Not having a good time


Shackled City Adventure Path


So my friends and I are playing through this and it seems like the only one enjoying themselves is the DM. We made it down to Jzadirune two sessions ago but everything is just beating us like stepchildren!

We came in on a 28 point buy in and +0 LA available, but with that everyone is having a hard time. I know this is a rough adventure but if no one is having fun, what's the point.

No one wants to upset the DM but every step we are getting smacked around in traps, seemingly random encounters of Skulks, or wondering aimlessly because we can't find any keys.

I'm looking for advise/help in how to get things moving along a bit and/or not have the game fall apart because no one is having fun but i'm not the DM so i don't know what i can do. This is only my third D&D game ever so i'm not sure how to approach things and no one wants to tell the DM we think he's being a bit unfair or that things seem a little too challenging for us. Advise?


Definitely talk to the DM. I know I as DM want feedback from my players. Granted, to a certain degree a DM can probably tell if you are having fun or not, they may very well assume if you aren't saying anything that there's not a big enough issue that it is worth discussing.

So, talk to them, and just try to be diplomatic and offer constructive criticism.

Also, there's pretty clearly different expectations in the group, and it's best to be on the same page about that. Find out if your DM can still have their fun if they change things up more to what you guys would enjoy.


Farastu wrote:

Definitely talk to the DM. I know I as DM want feedback from my players. Granted, to a certain degree a DM can probably tell if you are having fun or not, they may very well assume if you aren't saying anything that there's not a big enough issue that it is worth discussing.

So, talk to them, and just try to be diplomatic and offer constructive criticism.

Also, there's pretty clearly different expectations in the group, and it's best to be on the same page about that. Find out if your DM can still have their fun if they change things up more to what you guys would enjoy.

We play a Pathfinder game with our DM for this game and everyone one is worried that saying something to him will derail the other game and end this one. Just a touchy subject for everyone. Guess i'll have to tread lightly and let him know that something's got to give. Thanks for the input!


The campaign is built for six players. If you don't have that many you might have more trouble. You could consider pointing that out to the DM. Alternatively you could try some lateral thinking. If you're unable to talk to the DM maybe you could try picking up some hirelings in Cauldron. This is a trap heavy dungeon. You need a rogue. If no one is playing one, hire a rogue. You could point him to one of the many good resources available on this board.


We do have 6 players.
Human Ranger, Human Paladin, Half Elf Cleric, Halfling Rouge, Wood Elf Bard, Wood Elf Wizard.

The rouge is having trouble finding the traps. He missed two pit fall traps and beat us up pretty bad. Then when trying to get out of said pit the DM, in the groups opinion, is giving us a little bit too much crap about how much rope is being used for what to get someone out of the trap. It's 50 ft of rope. We used enough to tie one end off on a touch sconce a 10 ft away, wrap the rope around someone so if they fail the reflex save they will fall but not into the trap, and the rest is with the person. but he wants EXACT measurements of where the rope is, how much is around what/who.

I understand if someone wants details but we give him details, start the "rescue" and then he wants to call on what we are doing like he had no idea what we said two seconds before but NOW someone is dangling over a pit. =\

I think the group is really done with this. I wanted it to be a fun game because I had played through the first dungeon before and i wanted to see what's next, but no one is really having a good time so it may not last. But the group agreed we need to talk to him about it and see if he will work with us on making it a bit more fun for us.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd be interested to hear how this is resolved. I bought a copy of the hardcover a while back but haven't gotten around to starting it yet (currently running a sandbox and the Emerald Spire).

Skimming through the opening sections now and it does seem that there are quite a few traps in that area, and they have fairly high Search DC's. It might be cheesy, but you could attempt the old trick of carrying a 10ft. pole to jab at things along the way. Taking a minute per square as you move down the halls would get really boring really quickly though, which is why most modules/campaigns nowadays have moved away from this kind of trap design. If your GM is set on keeping them as-is though, you could try arguing in favor of reducing the DC against traps similar to ones you've already seen. If a group of semi-intelligent adventurers gets caught off-guard by a pit trap, it stands to reason that the same type of trap will be less likely to work the next time, potentially reducing its DC by 5 or so, as by then they should know what to look for.

