Before continuing on, understand that I actually like some of the concepts of the playtest. I even like the action economy - but it needs some gates. Three attacks at level one is bad for both players and npcs alike. Two spells in one round seems cool, until you realize that one of those spells has a duration of 1 round, and the other one is really not a spell, but your default attack roll as a caster. Casters are raising their shield and attacking. They don't get to move too, like the fighter, but the actual fundamental concept is the same. Why do the classes need to feel the same? That is EXACTLY why I refused to touch 4e D&D, and how Paizo landed a community of people that wanted to play a game where there were options for heroes that weren't all the same.
I understand this is a playtest, and I understand that the goal is to test some mechanics, however, the world feels like an old video game rather than a narrative story.
The first chapter of the playtest basically assumes that all of the creatures in every room are deaf to the sounds of combat in the other, otherwise silent stone rooms that fill this 'adventure'. Your perception rolls now force you to search only in a cone - the fog of war has become the loading screen for the players and npcs alike. Ambush? What ambush? You can't do that, because you always have to roll initiative, because taking a hostile action allows the players or npcs to become aware of your presence. You don't actually have to succeed at your hostile action, just take it. The arrow flew down the hallway - too bad, they know you are there now, no checks needed.
Rolling initiative is rolling initiative, even if you call it perception, but the way the system words the action for 'seek' you should totally have a penalty if you are rolling perception against creatures starting combat behind you, but what is the point of stealth, if it only helps the rogues? No one else acting first gets any benefit from being stealthed before combat starts.
Reading through the rest of the book, with scaling DCs for everyone, the players will never feel 'heroic' as they are going to be failing at things as often as they succeed, and for some reason everything will be getting stronger as they do. (Is Paizo working with Bethesda on the next Elder Scrolls game?)
Starting the dungeon.
Imagine your party doesn't roll particularly well on saving throws or perception in the first chamber. In round one, the first character into the chamber takes 1d6+1, 1d4, and 1d4 damage, and maybe even another 1d6+1 +1d4 as that second strike comes in at a +2 to hit. (so..14 damage on average if your GM rolls like I did last night) Even so, you manage to kill the low AC slime, get the individual healed up, and you think...okay, we have resources, we can move on.
Luckily for your party the goblins in the next room are SO FOCUSED! (I mean, what goblin isn't FOCUSED!) That they don't hear the sound of the filth wave or subsequent 6 seconds of spells and weapon blows, and thus do not prepare to ambush the players.
So, you get to roll initiative against the goblins, rather than having them all firing arrows at you when you bring a light source into the room that is filled with darkness...cause even that doesn't actually distract the goblins, the program did not include a reason for the goblins to roll a perception check here.
The goblins, being goblins, once engaged, are bastions of courage - they know that there are centipedes that will not attack them (why?) living in their den, but they won't run from the PCs to hide in there, nor will they run off to try and get more of their kin to come and assist with killing off those nasty longshanks - because...well, that part of the video game hasn't loaded yet, so just be quiet until we get there.
Then again, why would they need to? With three attacks at +6,+1,-4, why do they need to run? Why would they not be proud to stand there and fire off 3 arrows each at that guy standing there that doesn't look like he's wearing armor. With only a 12 AC, that first shot is going to be a critical hit on the roll of a 16, and the second shot has a better than 50% chance to hit.
Oh, so you say the goblins would never focus on a single enemy like that...well, that's okay, they switch it up...because that first attack still crits on an 18-20 against that guy with the big sword too.
Score one for the players - the creepy crawlies won't attack goblins or leave the room, so a wizard with the electric arc cantrip can just go ahead and stand in the entrance and zap them all to death. The embedded code in this video game does not account for hostile actions, they will not leave the room. Oh, look, party member a goblin? He can just go stab them all according to the program code, they won't attack him.
Mindfog Fungus -(don't get the next part wrong, I dug this little shroom) if you were ever wondering if your first level titan-mauler barbarian could kill your wizard - you have a decent chance of figuring this out in this encounter with a mostly inanimate object.
