Combat balance in mythic gameplay - Ongoing campaign coverage


Wrath of the Righteous

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Well, I've been asked to create an ongoing thread covering the balance and gameplay issues with mythic combat encounters and in regards to my own Wrath of the Righteous campaign. Since it seems that I am about the most vocal person in regards to general high-level balance issues, I think that at least qualifies me to try to prove my point via continuous coverage how those perceived issues actually resolve themselves in my own campaigns.

In the interest of keeping this thread going from my side, I will only deal with detailed issues of roleplaying and general campaign circumstances when I feel it is warranted. If I feel obligated every week to do a detailed recap, I think I won't be able to keep motivated in stressful weeks to come to keep posting. As it is, I will only give general combat statistics and try to mention where issues arose.

Secondly, I'll enumerate the anomalies in my campaign from "standard" play here:

- 20 point buy
- Six players
- Magic item crafting restrictions as enumerated in Ultimate Campaign, i.e. 25% over WBL, 50% over WBL with more than one item crafting feat.
- Mythic power per level is halfed, i.e. player characters only get 3 + 1/tier mythic power.
- Player characters only recover 1d4 mythic power per day.

Thirdly, the party set-up:

- Dasseem Ulthor, lvl 6 human Paladin of Iomedae/Champion 1
- Panik Ulthor, lvl 6 human Conjurer (teleportation)/Archmage 1
- Tavarian Nelson, lvl 6 aasimar cross/wildblooded Sorcerer/Archmage 1
- Thorund Vilgurson, lvl 6 human Barbarian/Champion 1
- Mirei, lvl 6 aasimar (Garuda-blooded) Ranger/Champion-Trickster 1
- Brother Asmodei, lvl 6 aasimar Cleric of Asmodeus/Archmage-Defender 1

And that's about it. There are a few more minor things, but nothing else which substantially would alter the play dynamics. So, let's begin:

Session of January 14th 2014:

Not much happened this session, with two players not in attendance and the rest coming in quite late. Two combats and some roleplaying, all in all maybe 2 1/2 hours of actual gameplay.

- Combat vs. 1 Incubus, 2 Brimoraks. AP encounter as written: 1 Incubus.
The party easily kills the Brimoraks and heavily wounds the Incubus in 2 rounds of combat, the Incubus manages to flee via Greater Teleport.
No mythic power used.

- Combat vs. 5 Advanced Fiendish Gargoyles. AP encounter as written: 3 Gargoyles.
Surprisingly hard combat, the DR 5/good and Smite Good abilities of the fiendish template and added to-hit ability of the advanced template make for quite tough opponents. The party suffers no losses, but the Barbarians low AC and good to-hit rolls by a Gargoyle vs. the Paladin results in a lot of damage. The party has to retreat to an empty building (as ascertained by the Ranger with a 36 perception roll) to heavily deplete their healing consumables. The combat last about five rounds, with three mythic power used between three characters for additional attacks and surge.

I think I need to remind myself that the flip between "combat is hard and deadly" and "combat is lightning fast and only deadly for monsters" happens only after about levels 9-11, not yet at this point.
I am heavily debating if I shouldn't nerf the planned Fiendish Advanced Ghouls next week down to either only the fiendish or advanced template. Paralyze is still one of those devasting and pretty unfair conditions to inflict on player characters and can easily lead to dead characters... which would be pretty bad at this point.


I'm quite interested how this will continue to turn out. Also really curious how your players feel about the combats. If they feel it's fun and challenging, even if to you it seemed short and easy, or if they find themselves bored during certain fights.


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Don't forget. It is always within the GM's authority to on-the-fly increase the hit points of a foe so that the enemy does not die too quickly... or to have damage reduced or a foe miss. Or even to switch targets because you know the next blow will kill that character.


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When I ran the ghoul encounter I was surprised on how long the ghouls lasted. One or two PCs did get paralyzed which didn't help their cause. I'm guessing that your ghouls won't need both templates. I did advance the two clerics, my group is only 4 PCs.

I also had the rest of the church as a flowing combat, waiting a few rounds between the introduction of the two major foes as combat dictated. It pushed my PCs pretty far but they handled it.


