DM Livgin's Playtest Thread


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback


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Chapter 1, Session 1;

Introduction:

I'm running Doomsday Dawn with our single table PFS lodge. We had 5 players last night, this will go up and down over the adventure. Three players are experienced with PF1, two players started PF1 within the last year.

We had a human ranger, a gnome alchemist, a human cleric, a dwarf monk, and a gnome bard. The biggest complaints about character creation was the difficulties of flipping between chapters in a PDF. The two new to pathfinder players commented that character creation was easier than PF1. Everyone joked about the look up chain; your class gets a power, you look up the power in the spell section, then you look up the conditions the power inflicts in the appendix. It is hard to get a number on character creation times because of the overlap with learning the new rules, but one character was able to change his mind the night before the game and make the bard from scratch.

I took maybe 8 hours to prep this chapter, again there was more time trying to study and learn the rules. This prep time was on par with the time I take to well-prep for two PFS sessions, so I didn't feel this was a long prep time for a game that would go for two sessions.

The encounters:

With 5 players I made no adjustment to the Sewer Ooze. I said it had concealment in the cistern water to hide in allowing it to ambush the party as soon as someone got within 10'. I had uncertainty here with stealth; the ooze wants to wait in ambush until they are within 10', the party would attack it as soon as they spot it. I rolled stealth once to see if it successfully hid, then when it succeeded I rolled initiative with the front of the group 10 feet from the ooze (If it would have failed I would have starting the fight with the party further back). The ooze died in exactly one round, it would have taken down the cleric if it got to act again.

The party was definitely assessing how important healing was going to be and I was reminding them that they had 7 days to retrieve the star.

The goblin fight went well, with the goblins only getting in a few hits while the party was able to take them out over a couple rounds. I added one goblin for the 5 player adjustment.

They were thinking for heading back to rest at this point but decided to press on into the fungus room. I made no 5 player adjustment here. Other than learning that the confusion condition might be nasty, this was mostly a comedy encounter as the group waited for the confused monk to calm down. (It helped the alchemist won initiative and hit it with fire.) At this point the party decided to return to rest.

I was frustrated with dubious knowledge at this point and declared that both the mindquake survivors had the same nightmares that gave them the same dubious knowledge results (kinda works with the plot). Now that I know I have characters with dubious knowledge I will be able to prep red herrings, It is not too hard with warning to flip through the bestiary and recite a plausible ability.

After the rest they encountered the centipedes. I added one additional centipede for the 5 player adjustment. This encounter was as hard as advertised, the cleric went down after leading the way in and rolling poor on initiative but they did learn that a raised shield was a good tactic, it definitely increased their longevity. the monk was almost dead when they finished off the last centipede. This encounter felt like it needed one lvl 1 enemy with staying power, as it was easy to kill the centipedes after surviving the initial 'swarm'.

Next was the fountain. I added a homunculus for the 5 player adjustment, the lvl 0 creature worked very well as it was a threat but died quickly. Since invisibility gives no bonus to stealth, it was easy for the group to find and kill the quasit that went invisible and flew to the roof. One of the party members went to town to buy lockpicks as the alchemist 'pulled out a reagent kit' and spent half an hour inspecting the fountain, discovering that the water was becoming clean and that it had restorative powers.

While preparing the game I tried to focus on what where the narrative, puzzle, and reward encounters in addition to the combat encounters. The players definitely were proud of themselves when they thought that the idol was corrupting the fountain, tested their theory, and were correctly. It was a small but successful puzzle, huzzah to the authors.

The game bogged down here as the bard with a +3 to thievery tried to open the lock and the characters with craft tried to figure out how to fix the picks he broke. This was tedious. When I read the rules about locks I thought it was a cool mechanic that could be used during a fight when the group was under pressure but I have doubts now. Having a 6sp tax on critically failing and breaking the picks is also a nuance to the players without adding anything interesting (unless there was some interesting time pressure). Even if the bard had better bonuses, rolling until they succeed sounded tedious. We missed taking 20 here, with taking 20 although the character is frustrated and wasting time the table time goes quickly and goes without frustration. This definitely succeeded on making the player feel the frustration that the character felt.

The DC 15 hidden door and lock is likely to be encountered next session, we will see how that one goes. Hopefully it they will be able to open it and it will be a cathartic success for that poor bard.

Closing Comments:

Generally the players were happy. They had concerns that skills felt very flat, that everyone had a chance of succeeding at everything and that they couldn't invest to make any one thing reliable (missed the 3 point boost of a class skill). They are all looking at the 4 stat boosts and wondering how high level characters will look. I'm concerned that with 10 skill feats per character over their lifetime, that the skill feats have been watered down; not to powerful, not to interesting.


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Chapter 1, Session 2;

This happened just before the forums to a hiatus, so I'm running off memory. I'll just highlight the high points.

Goblin Pox: A goblin dog was added as part of the scaling to 6 players. Goblin pox has slow 1 in stage 2, but no slow in stage 3, we definitely struggled to figure out if that was intentional or accidental.

Locks: the DC 15 lock was a relief for the bard after he suffered at the hands of the DC 20 lock. Still the players missed take 10 and take 20, he did not enjoy rolling 5 times in a row trying to unlock this. I think this would be a great mechanic if they ever needed to open a lock during a fight, but during exploration it was rolling several times to achieve a guaranteed success.

Similar problem with climbing, one person made the hard climb up and then everyone else climbed the rope. I missed take ten here. I don't want short little climbs to be a hazard to the players.

The boss: Death and Dying. This encounter was pre-update 1.1. The front liner holding a bottleneck lost initiative and went down in two rounds (current pattern for severe encounters is that the frontliner goes down, also they were very happy with the shield raised tactic). The alchemist changed their tactics and didn't throw an alchemist fire, not wanting to hit the downed character with splash damage. The paladin used their healing on the downed character instead of attacking, they really wanted to attack. This achieved the design goal of forcing the players to re-assess their tactics when a character goes down. The frontliner did not make their recover roll during combat, as GM I really liked it, The player didn't mind but I think it would get old if is always the same front liner going down early in the fight. I'm interested in seeing a few actions that the players can take to mitigate the unconsciousness: smelling salts, some kind of spell that wakes a character up without being slowed, or a feat that gives a big bonus to waking up.

Closing Comments: Locks slow down the game. When a character goes down they stay down. It was easy to scale for 6 players.


Chapter 2, Session 1;

We had 7 players for this session. Again, level scaling was smooth and the encounters felt like the right difficulty. The 7 player adjustment is why there are weird numbers of monsters below.

Overland Travel: One character rolled, one character aided. I said that any more than that was just getting in the way. One character had desert lore and was excited to use it until they found out that it was worse that their survival.

Hyena Encounter: The difficult terrain hampered everyone. I should have played the Hyenas more intelligently. They rushed in and tried to drag away the gnome sorcerer but couldn't land a blow after crossing the difficult terrain. The gnome sorcerer had 19 AC while the highest AC was 21, this makes a bigger difference once it becomes a two-three action slugfest but felt like a minor difference when the enemy was only taking their single attack.

The ranger was knocked down, so all the hyenas tried to change targets and move to the prone ranger. The fighter AoO critted and he was able to use the axe critical effect to get some bonus damage on the next hyena. It was pretty cool.

Ankheg Encounter: The Ankhegs passed their stealth, lost initiative, and the druid spotted the quicksand. So I started the fight with the group on an empty dessert grid with the druid yelling out 'stop! quicksand!' but only the druid knowing where the quicksand was; I didn't draw it on the map. The fighter won initiative And passed his perception to seek them, but didn't have the actions to point any. I described 3 pairs of antenna poking out of the ground, two to the left, one to the right. Using the unseen rules this way was really fun as a GM, the players struggled without having perfect tactical information. I think it was a success.

Persistent damage. During the encounter the acid spray was just fine, but after the encounter it took forever to resolve the damage for those with cold dice. We had three additional rounds of stopping persistent damage after the fight. It was tense as a rangers pet almost went down, but then it became frustrating once the bear-pet was safe. Like lock picking, this had lots of dice rolling with very little interesting happening. I don't know how to keep the good and get rid of the bad: 6 round max duration? Be very permissive with auto-success actions (the druid finds aloe vera in the desert)?

The Gnoll Camp: The ranged characters shot from one shoreline while the melee characters tried to swim across 40 ft upstream. The gnolls returned fire with bows as the scorpions swam across the stream. This encounter worked well, the melee made short work of the gnolls once they closed and the scorpions made the ranges characters feel threatened. The dwarf hardiness helped against the poison. Circumstance stopped the scorpions from using their reaction strike and the gnolls from using pack tactics, but that is the way of this game.

The enemies did not use the handle animal rules here. The players accepted this as the scorpions were guard animals but I'm not sure how to run this in the most consistent balanced manner once they buy a guard animal.

The group sprung their attack from an ambush arrangement, in cover in the underbrush and small trees during the river. I didn't roll stealth to get in position but had everyone roll stealth for initiative even if it was worse that perception. The theme of this felt right, but required a lot of trust in the GM.

We stopped here after 4 hours of play.

