Arclord's Envy player feedback (some spoilers)

Pathfinder Society Scenario Feedback

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I've already filled out the survey, but it didn't have any free-form fields to talk about nuances of any of my answers so I wanted to post here.

I ran a custom Half-Elf Fey Sorceror, fighter dedication multiclass, with Magical Striker, coupled with all the speed boosts I could find (Half-Elf (speed option), fleet, and nimble. Got me up to a 40' strike, pre-armor (which knocked it down to 35). Was trying to see how "magus-esq" I could be. As far as builds go it was reasonably effective. Managed to crit-fail someone with hideous laughter which was fun. With a haste buff up, I was able to commonly pull off the stride, cast, strike (with an +2 weapon for the strike due to Magical Striker). Was a little glass canon-y, low HP and low AC (I think didn't compare to the table at large) at 58 and 24 respectively IIRC. Its not really spell strike or spell combat. and probably harder to pull off reliable, but it was fun. And triple moving at 35' was ground covering when needed. I still saw some tendency for combatants to simply stand still and swing -- in my case since I wanted to cast & strike to use the features of the build -- in range combatants case since they know there's few AoOs so they don't try to back away as much. People _are_ more mobile, but it seems the trade-offs have often been against it (repeated in the three playtest events I've played in (House of Ekmundi, the ~2 hour thing at Origins, and now Arclords.)

The survey itself seemed to focus mainly on the "generic" (was it fun, did anyone run out of resonance, did anyone reach zero hp) and on the "investigation" aspect. Its the investigation aspect I wanted to provide more details:

The investigation felt both railroady and opaque at the same time. I don't know if we were failing rolls, or suceeding (our roles were average to low, I think). But it didn't feel like there was enough to find any the arclords workshop, or the merchant. Things just proceeded, we got a clue, we moved on. I felt like the GM was probably giving us stuff we didn't earn after we flailed around a bit.

The encounter with the large golem was interesting, I like that it appears to setup an inventive problem solving opportunity. Not quite happy with how it played out, again it felt a little railroaded to a solution... Not sure if that was the GM or the scenario as written, or just our table being less inventive. But that's all on the content, not the playtest rules and I don't think? was influences by how the skill checks/diplomatic interactions were handled before (which were rules oriented).

The survey also asked about "did you suspect/accuse" the wrong one. We arrived at the party/event still a little unsure. But had a sucessful stealth/sense motive combo that made us zero in on the correct one. Though given that he basically attacked us the second we entered the garden, I feel even if we had wanted to talk to both first, our hands would have been forced.

In summary, I was happy with the combat, happy with my first attempt at character building. I'm ambivalent on how the investigation played out... but will need to read the scenario myself now to see what is GM related, what is scenario related, and what was system related. I know the blog post on the PFS playtest side of things indicated multiple versions of investigation/culture-type checks were being playtested in these scenarios.

We just did this scenario at Gen Con. I used the iconic pre-gen Amiri (barbarian). I didn't have the opportunity to expend Resonance Points at all (not through GM or scenario error, just the circumstances in which the items I had would apply did not occur), so I can't speak for that. Mechanically, there were a few "glitches."

Non-lethal damage: does this work like it does in Starfinder, in which it applies to your regular hit point pool, only really changing the mechanics from 1.0 when the target would be reduced below zero? Or does it work like Pathfinder 1.0, where it acts effectively as a separate pool of HP? Further, how does this affect "on death" or "on unconsciousness" effects for creatures that do not fall unconscious, such as the elementals in this module? Does the effect trigger or not? Neither of these are specifically called out in the playtest rules, so clarification in the eventual core rulebook would be helpful.

Grip change - is this a free action? It's never specified in the playtest rules the way it is in Starfinder rules. We acted as if it was a free action (changing grip from one-handed to two), but clarification in the eventual core rulebook would be helpful.

Otherwise, as far as changes are concerned, I enjoyed the new actions system. It's cleaner and simpler and an improvement as far as I'm concerned.

The new math for saves as far as ongoing effects are concerned does seem a bit broken. We had a player that was underwater for multiple rounds but still took significant burn damage. Also, allowing the crossbow wielding goon to have a feat that lets him load while striding made him overpowered. Maybe tweak that.

