In Search of Sanity (GM Reference)


Strange Aeons

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The purpose of this thread is to clarify questions arising in this adventure. This is a SPOILER filled zone, do not venture further if you do not wish the adventure to be spoiled for you, and spoiler tags are not required when posting here.

This thread is a GM Reference thread for Part 1 of the Strange Aeons Adventure Path. Links for the individual threads for each part are as follows:


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I want to be sure I'm handling these Haunts correctly. What are the official rules to handle Haunt destruction in this AP? Is it Knowledge (Religion) DC15+CR? Most of these have very specific conditions and it doesn't seem that anything less than implementing the research rules can give a clue, but I suppose that applies to any Haunt.

Either way I was thinking of using Dreams to hold clues to Haunt destruction. I know that after the first night outside the safe area my players are going to make sure they rest in safety in the future, but that also means they don't get clues to destroy or suppress some of these Haunts.

Seems thematic, that they must risk sanity (and security) for knowledge.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The book refers to Briarstone as a 'hospice' several times. Was this a typo for 'hospital'? Because I'm reasonably certain a hospice refers specifically to a place providing end-of-life care and comfort for those suffering terminal illnesses.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Webster defines hospice as:

Quote:
a facility or program designed to provide a caring environment for meeting the physical and emotional needs of the terminally ill

In this case, teminally ill likely extends to those who are mentally incapable of functioning by themselves without dying, just as we see modern Hospice facilities for those who can't (usually only) physically stay alive on their own merits. A quick wikipedia sees real world Hospices were created after the Crusades for those "incurably ill" which certainly hits the theme of an asylum.


Revan wrote:
The book refers to Briarstone as a 'hospice' several times. Was this a typo for 'hospital'? Because I'm reasonably certain a hospice refers specifically to a place providing end-of-life care and comfort for those suffering terminal illnesses.

Well for a lot of these people, it is end of life...


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Fooma wrote:

I want to be sure I'm handling these Haunts correctly. What are the official rules to handle Haunt destruction in this AP? Is it Knowledge (Religion) DC15+CR? Most of these have very specific conditions and it doesn't seem that anything less than implementing the research rules can give a clue, but I suppose that applies to any Haunt.

Either way I was thinking of using Dreams to hold clues to Haunt destruction. I know that after the first night outside the safe area my players are going to make sure they rest in safety in the future, but that also means they don't get clues to destroy or suppress some of these Haunts.

Seems thematic, that they must risk sanity (and security) for knowledge.

This seems like a fun way to handle the haunts, you should definitely report back with how it goes.


So how many extra random encounters do you all expect to put in here? I've set up my map (my group plays online with Maptools) and created what I believe to be enough NPC tokens for the first session, but given that a lot of encounters involve creatures already encountered (lots of ghouls) it's hard to gauge just how much combat they'll be getting in, and how much of their time it will occupy.


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Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

I will be adding Sanity to this campaign which should be fun. Some minor tweaks I will be adding is making the safe rest area cure 1 point of sanity damage a night, and sleeping in a non safe area deals 1 point of sanity damage. I have also adjusted the mad scientist numbers a tad bit to make them less damning in the beginning when there is little to no way to heal sanity (1d4 for extract and 1d6 for mutagen, as opposed to 1d6 and 1d8.) I will definitely report how it goes.


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Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Captain Battletoad wrote:
So how many extra random encounters do you all expect to put in here? I've set up my map (my group plays online with Maptools) and created what I believe to be enough NPC tokens for the first session, but given that a lot of encounters involve creatures already encountered (lots of ghouls) it's hard to gauge just how much combat they'll be getting in, and how much of their time it will occupy.

I tend to put extra encounters in when they miss xp. If the situation calls for a random encounter to boost moral then I do so then. It's really a fluid art. Sometimes I never use them, sometimes I use them a lot. If we are near the end of the session and the group is like 100 xp away from level I just throw them something fun so they can level between sessions.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
archmagi1 wrote:

Webster defines hospice as:

Quote:
a facility or program designed to provide a caring environment for meeting the physical and emotional needs of the terminally ill
In this case, teminally ill likely extends to those who are mentally incapable of functioning by themselves without dying, just as we see modern Hospice facilities for those who can't (usually only) physically stay alive on their own merits. A quick wikipedia sees real world Hospices were created after the Crusades for those "incurably ill" which certainly hits the theme of an asylum.

