Dance of the Damned (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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Lanathar wrote:

Ok - so I am having a big issue with one of my players that means I am on the brink of my game collapsing

I would like some advice but can't really post in detail on the boards in case he reads it (this has happened once already when I put too much info on the main advice board and he decoded my username)

What would be a good approach getting some insight from fellow GMs?

You have a player that reads the GM Reference threads for an AP you are GMing? I would describe that behavior as cheating. It may seem flippant but that sounds like a player you should invite to leave your table.

I think you can click on the alias names of posters and find an option to private message them. If you would like you can certainly send me more details that way.

Shadow Lodge

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Latrecis wrote:
You have a player that reads the GM Reference threads for an AP you are GMing? I would describe that behavior as cheating. It may seem flippant but that sounds like a player you should invite to leave your table.

Well really, where else would one go for trenchant political analysis?


Latrecis wrote:
Lanathar wrote:

Ok - so I am having a big issue with one of my players that means I am on the brink of my game collapsing

I would like some advice but can't really post in detail on the boards in case he reads it (this has happened once already when I put too much info on the main advice board and he decoded my username)

What would be a good approach getting some insight from fellow GMs?

You have a player that reads the GM Reference threads for an AP you are GMing? I would describe that behavior as cheating. It may seem flippant but that sounds like a player you should invite to leave your table.

I think you can click on the alias names of posters and find an option to private message them. If you would like you can certainly send me more details that way.

I don't that I am aware of . But I am not sure I want to take the chance

They read a post on the main advice board in which I put too many specific details. They were able to work out my alias. So now i am paranoid

And without going into all the detail he would take 2 others with him leaving the group with 2 PCs (and at least one of those remaining wants to avoid that scenario if at all possible). I am not blessed with a long queue of potential players


If there's a player issue, the best thing is almost always to talk it through with the player(s).

If you simply posting about it would make him leave, then it seems likely to me that there are bigger problems and the game may be destined for collapse anyway.

But if you don't feel comfortable talking about it here, maybe you could start a thread at another RPG forum under a different username.


Lanathar wrote:

I would like some advice but can't really post in detail on the boards in case he reads it (this has happened once already when I put too much info on the main advice board and he decoded my username)

What would be a good approach getting some insight from fellow GMs?

Well, there's a Facebook community for Paizo?


I think things seem to be resolved for now .

We have talked it all through and hopefully everything is levelled out now. Difficult to tell until the next game

(Remote messaging can actually be a bane to rational communication at times!)


Lanathar wrote:

On a more directly related note - the Menador gap tactics for if a combat breaks out in the courtyard has Lucien turning up and calling the devils if a bunch of defenders are dead (with my group they will be if this has happened)

But how does he call them / them hear him? Have I missed something from the set up ?

In addition to the above - does it say anywhere how high the keep’s walls are?


It takes him 3-4 rounds just to get through the doors, down the stairs, open the door and yell for the treasure devil. I don't think he needs to go find the Erinyes devil--she can have her orders changed and hear combat easily. The Erinyes devil is convenient to the courtyard and has an excellent perception to hear the DC -10 sound of battle, even with the +5 DC per door and +1 DC per 10'.


It doesn't. Well, the keep's walls are DC 25 to climb, so I'd set it at two successes to climb up one side.


roguerouge wrote:
It doesn't. Well, the keep's walls are DC 25 to climb, so I'd set it at two successes to climb up one side.

I was thinking more about for range purposes . It becomes more of a factor when the Kineticist has its range capped at 30ft


If they're going to attack from outside the gates, it's going to be a problem--look at how the road curves to the western gate--he'll only be able to attack people on the edge firing back at C16 (who will have cover) or those firing from C3a or C3c (who will have improved cover). He'll want to get in. I'd guess at 15-25' up from the courtyard from the battlements.


Here's some macros I created for MapTool (a virtual tabletop) to play Pathfinder 1e. I recommend the current version, which is version 4.6.1.

Pathfinder 1e MapTool Macros

I noticed someone in your forum was using MapTool.


Well, had the big fight at Menador Gap with my changes to the encounters today. It went very well--pushed the players, used most of their top resources, good pacing over four hours. They beat 6 troops, Lucian Thrune, a 9th level war priest, an advanced erinyes, and an advanced greater host devil.

Under the cover of darkness, they base jumped from the mountain using ropes and feather fall to land on the battlements from above. The key was that they got to split up the base forces. They took out the troop on the battlements in 2-3 rounds. As they did that, two other troops rushed to meet them from the ground floor, while two other troops guarded the gate winch rooms. One got up to the battlements for a bit of a fight, while the other one got blasted in the courtyard and the other two provided missile support through the arrow slits to anyone who engaged on the first level. While that was happening I had the other creatures on a timer--3 rounds for the erinyes to get into the air, 10 rounds for the resting troop to put on armor, with Lucian and the warpriest joining them to do prep spells and potions. Then, the advanced greater host devil arrived towards the end of the combat.

So, it ended up being 3-4 phases of a rolling combat, rather than all at once.


I'm about to run the Ruby Masquerade next week, and i have a question for other GMs.

