In Search of Sanity (GM Reference)


Strange Aeons

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Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As for the war razor - the attack line appears to be messed up, but it makes more sense that you realize. The attack and damage for the claws is calculated as if they were secondary natural attacks (-5 to attack, half strength modifier applies). Since the war razor is a light weapon, The Tatterman only needs one hand to attack with the war razor and can use the claws on its other hand, but since it's mixing manufactured weapons and natural attacks, the natural attacks are calculated as if they were all secondary attacks. A more appropriate attack line would look like

Melee +1 war razor +9 (1d4+4/19-20), claw +3 (1d8+1) or
2 claws +8 (1d8+3)


Order of the Amber Die wrote:
Mortagon wrote:
Alec Keeler wrote:

Oooh I like that a lot, Mortagon. Thanks for all the input, folks.

Regarding the Clutches ability, does the "full speed" even apply for direct upward flight? My understanding was the reason it flew at half speed upwards was because it's upwards, not because he's carrying someone.

I think it's only the penalties for carrying someone that is negated. All other modifiers would apply.
Everything I put together in that previous post remains accurate about the Nightgaunt, including the Clutches ability. Normally a monster can move itself and another creature at half its speed with a standard action (grapple rules, CRB). Carrying capacity always applies here, so there is a limit to how big of a creature you can move very far in a grapple, with the best being half your speed. The Nightgaunt's ability lets it move at full speed, which is 40. This is reduced by encumbrance if necessary (but maybe not if your character is less than 100lbs), and also reduced by half for upwards flight. So a Nightgaunt that grabs a 120lb human would move only 15ft up and away from the party on the next turn--grab those ranged weapons and let fly!

You are right totally forgot about the rule about flying with grabbed creatures so I just assumed that they meant encumbrance.

I'm still worried about my players though, they have a tendency to forget to bring ranged weapons.

Dark Archive

Wendy and Abigail wrote:

Haha they do sometimes Marco, usually if they've done something significant or if someone hits REALLY hard. I have a strong opinion making sure everyone is having fun and throwing the rule book out the window if necessary to do so. I have two players who are still fairly new and despise creating new characters so rather than punishing new players for not knowing all of the rules or fully optimizing their characters, I give helpful nudges. I admit that with Oathsday I probably handled it poorly, probably could have made it a bit more of a scare, but I just didn't see Oathsday making her way to the survivors going well for the PCs, at least not in a fun way for my players.

I will also say my players' dice appear to be blessed by the gods because they always roll max damage when it matters most. These are physical dice on the table too so I'm fairly certain they're not cheating lol. ;-) ** spoiler omitted **

No critic intended, it is a good thing to not kill the PCs at the start of their adventure, even if the dice say otherwise.

The only thing that had me perplexed is the "30 point buy" (roll but minimum 25 points) thing. A clever player could probably build a character that would kill all the monsters by herself with such a build. ;-)


Iammars wrote:

As for the war razor - the attack line appears to be messed up, but it makes more sense that you realize. The attack and damage for the claws is calculated as if they were secondary natural attacks (-5 to attack, half strength modifier applies). Since the war razor is a light weapon, The Tatterman only needs one hand to attack with the war razor and can use the claws on its other hand, but since it's mixing manufactured weapons and natural attacks, the natural attacks are calculated as if they were all secondary attacks. A more appropriate attack line would look like

Melee +1 war razor +9 (1d4+4/19-20), claw +3 (1d8+1) or
2 claws +8 (1d8+3)

Reading your post I thought I had made a mistake when reading the stat block. I did not, this is an error in the AP. The melee stats do not list

+1 war razor +9 (1d4+4/19-20), 2 claws +3 (1d8+1)

They list:

+1 war razor +9 (1d4+4/19-20) OR 2 claws +3 (1d8+1)

So this appears to be errata, why would the OR be there if the claws are being considered secondary attacks?

That mistake in the AP aside my formulas show the default attacks 2xclaws at +7 is higher dps than this combo of 3 attacks above ac 16~. So if corrected to be

2 claws +7 (1d8+3)

It is better to use this above 16~ ac.

If 2 claws +8 (1d8+3) the ac where this is better drops accordingly.

So only use three attacks on lightly armored foes, but two claw attacks at all other times.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
Mortagon wrote:
... they have a tendency to forget to bring ranged weapons.

Well, that easy to work with as they might not know they had them before, and you can give it to them once they wake up. ;)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Maligannt - I'm pretty sure we're in agreement here. The statblock shouldn't have had the "or" or the line break there. This is clearly a mistake in the statblock. What I posted as the attack line is what the attack should be.

As to your DPR comments - often times when a natural attack user uses a weapon, it ends up dropping its DPR below what it would be if it just used its natural attacks. Sometimes you can find other considerations for using the weapon with class features or the like, but in this case, besides the slightly-expanded crit range, there's really no benefit to using the war razor.

