In Search of Sanity (GM Reference)


Strange Aeons

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I played it so if Ilesi escapes she meets up with Oathsday and teams up there (making it a really rough fight). Though I have her keep the damage on her, and Oathsday has no qualms with letting her die to maintain her ruse.

If Campre escapes I allow him to answer some rudimentary questions and improve the attitude of the survivor faction by 1; otherwise the PCs have to do some work and possibly get sniped by the guards stationed.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The cleric, who was cooling his heels in the Bag ladies room for the first half of the fight due to player absence saved the day. She had a spell prepped that wiped the fear off the two characters that fled to her first. She also manged to save against the fear aura and position herself well to lay out some group heals with channel positive before the tatterman moved in among the group. They also had Jenny Two-Tails pitch in with a swarm of rats (that did no damage, but effectively hedged the tatterman a bit) It was still a pretty grueling fight and the barbarian almost dropped, but they prevailed. They are now "safely" in Thrushmore, so on to thread number two


Well done. Sounds like a great climax!


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Maligannt wrote:

Trying to reconcile the BBEG melee stats & plan tactics against a fully optimized group of six characters, many of whom have played together for 2 years+ across multiple AP's. A single spell caster BBEG without mooks as the last foe in an ap is anti-climactic and not fun for anyone, even with his auras, DR and regen this foe won't challenge them - none of these players will be in an ustalav based AP without weapons to negate his regen/dr.

BBEG current melee stats in the AP:
+1 war razor +9 (1d4+4/19-20) or 2 claws +3 (1d8+1)

Default doppleganger has +8 to hit with 2 claws, BBEG has +3 to hit with his claws? Why? His class bab? Why then does he have the appropriate +9 with the war razor?

His strength is 16 two lower than a default doppleganger, which is added correctly to the war razor but he's only doing 1d8+1 on claw attacks?

Shouldn't he be at worst:

2 claws +7 (1d8+3) ?

SNIP

I've found occasional errors in stat blocks for Adventure Path modules by re-entering every NPC into Hero Lab. Since I run combats off that program it makes sense, and definitely finds those little mistakes. In Tatterman's case, he gets 2 claws +8 for 1d8+4 damage each.

Maligannt wrote:
No tactics are specified for him. He has a 15 int and he's going to take on a full party of foes about whom he already knows a great deal, since they've just killed his host, he's been in their dreams, etc. I see no reason not assume he's going to fully utilize his abilities to their utmost to end them.

I have to agree, as written he's not terribly powerful. His spells are largely ineffective for facing an adventuring party that is awake and ready for combat, even if they're softened up. He does have three suggestion spells to toss off as spell-like abilities, though, which can be used to devastating effect.

"Your god has abandoned you. Your divine gifts and spells no longer function."

"Your arcane power is gone. You cannot use spells or magic items."

"Your strength of arms is gone. You cannot wield weapons."

Maligannt wrote:

His most powerful/dangerous ability is shadow walk(DC20) combined with his regeneration. He would engage the party using his war razor, take some hits and then I see him withdrawing into a dimly lit area (if the players pursue but don't manage their light sources properly and let him get them into melee in a dimly lit area) using his shadow walk to take the most heavily armored PC into the air of a room/courtyard nearby and dropping them. He has a fly speed so this seems an obvious tactic.

At that point sleep the pc he dropped and coupe de grace if necessary. Then cast touch of fatigue / vanish coming back and attack the least armored/most dangerous foe while invisible with his most powerful melee attacks, which should be claw/claw +7 for 1d8+3.

I would not think he uses any of his sorcerer spells unless he feels...

I would agree. His spells really aren't the best to use in a group combat, especially as a 3rd level sorcerer. Three 1st level spells don't go far and the 0's aren't much use overall either. His claw and knife attacks are more effective.

I like your idea for separating the party one by one to take them out. Something I will consider when I eventually run this module. I'll be scouring this forum for further ideas.


We've had a couple sessions since I last posted. The PCs managed to survive encountering Ratch Mamby. Ratch came close to killing one of them, so when he begged for mercy, the PCs just killed him instead.

They did spare Jenni Twotails and asked her to help them find the kitchen to help them find food for the survivors. They made their way inside the administrator's office. We ended the session there, and I suspect they will continue to area 15 and then D6 with the blood river haunt next.