Closing Thoughts: 7 Players is still too many players, during a half hour combat one character only acted twice. Persistent damage is great during the encounter and for the round after but quickly turning into us going around the table repeatedly trying to beat a DC 15 flat check with no real urgency or threat. I'm going to continue to play with the unseen rules more, I think it can make the grid combat more interesting. For the maps I just grabbed flip mats from my library that were close enough.


A few things that came up in Chapter 1, Session 1 that I missed.

Assurance never came up even with expert survival, the only check it would have passed would have been to use survival to treat the acid persistent damage.

Using oils needing two hands was a shock, but no one had strong feeling about that other than it did make sense. (everyone stocked up on oils of potency, but didn't use them in the gnoll encounter).

I like exploration tactics but communicating them are a struggle between just picking one from a list and keeping some narrative flexibility.

Keeping track of tactics was hard with 7 PCs.


Also the ankheg encounter has a perception check followed by a survival check to notice the mounds. Why not have only a survival check?


Good Point on the Ankheg Mound double roll. We had the Situation where our Cleric detected it, but failed the nature roll. So he detected a strange Mound in the middle of the desert. Luckily the druid could hellp out. That feels like something to be covered by survival only, to make perception less and survival more powerful and to have less secret rolls.
In my playthrough, expert assurance was used to consistently Aid the survival roll during the travel. Which is quite a niche case, I realise, because if you got to Expert in the skill and invested a feat chances are slim that you aren't the active one rolling.

In our case, it added Insult to injury that the cleric was better in survival than the druid. Some remind me again why Clerics, the class with the most in built class Features already, have 5 skills vs. 3 of the druid or monk?


The perception then skill check is my pet peeve. I think if you removed every case of that and moved every plot based perception check to a different skill then you could have perception as just another skin.

To give examples: From Chapter 1; the characters don't need to be perceptive to spot a pile of dirt in the desert but they do need to be knowledgeable to know what those mounds mean. From several PFS scenarios; you don't need a high perception to notice a funny smell, you instead need the appropriate skill to recognize why that smell is significant and not ignore it (craft alchemy / knowledge nature / arcane as appropriate).

With this you devalue perception and increase the value of other skills (appraise to notice that villain is missing a button on his coat, the same button you found at the crime scene!).

[/rant]


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Chapter 1, Session 2B;

Since we had 7 players last session we split into two tables and picked up an additional player. Group B had 3 players: Druid, Barbarian, Alchemist. Making three player adjustments was easy.

Manticore Encounter: They scouted the easy path and started up the mountain. During the second day of the climb they were ambushed by the manticore.

After finding the bodies the Alchemist starting sneaking up the mountain and the other two started searching actively for whatever large predator killed the gnolls. There is no 'looking for an ambush tactic' I'm ok with that, because the characters are adventures and should always be looking for an ambush, but I was high and dry coming up with a meaningful consequence to their actions (actively searching for this predator). I decided that with a successful perception check they spotted a large winged shadow pass over the mountain shortly before it attacked. Should there be an exploration tactic/benefit for actively looking for embushes? (Searching applies to hidden doors, hazards, and traps.)

The encounter went well, it attacked from the air for a few rounds then landed to attack the barbarian who was rolling hot with the javelins. It went down after inflicting a few injuries. The druid was a wild druid who loaded up on healing spells so they patched their wounds and moved on.

Cave Entrance Encounter: Nothing special here. The gnoll abilities with my 3 player adjustment of removing a gnoll. That was my mistake, I should have made the boss weak. The trap was spotted and disarmed the barbarian way, by intentionally triggering it.

Water and Earth Encounter: Nothing special. The unique monster abilities were fun, the alchemist was rewarded for his preparation of tinder twigs when the water elemental doused the lantern.

Fire and Air Encounter: The flying air elemental with reach was hard on the group. The last three rounds of the fight was the group throwing weapons at it and missing, eventually the druid remembered it prepared an enlarge and killed the elemental with his staff. The elemental knocked down the barbarian and the barbarian was immediately healed by the druid; then the elemental hit him again putting him down. The player was happy to still be part of the fight, As a GM I was not happy with the yo-yo and that there was no risk of death for the barbarian as long as he was getting healing. They rested after this encounter.

The Puzzle: It took 5 or so hours. The druid was surprised and happy to be able to contribute with Nature.

The Mummies: This fight was fast and easy. A good palate cleanser after the air elemental. One character caught mummies rot and discovered there was nothing they could do about it. I assumed the curse component meant that passing later fort saves only prevented advancement but did not cure the disease.

The Exit: At 7 days, and a long session, they managed to flee with the loot before the cultist arrived. It felt like a blah ending with the last fight being the mummies, but I was tired and ready to wrap it up. The adventures happily retired after selling the 1250 gp mirror!! The introduction of the common use of sp means I now don't trust the loot values and question if they are intentional or an error. The dwarf in the group meant that they were able to get the mirror out without slowing themselves too much.


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Bulk: I forgot to mention it, but figuring out if they could carry out all the loot was a quick 30 second exercise of everyone declaring how much surplus bulk they had and splitting things up. Bulk worked well in practice.


DM Livgin wrote:
Ankheg Encounter: The Ankhegs passed their stealth, lost initiative, and the druid spotted the quicksand. So I started the fight with the group on an empty dessert grid with the druid yelling out 'stop! quicksand!' but only the druid knowing where the quicksand was; I didn't draw it on the map. The fighter won initiative And passed his perception to seek them, but didn't have the actions to point any. I described 3 pairs of antenna poking out of the ground, two to the left, one to the right. Using the unseen rules this way was really fun as a GM, the players struggled without having perfect tactical information. I think it was a success.

How did the Druid spot the Quicksand? It has no Stealth DC, so that seems to make it impossible to notice by the rules?

Bestiary page 13 wrote:

Stealth DC

This is the hazard’s Stealth DC, which it uses to avoid being detected. A complex hazard instead lists its Stealth modifier for rolling initiative, followed by a DC if there’s a chance someone might detect it. If the hazard requires a minimum proficiency rank in Perception to find it, that rank appears in parentheses.


StratoNexus wrote:
DM Livgin wrote:
Ankheg Encounter: The Ankhegs passed their stealth, lost initiative, and the druid spotted the quicksand. So I started the fight with the group on an empty dessert grid with the druid yelling out 'stop! quicksand!' but only the druid knowing where the quicksand was; I didn't draw it on the map. The fighter won initiative And passed his perception to seek them, but didn't have the actions to point any. I described 3 pairs of antenna poking out of the ground, two to the left, one to the right. Using the unseen rules this way was really fun as a GM, the players struggled without having perfect tactical information. I think it was a success.

How did the Druid spot the Quicksand? It has no Stealth DC, so that seems to make it impossible to notice by the rules?

Bestiary page 13 wrote:

Stealth DC

This is the hazard’s Stealth DC, which it uses to avoid being detected. A complex hazard instead lists its Stealth modifier for rolling initiative, followed by a DC if there’s a chance someone might detect it. If the hazard requires a minimum proficiency rank in Perception to find it, that rank appears in parentheses.

I was confused on why there was a bonus but no DC, so I just rolled stealth against the party perception DC with that bonus. I see how is says that there is no DC to notice it, but what then is the (trained) for?

I just rolled against the party perception DC with it's +11 bonus and only compared against those party members that were searching for hazards.

Even re-reading the rules I don't like the idea of impossible to spot hazards. They can be very hard to spot, require a proficiency greater than the party has, or not be understood as a hazard but I wasn't them to have a way they could have been spotted. I favour a simulationist type game, so lake the world to behave in a predictable manner, even if only the GM knows. This will flavor all my feedback.


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Chapter 2, Session 2A;

This group had 5 players from the mid-campaign split. Fighter, Ranger, Ranger, Monk, Sorcerer; they had no healer. I knew this was a think but decided to move forward with it instead of asking someone to rebuild.

Manticore Encounter: Ran initiative again where I just rolled stealth against perception, giving characters that were watching the sky a +2 bonus. This again let to the case where a player character goes first but there are no active threats, but now that I've switched to the 'the hair starts to rise on the back of your neck, something is wrong' description it is working very well.

It flew around and frustrated to group by flinging spikes at them. One ranger acted like he was not invested in using a bow and only took a few shots with his, I'm not sure how much worse he was at it than the dedicated ranger. The other ranger and the sorcerer attacked it repeatedly. Once the sorcerer started getting low on HP they started getting creative in order to bring it to the ground. First they tried to snare it with a rope and grappling hook. I rolled athletics versus reflex DC, and had a -2 item penalty. Then they hit it with the tanglefoot cantrip and discovered that they needed a critical hit to immobilize it and that being hampered didn't stop it from flying. Lastly the monk climbed the cliff face and leaped on to its back, killing it with a mounted flurry of blows.

Making ruling for their creative plans on the fly worked well. I was worried to see CMB/D go because 'roll CMB' was my go to answer for any odd plans, now picking a skill and rolling against a defence is working for me. As always I'm concerned that the difference between bonus and defence is too tight and that it is all coming down to luck.

They were in really bad shape but decided to continue forward with severe injuries. Combat medic inflicted as many wounds as it healed.

