#6-23 The Darkest Abduction


GM Discussion

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5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Tampere aka Rei

Prepping this on very short notice for tomorrow night. Already noticed some errors in the stat blocks: the shadow companion is listed as having a +4 attack under Melee, but is listed as having BAB +10 as it should. I'm also not sure where its saves come from. By my math, they should be +6 +10 +4 (if we count racial base saves). I could be wrong though, math is not my strong suit and I'm especially legendary at miscalculating saves.

The dark stalker elites don't seem to have a rogue talent listed. I'm guessing they grabbed Improved Critical with it. They also don't seem to have a combat style feat, since they get Double Slice and Two-Weapon Fighting naturally.

Zodarna is missing two of her racial feats (Augment Summoning and Spell Focus (conjuration)). Presumably these have been replaced with two other feats, since otherwise she has too many.

The party I'm running this for has a Life Oracle with Daylight 7/day, so I'm expecting them to thoroughly steamroll every encounter. The only interesting things will be the haunt and the sacristans.

Dark Archive 5/5

The shadow a shadowdancer summons has a few tweaks to it. Gets half hp and same attack bonus and base save as shadowdancer has.Base saves 6-10-4. Becomes 8-12-5 after shadows stat adj. So those are right. They errored when making adj. It would be plus 12 touch to hit.
No shadow ritual being used so i would not worry about feats.
Also this is an optional encounter.
They also missed the see in darkness under senses.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Tampere aka Rei

I'm aware of how a shadowdancer's shadow works, I've played the class before. I just managed to derp and forget to add the shadow's stats to the saves as well. :I Well, I'm dumb.

Lantern Lodge

Looking forward to running this at GenCon. I haven't GM'd very many high-tier scenarios before though, so if anyone has any particular pointers, I'm all ears! :)

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber
LoboStele wrote:
Looking forward to running this at GenCon. I haven't GM'd very many high-tier scenarios before though, so if anyone has any particular pointers, I'm all ears! :)

Beyond the usual GM advice, with high tier combats be REALLY sure of the abilities of your npcs. Scribble notes in your margins, read and reread how their stuff works. Your PCs will be throwing enough curve balls at you, being really solid on your folks will reduce what you need to wrap your mind around in the moment. It also lets you give maximum entertainment value from your side. :-)

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

Having just played this the other day, let me say +1 to Sean's comments. Two of our combats took one hour + each playing at high-tier with the 4 player adjustment.

Also, if you're worried about time but also don't want to feel like you're railroading the PCs, consider adjusting the "tone" of Margaret's comments about the "Swampers" - make it more of an "occult premonition" rather than just making it sound like classicism.

What happened to us, trying to out-think the situation:
We ended up on a wild goose chase because we thought she was just being irrational, plus we had a neat idea using multiple gunslingers firing into the air while our Diviner wizard scryed on Olivinia, trying to hear whether the musket master or the pistoleer were closer...and then 45 minutes of real-time later, we just ended up in the swamp for lack of other ideas... and then ran over on time by - you guessed it, 45 minutes :P

All in all, it was a really fun scenario, one I'm excited to GM next week myself!

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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"You find an empty glass vial. There's a smudge of something at the bottom."

"I cast Detect Poison. Is 21 enough to identify it?"

"Black smear."

"G@@~$+mit not again!"

cue frantic scramble to the lodge basement, crying "Skeldonnnn!" on the way.

Ah, revisit scenarios. Hinojai next?

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

If I had been playing either of the characters who had credit from Darkest Vengeance, that would have been my reaction too :P

5/5

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I played through this with my rogue who's been through every Ustalav scenario thus far (not that there's a lot!). I honestly thought Skeldon had gotten out of whatever asylum he'd been shoved in, and was ready to shank him repeatedly.

Love the Swampers in this scenario, and if you play up their creepiness it's really easy to convince players that they're not dealing with mortals but avatars of the swamp itself. Also nice that nearly everything can be avoided with proper use of diplomacy, which probably saved our 4 man low tier table's butts (especially sans any real healing).


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This scenario is terrible. The villain's plot makes no sense. Figuring out the villain's plot involves a series of pointless encounters that only lead to the villain because of ludicrous coincidences. It puts a lot of effort and PC handouts into a series of "clues" that neither help solve the mystery nor really add any flavor, since most players won't have any idea what they mean unless they played "Darkest Vengeance" recently enough to remember details.

And I'm pretty sure the author gets rules wrong in several places. The most noticeable how the PCs can realize that dark caller at the organ is really Olivina Sharnau. The scenario says that they need to make a DC 35 Perception check (DC 37 at 10-11) in order to realize it. The power in question says that it is disbelieved with a Will save that, by my figuring, should have a DC of 18.

