5-23 Cairn of Shadows


GM Discussion

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Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka The Great Rinaldo!

Prepping this for PaizoCon, and I noticed a few editing glitches and head scratchers:

1. The section detailing the party's interaction with Golbrier Frosh indicates that Andoran PCs should rescue him and get him as an ally, but that is not mentioned in the Andoran success condition. Is that an artifact of a change during development?

2. There is a trap noted between B1 and B2, but no trap in the text. Is that just noting the area that impedes the characters on their return, before encountering Maravan?

3. The secret door from B2 to B5 is not mentioned in the text, so I don't know what the DC to find it is.

4. The text for area B4 seems to be describing the unlabeled chamber between B4 and B5 on the map, and there is no description of the area labeled as B4. Is there something special I should do here?

5. The trap in area B3 says that characters caught in the trap end up in area B3a with spiked chain nets, but there is no such area. Should we just require them to climb/fly out of the pit, or is something else supposed to happen?

6. The treasure note in area B3 indicates that the party LOSES treasure if they successfully bypass the trap and don't end up in the pit. Why are we penalizing our players for using their skills to avoid a hazard?

7. The text for the upper level references C1a and C2a, apparently referring to the two openings to the main level below. They aren't marked on the map, but it's apparent from context what is meant.

Shadow Lodge

I didn't pick this one up, but if you got them early, you received the sort of beta versions (released so that DM's could have a little time to prep). On the 4th, you will need to redownload the finished copy, but you can use this to prep a little.

Assault and Scars are similar, with some oddities and misprints.


DM Beckett wrote:

I didn't pick this one up, but if you got them early, you received the sort of beta versions (released so that DM's could have a little time to prep). On the 4th, you will need to redownload the finished copy, but you can use this to prep a little.

Assault and Scars are similar, with some oddities and misprints.

I know that John has said that is indeed the case for 6-00 Legacy of the Stonelords for PaizoCon, but to my knowledge, such a situation does not exist for the last four scenarios of Season Five. There may have been a post from John or Mike to the contrary that I haven't run across, but barring a specific citation from Mike or John, I wouldn't expect to see any edits in the last four scenarios when they are released.

I started reading 5-23, but then realized that I may be playing it at a convention next weekend, and I stopped before I got very far in, so I don't have any advice for the OP.


If you have a knack for noting details, you'll notice that there isn't any art in 5-23 aside from the maps. If I had to guess, they are going tweak all of them and you should see some differences between the "beta" copies that were released last Friday, and the final releases on the 4th.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Nashville aka Wolfspirit

I found numerous issues with 5-22 that I emailed to John Compton; hopefully a few of them get fixed before the "real" release.

Shadow Lodge

Wolfspirit wrote:
I found numerous issues with 5-22 that I emailed to John Compton; hopefully a few of them get fixed before the "real" release.

Spoiler:
Like Ekira being labeled LG? Yah freakin right. :P
Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka The Great Rinaldo!

Still hoping for a response. I can't plan to download Friday, as I'm at the con all day and running this Saturday.

Reading through again, I am struck by the chain climb. Climbing 200' is going to take 15-20 climb checks, the last several of them in combat, so no Take 10. Does anyone have any ideas of how to make this not a grueling dice-fest followed by TPK by falling damage?

And even if they survive going up, then they have to do it again coming down, while hearing Maravan chanting, which is going to make them try to hurry. Help!

Liberty's Edge 3/5

Tony,

Don't have the scenario in front of me, but ran it as a Session 0 for the local GM group on Friday before getting the "Don't do that" word.

I, too, had a lot of problems with the layout and formatting. Excusable for the beta copy, of course. Just hoping they get things fixed for the release.

2) I think the trap noted between B1 and B2 only appears during the final encounter (DC15 reflex save going over the bridge to avoid, uh, something I've forgotten)

3) Naturally, it's in the text for B5. DC 25 or 30, if memory serves.

4) I just had it be an empty antechamber. (I described ominous looking bloodstains as if bodies had been dragged towards the door.)

I started combat at the 30' from the edge mark (surprise rounds as the party came out of the total concealment granted by the chains), so that'd only be three or four climb checks for the typical party, against enemies that are, frankly, no threat. In my group's case, they simply rode their sky -swimming giant cat and the air-walking wolf up to the platform ledge in the first round of combat.

Bear in mind that falling damage isn't that big a deal - the rules for the chains indicate that the chains will catch them (with damage) after a short fall. Unless you have Freedom of Movement or a similar effect, I suppose.

Hearing Maravan chanting still lets them take 10. Alternately, I'd probably let feather fall work for a quick descent.


Nathan King 788 wrote:
If you have a knack for noting details, you'll notice that there isn't any art in 5-23 aside from the maps. If I had to guess, they are going tweak all of them and you should see some differences between the "beta" copies that were released last Friday, and the final releases on the 4th.

Really, guys. Nowhere has there been any indication that the last batch of Season Five scenarios were undergoing any additional development and are getting an updated release, so I wouldn't plan on seeing any updated versions of 5-22 to 5-25.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

wow... no comments on this thread since before anyone had run it!!!

Anyway, I got the chance to play this Sat evening, and it was a pretty enjoyable time. However, I have a few comments/questions, to help me in my preparations to run this for Gen Con.

