#6-04 Beacon Below


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Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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So, how about that last encounter? I think I could have handled it if our -1 Diplomacy character hadn't spoken first. :/ Sadly, no one had much of anything they could do against the marut, and we were overtime by an hour and a half at that point. I love this scenario for the lore and epic encounters, but like most recent 7-11s it runs incredibly long.

Sovereign Court 4/5

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I ran this yesterday (4 player low tier). The 7-8 is much less deadly than the high tier, particularly Badru. It helped that the players completely blew the Diplomacy for the Inevitables out of the water. They picked up nearly every Preservation point, and only lost one due to time.

Did anyone have players side with Badru? Saruna seems like the more obvious choice, though I suppose who you speak to first makes a big difference.

My only frustration was that it seems like there isn't a good way of making the method of using the flawed jewel to stop the Sky Vault's falling known to the players. I ended up letting the Beacon give off an empathic feeling of its function.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston

I must admit that this one is a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed th linking to 5-17, though I believe it also has a nice reference to the Free RPG special "Risen from the Sands". Which made it feel like the Ten were making a particularly wise choice in sending this particular group of pathfinders in. Also I must admit the Sorceror in the party essentially swatted a couple of the tougher enemies with good rolls on his attacks spells.

That said without the ability to talk your way past some of the encounters this would be a brutal scenario, as there are several enemies that would be rather difficult fights.

Given this I can also see that if you simply tried to grind your way through the scenario you could easily end up wiped out or failing for other reasons.

Scarab Sages 1/5 Venture-Agent, Illinois—Mount Prospect aka Dokomo

I had a player roll Knowledge: Arcana when they teleported past the force sphere to realize that the sky vault falling was a self-destruct mechanism. With this info the players eventually worked out that the only person that could set the self-destruct would be a jewel sage, and thus the only person who could cancel the self-destruct would be another jewel sage. Fotunately they had a teleporting wizard or else they wouldn't have been able to get close enough to use the jewel in time.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

My oracle and our alchemist had dispel magic known and on a wand respectively. That resilient sphere was down in a round once we realized we needed in. I just wish we had made the knowledge check to know my dimensional anchor would have been useful. (I also wish the alchemist hadn't beat me in initiative and made the marut hostile.)


hey, i'm pretty new to gming, and i've got a bunch of questions about this one as i'm looking to prep it. if anyone has any insight, i'd greatly appreciate it. so here goes:

1. on p. 6 it says that pathfinders can suppress an individual effect of the Guards and Wards spell for 24 hours. how does that work mechanically? do they just say, "we decide to suppress the fog?" Do they have to succeed at a spellcraft check to recognize the spell first? Do i have to tell them that they have the ability to suppress one effect? it seems very vague.

2. on p. 8 under the fire mephits description, it says they start north of A1. Does that mean in area A5? or does it mean at the north end of the hall of A2? or something else? The mummies start "near area A5," so I assume that means the north end of A2. In general, i'm having a hard time figuring out where they are all supposed to be once the PCs enter.

3. more on that first fight. I can't tell how involved B and S are supposed to be. Does S just stay in A3 and observe with claivoyance? does B leave A5 and join the fray? if not, how does B know what's going on? I feel a bit at a loss how to set that up so that B and S are there but so they don't automatically become indistinguishable to the PCs and immediately just get attacked and end any chance of dipomacizing and whatnot.

thanks in advance for any thoughts/clarifications.

The Exchange

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Here's my answer (expect table variation):
1.) Guards and Wards says "A dispel magic cast on a specific effect, if successful, removes only that effect." I take that to mean that an effect removed by a Dispel Magic is only supressed and will resume after 24 hours. I would set the DC at 26 to recognize a Guards and Wards using Knowledge (Arcana) because it is a spell effect that is already in place. Of course, the PC wouldn't need to know what spell it is in order to fire off a Dispel.