The players are moving along quite well, but I am worried that they are going to start skipping areas, specifically the second garden. I am considering having Winter join up with them at the start of the next session.

I'd like to use her to encourage them to check out a few other area, such as the east garden and the steps down to the basement with the sleeping bhole.

I only have three players and they are still a session or two away from leveling up to third. I wanted to wait until they were third before having Winter join them, but for a party of three, I don't think she'll throw the APL off much.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
quistar wrote:

He does have three suggestion spells to toss off as spell-like abilities, though, which can be used to devastating effect.

"Your god has abandoned you. Your divine gifts and spells no longer function."

"Your arcane power is gone. You cannot use spells or magic items."

"Your strength of...

Those aren't really valid for suggestion, imo. Suggestion specifically says 'You influence the actions of the target creature by suggesting a course of activity'. None of your examples are a course of activity - they are simply statements of status.

My own regular group likes to use such suggestions as 'Go have a swim', particularly while located in a desert, or 'It's so hot, you should take your clothes off to cool down', particularly when dealing with humanoids in armour.


YogoZuno wrote:
quistar wrote:

He does have three suggestion spells to toss off as spell-like abilities, though, which can be used to devastating effect.

"Your god has abandoned you. Your divine gifts and spells no longer function."

"Your arcane power is gone. You cannot use spells or magic items."

"Your strength of...

Those aren't really valid for suggestion, imo. Suggestion specifically says 'You influence the actions of the target creature by suggesting a course of activity'. None of your examples are a course of activity - they are simply statements of status.

My own regular group likes to use such suggestions as 'Go have a swim', particularly while located in a desert, or 'It's so hot, you should take your clothes off to cool down', particularly when dealing with humanoids in armour.

Point. I need to reference rules on occasion. But those strategies can work by directing the PCs to the desired actions.

Btw, I've been reading through this forum and definitely reassessed the Tatterman. The two DC 17 Will saves definitely make a difference in paring down the party through running away fear effect. I'm still disappointed with most of the spell choices, but what he has to bring to the table is still enough to cause extreme pain.


Gawain the Sponge wrote:
Regarding the memory loss throughout the first book. How much of a backstory are the PCs creating. (I am in a group which backstory is almost as important as the current campaign.) They are very interested in this concept, and I am just confused on what they should know and not know about their characters and the situation.

The Player's Guide mentions that only the last few years of the PCs' lives are erased, but that doesn't have nearly the impact as total personal amnesia. Lots of knowledge, but NO memories or emotions to connect to them. I prefer that approach. Tabula rasa on personal memories. No names. No nothing. Freaky.

The approach I plan to take when I run this adventure path is to tell the players NOT to plan character backgrounds at all. Instead, as they begin to remember things from before, or learn about them from others, I'll let them reverse-engineer some of their history based on what they learn. It'll be a way to give them some control after taking it away in the beginning and it should produce interesting results...especially after they find out some of the nastier things they did while in Lowls' employ.


Doppleman wrote:

Hi, I would like some suggestions from you guys.

My party managed to dismantle the apostles in orpiment and they captured Zandalus(permanently blinded). Zandalus is restrained in the cell the players started the game, there is always 2 people watching him and they did their best to fortify the survivor camp.

Now, I'm wondering if I should make some kind of attack on the cells before the players decide to kill Zandalus. He's been sitting in the cell for two days, while the players were trying to get informations from him.

What do you think? Should I let my players end Zandalus and proceed to the next fight? I'm also thinking the Tatterman could have prepared an escape plan by speaking to people in their dreams, but I'm not sure what is best for this situation.

I'm a bit late to this party, but...I would just have Zandalus thrash his head into the cell wall until he dies, releasing the Tatterman to do as he will. He is loyal enough to do this if he has no other means of helping the cause.


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It's a bit weird the module gives absolutely no information on what to do with Campre Linweigh if he survives. He could know most of what Winter will know, though how he interacts with the gate guards is unclear.

Also there's line of effect to the first doppelganger, but how she reacts to being hit with attack spells/Kinetic Blast isn't mentioned. Likely stop what she's doing, open the cell (round 1), enter and attack (round 2) then full attack as possible (prob only to negative HP to torture as revenge.), but weird it's not mentioned at all. Also


There are too many variables to have "what ifs" for every NPC in this book. That's what the Gm is for. I made up my mind that I did not want Campre to survive and made sure he did not. The players need that time in the furnace room to get their heads around what is happening without having someone explain it all to them ala Basil Exposition.