Best of luck with your Diplomacy rolls versus the GM. =]


When I GMed Shackled City, I was secretly relieved when the party's dwarf rogue got very lucky and found the secret door that allowed them to skip over Jzadirune completely! It really seemed like it was just there to give the party some extra XP.


Sorry to hear your not having a good time. It sounds to me that your DM is being a bit too restrictive asking for such things. I would talk to the DM. Constructive criticism is a good thing and they should be open to it. I hate to say it, but if your DM gets pissed because you talk to him about this, then its time to find a new DM. Perhaps he is suffering from a DM VS Players problem. Please let us know how it turns out.
As far as my story of this area, my players went through a small portion of Jzadirune. Using the map given to them by Ghelve, they had certain rooms they thought would be the best bet to search. That was fruitful for them and they had little trouble getting to the lift to the Malachite fortress. They did trigger a few traps and fight a few monsters including one they had to rest from. They were slightly injured when they started the first encounter of the malachite fort. They had to retreat with the help of Fario and Fellion who made a timely appearance. My group is just entering the Flood Season chapter (chapter 3 in the hardcover)and has had some pretty close calls and narrow escapes. They are having a blast so far.


slade88green wrote:

Sorry to hear your not having a good time. It sounds to me that your DM is being a bit too restrictive asking for such things. I would talk to the DM. Constructive criticism is a good thing and they should be open to it. I hate to say it, but if your DM gets pissed because you talk to him about this, then its time to find a new DM. Perhaps he is suffering from a DM VS Players problem. Please let us know how it turns out.

As far as my story of this area, my players went through a small portion of Jzadirune. Using the map given to them by Ghelve, they had certain rooms they thought would be the best bet to search. That was fruitful for them and they had little trouble getting to the lift to the Malachite fortress. They did trigger a few traps and fight a few monsters including one they had to rest from. They were slightly injured when they started the first encounter of the malachite fort. They had to retreat with the help of Fario and Fellion who made a timely appearance. My group is just entering the Flood Season chapter (chapter 3 in the hardcover)and has had some pretty close calls and narrow escapes. They are having a blast so far.

Yeah we found that door....and the acid trap....=\ #meltedthecleric!


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We did have a talk with the DM and he lightened up on a lot of mechanic things that were just a little too picky for us and we are starting to have fun. Just found the entrance to the Hold but we were beaten up so we rested and stopped the game. Next time... we move onto the Malachite Hold!


Jzadirune was a four session slog for us. It is way, way, way too big.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

It took a good while for my parties to get through. Although the aborted game I ran back home in Ohio had my then-girlfriend and my childhood best friend Seal Team 6 it by taking the shortest path to the gear elevator. Was pretty amazing.


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Well after several LONG months of playing twice a month we made it through Chapter 1. We learned that having 5 squish PC's and 1 PC in heavy armor the group needed to change up. So my Ranger and our Cleric retired...and a new Cleric(me) and a Druid from the desert join the fray.

Hopefully things will be better now. Me and the friend both played through chapter 1 before a old group fell apart so it will be fun for everyone to see what happens next. =) Hopeful things take a turn for the better and we really get into it.


My latest group discovered the secret door on the stairway and headed straight to the Malachite Fortress, by-passing Jzadirune entirely. Once they had the experience from the Fortress, the remaining forces in Jzadirune bugged out (they're not going to stick around without Kazmojen's muscle to protect them). Once the kidnap victims were rescued there was no time pressure, so we just hand-waved Jzadirune.


I did the same Mykull. Gnomes didn't seem to play much part in the storyline beyond Jzadirune, so I re-wrote Keygan as a dwarf related to the Splintershield clan and made the whole dungeon underneath his shop as part of the Malachite Fortress.


So my group went BACK down to Jzadirune because we are glutton's for punishment......and we fought the grell.....and by DM's a dick sometimes.

halfing rouge stealth/hide moving around, while group is moving into room as well, Grell snatches him, DM says we don't know he got snatched because he was hidden/no noise. Grell grabs him up and runs off.

