Are we supposed to be sucking so hard?

Skull & Shackles

As a player in this campaign, I'm trying to avoid seeing any spoilers, but my GM seems just as confounded about why are doing so poorly. My best guess is we were supposed to have more equipment, but we sucked past it or missed it otherwise.

Session one, we are press ganged. My AC focused fighter winds up as a cook and can't make a roll all night. No gear and constantly punished, I even lost the fist-fight. The session was fun and we all laughed, but I got no equipment back at all, although others got some.

Session two, I missed due to work, but they seem to have gotten access to some simple weapons and wound up gathering supplies on an island.

Session three, I'm back and gathering supplies. I have no gear except simple weapons (a spear and club). The wizard is using all his spells to mage armor, the Druid is using all his spells to heal us from the day before. Most days end after one encounter where the ranger and I almost die and the wizard uses invisibility to save us.

At this point we are 2nd and 3rd level. I think the ranger has a +1 short sword and the Druid has leather armor. I gain a masterwork dagger day 2.
Day one: we fight. 3 ghouls and get stomped. Wizard saves us from TPK.
Day two: We go back and kill the remaining 2 ghouls (yay!). We fight 3 medium crabs and get stomped, wizard and Druid save us from TPK. C'mon, CR 1s with AC:18 and 18 or so hit points.
Day three: we fight a ghast and two chokers and get stomped. This time the ranger and Druid die, and the wizard barely saves me. The ghast was even chained up to start.

Apparently the wizard and I are walking back to an ambush at the ship now (DM told us on ride home). Is this how it's supposed to be?

Bonewrack island is meant to be punishing. You apparently haven't gone back to save Sandara and the other NPC that was captured, though given your losses, that seems a bit hard to proceed with, and the time constraint does bog you down. You're also going to be suffering for EXP if you don't proceed, though by day three chances are they won't be alive.

You could post your builds and your current equipment. Maybe your GM would allow a rebuild, or something? It can be a challenging AP but a reasonably optimized part should do fine. However, you said:

My AC focused fighter

Uh-oh. In pathfinder, fighters should be focused on eliminating the enemy, not on protecting themselves. I mean, yes, AC is important, but you have to be able to do damage, or the foes just go around you and go after your squishy friends instead.

When you get to Bonewreck Isle, with all the ghouls, you should have regained your equipment, and gained some additional loot as well.

The Wormwood Mutiny is a harsh AP. It's pretty easy for a GM to steamroll his party if he wants to... several times over.

Liberty's Edge

Our GM gave us a 25 point buy. We still got stomped repeatedly.

I'm aware of the challenges that lie ahead for my AC build fighter, I'm playing it in part to test the viability of it. At 2nd level though, my Strength of 16 shouldn't be a big factor in surviving an encounter.

I'm more concerned about our lack of gear, and whether or not that's how it's supposed to be. I just found out that the GM took pity on us and removed a swarm from the ghast/choker encounter. The only weapon we would have had against that would have been the gear we got from an NPC kicking it against the ghouls (Rosie, I believe).

I DM a lot more than I play, and I'm confused as to whether or not the devs expect it to be this tough. We role-played a lot on the ship, but a pile of tough roles kept us from getting much gear. We only fought the giant crabs because we had no food.

One defeat, and we regroup. A second defeat, and it's more like what are we doing wrong. A third, and near TPK and it becomes why are we playing. And now fore-knowledge that another overwhelming fight awaits us means this campaign might well end.

Well if the Dm actually told you this then that is probably how it will end. If there is no other recourse, just close down the game instead of going through the ambush.

Use wits and inguinity,don't go in all guns balzing, re-group and rest if possible, don't be afraid to run away. Above all be careful. The island is a meat grinder but it gets a lot easier after the first book. Maybe ask the GM to tailor things down if its too hard or maybe use hero points to give you an edge?

Hero points are a great idea to add to S&S, particularly on Bonewrack Isle.

Yeah, you should be fully equipped by the time you leave for Bonewrack, unless you befriended absolutely no one and ignored Grok.

It's def a tough book, but you should have received your gear back and some extra with the divvy after the Man's Promise was taken. Hopefully, you still have some allies aboard maybe even some NPCs that can become PCs. Otherwise, since the GM has given you warning, you should play it crafty and not go head-to-head with your enemies.

Lost my foot this week...whoever thought these 'optional rules' would be fun was crazy...

The book is just deadly. The 2nd one has moments almost as bad. It gets better but its a get by hook or by crook for a bit.

Just wanted to chime in here and say YES, The Wormwood Mutiny is super deadly. Minor spoilers below. In my group, the rogue was killed by a reefclaw while fishing, the magus was stabbed and kicked to death in the bilges, and the gunslinger was trucked by the Rahadoumi Officer critting with her boarding pike. In subsequent books we've lost a cleric, a sorcerer, and a bard. By far the most dangerous campaign I've ever run. I told my players upfront I would be pulling no punches and so far they seem to be loving it (we're on book 3).

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We're currently running Island of Empty Eyes (book 4), and so far I'm averaging 1 kill pr. session. We're using hero points, and they've paid for a couple of raise deads, so only 1 PC has actually been replaced. But the island so far has claimed 6 deaths, which is worse than book 1 (which 'only' claimed 5). :)

Yes, it's a brutal campaign. I really recommend hero points to give a fighting chance. :)

My guys have overpowered ability scores (nobody has a score below 15), they have a synthesist power gamer in the party and I'm cutting them more than their fair share of slack - Bonewrack Isle still proved to be a major challenge.

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The first book, as written, is one of the most punishing sets of encounters I've ever run. I started house ruling things away a little as the tpks started mounting up, but the book still remains a terrifying memory for some players. Hero points and several conveniently added breath of life scrimshaw scrolls are all that had kept the party alive at points. Once the party determines the pace of the piracy, the difficulty curve lets up a bit. So don't worry, there is much to look forward to

I've allowed 20-pt buy, max hit points and 3 hero points which reset to 3 every level. My players take it upon themselves to retreat if they have to. Nearly done book 1; looks like they will all survive but it was definitely very challenging. There is still some ability score damage to heal and they are not quite out of the the Ghoul Fever woods yet. I might post all the lashings and ability damage they have sustained when book 1 is done. Retreating prevents TPKs! (as does using all the Hero Points. I'll review the max hp/3 hero pt policy if they cakewalk the next chapter. They are aware of this.)

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