7-27 Beyond Azlant Ridge GM thread [SPOILERS]


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5/5

Prepping this now - it's great to head back to this location, and I'm really looking forward to the flavor of this one.

Wondering a few minor things (listed in order I came across them, not in order of importance):

On the map of Azlant Ridge, what are the height differences on the excavated areas?

On the Hill Country flip mat, what is the implied height differences for the cliffs along the path?

On the map of Starwatcher Tor, at area C5, where exactly is the crack into area C12? There are some crack-like features on the map, but they don't really align with the location.

On the Chronicle (which is awesome!), with the unique item, there are a number of check boxes. Is there an implicit order to the listing, as in you must check them off in order? I don't think so, as some of them list specific prerequisites, but I just want to confirm that someone could (for example) complete and check off box #2 or 3 without first completing box #1.

Really looking forward to this one!

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

Below, my remarks.

1- Chronicle Sheet: Out of Subtier gold is incorrect. It states 748/1496 instead of the 1122/2244 (half of the sum of low tier + high tier) or the 2245 from the accumulated gold from encounters.

2- I did not see a DC to identify the magical aura (Abjuration) or effects (Spellcraft) of the fountain. How would PCs identify this? There is not mention of a caster level either.

3- PC's have 1d20+60min before the door breaks. How is this time measured?

4- What happens if the PCs decide to wait for the next day before leaving the Azlant Ridge encampment? Just delay everything that unfolds in Starwatcher Tor?

5- What mechanics to use if the PCs want to use the Ivory Sphere's dust on Juliet Dias or one of the other archeologists?

6- What stats to use for Perception, Sense Motive, Will, etc. for Juliet and the other archeologists (exc. Arletta), when players attempt to use Bluff, Sleight of Hand, etc?

7- How does it work when a player attempts to use Suggestion on one of the archeologists? Is that a Caster Level check to overcome the Caster level ofnthe Xacarba ?

8- The Xacarba's Suggestion ability has the potential to create PvP due to conflicting interests concerning the tablets. How to handle conflicting interests within the party? With a DC23 Will save when looking into the crack, this is bound to happen.

9- Does placing the tablets in the slots in C11 provoke Attacks of Opportunity? I do not notice it does not.

10- In the Confrontation, how long does the stalemate between the Xacarba and the monolith last?
What does the Xacarba do when there are no legal targets in sight?
How does this impact the fight wit b the monolith?
How long do the PCs have to place the disks?

11- If the party manages to obscure themselves from sight (ex. Via Obscuring mist), can the Xacarba use Scent and Perception to pinpoint and attack blindly? Since this requires a Move Action, how is this handled, as the main body is focused on the monolith?

5/5

Some suggestions:

2. I'd just provide the school, given the power of the object.

3. Time is measured in game time, but estimated based on activities. I think I'll use mostly-real time, but modified for any time-consuming things the PCs do like Take 20's and so on.

4. I hope they won't wait - they believe that there are missing Pathfinders and archaeologists in peril, and they decide to wait to replenish their resources after a single minor encounter? I'd let the clock run out and let them deal with the aftermath.

6. Probably won't matter - most PCs will have much higher mods than the NPCs in any case.

7. Compulsion (suggestion) trumps regular enchantment (charm person/monster).

8. The Guide notes it's specifically not PvP if one PC is under an NPC's control.

9. Putting discs in the slot do not provoke from the monster because the PC has improved cover from the wall. It seems like it should from other PCs if they're trying to stop the person.

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

GM Lamplighter wrote:
2. I'd just provide the school, given the power of the object.

Given the nature on the final encounter, the fountain is key to the survival of the players. Abjuration is either a protection (generally), but also planes-related stuff and traps.

Also as mentioned: There is no DC to identify the aura of the fountain.

Quote:
3. Time is measured in game time, but estimated based on activities. I think I'll use mostly-real time, but modified for any time-consuming things the PCs do like Take 20's and so on.

That was also my conclusion, but that was speculating.

Quote:
6. Probably won't matter - most PCs will have much higher mods than the NPCs in any case.

So what to do? Automatic success then?

Quote:
7. Compulsion (suggestion) trumps regular enchantment (charm person/monster).

How about charm vs. charm? The Xacarba has a charm monster ability he has been using on the archeologists. Charm Person could technically work to overrule the enchantment, but how?