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Thanks for the comments, y'all. One thing I need to mention and forgot in regards to house rules is that the player characters don't gain the additional attribute points every second mythic tier.

Seannoss, I will very probably nerf the ghouls down to one template. And I'll look at doing the rest of the fights as a running encounter, it's good advice. :)


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I'll keep an eye on this thread magnuskn. I'm very interested in your comments.

As for the chapel encounters, I'll probably DM it for my group next Saturday (starting SoV), and these are the modifications I will apply:

- make the desecrate spell affect all the areas inside the chapel. You can say it's a consecuence of all the evil sacrifices and Kabriri's favor.

- When the alarm is raised, every two-three rounds (adjust it to your needs) have some ghouls appear from outside the chapel to investigate and attack the party. I think there should be a lot of ghoul warrens nearby, due to Nulkineth's work. These waves stop when the PCs defeat Nulki.

- The ghoul clerics should be challenging enough with only the advanced template. I recommend swapping their Selective Channel for another feat. The rest of the ghouls should be advanced too. With it, they will probably die in a hit or two, but now their AC is much better, and their attacks have a higher chance to do something in combat (three attacks at +7, 1d6+5 damage plus paralysis).

- I agree about making this a huge fight divided in phases or stages. Only if they seem to be hurting after Nulki's fight let them recover for a few rounds before Maugla arrives. Give the poor demon some growth points so it can use the death-stealing gaze more than once (no need to adjust the rest of the statistics).


I know you as DM can change this but just wanted to make sure you were aware that Cross/Wildblooded Sorcerer isn't a legitimate class combination per the FAQ.

FAQ wrote:

Sorcerer, Crossblooded and Wildblooded: Can I take both of these archetypes for the same character?

No, because the archetype rules say none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the class as another alternate class feature. Because the crossblooded and wildblooded sorcerer archetypes both alter the bloodline arcana and bloodline powers, they aren't compatible archetypes.

Note that it is certainly within the GM's purview to allow this combination. However, the character should not be able to use the crossblooded archetype's ability to select a lower-level bloodline power that was replaced by the wildblooded archetype. For example, a wildblooded brutal (abyssal) sorcerer replaces "strength of the abyss" with "wings of the abyss" at 9th level; the character has "paid" for the wildblooded archetype by giving up "strength of the abyss," and can't use the crossblooded bloodline to select "strength of the abyss" as her 15th-level or 20th-level bloodline power.

—Pathfinder Design Team, 10/23/13


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Yeah, I know, but it's such an inoffensive and ineffective combination in his case that I handwaved it.


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Sc8rpi8n_mjd wrote:

I'll keep an eye on this thread magnuskn. I'm very interested in your comments.

As for the chapel encounters, I'll probably DM it for my group next Saturday (starting SoV), and these are the modifications I will apply:

- make the desecrate spell affect all the areas inside the chapel. You can say it's a consecuence of all the evil sacrifices and Kabriri's favor.

- When the alarm is raised, every two-three rounds (adjust it to your needs) have some ghouls appear from outside the chapel to investigate and attack the party. I think there should be a lot of ghoul warrens nearby, due to Nulkineth's work. These waves stop when the PCs defeat Nulki.

- The ghoul clerics should be challenging enough with only the advanced template. I recommend swapping their Selective Channel for another feat. The rest of the ghouls should be advanced too. With it, they will probably die in a hit or two, but now their AC is much better, and their attacks have a higher chance to do something in combat (three attacks at +7, 1d6+5 damage plus paralysis).

- I agree about making this a huge fight divided in phases or stages. Only if they seem to be hurting after Nulki's fight let them recover for a few rounds before Maugla arrives. Give the poor demon some growth points so it can use the death-stealing gaze more than once (no need to adjust the rest of the statistics).

I'll take those into consideration. Thanks!


I adjusted Nulkineth's stats a little and I gave the Nabasu two Growth Points, but I did not adjust anything else stat-wise in the encounter. I did have the fights spill over into one another and I had the party fight the Nabasu and Nulkineth at the same time after the majority of minions had been cleared.

