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(I'm not waiting to post this until after we've finished the dungeon because we won't be able to game next week so we'll have to finish up in two weeks. That way I figured I could share what's happened so far in my adventure and then put the second half after we finish)
Okay I ran my first session of Pathfinder 2nd Edition yesterday. We played for 4 hours but in all honesty we probably played for 3 (my group always has a hard time staying focused, not in a bad way though). We made about half of the way through the Ashen Ossuary in that amount of time. (Again this was expected as we generally like to talk and then bring up hypothetical scenarios and joke around and all that). I'll give my overall opinion of the system as a whole and then I'll go room by room and be more specific but first the characters they made. Oh and I know they were supposed to pick one of the backgrounds from the playtest for this module but they had already made their characters before I knew about that so I didn't force them to change it.
Wanted to use Dual Chain Blades ala Kratos from God of War but we settled on using the stats for a Spiked Chain and just calling it a Chain Blade. He was pretty happy with it. He went with Intimidating Glare and Raging Intimidation but he didn't rage once all game, apparently he didn't need to lol. He really liked the Dragon Totem so he picked that but it didn't really come up in game other then making a few dragon jokes here and there. He had the highest AC of the group with 16 base. I don't think he was ever crit the whole game.
Basically he was an Illusionist. He mostly took a lot of utility spells but the at will attack cantrips helped a lot. They were his go to attacks all game. He mage armored as soon as he got into the dungeon so his AC was at 13 but he didn't get hit all that much because he was in the back. It could have been 14 pretty much every round but he seemed to have forgotten about Shield, which is very helpful at low levels. Like I said he was a standard utility mage.
He decided to go "Battle Cleric" and specked most of his stuff into weapons and wielded a greatsword into battle. He was honestly the MVP of the group, consistently doing the same damage as the barbarian and throwing out his 5 free Heals a day. His AC was sitting at 15 but he actually remembered to shield almost every round so it was basically 16.
Looking at his character build he went for a bomb throwing alchemist and had tons of resonance points, 6 I believe. He had Acid Flask, Minor Elixir of Life, Giant Centipede Venom and Alchemist's Fire. BUT he thought it would be funny to make himself really fat and not dexterous and purposefully gave himself a -2 to dex and apparently just forgot to add 1 of his ability boosts. So he was sitting at 10 Str and Dex. So right from the get go there were problems. More on that below.
I can honestly say I LOVE the new action economy. It meant I could very easily just be like "Yeah doing that costs 1 action" and my players didn't even blink an eye because they knew they could still either move and attack or attack twice. Where as before actions were so important that taking 1 away was very bad and usually led to arguments or people just ignoring doing other things in battle because it was better to just use all of your actions to attack.
Also having done A LOT of prep I didn't feel at all confused. Looking up the monsters and their abilities and making sure I knew what conditions they could impart on my players, as well as how poison worked, I felt fully prepared every time they had a question. I think I only had to look through the book like twice in the session. So everything flowed really well. To be fair though I work night shift and have a lot of free time so I've just been pouring over the rulebook and the forums for the past week preparing for the session. Nothing seemed overly strong or weak compared to the last edition which was good.
I didn't realize how much I would like the new secret rolls for stealth and things like that. It makes combat flow so much easier and adds a sense of alertness when you never really know if somethings there as I don't yell out "okay everyone roll perception" and they automatically know there's something there. I can just roll it's stealth against their perception DC. And then if the players DECIDE to actively search for things they get to roll against it's Stealth DC. It's very fluid and I like it a lot.
The crit system is very swingy but I think it gives a sense of danger into the game that wasn't really there before. Now even little goblins can do some serious damage to the players on a crit. But the same goes for the players. Very good addition I think.
Poison is GOOD finally. I always felt poison was such an under utilized thing in P1E and I'm so glad it's made an epic comeback in this edition. Poison actually helps instead of just being there.