Yeah, but the adventure also stresses that Briarstone actually had a really good track record of curing its patients, all told, whereas hospices start from the assumption that there's not really a way to treat their patients anymore.


John Ryan 783 wrote:
I will be adding Sanity to this campaign which should be fun. Some minor tweaks I will be adding is making the safe rest area cure 1 point of sanity damage a night, and sleeping in a non safe area deals 1 point of sanity damage.

I am 100% going to steal that, and if my players hate it, I'm blaming you. :)


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Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Captain Battletoad wrote:
John Ryan 783 wrote:
I will be adding Sanity to this campaign which should be fun. Some minor tweaks I will be adding is making the safe rest area cure 1 point of sanity damage a night, and sleeping in a non safe area deals 1 point of sanity damage.
I am 100% going to steal that, and if my players hate it, I'm blaming you. :)

It should hopefully be small enough that it will never trigger a madness, but it will add to the sense of tension. Removing madness in the safe area is a way to enable my player's Mad Scientist, who uses heavy sanity damage on itself, and until level 3 or 4 the party won't have any way of curing it otherwise.

So far the Party is, a Human Wild Rager Barbarian who is afraid to rage, a Tiefling Mad Scientist Alchemist, and a Changeling Visionary Shaman with the Ancestor spirit and a Figment Familiar. The fourth player is still trying to decide what to make. We will hopefully play session 1 this weekend or the weekend after.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Revan wrote:
The book refers to Briarstone as a 'hospice' several times. Was this a typo for 'hospital'? Because I'm reasonably certain a hospice refers specifically to a place providing end-of-life care and comfort for those suffering terminal illnesses.

The AP uses a bunch of terms interchangeably, even though they aren't: Hospice, hospital, sanatorium and asylum are all different institutions. I think it was a writing choice to use these different terms, instead of having to use every time asylum.


Is anybody here running this online? I'm trying to decide if I should make a quick map for the opening with Tatterman or if I should just RP it and send them an image of what they see when he emerges from the mist. Also, how are you guys doing your dream sequences? It should be pretty simple online since I can just bring each individual into a separate channel with me one at a time while I tell them about their dream, but I can't decide if the dreams should be more interactive than they sound in the module (they seem kind of "sit back and enjoy the ride"-like as opposed to giving the PCs something to do during their dreams).


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Captain Battletoad wrote:
Is anybody here running this online? I'm trying to decide if I should make a quick map for the opening with Tatterman or if I should just RP it and send them an image of what they see when he emerges from the mist. Also, how are you guys doing your dream sequences? It should be pretty simple online since I can just bring each individual into a separate channel with me one at a time while I tell them about their dream, but I can't decide if the dreams should be more interactive than they sound in the module (they seem kind of "sit back and enjoy the ride"-like as opposed to giving the PCs something to do during their dreams).

I am running on Roll 20, I plan on having the dream be just verbal, and if they pass the perception checks I will share a premade image with the blood on the walls, growing as each pc dies. The final thing they will see is a close up of the Tatterman. When they wake up I will reveal the first map, which will be the cell area. The freeform non map will give them more room to do stuff, and it will be a bit more creepy.


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That's probably what I'm going to go with.

Additionally, I'm thinking about having the main option for determining haunt weaknesses be discovered through dreams, specifically whichever of the players happens to have The Observer dream (determined by dice roll per player, with maybe some hand waving if none of them get it), and having the ancient Keleshite woman deliver the clue in moderately easy riddle form. For example, with the Argus Wall, maybe have Tolman tell the players not to attack the wall since it'll upset the children, and when they ask him if he has any ideas on how to get rid of it, have him say "I don't know, maybe sleep on it." Then during the dream for one of the PCs, have the old woman say:

"The eye is loyal, strong, and true
But made weak by things, visible only to you.

So since the only thing that the eye can't see is itself, that might point the PCs towards finding a mirror or some way to reflect its image. I'm thinking about doing that with the rest of the haunts in Briarstone as an option as well, since it would give my PCs a good reason to sleep beyond recovering HP and spells/day.