Also, where are the pressure plates in area C2? The whole encounter at the Eylusia Building is bothersome, but that's a notable omission.

Then again, given how wretched "Darkest Vengeance" is, it's only fitting that the sequel should be a complete disaster, too.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

There's nothing "wretched" about the prequel as long as you read the BBEG tactics and use them. With them discarded, it becomes a win-or-lose situation decided by a single spell.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

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We just played this last night, and I felt really sorry for our GM. He had a table full of players (and characters) who like to be in control of our actions and will come up with idea after idea after idea. The problem wasn't so much that this scenario was a railroad, but that the tracks were so disjointed and broken that the GM finally just had to point them out to us and say, "You need to go over there."

First, none of us were going to follow the advice of the ghost of a racist serial killer who had already attacked us (and then we're supposed to listen to her when she comes back instead of run away or attack her? what?), so we wasted half the night trying to come up with some other lead.
-- We had three characters with scent and tried to track the kidnappers--no luck.
-- We tried to figure out any connections between the victims or patterns to the kidnappings--nope.
-- We canvassed the area looking for witnesses to the kidnapping, to anyone casing the theater, etc.--nothing.
-- We tried to go to the city guard to find out what their "investigations" of the other kidnappings had turned up--can't do that, no.

Second, since the lead was so tenuous, when we got to the swampers, none of us were inclined to wait as long as the scenario writer expected us to. (Here, again, our scent-having, high-Perception/Survival characters were frustrated that we couldn't track them anywhere.) As far as we could tell, the only reason for us to wait over an hour for them to come back was to make sure most of our buffs wore off. When they finally show up, the only thing we can tell them is "Well, a racist serial killer ghost told us you were involved, so we're here to accuse you...?" And then they told us to go back to the sewers, where we started...and charged us for that information than Grandmaster Torch would have? Seriously?

Third, our good characters spent more time trying to figure out how to take down the evil human-sacrificing cult than worrying about the clue he had for us. ("Dude, there's an entrance to the sewers right here: there are alligators in the sewers, and we have druid that has not yet wild-shaped this entire adventure...this could work!") And we're supposed to take his clue at face value (because demon cultists are so trustworthy), and not question how come he didn't turn it over to the authorities in the first place (wasn't the victim supposed to be a beloved diva?), or question how he knew we were Pathfinders and knew we were investigating the kidnapping (and wait, why the hell were we investigating the kidnapping in the first place?)....

When we finally get back to the manor and clue in to the face that this is the lodge, the whole thing just broke down, because we had already spent the night at the damn lodge, and had only been gone a few hours since then!
And we had three characters with scent, one of which had an unbuffed, take-10 perception of 33. But somehow, we never noticed any of the s!~+ going on.

What's worse is that the entire ending encounter assumes you've never been there and have to search the place, but weren't we already here? but...but... head. desk.

So I'm publicly apologizing for giving our GM such a hard time. I have a nasty habit of expecting things to make a minimum amount of sense, and none of the issues I had with the scenario were his fault. (He's an awesome GM, and his character portrayals were the only thing I enjoyed about the evening.)

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Agent, Maryland— Baltimore aka DrParty06

Dorothy Lindman wrote:

When we finally get back to the manor and clue in to the face that this is the lodge, the whole thing just broke down, because we had already spent the night at the damn lodge, and had only been gone a few hours since then!

And we had three characters with scent, one of which had an unbuffed, take-10 perception of 33. But somehow, we never noticed any of the s#@~ going on.

It's not actually called out in the scenario that you spend any time in the Lodge until you go there at the end. When I ran it, I instructed the players that they were given a date and time they were to meet Basia at the Theater, and that the Pathfinders were still having issues maintaining an actual lodge due to prior events (those from The Darkest Vengeance). It's much less of a leap to assume that the local populace would still associate the former lodge with the Pathfinders than the Dark Folk having been there all along waiting. It's also entirely possible that the scenario is a case of misdirection, i.e. you start at the lodge but hear you need to go to the theater to look for the person missing from there, where you get a false trail so that the person you were looking for can go where you are now not, but making it look like you might have been the one that took them there.


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And now having run it, it was a disaster, though not in terms of the written success conditions; they aced getting their prestige, purely through luck.

They killed the ghost before getting any leads from her. In a move that I consider to be perfectly reasonable, the raging superstitious barbarian kept attacking with his ghost touch weapon even after the haunt was suppressed. So, they never got the information for where to go in the swamp. As I said, that's absolutely a reasonable course of action, and there's no alternative way to get that information.