However, I wouldn't be so quick to switching to its claws. This fight is slightly harder than it looks. First of all, while the PCs will be level 3, they won't be as prepared as a normal level 3 since they haven't gotten to sell any of their stuff yet. In addition, the Tatterman fight happens 1d4 rounds after the Zandalus fight, which means that the PCs may not be fully healed up, especially if their healing is just a solo wand of cure light wounds. Also the Tatterman has DR 5/good or silver and regen 5 (good or silver). There's a couple silver daggers hanging around the asylum, and there's two vials of silversheen and an oil of align weapon which is presumably supposed to be good. (You're supposed to choose what alignment for oils when you make them.) However, the silversheen and the oil is locked behind a decently hard Perception check for this tier. And I haven't even gotten to the two fear auras, or the good saves, or the good AC, or cause fear.

Now it may turn out that upping the DR is good for your party. You'll know by the time you run it - you've have run them through a bunch of other combats by this point. But I wouldn't be so quick to just assume that you should use the claws. The Tatterman has a lot going on with it.

Note though - when using the war razor, the Tatterman only gets one claw attack since the other claw is busy using the war razor.


Iammars - Thanks for clarifying.

DPR wise then with 1 claw and the razor it isn't even close. 2 claws with the correction is superior other than against helpless foes.

Advice noted as far as tailoring tatterman's actions to the party's strength and I will take it into account. I do not believe he or Zandalus will provide much challenge for them without being tactically optimized given their projected party composition and player experience. I think the only way he can do so is if he is able to shadow walk one of their melee out of the battle.


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Maligannt wrote:

Iammars - Thanks for clarifying.

Advice noted as far as tailoring tatterman's actions to the party's strength and I will take it into account. I do not believe he or Zandalus will provide much challenge for them without being tactically optimized given their projected party composition and player experience. I think the only way he can do so is if he is able to shadow walk one of their melee out of the battle.

Unless you're wedded to running the encounter as written, it seems like there's plenty of adjustments you can make to increase the challenge and drama of the fight. How to make adjustments depends upon both players and PCs, of course.

Two examples:
1. Before the Tatterman appears, the room fills with yellow fog, providing concealment within 5' and total concealment past that point. Unknown to the players, the room's dimensions also shift. The Tatterman can see through the fog. If at least one PC fails the fear save and runs, the Tatterman either assumes that PCs shape or assumes another PCs shape and follows the terrified PC.

2. The Tatterman appears as written. If more than 2 PCs resist the fear, he declares that he will hunt easier prey and Shadow Walks out of the room, or, if you prefer, causes the room to collapse, allowing him an exit (via flight) and potentially delaying the PCs as they dig out pinned party members. (Obviously this shouldn't be a "rocks fall" collapse and damage should be low and/or non-lethal.) He then proceeds to one of the refugee groups and starts slaughtering them, with the PCs forced to pursue to try and stop him.

He also has three Suggestion spells and can make himself look like one of the PCs. He could appear AS a PC, shout that the Tatterman has been hiding amongst the group since last they slept, then follow with a Suggestion that they tie him up or knock him out aimed at the strongest member of the group.

Create challenge through the circumstances as much as through the tactics and your players will find the fight memorable even if the statistical challenge is minimal.


Looking over the Tatterman, all I gotta say is WOW! Having both a fear aura AND frightening presence is gonna be really messy. What also caught my attention, and what I don't believe I've seen elaborated on in any posts here so far, was that two of his special abilities don't seem to be described. First off, he has the Night Terrors special attack. Unless I'm mistaken, it doesn't appear to be referenced in the actual adventure. Neither does his Feign Death special quality appear to have any details listed for how it actually works. I'm guessing this is an oversight? What are these abilities and how do they work?


I just received my physical copy in the mail and decided to take a quick flip through only to discover pages 17-32 have disappeared. Good thing I have the PDF.

Paizo Employee Developer

Anaki J. wrote:
I just received my physical copy in the mail and decided to take a quick flip through only to discover pages 17-32 have disappeared. Good thing I have the PDF.

Contact Customer Service and they should be able to get you a replacement copy.

Order of the Amber Die

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Cerberus Seven wrote:
Looking over the Tatterman, all I gotta say is WOW! Having both a fear aura AND frightening presence is gonna be really messy. What also caught my attention, and what I don't believe I've seen elaborated on in any posts here so far, was that two of his special abilities don't seem to be described. First off, he has the Night Terrors special attack. Unless I'm mistaken, it doesn't appear to be referenced in the actual adventure. Neither does his Feign Death special quality appear to have any details listed for how it actually works. I'm guessing this is an oversight? What are these abilities and how do they work?

The Tatterman is a nightmare creature, so you can find those abilities described on p. 204-205 of Bestiary 4. You're right about the auras, pretty nasty!


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Narsham -

Thank you for the suggestions.