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For the Taxidermic Wings haunt:

Winged wailing whisks your weight
Fight the fowl to forgo that fate

This will all be delivered verbally, with no repeats and no text. Since it's a dream, it should be fairly vague and it will be up to the player to record and interpret the dream. In this case, that will possibly cause the PCs to misinterpret "fowl" as "foul" which is fine by me.


So on Page 27 I think (reading pdf), for room C4 with the bird haunt, the treasure seems.... out of place to put it mildly since it mentions cultists and their gear. I imagine that this is an error and that this will be updated?

Paizo Employee Developer

Wendy and Abigail wrote:
So on Page 27 I think (reading pdf), for room C4 with the bird haunt, the treasure seems.... out of place to put it mildly since it mentions cultists and their gear. I imagine that this is an error and that this will be updated?

I don't understand your question. The gear that you find is on the bodies that are in the room.

Order of the Amber Die

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Okay GMs, here is something you'll each want to decide how to adjust for:

Zandalus is listed as having a phrenic pool of 3; however, it should actually be 0. He has the abomination discipline, which uses his Charisma instead of Wisdom. Since he is the part of the final encounter and is a psychic, you'll likely want him to have some kind of phrenic pool. Perhaps switching his Wisdom and Charisma scores is the easiest solution.

Also, his detect thoughts should have a DC of 14, not 10.


Adam Daigle wrote:
Wendy and Abigail wrote:
So on Page 27 I think (reading pdf), for room C4 with the bird haunt, the treasure seems.... out of place to put it mildly since it mentions cultists and their gear. I imagine that this is an error and that this will be updated?
I don't understand your question. The gear that you find is on the bodies that are in the room.

Whoops, that was my bad I guess I somehow skipped over that paragraph? Sorry about that.


The Player's Guide states that the PCs are in a fugue state. In the Horror Adventures book the lesser madness Fugue has some penalties with it. Should the PCs start with this madness if we're using the Sanity & Madness system?

Paizo Employee Developer

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DMatt wrote:
The Player's Guide states that the PCs are in a fugue state. In the Horror Adventures book the lesser madness Fugue has some penalties with it. Should the PCs start with this madness if we're using the Sanity & Madness system?

What you want to do with the sanity and madness system is up to you and your group, but I wanted to drop in and clarify that the fugue state that the PCs are in is a unique condition and is not meant to be the same madness from Horror Adventures.

Personally, I wouldn't throw too many negatives at the PCs in the first adventure. There are things that are hard enough to deal with in that adventure that the PCs kinda need whatever they can get to help out.


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
DMatt wrote:
The Player's Guide states that the PCs are in a fugue state. In the Horror Adventures book the lesser madness Fugue has some penalties with it. Should the PCs start with this madness if we're using the Sanity & Madness system?

What you want to do with the sanity and madness system is up to you and your group, but I wanted to drop in and clarify that the fugue state that the PCs are in is a unique condition and is not meant to be the same madness from Horror Adventures.

Personally, I wouldn't throw too many negatives at the PCs in the first adventure. There are things that are hard enough to deal with in that adventure that the PCs kinda need whatever they can get to help out.

I agree, early levels are so deadly, but my group really wants sanity. I have been going through all the rules and tweaking them a bit, lowering the amount of sanity damage they can take, and providing a source of healing for low levels (The safe sleeping area).I plan on increasing it to normal levels later on with the hand wave of "Well, your minds were still adjusting so things shocked you less, now that you are stable you are more vulnerable" or something like that. I also increased it to 20 pt buy so they could round out their mental stats for better sanity scores.

On an unrelated note, what would you say is your favorite encounter in the book?

Paizo Employee Developer

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John Ryan 783 wrote:
On an unrelated note, what would you say is your favorite encounter in the book?

Man, that's tough. Wes put soooo many messed up, freaky encounters in this one. I really like the opening scene, and wish I could the faces of players when they experience it.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I feel like I am missing something here.

The characters start ready to go, and most likely will have a scrape or two from the rats and zoog before coming across the survivor encampment.

Who wont let them in. Unless they prove themselves by dispatching...