Some other Gms might prefer to have an exposition dump there, but I think that would take away from the uncertainty and ease the feeling of dread needed to create a proper horror atmosphere.


I let my players decide how much of their memory they wanted missing at the start of the game. I had one player develop his entire backstory minus the last five years while another only came up with a name. The final player left everything blank, including her name.

They are slowly discovering more about themselves through dreams and clues.They're about to make it to the record room, so I am working up a prop list with their names and nationality at the very least. The rest of the information will have been redacted.


Yeah, but "NPC we bothered giving HP for doesn't die" and "good align PCs attack a torturer on sight" aren't exactly odd cases.


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Think of it as an opportunity for you to flex your mighty GM muscles and be creative!


Anyone have PCs try to climb the walls of the first courtyard, get on the roofs, and navigate the Asylum that way?

I'm going to be running this, and that would be MY first move...


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I considered that option, so I tried to pay attention to where the structure might be weakened. I even had Winter suggest it at one point, but they have remained inside. The players have a healthy fear of the yellow mist and whatever lurks within.


I figure the interior courtyard walls are hard to climb (it is an asylum after all—can’t have patients climbing out any time they want). Add in the rain and it gets even more difficult. Doable, but by the time they’ll feel confident in trying, they’ll probably be well into the building.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't recall many of the specifics, but yes, my group also wanted to climb the walls as soon as they found the first courtyard. I believe I discouraged them with the fog (they had already encountered the oozes at the front entrance), and a description indicating the top floor was collapsed.


Should the Tatterman's Fear Aura and Frightful Presence have durations on them? I've looked into both abilities and they usually say that the description should have a duration on them, or the duration is around 5d6. That's an average of 17-18 turns which just seems way too long for any encounter. My party stopped a few turns into the battle because one member had to leave and I hate missing people, so I've been looking into the Tatterman's abilities more. Two members failed their saving throws and are currently running (one of which is a psychic-blood sorcerer so he's kinda boned for this encounter). Should they be getting saves every turn? Or is there a duration?


This is a good question. I usually run it without saves and ongoing until the creature is out of sight or dead and resumes if the creature returns.


Now that I look even more into it, should the party even be affected by Frightful Presence? According to the rules for frightful presence, it only affects creatures who are a lower level than the creature. The Tatterman is level 3, as are the players. If that's the case, why is it even included?


Ekaj wrote:
Now that I look even more into it, should the party even be affected by Frightful Presence? According to the rules for frightful presence, it only affects creatures who are a lower level than the creature. The Tatterman is level 3, as are the players. If that's the case, why is it even included?
Frightful Presence wrote:
This ability affects only opponents with fewer Hit Dice or levels than the creature has.

The Tatterman has 7 hit dice. I think that's what you use to determine whether someone can be affected or not, not class levels.

Fear Aura wrote:
The aura can freeze an opponent (as in the case of a mummy's despair) or function like the fear spell.

If it's like fear, I think that is 1 round/level, which would be 7 rounds in this case (again, innate abilities go off of HD not class levels).

In the case of frightful presence, I think the duration defaults to 5d6 in the absence of an explicit different duration. Yes, that's a long time in a fight, especially to be panicked. The party may have to retreat after their panicked companions and try again later.


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Ok thanks, I've always gotten Hit Dice and levels mixed up. I might rework it a little bit just because I don't want half of my players to not have any fun in the battle because they're running the whole time, and my party isn't exactly the smartest when it comes to retreating (They fought Debis for about an hour real time before even thinking of running to find the knights) , possibly give them another save after a few rounds at a penalty to overcome it. They do have a Paladin so he's for sure fine the whole fight and I'm not super worried about them winning, but I want em to have at least a little fun.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Be aware, that as soon as a frightened or panicked character can no longer perceive the source of the fear, they can stop running. They won't be able to move closer, but they can hold position until the fear wears off.

Also, the Fear and Frightful Presence effects potentially have different durations. Fear would only be one round/level, while Frightful Presence is the longer 5d6, so it might be important WHICH save the party members fail. The Fear aura works at 60', and is constant, while the Frightful Presence works at only 30', and requires the Tatterman to attack.