I make a nat 20 spot check, says i don't see grell 30 ft in air, when i have clean LOS on him if you look on the board, because the monster is on the board. Battle starts a round later, we attempt to web the grell, failed. DM says now we can't see the grell at all. moves the monster around for another turn, then takes monster off board, says we can't see at all because of web. he finishes eating the halfling, PC Death. comes out of web we set on fire, arrows fly, finally kill it before he grabs someone else.

I hate this place. Can't wait till my party learns to stop going into horrible pits of death.


Fallenone23 wrote:

So my group went BACK down to Jzadirune because we are glutton's for punishment......and we fought the grell.....and by DM's a dick sometimes.

halfing rouge stealth/hide moving around, while group is moving into room as well, Grell snatches him, DM says we don't know he got snatched because he was hidden/no noise. Grell grabs him up and runs off.

I make a nat 20 spot check, says i don't see grell 30 ft in air, when i have clean LOS on him if you look on the board, because the monster is on the board. Battle starts a round later, we attempt to web the grell, failed. DM says now we can't see the grell at all. moves the monster around for another turn, then takes monster off board, says we can't see at all because of web. he finishes eating the halfling, PC Death. comes out of web we set on fire, arrows fly, finally kill it before he grabs someone else.

I hate this place. Can't wait till my party learns to stop going into horrible pits of death.

Jzadirune is a real grind because at low level you have little resilience, I don't plan to let the players go I to it until they are 2nd or maybe 3rd level. Big dungeons at low level are just repetitive as progress is so slow.

But for that encounter as you described the issue was more the DM than the dungeon.


My players lost their rogue (player got distracted by something else) after the first session, so I quickly re-cast Keygan as a 3rd level arcane trickster rogue and tweaked the story so that he had been charmed, Starbrow was a quasit shape-changed into a rat, and poor Keygan believed that he had summoned him as a familiar from a scroll he bought from "that blue-robed wizard" (you know who that would turn out to be.) The party helped him make his save against the charm and return to his senses, and he begged to come along for revenge.

Keygan was ok with traps, but predictably great with locks. More importantly, he helped me sell Jzadirune, since I would describe the rooms and Keygan's enthusiastic reactions. Keygan had no idea where the elevator down was, but the party didn't know that, and Keygan kept guessing and pointing to one corner or another of his leather map, sure that this time he remembered where the way down was located.

In the end, the party cleared 99% of the ruin (a skulk kept running away) before they located and killed "Starbrow" the quasit and found the elevator. They had a blast. There were hilarious scenes where they were telling Keygan what to instruct the pulveriser to do, and it would clank off... then they would hear a voice they couldn't quite make out and the pulveriser would clang back towards them aggressively. Rinse, repeat.

There were a few tense moments, the darkness from Yuathb was a difficult challenge, and there were a few death saving throws made in a couple of rooms, but it was a really good experience overall.

Now, here's what might have been the key: I started them off at the Lucky Monkey, and there was a string of Gnoll encounters on the road to Cauldron. One of those was a chase that riled up a bunch of baboons (teasing chapter 3) that attacked their campsite overnight (they took 2 days to get to Cauldron.) By the time they went down into Jzadirune, they were familiar with their characters and were level 2. I actually made some of the encounters a little beefier to compensate.

In the Malachite Hold, one of Kazmojen's abused goblins turned coat and joined the PCs, pledging herself in service to the Drow warlock. She turned out to be only half-goblin (other parent unknown) and was rolled as a PC rogue using the Kender racial traits, played by the wife of one of our players who wanted to sit in (she wound up joining the group) and took over sneaky stuff from Keygan, who (after the PCs testified on his behalf) did a little bit of jail time and a lot of community service, mostly for failure to disclose to customers the fact that he kept master keys to all of their locks.

"Starbrow" makes a return appearance as Gutterrut, with the PC who speaks Abyssal hearing him say "Oh, crap, you again?" when they enter Tark's chamber.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

My players have pretty much given up, at this point, trying to find skulks, since their hide skill (well, stealth, since I'm running something slightly between 3.5 and PF) is hilariously above their perception. (Heh...)

But there are that many thunderstones, they have taken to simply lobbing them into rooms in the hopes of that making the skulks reveal themselves that way.

(Sadly, the only time they actually managed to land one where a skulk WAS, he made an additional stupendous fort save to avoid crying out...!)

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