2. & 3.) I'm going to disregard the scenario instructions because they don't make sense. I'll present it organically, meaning I'll try and present the situation as it might have developed rather than putting minis down in illogical positions:


  • B obviously came up from the level below (B1) with the mummies and initiated the attack on S's turf. I'll add a 'first wave' of attackers that S already defeated.
  • Let's just say that S was initially in the chapel (A3) and fought through the first wave to get to A9 and summon a counterattack.
  • B sent in the next wave of mummies, hanging around the corner of A5 to watch how things progress.
  • S sends her elementals out from A9 and observes from there as the forces collide in A2. She doesn't speak any elemental languages so she must be giving the fire elementals instructions via the mephits, who speak Common. She has used the pools once earlier so I think it is safe to assume there have been waves of attackers on both sides.
  • Don't forget to describe the "Alcoves along the walls hold racks filled with scrolls filled with ancient poetry, but the cracked scroll cases are unable to resist the heat created by the elementals. If the PCs do not destroy the elementals or draw them out of the hallway within 4 rounds, the scrolls are reduced to ash, and the PCs lose 1 Preservation Point."
  • The important thing about setting up this fight is you want the players to see the opposing sides at the same time. If they look down the corridor from A1 (after figuring out the illusion) and see one side bottle-necked at the intersection, they'll just initiate their attack algorithms without further thought.
  • I haven't run this yet, but I anticipate that the players will just neutralize BOTH side--the elementals for the threat to the library, and the mummies for being undead.
  • If S's side wins, she'll approach to parley from A9. If she loses, she'll stay there unless she has a safe route back to the chapel.

The author probably had either a different map or different creatures when the scenario was turned over. I don't much like how cramped the fight is in A2.


i like the sound of that. i don't have time to parse through it all carefully atm, but thanks so much for your thoughts.

3/5

A minor point in the fire mephits tactics -

An injured mephit crowds into a fire elemental’s square to activate its fast healing.

Isn't this illegal movement?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Creatures more than two size catagories smaller than the other can share the larger creatures square.

Quote:

Very Small Creature: A Fine, Diminutive, or Tiny creature can move into or through an occupied square. The creature provokes attacks of opportunity when doing so.

Square Occupied by Creature Three Sizes Larger or Smaller: Any creature can move through a square occupied by a creature three size categories larger than itself.


another question.
for the final encounter, how did folks handle letting the PCs find out, or not find out, about the two main ways to save the day? i must admit, i've only read through that section once, so maybe i missed it, but i figured i'd ask because i'm going to be re-reading it now away from computer access and then will be getting home with only a small amount of time before having to run it.

so any thoughts about would be much appreciated.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

In my play through the player holding the fake sage jewel received an empathic impression of what he could do to stop the issue. Otherwise, we really had no idea.

When I run this I play on allowing an easy Knowledge Arcana or Spellcraft check to realize the dangers and possible solutions. The players can clearly see extra-dimensional distortions occurring, so Knowledge Planes could also be warranted.


that sounds reasonable to me.
thanks for your thoughts.

Lantern Lodge

What should the DCs be to find out what to do in the last encounter? And if they fail the check, do they run around like a chicken with its head cut off for the time allotted or do I allow them to retry?

5/5

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
So, how about that last encounter? I think I could have handled it if our -1 Diplomacy character hadn't spoken first. :/

Funny enough, my -2 Diplomacy Osirion character spoke first, but was *entirely* on the Marut's side of things (plus 19 on the die, assist, and a bard boost) - so things didn't go to pot.

My character really wanted to destroy the jewel-thing, and I had the opportunity, but knew that would kill everyone else's prestige. This was exceedingly frustrating, in a manner identical to playing The Disappeared and not being able to sabotage efforts to recover the Paracountess without "Being A Jerk".

Just about everything else in the scenario was fantastic though - really impressed. I do think the description of B needs to be more clearly not a robot though - the perceived flavor disconnect was annoying. (This could be table variation of course)

#Osirion4Life

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

It is a really nice scenario, I played recently and it was really enjoyable.

My group made some unfortunate tactical decisions, but everybody survived, we attacked the inevitables, after comming to the conclusion, that talking to them would take too long.

The discussion which abomination of nature to attack took some time, but in the end we attacked the creepy doll wizard. And of course my character got hit by the magic jar effect, as it turns out, the level 7 pregen Skald is pretty good, but we were quite lucky, that he was forced to attack with a single handaxe.

And btw are the guards and wards really anthing other than an annoyance ? My character didn't recognize a single illusion, and had to be dragged by other party members.

Scarab Sages

The first half of this scenario seems fine but there really should have been a more explicit discussion about how the characters find out what to do about the moving sphere and the crystal. I think the above suggestions about an empathic link are implied in the text and that's what I'm using when I run to that part but it is nowhere explicitly stated and a GM who doesn't pick up on the empathic link could easily leave the players in the dark. With the players having no idea what is going on or what needs to be done, failure would come pretty quickly.