Overall the scenario was solid. Felt like a "normal" PFS1 scenario (which was good), enabled us to experience several different mechanics of the new system, and generally felt tuned to the new system's difficulty. I have lots of comments on the PF2 mechanics posted elsewhere, but the scenario felt about right.

However, one particular (likely unintentional) recurring theme in the encounters for this scenario bothered me - and it's something I've seen in a variety of scenarios over the years. So the below is a recommendation for all scenario authors. :)

Make sure you consider the "standard fantasy/rpg tropes" when building your encounters, especially when reviewing them together. I fully expect that a given character's schtick might be unusable in a given encounter, or even half of them, but when you accidentally/intentionally nerf a good chunk of one of those standards in all of your encounters, it feels punishing. There are certainly some times you might expect this to happen (traveling to another plane where everything is immune to X, doing a construct-only scenario as a rogue who depends on sneak attack, playing a enchantment-based character against mindless/immune creatures, etc.), but there's nothing about this scenario that would scream "____________ is going to be completely ineffective in Nex" to someone.


Let's look at the encounters...

Encounters and Particular problems:

and how fire is a bad choice for pretty much every one of them.

1. Flesh Golem Encounter: Cool, the Golem *does* take damage from fire. However, do you want to further damage the crime scene and obscure evidence? I don't know if there was a specific mechanic built into the scenario, but basic logic dictates that it likely would damage that. Additionally, in such tight quarters, it might be tough to get anything other than a Burning Hands, Alchemist Fire/Bomb, or Flaming Sphere off (without damaging your party), but with the potential risk to the evidence, most folks are likely to hold off blowing things up. I guess it's possible to taunt the golem outside, but you're basically asking your entire party to do something unnatural for them so you can do your schtick (likely only once).

2. Ambush from Ifrit/Fire Elementals: Need I say more? Now, we didn't try to make a check to know whether the Ifrit just had resist or straight up immunity, but even with resistance it would have been heavily nerfed. Fire Elementals were obviously straight immune, so no point even trying.

3. Fight with Arclord and Apprentice: Giving him the ability to Counterspell spells he knows - like, ya know, Fireball - just adds the insult to injury. While certainly it requires a Counteract check, it's just another example of making a particular build ineffective.

I think it's perfectly reasonable (especially for a newer player - which we're trying to encourage...) for someone to want to bring a Fire-focused Wizard/Sorcerer, with Burning Hands, Flaming Sphere, and Fireball. I also think it's perfectly reasonable to not expect that to work in every fight (due to immunities, positioning/space, etc.), but at level 5 it should at least work solidly 1/3rd of the time without special caveats. Actually having it not work in at least 1 fight encourages folks to be versatile, and teaches new players to not depend on a single strategy to win all fights - which is good.

I was lucky that that was *not* my character - rather I was a Cleric of Sarenrae. So while it was annoying to have a Fireball in my prepared spells that I couldn't use effectively, it ultimately wasn't as crippling as it would have been for the Fireball Sorc/Wiz.

Whenever we go to the plane of Fire, I fully expect the Fire Sorcerer/Wizard to be nearly useless, and rely solely on backup spells. However, when we are in Nex, I don't see any reason why every combat would need to punish these players/characters for that choice.


To be clear, this is not the only scenario that I've seen written like this. There was a recent low level repeatable I played where *every* creature in it was immune to mind-affecting, basically making classes/builds like Mesmerist (that I *was* playing at the time) nearly useless (not level 3 yet - so no access to Psychic Inception). There was another scenario that had a heavy darkness theme, and *was* advertised in the blurb, making Light-based characters seem like a good thematic choice to counteract the dark, but instead made Fire/Light spells require hefty CL checks to function at all (and not just for 1-2 encounter, but rather for all of the encounters). I'm sure I could come up with a few other "there's no reason why ________ shouldn't ever work, but it didn't in any encounter" scenarios, but I think you get the point. :)

Like mentioned above, other than this particular issue, the scenario was solid, and felt great for getting into PF2. Thanks!

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