Gnoll Boss Encounter: The group was in bad shape as they arrived. I think some of the players saw the way the healing wind was blowing and wanted to see how far they could push things... So the fighter challenged the leader to single combat; fighter losses he shares the manticore bodies location and the gnolls could have fresh meat, fighter wins the gnolls leave the mountain. Yes the group could have talked their way out of this, but the group wasn't thinking about that and the gnoll saw a chance to pick off the wounded fighter alone before killing the others. With lucky rolls and poor rolls on the gnoll end the fighter managed to kill the leader in single combat, he had 9 hp left. Lucky. The others fled once the leader died.

They used the monk method to disarm the door trap. He intentionally opened the door and then got a critical success on the reflex save.

Water and Earth Encounter: They started exploring without resting, it was only noon... (Here is where PFS may have established some habits, I think they have become accustomed to the PFS way of 'you can rest once the mission is done' style of writing). This encounter was still engaging and fun even with the party wounded. The water elemental managed to push a ranger in the water and was trying to drown him with grabs and its reaction ability, the fighter was jumping in to save the ranger, everyone was dealing with the wild card earth elemental that kept popping out of the ground. Eventually the ranger got knocked out in the water, almost drowned but was carried out by the fighter and every fled the room after a beating. The new versus old dying rules did not change a lot here strangely.

After the fight the ranger managed to knock himself out with combat medic while attempting to squeeze some extra healing out. Trick Magic Item may be taken by characters in the future so that they can use a wand (yes, PFS habits). They also cast invisibility on the monk at this point and scouted the complex.

Fire and Air Encounter:: The invisible monk scouted the room and noped out.

The Puzzle: This took 9 hours and I had aids stack. I would have rather that this check took 4 hours at a lower DC had a time result dependant on the check result. Like the DC 20 lock in chapter 1, this got old fast.

Funny enough they discussed but decided against taking a card from the villian playbook and waiting until the cultists arrived and solved the puzzle.

Mummy Encounter: The mummies rolled a lot of crits and the party did not have a lot of hit points. This is where the group hero point / death tanked. This was 6 days ago so I can't give a play by play, but characters were knocked down to zero 9 times between the water elemental and the mummies. The sorcerer was able to burning hands the mummies and his dying teammates, and they used hero points to rejoin the fight. Characters rolled hot on recovery rolls to join the fight again quickly. And in the end they were able to kill the mummies, three of them only had 1 hp but they won. The monk did run ahead and free Mabar in a huge gamble in round 1 so he did tank two of the mummies helping the group out.

The treasure room: After Mabar's warnings one character went in blindfolded and felt around until the found the artifact.

With the artifact in hand they booked it out and never looked back. This was day 8.

Closing Thoughts: Can we try to the next draft of the dying rules?


I few things I forgot to add:

One character bought a wand for the druid. I should have refunded that into an equivalent cost of potions.

Resonance again never really came up. Maybe at higher levels? Or maybe it will become a constraint once the characters are more familiar with the game and really start min-maxing.


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I ruled complex Hazards as Detection DC = 10+Steatlh Mod. Rereading the chapter thanks to StratoNexus made me realise this is wrong. Well, write me down for undetectable Hazards are stupd...

Also, wow, your Groups dice must have been on fire to get through all these Encounters without a healer!


DerNils wrote:

I ruled complex Hazards as Detection DC = 10+Steatlh Mod. Rereading the chapter thanks to StratoNexus made me realise this is wrong. Well, write me down for undetectable Hazards are stupd...

Also, wow, your Groups dice must have been on fire to get through all these Encounters without a healer!

Big thing with the dying rules, taking 35 hp of damage in two hits is the same as taking 2 points of damage in two hits (mummy crit followed by burning hands auto crit). It really became apparent that there was a bottom to the hole and that once they hit one hp they couldn't dig themselves any deeper. Hero points accelerated this.

Their recovery dice were hot, but the enemies were criting like mad also.


Yeah, that is a nice example how the dying rules are abstracting a bit too far for me. Only differentiating the Dying condition between Crit or no crit is really strange when one hit if a flaming sword of doom and the other is a 5 foot drop.
And replacing the recovery DC does only make my head hurt more...


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Chapter 3 Session 1A:

Five players. Cleric of Desna, Cleric of Pharasma, Bard, Cleric of Urgathoa, and Paladin of Calistria. Yes we know paladin of Calistria is no allowed, we decided to run with it instead of remaking a character last minute. Having a cleric of Pharasma and Urgathoa was definitely awkward, as a group we should have coordinated a little better and we could have avoided this.

The cleric of Urgathoa... I dropped some hints that that was hard fit but they prepared a few heal spells so they met the requirements I gave them. This character did not take command undead, so they are having a rough go. Also their anathema gave us pause but I figured that destroying only a few undead, so not to sacrifice themselves, would get a pass otherwise how could necromancers fight each other (break a few eggs to make an omelette)?

The Investigation: This is may regular PFS group and the impulse to explore and investigate is set fairly deep, when they found out they have free reign of the manor they turned the place inside out finding all the evidence. Then they tried to play it subtle with the Professor instead of confronting him with the evidence... I used Lucvi to bring the plot to a head and get his confession. They then set a watch and went to sleep.

Enounter 1: I added an additional ghast for the 5 player adjustment. The group was able to come down to the door and stop the professor from opening it but many were out of armor. The ghasts were able to deal some damage based on the raw number of attacks, but once the clerics got into position to use two 3 action heals they went down.

Encounter 2: One extra vampire rogue for the 5 player adjustment. The two positive clerics were up on the balcony clearing ivy when this wave came through the front door so they took 2-3 round to join the fight. And they didn't barricade the front door, but worked on the side doors instead. So the poor cleric of Urgathoa got mobbed and went down after 2 rounds of everything attacking him. I played the ghasts as mad hungry beasts and they continued to attack the cleric after he went down, they wanted to feast. The cleric used a hero point to survive this and run back to the group. Once the other clerics arrived and got everything within 30 ft, the 3 action heals made short work of the swarm.

We stopped here for the night.

Closing Thoughts: The specific anthema characters have will require a lot of coordination and good communication of the campaign theme. This shouldn't be a problem normally but I'm trying to figure out how to handle this in PFS.

Resonance is getting used up as two character grabbed rings of the ram. We will see if they run out.

Hero points are being viewed as only a way to avoid death, with their 2 or 3 point options being ignored.


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The bard took master in medicine with assurance and combat medic. They are determined to playtest that feat into the ground.

No one changed their master skills due to the changes in signature skills.

It was at the end of the game that the Cleric of Desna found out that casting Heal didn't use heal but had its own pool. WE then laughed about tracking spells, spell points, the dedicated healing pool, resonance, and charges on his staff of healing and how the plan was to cut down on the items tracked. Jokes aside, this is still less resources at level 7 than some of my characters in pf1 juggling metamagic rods and different pools from multiclassing.


DM Livgin wrote:

The bard took master in medicine with assurance and combat medic. They are determined to playtest that feat into the ground.

No one changed their master skills due to the changes in signature skills.

It was at the end of the game that the Cleric of Desna found out that casting Heal didn't use heal spell points but had its own
healing pool. We then laughed about tracking spells, spell points, the dedicated healing pool, resonance, and charges on his staff of healing and how the plan was to cut down on the items tracked. Jokes aside, this is still less resources at level 7 than some of my characters in pf1 juggling metamagic rods and different pools from multiclassing.

Editing.

Paizo Employee Designer

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DerNils wrote:

I ruled complex Hazards as Detection DC = 10+Steatlh Mod. Rereading the chapter thanks to StratoNexus made me realise this is wrong. Well, write me down for undetectable Hazards are stupd...

Also, wow, your Groups dice must have been on fire to get through all these Encounters without a healer!

DC is always 10 + modifier. You were right the first time.


Ah, thanks for the clarification! Would be good to clarify the wording or update the Hazard Statblocks in this case.


Mark Seifter wrote:
DerNils wrote:

I ruled complex Hazards as Detection DC = 10+Steatlh Mod. Rereading the chapter thanks to StratoNexus made me realise this is wrong. Well, write me down for undetectable Hazards are stupd...

Also, wow, your Groups dice must have been on fire to get through all these Encounters without a healer!

DC is always 10 + modifier. You were right the first time.

Yay! That definitely seems better, i did not like the idea of an undetectable Hazard or Trap.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DM Livgin wrote:
Hero points are being viewed as only a way to avoid death, with their 2 or 3 point options being ignored.

Some issue with my group. I think the first option is too powerful as is. I would suggest having 1 hero point reduce the dying condition by 1 and not revive you to 1 HP.

I suspect though we might see some 2 Hero Point spent on the save-or-die rolls. Good news if you fail: you get 1 Hero Point back! Bad news is your still dead though and can't spent it. :-)


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Chapter 3 Session 2A:

The Deceiver: We had the character that made a cleric of Urgathoa make a near identical cleric of Gorum. At the start of the session he stumbled into the main hall bloodied and covered in undead ichor, calling out the cleric of Urgathoa as an imposter and a spy. The group then killed the old character and welcomed the new cleric to the group. The player had much more fun this session, being able to contribute meaningfully.