3 Doppelgangers. At 1st level???

AC 18, 26 HP for 2 of them and a leveled one with spells and more hp.

This seems unlikely.

Again, what am I missing?


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Veldan Rath wrote:

I feel like I am missing something here.

The characters start ready to go, and most likely will have a scrape or two from the rats and zoog before coming across the survivor encampment.

Who wont let them in. Unless they prove themselves by dispatching...

3 Doppelgangers. At 1st level???

AC 18, 26 HP for 2 of them and a leveled one with spells and more hp.

This seems unlikely.

Again, what am I missing?

They don't have to do it all in one day, so they can sleep outside of the chapel at least once, forcing them to experience nightmares.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I may be a bit of a hardass, but where could they safely sleep? There is one dopple running around that is aware of their escape (where does she eventually go anyway?)who would let the other two in on the escape. There aren't a lot of places to hide.

Also, back to my main point, one of these baddies is a real tough cookie for a 1st level group.


Veldan Rath wrote:

I may be a bit of a hardass, but where could they safely sleep? There is one dopple running around that is aware of their escape (where does she eventually go anyway?)who would let the other two in on the escape. There aren't a lot of places to hide.

Also, back to my main point, one of these baddies is a real tough cookie for a 1st level group.

They could sleep down in the furnace with a rotating shift to keep watch or something. Plus, the module does say that you can talk your way into the chapel before killing the doppelgangers, you just won't be able to progress with Winter until you do.

Order of the Amber Die

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Veldan Rath wrote:

I feel like I am missing something here.

The characters start ready to go, and most likely will have a scrape or two from the rats and zoog before coming across the survivor encampment.

Who wont let them in. Unless they prove themselves by dispatching...

3 Doppelgangers. At 1st level???

AC 18, 26 HP for 2 of them and a leveled one with spells and more hp.

This seems unlikely.

Again, what am I missing?

Great point, but the easiest solution is right in front of them. They can just walk north from the barricade into B11, grab the 3 dead doppelganger bodies there (removing any evidence that the guards killed them), and drag them back to the barricade. Done! You might want to make it a bit harder on them by having York question them at the barricade about how they got those bodies so fast, etc., which would just allow your bluff/diplomacy character a chance to shine.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Dang, missed that.


The biggest question for me is honestly how that viol got there of all places. I wonder if there's any special if you keep it with you through the last book.


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

So, our party is: Half-Orc Wild Rager Barbarian, Tiefling Mad Scientist Alchemist, Changeling Visionary Shaman with the Ancestors spirit, and a Human Elder Mythos Wizard. We are using sanity, and Horror rules.

So, we ran our first session, it was a short one though. Player's loved the dream sequence, and they managed to scare off the good Doppleganger. The sent a familiar up into the Boiler Room , which agrod the Zoog and Dire rats, we use the Paizo crit hit and fumble decks, and the Zoog nat 1'd and hit itself so it was bleeding with no way to heal itself. The familiar fled back down the shoot, and they plugged the hole with some rubble and a table. They then went upstairs and found the guards and York who told them to kill some Doppelgangers, that is unfortunately where we had to stop.

For the sanity rolls I had the PCs roll a save when Scaen murdered Campre since it mentions that it's brutal and violent. Two failed, the Wizard took 3 damage which doesn't give an insanity, and the Barbarian took 4 damage giving him a Delusion. I gave him the delusion that taking keys from somebody will inevitably lead to someone's death. Fun, doesn't really hurt the party.

Feedback has been great so far, they loved what little we played and cannot wait until next week.


So the nightgaunt in the large courtyard seems... Maybe too dangerous for 2nd level. It attacks immediately when the PCs go outside and has a +17 grapple check. I don't envision a way I don't immediately grab someone and then next round just fly 80 feet up and drop for a kill. At best, the rest of the party get an attack and maybe an attack of opportunity, and the grabbed player gets a single chance to escape. Should I just keep the thing grounded until it reaches a certain HP?

There just isn't even really a chance to escape from it and find another path.

Edit: Also, how does Ratch react if Genny Two-Tail from the library is accompanying the PCs, and how does Genny react? Does she stay out of it, join Ratch if an opportunity arrises to attack?