How did you handle masque points? Did you reveal to your players that they had 10 and how each actions affect the total? Did you keep them totaly secret? Or did you told them how the system work, without revealing the exact point they had and the result of the actions?

Thank you for your output!


It seems like something where it needs to try and be spun into the roleplaying rather than making it crunchy

So telling them the starting amount and how much things cost but make the gaining of points be linked to reception of the attendees?

Secret subsystems are tricky and it depends on your players. Some don’t like that there is a mini game they don’t know the rules of

In no way should they know the consequence of hitting zero early (I wonder if this has happened to many...)


Skya wrote:

I'm about to run the Ruby Masquerade next week, and i have a question for other GMs.

How did you handle masque points? Did you reveal to your players that they had 10 and how each actions affect the total? Did you keep them totaly secret? Or did you told them how the system work, without revealing the exact point they had and the result of the actions?

Thank you for your output!

I have a quite rp-oriented group but I presented the mini-game of masque points to them anyway. I gave them the menu of actions they could take for each 30-minute period of the evening, and the cost of the actions, but not the possible results (until they tried them, of course). I also made them aware of their current masque point total by keeping a running tally on our battle map.

It did impose some artificial limits on their actions (such as not being able to explore as much of the off-limits areas as they would have liked) but did a good job of making the masquerade more manageable and contained it somewhat. Limits can be liberating. I had also added some additional events during the evening for a few more set pieces (a play and a costume competition). They enjoyed trying the different activities offered and mixing the masque point system with their own ideas and rp. The system also served to build up tension towards the unmasking (which they rightly suspected would result in shenanigans from Barzillai and his goons).

All in all it was a great finale to book three, tying lots of stuff together while really advancing the plot, and one of the best experiences we've had in Hell's Rebels so far (we're in book four now).


Skya wrote:
How did you handle masque points? Did you reveal to your players that they had 10 and how each actions affect the total? Did you keep them totaly secret? Or did you told them how the system work, without revealing the exact point they had and the result of the actions?

I told the players that they had different options for the half hour blocks (or however long they were... 1/2 hour seems right), went over the options (and included "or anything else you want and I'll figure out how it works") and that I'd track what they did because different actions had different effects. I didn't want it to be crunch because then people would focus on what they thought would get the most point (while still doing things that made sense of their characters) and I wanted to be able to be flexible with what gave or took away points and use the system as guidelines/suggestions rather than a solidified system.

Also, as something I always suggest when the masquerade is mentioned, I had a tally that all of the players could see that kept track as to how many people were at the masquerade (once shenanigans began) and I'd update every time it changed.


Circling back to a Menador question - does it really have no immediate answer to if PCs just approach whilst invisible

That seems a weakness for a fortress in a world where that is a real possibility

Or is that sort of thing supposed to be so rare - like less than a fraction of 1% of any given population could do that ....?

Sovereign Court

The Erinyes has true seeing and the slithering trackers have blindsense. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing against invisibility. The stone doors also are barred from the inside rather than locked so if the troops keep strict discipline in securing key doors they can restrict any unnoticed movement. Any areas not secured normally should be patrolled by the oozes.

--Lucky ShamVrock


So one player has had an idea of infiltrating:

1- before we leave we use a player to forge letters of introduction from possibly the leader of the hellknights in Kintargo introducing us as particularly eager members of the dottari who are growing increasingly concerned at rebellion menace taking place in Kintargo.

2- along the way we hopefully ambush and steal a few uniforms or buy some in a black market if sorts

3- we introduce ourselves at the castle in the hope of becoming part of the rank and file soldiers that populate it's denfenses.

4- over the course of a few days we scout out the layout of the place whilst performing whilst at night we begin sabotaging and identifying key figures in the castle to take down.

My musings :

- Would the keep be expecting recruits ? Especially from the north?

- can you take a 20 on disguise - if so that seems like auto success given the keep inhabitants and their sense motive

What about if the party contains and old man and an elf who make unlikely soldier candidates...?

- would it take more than bluff to take being a dottari/ soldier over a period of days?

- I assume the guards are actually limited in where they can go - postings and garrison room?

- do the guards know about the devils and oozes? I assume the stories of the Erinyes have got around

- has it been discussed what the shift patterns are. As i feel they would be split up . It says 12 hour shifts but I guess they must be staggered given only 5 soldiers are resting at the start

- is it odd that that there is just the one commanding officer and no internidiaries ? I guess there can be a shift leader whose stats are no different. I just don’t envisage Lucien being overly hands on

Notably I don’t want to dismiss any ideas out of hand especially since I was expecting a frontal assault or perhaps some invisible sneaking

Creativity should be rewarded but there of course should be some limitations . I don’t really believe in “you’ve come up with an out there idea so it should automatically work” as an approach - there are other TTRPGs for that...


As an aside - is my assumption that they do Menador in one go correct? At least from a thrune side of things.

The CR of everything is seemingly quite low for paizo standards for a level 8 party.