One player missed this session due to double booking. We had 4 players for this session.

Encounter 3: The wights and poltergeist. The players loved the theme of the poltergeist. The first 2 wights were slowed down by barrackades so the group got into position and cut them down as they arrived, easily finishing off the 4 wights (half good tactics, half good dice roll). The poltergeist was a interesting encounter that made the group plan and think, rewarded the use of fairy fire, rewarded the use of the ring of the ram, but wasn't excessively frustrating.

Some undead have negative healing, others don't. I couldn't figure out if this was an intentional difference or just editing.

We didn't know if a summoned creature could act on the turn it arrived.

Encounter 4: The zombies and shadows. The zombies came out of the lake just as the characters finished clearing the ivy, so the group had some warning and the zombies had to run around the manor to the front door. The shadows came through the roof and ambushed the two characters that were clearing ivy as they came down the stairs. They easily stole their shadows over two rounds. I like the revision of the incorporeal rules so that could not attack from inside walls, it felt more fair and removed cheesy, frustrating, smart enemy tactics.

I didn't know if the shadows could continue enfeebling after successfully stealing the character shadow. Cause they would have caused enfeeble 8 on an 8 strength if they had continued.

It took many rounds and several 3 action heals, but they killed the shadows and dropped a chandelier on the zombie mob.

During the investigation phase, the cleric of pharasma sanctified the ground around the professor's room after discovering the occult writing on the walls. It was useful against the shadows.

Encounter 5: The manor is in ruin, barricades are in ruin, oil fires have burnt out, the chandelier in on the floor. The moved to the library, sat on the couches in front of the professor's room and waited for what would come next.

The brain collector was less threatening as they used their last reserves and got lucky on dice. The vampires struggled because a few characters had stuffed their pockets with garlic.

They got 1d4 bleed and 1d4 burning on the brain collector at the same time. I was concerned persistent damage would be negligible against an opponent with 105 HP but it did a significant amount of damage (12?).

The bosses spells had a 30 ft max range. That meant it had to really move to get into range. This was an additional challenge when one of the characters was enlarged to huge and had a 20' reach on his whip. I'm concerned about how caster characters will do fighting huge enemies with large reaches. They will have to really group up to get in range with spells, endangering themselves. This is mitigated by casters being far less squishy. I personally liked the scaling spell range. The increase in range, especially with short range spells, really felt like an increase in the character's power and allowed the party to spread out on the battlefield as the fights became more heroic. It was a pet peeve that spells like haste didn't also scale in range (30' target to target).

Closing Thoughts: The characters used the rings of the ram heavily but didn't run out of resonance. They liked the ring of the ram as it felt fun and useful. However the once per ten minutes restriction in combination with resonance felt like it was trying to solve the same problem twice.

Character are struggling with purchasing items. Many of them did not spend the majority of their gold. Some of this is option fatigue and they keep building characters. Some of this is uncertainty with how many consumables they should be using, they worry that loading up on consumables for a one-shot is not in the spirit of the game.


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A little off topic, but, it looks like you reside in GP. Good to see another local providing PF2 play test feedback. My group, which is not part of the PFS, has been running through the Doomsday Dawn chapters. Next session we will reach the final encounter of Chapter 4. It’s been a blast so far and update 1.3 looks to continue to move the game in the right direction.


Strachan Fireblade wrote:
A little off topic, but, it looks like you reside in GP. Good to see another local providing PF2 play test feedback. My group, which is not part of the PFS, has been running through the Doomsday Dawn chapters. Next session we will reach the final encounter of Chapter 4. It’s been a blast so far and update 1.3 looks to continue to move the game in the right direction.

It is always a pleasant surprise to meet a local online. We should do a GM guest player exchange! I've sent you a private message.

We start chapter 4 this week. I'm excited for it but concerned about the Lake Serpent.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DM Livgin wrote:
Strachan Fireblade wrote:
A little off topic, but, it looks like you reside in GP. Good to see another local providing PF2 play test feedback. My group, which is not part of the PFS, has been running through the Doomsday Dawn chapters. Next session we will reach the final encounter of Chapter 4. It’s been a blast so far and update 1.3 looks to continue to move the game in the right direction.

It is always a pleasant surprise to meet a local online. We should do a GM guest player exchange! I've sent you a private message.

We start chapter 4 this week. I'm excited for it but concerned about the Lake Serpent.

Thanks for PM. I responded!

The Lake Monster is easily the most dangerous fight so far for my group in that chapter. Be sure to read up on the water/underwater combat rules as this is a complex fight to run. Be aware that Toughness can be chipped away at after a player is swallowed. The swallowed character can do damage over multiple attacks/rounds and once the toughness value is reached, they can escape. I specifically asked during a Friday livestream how Toughness worked and Stephen Radney McFarland responded directly to my question.

I made a few errors that I realized in hindsight and the fight was very close to a TPK and probably should have been. My players started using much better tactics in the latter half of the encounter and they had several crits that turned the tide in their favor. We also, paused the fight mid fight as it was getting late and I think the break allowed the players to rethink what needed to be done as they felt overwhelmed early on. Without this break, I think they would have died.


Sombrefell Hall: I was concerned when I read the paralyzed condition that it would remove some lethality from ghasts and ghouls. In PF1 I believe they are a terrifying level 1-2 encounter. The effects of paralysis never came up in my game largely due to the high character level relative to the ghasts.


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Chapter 2, Session 1;

We had one player cancel due to work, another cancel due to health. We had a Monk, an Arcane Sorcerer, and a Bard. The rules update came out Monday so the players never really internalized the changes.

Encounter 1 (Roc Nest): Yep. This was the first encounter... The bard took shadow walk, shadow walk appears to be a very good pick for this chapter. The group picked one of the headwaters and went straight there.

I was making a 3 player adjustment on the fly so this encounter was harder than intended. I made one roc weak where I should have made them both weak. I also had the encounter at the peak of the mountain with the nest up a switchback and an aggressive sloped cliff to one side, this made the roc's favorite tactic of grabbing and dropping prey extraordinarily effective. The terrain was a level 9+ opponent in this fight. I played up the rocs animal intelligence and confusion at these small creatures that aren't running to prevent a TPK. The monks cat fall reduced the 90 falling damage to 65 falling damage, it didn't save them.

The gnome bard tried to talk the rocs down at the start of the fight, but having come here first they didn't know why the rocs were acting weird. Between the missing info and division in the group on talk or fight they failed to find a peaceful resolution.

The group never complained about the auto-succeed grabs. The sorcerer failed to cast fly while grabbed due to the DC 5 failure change, and then decided that she would just grab the roc in return to make sure she couldn't be dropped.

The monk went to 0 from the fall and recovered normally. The monk bargained with the GM to use a hero point to create a rockslide to use the monk wind walk ability to run up the mountainside. After rejoining the fight they went down again and were saved by a level 1 soothe. The Sorcerer was knocked down recovered normally once then was knocked down by a crit and used a hero point to avoid death on his next recovery roll with the wound + crit combo. The bard was knocked down once and used a hero point to wake up and immediately heal the monk who used their only hero point to run up the mountain and was one the verge of death.

Encounter 2 (The group has left the rails): The group continued to use shadow walk to explore, first hitting hex K with the slain reinforcements then moving on to hex M (Ramlock's tower). Because shadow walk is actually crossing the shadow plane and has a chance of encountering the denizens of it, we were using a DC 2 flat check to avoid encounters on the shadow plane. They rolled a 1 on this trip.

So I used the well laid out bestiary creature by level table to quickly create a encounter with a night hag, nightmare, and greater shadow. This encounter went well except that the hag spell soul bind is under bind soul in the rulebook and the hag spell etherealness is missing from the rulebook. I didn't want to make up a spell on the spot I had the hag turn invisible to try to flee instead of casting etherealness. She did not escape. The group needed a win after the roc fight.

Closing Thoughts: The challenge of jumping into high level characters is really starting to show. A lot of time is spent on deciding what to do or looking up abilities. I think it is still better than PF1 though (PFS pregens only go to level 7 for a reason).

The dying rules kept players in the fight but also the stakes felt super high. My group had lucky dice rolls on recovering though. More games are required. It was neat to have a character isolated from the group able to recover by themselves due to lucky rolls or hero points, that didn't happen in PF1.

There is a decreasing amount of focus on exploration tactics.


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Everyone is looking at their dice collections and thinking about switching to digital rollers.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

One thing our group started to do about 5 years ago is roll attack and damage rolls at the same time. While not as fast as damage rollers, it is one step less in having to grab dice and wait for a result.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Thanks for the 1.3 playtest feedback on the new dying rules and other features. It's good to know that it was easier to jump into 9th level characters than before (let us know if it continues to be so for the higher levels).


After the Roc fight the group patched up their wounds with the medicine skill over 3 hours. For the amount they healed this seemed fast. We discussed a bit if it should take an hour instead of 10 minutes but never came to a conclusion. The character rolling could have critical failed but didn't, I'm sure we would have felt different if they failed.