I've come across this problem a few times in PFS scenarios so in the future I'd suggest that the authors/editors/leadership/etc make sure that there is explicitly written an in-game way for the characters to figure out what to do when something special or timed needs to be done.

Grand Lodge

So how have people been running the hazard in Area C? The PCs teleport onto the Sun Disk platform, then run a Knowledge Arcana or Spellcraft DC 25 to let them be 'tipped off' that they've accidentally activated the self-destruct sequence? I think I will add some flavour text about crackles of magical arcs between the disk and the library, just to get that 'meteor's coming down!' vibe going.

They start 300 feet above the 'impact zone' aka the Library, so the disk falls 15 feet every six rounds.
The Marut can Air Walk up 30 feet each round, so it will confront them at around Round 9. During which time the PC's may already be trying to kill off Hounds of Tindalos. What a clusterf**k!

30D6 sounds terrifying but Reflex DC22 is not too difficult for adventurers of this tier. That usually results in around 100-120 damage, with a save for half reducing it making it 50-60, this is only a genuine killer if the party has been well and truly beaten to pulp by the Inevitables/Tindalos. Chain Lightning could be the real killer in this scenario.

As for talking to the Inevitables, the scenario uses the Core Rulebook DCs for Diplomacy, which I completely hate because they remove a lot of the GM discretion from the conversation.
The hardest Diplomacy [10-11] DC for the Marut is 26, followed by a 21. *Yawn*.

My favourite bit:

What the f**k?!:
if the PCs track the amethyst, the sand shows the sage jewel set in a strange device next to a humanoid figure with no
discernible facial features. The person startles and stares
at the scrying sensor before the gritty tableau collapses.

Hummmmgaaaah!

There is a lot I am looking forward to running in this scenario but there is also a lot I am totally not looking forward to running. This session is going to run loooooooooong.

Grand Lodge 5/5

I've run this scenario 3 times now, twice at the high tier and once at the low. In all three cases, the party beat up on Saruna and allied with Badru.

I think that in some ways, the deck is stacked against the poor sphinx, for several reasons.

- Firstly, her attitude at the high tier is worse (unfriendly), while Badru remains indifferent regardless of tier. Furthermore, her Charisma is higher than Badru's, making Diplomacy harder on her.
- Secondly, she's undead, and he's 'only' a construct (yes, an evil construct if there's detect spells flying about, but people seem less 'grr kill' on constructs as opposed to undead).
- Thirdly, every single time I've run it, the party's first line of dialogue with Saruna has been 'Hi, we're here from the Jeweled Sages! Can you help us out?' This makes sense from the party's perspective, it just seems like a bit of a sucker punch to have the first person you can speak to be hostile to the sages. One flubbed Diplomacy check later (that -4 doesn't help!) and you have an unfriendly or hostile sphinx on your hands.

The other point I don't really like about the scenario is the A5 catalog being immediately accessible from the start. If the party goes left first (after the fight, that is), they'll notice the thefts and decide they have to rush downstairs, which can cause them to lose out on masses of Preservation Points available in the other rooms on the top level simply by being too dedicated to protecting the contents of the library.

Sure, the GM knows that they're not in real danger of taking serious losses unless they start taking literal hours to do things, but the players don't, and there's no in-character way to tell them. It seems harsh that they can miss out on the boon just by going left instead of right at the beginning - a totally blind choice.

Other than that, I found it a really fun scenario to GM. The golems didn't get to do much, ever - with their poor Perception and no way to see invisible creatures, all 3 times an invisible party member snuck into the room to do the jewel charging without incident.

For giving them hints on what to do, I had the Crystal Beacon glowing in pulses, which were pulsing in time with the glow of the Sky Vault to show a connection between the two. When the jewel holder got close to the Beacon, I also gave them some empathic prodding from the jewel to indicate they could use it to interact with the artifact.

The final room is also awesome. To paraphrase what I said to my groups;

'So you've traveled through a stargate to reach an artificial island inside a cavern miles below the earth, some bizarre clockwork centaurs are demanding to know your business, and there's a false sun blazing down towards you in a very unfriendly fashion. Welcome to Tier 7-11!'

Both high tier groups fought the marut - one set just hauled off without trying to talk, the second set tried lying to it and got caught. The low tier group did manage to talk down the zelekhuts, and avoid combat (though then they'd used up 10 rounds talking and only barely managed to send the 'abort!' code in time!). None of the groups brought Badru in with them, either.