Only the Erinyes and perhaps Lucien could cause a problem. Applying 20 points and ABP (since my players have it) to him actually makes him not a complete push over . I may also swap out an aristocrat level as 3 seem unnecessary but removing them all probably shifts things too much (despite my hatred for NPC/PC hybrid builds)


My take:

Recruits seem unlikely - it's not a bootcamp/training facility. Reinforcements on the other hand seem very plausible given the rebellious activity on both sides of the Gap. I assume recruits were the plan because it would make their ignorance of soldier routines/responsibilities more plausible.

More a rules-as-interpreted call but in my opinion you cannot take 20 on disguise. Take 20 presumes you fail multiple times before succeeding and how do you know you failed in applying a disguise? There's some internet banter out there about "my buddy watches me until I get it right" but that seems more like "aid another" and your buddy knows you are applying a disguise - he's automatically biased and a poor judge of success.

Yes being an old man or an elf would be less plausible recruits. An old man might be a sergeant of sorts (but then not a recruit.) I'd apply a penalty to Bluff checks.

Speaking of which Bluff is the game skill for "I pretend to be something I'm not" so there should be a good number of Bluff checks if someone is impersonating a soldier for days at a time. How many? Who knows :) How about 3 - 1 when you start your shift, 1 during the shift and 1 at the end.

I assume the guards have free reign over the entire complex, except Lucien's personal chamber and the dwarven self-destruct rooms (which no one at the fort except the Jann knows about.) And I assume the guards know about the devils and the oozes because they have official duties in the Fort and can therefore be seen moving about, at least occasionally. Even if they don't move about much, it's still important for the guards to know about authorized personnel so they take the right action when unauthorized personnel are encountered.

I think the shift details are omitted on purpose since most groups won't need them - the AP simply describes how the keep is when the pc's get there. Cop out answer: make up your own schedule.

The assumption is probably that within the soldiers there are sergeants or corporals, etc. with leadership responsibilities but they are not distinguished by additional game mechanics (levels, etc.) You can argue whether this is plausible or not. If you wanted to beef up the opposition you could add a lieutenant and a couple sergeants - say the lieutenant is a 7th level fighter and the sergeants are 5th level fighters.


Thanks for this

I don’t envisage how they could all pass the disguise.
If I am super generous and only allow the guards one roll between them on perception to look through the disguise then there is an outside chance

Multiple rolls against multiple disguise DCs suggests at least on will be rumbled and then the whole thing comes crashing down

I may have to have Octavio try to explain this or else I could well get “we came up with a good idea and you never gave us a chance of succeeding”.
Of course most players (sadly) believe that just because they have come up with an idea then it is automatically a “good” one - or at least my players do

Giving them largely free reign to roam around freely inside seems like it shouldn’t be something easily granted

I also think their bluff and disguise might be hampered if they rock up with all their own magic items and bespoke gear (Mithral breastplate, mithral chain , sipping jackets, elven cloaks and the like)


King of Vrock wrote:

The Erinyes has true seeing and the slithering trackers have blindsense. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing against invisibility. The stone doors also are barred from the inside rather than locked so if the troops keep strict discipline in securing key doors they can restrict any unnoticed movement. Any areas not secured normally should be patrolled by the oozes.

--Lucky ShamVrock

I think that revising the encounter description to have the Erinyes take more of an active security role than torturer and Egorian communicator is a good idea. The slithering trackers have average intelligence and pretty good stealth to go with their blindsense, so putting them on this task isn't a bad idea either. They are described as being either in their room or "on patrol". The only question is whether you go with the sleepy version in the text as the first encounter and then add these two to the active security team if the PCs retreat.


At my table, dottari are different from soldiers, organizationally speaking. I could be wrong about that on canon though.

You can't take 20 on disguise. Take 20 is for when time and a failure have no consequences.

There should be shifts, but the numbers don't make much sense. There should be officers, yes, so I'd look to the advanced dottari stat block for them if you're not going to use the troop archetype.

The guards likely don't go to the place where the devil has human skin on the wall. The slithering trackers know not to harass soldiers, so likely they're fine.

I'd make it a skill challenge of a certain number of successes before failures with role playing giving circumstance bonuses or penalties. Bluff, Disguise, Profession Soldier, Sense Motive.


Lanathar wrote:


I don’t envisage how they could all pass the disguise.
If I am super generous and only allow the guards one roll between them on perception to look through the disguise then there is an outside chance

Multiple rolls against multiple disguise DCs suggests at least on will be rumbled and then the whole thing comes crashing down

The advantage of the skill check system is that you can say that passing a level-appropriate skill challenge DC accounts for the difficulty of such deep undercover tactics without making an interesting tactic for your party unworkable. For CR 8, I'd set easy at 20, medium difficulty at 26, and hard at 33. Maybe adjust a bit to your table. Generally a failure would be below a 20, a success 20-25, two successes at 26-32, and three successes at 33+. Then you just have a target of the number of successes the party needs to achieve to pass as soldiers.


How has the Keep gone down for most people?