On a sidenote: Suggestion is also available to players in this tier. How does it work when a player attempts to use Suggestion on a PC that is victim of a Suggestion by the Xacarba?

Quote:
9. Putting discs in the slot do not provoke from the monster because the PC has improved cover from the wall. It seems like it should from other PCs if they're trying to stop the person.

Given that the Xacarba and the golem switch places before the combat starts (Confrontation box text), there is no cover at all and the thing has a reach of 15ft.

Shadow Lodge

I've also been prepping this one, so I'll answer what I can.

Alexander Geuze wrote:
2- I did not see a DC to identify the magical aura (Abjuration) or effects (Spellcraft) of the fountain. How would PCs identify this? There is not mention of a caster level either.

The listed CL of the Dispel Chaos effect is 11. So, going by the rules for identifying magic items, it would DC 15 + CL = 26 Spellcraft to identify the effect on the fountain. Identifying the aura requires a Knowledge(Arcana) check with a DC equal to 15 + spell level = 20.

Alexander Geuze wrote:
3- PC's have 1d20+60min before the door breaks. How is this time measured.

Since there's no strict timeline, from what I can see. So, I'm planning on giving the PCs enough time to investigate the entire Spire, talk to the NPCs, etc, but not sleep or sit down for a meal or copy spells from a spellbook.

Alexander Geuze wrote:
4- What happens if the PCs decide to wait for the next day before leaving the Azlant Ridge encampment? Just delay everything that unfolds in Starwatcher Tor?

I would assume so. There's no scenario I can think of where you miss the entire adventure by sleeping at the wrong time.

Alexander Geuze wrote:
5- What mechanics to use if the PCs want to use the Ivory Sphere's dust on Juliet Dias or one of the other archeologists?

Given that they believe the Orb makes people sick, and are unaware of the charm effect, I would treat this as attempting to convince the target to perform an obviously harmful action; and is thus impossible.

Alexander Geuze wrote:
7- How does it work when a player attempts to use Suggestion on one of the archeologists? Is that a Caster Level check to overcome the Caster level of the Xacarba?

Nope. In cases with dueling charm/compulsion effects, you make an opposed charisma check vs. the Xacarba's Charisma of 24 (+7).

Alexander Geuze wrote:
8- The Xacarba's Suggestion ability has the potential to create PvP due to conflicting interests concerning the tablets. How to handle conflicting interests within the party? With a DC23 Will save when looking into the crack, this is bound to happen.

PvP caused via magical compulsion or charm effects is completely legal. You don't particularly need to "handle" the effect, I would allow the PCs to work it out amongst themselves. But remember, Suggestion isn't a dominate effect, the PC is going to carry out the suggested action, but they won't necessarily automatically attack anyone trying to stop them (unless they get attacked first, of course).

Alexander Geuze wrote:

10- In the Confrontation, how long does the stalemate between the Xacarba and the monolith last?

What does the Xacarba do when there are no legal targets in sight?
How does this impact the fight with the monolith?
How long do the PCs have to place the disks?

In order:

Until the PCs place the disks, or they decide to retreat.
Whatever it wants (Note: it has constant True Seeing, so invisibility and the like do nothing).
It doesn't.
Forever, within reason.

Alexander Geuze wrote:
11- If the party manages to obscure themselves from sight (ex. Via Obscuring mist), can the Xacarba use Scent and Perception to pinpoint and attack blindly? Since this requires a Move Action, how is this handled, as the main body is focused on the monolith?

It still has both a move and standard action. The penalties imposed by focusing on the monolith are reflected in the "impeded" adjustment to the stat block.


Can the Xacarba make attacks of opportunity(tail slap) while impeded by the golem?

The scenario references that going through it's space provokes and

Quote:
Independent Tails - Each of the xacarba’s three tails are able to grapple and attack as if it were its own creature. It does not count as grappled while it is grappling a creature with one of its tentacles.

kinda implies that it can.. but it could be read differently

Seems like this would have a significant impact on the difficulty of the encounter.

Also, what if they try to reach through the crack and grab the disks before the golem breaks through? I assume the xarcarba would attempt to prevent this but it seems possible to access all four disks before reaching C11.