Fortunately, you can manage to conclude the scenario, since the party went back to the lodge. The scenario is maddeningly vague about exactly when Zodarna breaks in (no sense worrying about the timing in a scenario like this, amirite?), but it seems to indicate that it's shortly after the party begins its investigation. So, sure, just have them skip half of the adventure and go straight to the conclusion.

In the end, that's probably a good thing. The two encounters missed are:

1) an attempt to extract 3,000 gold pieces (at 7-8) from the party or hang a nasty boon on them;

2) an encounter that exists for no reason other than to get the party to nuke its second Prestige Point.

So, straight to the lodge. The set up of the final encounter is idiotic. Zodarna's Master Illusion ability is usable for a total of eight rounds per day, and yet her timing is exquisite in having it going when the party shows up; that's the kind of ridiculous timing that is a hallmark of bad writing.

Of course, the party walks in, fails all of the potential checks to realize that there's an illusion at play, and the fighter rushes into the room and drops a crit a 55 points of damage onto Olivina before she can "cast." So, the mission is a failure, right? I mean, the party was supposed to rescue Olivina. It's why they were hired.

Of course not! They're actually better off killing her, since the primary success condition doesn't mention rescuing her, just defeating Zodarna. And the secondary success condition only says that they are supposed to keep Olivina from slandering the Society. Well, she's dead, so she can't slander them. That's a hell of a lot easier than making the Diplomacy check if you're a party without a good face. So Olivina gets hauled out on a slab and the PCs are heroes.

Then again, that part of Zodarna's plot is so idiotic that the resolution might as well be, too. She's spent a week or so torturing Olivina in the guise of Pathfinders in order to prompt her to convince the city of how evil the Society is. That accomplished, she then sets up the finale with the intent of getting the party to kill Olivina BEFORE SHE HAS A CHANCE TO SPREAD ANY OF HER STORY.

Are you serious? Is it possible for the author to have put any less effort into producing a coherent continuity? I will never run this scenario again.

The Exchange 5/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Iceland

And hey dont worry, even if you kill her you just take a -20 penalty to diplomacy/bluff checks with her so just be real nice to the corpse.

And having plot holes this big is great, becasue that way you can fit the railroad through them.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

DrParty06 wrote:
Dorothy Lindman wrote:

When we finally get back to the manor and clue in to the face that this is the lodge, the whole thing just broke down, because we had already spent the night at the damn lodge, and had only been gone a few hours since then!

And we had three characters with scent, one of which had an unbuffed, take-10 perception of 33. But somehow, we never noticed any of the s#@~ going on.
It's not actually called out in the scenario that you spend any time in the Lodge until you go there at the end. When I ran it, I instructed the players that they were given a date and time they were to meet Basia at the Theater, and that the Pathfinders were still having issues maintaining an actual lodge due to prior events (those from The Darkest Vengeance). It's much less of a leap to assume that the local populace would still associate the former lodge with the Pathfinders than the Dark Folk having been there all along waiting. It's also entirely possible that the scenario is a case of misdirection, i.e. you start at the lodge but hear you need to go to the theater to look for the person missing from there, where you get a false trail so that the person you were looking for can go where you are now not, but making it look like you might have been the one that took them there.

We started at the theater, but we spent the whole rest of the day trying to investigate the kidnapping (I know, what were we thinking?) that we waited until the following morning to go to swamps. So where the heck else would we spend the night?

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Agent, Maryland— Baltimore aka DrParty06

Dorothy Lindman wrote:


We started at the theater, but we spent the whole rest of the day trying to investigate the kidnapping (I know, what were we thinking?) that we waited until the following morning to go to swamps. So where the heck else would we spend the night?
Fair enough. It is called out in a sidebar
"Darkest Abduction wrote:
The dark folk have several entrances into the city, and are actively planning more kidnappings. Early in the adventure, Zodarna has not yet broken into Miregrold Manor, so inspecting the premises turns up no signs of the dark folk’s passage.

It's probable that when I ran it, I was much more heavy handed with guiding the PCs into what they should do whether they wanted to or not. Building creativity into investigation is not something that melds with with PFS scenarios, unless GMs can realize what is happening and kindly steer back on course or just ignore that there ever was one.

J Michael Neal wrote:


In the end, that's probably a good thing. The two encounters missed are:
1) an attempt to extract 3,000 gold pieces (at 7-8) from the party or hang a nasty boon on them;

They can just fight them and not have to pay or get the boon. There are creative ways around actual payment such as long-term spell casting services that could be provided for free, e.g. my group gave each swamper a Symbol of Healing pin.