Lastly, as mentioned elsewhere, the Tatterman actually doesn't do an enormous amount of damage...while potent, even half a party might well be able to hold him off for longer than you might expect.


Do you have the Horror Adventures supplement? There's a more graduated fear system in there, so players don't necessarily go from "fine" to "full-bore panic" with one bad roll.

I'm thinking of using this when my group starts this AP. Anyone have any experience with it to share?


You should also foreshadow his fear abilitys of the tattermann to alow the casters to prepare some countermesures. in my game the godess of the she-elf cleric liftet her panic so that she could safe her companions.

using horror adventures improved our gaming experience so much. i strongly advice you use the sanity system as well.


Somewhere it says a nightmare creature's frightful presence lasts 5d6 rounds, but I can't remember the source.


In the universal monster rules:
https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/rules-for-monsters/universal-monster-rule s


Doppleman wrote:
linkified stuff


My players managed to blend in with the cult pretty well

Recap :
by imitating the crazy stuff Junglan was shouting earlier about "Zandalus sees!" and the like. The tiefling almost ruined it for everyone, because he started to headbutt Dr.Elbourne when he first walked up through the crowd, thinking he might be Zandalus.

Fortunately for the party, the other players protested, and he immediately relented. They would have had to fight off the other culties and I had the mat pretty filled in with pawns.

They made their way through the kitchen and past the haunt. The three encounters with ghouls were an unexpected meat grinder and a welcome ramp up in the pacing. The collapsing wall trick caught them completely off-guard.

For the finale, they cut through Zandalus in a few rounds, so he wasn't exactly a cakewalk, but they were caught off guard when the Tatterman emerged a few rounds later. They were, of course, looting Zandalus and the room, as good player characters do.

Finale.:

Emerging from the smoke, the Tatterman five foot steps above their heads to take advantage of the higher ground +1 advantage.

The bloodmage failed one of her saves against the aura and presence and immediately started fleeing. The investigator, tiefling occultist and then Winter began taking shots at the thing. I had Winter prep two soothing words to help the PCs with conditions, so she helped the bloodrager shift down from frightened to staggered.

It took them a couple rounds to figure out the Tatterman had DR and regeneration. Then the investigator remembered the silversheen and immediately applied it to the bloodrager and occultist's big hammers, respectively.

The unfortunate thing was that the occultist was pretty banged up and went down in a couple more rounds. I played up the whole horror aspect by having the Tatterman whisper "Soon" through gritted teeth. Then, he leaned in to grasp the occultist by the horns, and his taunt became a gleeful "Now".

The Tatterman performed a coup de grace on the occultist by slitting his throat with his razor. Note: This was our only death of the first book, although we had several close calls. One time, the players were literally carrying the occultist and running into the chapel to have Winter heal him, with his damage hitting negative constitution in one more round.

Winter managed to score crits on the Tatterman with a light crossbow, twice. Note: I figured she'd grab a decent ranged weapon and added this to her gear. I had been playing up that before joining the group, she was continuously looking for ways out of the fog and running into monsters or misdirection.

The bloodrager dropped the Tatterman with a solid hit from her silvershen coated +1 Apocalypse Hammer. Winter immediately casts gentle repose on the dead tiefling as he was too far gone for her healing abilities at that point. I kept her occupied with this, so that she would not use her deathwatch on the Tatterman.

I know this is a cheat, but I did not want her to spoil the surprise of his return, when the Tatterman rose again as a Nightmare Creature and attacked the group once more. I switched pawns at this point from the Tatterman to the Nightmare Creature pawn from Bestiary 4 and it worked pretty well.

The PCs resume the fight and take the Tatterman down quickly at this point with the Bloodrager swinging with all her might. It was a good final encounter and I think it made for a good ending to an overall memorable and engaging module.

If a GM wants to extend the Tatterman encounter, or make it nasty, you can take advantage of his flying by having the Tatterman move away. He'll regenerate and can use his ranged abilities on the PCs as they scramble to keep up with him.

I ran it with the Tatterman just lurching forward and swinging with a mechanical, repetitive grace, almost like he was conducting a symphony with each swing and taking delight in taunting the PCs. I did add the claw attack as part of the full attack, as mentioned earlier in this thread.

