations you can't just quit from? You know, "you can't just walk away, you didn't expect us to just let you stop did you?".

Shadow Lodge 1/5

I crumpled up the Sczarni mission and palmed it to the player who got it.

Dark Archive 5/5 5/5

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Andrew Christian wrote:

...the casual gamers will need to be extra careful on which game days, scenarios and GM's and other players they sign up to play. If you don't like a certain GM, and he's the only guy running a particular game day, don't go to his game day.

If you are a casual player, and you know a certain GM is always running "hard mode" then don't sign up to play at his table.

If you know that the game day is only going to have players you don't like (or don't like their style of play), don't sign up to that game day.

The problem with this thinking though is the casual gamer does not have the time nor the inclination to do this. We will make these decisions for them because when the casual gamer shows up to a game day and has their character, whom they spent a lot of time and care developing, slaughtered in the first encounter in every scenario they play, this person will go from casual to non-existent. I prefer to play with casual players. Why? Because they have not bought into the arms race I see taking root. They are there to laugh, roll some dice, role play a bit and ultimately have a good time. They do none of these when the scenario overpowers them. In the first encounter.

If the campaign caters to the power/optimized/cheesey/whatever you want to call them gamer, then they will be the only ones left playing. This is something I do not want.

There should always be a place at the table for the casual gamer. Always. It should never fall upon the player to avoid a gm because that gm can't run any other way beyond Kill All Characters! It should never fall upon the casual player to avoid the aforementioned players. It is OUR job to make sure we educate the aforementioned players that maybe they should consider the other players at the table or suggest to the Kill All Characters! gm to adjust their style.

I had absolutely no fun running MisterSlanky's table this past weekend. None. My dice were on fire and there is no way I wanted to inflict 3d10+52 points of damage from two hits. Reading the faces of the players around the table was all I needed to make the decision to pull back. Way back. Like skip the optional encounter even though we had plenty of time to run it. Yes, it was very convenient that MisterSlanky and one other person had an ability to avoid mind control. I have been a vocal supporter of the author's previous writing. I can not in good conscious recommend this scenario to anyone.

Silver Crusade 4/5

nosig wrote:
My PFS Lavode De'Morcaine wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
... I had no idea, IC or OOC, why we were in initiative or why this event was supposed to be seen as hostile or threatening to us. "Oh noes, the good guy killed the BBEG! We'd better take him down!" Huh?
We picked up on it from what he said he was going to do.

** spoiler omitted **

how does this lead to "... We'd better take him down!" ? and not to
"can I get invited to the retirement dinner?"

Wait, is the PFS one of those organizations you can't just quit from? You know, "you can't just walk away, you didn't expect us to just let you stop did you?".

Exactly. And especially for Shadow Lodge faction members, but even most of my non-SL characters would be thinking that way.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Fromper wrote:
nosig wrote:
My PFS Lavode De'Morcaine wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
... I had no idea, IC or OOC, why we were in initiative or why this event was supposed to be seen as hostile or threatening to us. "Oh noes, the good guy killed the BBEG! We'd better take him down!" Huh?
We picked up on it from what he said he was going to do.

** spoiler omitted **

how does this lead to "... We'd better take him down!" ? and not to
"can I get invited to the retirement dinner?"

Wait, is the PFS one of those organizations you can't just quit from? You know, "you can't just walk away, you didn't expect us to just let you stop did you?".

Exactly. And especially for Shadow Lodge faction members, but even most of my non-SL characters would be thinking that way.

We took the statement, and the bodyguards moving to attack us as meaning.. 'I don't need you anymore.. so I'll snuff you lot so I can get that much more of a head start'.

Of course everyone at the table had seen his 'toolish' Season 0 attitude about things.

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