5/5

The crack is just large enough for the disks to go through, so it'll be tough. I would say the xarcaba would be able to charm the person before they could get the disks in most cases; otherwise, I think an attack is likely.

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

Justin Turner wrote:
Seems like this would have a significant impact on the difficulty of the encounter.

That is the difficult part of the scenario, since the Xacarba has Combat Reflexes. If the party didn't get the hint "Abjuration = usually beneficial" and drank from the fountain, this is most likely a difficult encounter. This is the case especially with the 4-player adjustment, since the action economy is extremely in favor of the Xacarba.

When I ran it, I had two (of the 4) players run back to the fountain during the combat and fill waterskins with it to feed it to the others (while one player was uncouncious and the other one suffered the redirected Oppressive Boredom cast by one of the players, as well as the 3 attacks/round from the Xacarba.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland— Baltimore aka Qstor

are any of the encounters supposed to be optional? There's a lot of encounters.

Shadow Lodge

Mike McKeown wrote:
are any of the encounters supposed to be optional? There's a lot of encounters.

When we were running short on time, I cut the encounter in the crypt.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Just played this and what a strong contender for season 7's best offering.

Pity I happened to run my ectoplasmatist and can't make use of anything on the chronicle sheet!

Grand Lodge

Mike McKeown wrote:
are any of the encounters supposed to be optional? There's a lot of encounters.

I ran it three times at GenCon, never had any issues with time. (Low Tier, High Tier w/ 4player adjustment, and High Tier) First encounter is a joke, the final encounter is more a puzzle than a combat, and the haunt never really amounted to much across my tables. Hydra is a good attacker, but pretty low HP, crypt fight probably took the longest.

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 aka GreySector

GM Lamplighter wrote:
The crack is just large enough for the disks to go through, so it'll be tough. I would say the xarcaba would be able to charm the person before they could get the disks in most cases; otherwise, I think an attack is likely.

Line of effect requires a 1 square foot hole in an otherwise solid barrier. I'm not sure why the xacarba gets to ignore that rule.

PRD Magic Chapter, Line of Effect wrote:
An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a spell's line of effect. Such an opening means that the 5-foot length of wall containing the hole is no longer considered a barrier for purposes of a spell's line of effect.

Sovereign Court 3/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

PCs get to ignore it, too! PCs can target the xarcaba with spells (if they dare). It's either an exceptional wall, or getting close enough to the crack allows you to establish line of effect that you wouldn't normally have standing away from it.

Silver Crusade 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

One square foot doesn't mean it's a square, though. It could very well be 1-square-foot stretched out vertically.

Although if it isn't, it wouldn't be the first time nor the last time that published material ignored the rule. It's kind of an inconveniently large requirement for a lot of fun ideas.

5/5

it's defined as about an inch wide and 8 inches long, so not really a square foot. Although, thinking about it, that seems an unnecessarily large window required to cast a spell through...


Is the gold on the chronicle a real issue? I wanna know for sure if I need to fix up my chronicle sheets. All but one player will be out of tier.

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

I'm no campaign leadership, but I think you should probably correct out of subtier gold yes. It currently doesn't add up to the sum of what is indicated in the scenario.

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

As I understand it, the listed amount of out-of-subtier does not have the same authority as the high and low tier gold. Those two are the sum value of earnings from encounters. The OOS gold is merely a helpful reminder of what the average of those two should be. So if the OOS gold is woefully incorrect, fix it.


Thanks!

Silver Crusade 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

GM Lamplighter wrote:
it's defined as about an inch wide and 8 inches long, so not really a square foot. Although, thinking about it, that seems an unnecessarily large window required to cast a spell through...

Aah, okay. Our GM described it as a much longer crack in the wall. Hmm.

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

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It's big enough for author fiat to pass through - I'd stop worrying about it. If it really irks you that it's not flawlessly rules compliant, just describe it as big enough to comply.

Sovereign Court 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Missouri—St. Louis aka bluesman95

Joe Ducey wrote:
Mike McKeown wrote:
are any of the encounters supposed to be optional? There's a lot of encounters.
I ran it three times at GenCon, never had any issues with time. (Low Tier, High Tier w/ 4player adjustment, and High Tier) First encounter is a joke, the final encounter is more a puzzle than a combat, and the haunt never really amounted to much across my tables. Hydra is a good attacker, but pretty low HP, crypt fight probably took the longest.