Because absent group invisibility to sneak in (which I am shocked they didn't get potions for) or flying over the walls (which would still alert people unless invisible) I see it going to following for my group:

- They disguise as soldiers but not well

- They bluff their way through the door

- The disguise fails

- Screaming bolts fired

- There is a wave combat where they fight through the guards, Lucien and devils

Conclusions: My group is unhappy because it is what they hoped to avoid

*

The book doesn't address what happens if they succeed on bluff and disguise. Is the intention that they attack quickly as a double cross. Because even if they got the surprise I seem to recall they are in the courtyard to the guards up top will fire screaming bolts down and warn everyone

*

Further from an early point - Is that why the CRs are generally low?

Because absent of a well planned stealth mission this quickly devolves into all the residents piling on the group in waves in the style of end of Book 1 of Giantslayer

And a well planned stealth mission is rewarded by several rooms of trivial fights?

*

I currently do not have designs on switching to troops mainly because I don't see how it can work from the space and might have to play some games on Roll20 and the map is as per the book

That said the group chased down one of my "theme only" random encounters (6 ogres) and absolutely trounced them as you would expect a group of level 8s against a group of CR3 monsters

And the soldiers are even worse. I am tempted to add a level and perhaps make melee and ranged specific ones. Perhaps having a look at teamwork feats at least for the ranged ones since they are soldiers....

*

As a complete aside they are now talking about just putting a ladder against the wall. That seems made even at night. Unless they argue they carry it whilst invisible so it only appears once against the wall...

(The ideas are declining in quality)

*

I have deviated horribly from my original question of how the assault on the keep went for fellow GMs?


Lanathar wrote:


And a well planned stealth mission is rewarded by several rooms of trivial fights?

I think, perhaps, you and the players have missed the intention of the encounter. The only reason to use stealth at Menador Gap is to get surprise. The only thing the AP doesn't do is explicitly state the goal in bold writing: The Silver Ravens need to Murderhobo the entire complex. The Ravens are "supposed" to kill everyone in the keep, loot the place and then destroy it so utterly that it closes the pass for decades to come. There is no value in a stealth mission. The encounter can only be solved one way; in your words, "several rooms of trivial fights." Yes, the pc's have to fight and kill everyone in the building - except the jann. And the halflings they can rescue. So if the pc's manage to sneak into the place and get surprise on some of the occupants, that's the best they can do. This is a military strike not a clandestine operation.

To answer another of your questions - yes, the pc's are supposed to take the place in one attempt. Ergo some of the low CR issues you point out and the lack of details in the AP itself about how the keep responds to waves of pc assaults. I'd also add in the airborne cavalier commander who is ill-suited to the narrow, space-constrained encounter areas.

So if your fear is your players will invest mental and emotional energy in a clever plan for surreptitious entrance only to find that a few invisibility potions and scrolls of fly would have produced the same outcome and have corresponding angst, I would say, yes your fear is legitimate.

In many ways, Menador Gap represents the end of stealth missions in the AP. After this encounter, the need/opportunity for forgery, disguise, sneaking in and out of places, etc. drops down to pretty much zero.


Menador Gap was the first time that my group murder-hoboed in the game and they loved it. (Hell, it was probably the first time the murder-hoboed since the first book of the previous AP I ran).
I don't remember how many rounds it was, but getting in started combat and rounds ended when all of the enemies were dead or running away. There was a few rounds of respite in the middle when they were strategizing what to do about upstairs but I interrupted that with the erinyes devil teleporting in to see what was going on.
Combat took place over three floors (main floor, upstairs in the main building, and on the roof of the main building), everyone felt like giant heroes, everyone felt super useful in combat, and it was all amazing.
Crossbow bolts flying everywhere, enemies flooding in through multiple doorways at once, 4 heroes standing back-to-back taking out 10 guys at once... all super fun.

Every AP should have a giant "lower than standard CR" fight for the PCs so that they can see how far they have come in their abilities and fighting prowess.

Sure, the enemies died quickly, even the 'boss' enemies aren't much of a threat, but it was fun. They got to feel like optimized characters, and were reminded why optimization in a long campaign isn't really all that fun. Every combat being that easy would get stale pretty quickly. Thankfully it was just the one combat so being death machines for part of a session was good fun for them.


Thanks for all this

And given recent shenanigans with my group a glorified stroll where everyone feels great will really help (already partly done with random encounters)

By stealth mission I think my group assume the enemies will be too tough to take out all at once . They have good reason for thinking so given the dog housing and holding house did not have loads of squishy guards. I guess they assume each soldier has been scaled up for book 3. Perhaps I need a patrol before they get there...

The point on the flying mounted commander is a good one. I fail to see how he can successfully pull off a ride / flyby given the space and the wyvern’s poor flight manoeuvrability...


I think the hope is that the PCs will be using fly by now. But, yes, it was bad design.


Lanathar wrote:
By stealth mission I think my group assume the enemies will be too tough to take out all at once . They have good reason for thinking so given the dog housing and holding house did not have loads of squishy guards.

This seems like a good insight on your part. Maybe you should fulfill their expectations? If the soldiers at the keep are tougher (either more HD or more of them) that would justify the pc's investing in clandestine investigation and infiltration. If the players come up with an interesting plan, it can be a pretty good way to build their investment in the campaign if they get to try to make it happen. And even succeed. If that means the GM has to re-swizzle some things behind the curtain, so be it.