Order of the Amber Die

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Alec Keeler wrote:

So the nightgaunt in the large courtyard seems... Maybe too dangerous for 2nd level. It attacks immediately when the PCs go outside and has a +17 grapple check. I don't envision a way I don't immediately grab someone and then next round just fly 80 feet up and drop for a kill. At best, the rest of the party get an attack and maybe an attack of opportunity, and the grabbed player gets a single chance to escape. Should I just keep the thing grounded until it reaches a certain HP?

There just isn't even really a chance to escape from it and find another path.

Edit: Also, how does Ratch react if Genny Two-Tail from the library is accompanying the PCs, and how does Genny react? Does she stay out of it, join Ratch if an opportunity arrises to attack?

Agreed, the Nightgaunt does appear to be a very tough encounter; however, there are a few things to consider that just might save a character's life. Your party should get one last opportunity for ranged attacks even after they get some melee chances on round one when the grapple is initiated. When the Nightgaunt uses a standard action to maintain the grapple, it can then move at its fly speed of 40ft (feature of Nightgaunt); however, upward flight is done at half speed, so that should leave it at elevation 20ft or at best 25ft in the air. The author notes that the fog begins at a height of 20ft, but fog rules are such that the first square is 20% concealment (50% for each square deeper). The Nightgaunt's AC will be lower because it is grappling, so even thrown daggers at -4 for range could still land home, while arrows and crossbows should tag with efficiency--no time to stow weapons here, veteran PCs will know to drop what is in their hands, draw, and fire. If any of these ranged attacks hit, the Nightgaunt has to make a Fly check at DC 10 or lose 10ft. of altitude (fails on a 1 or 2, but we're already scraping here). Assuming they miss, even with a +17 grapple against the frailest-looking character (assuming the PC is not nauseated every single round) that PC should get one chance at to break out and drop at elevation 25ft., one chance at elevation 45ft., and another at elevation 65ft. 6d6 is a ton of damage at this level, but it may leave a PC at negative hp and alive. Higher than 60ft and that's most likely all she wrote. One last thing to consider though, is what might break the fall. There are a good number of trees in the courtyard, so perhaps they might reduce falling damage. Maybe assign sections of the courtyard to a d12 roll (cause d12s are awesome) and that is where the damaged Nightgaunt decides to drop the character. Very resourceful players with enough hp to take a big hit might even spread out, look up at the fog around them, and ready an action to run under a falling character to try and break their fall somewhat. These same characters might instead opt to ready a channel energy or healing spell in the case that they are close enough to the dropping PC to reach out and interrupt the fall with a boost to hp (probably what the Nightgaunt did on initial hit). Every point counts.

Still, I do think you are right that in a decent number of cases, PC death may occur here. What better way to go out than as the module cover depicts? :)


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

Don't forget that its storming, flying and ranged attacks take a penalty. Also, is the yellow fog in the sky? If so then the enemy might avoid it as well.


Thanks, Amber Die Dude. I had not realized upward flight was at half speed, so that definitely helps out. I think the idea with trees is also a good one to at least allow a reasonable opportunity to come out of it alive if all else fails. At least until the thing comes back for another victim. I will definitely us a d12. I was just thinking earlier about how rarely they are used...

Order of the Amber Die

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Alec Keeler wrote:
Thanks, Amber Die Dude. I had not realized upward flight was at half speed, so that definitely helps out. I think the idea with trees is also a good one to at least allow a reasonable opportunity to come out of it alive if all else fails. At least until the thing comes back for another victim. I will definitely us a d12. I was just thinking earlier about how rarely they are used...

Glad that's of some use. As John mentioned too, most of the time it will be raining something out there, and the winds can get crazy too.

How about this one? The Nightgaunt's light load according to its strength is 100lbs or less. If the "frailest-looking character" is over 100lbs, then the Nightgaunt's speed is reduced to only 15ft. upward in any given round.

Order of the Amber Die

Also relevant to carrying capacity, Winter Klaczka's speed should be listed as 20ft, not 30. With STR 8, her light load is 26lbs.


Were the developers trying to invoke the survival horror genre because this was very similar to The Evil Within with a touch of Resident Evil.