Yeah I was curious if I just totally flubbed running the hydra encounter because Ithe was dead before I even got to use it in the initiative order I really need to roll better when it comes to initiative

5/5

I ran this yesterday, it took a little over five hours, there is a deceptively large amount of content here.

My group was:

Warpriest 3
Alchemist 4
Rogue 5
Life Oracle/Cleric 4/1
Wizard 5

They were very close to being high tier with the 4 player adjustment (one of the 5's was initially going to play a 7) but swopped around to put themselves in low tier. All told a good decision (see later).

The first encounter took about 5 minutes, it really is a complete speed bump. The high tier one is not really any better as the swarms are tiny and so can be dealt with by weapon damage as well.

The second encounter has some oomph to it. The warpriest was dead in a surprise round pounce charge until I realised that he was out of range of a single move standard action charge. He moved up and got tripped on the OA and then nearly died to the full round attack while prone as the only person in reach. A timely glitterdust put pay to any further antics and it was over soon after.

I do have an issue with the four player adjustment for this encounter. Applying sicken to the hydra is sort of useful, it isn't very accurate so any penalty is welcome, but it has no impact at all on its breath weapons which are the most dangerous element. Also, if the group ignore the snake to focus on what looks like the bigger danger then that element does precisely nothing.

Reaching the ruin the group quickly worked out that something was up. They explored the ruin, avoided the crack, saved against the haunt and only two of them drank the water. Given the importance of this element there needs to be a way for the PC's to identify what drinking the water actually does. The snakes were mildly awkward but only managed to poison one person once.

They found the "cured" archaeologist, grabbed the second disc and moved to the main room. They were a little uncertain about the puzzle but predicted the correct order but then things went south.

The final encounter is sort of a puzzle but also extremely dangerous, even for a group at the very highest cusp of low tier. Their cleric/oracle had something like a dozen channels, by the end he had none left. The tails are very accurate and utterly dominate anyone who hasn't taken a drink. Even those who have will regularly find themselves grappled. My group finished up by the very skin of their teeth with multiple people on single digit health. If it had taken them a single extra round it would likely have been a tpk.

Here is where I have my major issue with the scenario. The 4 player adjustment for this is a -2 penalty on attack and damage. Given you may actually only have 4 players and quite probably 3 of them will be grappled I struggle to see how any team of 4 is actually going to be able to complete this. Balancing this sort of encounter needs to be done with a lot more care. I would have expected maybe a reduction of one tail to give people an actual chance.

This is not one to play up with or to play with a marginal group. If mine had been pushed into high tier with the 4p I can see that the end would quite simply have been carnage with basically no chance of survival.

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

The +30 CMD vs Grapple should prevent any grapple except on a natural 20. These are Secondary attacks and thus should suffer the -5 to attacks on their CMB to Grapple.

But I agree about the 4-player adjustment: The action economy of the tails is of the charts.

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

I played this while Alexander ran it. I'm not entirely agreeing that Sickened is a bad adjustment. Using Total Defence I managed a high AC and with the Sickened the xacarba was barely able to touch me. Alchemical Grease also helped (5GP; +5 CMD). Sickened also reduced the "wear and tear" damage significantly.

What this fight really showed though was how much we needed a channeling cleric to get healing to those who needed it but couldn't be conveniently reached.

Another important thing is whether placing the tablets in the slots provokes. We went with Yes, which made things very hard - spending the full-round action to slot the tablet means no Full Defence. I do think it's the correct rules call (compare to Pick Up An Item, Move A Heavy Item, Sheathe A Weapon, which all provoke). But the consequences are significant. We had a lot of people go down just as they were about to slot a tablet. I wonder if this is what the author intended?

5/5

The xacarba is grappled which means it cannot make attacks of opportunity.

5/5

GM Lamplighter wrote:
The xacarba is grappled which means it cannot make attacks of opportunity.

The tails act independently and can make OA's.

Sovereign Court 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The xacarba is not grappled, it is impeded, which causes a completely different set of conditions. Impeded doesn't stop OAs. (Yes, impeded is custom to this scenario.)

The xacarba's placement eans that it doesn't threaten the back of the room. (Note that it switches places with the monolith, and the monolith is in the front two spaces that include the door before the encounter starts. This cause the back wall to be 20 feet away.)