1) When dealing with Alya Renatus, as a player, I couldn't think of any good bluff to use (and my character, a Taldan noble by the name of Lady Natalia Landros has a pretty good bluff, +15 at level 6). I probably tried to get too cute (faking a drinking contest, etc), but still, I cannot personally think of anything that would get her to realistically give away where her captive was (ok, maybe trying to bluff that I was an agent of the Umbral Court, but that seems a little far fetched). Got any ideas based on what your tables did, GMs?

2) Here's the real catcher... with two characters in Full Plate, the chains seemed an entirely too daunting task. 150' of chains is, at the minimum, 30 climb checks for someone with a negative armor check penalty, given the DC of 10. Depending on the thickness of the chains, I would have called this more of a DC5, similar to knotted rope. At DC10, it seems likely that I'll have characters staying on the ground. How do I get around this? It almost happened in the game I played.
2a) One thing that wasn't clear was whether there would be a wall for the PCs to climb against all the way up to The Warden's Lab. If so, this would reduce the DC by 5 if the PCs used it.

3) Getting back down from the Warden's Lab is no less troublesome. With the chains catching falling objects, even the idea of using Feather Fall after just jumping off the side wouldn't work. Thus, the climb down will take another 1.5 minutes, minimum, when the PCs are going to be wanting to hurry. Is this a valid assessment?

4) While it makes sense due to the type of item it is, having the Shadow Obelisk disintegrate when brought outside seems kind of cruel. However, since the objective is to prevent the Onyx Alliance from gaining a foothold here, it is clear that the destruction of the Cairn of Shadows is sufficient, but this needs to be made clear to the PCs (perhaps have the Whispering Song agent with them point out this, explicitly).

All and all, an interesting scenario, but one that seems like it will rely on a strong GM to add color to the whole environment. From the descriptions of the downtrodden in Nidal, to the lurking shadows and chains of the Cairn of Shadows, this one will be made by GMs filling in the gaps (much like Voice in the Void). I am expecting that I'll be taking a good amount of time to play up the creepiness, and look forward to the input from the experts here!

Thanks!

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵

Just played this tonight, high subtier 4 player adjustment. Is there no four player adjustment for the final fight? If we hadn't had two paladins and a ranger with a keen katana, that one would have been a beast to take on...

and a seconding from above:

Tony Lindman wrote:
6. The treasure note in area B3 indicates that the party LOSES treasure if they successfully bypass the trap and don't end up in the pit. Why are we penalizing our players for using their skills to avoid a hazard?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland aka xebeche

I've done my initial read through and came across many of the loose ends. Sadly, I picked up on some as a player at PaizoCon. I had hoped that my GM was at fault and that the writing/editing was tighter. I can't say I blame anyone given the epic amount of work and numerous deadlines that people are working under leading up to PaizoCon and GenCon.

I hope to spend many hours ironing out the details and will post with my reflections after running this on July 18th.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

I look forward to reading about what you've done, xebeche! Please report your findings here!

I'll be doing the same as I get this prepped

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka The Great Rinaldo!

When I ran this at Paizocon, my party managed to get up the chains reasonably well. I had some damage from falling, but with a nimble monkey of a rogue and a flying shadow mage, the combat wasn't too horrible. I will say that I got some looks once they finally all made it up, just to find out there was little of interest up there and they could hear sounds of chanting back at the bottom.

It took creative use of spells (fly + bull's strength, then reduce person one of the others) to get down quickly, and the fight at the bottom was deadly. A surprise UMD on a BoL scroll by the party fighter prevented character loss, but it was still iffy. This is not a fight for the faint of heart.

Grand Lodge

Just played this as a table of 6 (high tier: level 5 cleric, level 8 sorcerer(me), level 8 or 9 barbarian, level 8 or 9 alchemist, 8 or 9 inquisitor, and a level 9 swashbuckler) and here's my thoughts.

The tavern was easy for us. I have a +15 bluff with 1 rank in it, the inquisitor had over a 30 to bluff. 2 invisibility spells later and we were moving on with the scenario.

The lose gold if you beat the trap is stupid. My sorcerer literally could not fail to disable or spot any of the traps in here. We ended up going down there to loot it so the GM gave us the gold for it.

The climb: this is a pain for a 7 strength sorcerer, but really it's a character design fault and I was rightfully penalized as such. The rest of the party was usually able to fast climb, and the enemies up top weren't enough of a threat to do much to them. For the people saying they flew up, our party had chains try to attack then and drag them back down (Fly check DC 30 to avoid) so I'm not sure what the difference was here. My one successful spell, glitterdust, stopped the invisibility at least!

The final fight. Everyone else here had a hard time, but I guess I got lucky. Haste helped a ton, and Aqueous orb reliably kept 1 kyton out of the fight. Both the barbarian and Swashbuckler each did over 100 points of damage in a full round attack this fight, and the alchemist had holy bombs. Maybe I was just lucky, but this fight didn't seem all that threatening. The kytons have a hard time hitting anything over a mid 20 AC, and don't do a ton of damage. If the GM hasn't pre-buffed the magus with defensive spells (he should only have shield) then his abysmal AC let's him be destroyed before he can put up displacement/mirror image (especially since tactics apparently prioritize haste over these.