KestlerGunner - I'm having some trouble parsing parts of your post. You're saying the PCs start 300 ft. above the island, but I don't believe that's accurate. Area C1 says the portal to and from B3 enters and exits there; as far as I can tell, PCs start out in front of the bath house on ground level. The Sky Vault starts 300 ft. up (presumably; the cavern's only 300 ft. high, so it can't start any further away), but the PCs aren't on the Vault.

Grand Lodge

Yes, you're absolutely right - I misread the scenario.

My first impression was that the PCs start on an undescribed platform on the Sky Vault with a second, non-italicised beacon to use to stop the movement, not that the actual Crystal Beacon. This is what happens when you read scenarios far too late at night!

I've now found the sentence that says they appear on the portal outside the bathroom. Phew!

Venture-Captain, Germany–Hannover aka Hayato Ken

Doug Miles wrote:

Here's my answer (expect table variation):

1.) Guards and Wards says "A dispel magic cast on a specific effect, if successful, removes only that effect." I take that to mean that an effect removed by a Dispel Magic is only supressed and will resume after 24 hours. I would set the DC at 26 to recognize a Guards and Wards using Knowledge (Arcana) because it is a spell effect that is already in place. Of course, the PC wouldn't need to know what spell it is in order to fire off a Dispel.

2. & 3.) I'm going to disregard the scenario instructions because they don't make sense. I'll present it organically, meaning I'll try and present the situation as it might have developed rather than putting minis down in illogical positions:


  • B obviously came up from the level below (B1) with the mummies and initiated the attack on S's turf. I'll add a 'first wave' of attackers that S already defeated.
  • Let's just say that S was initially in the chapel (A3) and fought through the first wave to get to A9 and summon a counterattack.
  • B sent in the next wave of mummies, hanging around the corner of A5 to watch how things progress.
  • S sends her elementals out from A9 and observes from there as the forces collide in A2. She doesn't speak any elemental languages so she must be giving the fire elementals instructions via the mephits, who speak Common. She has used the pools once earlier so I think it is safe to assume there have been waves of attackers on both sides.
  • Don't forget to describe the "Alcoves along the walls hold racks filled with scrolls filled with ancient poetry, but the cracked scroll cases are unable to resist the heat created by the elementals. If the PCs do not destroy the elementals or draw them out of the hallway within 4 rounds, the scrolls are reduced to ash, and the PCs lose 1 Preservation Point."
  • The important thing about setting up this fight is you want the players
...

A very important detail about that spell is also:

Fog: Fog fills all corridors, obscuring all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet. A creature within 5 feet has concealment (attacks have a 20% miss chance). Creatures farther away have total concealment (50% miss chance, and the attacker cannot use sight to locate the target).

That makes the situation even more complicated there and some of the written tactics a bit dubious in my eyes.

5/5

I am running this on Wednesday and have a couple of questions.

1. Can a holder of a fake jewel attempt to deactivate the beacon while the forcefield is still up? The paragraph on doing so is entirely separate from the one dealing with the forcefield.

2. Sending the shut off code is described as a full round action used within 5' of the beacon and it takes 5 rounds to halt. Do people read that as requiring a full round action on each of the five rounds?


andreww wrote:

I am running this on Wednesday and have a couple of questions.

1. Can a holder of a fake jewel attempt to deactivate the beacon while the forcefield is still up? The paragraph on doing so is entirely separate from the one dealing with the forcefield.

2. Sending the shut off code is described as a full round action used within 5' of the beacon and it takes 5 rounds to halt. Do people read that as requiring a full round action on each of the five rounds?

1. I think so. When I ran this a wizard used Dimension door to jump inside the field.

2. One action I think. It's a nice builder of suspense when the 'sun' is still coming at you even though it has been stopped. Also, if it's too late, you still have time to escape.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

That's how I'd run it in both cases.

Grand Lodge

Ran this last night. Prepped my normal amount of time. Wish I had done maybe double or triple that.

1) I accidentally ran that Guards and Wards as Obscuring Mist at all distances, but I'm kind of glad I did. 50% at more than 5 feet for a mostly ranged party would have made an already long adventure untenably so, and we likely would not have gotten through the entire scenario with that up for the first combat honestly. Somehow the combat took an hour for 4 rounds.