I wish the circumstances in the AP supported the tatterman as more than a melee combatant however I do try not to alter the AP and play as close to written as possible. Per the AP the Tatterman intends to complete the job he failed to do in the dream and kill the players. Creating circumstances as you've described is not my style for a module finale fight. If I use smart tactics and a PC dies or there is a tpk that is understandable - that is the risk the designers of the module intended and the players accepted. If I create advantages for the monsters and they die, in my opinion I've done the players dirty. Working within the rules and AP I want it as difficult as possible to survive. The same way my players have optimized their characters to defeat the encounters.

I like your suggestion of leveraging feared players, but impersonating a PC would be very difficult to pull off while following RAW. Tatterman's perfect copy does not replicate a PC's equipment. Suggestion could also be helpful in splitting the party..or forcing the guy carrying the torch to put it out so as to enable a shadow walk attempt... or the guy without a light to walk out of the room.

Dark Archive

I will be starting this soon, and I had a question for the Devs in regards to impact down the line of the AP.
I was thinking instead of having the PCs have amnesia, I would switch it to having most of the world having forgotten them, or they have been erased from peoples minds, with the exception of plot specific NPCs that would remember because they were in on it. That would explain how they got tossed in asylum, their friends and family and etc wouldn't have known them, and been freaked out about someone claiming to be their brother/wife/etc. I thought the negative space idea would work better with my group than the straight up amnesia one, but if it is going to be a nightmare later on, then I will scrap it. Thoughts?


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Ianofdoom wrote:

I will be starting this soon, and I had a question for the Devs in regards to impact down the line of the AP.

I was thinking instead of having the PCs have amnesia, I would switch it to having most of the world having forgotten them, or they have been erased from peoples minds, with the exception of plot specific NPCs that would remember because they were in on it. That would explain how they got tossed in asylum, their friends and family and etc wouldn't have known them, and been freaked out about someone claiming to be their brother/wife/etc. I thought the negative space idea would work better with my group than the straight up amnesia one, but if it is going to be a nightmare later on, then I will scrap it. Thoughts?

From what I've read from the first module and from dev posts here, the PCs did some pretty crappy things before the amnesia while under the employ of Count Lowls, and since we're going to be revisiting areas where those same PCs did those crappy things, the towns' reactions to those PCs returning (with the PCs being presumably unaware of the cause) is a big point. At least that's the gist I've taken from my reading so far.

Paizo Employee Developer

Captain Battletoad has the right of it. You *could* change up the whole amnesia bit, but it would require a bunch of work on your end to retool much of the AP's story.


Does anyone else find it odd that the PCs can acquire a +2 short sword in the admin area of the asylum when they are 2nd level? This seems like a pretty strong find for a regular AP let alone a horror themed one.


Anaki J. wrote:
Does anyone else find it odd that the PCs can acquire a +2 short sword in the admin area of the asylum when they are 2nd level? This seems like a pretty strong find for a regular AP let alone a horror themed one.

I noticed that as well. I wondered if it was like a video game where you find a random rocket launcher and realize you're gonna need it, because "it's about to get real". I think the sword is like that.

Paizo Employee Developer

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It can also be useful to sell in order to afford to bring some characters back to life should anyone die.


Adam Daigle wrote:
It can also be useful to sell in order to afford to bring some characters back to life should anyone die.

But Adam, this is a Lovecraftian AP. Surely nobody will die...

I actually already had to hand-wave a fight when the PCs encountered Doctor Latchke (they skipped him and fought Doctor Oathsday first, then encountered him on the way back) after he crit on the 1-hp paladin. I'm fine with my PCs dying if they do something stupid, but maybe I'll give them a freebie for the first 5 minutes of the campaign.


Captain Battletoad wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
It can also be useful to sell in order to afford to bring some characters back to life should anyone die.
But Adam, this is a Lovecraftian AP. Surely nobody will die...

Of course not. Death is much too easy...


All salient points. I guess my concern has to do with the more horrific tone and atmosphere I'm going for... how tense or fearful will encounters be if the PCs know they can just pull out a +2 weapon and go to town? It seems like it would be that much more work to maintain an overall sense of dread.

I could just be over thinking this.


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My players would probably look at a +2 sword in a bit of horror themselves. "Why is this here? Why do we need this? It is a mistake, right? Oh god, we're going to need this aren't we?"

Meta-horror is still horror and frankly, I'm pretty sure I'd be happy with whatever I got.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Mine too. Crying might ensue.


Very atmospheric, very good adventure overall I think. I concur with a previous poster who likened it to a survival horror computer game, with a touch of PS:Torment or Elder Scrolls considering the characters start as almost blank slates.

Do the players even know their names? IIRC the description of the room where their records are kept implies that they don't, but I don't recall that showing up in the Player's Guide, nor earlier in the adventure. Would be interesting if the players had to forgo their "real" names until they learn them, and how they handle the logistics of that up until that point.