The fountain, the idol, and subsequent attack by two 'creature 1' demons. 'Creature 1' Despite having a 4th level spell, an at will 3rd level spell, and an action that can be used every round to heal themselves almost as well as an alchemist can spending one and a half to two resonance points. Also not accounting for the +7,+3,-1 (keeping in mind that the last attack has a 1 in 4 or better chance of hitting all of the party members that do not have a 16 ac) attack option. Never mind the idea that it can change shape into something that moves faster than any of the characters, with a better attack bonus and knockdown...if they don't simply decide to turn invisible, hit someone and fly away...and repeat this until everyone dies to the poison on their attacks. (This, played by someone who does not assume that the int +0 creatures are not in fact completely unaware of their own abilities, means the near instant death of whichever player happens to spawn the creatures, and likely, if the party is not at full health, a TPK.)
BUT! OUR PLAYERS HAVE PREVAILED! The demons are dead!
Fighting previously mentioned quasits is again somehow not loud enough to be heard in other chambers - the goblins are only aware of the PCs if they happen to trigger a trap in the hallway.
Since our PCs had a rogue, they've managed to bypass the alarm. But hey, those goblins sound distracted, so what is in this other chamber? Skeletons...wait...they aren't following us...queue anyone that can disrupt undead from outside the chamber...
Back to the goblins? Eh...they're still talking...let's bash open this door. Oops. Our cleric didn't notice that this was a pharasma trap, and the rogue didn't think to use stealth on a statue cause they forgot that being sneaky applies to finding things. Everyone takes 1d6 damage if they fail their save...once. You know...sand lingering for a minute...but...first level...so one time you choke, after that it isn't so bad.
Keep in mind that gagging on this is not loud enough to distract the goblins you've ignored, or the guy in the room over here because the monsters were not programmed to listen for these sounds.
The 'boss' of the goblins will continue to eat, and always be eating unless the PCs engage the boss only after not successfully opening a door on the first try or sneaking up from the other direction. Never mind that in order to successfully get to this point, the PCs may have gone back to the surface several times to rest and heal. The number of goblins in the chambers will not change, this particular meal has an endless supply of blood, so it's all good.
Fighting this guy though, that's not good. Those quasits were 'creature 1'. This guy, he's a 'creature 3' his attacks are at a +10,+5,+0 with his sword if he stands there and swings. He crits that monk there on a 16. Wants to use his claw instead? Eh, that second attack is a +6 instead, sure it does less damage, but at this point, he's grabbed that poor guy and is going to hit him one more time...now he's flat footed. That ac is a bit lower, so even though it's a +0 to hit, his target is now only a 13. Poor guy has just taken a minimum of 12 points of damage. If this guy didn't drop any of your players to 0 hp, you roll really poorly, or play your monsters a lot differently than I do. I assume the monsters actually don't WANT to die, but rather to live and continue their evil plans.
1. How long did it take to play this part of Doomsday dawn?
1st attempt 4 players, couple hours in to the session we realized that they would need to rest several times over the course of the adventure to complete it. (Cleric, Barbarian, Wizard, Alchemist)
Second attempt, with 5 players, after alerting the goblins, running back to rest, then coming back down into the dungeon we spent several more hours (keep in mind everyone is reading the rules together, and we have a couple younger teenagers in the group) TPK at the quasits.
(Cleric, Rogue, Barbarian, Wizard, Alchemist)
2. how long did it take to prepare this part of the adventure?
A couple hours reading and re-reading through things aside from the other reading to learn some of the rules.
3. How many sessions did it take for you to play through this part of the adventure?
I'll let you know if anyone ever survives it.
4. How many Hero Points (in total) did you give out during this part of the adventure?
5. How many times was a player reduced to 0 hit points during this part of the adventure?
Aside from the TPK of 5 players, an additional 4 times.
6. How many player characters were killed during this part of the adventure?
5 so far...we'll see if I can convince anyone to continue the test so I can kill more.