2) I was having difficulty speaking as Saruna in character. It was quite exhausting, and I would recommend sitting down and thinking about it for awhile, writing down some extra possible responses. Those given definitely do not cover the scope of what she could be asked. I didn't even bother to deliver the information block they asked for in her vernacular.

3) I also think that the initial combat is presented very poorly. I like Doug's fix to it, and may run it like that in the future.

4) The guards and wards in general seems like an annoyance and not much else.

5) The 7/8 4 player subtier basically makes it impossible to die in all but the last encounter. At the very least 4 pregens could complete it. I suppose that's fine, but it does reduce a difficult scenario into a trivial one for the first half of it.

6) Using the base diplomacy rules as opposed to a modified DC is a little disappointing for the Zelekhut's/Marut, and made it easily doable even for my party where no one was heavy on charisma, the highest was a 10.

7) I had difficulty communicating how to stop the cataclysm without losing the mystique of what was happening.

It was a really cool scenario, and I hope I get to run it again, but for how in-depth/complex it was, there were some things that could use cleaning up/clarification/trimming.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

Thanks for the great recommendations, Doug!

I do have a comment on something:

Doug Miles wrote:
The important thing about setting up this fight is you want the players to see the opposing sides at the same time. If they look down the corridor from A1 (after figuring out the illusion) and see one side bottle-necked at the intersection, they'll just initiate their attack algorithms without further thought.

The scenario says:

Quote:
Illusory stone walls conceal every door (Will DC 20 to disbelieve in Subtier 7–8 and DC 22 in Subtier 10–11), and arcane locks seal them (Disable Device DC 20 to open).

Emphasis mine. Based on this and the map, the PCs should have clear line of sight to A2 (which is shrouded in fog, so no line of sight to the combatants) because there is no door there. (They should also have a clear line of sight down the hallway to the south.)

Hallway A2 says that there are illusions over the open doors to the north and east (A5 and A3, respectively), but not to the west where A1 is. (This is really just a re-iteration of what's in the general description of the area, from what I can tell.)

There is no boxed text description of A2, just the map. Looking at the map, there are 2 alcoves, each 10 feet from the corridor to A1. Depending on the placement of the bad guys and considering the fog effect of guards and wards that makes it impossible to see more than 5 feet away, it's possible that the PCs are not even able to see the alcoves to know that there are precious treasures getting consumed by the elementals' heat. I think it's crappy for players to lose out on Preservation Points without a chance to know that's going on, so I'd at least give a Perception check to hear the crackling of papers lit on fire.

Now, if I missed something I'd appreciate it if someone corrects me before I run this and look foolish...

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

Ninjaiguana wrote:
- Firstly, her attitude at the high tier is worse (unfriendly), while Badru remains indifferent regardless of tier. Furthermore, her Charisma is higher than Badru's, making Diplomacy harder on her.

This is true, but keep in mind that Badru's only Indifferent as long as he believes that the PCs are jewelled sages. The mod says:

Quote:
The soulbound construct has a starting attitude of indifferent, though he initially assumes that the PCs are Jeweled Sages—who else could have unsealed the archive?

and

Quote:
If he discovers the deception, his attitude becomes Unfriendly.

I don't really like how this makes the assumption that the PCs are trying to fool him into believing that they're actual Jewelled Sages. What if the PCs are honest from the get-go? I would imagine he'd be better disposed to them than a group of liars (i.e., those that tried to Bluff him and failed). Even if they're honest, though, I'd put Badru's attitude to Unfriendly because they're not Jewelled Sages.

However, this helps the PCs influence Badru, too:

Quote:
He is fiercely loyal to the Jeweled Sages, and so long as he believes they are working for the Jeweled Sages, the PCs gain a +4 bonus on Diplomacy checks to influence him.

I think he'd be a lot less likely to believe that the PCs are working for the Jewelled Sages if they've already been caught lying about being Jewelled Sages. I'd probably nix the +4 bonus to Diplomacy in that case.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Washington—Seattle aka Taenia

So during my preparation I cannot imagine how to possibly run the encounter in A2. When I played it last week the GM moved the fight into A3 and returned Saruna to A9. I really like what Doug described but I think the fight works much better in A3 rather than trying to cloud 2 large creatures and 8 small/medium into a ten foot wide hallway.

I think I will have the fight have started in A2 and show signs of battle, burnt scraps of paper and cloth, sear marks on the wall and smashed rock and rubble with sounds coming from A3.