I think I like the idea (getting back to the survival horror) of forcing the players to make do with makeshift equipment, at least up until they hit the personal effects vault. Although even then - would Lowls have dropped them off at the asylum loaded for war? Divine casters could find a symbol in the chapel, arcane casters would have to scrounge up reagents, martial types can scavenge weapons and conserve ammunition. Fights would have to be approached very carefully, especially at level 1.

Winter's background in the NPC gallery states that she was explicitly sent to the asylum to find the PCs, but she doesn't seem to have much interest in them in the adventure aside from the usual quest-giver attitude. Maybe this comes to the forefront in book 2.

The Tatterman's stats confuse me. He's a monster that cuts people up, so let's give him sorcerer levels? Having cause fear is good, although I question if he needs it given both his fear aura and frightful presence ability. Vanish is useful, sleep is thematic, I guess, but the other spells and abilities... I dunno, I just don't see him standing around and casting spells at the players.

If one is going to go the sorcerer route, I like the Psychic bloodline better, and rearranging the stats to favor the physical instead of dumping Strength. The Psychic bloodline gives him a mental ranged attack if he can't close to melee, and no odd abilities that don't really fit such as lullaby.

The Nightmare template is a strong one, especially with nightmare at 3/day. Once the Tatterman is aware the PCs are still alive and themselves after being killed in his dream (a possibility from one of the later dreams), one would think he would start stalking their dreams specifically. Maybe that was already the intention, since the chapel wards against nightmare, but man would that wreck a party that dared to sleep elsewhere.


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So, what do you do if a character dies? How can we get to include a new character? The fudge state seens very important and the only way I think is make the new character one of the survivors, but still no idea about the fudge state...

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dante Doom wrote:
So, what do you do if a character dies? How can we get to include a new character? The fudge state seens very important and the only way I think is make the new character one of the survivors, but still no idea about the fudge state...

Mmmmmm, fudge. ;)

-Skeld


Dante Doom wrote:
So, what do you do if a character dies? How can we get to include a new character? The fudge state seens very important and the only way I think is make the new character one of the survivors, but still no idea about the fudge state...

There were other people who were in Lowl's group, but they were elsewhere in the asylum. Their own investigations into their memory loss intersects the groups' at a fortuitous time.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is kind of a minor thing but it's bugging me. And I know my players are going to be confused. I can't reconcile the map of the basement and area A2 with the main floor area B1. The stairwell seems to be 7 to 8 feet from the chute, but I can't see how that lines up with the description of B1.

Where exactly would the stairs have been if not collapsed on the main floor? I don't see anything on the map that could be the shed-like structure, unless we're talking about the rubble between B1 and C1. Is the compass on the basement map mislabeled? I could sort of align things if north was actually pointing to the right.

What am I missing?


TomParker wrote:

This is kind of a minor thing but it's bugging me. And I know my players are going to be confused. I can't reconcile the map of the basement and area A2 with the main floor area B1. The stairwell seems to be 7 to 8 feet from the chute, but I can't see how that lines up with the description of B1.

Where exactly would the stairs have been if not collapsed on the main floor? I don't see anything on the map that could be the shed-like structure, unless we're talking about the rubble between B1 and C1. Is the compass on the basement map mislabeled? I could sort of align things if north was actually pointing to the right.

What am I missing?

The Chute probably is longer then the map shows, or increases slant at some points.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I considered that. But if the chute is longer, that just makes things more askew. The problem is that the chute in A1 is to the west of B1 storeroom, but the corner described as the collapsed staircase is east of the storeroom.


TomParker wrote:

This is kind of a minor thing but it's bugging me. And I know my players are going to be confused. I can't reconcile the map of the basement and area A2 with the main floor area B1. The stairwell seems to be 7 to 8 feet from the chute, but I can't see how that lines up with the description of B1.

Where exactly would the stairs have been if not collapsed on the main floor? I don't see anything on the map that could be the shed-like structure, unless we're talking about the rubble between B1 and C1. Is the compass on the basement map mislabeled? I could sort of align things if north was actually pointing to the right.

What am I missing?

This bugged me too. The chute doesn't really work as presented, either, as its entrypoint would have to be on the west wall of the courtyard for it to work, not the east. Unless it's sticking up out of the ground and you feed it from the west-facing side of the structure.


In the dayroom, D6, I don't quite understand the visual description of the haunt. This is my interpretation, is it correct?

Mrs. Freeling is sitting in a wheelchair, facing the windows, about, say, four squares from the window, right behind, or just a little ways from the chairs. Blood is pouring out of her chest, governed by gravity, where it forms a river flowing along the floor to the C15 door. I'm picturing the flow like along a curb during a heavy rain. At the C15 door, the three squares nearest the door are filled floor to ceiling with blood.

If a PC steps over the blood, a wave rises and tries to push them into the polo. Per hydraulic push, they might get pushed 5 feet, or maybe 10 on a good roll, so if they do this near the pool, bad choice.