In all an enjoyable scenario, especially since my sorcerer is one of the very exclusive Fetchlings that defected from the Onyx Alliance, I felt fairly invested. The horror of Zon-Kuthon was emphasized quite heavily, and the plot was enough to keep everyone interested. Pity I couldn't keep the obelisk.

The Exchange

I had to improvise here a little. Several party members refused to make the climb checks and just were not able to. Some decided to make jump checks across to bypass the kytons. It got a little dicy for awhile, I tried to prevent a TPK by having him cast for a few rounds to buff in back instead of killing them as they tried to jump. I had the kytons switch the grapple and it make things brutal for the players.

The Exchange 4/5

Kiinyan - The writing was a bit mangled, but the chains were only supposed to hinder you in the main room after the last fight started. I had to read through it four or five times before I caught that as well. I'm sure that's why your GM had the chains prevent flying for you. It was a simple mistake.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland aka xebeche

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Here are some of my conclusions given the numerous editing issues present in this scenario.

—Scenario #3-24 The Golden Serpent has an image of Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Urban Tavern that is suggested for "A. The Escape". I printed this, and all other maps, at Fedex Kinkos for use in my game.

—A secret passage is shown on the map "The Shadow Throne", but not mentioned in the scenario as being secret. The text referencing it was either deleted, never added, or the map is erroneous. A GM could treat it as a wooden door, as area "B5. Cold Storage" states, or default to a DC 20 Perception check for a typical secret door (Pathfinder Core Rulebook 414). The latter may be frowned upon by Paizo and I will omit the secret door in my game.

—Erring on the side of the players, I do not interpret “bypass the trap entirely” to mean disabling it. For example, a group could discover the trap and decide to ignore (bypass) the door/trap. This is in reference to the trap in area "B3. The Darkened Pit ".

—Area "B3. The Darkened Pit " references area "B3a", which does not appear on the included maps. PCs are later described to be falling into a 10 ft. wide, 30 ft. long area. As this will happen out of combat, I see no need to create or draw a map.

—The map of level 2, "The Warden’s Lab", casts a shadow on the platform in the middle of the room, suggesting that the cartographer thought there was no whole in the center of the platform.

—The most difficult combat to run, the climb toward the anchorites on level 2, has no visual aid. I created a 5x16 map, representing the widest single wall, that the PCs might climb together. However, I imagine that most PCs will climb the smaller area above the throne. To be clear, the map represent vertical travel up the wall. You can download the map by clicking the link below.

—The trapped tables in area "C2. The Kyton’s Flesh Lab" do not have a CMD or Escape Artist DC. I’m going to treat the CMD/DC as 10 higher than the CMB of the trap. I’m also going to have the tables roll to maintain each round with the standard +5 bonus.

—The Advanced Kytons during "Event 1: Final Confrontation" do not have listed tactics. I am using the tactics from the chain slaves in subtier 5–6. The kytons have a +5 Stealth. It's also worth noting that there is no listed scaling for the final encounter.

Until I have a better idea of how to use the GM Shared Prep folder, here are my prep files:

A. Escape Encounter
C1. Anchorite Guards Encounter
Final Confrontation
Climb Map (2MB PDF)

In conclusion, After spending hours preparing this scenario I get the impression that it was rushed to publishing. It lacks the artwork normally present and has several confusing errors that were not corrected. Traps do not appear in a separate layer on the maps, requiring editing before print. Not that I can fault Paizo considering the amount of work they have leading up to the convention season. Fortunately, these are issues that the community can help clarify and come to a PFS legal consensus on.


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xebeche wrote:

In conclusion, After spending hours preparing this scenario I get the impression that it was rushed to publishing. It lacks the artwork normally present and has several confusing errors that were not corrected. Traps do not appear in a separate layer on the maps, requiring editing before print. Not that I can fault Paizo considering the amount of work they have leading up to the convention season. Fortunately, these are issues that the community can help clarify and come to a PFS legal consensus on.

I disagree. If you are not going to do something well then do not do it.

Now I did not get to read through at as I only played, but it felt exactly as you described it.

I would be ashamed to put my name on something that was sloppily put together and rushed with mistakes.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland aka xebeche

I ran this tonight and found it to be relatively complicated to GM. There are a lot of mechanics to consider. Light/fire functions differently. Areas grant different levels of concealment at different levels. It's not exactly clear where chains start and stop. I forgot on and off to have players make Climb checks upon taking damage. After a while I simply put my bluff face on and erred on the side of the players when there was confusion about how a particular room worked.

The players definitely felt challenged, and enjoyed that aspect. Although they expressed feeling punished over and over by a writer, not a master of chains. Our combat while climbing the chains was a nail biter.

Silver Crusade

Played this last night. Our store actually had two tables running this for 7 players (along with 4 tables of other scenarios), so both were small groups. There were 4 people playing subtier 8-9, and I was at the table with 3 players at subtier 5-6.

Our group was a level 5 tengu zen archer, level 5 channel-focused aasimar cleric of Sarenrae, my level 5 nagaji battle oracle, and level 7 Valeros joined us, so I wouldn't have to be alone on the front line.