Liberty's Edge 3/5

[GM in question who moved the encounter]
Yeah, there's just no way for a fight in the hallway to work, especially since you have Guards and Wards up with fog. I thought about having it spill out to A1, but figured it made more sense for Saruna to use her wand of DD to escape from A3 as her firey minions were backed into the room.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Any idea why an Egypt flavored area keeps getting dark tapestry stuff thrown in? Happened in destiny three as well.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Any idea why an Egypt flavored area keeps getting dark tapestry stuff thrown in? Happened in destiny three as well.

Y'know how all those crazies believe the pyramids were built by aliens? If they were in Golarion and talking about the Osirion pyramids, they wouldn't be so crazy.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Jeff Merola wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Any idea why an Egypt flavored area keeps getting dark tapestry stuff thrown in? Happened in destiny three as well.

Y'know how all those crazies believe the pyramids were built by aliens? If they were in Golarion and talking about the Osirion pyramids, they wouldn't be so crazy.

I don't feel so bad for trying to dial the doorways now...

5/5 5/5

What is the Symbol of Persuasion for? By the time the party gets to it, they've either fought and killed, or allied with Saruna, so what's the point in charming anyone after either one of those?

Also, that higher tier was brutal. When I played, we had problems with the two players with Diplomacy not wanting to talk (we also had issues with the only skill monkey refusing to roll skill checks after being asked/told to), so we failed almost all of them. Fighting the Marut would be rough with a full party of 11s, but when I played there were two players with pregens, and I think one more playing up. Chaotic weapons are really rare for PCs to have, so killing the marut would have required multiple THW-users, which we had none of in a party with three fighters. The only way to get around it was everyone spreading out to opposite corners while I ran to the crystal to stop the collision, then someone used the Wall of Force to block the marut for a little bit while everyone ran for the portal to get out (the GM threw us a bone by having it walk into the wall and then spend the rest of its turn mime-handsing it). That thing was dropping people in one hit, and we still had two deaths.

5/5 5/5

When I played this, the Jeweled Sages got a new member - a gnome named Seamus MacFlarglargle. It's canon.

Dark Archive

I am surprised no one has asked this, maybe i am just dense -

Did you tell your players about preservation points, and tell them when they earned or lost them? Or was it secret GM stuff? I am about to run this and had planned to keep it secret, but I am expecting my group to bumrush thru it esp after they realize things are disappearing, and end up ticked off at the end that they were undersold on the preservation aspect.

Of course ill try to emphasize it from both the VC and Tahonikepsu that they preserve, but did you fellow GMs literally tell them about the scoring system?

Dark Archive

this is going fantastically so far. the players noticed Takonihepsu had purple (aka amethyst) eyes, and are convinced she is the ancient Amethyst Sage, who has set up the pathfinder guild to take the fall as she loots this hall. they are making plans to murder her when they see her next

awesome.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

I ran this today, and I might've missed it in the kerfuffle, but my players were confused about the actual storyline in this adventure, and I couldn't really find it either. The adventure summary doesn't really explain why all the stuff is going on. From what I managed to gather, the opening of the halls triggered the fading of the information (page 19), and the teleport down caused the fall of the Sky Vault. But how did he manage to erase/funnel the stuff?
Also, the Sky Vault/Crystal Beacon interaction seemed a little clunky. When my GM ran it for me, he said the Sky Vault is a Bag of Holding (correct) and the Beacon functioned as an extraplanar thing comparable to a Portable Hole, which explained the violent reaction when the one fell onto the other. The scenario doesn't really explain why it goes boom, does it?
My players also poked holes in the Zelekhut's story about how they lost track of time. It seems rather odd they're here for three millennia, they're unconcerned with the sky falling on their head and they want to arrest the PCs.

Also, I was tickled by the phrase "[Tahonikepsu] then departs, returning to her natural form as a time dragon to investigate disturbances elsewhere in the solar system." I got some weird Superman-vibes off that, and I hoped I could impart that on my players, but I couldn't.

4/5 RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 aka Matt Duval

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Quentin Coldwater wrote:

Spoiler:
I ran this today, and I might've missed it in the kerfuffle, but my players were confused about the actual storyline in this adventure, and I couldn't really find it either. The adventure summary doesn't really explain why all the stuff is going on. From what I managed to gather, the opening of the halls triggered the fading of the information (page 19), and the teleport down caused the fall of the Sky Vault. But how did he manage to erase/funnel the stuff?