I loved it.


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I haven't read it yet, but does it say that the nightgaunt will drop people like that? Hearing that there is a nightgaunt in the mix I was thinking that it is more likely to put a PC someplace precarious than just outright drop them. Somewhere say, clutching an iron grate over the window where they can be terrified, but not immediately in danger.

Until it becomes clear that the grate isn't a load bearing structure and the PCs have to do something to break his fall before he fails a climb check in all the slick rain.

That sort of thing.


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Order of the Amber Die wrote:
Alec Keeler wrote:
Thanks, Amber Die Dude. I had not realized upward flight was at half speed, so that definitely helps out. I think the idea with trees is also a good one to at least allow a reasonable opportunity to come out of it alive if all else fails. At least until the thing comes back for another victim. I will definitely us a d12. I was just thinking earlier about how rarely they are used...

Glad that's of some use. As John mentioned too, most of the time it will be raining something out there, and the winds can get crazy too.

How about this one? The Nightgaunt's light load according to its strength is 100lbs or less. If the "frailest-looking character" is over 100lbs, then the Nightgaunt's speed is reduced to only 15ft. upward in any given round.

The Nightgaunt has the "Clutches" ability, which enables it to carry victims at full speed when flying, but seeing that it's a Nightgaunt it wouldn't necessarily just drop and kill its prey as it feeds on emotions. It would probably fly around and tickle the victim for a while then dropping him down into the fog to fend for himself.

If the Nightgaunt was able to kidnap one of my players I was maybe thinking of having that player come back as a doppleganger later on, allowing the player to play as the doppleganger for a while(just letting him use the stats of his normal character plus the doppleganger abilities) before his real character would be found somewhere in the asylum maybe babbling to himself about the horrors he saw out in the fog. The characters reappearance would be left unexplained.


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.


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Order of the Amber Die wrote:
Veldan Rath wrote:

I feel like I am missing something here.

The characters start ready to go, and most likely will have a scrape or two from the rats and zoog before coming across the survivor encampment.

Who wont let them in. Unless they prove themselves by dispatching...

3 Doppelgangers. At 1st level???

AC 18, 26 HP for 2 of them and a leveled one with spells and more hp.

This seems unlikely.

Again, what am I missing?

Great point, but the easiest solution is right in front of them. They can just walk north from the barricade into B11, grab the 3 dead doppelganger bodies there (removing any evidence that the guards killed them), and drag them back to the barricade. Done! You might want to make it a bit harder on them by having York question them at the barricade about how they got those bodies so fast, etc., which would just allow your bluff/diplomacy character a chance to shine.

I ran my group through the dopplegangers last night and they can be nasty, but doable if the players can get the dopplegangers isolated. I have 3 PCs at a 30 "point buy" (they still rolled but min was 25 point buy). For Scaen, I had rolled a 4 for the number of rounds she would be distracted, and my PCs had decided to use this time to escape and grab weapons from the table, moving to flank her for advantage. One of the players ran off to find their weapons and thankfully ran right into the direction of the furnace, and then they were able to make quick work of the doppleganger (lucky rolls helped too). My players also employed combat manuevers such as trip to help give them an advantage, 20 CMD is no joke, but I gave them bonuses for being clever.

The doppleganger they really struggled with was Latchke, who is also in B11. My PCs didn't think that using these doppleganger bodies would actually convince York, and at this point were mostly at full health, so they just walked on through. He did his disguise and reached out to trip on the PCs, and then 100 to 0'd the two melee. Since I had Latchke remain prone, wanting to trip the PCs, it made the encounter slightly easier despite him still hitting like a truck. They don't have a dedicated healer, so they did need to go back to Winter after this, which since they had produced 2 of the 3 corpses, I had York escort Winter to B3 to channel, which got them all back up to snuff for Oathsday.

Oathsday was definitely doable, they had tried to save Juglan, so she had time to set up her silent image and shapeshift. It took them a while to notice something wasn't right but I had her make some dumb mistakes for both PCs and players to be like "wait...." Looking back I was reading the wrong bluff skill, so that might have proven difficult, but using the dagger over her claws helps cut back some of the damage. Since they realized on the second ghoul they could feed him to get him to talk, they took down the corpse the other ghoul was eating and tossed it in, and the ghoul even mentioned "I still smell her up there." Since there are bodies all around it didn't give Oathsday away right then, but definitely kept the PCs on their toes.