The social interaction at the tavern didn't go well initially, since we were afraid to say too much. So our diplomacy oriented social characters were trying to bluff with just our charisma bonuses and no trained skill, and failed miserably. We did some basic diplomacy, too, but ended up rolling awful, so that didn't help either. So the bounty hunter didn't particularly like us, but I don't think we gave her a reason to be especially "on guard" against us stealing her prisoner.

Luckily, my lawful good oracle isn't lawful stupid, so he doesn't feel compelled to obey the laws of a nation whose laws are clearly unjust and evil. In a case like this, breaking the law for a good cause is acceptable. So I decided to just pull the bartender aside to talk to him in private. After he mentioned that the bounty hunter checked into a room with a man who hadn't come out since, I bribed him to find out which room and get a spare key for it (since we realized nobody in our group could pick the lock, and breaking down the door would be loud). So we just calmly walked to her room, unlocked the door, and climbed out the window with our rescued captive, while the bounty hunter continued drinking at the bar, totally unaware of our actions.

Hitting the dungeon itself was interesting. I kept saying all those chains reminded me of the original Alien movie. The mechanics with the chains were somewhat difficult, but I didn't get the impression that it was poorly written or anything, as described in this thread. Our group faceplanted in the pit trap, other than the archer with his high reflex, and we searched around and found the treasure.

When we started climbing, the cleric with dumped strength and armor decided to stay behind, as we figured once the strong guys reached the top, he could just wrap himself in the chain, and we'd pull him up. Of course, we got attacked before the top, and he ended up not being able to help with that. With the 4 player adjustment, there's just one guy ambushing us, and it wasn't difficult at all.

The final fight wasn't too tough for us. We intentionally climbed down into the side room, not the main room, so we were able to hear the chanting and buff like crazy before heading in. Valeros and I had Protection From Evil and Enlarge Person, the cleric tossed out Prayer and Bless, so we were ready to kick some butt. My oracle's a pretty good tank (25 AC at level 5), and the archer and Valeros both did some good damage, while the cleric kept us all standing. We took some damage, and had trouble with visibility and the chains trying to stop us, but it really wasn't that tough. My oracle only had a chance to hit one guy with his sword (I failed the miss chance against the leader - was that a Blur spell?), but my knowledge (planes) skill to identify the mooks and tell our archer to use silver arrows was a key in ending the fight faster. Luckily, the cleric was able to translate, since my oracle has the tongues curse. This was just a really good example of preparation and teamwork making a fight much easier than it could have been otherwise.

All in all, I liked this adventure. The dark tone came through easily and set the mood for the whole thing. Having a combat that started when we were 175 feet up scared the heck out of us (we were assuming 17d6 falling damage if things went badly, though I kinda suspected we'd get extra chances to grab at the chains to stop, or at least soften, the fall), even though it wasn't actually a tough fight at our tier with the 4 player adjustment. I heard that one was much tougher at the higher tier.

And the boons on this chronicle are actually pretty nice. My character's Andoran, so I got the extra boon just for rescuing as many people as possible, which is just something that fit with his personality.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

xebeche wrote:

Traps do not appear in a separate layer on the maps, requiring editing before print

Has anyone been able to extract the maps without the traps showing?

This would be a major issue for me (as I was planning on printing the maps, etc). They seem pretty good, except for that major issue. I am frankly surprised that this was like this (first time in a LONG time that I've seen this problem).

Not sure how I am going to handle this problem. I am running the game this Saturday, and twice at Gen Con. For Sat, I am probably going to have to hand-draw the map (at least the main level), to get around the issue. If someone has a copy of this map that does not have the problem, please let me know!

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

Update on above... I've been trying to hack together a map that covers up the traps, but I've been pretty much unsuccessful. I am close with the stairway trap (B3), but the other I need to work on a steady hand. Not my forte!

I'll keep trying, and let you all know.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka JohnF

Removing the traps on level B is straightforward with most image editors. All you need to do is clone a rectangular area and drop it in on top of the trap you are trying to cover up. The corridor (B3) is easy; just grab a bit of the corridor 10' to the left (I took about a 6' chunk), and copy that on top of the trap.

The trap in area B1 is a little bit trickier, because the floor changes colour quite a bit. Taking a block 6 squares by 2 squares from the area to the right (just before you get to the steps), and dropping that in centred on the trap is good enough to pass casual inspection.

Unfortunately I can't show you what I got, as that would violate Paizo's copyright.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland aka xebeche

Silbeg wrote:

Update on above... I've been trying to hack together a map that covers up the traps, but I've been pretty much unsuccessful. I am close with the stairway trap (B3), but the other I need to work on a steady hand. Not my forte!

I'll keep trying, and let you all know.

I typed out the entirety of the process that I use to prepare maps for printing, but bolded the sentences relevant to your question:

I use Photoshop CS3 to edit my maps. I start by converting the copied image to grayscale. If the image has a single floor, like Cairn of Shadows does, I use the crop tool (cleared of dimensions or resolution) to remove art that will serve no purpose at the table.

Sometimes Paizo doesn't remove secret doors and traps, which is tricky. This usually involves me using the clone stamp tool to select a region of the map most similar to the area that I'm trying to cover up. After carefully lining up the tool so that the final product will show minimal discrepancies, I make my edits. If I make a mistake or the edit doesn't look right then I start over until I'm satisfied. If there is a secret room then I usually separate this into another image file and edit the original map to make it look like no secret door exists. If a player finds the door then I can overlay the secret area over the original room. (For Cairn of Shadows I replaced the secret door with an obvious door.)