Also, the Sky Vault/Crystal Beacon interaction seemed a little clunky. When my GM ran it for me, he said the Sky Vault is a Bag of Holding (correct) and the Beacon functioned as an extraplanar thing comparable to a Portable Hole, which explained the violent reaction when the one fell onto the other. The scenario doesn't really explain why it goes boom, does it?
My players also poked holes in the Zelekhut's story about how they lost track of time. It seems rather odd they're here for three millennia, they're unconcerned with the sky falling on their head and they want to arrest the PCs.

Also, I was tickled by the phrase "[Tahonikepsu] then departs, returning to her natural form as a time dragon to investigate disturbances elsewhere in the solar system." I got some weird Superman-vibes off that, and I hoped I could impart that on my players, but I couldn't.

Disappearing objects:
There were measures left in place so that when the area was reopened he was able to notice and he had rigged the beacon before leaving to allow him to remotely access it. When the PCs take control of it back it cuts off that remote connection. It talks about it right at the beginning of the hazard section on p 19

Why does it explode?:
It is in fact exactly like putting a portable hole in a bag of holding, except scaled up to artifact level. The portable hole reference may have been removed in development, but that was how I originally wrote it, and the contents are still hurled into the astral plane as described at the end of the hazard description on p19. Standard disclaimer that it may have changed during development for a reason and that's the final word.

inevitables:
I don't recall it being that they lost track of time but rather that they were trapped there and spent the time discussing who had jurisdiction. As far as the impending death, they're primary concern is stopping lawbreakers, and they aren't concerned with saving the library. p22 covers most of their motives.

Hope you and your players had fun!

5/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Thanks for the reply!
Did a quick read through, I think the description of the Beacon itself got pulled out, there's no direction mention of the Portable Hole, just the effect it has when the two collide.
And yeah, it was about jurisdiction indeed. My brain was fried by that point and my players didn't really buy the story, but we got along in the end.

We certainly had fun. The Guards & Wards threw them for a loop, they thought the dungeon was mirrored somehow until they figured it out and were frustrated by them hitting air for a few rounds. I may have misinterpreted the spell, though. >_>
The scenario was a bit more involved than I was used to, but other than that it went great. Interacting with Saruna and Badru was interesting and they had to think about the consequences of helping the one versus the other, which I really appreciated. And that final encounter... Whoah. I was kinda rushing through things as some of us had to catch last trains back home again, but I think I depicted the sense of urgency fairly well. Luckily the Bard player rolled really high on his Diplomacy, so they avoided the fight with the creatures there.

Question, though: the knowledge DCs seem rather low. There was a level 8 Wizard who had a 20+ on his Knowledge skills before rolling. Granted, he was fairly optimal, but he knew all the DC25 checks even without rolling. I think that by this tier, DC30 would be a fair challenge. Then again, if you don't have a highly specialised character with you, these might pose a problem.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

*Wizard mentioned* My knowledges were on the high side actually, at maxed ranks and 26 intelligence as well as various buffs. Although the bard wasn't that far behind me on some of them.

Badru/Saruna created a bit of a weird moment for us. Neither had done anything hostile towards us, when it became clear that we needed to shank one of them to open the portal to the library. Sure, philosophically they may be evil but they hadn't actually been doing anything naughty that we'd seen. Fortunately for shillyshallying me our construct-hating ranger/living monolith spinx-lover had no difficulty taking sides.

4/5 RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 aka Matt Duval

Glad you had fun :)
Re: the skill checks. My thinking is that, since they are part of the success condition, they should be doable by an average group. Just having read a lot of pbp games at this point, for every game where a finely tuned adventuring machine breezes through, you have another group that struggles. That said, appreciate the feedback! :) I have some thoughts about how to reward players for high skills in the future without punishing those less optimized.

badru/saruna:
They're definitely intended to be more nuanced characters. There's a balance of Badru clearly being aligned with the organization while having some ... creative ... ideas about how to help people overcome the tribulations of mortality. And Saruna is sympathetic as a victim in a lot of ways but is a bit crazy and more than a bit vengeful. Plus in my mind they unconditionally despise each other after all these years, so trying to explain to one why the other isn't that bad is going to just make them distrust the PCs. If the PCs are stuck in a loop I would recommend having the NPCs become increasingly distrustful and hostile in their language as they begin to suspect the PCs are spies or stalling them. They both want to end the other and the PCs are either helping or hindering.