Stazamos wrote:

In the dayroom, D6, I don't quite understand the visual description of the haunt. This is my interpretation, is it correct?

Mrs. Freeling is sitting in a wheelchair, facing the windows, about, say, four squares from the window, right behind, or just a little ways from the chairs. Blood is pouring out of her chest, governed by gravity, where it forms a river flowing along the floor to the C15 door. I'm picturing the flow like along a curb during a heavy rain. At the C15 door, the three squares nearest the door are filled floor to ceiling with blood.

If a PC steps over the blood, a wave rises and tries to push them into the polo. Per hydraulic push, they might get pushed 5 feet, or maybe 10 on a good roll, so if they do this near the pool, bad choice.

Sounds about like my interpretation, so I assume that's correct.


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Ran our second session. They cleared out the room with the Dire Rats and set that up to be the base of operations, they defeated the Centipedes no problem and ended up cooking the centipedes into a stew (They spent five hours repairing the hot water furnace). The group is trying to preserve their rations for a while. They handled the haunt pretty well, though the wizard got hit with a crawling hand that started choking him. While that was going on I had Lotchke sneak up on them and attack, downing the Shaman. Those doppelgangers are no joke, 26 hp and a +8 to hit dealing 1d8+4 with two claw attacks can almost stagger or knockout anyone n the party.

I had the guards fire a volley at the doppelganger which took off a good 20 hp. The players then traded some trail rations for a healing. I had them all kneel with there backs turned away from barricade, and had winter come out and use a channel. They slept in there room (Which they also barricaded with some rubble during the night) I gave three of them the Kelish dream, and the final one the Tatterman dream. They rolled there saves and two failed, so they didn't heal and also took 1 sanity damage. In the morning the Shaman's filth fever onset and she failed taking a few dex and con damage.

I had Scaen in the room with the ghoul and Cultist. They managed to get lucky with her and the alchemist and Barbarian took 1 hit each (Both dropped to 1 hp each) when they finished her. They healed a bit and decided to spare the man in yellow... but they don't know what to do with him. So right now they are keeping him shackled but will continue to feed him.

They went to fight Oathsday and amazingly enough beat her bluff check (She rolled a 2, a pc rolled a 19) so they went to fight her. She managed to down the alchemist (Not fully healed from the fight before, painful stare, and full damage from the dagger) but luckily the barbarian critted with a scythe. The session ended with them entering the Chapel and seeing Winter for the first time.

One of the things they liked was the Doppelgangers all being doctors. I had them find some notes talking about the experiments they were running. Here are their thoughts on the three:

Doctor Oathsday, Latchke, and Scaen were all scientists in life. When they became Doppelgangers they were driven mad and became fascinated with the differences between there new and old bodies.

Scaen focused on pain tolerance and blood loss between humans and doppelgangers.

Latchke focused on deterioration of the body starting with skin degradation.

Oathsday focused on the nutritional value, so she captured 2 ghouls, tied one up with two humans, and put the other in a bath and fed it doppelganger meat.


What color is doppelganger blood? Given they aren't human, is their blood still red or is it a different color?

I tweaked them to be more like the Thing from Cameron's The Thing, what with people just waking up as a doppelganger or ghoul if the Tatterman gets them, but I wondered if there was precedent for Doppelganger blood being different?

Order of the Amber Die

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Strange Aeons Fans:

Our group recently played a marathon over several days to complete In Search of Sanity. Total session time to completion was 44 hours, 15 minutes. Our complete breakdown of the campaign can be read in The Strange Aeons Experiment PDF, but for now I wanted to contribute something for GMs as they prepare the adventure.

Part 1: The map of Briarstone Asylum is just awesome. What better way to master its halls and know it better than your frightened PCs, than to spend some serious time drawing it? Imagine yourself completely immersed in the map for hours, learning every turn, each collapsed wall, and walking the paths of its courtyards. While drawing it you'll have time to plan where doppelgangers might hide after escaping, or just where the unicorn will first appear. Better yet: Think of the looks on your players' faces when they see what you've done for them. Unlike the maps I presented for Giantslayer, this one is a lot more feasible for the GM who is new to drawing their own maps, as it can be done on a single Chessex Mondomat with the slight addition of a side-grid of gaming paper (or another Chessex mat). To make your task easier, I placed a map procedure booklet in our Dropbox, which should help any prospective GMs learn some of the steps involved in producing a map like this. Clear some time, grab some markers, and go for it!