Dark Archive

Wendy and Abigail wrote:
Order of the Amber Die wrote:
Veldan Rath wrote:

I feel like I am missing something here.

The characters start ready to go, and most likely will have a scrape or two from the rats and zoog before coming across the survivor encampment.

Who wont let them in. Unless they prove themselves by dispatching...

3 Doppelgangers. At 1st level???

AC 18, 26 HP for 2 of them and a leveled one with spells and more hp.

This seems unlikely.

Again, what am I missing?

Great point, but the easiest solution is right in front of them. They can just walk north from the barricade into B11, grab the 3 dead doppelganger bodies there (removing any evidence that the guards killed them), and drag them back to the barricade. Done! You might want to make it a bit harder on them by having York question them at the barricade about how they got those bodies so fast, etc., which would just allow your bluff/diplomacy character a chance to shine.

I ran my group through the dopplegangers last night and they can be nasty, but doable if the players can get the dopplegangers isolated. I have 3 PCs at a 30 "point buy" (they still rolled but min was 25 point buy). For Scaen, I had rolled a 4 for the number of rounds she would be distracted, and my PCs had decided to use this time to escape and grab weapons from the table, moving to flank her for advantage. One of the players ran off to find their weapons and thankfully ran right into the direction of the furnace, and then they were able to make quick work of the doppleganger (lucky rolls helped too). My players also employed combat manuevers such as trip to help give them an advantage, 20 CMD is no joke, but I gave them bonuses for being clever.

The doppleganger they really struggled with was Latchke, who is also in B11. My PCs didn't think that using these doppleganger bodies would actually convince York, and at this point were mostly at full health, so they just walked on through. He did his disguise and reached out to trip on the PCs, and...

Does anybody ever die in your games? ;-)


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.


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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) ?

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.

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 confident he can do so while not taking damage. Why use 2 rounds to lullaby + sleep which will only hit one PC when a sleeping opponent can be woken with a single standard action by another? Hypnotism is slightly better but at best only takes out 2 foes - who at level 3 likely have each have at least a 60% chance to resist his spells given their preparations for this AP as it does not synergize with lullaby.

Is there some reason he would not have the SQ: bloodline arcana for dreamspun? I get the sorcerer class is done for flavor, but it's weakened him significantly already to skip on what he should have.

Anything I missed? Any explanation on the melee statistics?

Edited to add:

The Oathsday encounter specifies she changes appearance into a human in a simple dress. If doppleganger's alter self functions as the spell, how can she also change clothing? This would be a factor for the BBEG as if he kills one of the PC's, changing his face to match would do him no good with no armor and my players know very well that it takes a very long time to don armor. If dopplegangers can simulate a clothing or armor the bbeg could actually make use of his perfect copy ability after shadow walking.

Order of the Amber Die

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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!


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. ;-)

Small Hell's Rebels Spoiler:
Nox from Hell's Rebels book 1 literally 80% to Negative Con in 1 blow on the team's tank.

Paizo Employee Developer

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The question of random encounter frequency came up at Gen Con, and I'm only now in the office to address it, so I wanted to take the opportunity to do so in case other GMs wonder how often to throw random encounters at their players in this adventure.

Because the adventure takes place in a relatively constrained area, and so much of the adventure is based on setting the mood and building tension, I recommend using random encounters sparingly, as they can easily take a party out of the story unless worked in seamlessly to the ongoing plot. Feel free to pick something from the Briarstone Asylum Encounters table on page 81 when the party becomes too comfortable or the story starts to drag, but otherwise, let the adventure present threats as written. If you do add a random encounter, consider using one that makes sense for the part of the asylum the PCs are currently exploring rather than one that might be more appropriate elsewhere in the adventure.

Additionally, the supernatural weather described in the Bestiary introduction makes for great encounters that aren't necessarily combat but can help increase the weird factor of the adventure. As long as it's appropriate to do so, I encourage GMs to use those effects over a random encounter during the adventure.

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