The fight went relatively well, though poor Nulkineth ended up with a greased weapon and had to resort to his much less effective natural attacks. After a few Glitterdusts blinded the Nabasu I had him cast Deeper Darkness, effectively blinding everyone while he recovered his sight. This worked fairly well, and the players eventually ended up with a few negative levels stacked around via Enervation.

The fight ended with several unconscious PC's and the NPC allies finally making it up the cliff face to help out. Overall it went about how I expected, and helped cement the NPC allies as good friends willing to risk their lives to aid in the PC's efforts.


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Also great advice. Since I GM for six players, I'll keep at least one template on the ghouls. Not sure if I want to template the ghoul clerics, though.


magnuskn wrote:
Also great advice. Since I GM for six players, I'll keep at least one template on the ghouls. Not sure if I want to template the ghoul clerics, though.

Might be worth doing with 6 people. Or at least increasing the number of ghouls. Action economy will be on your players side when the big nasties show up so anything you can do to bleed off a few resources first would probably help make it a bit more challenging.


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Well, I'll post the results after next Tuesday. :)


magnuskn

For Book 1, what were some of the changes you made to the main encounters, what would be the major key encounters such as Hosilla, Faxon, and the Gray Garrison. I don't have an oversized party but they will have 20 pt buy and they are all very experienced players and tend to optimize to an appreciable amount without going full cheese-monger. I am tending not to care about mook encounters, but I am planning to optimize a few of the encounters, mainly the named NPC battles.

I tend to agree with your findings on how the game goes to rocket tag but also that for "advanced" players most AP encounters can't be ran as is ti be challenging to them. Sort of like they need to the game to be put into hard mode for them as if it was a video game.


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Before the Gray Garrison I mostly just added 50% more enemies of the intended type, but as soon as we got there, it was either +50% and advanced templates or complete replacement with higher CR's, i.e. Brimoraks, Babau's and Schir's. Worked out okay, although it still seemed underpowered. Which is why I was so surprised this Tuesday that the double-templated Gargoyles did so well.


Gargoyle is such a nasty creature. Shie benefits a lot from advanced template (four attacks gaining +2/+2) and if you combine this with smiting....


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Session of January 21st 2014:

Alright, this was a session where, despite it lasting for 3 1/2 hours, not that much was accomplished, due to it mostly being a single long combat. All players in attendance, although the last three turned up after more than one hour of gameplay had already passed.

Basically, I ran the last three combat encounters in the Lost Chapel as one big combat, with Nulkineth and Maugla joining the fight in two round intervalls. The common ghouls had the fiendish template applied, which turned out to be not really cutting it alone. Their low AC and low HP meant that they just ended up being cannon fodder, although they managed to at least give the two ghoul clerics time to cast a few spells. Or at least one of them, the other one got shot to pieces by the ranger in round three. The first one managed to cast the Summon Monster V from his scroll and the summoned Babau put good pressure on the wizard, inflicting 40 points of damage in one round and putting both arcane casters for two rounds on the defensive. Since the party is lacking with its in-combat healing, the wizard player got so spooked that he retreated to a corner and took himself out of the fight by only chugging potions for the rest of the combat.

Nulkineth didn't impress much and fell very quickly to attacks by the barbarian and paladin. Maugla (the Nabasu) also had a bad day, being hit by Ear-Piercing Scream from the sorcerer two rounds in a row and failing both saves and getting killed in that time period. At least she got off her Mass Hold Person, which caused the only really tense situation of the entire encounter, because the spell managed to hold the paladin, barbarian and sorcerer. The situation had the potential of allowing a coup de grace from Nulkineth on the Barbarian, but the cleric of Asmodeus used his Terendelev's Scale (a custom model giving the use of 3 per day Remove Paralysis) to free the paladin (and next round the barbarian), who used a well spent mythic power to get an extra attack via Fleet Charge and dropped Nulkineth before his turn came.

Combat lasted for six or seven rounds, with four mythic power used, one by the paladin for Fleet Charge, two by the ranger for Distant Barrage and the Endless Hatred path ability, one by the barbarian for a (failed) surge.