We compared this to our Pale Mountain disaster, and the group could have fully headed without loosing meaningful time.


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Chapter 4, Session 2;

One player is still out sick, so we had 4 players. Cleric multi-fighter, Monk, an Arcane Sorcerer, and a Bard

Encounter 1 (Not again!): Since they were making good time I stuck with immersion and had Keleri send a dream message to inform them that an ally had arrived in camp. They shadow walked to camp and then back to the Ramlock's Tower hex... And rolled another 1 for encounters on the shadow plane. After a round of combat with a black dragon (lvl 12) they noped out.

Ramlocks Tower: After finding the tower the part scouted a bit then decided to come back later.

The Lake: After a lot of scouting and talking to the fish the party discovered that there was a lot of 'food that is not food' at the bottom of the lake and found a few ancient gold coins washed up on the beach shore. From Read Omens they concluded that there was a lake monster.

To my surprise the returned to camp and wanted to rent a boat! So 2d4 days later the 'Laughing Crow' a stout river boat arrived, retrofitted with a monster hunting ballista... Equipped with water breathing and water walking they set out.

The boat was capsized in round one. The capsize ability is really drastic compared to most monster and character abilities; it takes one action and fully succeeds on a success. The character never had a chance to respond, it won initiative, then capsized the boat, then used its spine rake to hit everyone the fell in the water. 3 characters passed the acrobatics check to grab an edge, grabbing railings and riggings to stay out of the water (I had the capsize rotate the boat 90 degrees instead of 180 degrees). There was no 'we need a bigger boat' jokes, a mistake in hindsight.

There was a few high points but the fight really felt like a slog. The monster made most his saves against spells, most character attacks missed, most monster attacks hit. It was a battle of attrition and I found myself missing the game of Rocket Tag. The characters really felt like their cool abilities did nothing (it made most it's saves against cone of cold and phantasmal killer). The bard resorted to consecutive magic missiles for the guaranteed damage, but wasn't excited about it. The sorcerer tried his ring of the ram because it was an ability that didn't have a save. The cleric fight had bad rolls on true strike which hurt his moral.

I had cone of cold freeze the water and cause the sea serpent to be slowed for a round. I'm really enjoying the freedom to improvise, I've been playing PFS for the last 4 years

It the end they won the fight with only the cleric going down.

The monk bought +3 handwraps with the treasure. Here we noticed the he forgot to add his +2 item bonus but was overcounting his expert bonus resulting in his to hit being one too low for the whole serpent fight. We also noticed the cleric was rolling 2d8 instead of 3d8 for their +2 sword. This lifted spirits as they kicked themselves.

The dryad: After taking it slow and exploring the whole forest the dryad confronted them as they entered it's hex. There was a fast but organic roleplay encounter as they made a good impression and learned about the cyclops longhouse.

They were extremely happy for the RP encounter after the combat slogs they had been in. This relieved a lot of tension.

The Cyclops Longhouse: Another organic RP encounter as they came to an uneasy truce with the creatures and found out about the dragon. They agreed to deal with the dragon.

They had another shadow plane encounter in the middle here but they immediately noped out, making my life easier.

The Dragon: Class features gave the players agency here. The bard made the cleric and monk invisible. The sorcerer used Enthrall to distract the giant who was on watch. While he was distracted the monk and cleric sneaked forward, the cleric critically failed his stealth check, this gave the giant another save against enthrall at the same time that the dragon came out of his cave to investigate who was speaking to his minion. Even though the giant snapped out of the enthrall, the distracting and the invisibility gave them a great starting position.

The giant desperately fought off the monk and cleric that quickly flanked it while invisible. The dragon was mobile, taking to the air to stay safe while using it's breath weapon and then landing to close in melee before taking to the air again. The players were talking tactics the whole time, the sorcerer had a win when he hit both enemies with a cone for cold doing bonus damage even though they passed their saves. They won the fight with only one character going down.

After the sea serpent fight the monk had started favoring ghost strike, willing to trade the extra action for the lower AC target. It served him well in this fight.

I was prepping in a hurry and didn't notice that the red dragon had spells... That would have might the fight slightly more difficult.

We wrapped up on this high point, the group returned to the cyclopses and dryad acquiring their help. I expect them to attack the cultist next week without ever discovering the gnomes and resolving the roc sub-plot.

Closing Thoughts: Level+3 monsters can turn into an attrition slog; abilities that require saves become unreliable, character attacks miss frequently. Writers and GMs will have to use these sparingly and carefully.

Frightened comes and goes so fast it is easy to forget about. I might grab a few MtG swamp cards to hand out as frightened trackers. But this is normal learning curve stuff, I had the same problem with PF1 conditions.

Martial characters are learning that the extra attacks are less effective against boss enemies and are playing smarter with their second and third actions.

I offered the players the option to keep using their characters instead of making all new ones for Chapter 5 and 6 (to help with fatigue), some are thinking about it but it looks like most will continue making new ones (the increasing resources that the community has made is helping a lot).


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Bonus post!

I’d been invited as a guest player to join another local game as a player for Chapter 5 (shoutout to Strachan Fireblade)! I’ve skimmed this chapter during my prep but have delayed my detailed prep so that I can enjoy most of the experience without knowing the specifics.

I’m made a elven Monk with the Sorcerer (Angelic) Multiclass. I chose this class because:
- The monks in my group looked like they were having a lot of fun.
- The group I’m joining hasn’t tried the monk, sorcerer, or multiclassing yet.
- I’ve always wanted to make a winged martial character but it never happened in PF1 for various reasons.

I’ve focused on the bloodline powers while (attempting to) maintaining combat usefulness. All with the end goal of making a angelic crusader; capable of assassinating demonic leaders, navigating the hazards of the worldwound, protecting his allies in battle, and serving as a beacon of light.

After watching my player flail at monsters with -4 or -8 to hit I’ve decided to double down on finding uses for my 2nd and 3rd options. Taking Shield, Forbidding Ward, and Circle of Protection from Angelic Halo. Because he has Fly from Angelic Wings I’ve skipped all the monk mobility options. For many of his feats he focused on Ki powers: Ki Strike, Wholeness of Body, and Abundant Step. Lastly he took one stance; Tangled Forest Stance. This was not an organic character. He would have been less than useful at any of the lower levels. The retraining rules are fairly forgiving in the playtest, so this character could hypothetically be the end result of a long path of retraining as he leveled up. It took about 4 hours of distracted work to make this character, but this isn’t unusual for me.

I’m really excited to play this character as I feel I’ve hit my two character objectives: Make an angelic crusader and use the second and third actions for things other than attacking. I'll post an update after playing.


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Moonmere Hex Exploration: The group had frequent successes while exploring but only one critical success (which was the rocs who were very difficult to recruit as allies). They took it in stride as a time mechanic and we explored the entire forest in just a few minutes of table time.

As a GM I was sad to see the DC go up because I wanted them to find the gnomes and get the backstory on the angry rocs.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DM Livgin wrote:

Bonus post!

I’d been invited as a guest player to join another local game as a player for Chapter 5 (shoutout to Strachan Fireblade)! I’ve skimmed this chapter during my prep but have delayed my detailed prep so that I can enjoy most of the experience without knowing the specifics.

I’m made a elven Monk with the Sorcerer (Angelic) Multiclass. I chose this class because:
- The monks in my group looked like they were having a lot of fun.
- The group I’m joining hasn’t tried the monk, sorcerer, or multiclassing yet.
- I’ve always wanted to make a winged martial character but it never happened in PF1 for various reasons.

I’ve focused on the bloodline powers while (attempting to) maintaining combat usefulness. All with the end goal of making a angelic crusader; capable of assassinating demonic leaders, navigating the hazards of the worldwound, protecting his allies in battle, and serving as a beacon of light.

After watching my player flail at monsters with -4 or -8 to hit I’ve decided to double down on finding uses for my 2nd and 3rd options. Taking Shield, Forbidding Ward, and Circle of Protection from Angelic Halo. Because he has Fly from Angelic Wings I’ve skipped all the monk mobility options. For many of his feats he focused on Ki powers: Ki Strike, Wholeness of Body, and Abundant Step. Lastly he took one stance; Tangled Forest Stance. This was not an organic character. He would have been less than useful at any of the lower levels. The retraining rules are fairly forgiving in the playtest, so this character could hypothetically be the end result of a long path of retraining as he leveled up. It took about 4 hours of distracted work to make this character, but this isn’t unusual for me.

I’m really excited to play this character as I feel I’ve hit my two character objectives: Make an angelic crusader and use the second and third actions for things other than attacking. I'll post an update after playing.

It was a pleasure having you! It was the first monk our table experienced in the playtest. My impression was that your monk was very versatile, capable of overcoming many obstacles. Monk damage felt like it was on the higher end. Overall, as DM for the session, it felt as though the monk was nicely balanced between offence, defence, and utility. I'd like to hear more of your thoughts!