Part 2: The records room in C17 is a really cool opportunity to give each of your players something specific to their character. By this point in the module, my players were itching to learn anything at all about themselves, no matter how insignificant the details. Taking the time to produce a record sheet on some parchment paper (printed in old font) for your players will go a long way; perhaps even reading it aloud to them in dramatic fashion as they pore over the records might help add to the atmosphere: "Garundi female, 5'9", 130lbs...patient suffers from amnesia and possesses cloudy eyes that render her unable to see anything but the closest of objects; however, she retains an uncanny ability to see in the dark...patient has twice been found wandering the halls of the east ward at night." This was Alahazra's just as an example. A little work accomplishes a lot here, and players love when their character is spotlighted in front of the group like this. I recommend doing one for each PC, and not leaving anyone out. If you don't want to read it, just hand each to the player doing the searching, and enjoy their reactions.

Part 3: The Tatterman. He's been discussed a bit on this thread, but having GMed him already I'm going to reinforce what I initially felt about him: This is a very deadly opponent. I could go on about DR 5, regeneration, spell-like abilities, decent AC, good HP, resistances, strong saves, strong melee, and more--but we'll leave that to the rest of the thread. If you spend your first round kicking off his Frightful Presence on top of the Fear aura, you might clear half the room of PCs. Suggestion should take care of another one, and you could be down to a one-on-one against the Tatterman. Amusing. Let's assume they make their saves, and surround the Tatterman as he emerges from Zandalus. With fly (perfect), he can 5ft. step and stay above them, using some of the rubble to hamper them while attacking from higher ground at all times; your goal here is to minimize the number of attacks per round coming from PCs. The best part is the finale though: use Feign Death. Incredibly, it's an immediate action, which makes selling it to your players even easier, and the Will save to notice it is actually pretty decent considering their level (plus they've got to physically interact with the body). Many horror baddies (Jason or Michael Myers come to mind) have the boogeyman getting up--again--and have to be beaten one last time. If you've got too many veteran players, when using Feign Death make the PCs roll for something else or just have them roll an extra will save each round for no reason throughout the combat, as you've got to throw off their metagame. When the Tatterman "goes down" with Feign Death, cheer along with the PCs, slap their hands, and congratulate them. Then sit down, act normal, ask them if they spread out to search the room or whatever your normal procedure is (keep the attention off the Tatterman). Oh, and truly enjoy their reactions when the Tatterman gets back up--this is a horror campaign, after all.

GM
Order of the Amber Die

Scarab Sages

For the pool of blood in area D6, it says "The vertical pool of blood is opaque, but can be passed through as difficult terrain." and "making it pool vertically in the 15-foot-long hallway."
My interpretation was that it was vertical river (a bit like a floating curtain) that started under the wheelchair and flowed towards C15 as it got wider (or higher if you prefer).


The Order of the Amber Die's write up was truly a beautiful thing to read. I have one question, how did you handle the Medium's death? Under your rules you mention that if they can't come back that they stay dead and a new lvl 1 pc comes in.

Order of the Amber Die

John Ryan 783 wrote:
The Order of the Amber Die's write up was truly a beautiful thing to read. I have one question, how did you handle the Medium's death? Under your rules you mention that if they can't come back that they stay dead and a new lvl 1 pc comes in.

Thanks a ton John, it's always good to get feedback, especially since it takes a lot longer to create that writeup than it may seem. The players have to track a lot of data throughout the path that will be added at the very end of the AP, and there is a lot of commitment involved in keeping up with the written documentation. If you enjoyed The Strange Aeons Experiment, you might also enjoy the other writeups of similar nature, which are also in our Dropbox. I'd have to recommend The Giantslayer Endeavor, since it describes what it took to play an AP in the fastest time ever documented (6 months).

As far as the medium goes, you are right that if someone can't come back we will replace them with a new iconic character at 1st level. Erasmus was able to come back through the use of the reanimated medium archetype, which was very fortunate for us. Quinn, on the other hand, is not so easy. He will need a raise dead, and if the players are unable to find access to that, he will be replaced by a new iconic.


Order of the Amber Die wrote:
John Ryan 783 wrote:
The Order of the Amber Die's write up was truly a beautiful thing to read. I have one question, how did you handle the Medium's death? Under your rules you mention that if they can't come back that they stay dead and a new lvl 1 pc comes in.

Thanks a ton John, it's always good to get feedback, especially since it takes a lot longer to create that writeup than it may seem. The players have to track a lot of data throughout the path that will be added at the very end of the AP, and there is a lot of commitment involved in keeping up with the written documentation. If you enjoyed The Strange Aeons Experiment, you might also enjoy the other writeups of similar nature, which are also in our Dropbox. I'd have to recommend The Giantslayer Endeavor, since it describes what it took to play an AP in the fastest time ever documented (6 months).

As far as the medium goes, you are right that if someone can't come back we will replace them with a new iconic character at 1st level. Erasmus was able to come back through the use of the reanimated medium archetype, which was very fortunate for us. Quinn, on the other hand, is not so easy. He will need a raise dead, and if the players are unable to find access to that, he will be replaced by a new iconic.