Two days later, the party now is about to face the Vescavor Queen (and two of her swarms) to which they managed to get without combat. Vescavor swarms have no extraordinary sensory capabilities and low intelligence. Thus, the two stealth capable characters managed to sneak through with help of invisibility potions, while the four others got in via Gaseous Form (which I thought would be unlikely to be something the swarms would react to, even if they see it), which is not normally known by the two arcane casters, but Wild Arcana and four mythic power make it possible to use.


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Yeah, the Advanced Template tends to work better for improving the armor class of encounters. To be honest, I am wondering how to rework that template, as the +2 Natural Armor and another +2 to Armor from Dexterity can sometimes be too much, but I'm not sure what else to beef up instead of the Natural Armor to benefit the critter.

Then again, I'm planning on using Advanced for all of my encounters for my Runelords campaign from now on due to their more potent stats. I'm also not giving stat increases for even Mythic tiers as their stats are high.


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Probably a good idea, I also nixed the +2 every second tier. Advanced template really is helping a lot and after seeing how Nulkineth and Maugla with their AC of 21 basically were fodder for the ranger, paladin and barbarian, I suddenly am not too worried that the Vescavor Queen and the Vrock (who will not be staggered, but rather come through the rift with Heroism and Mirror Image already cast) both now have a sporting AC 26 with their advanced templates. ^^


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I have also found the advanced template to be a much better one for increasing a foe's strength. Its hard to believe that they have the same adjustment. I had the same result with the inquisitor, he felt weak and like he couldn't do much.
As a thought, the vescavor queen turned out to be a much better ranged opponent and not a melee one. Maybe that should have been obvious but my PCs had a much tougher time with her after she took to the air.


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Yeah, that's the plan for me, too, although I think the ranger archer will make a pincushion out of her. She already has a her good favored enemy bonus tuned to evil outsiders and has the Endless Hatred ability. We'll see how it goes, though.


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Alright, here's the weekly update: The party easily defeated the Vescavor Queen, while managing to not get anything important eaten by the two accompanying swarms or get a permanent madness (though the Ranger had to roll that Will save). The queen herself went down pretty ignonimously, AC 26 was by far not enough to get beyond the crazy good attack bonus' of the Ranger and her spell resistance also didn't cut it against the two arcane casters and the Arrow of Law from the cleric.
After her death the swarms dissolved.

The abyssal rift was closed via a scroll of Dimensional Lock which I guess was from somewhere before in the AP. The Vrock didn't make it through in time.

Mythic Power used: 3 total, 2 Ranger, 1 Cleric.

After arriving in Drezen, the siege began and the army routed all opposing armies (outside the citadel) in the course of a day and during a night attack by the undead army. The group then went on to check out the bridge defenses, which had been enhanced by giving the man-eating aurochs the advanced, fiendish and giant template. That resulted in about fourty minutes of planning on how to kill those beasts before they could pull down the pillars of the bridge. In the end, the party used a lot of mythic power, with them getting near the man-eaters via invisibility spells (taking care as to be downwind of their scent ability), then using abilities like Wild Arcana for the two arcane casters, Fleet Charge for the paladin, Sudden Attack for the barbarian and Mage Strike from the cleric, which resulted in all four man-eating aurochs dying before they even got their turn. The poor tieflings did not fare well, either, all eight dying in fireballs (another Wild Arcana from the wizard and a domain spell by the cleric), which Barrid Isen happily reciprocated with a well-rolled fireball of his own. He managed to flee with 10 HP remaining after getting mobbed by the party and a conjured large earth elemental.

Mythic power used: 9 total, Wizard 3, Sorcerer 2, Paladin 1, Cleric 1, Ranger 1, Barbarian 1. Depending on their pacing, this may cause some future problems for the Wizard, given how they only recover 1d4 mythic power per day.

All in all, even with the enhancements this seemed a bit too easy, although I must admit that I didn't put too much thought into those encounters, given that they only are a prelude to what comes afterwards. Siege points do not seem to have much impact, given how the army already starts with 18 (if all goes well, with Aron Kir still drug-addicted or even fled things could be much worse) and the siege part will probably be over before they really become an issue. I would recommend restricting the battles/skirmishes to one per day, otherwise the whole mechanic is useless. Although it is difficult to justify why the army and the party cannot do more in a whole 24 hour period.

