Quicksand: how to escape it?


Monsters and Hazards


I'm reading through the second playtest module and it involves quicksand, for which it refers back to the Bestiary. The entry for Quicksand includes this in its routine:

"On its initiative, the quicksand pulls down each creature within it. A creature that was submerged up to its waist becomes submerged up to its neck, and a creature that was submerged up to its neck is pulled under and has to hold its breath to avoid suffocation. On its turn, a creature in the quicksand can attempt a DC 18 Athletics check to Swim to raise itself by one step, or to move 5 feet if it’s submerged only up to its waist."

By a strict reading of this, the PC only gets to make one attempt to recover a step per round, in which case they'll just keep see-sawing with the quicksand (on their turn they recover a step, on the quicksand's turn they lose that step again, and then on their turn they recover it once more...).

Is the intention here that that the PCs can recover one step *per action*, getting their normal three? I can see the (1 action) part on the routine but I assumed that applied specifically to the quicksand; that assumption could be incorrect though.


Yes, it needs to be clarified. During our playtest, I think our GM allowed 3 checks, the only problem is critical failures which I believe he had Ezren sink lower.

Even with Seelah helping, a DC 18 quicksand was the deadliest hazard I've seen in a low level game in a long time.

I'm also not sure how help (like a rope) factors in (and I can't remember if the GM gave him a +4 bonus ot something else), but I haven't gotten to hazards yet.


I am also wondering - can't you just walk out? The very first Thing the quicksand does, it pulls you waist deep. Then it's your turn, you move 5 feet and are out of the quicksand. Is there something I am missing? Do you start more than 5 feet inside the quicksand? I know it's fifteen feet across, but surely you start sinking as soon as you enter it?
It only does something if it beats you in initiative. While I admit that is a very good Chance with +11, if after the initial reactoin you can act, there is no danger there at all.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DerNils wrote:

I am also wondering - can't you just walk out? The very first Thing the quicksand does, it pulls you waist deep. Then it's your turn, you move 5 feet and are out of the quicksand. Is there something I am missing? Do you start more than 5 feet inside the quicksand? I know it's fifteen feet across, but surely you start sinking as soon as you enter it?

It only does something if it beats you in initiative. While I admit that is a very good Chance with +11, if after the initial reactoin you can act, there is no danger there at all.

You do have to succeed on a DC 18 athletics check to move the 5 feet.

Liberty's Edge

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I'm pretty sure that, given that it says the escape is a Swim action, and Swim is a specific action type that has specific rules governing when you do it (which involve doing it up to three times per turn), you can do it three times per turn.

It's still by far the most annoying and time consuming thing I've run into in the playtest. It took one of my PCs about 15 minutes of real world time to escape, and given how long you can hold your breath, it's not actually very dangerous (you'll escape eventually in most cases)...but it could kill you so you can't gloss over it.

And that's frankly just not good game design (an exception in Paizo's work in that regard). Being forced to waste huge amounts of real world time on something likely pointless (indeed, it almost certainly requires no resources to recover from if you survive) is just not fun at all.

I also find it really odd that someone can't, say, pull you out with an Athletics check by throwing you a rope. I mean, that can be used to Aid, but a Str 18 character should probably just be able to pull you out on their own even (or perhaps especially) if you have Str 8...and there's no provision for that at all.


Yeah, I didn't realize this when I ran DD part 2 until partway through the Ankhrav fight. When I did realize the seesaw effect I started allowing multiple checks per round, between that and Aid checks it wasn't too hard to get out but it did make the Ankhrav fight an excellent challenge. My group liked having to consider both problems at once but I can see there being trouble in other runs.

Liberty's Edge

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Edge93 wrote:
Yeah, I didn't realize this when I ran DD part 2 until partway through the Ankhrav fight. When I did realize the seesaw effect I started allowing multiple checks per round, between that and Aid checks it wasn't too hard to get out but it did make the Ankhrav fight an excellent challenge. My group liked having to consider both problems at once but I can see there being trouble in other runs.