I'd say that Wes did a stellar job writing In Search of Sanity and it should rank as one of the great modules of all time. I had a lot of fun running it and the players all enjoyed it.


I made one big change so far*.

I eliminated the survivors in the chapel, except for Winter Klaczka. I didn't want to have to track 22 NPCs and have a scene where I was acting out a bunch of different, conflicting people. My players are motivated enough to figure out what's going on, without needing to fetch firewood and whatnot for a couple dozen commoners. And since I use a "level when it's appropriate" system instead of XP, I don't have to worry about them doing enough minor quests.

I did put several bodies in the chapel with Winter and made it clear that, for whatever reason, that's the one place the dead aren't coming back or turning into doppelgangers.

This has streamlined things a lot. It's also ratcheted up the horror element. And emphasized Winter's badassery--she's survived this far--so the party won't be tempted to try to kill her, and will realize they can trust that at least she has skills, if nothing else. It lets me focus all my NPC-impersonating on a single character, who I'm playing as a dour, grim Pharasmin.

"So you're here because you can't remember why you're here? Sounds like a blessing. Who would want to remember this world? Even before it went mad, who would want to remember it?"

I also changed Winter to being a dreamthief changeling (w/Awakened Hag Heritage feat, so she never sleeps) and a Royal Accuser inquisitor. I made the doppelgangers in Briarstone aberrations instead of monstrous humanoids, so she can detect them at will--that lets her figure out that the PCs aren't doppelgangers. I don't think the Royal Accuser archetype was ready at the time this was written, but it felt like a thematically appropriate option.

For me and my group, this works better than having a whole bunch of NPCs. It does risk that if anyone dies, there's no clear replacement, but I figure there's plenty of places for a new amnesiac PC to be stashed. E.g., someone come to consciousness midway through climbing the roof, with the yellow fog pressing down. They slip and fall into the courtyard and that jars them out of the fugue state.

They did wind up needing her to save their hides when they got cocky and tried to take on Drs. Latchke and Oathday at the same time and refused to flee after it was obvious they were outclassed. She didn't do a lot of combat, but she did sneak down from the chapel and heal characters.

*Not because the module isn't great, but for both me as a GM and my group's play style.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Some interesting modifications, although, in the canon background, Winter wasn't actually a Royal Accuser. She was simply brought along with the real Royal Accuser to Thrushmoor.

Have you considered what this version of Winter will do after leaving Briarstone? It sounds like she'll be more interested in actively pursuing the fate of her the Accuser?


Possibly.

In The Thrushmoor Terror, she functions as a way get the PCs into the Sleepless Agency without being attacked for who they used to be. At any point, however, she could decide that the wiser course is to return to Caliphas with her report, leaving the PCs to fend for themselves. I'll see how it plays out.


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Did anyone's players figure out the Argus Wall?

Mine set fire to the wall, the door, the fungus, and the eye. Piled up everything flammable they'd looted, including smashed furniture and just burned it away.

I allowed it.

They also set fire to the Hungry Flesh. Then had a debate about whether to eat it rather than try to find the kitchens.

Two sessions and they're already descended to chronic pyromanism and cannibal urges.


Four words: Bloodrager with a greatsword.

Once it started growing back the party Knowledge fiend made the requisite Knowledge: Religion check to figure out how to destroy it.


quibblemuch wrote:
"Did anyone's players figure out the Argus Wall?"

My players tried several things, including hacking away at it and setting fire to it, before realizing it was a haunt via a Religion check. They then picked up on the clue of its question of "Who am I become?" and remembered that there was a big mirror in the laundry room, which of course worked. I vastly prefer the players figure stuff out rather than having a skill check provide all the answers (which means a lot of Paizo's haunts need a bit of reworking, since many of them require steps to cleanse that there is no way characters could know.)


RH wrote:
I vastly prefer the players figure stuff out rather than having a skill check provide all the answers (which means a lot of Paizo's haunts need a bit of reworking, since many of them require steps to cleanse that there is no way characters could know.)

Agree.

It's a weird mechanic that takes a lot away from the haunt.

"Horrifying, mysterious things are happening..."
"I roll a die and add +13 and now I know all about this completely unique thing and am in no way scared."
"Well there goes the mood."