My group do not have fly which could get sticky if it is not resolved soon

The idea of upping the challenge to meet player assumptions is an interesting one - it might need to be done on the fly depending on there plan (as in i stat up harder guards if they plan a sneak and ditch them if they don’t )

My standard concern is also there being 5 of them. It is easy to multiply soldiers by 25% but pretty much everything else can’t be multiplied. I think I worked out I could have 4800 xp to play with which could give me I think two CR6 lieutenant or one CR8 one

One will probably be a caster as I assume thrune would want one. Probably a cleric rather than a wizard . Then I can summon a bearded devil next to a caster just to give something to think about perhaps
I could use a wizard though as it has been stated in reply to one of my other threads how few enemy wizards there are in the earlier books

The 25% extra PC power also presents a problem with the masquerade where a fine balancing act is required to stop it getting silly (although masked NPC rescues could patch things here)

I think I worked out 25% extra as multiplying all non devils by 25% , advanced template on bearded devils and an extra Erinyes. But advanced bearded devils are no joke and potentially excessive

A head scratcher for sure

Has anyone else played the masquerade with more than the assumed 4 players? And if so what changes were made? Or is it arguably hard enough as it is? Especially as 2 bearded devils and a bone devil could theoretically be added by summons...

There is definitely someone who added tiarise here but I can’t remember who or the three main responders on this thread it was
:-(

Sovereign Court

I'm just about to start Dance of the Damned with 6 PCs, with 25 pt buy. For any given combat encounter I add +50% more of the weakest enemy and add the simple advanced template on any named NPCs. With any allied NPCs that join the PCs I'd add 2 dottari per.

--Lucky ShamVrock


For the final combat of the book I am struggling to pinpoint the logistics

The main areas should be packed with people. Does that mean:

- difficult terrain
- area of effect spells (from PCs) can harm innocents ?

Also:

How is the first round supposed to go? As in how do the bearded devils pinpoint the PCs in the crowd? Is this connected to the scry?
And is their first round using their teleport ability to be adjacent to the PCs? Or are they floating in azata form throughout the crowd during the unmasking ?

I assume everyone’s PCs started off all next to each other for this ?

It seems like the way this combat is initiated is quite critical but not clear enough for my liking

Any thoughts ?


I've raised this question about crowd effects in the rules forum and the facebook community for this edition of PF. Basically, there's no hard and fast rules. I plan on making use of crowd effects. (I'm subbing in a cabal devil with an altered spell list for the Erinyes. I plan to have its spells be used to trigger stampedes.) I recommend difficult terrain, a concentration check to cast (vigorous motion for normal jostling, violent motion if the crowd is moving through your space), and maybe an inability to use ranged to target when a ground-based attacker targets a ground-based defender, excluding the stage, of course.

It has to be a flavorful environment, but remember that this is a tough encounter made tougher by the urge to save citizens and your special friend/frenemy in the crowd. So, making it too tough could be a TPK.

Sovereign Court

The rules for crowds are in the CRB.

Urban Adventures wrote:

Crowds: Urban streets are often full of people going about their daily lives. In most cases, it isn’t necessary to put every 1st-level commoner on the map when a fight breaks out on the city’s main thoroughfare. Instead, just indicate which squares on the map contain crowds. If crowds see something obviously dangerous, they’ll move away at 30 feet per round at initiative count 0. It takes 2 squares of movement to enter a square with crowds. The crowds provide cover for anyone who does so, enabling a Stealth check and providing a bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves.

Directing Crowds: It takes a DC 15 Diplomacy check or DC 20 Intimidate check to convince a crowd to move in a particular direction, and the crowd must be able to hear or see the character making the attempt. It takes a full-round action to make the Diplomacy check, but only a free action to make the Intimidate check.

If two or more characters are trying to direct a crowd in different directions, they make opposed Diplomacy or Intimidate checks to determine to whom the crowd listens. The crowd ignores everyone if none of the characters’ check results beat the DCs given above.

So using these rules, the crowd counts as difficult terrain, but they provide cover for anyone that wishes to use Stealth.

Yes, area effect spells will affect the crowds, treat it the same as the Erinyes Unholy Blight spell-like ability (2d4 people killed).

When the crowd moves treat them like troops with a 20-foot space, movement 30. When they reach the doors treat them as if they were squeezing and only one 5 foot square worth of crowd can exit at a time. If you've ever seen panicked crowds trying to get through doors it's pretty terrifying in and of itself!

The first round of combat obviously depends on initiative, but the Bearded Devils move towards the PCs in the crowd unless a PC is using Stealth. I'd roll a passive Perception check for the Devils at the beginning of their turn to spot hidden PCs, if the fail they'll need to use at minimum a move action each round to make Perception checks or they can gang up on PCs that are not hidden. I would not make them teleport to the PCs as it wastes their standard action and they have reach weapons so they don't need to get that close.

Where the PCs are during the Unmasking is up to them. Ask them where they want to be while Cizmerkis is Monologuing.