For others reading, I will add that Chapter 5 is the first time I felt combat became a bit of a slog. Fights were a little too long in my opinion and at this point healing is becoming a little ridiculous. An enemy spends 2-3 actions to dish out damage and a single action heal spell completely wipes the damage away (and then some). More and more rules are also being used which forces us to consult the manual more often as well which points to a definite increase in complexity at this level. There definitely needs to be some fine tuning of combat at these levels but overall the experience continues to be fun.

One other interesting point is that different players have different ideas on how to "spend their 3rd action". Some like to use this at the beginning of their turn, others at the end. There seems to be no clear consensus as to what is the best order of taking actions. This suits the new action economy well.


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Chapter 4, Session 3;

Back to 5 players as our goblin paladin players health recovered. We had a monk, bard, sorcerer, paladin, cleric m/fighter (multiclass fighter).

Gnome Village: The group didn't ask Keleri about the area until after they explored a bit so I forgot about her info on the gnomes. She gave that info at the start of the session and the group went searching for the gnomes as Keleri led her mercenaries up the river. The group found the gnomes after a critical success in an empty tile and acquired their aid (having killed the rocs in session 1).

We got to talk about the uniqueness of gnomes for a bit here (bleaching, first world, and so). I really like these chances to take five minutes and tell the players about Golarion, it adds a layer of immersion and wonder.

Ramlocks Tower: Arriving early with shadow walk, the group spent two days scouting before the Keleri arrived gaining 5 research points.

The group was able to pre-buff and had +4 to initiative but the enemy rolled hot and still won initiative. With the mummy pharaoh, two cultists and the brain collector the fight felt fun and challenging to the players.

The mummy was pillowfisted compared to the dragon/roc/giant/sea serpent, while the cultists spent their time healing + buffing, and the brain collector took two rounds to buff and found the fight mostly lost by the time it joined in. Still, the players had fun and it felt good after so many hard hard fights. Except for the bard who failed his save against greater despair and was paralyzed for 4 rounds, the fight ended on round 4. He was asking about ways to remove the paralysis early.

Resilient sphere was fun; the monk critically saved, but the cleric m/fighter got trapped in it for a round.

Closing Thoughts: I think there is a breakpoint as soon as the party starts fighting level +1 or +2 enemies where in combat healing becomes necessary. This boss fight felt like P1, it was a tough go, characters were almosts dead, but they won without anyone goin down... except that they never used any healing resources during the fight. Against the high level enemies someone was using healing every round in order to stay in the fight.

Players kept on forgetting about some of the other actions they could take: recall knowledge, take cover, seek.

We are taking a short break from the Doomsday Dawn Adventure as on of my players will run PT-2 Raiders of Shrieking Peak next week. I will be playing a wizard to investigate the feeling that casting spells with saves against bosses is ineffective.


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First off. There has been some meanness and lack of empathy on the forums especially towards the developers, it is upsetting to witness that as a spectator, and everyone on the receiving end of that has my sympathy. I am loving being part of this beta-playtest and am so happy that Paizo is so dedicated to the craft that they invited all of us to participate in the playtest. You are my heros.

PT-2 Raider of Shrieking Peak

As a change of pace one of my players and occasional PFS GM ran PT-2. Our game night is Tuesday so everyone had only a day to absorb the focus rules. The timing on that was both fortunate that we got to participate in the test, and unfortunate that we were caught by surprise and didn’t thoroughly internalize the changes.

With five players, Fumbus got left behind.

Of all the playtesting this one felt the most like a PF1 adventure, in part because we are regular PFS players and this plot fit the mold well.

Recruiting the minotaurs: It may have been our GM rushing things but this is where the DCs and bonuses fell apart. We did not want the minotaurs attacking any more caravans but our diplomacy check rolled low. We hand waved it that Kyra hung around the camp until she convinced them but the plan B on our list was to bring them all to ‘justice’. This is the problem of having Seoni and Kyra, both investing in a skill yet still failing. We were uncompromising on bribing them or uttering the words of their evil god. I don't know if fighting the minotaurs was within the scope of the scenario or not.

I’m going to start commenting on this directly in the future as I feel this is one of the major challenges with the playtest, but to start with the foundation: a +10 to attack feels significantly better than a +8 to attack when a character makes ten attack rolls during a combat. The +10 and +8 don’t feel that different when a character makes a single, important skill check.

As much as I gripe about this, Kyra had an 8 point difference between diplomacy (an expert skill), and pathfinder lore (an untrained ability). And that difference was felt relevant during the investigation phase.

Surprise Rounds: The rogue used a focus point to extend the potion of invisibility duration up to 10 minutes. With the awesome stealth bonus from invisibility he was able to sneak up right behind the harpy and backstab. The GM struggled so much with the cognitive dissonance of no surprise stab that he just gave the player his own surprise round.

Next time this comes up I’ll try just giving the invisible character a 20+bonus on initiative and see how it feels. My gut feeling is that you can’t hit hard enough in a single round to make the advantage of going first feel like a reward for a successful ambush.

Hero Points: Hero points again are forgotten about until someone was dying. I would like hero points to be integrally tied into the system if they are going to be included (core to the system, or a fully optional tack-on system). If Focus points are kept, can hero points be rolled in with them?

Captivating Song: We didn’t know how to break captivating song. We read the rules as the song is only broke if the ‘harpy’ attacks the target. With the specifics of the monster’s ability overriding the general of the fascinated condition. The GM thought this wasn’t fun and would be a wipe, so he has those who failed re-roll every round but kept that only the harpy could break it.

Healing in hard fights: Playing Kyra I felt like I had to heal instead of using some of her other cool abilities. I really wanted to try out her fire ray power, but there always seemed to be a better or more urgent option. This feeling intensified in the final fight as I had to choose between healing the party and trying to dispel the compulsion on a guard.

Resonance: We had a lukewarm reception to the 10 resonance points. We don't dislike it, but aren't excited about it either; it is a way to track slots. We are happy that +armor and +saves is on the same item and are not competing for a slot with more fun / narrative choices.

Focus: I used my focus to boost a heal with the domain power and use the wand of heal multiple times out of combat. I've been GMing more than playing so I don't have a good comparison to the resonance system. I like the ability to boost magic items it has a hero feeling to it, even though I never used it to get more uses out of the prayer beads.

Seoni used focus points on her staff to cast comprehend language twice instead of expending spell slots.

Valeros used his trying to get a viper arrow to land.

Amiri never used any.

Merisiel used hers to extend the invisibility potion.

In Part 5, The Heroes of Undarin I made a Monk multiclass sorcerer who took many powers and gained many power points. I'm trying to imagine how this character would play under the focus rules. They are really enjoying having their angelic halo active all the time and being able to create wings as needing while being able to single action self heal. However it has become clear to the GM and I that this character is not at risk of death until they run out of spell points, and therefor healing.

Closing Thoughts: We had fun playing this. The focus / resonance changes did not feel significant to me although I've been mostly GMing.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Thanks for testing out the new focus/resonance rules!


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DM Livgin wrote:

First off. There has been some meanness and lack of empathy on the forums especially towards the developers, it is upsetting to witness that as a spectator, and everyone on the receiving end of that has my sympathy. I am loving being part of this beta-playtest and am so happy that Paizo is so dedicated to the craft that they invited all of us to participate in the playtest. You are my heros.

Hear, hear!

I don't post a lot, but I too feel this needs to be said, and more often.

They obviously love to game, made it their profession, and are greatly interested in making their mark in the landscape of ttrpg with 2e.

They aren't evil, purposefully dumb or mean spirited, or out to screw consumers. People need to recognize.

Thanks for the write ups!


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Bonus Post: Guest Player in the Heroes of Undarin

We had four players; a goblin Paladin of Desna (players are not noticing the deity alignment restrictions, but they are not as familiar with golarion), a goblin arcane sorcerer, an elf alchemist m/ bard, and myself an elf monk. The paladin chose a flail and I feel like the d6 dice set them back, and the disarm feature they wanted to try never came up (they missed that the holy rune did damage on every hit and that the healing was the activated part, that would have made a huge difference in the first event especially with the weakness clarification). The alchemist was throwing bombs but felt the ever inevitable resource crunch, it was just a matter of time before they ran out.

The Numbers: The tight math felt good, the huge number of attack rolls that were made really highlighted any small bonuses. With 40+(?) attacks rolled by each of us, a +1 to AC or attack made a difference several times. Several times I was stopping to ask if inspire courage was up, instead of having to be reminded that it was up.

Mooks: In the first fight against the slaver demons I played safe (move, flurry, shield; flurry, forbidding ward; shield, flurry, concentrate) and it took a few rounds to realize that these slaver demons were relatively weak. It wasn’t to the 4th round of combat before I realized I should be treating them as mooks and spend all three actions attacking.

Against the lich and the ghost mages we had a meta moment as we were trying to guess who the mooks were and if the ghost mages were the bigger or smaller threat. We killed one ghost mage quickly then ignored the other to focus on the lich.

Repetition: There is a certain repetition in any fight, where we would often end up taking the same actions for two rounds in a row. I’m accustomed to P1 rocket-tag, so it always a shock when the round comes around and the battlefield is generally the same; requiring no changes in tactics.

I haven’t played a caster yet, but from my armchair I’m worried about how fast a caster burns through resources in this way.