Next I adjust the levels, which usually means bring white drastically up, brining blacks out just a little bit, and adjusting grays to be a little lighter. The levels make the map brighter, which is important because FedEx Kinkos has a tendency to print my maps darker than I view on my iMac.

Lastly, I count the dimensions, and count them again to ensure accuracy, and adjust the image size in inches and set to 150 ppi. I bring the final image to FedEx Kinkos as a PDF. If I have multiple maps I assemble them on one PDF file, no wider than 36", but length doesn't matter. I use their large format paper trimmer to separate the maps and to cut the borders off. I write on the back what scenario the individual map is for, roll the appropriate maps together, and store them in a safe place for later use, and hopefully repeated use.

Note: If a map image in the scenario, module or adventure has multiple floors I try to make my level adjustments to a master file, save it, and copy the relevant floors into new image files. I do this to ensure consistency in how the levels are adjusted. To keep the master file size small I only adjust the image size and ppi on the individual floor files.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

John Francis wrote:

Removing the traps on level B is straightforward with most image editors. All you need to do is clone a rectangular area and drop it in on top of the trap you are trying to cover up. The corridor (B3) is easy; just grab a bit of the corridor 10' to the left (I took about a 6' chunk), and copy that on top of the trap.

The trap in area B1 is a little bit trickier, because the floor changes colour quite a bit. Taking a block 6 squares by 2 squares from the area to the right (just before you get to the steps), and dropping that in centred on the trap is good enough to pass casual inspection.

Unfortunately I can't show you what I got, as that would violate Paizo's copyright.

That's about what I was doing... just haven't been satisfied by the results.

Also, I am planning on breaking this up to chunks no larger than 8.5X11, but also ones that are single rooms (so the secret door is less of an issue for me. Gonna be mounting on a backer board, so it is easier to work with (I hope).

Still working on it, not satisfied.

SIGH.

EDIT: take 5 seemed to work better. Thanks for the suggestions on where to cut from, John. It helped. Not perfect, but will probably be good enough.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Oregon—Portland aka xebeche

Part of the benefit to using the clone stamp tool is that it can be calibrated to blend with the surrounding area. Something that I don't know how to do with a straight copy and paste. I'd still take comfort in what your edit looks like. Often times they become less noticeable with a print that won't show the detail of a computer monitor.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

Well, I got it done.

Maps are mounted, cut up into sections no greater than 8.5x11 (for Gen Con portability), and look good I am going to use a basic flip mat for the chain climb, if needed.

Will let you all know how it goes!

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

When I ran this a week or so ago, the players summoned a large air elemental, it went up and sucked all the bad guys into a vortex, and then they climbed with communal spider climb.

It was quite anticlimactic.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

So, I'll give a report later, but the table barely made the 8-9 subtier. It was brutal, but good.

But, a couple of things I wanted to ask the gallery about...

1) The check for Alya to perceive the PCs searching for Golbrier seems to be static. Does not account for noise, distance, or intervening stuff. To make this work as written, I would suggest commenting about how quiet the bar is (typical for Nidal), and how creaky the floors are, etc. Also, have her seated obviously under the room (obvious once the PCs are near the room), making her as close as possible. If the PCs don't attempt stealth, she automatically succeeds, right? Also, if they are attempting to break into her room, I would say that this triggers her getting hostile. Finally, remember she gets bonuses on perception against humans, elves, and halflings!

2) The trap at B3a. This one has been commented about before. However, the text text "When PCs touch the false door (which includes basically any action other than checking it for traps) the entire 30-foot-long corridor in front of the door tilts, dropping anyone in that section into area B3a and its spiked chain nets."
a) If they detect the trap, after running, they should get a good idea of how large the drop floor is.
b) With a successful perception roll, do they understand that touching the false door (they don't get the idea that it is a false door, though, I would say) triggers the trap?
c) Do they need to touch the door to disarm the trap?

Basically, I want to give them the best possible chance to recover the treasure without everyone falling into the trap. Hard to see how that would happen in most cases.

Oh, and @xebeche, my hacked maps seemed to work pretty good (as did mounting them on card-stock, and cutting them down into small sections).

4/5

I just (24. July 2014) downloaded this to run in the upcoming weekend. There still seem to be ALOT of misprints, left outs and stuff not explained properly.
First I will say that English is my second language, and therefore there might be some problem, both her in my text, but also in my understanding of the scenario.