Lantern Lodge

I feel like a lot of the issues you guys are raising can be handled with some creative story telling. Part of being a PFS GM is taking the framework of the story you're given, and then figuring out how to work around it and guide the PCs through it. Can't just read it word-for-word without adding anything extra and expect it to go flawlessly. We've all played with too many PCs to expect them to do what we expect them to do. Right? ;)

The victory conditions actually make perfect sense to me. Zodarna has set up a scenario where she thinks she will win either way. If the PCs kill Olivina, then the Pathfinder Society will be blamed for killing the beloved star. If they don't kill her, Olivina will slander them anyways. Sounds like a pretty good plan, and requires the PCs to be very careful with their actions.

Now, I can see where it would be entirely possible to give the PCs the impression that they should outright kill the illusion-cloaked-Olivina when they see her. But that's why you do clever things like allowing someone else in the party to make the Sense Motive check, and give them a chance to reach out and grab the Fighter's arm to hold him back.

As for the pacing/railroading of the scenario...if you want the players to find the Swampers, then consistently point them in that direction. As far as the locals in town know (with the exception of the cult leader), the Swampers are responsible for all sorts of trouble around town. Nobody seems to trust them (not that the people in the town seem to trust much of anybody, but that's besides the point, LOL). In the case of the group above that killed the Ghost, there's plenty of other ways in the theater to direct people toward the sewers. Basia or other townsfolk could tell the PCs that searching the sewers directly would take a crazy amount of time, but could drop a hint about the Swampers.

I think this module sort of depends a bit on at least one PC having a decent Sense Motive skill, but I've yet to see anything in it that you couldn't work through. Maybe it's not as great of a scenario as some others, but it doesn't seem as awful as some of you are making it out to be.


LoboStele wrote:
I feel like a lot of the issues you guys are raising can be handled with some creative story telling. Part of being a PFS GM is taking the framework of the story you're given, and then figuring out how to work around it and guide the PCs through it.

Actually, I get told repeatedly to run a scenario as it is written.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

LoboStele wrote:

I feel like a lot of the issues you guys are raising can be handled with some creative story telling. Part of being a PFS GM is taking the framework of the story you're given, and then figuring out how to work around it and guide the PCs through it. Can't just read it word-for-word without adding anything extra and expect it to go flawlessly. We've all played with too many PCs to expect them to do what we expect them to do. Right? ;)

[...]
As for the pacing/railroading of the scenario...if you want the players to find the Swampers, then consistently point them in that direction. As far as the locals in town know (with the exception of the cult leader), the Swampers are responsible for all sorts of trouble around town. Nobody seems to trust them (not that the people in the town seem to trust much of anybody, but that's besides the point, LOL). In the case of the group above that killed the Ghost, there's plenty of other ways in the theater to direct people toward the sewers. Basia or other townsfolk could tell the PCs that searching the sewers directly would take a crazy amount of time, but could drop a hint about the Swampers.

I think this module sort of depends a bit on at least one PC having a decent Sense Motive skill, but I've yet to see anything in it that you couldn't work through. Maybe it's not as great of a scenario as some others, but it doesn't seem as awful as some of you are making it out to be.

Part of this discussion is pointing out issues that do need to worked through.

For our run, it was the first time the GM ran this scenario, and there wasn't much information on what to do you if the players go off the rails. There was a lot of detailed information about the three encounters, but nothing about how those encounters relate to the plot at hand.

For the Swampers, the GM did exactly what you suggested: he had multiple characters point us to the Swampers. He made it very clear that searching the sewers would be pointless. He explained that all our other investigations were fruitless and the Swampers was the only lead we had*, even though the only reason anyone gave for pointing us to the Swampers was just pure racism: no had seen the Swampers near any of the kidnappings, no one had found any evidence that the Swampers had been involved. (And honestly, if everyone was so convinced that it was the Swampers, why didn't the guard just go out and roust them? Why are we involved at all?)

So we gave up and went to the Swampers, traveling hours outside of town, waiting around more than an hour for them to show up, and paying out a large chunk of our gold to buy their information. (We tried to bargain for services, but our GM told us the scenario did not allow that.)

And we find out that the Swampers had nothing to do with the plot at all, and they had somehow, just coincidently "happened to see" things back in town, in the sewers--the same sewers we had been searching, in the same town where we had spent the whole day looking for witnesses and quizzing the guards who had been investigating all the previous kidnappings for days.

But somehow, these people who live hours away from the scenes of the crime shad witnessed more than one of them, but nobody in town had seen anything? Seriously? (And if they were in the sewers enough to see the crimes, how come we didn't run into any of them when we were investigating?)