The party advanced to level 7 at the end of the session, so part of next session will be taken up with leveling up the characters of the guys who only do that when they come in on Tuesday. Afterwards, it's off either to the crypt or the towers and after that Soltengrebbe attacks!

Scarab Sages

I actually threw Soltengrebbe at the party on the bridge, so that fight was a hell of a lot harder for my group.

As for why the party could not do more in a 24 hour period, the paladins are all human and don't have darkvision. Setting up camp takes hours. Getting set up for a battle in a city takes time. That limits them. You can always let the PCs run skirmishes at night, though that might be hilarious due to everything having darkvision and even possibly sniping at them.

You might have Soltengrebbe go after the party after they come out of the crypt. While they're dealing with the physical form of the undead (remember to have him come out and say hello incorporeal first!), Soltengrebbe lands on the roof and waits.

The party is VERY likely to lose the paladin army during the final fight of the seige, as reckless assaulting aggressive dretches roll like a +14 on their ranged attack roll. Between the +6 damage and whatever they roll over the DV of the paladins it's likely to be a one hit blow.

.

As for the Seige Points, my group had an addicted Aron and Nurah doing a day's worth of damage. Still didn't do much, but I probably should have limited them to one mass combat battle in a day like you're thinking just so the Seige Points had an affect. Though, getting to 0 Siege Points is really bad, if you actually go look at and build that medium sized army of Babaus it suggests.


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I had Soltengrebbe attack the party after the watchtower encounter, or during the last few rounds of it. My Pcs had less siege points but they didn't bring along all of the NPCs, and I did limit them to one battle per day


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I'll have to study up for next week, that's for sure. :)


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I followed someone's suggestion and added the giant template to Soltengrebbe to make him truly memorable, just a large creature didn't feel right for the first mythic fight. I'm guessing for a strong party of 6 that you'll have to do more but his epic DR will slow down non paladins.
I ran the inside close to as is because of the randomness on when the Vahne fight could happen. As it happened my PCs found him towards the end of an adventuring day with Nurah and Kirana in their group. If not for a mythic d door or two it would have been a TPK.


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Heh, we'll see how it goes. :) I seriously need to find a good picture for Kirana's alter ego, so as to not immediately raise suspicions.

May I say that the write-up for skirmish 3 is singularly unhelpful? Alright, there are seven towers. Oh, only four of them are intact? Which ones? Do the catapults play any part in the encounter? Only one Brimorak per tower? That's a joke, right? How can people get up the towers? How tall are the towers?

Scarab Sages

Use the Noble Scion from Paths of Prestige for Kirana.

Only one Brimorak per tower, but the moment it gets attacked it throws a fireball up as a signal, and three other Brimoraks teleport in.

I don't have the book in front of me for the tower description, but I'd assume you'd have to scale the wall to get to an entrance. My players bypassed it.


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Them teleporting in gives everybody a free round to whale on them, but I guess what can ya do. And, yeah, I can simply assign heights and approaches myself, but shouldn't that be the job of the module writer?


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I agree that the skirmish wasn't fleshed out much, it does say on page 29 that they are 40' tall. But not how else to get to them, one would think that there are doors somewhere on the interior at the very least. Oh, and if you look at the Drezen map very carefully you can see 4 whole towers.

As for the brimoraks: They are very perceptive, a +18, so odds are they will see most PCs approaching. It could be the semi-controversial held action to cast fireball so they don't loose a round. For you, I would suggest adding more rather than beefing them up as much; they are very offensive and have low defenses for demons. And don't forget that they have dispel magic 3/day for that pesky resist fire.


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Yeah, depending on how it goes, it'll probably be 2 Brimoraks per tower and maybe even advanced ones. I'll probably first sic Soltengrebbe on the party now directly after the bridge battle, though.


I actually ran the towers a little different for my group. The party broke up into four groups leading 1-2 npc allies to each tower and attacking them simultaneously. They got to control the npcs and it made it more memorable and fun though it took a lot of effort to run it that way. The Brimorak breath weapons and fireball made it a bit hairy for a couple of the groups, but they seemed to enjoy it.