I posted a lot about this on the Product Discussion thread.

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

James McTeague wrote:

The xacarba is not grappled, it is impeded, which causes a completely different set of conditions. Impeded doesn't stop OAs. (Yes, impeded is custom to this scenario.)

The xacarba's placement eans that it doesn't threaten the back of the room. (Note that it switches places with the monolith, and the monolith is in the front two spaces that include the door before the encounter starts. This cause the back wall to be 20 feet away.)

I posted a lot about this on the Product Discussion thread.

If that was intended, I think it was over-subtle and missed by my GM.

Looking at the map, I see both circles are off-grid a bit. The huge golem is taking up 4x4 spaces. In addition, the Xacarba's circle is not actually gargantuan but huge-sized. When the gate opens, they trade places and then the golem moves forward to initiate a grapple (making sure they're adjacent). Altogether, that's messy enough that I'd understand a GM placing them more "by the rules".


That final fight is so broken and deadly that any advantage that can be had from the crappy map/monster placement should be had. Giving the PCs the back wall free of grapple is possibly going to be the difference between many games ending in TPK or not.

It's also cool as hell to describe the monolith/golem grabbing the xacarba and yanking it into a grapple so damn hard that the walls crack and the xacarba is pulled into squares that it normally can't fit into.

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

outshyn wrote:

That final fight is so broken and deadly that any advantage that can be had from the crappy map/monster placement should be had. Giving the PCs the back wall free of grapple is possibly going to be the difference between many games ending in TPK or not.

It's also cool as hell to describe the monolith/golem grabbing the xacarba and yanking it into a grapple so damn hard that the walls crack and the xacarba is pulled into squares that it normally can't fit into.

Agree on the visuals, and I think I'll do that, too. Having a safe line from which to attack tablets is extremely important, because you can't Full Defence and place tablets at the same time. When I played it I could use Full Defence for everything except that, and that's where we had the most trouble.

5/5

The tails don't act independently from the *creature*, they act independently from *each other* - so if one tail grapples someone, the others still can grapple someone else. But, the entire xacarba is grappled (and has the grappled condition), and so can't take AOs (but can still attack normally with the impeded attack bonus). At least, that's how I read it, and it's the only way either of my parties survived the encounter.

I'm not convinced that AOs are intended by the author - it basically doubles the number of attacks the xacarba gets (which always hit and always grapple), which more than makes up for the "impeded" condition. It doesn't need the funky poison bite to wipe a party at this level with 6 attacks per round which each have a 15' reposition built in.

5/5

GM Lamplighter wrote:
The tails don't act independently from the *creature*, they act independently from *each other* -

That is not what the ability actually says

Independent Tails: Each of the xacarba’s three tails are able to grapple and attack as if it were its own creature. It does not count as grappled while it is grappling a creature with one of its tentacles

Sovereign Court 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

GM Lamplighter, while I agree that having the ability to AoO does make up for losing the bite, it certainly doesn't make up the ability to summon a hezrou or cast mass suggestion.

I would seriously ask where in the text it describes that the xacarba is grappled. The only grabbing that's taking place by non-snake people is the monolith grabbing the xacarba's head, and that's directly referenced in the Impeded condition as being the cause of it.

If you think the Impeded condition is supposed to be in addition to grappled as opposed to replacing it a)why doesn't it ever mention that the xacarba is grappled anywhere? and b)why does the impeded condition repeat the movement restriction from grappled but no other conditions from grapple?

If you think the scenario as written is broken, I'm not going to disagree with it. But giving it the grappled condition and taking away its ability to AoO drastically changes the encounter, and that's _way_ more changes than I'm comfortable making as a PFS GM.

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

GM Lamplighter wrote:

...

I'm not convinced that AOs are intended by the author - it basically doubles the number of attacks the xacarba gets (which always hit and always grapple), which more than makes up for the "impeded" condition. It doesn't need the funky poison bite to wipe a party at this level with 6 attacks per round which each have a 15' reposition built in.

I played this as a level 5 character at the 3-4 tier and we had the 4-player adjustment (sickened). With AC 23 (29 during Full Defence), it was far from automatic hits. It needed a 19 to hit me.

My AC is nice but by no means bizarrely high. It's a +1 breastplate, +1 klar, Dex 16 and Dodge; and 3 ranks in Acrobatics. Someone dedicated to AC easily tops that. I think you're exaggerating here.