Healing: We had a paladin, his wand of healing, the monk with wholeness of body, and the alchemist elixirs for healing. Against Treachery Demons it really felt like healing outpaced damage. With wholeness of body healing 11d8+1 hp I could could stand toe to toe with the demon for as long as I had spell points (I had a spell point pool running of charisma due to the sorcerer multiclass, and lots of bonus points from the powers I'd taken). The paladin experience was similar.

Even against the demi-lich my character died when he ran out of spell points for healing. I feel that it was the quantity of healing that was the main factor that determined how long we were able to survive the night. This has always existed in the system in some shape (not always healing, but resources of one type or the other) but it has always been hidden a few layers deeper. I feel that the deep dark GM secret that player characters aren’t supposed to die has bubbled to close to the surface, now how the sausage is made is to hard to ignore. I remember running a P1 villain wizard who had just enough damage spells to exactly kill the party, the party felt like their life was on the line the whole fight but I knew that he was on his last fireball and they had a guaranteed win (#6-09 written by Justin Juan).

I’ve had a few P1 characters where I kept a running tally of damage through all their games, never erasing it, just making a long list of taking damage and receiving healing. After this session, the damager tally on this monk was as long as the damage tally on my level 10 PFS monk. It is very apparent that taking damage is common, where it was uncommon for a tank-type character in P1.

I took toughness as a general feat, it didn't change how the fight went. In the future I'll be trying to find the sweet-spot number of HP where you will survive to be healed instead of getting as many as possible.

Monster Archetypes: Every enemy felt like a brute archetype, unlike level 1 where there was a different feel to different enemies but that might be because that whole first wave was demons... The ghost mages felt squishier that the slaver demons (I did not think they were the same monster level until I looked it up).

Sword and Wand? The paladin spent most the fights with a healing wand in one hand, a flail in the other. It was really effective…

Haste: I didn’t like haste when I read it, I saw one extra attack at -8 or -10 and wrote it off as useless. During the game Haste was very good for using those -8 attacks against mooks like the ghost mages and for moving against the lich so that I could get the most out of my other actions (move, flurry, forbidding ward; move, flurry, concentrate, shield)

Backup weapons: Took a javelin as a backup weapon, never used it. Those damage dice looked too small (also, I had ANGEL WINGS!). I will need to compare this to existing PF1 characters that don’t have good backup options. Theoretically the scaling of weaknesses/resistances should make backup weapons practical but as a monk I never got to play around with it. I did drop out of tangled tree stance to switch to bludgeoning damage against the lich, that kind of counts as a backup weapon.

I was happy that I could change stances to be more effective and that I could fly control the sky like an awesome terrible angelic monk crusader.

Concealed, Sensed, Unseen: A party member (Sorcerer) got hit by blindness, wasn’t my character so this is mostly commentary: but I’m loving the sensed / unseen difference. After being blinded the sorcerer was still able to participate in the fight, but with the 50% miss chance. It was a bit rough because everyone was wrapping their heads around the rules, but it felt like a robust fair system.

It is improvements like this that make me the most excited for P2.

Spell Points: For Powers I had: Ki Strike, Abundant Step, Wholeness of Body, Angelic Halo, and Angelic Wings. As much as I want to gripe about Wholeness of Body healing being too strong, I used most of my powers. I kept Angelic Halo up at all times, used Angelic Wings to get and flying enemies, and Abundant Step to get close to a Treachery Demon without it getting an AoO. Ki Strike was only used when my character only had a single Ki point left and was down to 15 hp, making a last hail mary against the lich before his inevitable death (the attack hit the lich AC exactly… but made no difference in out inevitable doom).

I just looked at the online character sheet for my P1 level 10 monk, his special attack line is this: Special Attacks heat shimmer (6 rounds/day, DC 15), place magic (6/day), pounce, rake (2 claws +12, 2d4+6), smite evil 1/day (+0 attack and AC, +10 damage), stunning fist (7/day, DC 18), wild shape (4/day). The unified spell points simplified tracking.

Automatic Knowledge: This monk had Assurance (religion) and Automatic Knowledge. Against the liches assurance did not hit the first DC (going back and looking at the 1.4 table, it doesn’t hit most DCs). These two feats don’t feel like they are functioning correctly.

Grabbed: My group and this group both read the grabbed rule to say manipulate action, any activity, any free action, or any reaction instead of manipulate action, manipulate activity, manipulate free action, or manipulate reaction. I choose the second reading as my hill to die on.

Encounter Length: The fights felt long, but we had 6 encounters in 2.5 sessions. It’s not too bad. I haven’t decided yet if only some fine tuning is required or if I think there is a larger challenge.


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P1 Parody Feedback: I was at a local PFS convention over the weekend, for comparison I had a look at the weekend's games with the same criticalness we are applying to the playtest:

Critical Hits: What's the deal with x3 crits? They just add this unavoidable random chance of death. A fighter in the group got one shot with this x3 Butcher's Axe (3d6 damage, what's up with that?). They would have died except for the PFS house rules that gives someones first character bonus hit points once, how bad is the system that you need house rules like this to prevent random death.

Skill Checks: Almost every game had an investigation phase at the start. For two games I played a fighter/paladin. I tried to diversify his skills to represent his wide breadth of experience, instead of picking just swimming and climbing with his two skill points, but at level 8 the +5 I had to these social skills and I needed a lot of luck to hit the 20-25 DCs. So my veteran warrior of 100 battles couldn't inspire a group of recruits because he couldn't pass an intimidate, diplomacy, or perform check. The GM was awesome and permitted me to use an attack roll against the DC but I think he was just making up rules at that point.

Armor Class: Someone had a cleric with 8 AC and -2 initiative at level 9. This should have been a death sentence for them, but they stayed in the middle of the group and healed people at the end of the round. Dumping dex is way to easy and doesn't have enough penalties.

Combats too fast: There was a rogue in the 10-11 game I ran that only go to sneak attack twice during the whole scenario. By the time he got into position the enemies were dead. Unless you play an ranged or very mobile character you are never going to be able to participate in fights.

Enemies are too weak: This cavalier was able to one round a challenge rating 12 foe. That is supposed to be worse than 50/50 chance of survival in a one on one fight. And that character killed it in one round without a scratch. Is there any other feat in the game that gives the same damage bonus as spirited charge, or weapon that does as much damage as a lance. If this system continues the way it is the only way to play a martial will be lance and spirited charge!

Enemies have hard counters: This happened twice. The first one was a flying sorcerer, he could fly faster than the players so he ambushed them from the sky and then kept flying higher while throwing chain lightning. He had so many spells he would have killed the whole party at his leisure if the time had not ran out. Then there was an army ant swarm, This swarm must have had a 100 hit points and we had so little we could do against it, we threw alchemist fire after alchemist fire at it hoping to wear it down. One character even used a 1200g dragon breath elixir on the swarms, but that 13 damage! About twice the damage of an alchemist fire, for 60 time the price.

Tanglefoot bags: The tanglefoot bag is overpowered. A Qlippoth, Shoggti got hit by a tanglefoot bag and it completely shut down its spell casting. Their measly +9 to concentration made it hard for them to cast their Charm Monster. Way to powerful for an alchemical weapon.

Knowledge Checks: Their is so little guidance on knowledge checks about monsters. I played under 3 different GMs and they all did it differently.

Save of Suck Spells: A character had quickened ill-omen and baleful polymorph. They were able to turn any enemy without spell resistance into a squirrel.

Combat is too complicated: We had 60 minutes to complete the boss fight, after pre-buffing the level 10-11 group only go two rounds of combat in before we ran out of time. High level play has too many moving parts.

Loot isn't exciting: An enemy had a +2 dragon bane exotic axe. We almost didn't use it against a dragon because everyone was so specialized in their weapons that it was better for them to not use it.

Wizard Spells: Wizards don't have enough spells. I spent every spell I had on a level 7 wizard, and if the fight would have gone any longer I would have been using 1d3 damage cantrips. Yes all the level 1 spells were used on endure elements and mage armor, but he didn't have enough level 2 or 3 spells to carry him through 2 encounters. It didn't help that one of the encounters was against 2 swarms, so most his spells didn't do much to them. The air elemental summons under performed against the swarms; these low CR summons had saves to low on their whirlwinds to affect these high CR swarms.

And cantrips did nothing. The wizard has two cantrips that are required by the class (read and detect magic) and the rest may as well be for roleplaying.

Enemy DCs are too high: One boss could banish characters from the plane they were on, the cavalier needed an 18 on the dice to resist this ability. Not balanced at all.


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Chapter 5, Session 1:

The session started with the monk declaring "I have lots of healing with Wholeness of Body, I don't need those potions." This will be exciting.

I'll be trying to keep my feedback impressionistic and only comment on what happened and how it made us feel. We had a monk m/ cleric, sorcerer m/ paladin, ranger m/ rogue, and a paladin. In this session we completed the first 3 waves.

Winding Path: The monk class feat to step and stride (or stand) for one action was used to great effect as the monk constantly repositioned to flanking, better battlefield positioning and to increase the benefit of demon skirmisher. This ability was enjoyed.