Honestly I plan on reading everything now, just the "In Search of Sanity" write up was inspiring, and helped rekindle my love of the game. Honestly I have been burning out lately, scheduling sucks, and we can only ever meet for about 3 hours. It was becoming repetitive. Now however I feel a spark again. Props, music, passion are all things that I use to have, but slowly they started to drain away.

Now however I am looking to see if I can find my Grandpa's old typewriter to write up some character notes in the asylum.

So thank you for helping me find some excitement in the game again. With your experience gming I am sure you have run into slumps before and know how much I appreciate you helping me get out of one.


Stazamos wrote:

In the dayroom, D6, I don't quite understand the visual description of the haunt. This is my interpretation, is it correct?

Mrs. Freeling is sitting in a wheelchair, facing the windows, about, say, four squares from the window, right behind, or just a little ways from the chairs. Blood is pouring out of her chest, governed by gravity, where it forms a river flowing along the floor to the C15 door. I'm picturing the flow like along a curb during a heavy rain. At the C15 door, the three squares nearest the door are filled floor to ceiling with blood.

If a PC steps over the blood, a wave rises and tries to push them into the polo. Per hydraulic push, they might get pushed 5 feet, or maybe 10 on a good roll, so if they do this near the pool, bad choice.

My interpretation was that it was like gravity was pointing "west" instead of "down" for the blood only. Blood is flowing out of Freeling's body, and instead of pooling on the floor, it's gushing in a constant stream that flows across the room suspended in the air until it hits the "pool" that fills the west hallway. So the PCs will have to walk through it (or get over it or teleport past somehow) and be subject to the bull rush to get to the other side.

Order of the Amber Die

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John Ryan 783 wrote:
Order of the Amber Die wrote:
John Ryan 783 wrote:
The Order of the Amber Die's write up was truly a beautiful thing to read. I have one question, how did you handle the Medium's death? Under your rules you mention that if they can't come back that they stay dead and a new lvl 1 pc comes in.

Thanks a ton John, it's always good to get feedback, especially since it takes a lot longer to create that writeup than it may seem. The players have to track a lot of data throughout the path that will be added at the very end of the AP, and there is a lot of commitment involved in keeping up with the written documentation. If you enjoyed The Strange Aeons Experiment, you might also enjoy the other writeups of similar nature, which are also in our Dropbox. I'd have to recommend The Giantslayer Endeavor, since it describes what it took to play an AP in the fastest time ever documented (6 months).

As far as the medium goes, you are right that if someone can't come back we will replace them with a new iconic character at 1st level. Erasmus was able to come back through the use of the reanimated medium archetype, which was very fortunate for us. Quinn, on the other hand, is not so easy. He will need a raise dead, and if the players are unable to find access to that, he will be replaced by a new iconic.

Honestly I plan on reading everything now, just the "In Search of Sanity" write up was inspiring, and helped rekindle my love of the game. Honestly I have been burning out lately, scheduling sucks, and we can only ever meet for about 3 hours. It was becoming repetitive. Now however I feel a spark again. Props, music, passion are all things that I use to have, but slowly they started to drain away.

Now however I am looking to see if I can find my Grandpa's old typewriter to write up some character notes in the asylum.

So thank you for helping me find some excitement in the game...

You are very welcome, I'm glad that our work could help. I can definitely empathize with not wanting to play for only 3 hours; that's too much setup/breakdown and planning to be worth much. Every GM also goes through both lulls and periods of fever-pitch prep over the course of a career. I thought I was going to retire after I GMed my 100th module, and yet here I am. I'd recommend at least a 6-hour session, as modules like In Search of Sanity really benefit from long sessions because players will find themselves deeply immersed in the creepy atmosphere of the adventure as they stay in character for a longer period.

Since we're going to be running about one module ahead of most groups for the first couple of months here, I'd also direct anyone else reading this to our main Strange Aeons Experiment thread, where you can ask whatever questions you like anytime, and we will answer them. Even if you just want to know how our battle with the "Bag Lady" played out, or how long it took us to get past the Argus Wall.

Glad you're back in the game!


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Order of the Amber Die wrote:

Part 1: The map of Briarstone Asylum is just awesome. What better way to master its halls and know it better than your frightened PCs, than to spend some serious time drawing it? Imagine yourself completely immersed in the map for hours, learning every turn, each collapsed wall, and walking the paths of its courtyards. While drawing it you'll have time to plan where doppelgangers might hide after escaping, or just where the unicorn will first appear. Better yet: Think of the looks on your players' faces when they see what you've done for them. Unlike the maps I presented for Giantslayer, this one is a lot more feasible for the GM who is new to drawing their own maps, as it can be done on a single Chessex Mondomat...

Do you feel this takes away from the experience (because the players have the entire map laid out in front of them? I've never run anything like that before - unless it was a place the players were familiar with.