Please note that I'm not saying anything about whether the scenario was fair or stacked against the PCs or anything like that: I'm only talking about the fact that the plot/story doesn't make any sense.

There is no reason for the Swampers to be in this story at all. All they do is point us right back to the same place we were already searching and was told was completely fruitless, which was even more frustrating.

Honestly, it felt like the writer took three short stories that had nothing in common but the setting, slapped chapter titles on them, and called it a novel. It was completely incoherent.

*Then there is the glaring problem that if the whole point of the BBEG is to frame the Pathfinder Society, why are we not finding any evidence pointing to the Pathfinder Society? The only piece of evidence was in the bag that the evil cultist was sitting on (another issue), so how exactly was that frame up going to work, again?

Lantern Lodge

J Michael Neal wrote:
LoboStele wrote:
I feel like a lot of the issues you guys are raising can be handled with some creative story telling. Part of being a PFS GM is taking the framework of the story you're given, and then figuring out how to work around it and guide the PCs through it.
Actually, I get told repeatedly to run a scenario as it is written.

There's a difference between "run a scenario as it is written" and make sure your players enjoy themselves, by making their off-the-rails tendencies fit the module. I've always understood the 'run as written' rule to strictly apply to the encounters, skill checks, etc. that the module requires. I don't change the story either, but do what's needed to get the party back on track. PFS modules always feel like railroading, but that's because to some degree...they are supposed to be that way. Sometimes there aren't as many options to chase in a story as the players would like to think there should be. Sometimes it's only A or B. Just like in real life, we're not always 100% in control of what goes on around us. ;)

I see a lot of the points you're making though, and perhaps the next time you run this, you'll have lots of ideas of how to direct the party better.

I'll admit, I haven't run it yet, and will be doing so twice at GenCon next week. I'm certain that for the 2nd game, it will be much smoother. I'm appreciating the feedback though, because it's giving me ideas already of how to deal with PCs that go off the rails. When I've read through the module, it reminds of most murder mystery type stories, which often have misdirections and suspects that turn out to be dead ends. So I suppose most of what you've mentioned so far seemed to fit the story to me.

5/5 Venture-Captain, Canada-Alberta aka Dragios

Rules question here:

None of the dark stalkers are listed as having the see in darkness ability. I think that's just an oversight. The dark stalkers are all going to use deeper darkness on their weapons, what happens if a PC uses one daylight spell. I know it will cancel out one deeper darkness but what about all of them? Not sure.

And with creative story telling, and a little bit of extra info from the VC about what has happened before, I think this could be a great scenario. Running it tomorrow.

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

As a racial trait, the See In Darkness quality has been omitted from the stat block, probably for space reasons. But they do still have it.

Daylight will cancel out any Deeper Darkness spells and leave the overlapped area as normal (non-magical) illumination, if I understand it right.

The Exchange

You know what can't see in deeper darkness and it's not a stat block typo? Sacristan kytons. They also aren't immune to their own Shadow Scream. I just kind of omitted that whole mess when I ran this... the PCs did fine without the bad guys nerfing themselves.

Ross, it might be helpful to review Mark Seifter's blog entry on darkness and light if you haven't done so before.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/55/5 Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

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I got to play this in the lobby across from Gencon on Wednesday. I had a great party of experienced players, but hated the game, mostly due to a bad GM.

We started off checking out the theater, fine. We trigger the haunt, I roll an 18 on the die plus a pretty good modifier. Nope! GM says he gets to use his special cypher where what you roll on the die is some other number he's made up. Even though my die is in the middle of the table. So I get to hack the party to shreds. We finally pull through that, talk to the ghost, and start digging around.

All the other leads don't work, so it's off to the swamp. We say the stuff, nothing happens, and we're ready to leave but end up staying because PLOT HOLE. Decide to just pay the dudes off because it's faster and easier (and I've got nothing left I want to buy anyways).

Go deal with the sewer dudes, fight his stuff, waste resources, and get random tip to go back to the lodge. Fine.

Get to the lodge, and we managed to slumber then dominate one of the dancers, cool! The other 2 run down stairs. We cast darkvision on everyone, and cast daylight to cancel out the deeper darkness. Prevailing is now regular darkness, so everyone can see fine. We hear they've got casters, so we put up a silence spell we take in with us.

Which is where the clusterf** happens. We go down, but don't get any of the box text because of the silence spell. So, there's a caster in front, we kill it. Oh well there.

Our Kytons were invisible for some reason that's not in their stats. And the invisibility doesn't break when they start screaming either - it doesn't break until the silence spell moves out of their range and the scream actually affects someone. And they can keep screaming indefinitely. And they definitely weren't hurting each other.