Information/opinion problems:
1. I think there is missing some Knowledge(Lokal) on Nidal.
2. There is no explanation why the demiplane collapses? The former owner died as well and nothing happened, so why now? Why this time?
3. B3 is described as 10 feet wide, but on the map, only depicted as 5 feet wide?
4. The area B3a is not depicted anywhere.
5. As mentioned in another post, if players bypass it and don’t search the hole, the gold earning is reduced by 1/3 of the scenario gold. Shouldn’t we encourage cleaver trap bypassing?
6. B4 describes a room with opposed doors. On the map B4 has one map, but the unmarked room between B4 and B5 has 2 doors opposed. Is there something missing? Or is the first area (marked B4) meant as B3a?
7. On page 12 is mentioned the 2 areas C1a and C2a, but none of them are shown on the map? I figure this is the holes and the “climbing area” but has no real proof of this?
8. On page 13 in the bottom of the first column it says: “Hazards: Creatures adjacent to the pit in this room cover (+4 AC, +2 to Reflex saves) against those below.” Does it lack a “gains”?
9. On page 16 it says in the conclusion: “If the shadow obelisk is carried out of the demiplane, it fades away like smoke, and the cairn is destroyed forever.” How do the players success their primary condition if it is destroyed?
Primary success condition: “If the PCs obtain the shadow obelisk and get out of the Cairn of Shadows alive, the mission is a success, and each PC earns 1 Prestige Point.”
10. It is mentioned on page 7-8 that Andoran wants to join forces with Golbrier, but this is not a part of the faction mission. Why mention it if it doesn’t matter?

Language problems:
11. First line on page 7: ”… though she cagey and sober enough not to reveal where…” is there missing an ”is” between second and third word?
12. Page 7 second column line 19: ”They believed is was the burial mound of…” should the ”is” be ”it”.

Out right missing:
13. Golbrier’s initial attitude towards the pc. (page 7)
14. A few magical items are missing on the chronicle sheet for both tiers. The weapon found after the final confrontation.
15. In B1 the poison is referred to B3, but the poison is described in B2 or rather the top of page 10??

Grand Lodge

I played this today. Had a fantastic party and GM with good roleplay and mechanics knowledge, so any lack of information in the scenario such as the misprints and lack of editing didn't really hold us back.

The final fight was surprisingly pretty easy for us. The GM had a number of Kytons focus their attacks on a sorceror/zen archer who had managed to get their AC into the mid 30s by grabbing a few points in every armour type bonus. In comparison, the rest of the party were able to spread damage quickly and effectively. The Magus ran into some problems as the PCs readied actions to attack as soon as he started casting.

Very keen to GM this now. I wanted to ask if anyone had run the final combat with the Kytons using their ranged chain attacks to Disarm and Trip instead of just deal straight damage. With haste giving an extra attack at +1 on all, and no provoking for animating a chain nearby, it seems to me this could be a vicious way to tear a party apart. I can see everyone getting tripped, then watching their weapons get pulled away, then the damage coming in from the ceiling.

I'm just a bit worried that this could kill the party too fast, mind you 2d4+2 isn't too nasty.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

Andrei,
I had them grappling rather than attacking full out. They would grapple until they got the target grappled, and then they would attack with the rest. Worked pretty well

I may think about tripping and disarming next time..

Grand Lodge

Grappling chains is amazingly cinematic and really dampens the mobility and strategy of the team but I'm just looking at the BBEG's haste spell...

With Disarm and Trip just being attack actions, plus haste, this could be... DELICIOUS. *cackles*

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

But...

If the kytons use their control chains as a standard action rather than attacking with their own chains, they are increasing their mobility but costing themselves an attack (due to the haste).

I took it that each chain will get a standard action (I may be wrong). It seemed the most rational interpretation.

That all being said, I will be using the chains to disarm and trip. I may even have them bullrush the PC into the stream of shadow essense. I thank you for the ideas (though my players may not thank you).

Silver Crusade

So, I actually have a few answers for you on this, and it took me a while and several rereads.

Tony Lindman wrote:
1. The section detailing the party's interaction with Golbrier Frosh indicates that Andoran PCs should rescue him and get him as an ally, but that is not mentioned in the Andoran success condition. Is that an artifact of a change during development?

I'm iffy on this one. It mentions in the secondary success conditions that Golbrier must be friendly to the PC's. I assume that this was how you had to achieve that. For rescuing him, it says he trusts you, but nothing about his attitude. I know... it seems like a technicality, but that's the way it reads. I assume it's an artifact.

Tony Lindman wrote:
2. There is a trap noted between B1 and B2, but no trap in the text. Is that just noting the area that impedes the characters on their return, before encountering Maravan?

This one I have ABSOLUTELY figured out. In the reading title for FINAL ENCOUNTER 1, after all of the stat blocks, in a small paragraph, it explains this trap. It is ONLY active during the final encounter. I actually messed this up in my game, but had fun with it anyway.

Tony Lindman wrote:

3. The secret door from B2 to B5 is not mentioned in the text, so I don't know what the DC to find it is.

4. The text for area B4 seems to be describing the unlabeled chamber between B4 and B5 on the map, and there is no description of the area labeled as B4. Is there something special I should do here?

Ok, so, I'm not 100% on these. For #3, I assumed the DC's were nearly identical to the rest of the traps in the scenario based on tier. For #4, you are absolutely correct. The rooms are mislabeled. B4 is the middle room, not the far left room.

Tony Lindman wrote:

5. The trap in area B3 says that characters caught in the trap end up in area B3a with spiked chain nets, but there is no such area. Should we just require them to climb/fly out of the pit, or is something else supposed to happen?

6. The treasure note in area B3 indicates that the party LOSES treasure if they successfully bypass the trap and don't end up in the pit. Why are we penalizing our players for using their skills to avoid a hazard?

7. The text for the upper level references C1a and C2a, apparently referring to the two openings to the main level below. They aren't marked on the map, but it's apparent from context what is meant.