--School of Vrock


roguerouge wrote:

I've raised this question about crowd effects in the rules forum and the facebook community for this edition of PF. Basically, there's no hard and fast rules. I plan on making use of crowd effects. (I'm subbing in a cabal devil with an altered spell list for the Erinyes. I plan to have its spells be used to trigger stampedes.) I recommend difficult terrain, a concentration check to cast (vigorous motion for normal jostling, violent motion if the crowd is moving through your space), and maybe an inability to use ranged to target when a ground-based attacker targets a ground-based defender, excluding the stage, of course.

It has to be a flavorful environment, but remember that this is a tough encounter made tougher by the urge to save citizens and your special friend/frenemy in the crowd. So, making it too tough could be a TPK.

Although it is a bit Deus Ex the book does provide a get out for a TPK

So I don't have a real problem with a TPK to be honest. I would just want it to be "legitimate" and not as a result of unreasonable rulings.

If anything a few character deaths could help level things out in my current group and be a good tester (as in if they could get through it without having massive sulks). I have been quite nice so far in that the combats have been tough but I haven't gone all out. I think the group taking Thrune's gifts and the scrying gives me an out in my own mind to be a little rough

To be honest if I pause the game once the battle has started and point out all the enemies (assuming they have not found any prior to it starting) then I imagine the group will think "there is no way we are all getting out of this alive"

With the crowd I am mainly thinking with regards to:

- 5 foot steps if spaces are occupied
- The group using things like Black Tentacles or Fireball...
- line of effect

(Which based on the above 1 and 3 are restricted)

Once again my group not having any access to Fly as it stands could be a bit of an issue here...


King of Vrock wrote:

The rules for crowds are in the CRB.

Urban Adventures wrote:

Crowds: Urban streets are often full of people going about their daily lives. In most cases, it isn’t necessary to put every 1st-level commoner on the map when a fight breaks out on the city’s main thoroughfare. Instead, just indicate which squares on the map contain crowds. If crowds see something obviously dangerous, they’ll move away at 30 feet per round at initiative count 0. It takes 2 squares of movement to enter a square with crowds. The crowds provide cover for anyone who does so, enabling a Stealth check and providing a bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves.

Directing Crowds: It takes a DC 15 Diplomacy check or DC 20 Intimidate check to convince a crowd to move in a particular direction, and the crowd must be able to hear or see the character making the attempt. It takes a full-round action to make the Diplomacy check, but only a free action to make the Intimidate check.

If two or more characters are trying to direct a crowd in different directions, they make opposed Diplomacy or Intimidate checks to determine to whom the crowd listens. The crowd ignores everyone if none of the characters’ check results beat the DCs given above.

So using these rules, the crowd counts as difficult terrain, but they provide cover for anyone that wishes to use Stealth.

Yes, area effect spells will affect the crowds, treat it the same as the Erinyes Unholy Blight spell-like ability (2d4 people killed).

When the crowd moves treat them like troops with a 20-foot space, movement 30. When they reach the doors treat them as if they were squeezing and only one 5 foot square worth of crowd can exit at a time. If you've ever seen panicked crowds trying to get through doors it's pretty terrifying in and of itself!

The first round of combat obviously depends on initiative, but the Bearded Devils move towards the PCs in the crowd unless a PC is using Stealth. I'd roll a passive Perception check for the Devils at the beginning of their...

Thanks for this. I imagine the crowd quickly runs anyway so is only a factor at the start. Although the exits are blocked by dottari...

The stealth part and cover is interesting. My group already have high AC across the board so bonus AC might make things a slog. I might apply it only on and vs. range

That said hiding in a crowd could be problem for casters if jostling causing a distraction is actually a thing (and if the crowd is panicking it probably should be...)


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I'm making this up as I type so take it for what it's worth. First, I think you need to decide whether the crowd is environment/terrain or a creature. If you try to give them characteristics of both - like the crowd is difficult terrain yet can take damage resulting in deaths of citizens that individually ding the Ravens for Masque points, etc., you'll run into corner cases in the rules and perhaps some complaints from the table when certain pc abilities that should work on creatures don't on the environment made up of creatures.

I suggest they are creatures and they are creatures the pc's should care about preserving, so should follow the rules for creatures. Ergo, I suggest you make them a troop and give them the Rabble CR adjustment for troops. I'd give them the frightened condition at the beginning of combat and move that to panicked if the troop takes magical damage (or is hit by magical fear). While frightened the troops avoid damaging and moving through other combatants if possible while moving toward an exit, including morphing their shape as troops are permitted to do to avoid combatants. If panicked, they move through other creatures to get to the nearest exit. The "terrified partier" troop doesn't normally attack or take attacks of opportunity but does do damage to any character that is in its space when the troop's turn ends and imposes the troop caster level check for spell-casting on such creatures (but not on adjacent creatures as is normal for a troop.) These troops always adjust their shape to make as much of the troop closest to an exit as possible if one or more sides of the troop are adjacent to a door/exit regardless of the presence of other creatures. If the troop is frightened, a diplomacy or intimidate check can be used to change the direction of the troop to an alternate exit or in the direction of obvious safety (like "go that way to avoid the cockatrices".) If the troop is panicked, only an intimidate check can be used.