The thing that really wrecked me was when it redirected the arcanist's Oppresive Boredom onto my slayer. I spent three rounds standing there doing nothing while it whipped me.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

The way Leathert ran it for us(on high tier) was to take AAOs except for placing the disks which didn't provoke. We "fed" the tails some people and had the rest run/dimensional slide around carrying the disks. IIRC, I raised my AC up to 27 and rushed to the room in full defense. Didn't dare eating any more AAOs so skipped the return trip and instead threw the disk through the opposition's squares. Cue a readied catch and release and off the xacarba goes!

5/5 Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—Cambridge aka Nostrix

IIRC placing the last disk pushes the Xacarba back into its room, and re-seals the doors. So what happens to characters who are still in the room when this happens?

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

Nostrix wrote:
IIRC placing the last disk pushes the Xacarba back into its room, and re-seals the doors. So what happens to characters who are still in the room when this happens?

Oh, uhm, that would be baaaad..

The scenario has rules for deciding if the golem or xacarba eventually prevails. I'd figure that if the golem prevails the PC might be able to get out. Otherwise you might be able to get out with a body recovery, but I could imagine the xacarba just eats you out of frustration...

5/5

James McTeague wrote:
GM Lamplighter, while I agree that having the ability to AoO does make up for losing the bite, it certainly doesn't make up the ability to summon a hezrou or cast mass suggestion.

You're right, but that's hardly the point - it's CR15, versus APL 3-7. It doesn't need any of those additional abilities to wipe the party.

Quote:
...where in the text it describes that the xacarba is grappled... monolith grabbing the xacarba's head...

How can that not mean grappled? The question is really, "Does the impeded statblock replace the Grappled condition? If so, why does it violate the rules by allowing AOs?"

Quote:
If you think the Impeded condition is supposed to be in addition to grappled as opposed to replacing it a)why doesn't it ever mention that the xacarba is grappled anywhere? and b)why does the impeded condition repeat the movement restriction from grappled but no other conditions from grapple?

I'm not saying your interpretation is wrong. It's just that your interpretation has the side effect of making the encounter WAY more lethal, to the point that it might not be survivable. That is why I wondered what the author's intent was.

Quote:
If you think the scenario as written is broken, I'm not going to disagree with it. But giving it the grappled condition and taking away its ability to AoO drastically changes the encounter, and that's _way_ more changes than I'm comfortable making as a PFS GM.

Well, saying the xacarba is grappled (which it is!) and therefore can't make AOs against the party makes the scenario much less "broken", to use your term.

I really like this scenario, because sometimes you just encounter stuff that is much more powerful than you can deal with. I hope we can clarify how this is supposed to work, though, because if the xacarba is intended to take AOs it raises the level of difficulty significantly. It also means that I will have to subtly encourage the entire party to bath in the fountain, because that will become the only way to succeed.

Silver Crusade 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

Heh. Our GM had the thing threaten all the way to the wall. We all took magical greasewater baths and we still nearly TPKed. I think we were one round away.

The only reason we didn't was because we had a life oracle, who burned through all of her channels trying to keep us up. (Hence, one round away.) We were playing low subtier, mostly 3s with maybe one 4. I think we had 5 players.

It was fun! I have no idea how a low-subtier party survives without some sort of channel positive energy support though. I think we got lucky.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Developer

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Nostrix wrote:
IIRC placing the last disk pushes the Xacarba back into its room, and re-seals the doors. So what happens to characters who are still in the room when this happens?

I'd have the protection effect shunt the PC to area C11 before sealing off the room. This wasn't supposed to be a potential "gotcha" moment.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Developer

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A little more on the xacarba's location and abilities:
The circles on the map both ended up somewhere between huge and gargantuan in size, and I didn't catch that in my final review. The xacarba's intended location after he switches places with the golem at the outset of their fight is every square that has at least part of the circle labeled M in it. That way, with his 15 foot reach, he does not threaten the entrance or the back wall where the PCs need to place the disks.

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

@Linda: these are very useful clarifications. Since I'll be running this next week, could you maybe also shed light on the following?

1) What do the PCs need to do to identify the fountain's aura as Abjuration, and what clues are there that it's a "good thing" (and not the cause of everyone behaving weird)?