The skill system honestly didn't feel any different from last edition BUT they were only lvl 1. The Barbarian seemed to be the least skilled and the Wizard seemed the most, which would be generally true in the last edition cause of Wizards high Int. The Alchemist was really only helpful once in using Medicine. Oddly enough the Cleric was the most useful skill wise, having Medicine, Religion and not terrible Perception. I believe having most of the melee focused skills in Athletics will help out in the long run but I'm not sure my players knew about them (as they were usually forgotten about in P1E unless you specked in them)
The new initiative system, while not bad, is not very clear on what else you can roll for initiative. I basically had only Stealth being used (for the monsters) and I tried to think of some other things that the players could do but I came up short so we usually just rolled Perception. A table with some hints would be nice that I could reference and the players could look at.
I don't like that there isn't a surprise round (or something to replace it) at all. I had the monster "sneak up" on the players and go last, or almost last, so its sneaking just basically made it really close to them so they could get stomped on. I would say if you initiate combat after successfully using stealth you should be the top of initiative order no matter everyone else's rolls. That seems to be more along the lines of how this edition should work after taking out the surprise round.
How light sources interact with Perception and senses isn't exactly clear so I had to wing it and I think that made it easier for my players to sneak up on the Goblins in room A2. They surrounded the Goblins and stomped them into the floor. On that note Low-light and how it works is also not clear so I have to wing that as well.
Here's my opinion on the characters and how they did in the session.
The Barbarian seemed to do exactly what I expected him to do. He was a powerhouse basically all game, even only doing d8+4 damage. He consistently crit several times doing more than enough to kill most of the enemies they had fought so far in one shot. He was also the one who found the Owlbear Claw in A2. As matter of fact he was the most perceptive of the group, despite only having a +2. He also intimidated one of the Goblins outside of combat after it was trying to flee for it's life .
Oh boy here we go. Okay the Cleric seems awesome. He get's anywhere from 3-6 FREE heals a day, leaving him open to actually prep his other spells for something else. Which is exactly what he did. He went on a full Greatsword swinging rampage. He was basically attacking and casting shield for that AC bump or double attacking and casting shield. He also used his Zeal (Weapon Surge) ability against a Quasit and stomped it's face. He was essentially doing as much damage as the Barbarian, if not more (but that's probably because the Barbarian wasn't raging)
Okay knowing now that there was confusion about how his powers worked and seeing how he forgot one of his stat bonuses I can honestly say he wasn't THAT bad considering he didn't make/play his character build right. So in the first two rooms he did just fine, since he didn't get to go at all against the ooze and he lit one of the goblins on fire in the second room. After that though he just stopped using his bombs. I even told him at the beginning that he could make more items since they had 7 days (as he can make a batch in 4 days) but he decided not to cause of the 4 I gave him at first lvl. So he had 6 items to start off with, 4 from character creation and 2 that he prepped. (I said it made sense for him to have 1 of each of his formula on him at character creation since it didn't seem to make sense to me that he would have to use half of his resonance to have more than a few in his beginning adventure.) But after after lobbing 2 and missing with 1 he said he realized that he was going to run out of bombs really quick (cause he misunderstood quick alchemy). So he proceeded to punch most of the creatures either missing or rolling 1 damage. So hopefully we'll have a better time of it next session with all the confusion over.
Okay so here's room by room the jist of what went down.
Okay so we started the characters off in the entrance of the dungeon and I made a secret roll for the oozes stealth. It rolled really well, getting about a 20+. So the player's didn't passively see it walking in. I figured cause it was an ooze and was made of sewer that it could hide within the gross mucky water and would attack any of the players that came within 10 feet. The players moved forward but per the rules we rolled initiative and the ooze got dead last, even with it's +6 stealth from being in a sewer. So the party stomped on it before it got to act.