Play with this math as desired: 4 troops form on the 1st floor, and 2 on each of the 2nd and 3rd floor of the Opera House - this would have them moving through the combat in waves as they try to get to the exit. This apportions 40 citizens to each troop (making the total attendees 320 - slightly above AP headcount.) Each troop that exits the Opera House with 50+% of its hp equals 30 survivors and 10 dead. Each troop that exists with less than 50% of its hp equals 10 survivors and 30 dead. Any troop that loses all hp before exiting represents 40 dead if the pc's lose the battle and 30 dead/10 survivors if they win. Magical healing such as channeling positive energy can adjust these numbers including getting a fallen troop back into action.


King of Vrock wrote:
The rules for crowds are in the CRB.

That's helpful. Anything on if they cause damage in a panicked move towards a confined area?

Sovereign Court

roguerouge wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
The rules for crowds are in the CRB.
That's helpful. Anything on if they cause damage in a panicked move towards a confined area?

Against a party of low level adventurers I might give a panicked crowd a trample attack, or make them into a troop. By 9th level your version of the Silver Ravens should be beyond minor inconveniences like that. The focus of the encounter is fighting the devils and trying to protect as much of the crowd as possible from the fiend's attacks.

--Lucky ShamVrock

Shadow Lodge

King of Vrock wrote:
The focus of the encounter is fighting the devils and trying to protect as much of the crowd as possible from the fiend's attacks.

I tend to agree. Add to this that the encounter is quite complicated already, and tracking per-round damage to the PCs - especially if they only take it when they're in a specific area of the room - is just another headache.


King of Vrock wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
The rules for crowds are in the CRB.
That's helpful. Anything on if they cause damage in a panicked move towards a confined area?

Against a party of low level adventurers I might give a panicked crowd a trample attack, or make them into a troop. By 9th level your version of the Silver Ravens should be beyond minor inconveniences like that. The focus of the encounter is fighting the devils and trying to protect as much of the crowd as possible from the fiend's attacks.

--Lucky ShamVrock

I think there are a lot of ways to do this but would observe that "fighting the devils" and "protect as much of the crowd as possible" are not necessarily accomplished with the same tactics. And may not lead every group to the "best defense is a good offense" approach implied by the AP, which assumes the pc's let the civilians fend for themselves and engage the Thrune-devil forces directly. I suspect that's what most groups will do. But the players haven't read the AP (presumably :) so they don't know what the AP "assumes." They might think their mission is to protect the citizens and ignore the devils, etc. They might even meta-game - "there's no way we're going to get to take out the BBEG in Book 3 - our job must be to save the people." Keep in mind, this AP, unlike most others, has already confronted the pc's/players with multiple situations where violence/kill the enemy wasn't the best or even plausible approach.

So GMs might want to consider ahead of time what the pc's might do with their many abilities - what if the cleric starts channeling positive energy every round near the door (or other strategic spot) - he doesn't care if he's healing guards or devils, he wants the crowd to escape. Or someone puts up magical walls to shield citizens or blasts holes in the walls to facilitate an exit. And so forth. The AP doesn't give a lot of guidance to a GM for those types of actions but players will expect the GM to have answers if they do them.

Shadow Lodge

Latrecis wrote:

I think there are a lot of ways to do this but would observe that "fighting the devils" and "protect as much of the crowd as possible" are not necessarily accomplished with the same tactics. And may not lead every group to the "best defense is a good offense" approach implied by the AP, which assumes the pc's let the civilians fend for themselves and engage the Thrune-devil forces directly. I suspect that's what most groups will do. But the players haven't read the AP (presumably :) so they don't know what the AP "assumes." They might think their mission is to protect the citizens and ignore the devils, etc. They might even meta-game - "there's no way we're going to get to take out the BBEG in Book 3 - our job must be to save the people." Keep in mind, this AP, unlike most others, has already confronted the pc's/players with multiple situations where violence/kill the enemy wasn't the best or even plausible approach.

So GMs might want to consider ahead of time what the pc's might do with their many abilities - what if the cleric starts channeling positive energy every round near the door (or other strategic spot) - he doesn't care if he's healing guards or devils, he wants the crowd to escape. Or someone puts up magical walls to shield citizens or blasts holes in the walls to facilitate an exit. And so forth. The AP doesn't give a lot of guidance to a GM for those types of actions but players will expect the GM to have answers if they do them.

All of this is true, and none of it leads to the conclusion that the movement of the crowd should damage the PCs.

Dark Archive

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MY PARTY FOUND THE TUNNEL!

They picked a group to attend the masquerade, replaced 2 dottari w their rogues to get 2 more inside, and took all the hellknights & fighters in their group to be "seal team 6" as they call them and planned to hide them in Aria Park POND.

They bought/made scrolls of waterbreathing. Used invis sphere & silence to get the pack of fighters into the pond, and once down there, someone with a 20 perception rolled a 20 when I checked their passive perceptions (they took a dwarf with them). They FOUND the secret entrance!

So now their inside-group is competing in the dance competition while the underground team that was supposed to kick in the front door is now clearing their way through the lower levels. :O


That's awesome!