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Well, I'm always open to making on-the-fly adjustments if my group does something different. But it has to come from them.


I am thinking the Brimoraks plus a "boss" type monster who oversees the watchtowers. That boss might just be an advanced Brim or a +2 CR Demonic creature.


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You could also give the Brimoraks all the Mythic Agile template so they get two attacks a round.


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I'll look into it over the weekend, when I plan out the next set of encounters. Since the party will be entering the citadel soon and from there on it is pretty dynamic where they will go, I'll have to prep more than usual the next days, anyway. :)


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Session of February 04th 2014:

Quite an exciting session, although it was really only two combats. The first thing the players did was level up their characters to level seven. Immediately afterwards, while the player characters still were recovering from their fight to secure the bridge, Soltengrebbe the mythic chimera attacked! I used the reworked statblock by Sc8rpi8n_mjd (thanks, man!).

The party was quite scattered at the time of Soltengrebbes arrival, with the Barbarian and the two arcane casters being either on the bridge or up the river bank, while the ranger, cleric and paladin were all in the dried up river bed. The party had one round to prepare themselves and take potshots at Soltengrebbe before the beast came into melee range, which did not amount to much. The ranger managed to hit Soltengrebbe with one shot, which did not even penetrate the epic damage reduction. While the two arcane casters decided to seek some sort of cover, and the paladin and cleric both moved under the bridge, the barbarian stayed up the riverbank and decided that he wanted to face the chimera head-on, not realizing what kind of enemy he was about to face.

In the first round, Soltengrebbe spent a mythic power to get a natural 20 on its initiative check, going both first at initiative 30 and dead last at initiative 10. Soltengrebbe then flew up nearby to the Barbarian with a double move, but stayed at 30 foot height, refraining from using its breath weapon due to lack of multiple targets to hit. After the player characters went next (all but the ranger failing to do any damage), Soltengrebbe landed before the barbarian, took a hit from a readied action, activated mythic power attack and then hit with a single attack for 2d6+18. Then it took its next turn at initiative 30 and mauled the barbarian to -18 HP with a full attack (end of rage already calculated, so, yeah, he was still alive but down), for something like 150 damage. Yeah, the Barbarian is really resilient, due to the class, the campaign trait and so on.

The next two rounds did not go as good for the chimera, trying to kill the cleric next (who did a phenomenal intimidate check against the beast, inflicting the shaken condition for two rounds), but Asmodei had cast Mirror Image during his prep time and only got hit once by the ensueing full attack, while the images took all the other hits.

Soltengrebbe suffered heavy damage from all sides during this round, getting hit critically by the Ranger with her composite longbow for 41 damage after DR 10/epic. Realizing that it was about to die, it ran over to Mirei and with its last full attack put her down to -60 HP, killing her messily. There was some other stuff going on after that, which was due to roleplaying reasons, but suffice to say that Soltengrebbe did not get to see another chance to act.

After Mirei got raised from the dead and had a Restoration cast on her (both available from scrolls the party had aquired earlier in the campaign), the players got to apply the second mythic tier to their characters, which took up the next 20-30 minutes.

The party decided to still go after Moxsabuul the Berbalang on the same day. This was a much more sedate affair, with the Berbalang using its Projection ability to attack them once outside its mausoleum and then getting quickly battered into submission once the PC's had broken down the two stone doors.

Still, quite an exciting evening on all parts, with a mythic monster which really deserved that title.

Mythic power used: Quite a lot. At the end of the session, a lot of PC's had spent all their mythic power. Both arcane casters have spend all 5 mythic power available to them. The cleric has spent 3, the paladin 4, the ranger has spent 5, the barbarian 3. After they rest, they will recover 1d4 points, but they will go into the attack on the towers and the final assault on the armies not at their best. I presume that they will recover most of it before they enter the citadel proper, but while mythic abilities give a ton of flexibility, they also are spent really fast.

Surge is used quite more often than I had presumed before the mythic part of the campaign got rolling and the base path abilities (Wild Arcana, Fleet Charge, etc) get a ton of use, too.