I think that's great one PC had that tie-in. :) IIRC in an early draft Saruna had a background involving Gralgor-Ot.

5/5

I have run Beacon Below a couple of times recently. Each time the group has sided with Saruna. To be fair I have rather emphasised Badru's creepiness and his offer to upgrade frail mortal fleshlings to a more perfect form.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

About skill checks: fair point, but that could be remedied by making more possible Presevation Points and/or making less matter for the success condition. There's about 12 possible Presevation Points attainable, about 4 are losable through carelessness, and you need 4 for a second Prestige (8 for a boon). That seems about fair. If players have a roughly 50% chance of making that check (an INT of 20 is reasonable at level 7 for a Wizard/Witch, and max ranks will already run a +15 on the modifier, and that's before buffs or magic items to boost it) if the DC is 25. With that, there's room for error in getting that Prestige Point. And that DC doesn't scale at high tier, that should be done without any effort at all. Level 7 Ezren has that modifier, and I consider pregens pretty much the very minimum you should be able to compare to.

I'm not trying to lecture you on game design, you're way better at it than I am, I'm just saying it could've been a bit more interesting. Maybe a bit unfair, but the follow-up to this scenario has a chase mechanic with skill DCs ranging from 26 to almost 35, though everyone assists the highest roll. Those were some checks that made us sweat. That also had a similar information-gathering mechanic with less tough DCs, but also less room for error.

I dunno, maybe maybe I'm just overreacting, I just think a decently-built PC with a 50% chance of beating the DC, and possible other PCs with a worse chance, spread across more than enough checks seems like a pretty good deal.

(And now I expect to get my ass kicked by impossibly high skill DCs in the next adventure written by you and coming to the forums to complain about it. :P)

4/5 RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 aka Matt Duval

Quentin Coldwater wrote:


I'm not trying to lecture you on game design, you're way better at it than I am, I'm just saying it could've been a bit more interesting.

You're too kind and I do really appreciate the feedback. :-)

Quentin Coldwater wrote:


(And now I expect to get my ass kicked by impossibly high skill DCs in the next adventure written by you and coming to the forums to complain about it. :P)

hah! I'll do my best not to disappoint. :D

4/5 RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 aka dien

Question regarding the sceaduinar: it uses an anti-life shell on itself before combat... and then its tactics block relies on it delivering several touch spells against PCs that are almost certain to be living creatures? I know the shell collapses if forced 'against' a living creature, but is that how it's meant to be run? A (full) round buffing with the barrier, a full round casting of silence, and then after that having get rid of one's barrier to attack? Seems like a sort of wonky tactic.

4/5 RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 aka Matt Duval

hmm.. well here was my thinking:

Spoiler:

It is supposed to cast the shell before combat starts, not in the first round. It's intended as a preemptive measure to stop any melee PCs who spot it from just charging in and making short work of it in the first rounds of combat. The Sceaduinar's intended purpose in the combat is to harass the backline PCs while the frontline characters engage Badru. The assumption is that if it can silence them and land its most powerful SLAs it'll have the backline so tangled up they won't be able to support the frontline. That said, it does have Enervate as a ranged attack if the silence fails or a scary melee character is hanging out in back. At its most basic, that encounter is trying to put the frontline characters into a Will save encounter while throwing Fort saves at the backline characters.

I would say while it may seem suboptimal, this is probably the plan Badru drew up and ordered in a vacuum since he's more concerned with preserving his own safety and wants the minion to be as distracting as possible and draw fire. If the PCs do a lot of back and forth and give the NPCs extended time to observe them, then I could see him adapting his instructions accordingly. They are both intelligent adversaries.

Happy to offer any help I can. Hope your group has a good time :)

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/55/55/55/5 Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern aka CanisDirus

I don't suppose anyone here was able to extract the custom map without the markings? This is apparently yet another Season 6 scenario where when I try to extract art, it ends up as a blank screen.

Thanks in advance.

5/5

I use Nitro Reader 3 for season 6 modules, seems to work fine.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/55/55/55/5 Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern aka CanisDirus

At first I grabbed Nitro Reader 5, which totally didn't work...then I did some hunting specifically for 3, which worked right away - thanks very much!

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Yes, there's definitely something weird about the art embedding in this one. But I can usually rely on smallpdf.com to help me out with recalcitrant PDFs.

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