In my game, the PCs killed the Ankhrav in a round, and then spent (as mentioned) 15 minutes in real life just trying to get the Fighter (the one who'd fallen in) out of the quicksand.

It was profoundly frustrating and unpleasant to very little real purpose.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

We were doing one of the PFS playtests at Gen Con and pregen Seoni fell into quicksand. I joked that it was "lightning sand" because the quicksand won initiative, and then Seoni went next and crit failed her check, so she went from fine to all the way under in about 1 second of time in-game.

Our GM allowed three checks a round, and he ruled she couldn't sink deeper than "just under," so it "only" took the whole party aiding and about 15-20 die rolls to get her out.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

I still don't understand how this encounter is supposed to go. When the table I was running spotted the mound, they avoided the whole thing, for which I am very glad.

The fact that the quicksand is completely impossible to spot until you're in it is annoying. Giving it a static DC would actually make more sense than having it roll.

Also, I'm generally opposed to situations where the PCs have to roll the same skill check repeatedly. It's just not fun.


They are not supposed to be undetectable - the static DC for complex hazards is supposed to be 10+Stealth. They just forgot to clarify that in the Bestiary. See Jasons Statement here (attention, Doomsday Dawn spoilers in the thread, but not the specific post)

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2vc7n?DM-Livgins-Playtest-Thread#20

Liberty's Edge

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Even then, its bonus is so high (even if you assume its susceptible to the Bestiary error on monster skills and thus too high), that it's not too hard for a party to miss it (I know my level 4 PCs had Perception scores of +6 or so for the most part).

The issue isn't really the power level of the Hazard, the mere fact that drowning takes an absurdly long time makes it not actually very dangerous in the long run...it's the fact that if someone gets sucked down at least two steps getting them out becomes a grueling slog for the players, that cannot be glossed over because it might actually kill a PC.


Oh, totally agree on that. Just wanted to clarify that you at least can detect it beforehand, even if it is hard. The actual mechanics are quite bad, well at least incomplete.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
DerNils wrote:
They are not supposed to be undetectable

That's not a clarification so much as it's a change to the rule on the Bestiary page 13.

Quote:
A complex hazard instead lists its Stealth modifier for rolling initiative, followed by a DC if there’s a chance someone might detect it.

The way it's currently worded, it's clear that complex hazards that don't have a listed DC are undetectable. It's dumb, yes, but it's something that needs errata to fix. (Yes, this is slightly pedantic, but I did spend significant time agonizing over the way it was supposed to work.)


Agreed, will hopefully be included by the Dev Team in one of the updates. As is, undetectable Hazards are dumb.

Grand Lodge

I played this module as a druid with 10 strength in hide armor. Even trained in Athletics I had a grand total bonus of 2 (-2 from armor), so I succeeded on an 18+ and critically failed on a 6 or lower. It was twice as easy for me to critically fail as to succeed. If I had not been Trained that would have been a -2 total skill, needing a 20 to succeed and a 10 or less to critically fail. Most spellcasters would be in a similar boat.
These are totally reasonable characters, actually 1 level higher than the hazard.
Somehow we managed to put together enough assisters and good rolls that nobody drowned, but it could easily have gone the other way and it took most of the party and a bunch of time.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

When I ran this encounter for my group, I remember us being quite amused with trying to escape the quicksand. There was a lot of laughter was they lost their camels, failing to leap of their sinking camels, and failing to fish out their comrades. The Ankhrav was pretty much a non-factor as the barbarian with the +1 weapon and the shapeshifted druid took it down easily.

I agree that the wording for the quicksand's routine is imprecise. My group understood it as needing to take a Swim action, so they could attempt 3 times during their turn, but the wording makes it seem that you have to use your entire turn to make one skill check. It should have been written that the PC needs to use the Swim action (DC 18 Athletics) or something similar as by default that costs 1 action out of 3 per turn.

It should also be more explicit that once a PC is completely submerged, they don't keep going steps further down should they keep critically failing to swim out. I mean, my group understood that implicitly, but we did pause when that scenario came up.

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