Order of the Amber Die

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Firstbourne wrote:
Order of the Amber Die wrote:

Part 1: The map of Briarstone Asylum is just awesome. What better way to master its halls and know it better than your frightened PCs, than to spend some serious time drawing it? Imagine yourself completely immersed in the map for hours, learning every turn, each collapsed wall, and walking the paths of its courtyards. While drawing it you'll have time to plan where doppelgangers might hide after escaping, or just where the unicorn will first appear. Better yet: Think of the looks on your players' faces when they see what you've done for them. Unlike the maps I presented for Giantslayer, this one is a lot more feasible for the GM who is new to drawing their own maps, as it can be done on a single Chessex Mondomat...

Do you feel this takes away from the experience (because the players have the entire map laid out in front of them? I've never run anything like that before - unless it was a place the players were familiar with.

Great question, Firstbourne. I never actually show the players the whole map at once--I do not recommend that--instead I use cardstock to cover the map and reveal it as they go. This cardstock can be seen in the photos on the Paizo blog and also our Facebook, as we create this kind of "fog of war" in all of our campaigns. By the time you get to the end of the adventure, they will have almost the entire map laid out in front of them.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I don't have Ultimate Intrigue, but it looks very similar to the Library and Knowledge Points system used in Mummy's Mask 3, so checking that might be helpful. I don't remember the exact details, but essentially the PCs make rolls of the Knowledges listed, and gradually progress further and further on the "research thresholds". The library starts at the "kp 35" listed, and successful Knowledge rolls start wearing that number down until eventually you get it down to kp 30 (sort of like wearing down hit points with successful attack rolls), at which point you give the players the info listed under "kp 30 (Briarstone Asylum).

As noted, I don't have the exact rules in front of me right now, but I'm guessing the Complexity stat listed is subtracted from each Knowledge check (it's sort of like the Armor Class versus an attack roll) and if your Knowledge roll is above that, then the difference is the "damage" you do to the hp of the library.

Example: A player rolls Knowledge (local) for a result of 17. The library's complexity is 15, so 2 kp of "damage" is done to the library's kp total, bringing it down to 33kp. Then another player rolls Knowledge (history) and gets 24. Subtract the complexity 15 again to do 9kp of "damage" to the library, bringing it down to 24kp. At that point you give the players the info listed under kp 30 and kp 25 because they've passed those thresholds. When the library reaches 0kp it has been exhausted and the players can learn nothing further.

I may have some details wrong, but roughly it's something like that.

Scarab Sages

Hey everyone, nobody's brought this up yet so here goes....

I have a problem with the guards at areas B3 & B4. There's just too many of them.

First off we have 2 guards in the side room (B3) to act as backup in case things get out of hand.

Then we have Captain Vaustin York and 4 other guards in the corridor at B4 (one of whom will be Denman Winoparess).

Okay, so we need 3 more guards for the corridor. If we go alphabetically, those would be DaNae Foulkes, Mura Yopchick & Naysa Walika.

Great now for the two guards off in the side room we have Tolman Leolies and .... we've run out of guards.

Who is this mysterious seventh guard? Obviously I can, as a GM, make up an npc to fill the role. It could be one of the remaining survivors or perhaps it could be a doppelganger pretending to be a clone of one of the other guards who hasn't been caught out yet (due to making sure it only copies those who are not in the same location). A traumatised doppelganger who has infiltrated the survivors in the hope of finding some kind of redemption.

Or maybe the 4 guards in B4 are supposed to include Captain Vaustin York and the 4 in Chapel Guards (4) below his stat block is a typo and should read as 3 especially as the description says there's only 3 guards at the barricade. This doesn't tally 'though as captain York is initially absent and only arrives when the guards call for him or if he comes out to see what all the noise is about.

Once again we have an extra phantom guard. Does anyone have any suggestions? Obviously I don't want it to be one of the children. Baisily Harbour & Loic Ulsohnen seems to be the only possible candidates as the other adults are all wounded or already chapel guards. If Baisily then that ties in to the possible doppelganger infiltration later on.

Since 10 of the survivors have no names, backgrounds or descriptions it could easily be assumed that any guards slain during an earlier encounter could come from that nameless number.

Scarab Sages

Actually, given that Tolman Leolies is supposed to be in the chapel distracting the children that leaves 2 mystery guards unaccounted for. I'm starting to wonder if the 22 survivors was a typo and there are only supposed to be 12 (plus Winter for 13) as there are only 12 detailed in the entry. If so then there simply aren't enough guards to fill the positions at B3 and B4 'though. It's possible to assume that he shows the pc's into the chapel and then is asked to help calm the children down (probably because Maev is throwing a hissy fit again). Even so that's still one mystery guard to summon up from nowhere. Maybe it really is a doppelganger after all :p.

On an unrelated note does anyone know why a bunch of pages have their page numbers missing? I know the adventure is supposed to be set in an asylum and to have the characters questioning their sanity but the Gm shouldn't have to start questioning his sanity just by reading the book itself. In the pdf pages 26-55 all have their page numbers missing.

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