Cloudkill and Stinking Cloud: Cloudkill mentions affecting breathing creatures while Stinking Cloud only says creatures within the cloud. We ran this as characters could hold their breath to avoid Cloudkill, but it felt to lenient for the level of the spell.

Cloudkill affects creatures at the start of their turn, Stinking Cloud at the end of their turn. As a GM this is an exception to remember, as a player this is an unpredictability in the way the world behaves.

The DC Table (10-2): The paladin wanted to tie a rope to the roof and climb down it hand over hand while holding on to his mount with his legs and some clever sliding knots to his saddle.

I liked table 10-2 once I realized it would be frequently used, I cut it out and taped it in the back of my Doomsday Dawn book. However I almost pulled the DC for a level 12 Easy task when the paladin proposed his task. I had to jump out of that habit and decide what level of task that actually was. I would like an expanded table of example tasks and the corresponding level/difficulty.

Dice Rolling: The monk player came prepared this time with a dice rolling app. At the start of the night the other players were proud and stubborn; they would roll their own dice, they would savor the tactile feeling of plastic in hand and sing to the gentle thunking as they tumbled across the wooden table. But as the night wore on they fell to temptation and the sin of sloth. One by one giving in to the deceptive ease of the dice roller app...

Mooks: With the blood demons, there came a point where the fight was won and known to be won but there was still two rounds of combat required to finish the demons off. The increased HP of demons helps explain why this feels like a slugfest.

Animal Companions: The animal companions are easy to hit. One of the character was hiding when the slaver demons attacked, meaning an animal companion got targeted by the fourth enslave soul, then that demon tried to kill the animal to capture it's soul. [ooc]Are you going to argue animals don't have souls? You monster![/occ] The companion went down to 0 HP twice.

Dimension Door: The demons dimension door in, but dimension door only has a range of 60 ft. This reduction is range is hard to remember. However the Blood Demons made great use of teleporting into flanking and then attacking.

Attacks of Opportunity: There is a system of mechanics built around attacks of opportunity (steps, steady spellcasting) that never never really came up as no one in the party has attacks of opportunities.

Closing Thoughts: The group still doesn't know that they are doomed. Doing all three waves in one sitting exhausted the group, jumping straight into level 12 made things harder than what they would normally be. The prepping the game and running it was still easier than prepping and running a P1 level 12 game for me. Nimble step earned its keep for the ranger m/rogue.


Paladin Alignments: One player showed up with a Paladin of Desna. The alignment restrictions on worshipping specific gods are being missed. It doesn't help that with the characters being single shot the players are more focused on the mechanics than the ethos of any given god.


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Chapter 5, Session 2:

We had a two week break instead of one as life got between me and the game briefly. But we are back on track now. We started and continued playing with Update 1.5.

Out 5th player was able to join us this week. In order to preserve as much of the test as possible I had them 'use' a healing potion and wand charge on his character (a barbarian).

Dread Wraiths: The wraiths felt scary and almost took down the barbarian, forcing the paladin to use in combat healing. Only the monk received a single drain. The cleric used Field of Life, we found it underwhelming.

Lich and Ghost Mages: The repeated evocation spell did a number on the group. In PF1 I had a habit of dismissing evocation, until in a certain PFS Seeker scenario where my low dex cleric got hit by 3 consecutive cones of cold. This was absolutely terrifying for the group. Once the initial barrage was over they were able to heal the dying and get back into the fight.

The group had very little ranged/flying options so struggled more than they would normally. At this point it is really my players fault they had no answers to flying enemies, the previous chapters had enough flyers that they were warned.

Also a mage was able to dispel their flying potion.

They looted the lich staff but didn't have time to identify it.

Demilich: The last wave used up the rest of their healing and any ability to fly. So the lich came in and trashed them quickly.

Because the lich was always hovering, I found that he was fairly limited on actions. If he concentrated on the Maze spell and flew, he would only have one action left. I'm looking forward to a way to hover without spending actions.

A few characters used hero points to get back up, but they quickly just gave up; waking up with 1 hp while the group had no healing left was just postponing the inevitable. During this encounter hero points made the experience worse as it extended the time between when they knew they were dead and to when they actually died (remember playing risk where you were doomed to lose, but your smug opposition is there building armies for a crushing victory).

And I made a mistake and forgot to include the banshee.

Closing Thoughts: A single level difference in an enemy feels drastic. Will this make it harder to GM as you will have a smaller pool of monsters to pick from at any level? How this affect PFS tiers?


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Chapter 6;

We were down to 3 players this week as life and work got in the way. We had a barbarian m/ rogue, a sorcerer and rogue m/monk.

Investigation: The investigating phase was a little rough as the group avoided trying to dig for info on Necerion or K specifically. The challenges here would have been the same with any system and didn't really apply to the playtest. The told Whark about the planned heist and received her permission to stop Necerion and take the tomb for themself. They considered offering to buy the tomb off of her, and I set the price at 3000g (which if they paid she would have given them information about all the defenses).

Traps: The traps were very interactive, which was fun because the players got to work through them themselves but was frustrating for the master thief who felt like his character investment was not paying off (he needed 14+ on the dice to recognize the mirror traps).

Kraken: I ran the Kraken as if the pool was deep (I missed that is was only 10ft deep) so it spent an action every round swimming. I also ran it as compelled to defend the vault, so it dropped grabbed enemies to target enemies closer to the vault door. And for a 3 player adjustment I applied the weak template twice. It felt like a rough fight but they won without anyone going unconscious.

Mobility continued to be a problem for the characters as the barbarian did not have a swim speed, so he took a long time to swim back to the ledge when he got dropped and left in the middle of the pool. I liked this as a GM; that investing in mobility has significant upsides.

The kraken's good saves continued to make life hard for the primal sorcerer with it making several critical successes.

Constrict feels weak. I'll have to double back to make sure I'm using it correctly.

Necerion: Outside the vault the group decided to set up an ambush for Necerion. As the sorcerer and barbarian started to group up, the elf rogue started looking around and keeping an eye out (I interpreted this as using the seek action). This is when he noticed Necerion standing 50 ft behind him, a distance that is normally safe while invisible except against elves who have keen ears. This caught everyone by surprise; the group was still wounded from the kraken fight and Necerion didn't have a chance to prebuff.

The Necerion fight was lots of fun and felt like a Pathfinder fight as this battlefield caster prevented everyone for getting close to him and he slowly wore the group down. The players felt the pressure and desperation as I the GM knew that they would successfully nickel and dime him down.

Closing Thoughts: This is the only Chapter that we were able to compete in a single sitting.

There was frustration from the characters when they failed on skills they invested heavily in. The tight math reminds me of a gripe I had against a GM I played with when I entered the hobby (all of us teens and having no idea how to run or play a good game), when attempting something unusual they would ask for a dice roll and if the player rolled high on the dice they would succeed and fail if the dice rolled low, regardless of the task or the characters skill in that task. There are feelings of that here, where everything still comes down to a good roll or a bad roll, with little gradient for heavily investing in a particular skill.

It felt odd that this group of dedicated investigators and diplomats were not critically succeeding left and right, even with this being a delicate investigation.


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Chapter 7, Session 1:

Everyone is excited to be at the big finale. We had a few characters making last minute gear purchases as we sat down to play, I'm always shocked how easy and fast it is to purchase gear when you only have one book to choose from.

The Malignant Theorems: The characters really got a chance to shine here, using many of their highest level spells. Both prismatic wall and banshee's wail were very effective. With the crit system, multi-target spell feel a lot more rewarding because at least a few enemies end up failing their saves, even if it is less than the majority.

No character went down but they felt like they were at risk. The multiple overlapping AoOs made it hard for the group until they coordinated, with the paladin delaying until right before the sorcerer then moving to provoke all the AoOs; allowing the sorcerer to cast safely.

The Ashen Man: When the Ashen Man gave them one question the monk quipped "Is that one question each?"

Star-Spawn: This is my favorite type of boss in pathfinder, it really hindered the group, made it feel like everything was an uphill fight but did deceptively little damage. The startspawn moved it's overwhelming mind around; stunning one target a turn as it used its tentacles to end up grappling everything in reach. Once it had everyone grappled it would constrict twice a turn, the players felt like it was an unstoppable force.

The paladin's fire run due to there divine bond really payed off as he got a critical hit in half way through the fight that did persistent fire damage. The starspawn did attempt to disarm this foul flaming weapon, but rolled very poor. I was happy that the single creature boss had a very good chance of a critical success to disarm. If I ran it again I would try to use the athletics/grapple rules (instead of the monster grab) to restrain the character with the flaming weapon.

Closing thoughts: We did two combats and a lot of discussion and role playing in a four hour session, which was great. The bard who focussed on high DCs was able to throw around save or suck spells successfully, that made them happy. The players were still struggling with system mastery; rarely moved the flank, the cleric m/ fighter realized they should have been a fighter m/ cleric for their concept, they often forget that recall knowledge is an option.

I thought I had a good collection of minis after running PFS for a few years, I don't have any minis that work for the massive monstrosities that they are seeing in this game. I'll be going out and finding a ancient dragon mini before the next session.

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