Zodarna got the effects of her shield of faith applied twice - once included in stat block and then again on top of it. And the party rolled plenty of 28's to hit her, but no good since this error made her AC 30 while she was standing still. The GM admitted that error afterwards. Even as written though - an 18 hit die boss, two cr10 bodyguards, and the 2 remaining guards from upstairs made for the most brutal fight any of us had seen in PFS.

Party members start dropping like flies, but a few breaths of life let us take down most of the fight, but Zodarna was still untouched. I ended up dead, and the party ended up teleporting or running, along with the 2 remaining captives.

As someone noted upthread, with Olivina quite dead and the other 2 captives rescued, the secondary success should have been granted, even if they primary failed. It wasn't in our case. And I got saddled with a death that was mostly due to GM error.

******

The GM aside, I think what this scenario most suffers from is improper billing. It's set up as an investigation mission, and you expect to be running all over town picking up clues. Instead, you follow up leads from plot holes, and end up in an incredibly brutal fight. This needed the setup from Waking Rune or something to tell you "Bring your A-game characters to a weak-plot combat mission" instead of "Bring your skill monkeys to explore a town".

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

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We played this last weekend (GM Monkhound), and didn't find it to be unusually hard. We had a nodachi paladin 9, sunder-barbarian 9, falchion bard 10, support cleric 10 party and chose to round APL to 10 so we could play the high tier with 4-player adjustment.

We started out by using some vials of Djezet to finally get my paladin the level 4 continual flame he's wanted since level 6. As a result the darkness didn't bother us throughout the adventure.

We suppressed the haunt with channels and lay on hands. Got a vague clue to go to the swamp. We go there and wait and wait but with no other leads, eventually meet with a swamper. Apparently the swamper is scripted to be immune to bargaining or threats and will only sell for a fixed price. The cleric eventually caves and pays. "Yeah, we saw some people there, and would like you to hurt them for us" hardly sounds like 3000gp worth of information, so the bard wanted to kill the swamper, but paladin.

To the Elusia building. The fight with the clockwork mages was tough because they surprised us and dropped my paladin before he got to act with a lot of fire and bad save rolls. Eventually we regrouped and won.

Okay, so the dude the swampers saw wasn't actually the one (why are we paying people for these stupid leads?) and he "just knows" we should go to the lodge. Okay.

We find some passive-aggressive notes scattered accusing us of stuff. I haven't played Darkest Vengeance so this is coming across as rather silly. If the goal is to frame the PFS, why are you scattering notes saying "how does it feel" all over? Rather defeats the point of trying to make it look like the PFS did it.

The dancers upstairs were easily beaten.

Getting to the cellar we used an Invisibility Sphere to enter the room, so the bad guy is monologuing to empty air. Can't blame the writer for that. We fail to spot what's wrong and the barbarian rushes in to Greater Sunder the "knife". Which kills the diva. We rush in the cleric who Breath of Life's her. (We had a disagreement about whether a sunder attempt at something that's not even there could really damage the "holder" of the insubstantial item, but moved on.)

Everyone saved against the sacristan's scream, and after a hit from the barbarian followed by a smite critical from me it died.

The barbarian sundered the BBEG's single weapon and we resisted a few spells, and at that point the boss was all played out.

---

Can I just petition that bosses get at least a dagger as a backup weapon? Enemies' minimalistic gear blocks makes sundering ludicrously effective.

Sczarni 3/5

(I was the bard in Ascalaphus' game)

I concur on the secondary weapon thing, just a dagger and a tanglefoot bag would've made a whole lot difference. Zodarna (The shadow lady at the end?) eventually just shadow walked away because she was literally disarmed of anything that she could have possibly done.

All in all I had good fun in this scenario, if I GM it I will probably add some travelling to be done from each location to another. Our GM described the opera, the swamp and the underground orgy chamber in beautiful detail. Lastly it was great to return to a house that i've recently GM'd the darkest vengeance for.

Would play again!

Sovereign Court

Thanks Doug :-) for running it for us prior to Gencon.

When I ran it, the kytons (lower level) also do not see in darkness. So I had someone give then fight tips and used up actions to move them into position with 50% miss chances. Once the actual threat was fully ready the kytons became a non issue.

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

I played this together with Ascalaphus and Carla.

I was wondering later on about something. Spoiler tag just in case:

Final battle:
Who cast the illusion? To my knowledge, none of the enemies present are capable of casting illusion spells, but it might be some custom thing. It sorta came out of nowhere and threw us for a loop.