The players move into the room and as they cast light earlier on their weapons two of them had 20 foot beacons of light. The rule on low-light are iffy (as I mentioned above) so I assume that the light is bright within 20ft and the low-light extends as far out as reasonable. Because the Goblins were on the far side of the room and they were building their statue I figured they would be to distracted to just straight up notice the light on the far side of the room so I had them roll Perception. Big fat 3. The goblins are completely oblivious to the party, even with the light. So Goblins, naturally making a racket and not being quiet unless they need to, were making enough noise that I had the players roll Perception and based the DC at 12, all of them made it. So the party moved up about half way toward the goblins before I figured that the Goblins would notice the light so I had them roll Initiative. Goblins go second to last. They get flanked and one of them drops immediately, two others badly injured. The goblins pull their weapons and attack twice, doing barely any damage, like 2 and 3 maybe, and all missed with their second attack. The Alchemist goes last and lights one on fire. Second Goblin down. Top of the order the Wizard kills one with Electric Arc and heavily wounds the other one. At that point I say the Goblin gives up and tries to surrender, pleading for it's life. They can't speak it's language so they end up hogtying it up and hope that once Drakus is dead it will join up with Talga and be a nice little goblin lol.
The players actually went from rooms A5 and A4 first and this one last but I'll put it first since it's number 3. Okay so the the book says there's enough rubble for it to be difficult terrain and I figured that meant there were probably some larger rocks scattered about the chamber. So deeper in the Centipedes were hiding within the rubble. As that makes sense for me since it says they would roll Stealth for Initiative, they would be hiding and have to have something to hide behind or in. I roll their stealth against the players passive Perception as they enter the room and they also get 20+ so the players don't passively see them. I figure the centipedes are in the middle of the room so if the players move farther in they will attack and maybe get some flanking bonuses. The players call out they are actively going to search the room so I have them roll against the Centipedes stealth DC, which is 16 and only 1 makes it, the Cleric. He tells the rest of the party before they can move into the monster's attack range and the party just decides to open up on them from where they are. Roll initiative, Centipedes go second this time. The battle goes better for the monsters as they actually get to move up and attack the party, several of them hit, doing little damage, but they manage to poison the Barbarian. They mop the rest up but the Barbarian takes around 20 damage from the poison and it's first attack, almost bringing him down. Luckily he shook it off last round so it didn't drop him.
They basically did what was expected in these rooms. Fungus room first they made the saves and then just ignored it. Motivation room they investigated the bodies and found out it wasn't a Vampire that drained their blood. Their idea was that he drank it through a straw, I was like sure yeah lol.
Okay so before they moved into the next room the party searches the large central room, The Barbarian crits and finds the owlbear claw, the ring and the potion. The Cleric uses 2 of his 5 heals, one burst to heal everyone 3 hp and then another to heal the Barbarian to full with Healing Hands.
The party enters the room. The Alchemist goes to take a sample of the weird black sludge water. I ask him to make a Perception check a and he sees the idol in the Fountain. Doesn't tell anyone else and grabs it immediately. Battle ensues.
This was the longest fight we had but the players weren't in any real danger. The damage the Quasit's were dealing wasn't really enough to threaten them and they all consistently made their save's against their poison. It was only because the Quasit's could heal, and they rolled pretty good throughout the whole thing, that it took as long as it did. After two rounds of them not really doing much I was going to have them change shape into wolves in order to maybe do some more damage but the Barbarian crit and killed one and everyone ganged up in the other before I could do it.
The damage wasn't life threatening but it did give a few of them around 8 or 9 damage. So the most OVERALL of any of the battles so far. After this battle was when we finally asked the Alchemist why he wasn't throwing any bombs and found out he thought his power worked different then it actually did.
So there yah go. That was basically how it all went down. We stopped there because it was getting late and they had work in the morning.
I asked them overall what they thought of the system and all of them approved. Even the Alchemist was saying that he was rolling garbage all night and he didn't understand how his abilities worked and did his character wrong.
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Nice Report so far. How I run ambushes right now is that I roll initiative, and the mosnters start as unseen, because the characters didn't beat their Stealth DC (or weren't looking). This interacts nicely, if you are quick, you have a Chance to seek and Point out the Monster, but it will still only be sensed until it Acts. That costs them some Actions and makes for a nice creepy "I know there is something, but I can't pin it down" vibe.
Just a note on Cleric. He needs to use 3 actions total to cast Weapon Surge. 1 action to adjust to 1h grip, 1 action to cast Weapon Surge, 1 action to shift back to 2h grip. He can get around this once he gets the Emblazon Symbol feat though.
Release the grip has already been stated that it's a free action triggered by your other action