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Glad to hear that Soltengrebbe challenged the group, magnuskn!


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Did it ever. The normal version wouldn't have done nearly as well. :)


wow..that sounded like an intense combat..-60hp!


That sounds like an epic night. Very encouraging. I'm definitely going to use some of Sc8rpi8n mjd's stuff as well.


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Well, keep in mind that my group has six players, a 20 point buy and very experienced players.


My own group is 7 players strong and rolled stats averaging 35 point buy each... Soltengrebbe is just one monster, so I guess I'll maximize her hp and add the giant template (huge monster is more awesome!) and perhaps the fiendish or advanced template, and will make sure it attacks after the party has had a few fights already so they don't nova it.


Krinn wrote:
My own group is 7 players strong and rolled stats averaging 35 point buy each... Soltengrebbe is just one monster, so I guess I'll maximize her hp and add the giant template (huge monster is more awesome!) and perhaps the fiendish or advanced template, and will make sure it attacks after the party has had a few fights already so they don't nova it.

That.....is going to be a bloodbath.

Rolled stats almost never work out the way you would hope, and I think unless your players are newbies who don't really know how to (or care to) min/max, you are going to find yourself doing a lot of HP maxing, or just disregarding HP all together and instead telling your players "It's dead when I'm bored with it".

Back to the original topic, I too used Sc8rpi8n's updated Stoltengrebbe when I ran that encounter and he managed to put one of my players on the ground before the Wizard cast Protection From Energy, Communal and the Cleric cast Debilitating Portent. From there they all stayed within 10 feet of the Sacred Shield Paladin taking 1/4 damage from the majority of his attacks and laughing their asses off while they pummeled the beast to the ground. With two players that can blow a MP to cast any spell that appears on their list, it has become difficult to actually challenge my group without resorting to BS.

Tonight my group goes in against Eustoyriax. We shall see how that turns out, as I will be using the updated version from Sc8rpi8n's stat thread as well.

edit - Just thought I would add that the dynamic in my party is a bit odd. One player does almost all of the damage (a Warpriest) while the other four support him in one way or another. The Cleric is a healer and party buffer with some limited AOE damage against evil enemies, the Paladin is a Sacred Shield which reduces the incoming damage of boss-level enemies that he smites, and the Wizard is a conjurer/control specialist using Grease, Blindness/Deafness, Glitterdust and a host of metamagic effects to ensure enemies fail these saves.

The result is that the Wizard incapacitates pretty much everything and the Warpriest destroys all of it. That said, it's a fairly easy dynamic to break by targeting the Warpriest. I've already killed that players last character and the group barely survived, and this new character fills the same role. I don't want to keep picking on the same player, but when about 90% of the parties damage output comes from a single character it's going to draw attention.....

I'll be interested to see how they handle a possession master like Eustoyriax, and if they will hold back when fighting one of their own comrades. I just haven't decided who to possess yet.....


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

"The guy with the lowest Will save" is normally a good bet. That'd be the barbarian or ranger in my group, both good targets. I don't have a clue why Paizo tactic blocks so often have monsters target people with saves at which those people will be very good. ^^

Scarab Sages

Because players will not always make the best choices, so a GM that plays the enemies well above the ability of the players will be seen as a 'killer GM' even if he's only making sensible choices.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, but those tactic blocks basically advise you to go first to the obviously sub-optimal choice for any smart monster. Cast Disintegrate on the guys in full plate! Cast Magic Jar on those arcane/divine casters! <sigh>

Scarab Sages

Disintegrate on the guy in full plate is normally a very stupid move, but for Eustoriyax in particular, targeting the spell casters wasn't a bad idea.

He does have the ability to use their spells, after all.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If he went after the lightly armored ones true. The cleric in my group has a +15 or 17 will save. And when Eust. did go after the fighter next he made his save too...twice. Very un epic fight but good for the PCs.

Scarab Sages

Eust.'s fight was going to be boringly quick for my players as well.

Except I started him with three shadows presummoned, since the party had retreated for a day to atone the player who got hit with the Death of Righteousness trap.

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