Proposal: Allow for a level up for 1st level PCs in a Tier 1-2 Module


Pathfinder Society

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

In my time on these boards, I've seen several complaints about Thornkeep, Godsmouth Heresy and Crypt of the Everflame being a bit unfair to parties of 1st-level characters, as those characters are supposed to level up halfway through those modules. The problem arises when the 1st-level party goes up against a boss designed for 2nd-level PCs. Given the huge power difference between 1st and 2nd level, this is a serious problem.

Therefore, I recommend that PFS allow for 1st level PCs to take the level advancement early in Tier 1-2 modules, to make playing those a more realistic choice for newer players. The time spent to level up shouldn't be a serious issue, given the ease of going from 1 to 2.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Eh, you might think it's easy to level a character from 1 to 2, but I recently had to scrap my local game so I could spend about 2 or 3 hours handholding 3 players through the process.

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

Perhaps it could be a temporary level, with the option to rebuild after?

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

While I'm against leveling characters mid module, even temporarily, there is a problem with playing modules in PFS when everybody is playing up, and the difficulty rises in the final act.

This problem is especially prevalent in level 1-2 modules because of their replayable nature at level 1. As an example if you're playing Carrion Hill (a level 5 module) with a group of level 4 PCs. You shouldn't be especially surprised to be smacked by something dangerous towards the end. You're all playing up, will receive greater than average rewards and hopefully understand the danger.

The 1-2 scenarios are not as obvious because it seems natural to play them with level 1 characters, some of this is due to the replay rule.

Bad Solution:
What if we changed the modules to be level 1-3, effectively saying that the appropriate level to play them at is 2 rather than 1.

It would remove the ability to replay them but would change the average expected party level up.

This is probably not a good solution.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

I think its easier to just be aware of the differences in power level and plan around them.


Pirate Rob wrote:

.

This problem is especially prevalent in level 1-2 modules because of their replayable nature at level 1. As an example if you're playing Carrion Hill (a level 5 module) with a group of level 4 PCs. You shouldn't be especially surprised to be smacked by something dangerous towards the end. You're all playing up, will receive greater than average rewards and hopefully understand the danger.

This is not a good example, because carrion hill does not specifically say you are going to level up in the middle of the module.

This is for modules that expect you to level up mid module, which you cannot in PFS play. Modules are much harder than scenarios, so I support being able to level up characters temporarily mid module if the module calls for it


Tier 1-2 modules--except WBG, obvii--aren't designed for beginners. Nor are they designed for PFS. People should be aware of what they're getting into if the GM is doing his job. (If he isn't, that's a separate problem.)

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

I've seen these modules repeatedly offered as examples of great newbie adventures.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I would draw a distinction. "Godsmouth Heresy" and "Crypt of the Everflame" (and "Murder's Mark") are great adventures for new players when run as they were intended. Run under Pathfinder Society rules, particularly at conventions, not so much. You point to one element -- characters don't advance to 2nd level during the adventure -- but there are others as well: the tight time frame, the lack of outside resources to buy for treasure found in the early parts of the adventure, the inability for the GM to alter the encounters for the particular strengths and weaknesses of the party.

Silver Crusade

Netopalis wrote:
I've seen these modules repeatedly offered as examples of great newbie adventures.

They ARE great adventures for new characters. To a lesser extent, they are great adventures for new players. They are NOT great adventures for new GMs, I think.

Using Crypt of the Everflame as an example, here are some things an experienced GM can offer as a way to help new players through the module successfully:

Spoiler:

  • Look over each character sheet at the beginning; make sure the characters are well equipped to deal with things like (mundane) darkness, swarms, incorporeal undead, DR, and traps; suggest useful equipment and spell choices. This can be done in character with the villagers.
  • In the location where this adventure allows, provide items that will be very useful against upcoming challenges. Tailor these items to the specific PCs in the party.
  • Make suggestions to new players regarding good tactics. Remind them to take 20 when looking for traps. Suggest to the rogue to Ready an attack to allow her to flank, then suggest to the fighter that he 5-foot step. Remind the cleric that although she can cure wounds with Channel Positive Energy, when out of combat it is probably better to first use that wand of cure light wounds with 10 charges that they just found; she can't keep it after the adventure anyway. Remind the wizard that he has an unlimited number of cantrips that he can use all day; save the 1st-level spells for when you really need it (then point out when that might be). Suggest both the Aid Another and Fight Defensively actions against high AC enemies and hard-hitting enemies, respectively.
  • Be generous when characters make knowledge checks against enemies. Off the top of my head, I remember most of the bad guys in this one being common monsters. Also, be proactive in asking the players to make knowledge checks; most new players won't know that they can do that, so don't wait for them to ask about making the check.
  • Allow the party to rest mid-dungeon. There are several places that should be safe to do so.
  • All that said, I also think it would be nice to allow a mid adventure level-up in the case where all PCs are level 1.0 (but only in that very limited case). My comments above were only in response to the quote above, not to the idea behind the thread.