;-)


On that note, (and with the caveat that this may not work with most groups), I've been being somewhat cavalier and quirky about the rules in this campaign. Not often. Just every now and then things don't work the way that long-time Pathfinder players would expect them to. They're willing to go with it and I set the expectation that this was a weird campaign up front, so it's working. The disorientation of not being able to lean on their PF rules expertise* has made them jumpy and I think everyone's having a good time with it.

We'll see how they feel after they start growing hungry tumors or extra eyes that cry ammonia during times of stress...

*That said, I've played with people who would flip out and grab the module out of my hands if they felt like there was the slightest deviation from the most player-advantageous reading of the rules. Know your table, I guess, is the principle.

Dark Archive

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quibblemuch wrote:

Did anyone's players figure out the Argus Wall?

Yes - you can read about it here

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

So the people Tatterman kills in dreams turn into ghouls or doppelgangers. I wasn't entirely clear why this didn't happen to the PCs after the initial scene?

Also, why are the PCs' weapons and armor in the furnace room? Were they carrying them around while they were patients at the asylum?

In fact I'm not entirely clear on what happened to the PCs ever since that first night the Tatterman emerged. I understand they were in the asylum's care as patients as admitted by Lowls, so I would assume they had been stripped of weapons and armor at that time, yes? And then, they spent a week as patients. Do they have memories of that week as patients? Or have they in fact suffered amnesia twice? Once during their service to Lowls, and then again a second amnesia during the opening scene?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

How have the rest of you handled shopping? It's kind of rough having to wait until level 4 before getting access to a proper shop. Especially in regards to selling/divesting excess loot. I'm having trouble justifying that Winter has 8000 cash on hand when the players want to sell X or Y.


Samy wrote:
So the people Tatterman kills in dreams turn into ghouls or doppelgangers. I wasn't entirely clear why this didn't happen to the PCs after the initial scene?

When the Tatterman kills people in their dreams, it unleashes who they "really are". That is, the ghouls and doppelgangers represent the dark true nature of the dreamers he killed in Briarstone (and I've suggested to my players that some of the other creatures are likewise transformed).

However, in the case of the PCs, killing them woke them from their fugue state, enabling them to begin to undo Lowls' theft of their memories and identity.

Quote:
Also, why are the PCs' weapons and armor in the furnace room? Were they carrying them around while they were patients at the asylum?

That is never explicitly spelled out. I decided it was down there because the doppelgangers were looting stuff and that was a convenient place for it. It had not been properly put into storage, because Lowls bypassed all the regular protocols, using his title and patronage to stuff the inconvenient former employees away in an asylum.

Quote:
In fact I'm not entirely clear on what happened to the PCs ever since that first night the Tatterman emerged. I understand they were in the asylum's care as patients as admitted by Lowls, so I would assume they had been stripped of weapons and armor at that time, yes? And then, they spent a week as patients. Do they have memories of that week as patients? Or have they in fact suffered amnesia twice? Once during their service to Lowls, and then again a second amnesia during the opening scene?

The fugue state, as I interpret it, includes an inability to form new memories (anterograde amnesia).

These are all good questions with open answers. I think that's so different GMs can interpret them differently, allowing for some creativity and different table-styles. For example, some GMs may want to give their players a few extra clues by having had them interact with the other patients during their brief stay. Others might want to heighten the mystery by having the other patients not know the PCs. The mysterious, not-quite-right nature of Briarstone Asylum also helps create an unnerving experience in which even simple questions don't have clear answers.

At least, that's my take.


Samy wrote:
How have the rest of you handled shopping? It's kind of rough having to wait until level 4 before getting access to a proper shop. Especially in regards to selling/divesting excess loot. I'm having trouble justifying that Winter has 8000 cash on hand when the players want to sell X or Y.

There is no shopping in the Briarstone phase of my campaign.

My players aren't motivated by loot or gaining wealth at this point. It's a horror adventure, and it really sucks the wind out of suspense and confusion to do book-keeping and economics. That's just our group, of course.

It makes the situation seem significantly more dire if players aren't able to count on exactly the right WBL resources at every moment (IMO, it doesn't actually make the game tougher if you plan right, but that's an argument for a different thread). So far, they've been good about using what they find and it has not been an issue.