2) Can the Xacarba make attacks of opportunity or not?

3) The scenario says:

[quote = p. 20]Slotting in a warding disc requires careful placement
in the panel; even if the PC can reach the panel 8 feet
from the floor (such as being boosted up by an ally or
borrowing the scaffolding from area C1), a full-round
action is required to put a disc in place.

A medium PC is typically about 5-6 feet tall and has a melee reach of 5ft. Does he really need any help reaching the slots?

Wouldn't this have been easier by making this dependent on the PC's size category (small/medium) and/or reach? If I try to apply this strictly I expect a lot of people hurriedly looking up their race's typical/maximum height and looking at blank spaces on a character sheet for stats that rarely matter.

Sovereign Court 3/5

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1. I would provide the school to anyone using detect magic. Without a CL or DC provided, I assume it is an effect of the fountain to provide that information. The description of the carvings should be enough of a clue. ("cyclops breaking free of tentacles, clear water")

2. Yes. The description clearly says that PCs can provoke AoOs. (And Linda implies that it threatens with its 15ft reach)

p.21 wrote:
As the xacarba is Gargantuan, Medium and smaller creatures can move through its space (although doing so provokes an attack of opportunity);

3. From the description, careful placement seems impossible to achieve overhead. You need to be able to see the panel and manipulate the disc at the same time, which requires a height boost.

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

1) If I don't hear anything else, that's how I'm gonna do it.

2) Agree. Scary but yes.

3) I really don't like the mechanical vagueness of this. As a practical experiment I just tried to see how high I could reach. At about 6'4" myself I could reach up to 7'6" and still manipulate the measuring roll. A maximum-height half-orc (4'10" + 2d12" = 6'10") should then be able to reach placement height unassisted. This is exactly the sort of argument I wouldn't want at the table. Saying "even medium creatures always need a boost" is so much simpler than tying it to a specific height for the panel that you can argue about.

I think the real lesson here is: when the players first see this room, make it clear to them that the slots are high up and they need help to reach them. Don't gotcha-spring this on them during the confrontation.

When we played this the Xacarba was placed so that even the slot-row was threatened, and placing the tablets provoked. The GM ruled that small creatures needed help placing tablets, medium ones could reach it on their own. If we'd also needed "surprise" scaffolding I think the scenario would have gone from quite brutal to effing impossible.

Silver Crusade 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

Agreed. When I played it, we (the PCs) argued that since a medium creature occupies a 5' square and has 5' of reach, placing the discs only required one person. With three people occupying tentacles it still nearly killed us. I think you'll be creating a lot of player deaths if you need two people to get a single disc in. The PCs trying to place discs will take fewer AoOs than we did (since the xacarba shouldn't reach to the wall) but those people trapped by the xacarba's grapple (like our life oracle, who ran out of channels and then went negative on the last round) will have to survive another 2-3 rounds since placing discs become at least doubly difficult. It'd be enough to make me rate this as a "1 star, do not play" for most non-hardcore groups. At least at low subtier.

Shadow Lodge

5 hours+ Really ?
so does this run long ?
Im about to play this in a limited time slot and if there is a time issue I will switch post haste


Prepped to run this one, but not enough people. The Xacarba encounter seems like it'd be beyond brutal to all but the lucky. I'd guess more like a CR 10 for low tier.

It doesn't have to just tail slap on its turn, it's got a +37 grapple and effective CMD of 68! For a 3-7 game, that's terrifying!

Oh, and they gave it the wrong size space, it's 4x4 not 4x3.

.

Check out Iammars post for an amazing breakdown...

here

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, Canada—Manitoba aka Kess, Humble Servant of Abadar

Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
Nostrix wrote:
IIRC placing the last disk pushes the Xacarba back into its room, and re-seals the doors. So what happens to characters who are still in the room when this happens?
I'd have the protection effect shunt the PC to area C11 before sealing off the room. This wasn't supposed to be a potential "gotcha" moment.

Interesting. When we played it, my character was totally in the zone and ready to sacrifice herself in a "If this is what I have to do to eliminate a blight on Golarion, it's not a bad way to go."

I figured I would have a great story for a dead character. We too were one or two rounds away from a TPK and it was one of the best games I've played in a long time.

IMHO, a great sequel to (arguably) a top-3 series.

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