    Silver Crusade

    Thinking about this more, one possible implementation that might help a little bit would be to set some progress goals for the scenario. When you meet those goals (a set number of encounters, or a specific encounter, whatever) you get either 1 XP, 1 PA, or both (depending on the goal). I would probably set it up as follows:

    A. Gain 1 XP and 1 PA for completing 4 encounters.
    B. Gain 1 XP and 1 PA for completing 8 encounters.
    C. Gain 1 XP for reaching the lower level. (If this brings you to 3 XP, you may level-up).
    D. Gain 2 PA for defeating the BBEG.

    Allow the PCs to spend prestige to allow their character to "find" what they need in the next room. E.g., a player decides she wants a very nice composite longbow and spends the prestige for it; she finds her dream bow in the next room (after facing the challenge there).

    Shadow Lodge

    Taking the time to level during the module would be a disaster for convention play. For home play, it would take away from time spent actually playing the game, and would break immersion. I don't think the possible gains (survivability) are worth the losses in time, confusion, and more rules required to explain how/when to do the level-up.

    2/5 ⦵⦵

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    But, if these modules are designed for the party to level up partway through, wouldn't it break immersion (that is to say, enforce the part where PFS isn't "regular" Pathfinder) to not level up?

    Grand Lodge

    I hear a lot about modules at convention - and the lack of time.

    Isn't this purely a scheduling issue?

    Here in the UK we tend to schedule a module over 3 slots. We just had a fantastic Con - Crispy Con the Mod Con where the whole Saturday was reserved for modules.

    I started at 9:00, finished 11:30 with a few breaks in between. I played the Midnight Mirror under the fantastic Rob Silk. Other modules on offer where the Harrowing, Fangwood Keep and several more.

    In January I offered some Thornkeep at Conception. 1 module, 1 day.

    I think you don't do the gaming experience a favor in trying to do these fast. There is no competition. And in my view they deserve enough time to RP and enjoy them.

    And yes - given a whole day you should manage to find time leveling up. Worst case - just add HP and adjust attack mid game. This is a 5 min job. That is enough to make you a lot more sturdy.


    Netopalis wrote:
    I've seen these modules repeatedly offered as examples of great newbie adventures.

    I disagree strongly.

    4/5

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Poit wrote:
    But, if these modules are designed for the party to level up partway through, wouldn't it break immersion (that is to say, enforce the part where PFS isn't "regular" Pathfinder) to not level up?

    They are also designed to be played by 4 PCs using 15 point buy.

    My vote is that while they can be tough that they are fine as is. I've seen players have bigger problems with Severing Ties then with Godsmouth heresy.

    Silver Crusade

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    About halfway through the adventure, give the 1st level players a "positive level"- +5hp, +1 on skills, saves and attack rolls, and an additional spell per day. Hand out notecards with the benefits.

    Dark Archive

    Jeffrey Fox wrote:
    Poit wrote:
    But, if these modules are designed for the party to level up partway through, wouldn't it break immersion (that is to say, enforce the part where PFS isn't "regular" Pathfinder) to not level up?

    They are also designed to be played by 4 PCs using 15 point buy.

    My vote is that while they can be tough that they are fine as is. I've seen players have bigger problems with Severing Ties then with Godsmouth heresy.

    Severing Ties is one of those hilarious circumstances where the low tier is actually worse than the higher tier. Don't ask me why, but that's just how it worked out. I could see it giving people a hard time pretty easily.

    Sovereign Court 5/5

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    The Beard wrote:
    Severing Ties is one of those hilarious circumstances where the low tier is actually worse than the higher tier. Don't ask me why, but that's just how it worked out. I could see it giving people a hard time pretty easily.

    See also: Echoes of the Overwatched

    5/5

    I am running Crypt next week and also see the advantage of leveling up before the final level. However, leveling up during a game, I agree, is too involved. Maybe something simple, like adding the simple advanced template til the end of the module, or even just +1 to all rolls and some temp HPs.


    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    David Shaw wrote:
    I am running Crypt next week and also see the advantage of leveling up before the final level. However, leveling up during a game, I agree, is too involved. Maybe something simple, like adding the simple advanced template til the end of the module, or even just +1 to all rolls and some temp HPs.