For these last three questions, I think I have found the answer. for #5 and #7, they did not include a map or marker, because these are vertical maps, and therefore left to your discretion. They give you dimensions, but not a visual cue. What I did was make a box as wide as I had characters, and ~40 feet tall. I placed the party where they were on the climb and the enemies on the top. As the party succeeded and failed at climb checks, I moved their characters closer to, or further from, the top. I actually had a rogue fall almost to the floor during the climb, and a monk try to use high jump to reach the top in a single round.

As for #6, well... One of the Society tenets is to 'Explore' after all... I agree that this seemed a little harsh, but my PC's were getting used to the rest of the season having money in the traps and tripped it purposefully so they could loot it.

Hope this helps!

Liberty's Edge 4/5

Quote:
As for #6, well... One of the Society tenets is to 'Explore' after all... I agree that this seemed a little harsh, but my PC's were getting used to the rest of the season having money in the traps and tripped it purposefully so they could loot it.

Don't make excuses for them. Punishing players for succeeding at a trap is shameful. Making them lose over 25% of the gold in the scenario for not reading the author's mind *while they succeed* is completely unreasonable. This is especially true in a public campaign where the GM is not allowed to make up for the mistake later.

This is straight out of the "guess what I'm thinking" style of GMing and it needs to be beaten out of existence with the biggest hammer possible.

Sovereign Court 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Except that it's a common trope in RPGs to hide stuff in the bottom of pits. It's definitely happened in PFS multiple times before, so players should expect to have to look in the bottom of pits.

Besides, as a GM, there is something you can do. When your trapsmith disables the trap, ask them "Do you want to disable it open or closed?" That's usually enough to get them thinking about if they want to look in the bottom or not.

Liberty's Edge 4/5

And if the players aren't familiar with that particular trope or if the GM doesn't prompt them, the players should be expected to guess the author's mind? You are being ridiculous.

This is a huge amount of gold we're talking about...25% of the reward lost. For SUCCESS.

I stand by my earlier harsh wording.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

I'm of two minds on that.

On one hand, I was planning on investigating the pit even as my Seeker Oracle was disabling the trap.

On the other hand, "it's what my character would do" doesn't fly with me, and neither does "it's a realistic scenario". Someone choose that result, which means they could have chosen differently.

Silver Crusade

Arillia Kaenath wrote:

And if the players aren't familiar with that particular trope or if the GM doesn't prompt them, the players should be expected to guess the author's mind? You are being ridiculous.

This is a huge amount of gold we're talking about...25% of the reward lost. For SUCCESS.

I stand by my earlier harsh wording.

Reminds me of a Grand Lodge faction mission in a season 3 adventure

Spoiler:

Echoes of the Overwatched

you had to fail to notice a weak floor, and then only the Grand Lodge character would notice their faction mission. So you had to fail to notice the trap, and be of the correct faction. I got ridiculously lucky and was the one who fell. But remember the section in the guide about creatively avoiding encounters:

PFSGtOP wrote:


Sometimes during the course of a scenario, your players might surprise you with a creative solution to an encounter (or the entire scenario) that you didn’t see coming and that isn’t expressly covered in the scenario. If, for example, your players manage to roleplay their
way through a combat and successfully accomplish the goal of that encounter without killing the antagonist, give the PCs the same reward they would have gained had they defeated their opponent in combat. If that scene specifically calls for the PCs to receive gold piece rewards based on the gear collected from the defeated combatants, instead allow the PCs to find a chest of gold (or something similar) that gives them the same rewards. Additionally, if the PCs roleplayed past an
NPC who carries a specific potion or scroll that the PCs might be granted access to on the scenario’s Chronicle sheet, don’t cross
that item off the sheet—instead, allow the PCs to find the item
elsewhere as a reward for creatively resolving the encounter without
resorting to combat.

While the guide specifically talks about combat encounters, I'm comfortable assuming it works here as well.

Silver Crusade

I always fall back to that clause, too.

Sovereign Court 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Really? When you're a Pathfinder and one of your tenets is to explore, you don't have the reaction of "Hey, there's another room that can hold things! Let's go see if there's something useful in that room?"

I went back through PFS history. Out of the 25 scenarios that feature pit traps, 12 of them have treasure, a faction mission, or something important to the plot in them*. That's not an insignificant number. If this is the first time you're encountering this in PFS, then I'm sorry you lost so much for missing that, but take this as a learning opportunity and don't let it happen to you again. This is not the only time that there will be something important at the bottom of a pit trap.

If you want to check my work, massive spoilers ahead:

Scenarios w/ Pit Trap w/ something interesting in them
0-17 Perils of the Pirate Pact (Cheliax Faction mission)
1-42 Echoes of the Everwar Part 2 (treasure in a pit)
1-49 Among the Dead (treasure in pits)
2-17 Shades of Ice Part 2 (mission note + Osirion faction mission)
3-03 The Ghenett Manor Gauntlet (treasure in the pit)
3-07 Echoes of the Overwatched (Grand Lodge faction mission)
3-12 Wonders in the Weave Part 2 (treasure in the pit)
4-01 Rise of the Goblin Guild (Taldor faction mission)
4-25 Glories of the Past, part 3 (pit leads to previously unknown area)
5-04 The Stolen Heir (pit is one of two ways to semi-hidden area)
5-08 The Confirmation (treasure/plot point in the pit)
5-23 Cairn of Shadows (treasuer in the pit)