I did make it clear before hand that it would be a long, long while before they could sell stuff or craft stuff or do any of the things one might do in a more civilized setting. That's really important. If players bring PCs who must have stuff or who rely on shopping to survive, they won't do very well. As long as they know that, they can prepare, and there are a LOT of options in the game for more self-sufficient characters.


One thing regarding loot that has been really fun. One of the PCs is an occultist. The object reading class ability has given me the chance to reveal (or outright create) Briarstone background. E.g., they find a pair of red boots trimmed with fur. Object reading them, the occultist sees the head nurse preening in front of the mirror, secretly enjoying fancy boots that her stern outward persona could never openly wear.

Every object they find therefore becomes a way of enriching the story, instead of being a number to be entered into a spreadsheet and sold at the earliest convenience.

And when the occultist tried to read his companions' belongings... he got the same vision of drowning in the desert every time.

It's a play-style I really, really like. It's not for everyone, but so far my players are digging it.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:
There is no shopping in the Briarstone phase of my campaign

Just a note on this point...both Book 1 and book 3 feature large portions where the players do not have easy access to shops or trading. Healing services and magic items are generally a long way away in both of these books. If you are nice, you might warn your players ahead of time.

Things are much better in later parts, but even Book 2 basically only has Winter locally for providing healing services, plus a level 7 alchemist. Anything more requires a trip to the capital.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
quibblemuch wrote:
Samy wrote:
So the people Tatterman kills in dreams turn into ghouls or doppelgangers. I wasn't entirely clear why this didn't happen to the PCs after the initial scene?
When the Tatterman kills people in their dreams, it unleashes who they "really are".

Interesting. So did anyone at Briarstone turn into a good creature when the Tatterman killed them, like an angel or something? Seems odd that everyone's "really are" is a monster of some kind.


The Tatterman Can
a creepy song sung by youngster Brenton Lieklan

Who can strip your skin off?
Weave it in a loom?
Sprinkle it with guts and teeth
and shreds of doom?
The Tatterman can...
The Tatterman can
'cause he knows the Yellow Sign
and where Carcosa is...

Who can see your true self?
Rip it off your bones?
Leave it there for all to see
with shudders and with moans?
The Tatterman can...
The Tatterman can
'cause he knows the Yellow Sign
and where Carcosa is...


quibblemuch wrote:

I made one big change so far*.

I eliminated the survivors in the chapel, except for Winter Klaczka. I didn't want to have to track 22 NPCs and have a scene where I was acting out a bunch of different, conflicting people. My players are motivated enough to figure out what's going on, without needing to fetch firewood and whatnot for a couple dozen commoners. And since I use a "level when it's appropriate" system instead of XP, I don't have to worry about them doing enough minor quests.

I did put several bodies in the chapel with Winter and made it clear that, for whatever reason, that's the one place the dead aren't coming back or turning into doppelgangers.

This has streamlined things a lot. It's also ratcheted up the horror element. And emphasized Winter's badassery--she's survived this far--so the party won't be tempted to try to kill her, and will realize they can trust that at least she has skills, if nothing else. It lets me focus all my NPC-impersonating on a single character, who I'm playing as a dour, grim Pharasmin.

"So you're here because you can't remember why you're here? Sounds like a blessing. Who would want to remember this world? Even before it went mad, who would want to remember it?"

I really, really like this idea and very much wish that I had seen this post before hitting that area with my group. I feel like the table would have really reacted to that!


The only part that's slightly tricky is Brenton doesn't wind up being in the chapel to give his lamp so they can get past Debis (without fighting the attic whisperer) and into the cult area. I fixed that by putting the lamp in a makeshift furniture fort in the Visitor Area. As long as it's on the same side as they start out, it doesn't really matter where you put it.


So what happens to all of the other monsters and haunts in Briarstone when Zandalus & the Tatterman are killed and the fog dissipates? The Concluding the Adventure section doesn't say... how did other GMs handle this?

My players have gone straight to Zandalus and completely ignored the ghoul-wing and courtyards. I'd rather not have them defeat the Tatterman and then have to spend a session or two doing what would amount to fairly tedious mop-up work (from a dramatic perspective--imagine if, after the ring goes into Mount Doom, the Lord of the Rings movies spent another 2 hours chasing down every last orc in Middle Earth).

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