I had an interesting Menador Gap session - and would appreciate the ever valuable insight of those who have helped me before on here :-)

Contrary to everything they had been saying my players used stone shape to tunnel into the keep from the side/ (I potentially misinterpreted the spell but there you go)

They went up the stairway and crept straight to Lucian's door. However they were crammed in the corridor and he beat the initiative of the person directly in front of him (Kineticist). I rolled 20 and 17 on the attacks with a greatsword so one confirmed crit and one normal hit (with challenge) later the Kinteticist was down in one hit

The group managed to slide the door in front of Lucien closed and I assumed he would go an rally the fort and get his mount (not least because if I had followed the group it would have got ugly fast.

The Devils went to the dorm room where the group barricaded themselves. They went 7 or 8 rounds dealing no damage. Generous tactics on my part made it threatening but not lethal (they really thought they were heading for a TPK).

The looming threat of Lucien and using roll20 cast onto the TV to put up a legit fog of war really made them feel hemmed in.

They then went downstairs and were confronted by 7 dottari (4 from the dorm who got away and got armed up) and dispatched them quite easily but the last move one made was opening the door to the Slithering Trackers...

I feel that rallying the fort means I will use the Troop rules and have the remaining garrison form up. However I am not a fan of their seemingly low HP

Q. What do people think of Troops relative to CR? Damage is low but automatic but they don't have the same resistances as actual swarms. There doesn't seem to be representation of attacking multiple people (halved damage or DR/- or something)

Q. For the Volley ability I can draw four lines. Can I draw them diagonally to get one person more than once? If so that is quite nasty even with passed saves

Q. I think they will open a door to the outside into a readied volley. But would only the person in front be hit due to line of effect / line of sight / cover?

Q. Does the above tactic of a troop forming up with crossbows at the door make sense? Or would they actually go searching round the keep? I suppose the main problem is whether to place them in the courtyard or battlements (I have already implied there are about 30 guards so probably can't put 2 troops in there...)

It will make for an interesting session. I might also at a lieutenant to the troop along with obviously Lucien and his Wyvern (I am looking forward to their reaction when they eventually walk outside and see that!)

The frustrating snag is that the flaky 5th player seems like he can make the next session having missed the first - but is outside the keep (being a full plate fighter it would not make sense to hand waive him being there the whole time)

I guess I probably should just do that. But is there another way? Or something intriguing for one player outside the keep to keep them occupied. Players chipping in and out of sessions are so tough to deal with!

Sovereign Court

Troops make otherwise mook level foes a more appropriate challenge for mid to high-level characters. They aren't too shabby in that they don't have to worry about rolling to hit. But they're just better mechanics for inferior stock monsters or NPCs.

Each volley can absolutely hit the same character. You aim them just like a line spell.

Unfortunately, this tactic isn't valid. If the PCs have holed up inside a room with a closed door they are effectively out of combat, and you can't ready actions outside of combat. When the PCs either decide to open the door, or you break it in with the Menador soldiers, that's when initiative is rolled and combat commences. I would certainly track rounds of preparation by both sides so you can determine spell durations.

I would have a patrol of standard Menador soldiers go looking rather than a troop.

Anytime we have a player that can't make it, they effectively fade into the background. They are there for story purposes but their individual actions don't influence any outcome.

--Lucky ShamVrock


King of Vrock wrote:

Troops make otherwise mook level foes a more appropriate challenge for mid to high-level characters. They aren't too shabby in that they don't have to worry about rolling to hit. But they're just better mechanics for inferior stock monsters or NPCs.

Each volley can absolutely hit the same character. You aim them just like a line spell.

Unfortunately, this tactic isn't valid. If the PCs have holed up inside a room with a closed door they are effectively out of combat, and you can't ready actions outside of combat. When the PCs either decide to open the door, or you break it in with the Menador soldiers, that's when initiative is rolled and combat commences. I would certainly track rounds of preparation by both sides so you can determine spell durations.

I would have a patrol of standard Menador soldiers go looking rather than a troop.

Anytime we have a player that can't make it, they effectively fade into the background. They are there for story purposes but their individual actions don't influence any outcome.

--Lucky ShamVrock

Could you elaborate on why you think Ready cannot be taken outside of combat? This seems the perfectly applicable position. "I know someone is coming through that door. I shoot whoever it is as soon as it opens." Would I let guards sit ready for hours? No. But if the intruders are likely to come out in the next minute or two? Yes.

I'd agree that since the pc's have already taken out some soldiers, it seems unlikely they could/would form a troop. If the pc's give them several minutes to reform/regroup, I suppose... (And technically I think the men stationed at the keep are soldiers not Dottari - which are the police force of Kintargo.)

We only play when everyone can be there - not a workable solution for the vast majority of groups I freely admit. I suggest you make the players come up with a plan for including the lonely pc. If the players are going to miss sessions they and their fellow players should be expected to explain what the pc is doing. It's not fair to you for them to expect you to come up with silly, implausible reasons for how the pc gets reconnected. Silly, implausible plans are their job. Really that should have been established at the last session. "We gave Sir Galahad the bottle of air and threw him in the bag of holding."

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