Scenarios w/ boring Pit Trap (extra notes are my amusement)
1-30 Devil We May Know Part 2 (although the pit trap is in a combat)
1-34 Encounter at the Drowning Stones (pit is part of combat)
1-37 The Beggar's Pearl (pit is part of combat)
1-45 Delirium's Tangle
1-53 Echoes of the Everwar Part 4
2-18 The Forbidden Furnace of Forgotten Koor (can't find anything because the pit is full of lava)
2-20 Wrath of the Accursed
3-08 Among the Gods
3-22 Rats of Round Mountain, part 2
3-23 The Goblinblood Dead
4-05 The Sanos Abduction (pit is part of combat)
4-22 Glories of the Past, part 1 (pit is created by magic)
4-24 Glories of the Past, part 2 (pit is part of combat)

*Disclaimer - this is based off my memory and some searching through scenarios. I may have forgotten one or two. Also this doesn't include 5-25 since I haven't played or read that one yet. This also doesn't count retired scenarios.

Scarab Sages Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Maglok

That is quite a list James. Cool. :)

I am running Cairn of Shadows tomorrow. We usually play on a very, very, white table on game night at the FLGS. I am planning on setting the mood a bit by putting up a black tablecloth and to put two skulls near my GM screen. This is Nidal right? :)

If I had chains I would bring them for this.

I read through the scenario and the 'Escape' encounter stood out to me as a bit strange. It seems to me like I will not call for a initiative or anything and just roleplay through all of it. The guards, if they show up, are considered 'too difficult to deal with' by default and thus that is not allowed to happen. Otherwise we do have the mercenary woman, but I think it will be a lot better if that all was roleplayed out instead of her being reduced to a simple fight.

Otherwise I think this scenario is just oozing with mood. I like it a lot. As mentioned before, the chains seem quite cinematic to me.

I do have a Andoran and a Cheliax faction player, so this ought to be good. I know the Andoran player and that he will jump on the 'prison' aspect and the 'unjustly imprisoned for years'.

Any last minute tips I can use to make the session even better?

Also it seems I will be running the high subtier with 4PC adjustment for 5 players that are just above 5-6 subtier. Is that doable ya think?

Dark Archive 4/5

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

I don't see anything in the scenario for scaling the final encounter to a 4 player table. It goes as written for either tier?

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

Simon Kort wrote:

Any last minute tips I can use to make the session even better?

Also it seems I will be running the high subtier with 4PC adjustment for 5 players that are just above 5-6 subtier. Is that doable ya think?

Five players between tiers would be playing down in season five. You'll need a sixth if you wanna play up.

It will be doable, but very tough. My table a couple of weeks ago was barely between tiers, and they pulled it off. I would really try to get a sixth, as my table barely survived a couple of fights, and the final one has no four player adjustment.

EDIT: I am a moron, and cannot remember anything these days, thank you for the correction again, Snig,

5/5

Silbeg wrote:
Simon Kort wrote:

Any last minute tips I can use to make the session even better?

Also it seems I will be running the high subtier with 4PC adjustment for 5 players that are just above 5-6 subtier. Is that doable ya think?

Five players between tiers would be playing down in season five. You'll need a sixth if you wanna play up.

If you get the sixth, it will be doable, but very tough. My table a couple of weeks ago was barely between tiers, and they pulled it off.

Actually, Simon has it right for this. For season 4 and beyond it's play down with no adjustments for tables of 4 between APL and up with 4 person adjustments for tables of 5 or more.

It should be challenging, but doable I'd think.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

There is at least one PFS sanctioned module that has a pit trap with treasure in it, although, as a module, it doesn't count quite as badly if they fail to explore it. Then again, they do lose out on at least one nice piece of access from it.

Module name:
Thornkeep: The Accursed Halls
The pit is in a room by itself, fairly easy to spot and just go around, but it has some money and a scroll in it.


The trap leads no where. The only reason for that trap to be there is to hide treasure in it. When we played this we found a "trap" of some sort but no idea what it was. I said that is probably a fake door lets go back. For being correct I would have lost gold for being seeing through the writers ploy, well partiallly cause he would punish me for it.

Just because previous missions had glaring flaws does not mean they are acceptable.

I honestly believe the author did take enough time with this scenario. It seems awfully forced to stick so much treasure at the bottom of a pit. Why not some next to the torture devices?

Scarab Sages Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Maglok

Sniggevert wrote:
Silbeg wrote:
Simon Kort wrote:

Any last minute tips I can use to make the session even better?

Also it seems I will be running the high subtier with 4PC adjustment for 5 players that are just above 5-6 subtier. Is that doable ya think?

Five players between tiers would be playing down in season five. You'll need a sixth if you wanna play up.

If you get the sixth, it will be doable, but very tough. My table a couple of weeks ago was barely between tiers, and they pulled it off.

Actually, Simon has it right for this. For season 4 and beyond it's play down with no adjustments for tables of 4 between APL and up with 4 person adjustments for tables of 5 or more.

It should be challenging, but doable I'd think.

These are good players, they will stand up to the challenge I think. :)

Alright! Last prep and then gametime. Will let you know how it went.

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