On the whole, I really enjoyed the callback to Darkest Vengeance, and I'd like to see more of it. The adventure had some problems narrative-wise (everything has already been said better by other people), but our GM managed to make it fun nevertheless.

Silver Crusade

Zodarna has her Master's Illusion domain ability that creates a Veil effect.

It seems to me that the scenario takes a VERY permissive stance on what Veil does, though.

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

Ah, that explains it, we speculated it might be something like that. However, was the veiled person (I forgot her name) awake during that time? I presume not, otherwise she surely wouldn't count as an ally (the effect specifically targets allies). Would an unwilling target negate the effect, or does it need a saving throw? This is irrelevant for the plot, but I'd like to know. >_>

Silver Crusade

The scenario says that "[Zodarna] has dosed Olivina’s food with an elixir of love to convince her that Zodarna is her ally."

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

Quick question about the boon on this one - does the "Blaispear Hero" boon also increase Prestige, or just Fame? Thanks!

Dark Archive 5/5

Just fame.

Silver Crusade 1/5

Played this recently with my Dark Tapestry oracle. We were a low-tier party.

Having the Dark Tapestry connection made the swampers more memorable and more relevant. My oracle doesn't recognise the Old Gods as being malevolent and was perfectly willing to offer "eternal service" - in fact Quenly is already in the Gods' service. But the rest of the party didn't feel the same and offered the asked for gold.

However, one notable difference with other reports that I've seen in this thread is that it was clear in my game that the Swampers' information came from the Gods of the Swamp. We spotted a sign scratched on a post which I recognised as belonging to one of the "Old Gods of my people" - and linked to a portfolio of water and vengeance, although not the specific entity's name. With a plausible link to a divine source of information the story worked well enough.

It was obvious that we were following breadcrumbs (and the GM said as much at the end) but we chose not to question the foolishness of the Dark Folk motivations or actions and gave an unconscious Zadarna over to the judge. I think the scenario gave some good opportunities for roleplaying.


An odd situation where the party would be far better off just scrying and teleporting, you don't tick off the town, you don't get the negative noon from the swampers and you solve the mystery. What is there to stop you from doing this? Only the misplaced trust that the journey is more important than the destination.

5/5

MichaelCullen wrote:
An odd situation where the party would be far better off just scrying and teleporting, you don't tick off the town, you don't get the negative noon from the swampers and you solve the mystery. What is there to stop you from doing this? Only the misplaced trust that the journey is more important than the destination.

The sidebar makes it clear why this doesn't actually work.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Canada—Alberta—Edmonton aka Artoo

andreww wrote:
MichaelCullen wrote:
An odd situation where the party would be far better off just scrying and teleporting, you don't tick off the town, you don't get the negative noon from the swampers and you solve the mystery. What is there to stop you from doing this? Only the misplaced trust that the journey is more important than the destination.
The sidebar makes it clear why this doesn't actually work.

It does no such thing.

The sidebar makes it clear that you can scry on Olivina. And teleport has the following text:

Quote:
“Viewed once” is a place that you have seen once, possibly using magic such as scrying

That gives you a 75% of teleporting directly to her immediately after scrying on her.

Lantern Lodge

The sidebar gives them a GM a pretty good set of ideas to thwart scrying attempts. I'd apply a pretty heavy penalty on that 75% if the 'location' you see from scrying is "sewers". Or at least heavily hint to the players that it's not a location they can clearly identify. Or, since the Dark Folk don't exactly like light, it would common for Olivina to be in complete darkness somewhere, such that scrying wouldn't really allow the area to be 'viewed'. There's lots of ways to creatively work around it.

Of the twice that I ran this...nobody even bothered to try scrying. Then again, I didn't feel like any of my players were 'that' kind of player either.

Dark Archive

After reading the discussion, I'd like to ask if a PFS GM has the same freedom a "normal" GM has?
I read the threads for scenarios that I am interested in to see what problems there are and how I would have dealt with them. This is the first time I asked myself how much freedom I have as a GM.

Is it ok to wing it, or do I have to kick the group back on the rail road tracks?

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

Glord Funkelhand wrote:
Is it ok to wing it, or do I have to kick the group back on the rail road tracks?

Try to use the encounters presented as much as possible. Don't create new ones whole cloth, combat-wise. It may require some serious finagling, but don't change stats around. Run as written is the ideal, but table variation is going to mess with that.

Dark Archive

So, in examples like given abovem when the players have great ideas, that totally make sense, in a gam, that is supposed to be about "you can do waht ever you want" I should tell them, "nah, eff that, that's not written here, so you cannot do that."