    Maybe a "positive level" instead of a negative level? +5hp, +1 to all d20 die rolls, +1 CL?


    Isn't it possible in some of the modules to encounter some of the "you're supposed to be level 2" encounters before you should rightly be level 2? So at what point do you really level up (or fake level up like Carlos's idea).

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

    Kyle: I think that it would vary from module to module. In Crypt of the Everflame, it might be when going up the stairs. In Murderer's Mark, it might be when approaching the warehouse. In Godsmouth Heresy, it might be when reaching the central room. Alternatively, GMs could be instructed to provide this level up after X encounters, where X is approximately halfway in all 3.

    Sovereign Court 5/5

    ok i just ran everflame. had 2 lvl 1's and 2 lvl 2's and the only fight that was hard was the construct. they murdered the final encounter.
    so im against it. if the grps weak on somethin....allow em to find an item that will help em...ie wand of cure light/ or alchemist fire

    4/5

    My experience is these modules are the toughest with a party of all brand new toons. Just one character who spent his 2 PA on a happy stick and does not mind sharing can turn things around quite well. I don't think is is needed to allow mid session leveling when you can as is allow the PCs to retreat with what they have found so far and buy new equipment.

    Maybe instead of leveling just give the party half gold and PA at the halfway point and allow them to retreat, rest and buy equipment? It could take less time than leveling would and make sense internal to the session and campaign.


    Hmm, I remember being in that central room in GH after only a couple of encounters. That would feel odd, leveling up so early. Alternatively if we make it X encounters, then it doesn't necessarily solve the problem of not being level 2 for the encounters designed for level 2 PCs.

    Not saying we shouldn't do this, but perhaps ultimately GMs and organizers need to make it more clear that 1st level modules aren't designed for PFS newbies.


    Leveling up quickly is never healthy for a new person. New people need to learn how their characters work as they level.

    If ran correctly I do not see a reason why characters would need to level.

    Now if I had newbies at my table I would heavily guide and advice them through a level 1 mod.

    I played crypt of the everflame with new people and the first encounter in the place we lost a player because they thought a level 1 adventure posed no threat. Playing with 3 people we finish the rest of it.

    Shadow Lodge

    Patrick Harris @ MU wrote:
    Tier 1-2 modules--except WBG, obvii--aren't designed for beginners. Nor are they designed for PFS. People should be aware of what they're getting into if the GM is doing his job. (If he isn't, that's a separate problem.)

    Crypt of the Everflame in particular is designed to be an introduction to the game. It is a level 1-2 module. There really are very few modules or scenarios that are better designed for beginners. Unless I'm wrong, (and I very possibly could be) Crypt was the very first module (not AP, mind, but module) created for the Pathfinder game system and as such is the perfect module for introducing players and GMs to the Pathfinder ruleset.

    Shadow Lodge

    I ran Crypt for a group of brand new characters and they had no problem with it. There were some areas where they had some minor difficulty, but if it was super easy then where would the fun be?


    I have been through one module in PFS play, Murder's Mark. We were all 1st level and to be honest, we had no problems finishing the module without a loss. I strongly suggest that you explain to your players as a GM that modules are generally more difficult then the society norms... well for the most part.

    They need to play smart and work out the best strategy for group survival, nothing more... nothing less

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

    Murderer's Mark is substantially easier than Everflame or Godsmouth Heresy. The problem is that character death in a player's first session is not really an optimal experience. (See: Guide to Organized Play) Therefore, we should either avoid running these for all new players or give them the intended level-up between parts of the module.

    Grand Lodge 5/5

    While I agree that Everflame and some other low level mods can be challenging, I don't feel they are imbalanced.

    A more eloquent way to address this issue in future modules would be to include instructions for how to scale the module for either 1st level or 2nd level APL groups, and if Paizo feels something older like Everflame needs scaling, they can make a revision to it.


    Daedalaman wrote:
    Crypt of the Everflame in particular is designed to be an introduction to the game. It is a level 1-2 module. There really are very few modules or scenarios that are better designed for beginners. Unless I'm wrong, (and I very possibly could be) Crypt was the very first module (not AP, mind, but module) created for the Pathfinder game system and as such is the perfect module for introducing players and GMs to the Pathfinder ruleset.

    Pathfinder, yes. Not Pathfinder Society. PFS has constraints that complicate the matter.

    Scarab Sages

    I could be wrong, but aren't modules written for four players with core races and classes and equipment, for the most part. In this way pathfinder society leaves a huge number of options open. Six players with archetypes and advanced classes now seems to have shifted advantage enormously to players. I'm okay with modules remaining at the difficulty they are at.

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