Silver Crusade

There is a section in the guide to organized play about creative solutions. You are encouraged to allow them. You just should do so within the framework of trying to retain the semblence of the scenario as much as possible.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Den Haag aka Monkhound

Hrothdane wrote:

There is a section in the guide to organized play about creative solutions. You are encouraged to allow them. You just should do so within the framework of trying to retain the semblence of the scenario as much as possible.

Yes. Although in this instance, the GM does not have much to hold on to, except putting the players back on the rails. The information given about Karcau is very minimalistic. Maybe a source book about Ustalav adds some more info, but the scenario gives you nothing more than that the city is a cultural hub.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed running this scenario a few weeks ago for Ascalaphus and Carla, but I would have liked to have some more background lore to work with.
I really enjoyed portraying the haunt (hint: scissors close to ears. Don't time it wrong though) and the swamper (I tried to make them sound like the monkey creatures in Mononoke Hime, as if he had multiple voices, to make it sound less human).
And the final fight is scary if players fail to notice the hints. The diva was thankfully saved by a well timed BoL, causing the hilarious argument "We saved you!", "Yes but you killed me!", "But we brought you back to life!"

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

Glord Funkelhand wrote:
So, in examples like given abovem when the players have great ideas, that totally make sense, in a gam, that is supposed to be about "you can do waht ever you want" I should tell them, "nah, eff that, that's not written here, so you cannot do that."

If the ideas lead them to the right places, give them the information/encounter they find. If not, don't.

Silver Crusade

Monkhound wrote:
Hrothdane wrote:

There is a section in the guide to organized play about creative solutions. You are encouraged to allow them. You just should do so within the framework of trying to retain the semblence of the scenario as much as possible.

Yes. Although in this instance, the GM does not have much to hold on to, except putting the players back on the rails. The information given about Karcau is very minimalistic. Maybe a source book about Ustalav adds some more info, but the scenario gives you nothing more than that the city is a cultural hub.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed running this scenario a few weeks ago for Ascalaphus and Carla, but I would have liked to have some more background lore to work with.

Ah, I've read Rule of Fear (the Ustalav sourcebook), so I am quite familiar with Karcau, which is detailed specifically in that book. It's probably my favorite city in Golarion.

I would recommend getting Rule of Fear for anyone, simply because it's a wonderful sourcebook, but particularly so if you are running this scenario or Darkest Vengeance.

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

In my experience, someone playing a wizard to level 7 has been hindered by darkness before. Chances are he's got at least Darkvision from race or spell.

Casting Scry to locate a missing person when you have access to her dressing room (you know, full of hair brushes and personal effects) is also a logical step.

So if he just scried on her and she's in the sewers, he could see that. If the abductor continuously uses Deeper Darkness that might hinder, but given the title of DarkEST Abduction, chances are he's ready for that too. And I dunno how fair it is for the GM to decide that the BBEG is using Deeper Darkness all the time; he probably isn't, if he's disguising him(her?)self as the VC to impress the diva.

I've only played the scenario and we didn't have a wizard. I don't know what the sidebar says, haven't read the scenario yet. But this is an obvious PC tactic the scenario ought to account for. Does it?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Hrothdane wrote:
Monkhound wrote:
Hrothdane wrote:

There is a section in the guide to organized play about creative solutions. You are encouraged to allow them. You just should do so within the framework of trying to retain the semblence of the scenario as much as possible.

Yes. Although in this instance, the GM does not have much to hold on to, except putting the players back on the rails. The information given about Karcau is very minimalistic. Maybe a source book about Ustalav adds some more info, but the scenario gives you nothing more than that the city is a cultural hub.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed running this scenario a few weeks ago for Ascalaphus and Carla, but I would have liked to have some more background lore to work with.

Ah, I've read Rule of Fear (the Ustalav sourcebook), so I am quite familiar with Karcau, which is detailed specifically in that book. It's probably my favorite city in Golarion.

I would recommend getting Rule of Fear for anyone, simply because it's a wonderful sourcebook, but particularly so if you are running this scenario or Darkest Vengeance.

Seconding this. When we played this scenario a couple weeks back, I instantly recognized both Margaery and the cult of Alichino...


The character in question had "see in darkness" so even deeper darkness would be no hinderence to scrying. Also as pointed out, a decently prepared wizard would do well to bring "eyes of the void" and have see in darkness from a longterm buff. Had the bad guys cast non detection on her, at least then there would be a cater level check. But with her missing, and having personal items and hair laying at the PCs feet, scry and teleport seem like the logical answer past level 9.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/55/5 Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

In my mind, Karcau is Prague. But I have no idea how well that actually matches up.

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