Captain Morgan's Doomsday Dawn run


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback


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Because everyone is doing them, so why not? I'm two sessions into Lost Star right now. Had 2 more players join the game this week, for a total of six.

Half-Elf Mindquake Alchemist
Halfling Mindquake Aberrant Sorcerer
Half-Orc Pathfinder Hopeful Monk (Dragon Style)
Human Family Friend Paladin (Scythe)
Joined by:
Dwarf Mindquake Barbarian (Ancient Blood, Superstitious)
Gnome Esoteric Scion Cleric of Irori

Character Stuff:Only two members of the group have PF1 experience, and only one of them fully optimized I'd say. So the monk is the only with an 18 strength. Nobody seems to mind that much though. AC values are similarly optimized, with the Monk, Paladin, and Barbarin at 15.

The Barbarian will be intersting. I suggested it to the player and she loved it. The Mindquake serves as a really solid roleplay reason for the Superstition Totem. 0 resonance looks really gross but there aren't enough magic items for it to matter. Not accepting spells on top of that would mean no healing... Except you can just commit Anathema and accept it. Which is kind of OK at level 1 with magic being so rare.

I let the Paladin play a little loose with the backstory, as she's sort of torn between a love of Pharasma and a commitment to Iomadae.

The Monk is played with reckless abandon and intentional stupidity. He's played as a professional wrestler.

The gnome took a familiar and likes to punch people despite 8 strength, but also has spent most of the recent fights hiding.

The Alchemist is a colossal jerk, though not enough of one to light folks on fire often. (More on that later.)

The Sorcerer keeps trying to use Telekinetic Thrust to do stuff other than what it does, but has some great roleplay.

Session 1: We opened with a "Mindquake Survivors Anonymous" support group the Paladin was running. Once the monk was introduced, he immediately tried to wrestle the sorcerer for his belt. Oh boy, PvP right off the bat. XD

The party had lots of questions about this supposed vampire thing, but very little about the dungeon itself. OH WELL. So we got a pretty late start on the actual adventure.

The monk walked straight into the ooze. Because I use the Complex Hazard (pg 341) rules on triggering reactions before initiative is rolled, the ooze got an ambush hit in and then won initiative. So the monk got dropped right away, and the Paladin had to scramble to keep him alive. He regained consciousness mid battle and jumped back at the ooze, getting knocked back out to dying 3. We didn't remember hero points were a thing, so it was very close to lights out. The alchemist learned splash damage hurts allies.

In A2, I realized none of them had dark vision, so the goblins immediately saw them waving the torch around and the PCs only heard them. I had 2 goblins charge into melee and 2 hang back with the shortbows, but all in all the goblins got decimated. The darkness was the only thing that kept them alive as long as it did. Once multiple torches were lit, well, it was lights out for them. (I did enjoy the Goblin Scuttle Reaction though.)

We completely forgot Retributive Strike was a thing this session. They found the Owlbear Claw and Healing Elixir. (The claw wound up sold so they could buy a thieve's tools.)

Session 2: New PCs arrive in A2. They immediately literally race each other to the centipede room. The winner was the halfling. His prize: 9 giant centipedes. Who all won initiative. I only had him step on one for an ambush strike though.

I didn't have them all concentrate fire on him as that would have been a death sentence. Instead I had a few attack him, and the other 6 use their climb speed to bypass him and attack people in A2 and the barbarian in the conjoining hallway.

The cleric spent the first two rounds hiding in a hole.

Once the players get to act, they tore through the centipedes in short order. The raging Barbarian freaked out when the sorcerer used magic missile and headbutted him, which actually knocked the dude out. Good thing it was non-lethal. When the cleric cast heal on the sorcerer, the barbarian ran away screaming. Rage ended the next round, so a sheepish and fatigued barbarian returned.

Lots of people wound up poisoned, with the alchemist rolling the worse and winding up at stage 2. I had a little trouble running the affliction-- mostly figuring out when people should roll their saves and take their damage. Still, I think it worked pretty well. They felt happy when they made their saves, and the cleric used a heal check (plus the alchemist's antidote-- thanks quick alchemy!) to help him beat it.

Retributive Strike kicked ass, unsurprisingly.

The party still had spells and resources left, but opted to leave and rest. After some various RP shenanigans and a reminder from me they could ask Talga about the dungeon, they went back in. They knew about the "trippy mushrooms" from Talga, and actually wanted to go harvest them. But the cleric took the time to examine them from afar and hit the Nature DC, so they wound up sealing the room off with rubble so the monk wouldn't set it off.

The monk did go splash around in the fetid pool though, unleashing 3 quasits. While these guys looked intimidating, they weren't exactly as scary as the one from Burnt Offerings. I had them go right into melee though rather than use stealth. Only one cast fear, and the others turned into a wolf and centipede. The wolf knocked the barbarian down, but the barb then grappled the thing, and trying to break its neck. I had her essentially roll unarmed strikes for that, and she seemed happy with the results.

Retributive Strike once again kicked ass.

I screwed up the Concentration on the shape shift I think. Pretty sure concentration only gets broken if the damage lands while it is being cast with a reaction. I had the quasits get knocked back into their demon forms when the party damaged them. Didn't seem to make a huge difference though.

Party wound up taking way less damage than they did from the centipedes, but it was a fun fight.

I wasn't entirely sure how to relay the information about the changes in the purification chamber to the party, so I had them roll Religion. Someone got a nat 20, so I basically told them exactly how it would work now that the idol was destroyed.

That is about where we ended.

Takeaways: I had lots of fun, and my players did too.

The cramped quarters and larger than average group hasn't given bombs much room to shine, which is a bummer.

I kinda wish more people got reactions out the box. I don't especially want them to be AoO. I liked how mobile the combat was, and was entertained by my players firing crossbows at point blank range. But I think reactions are fun.

I feel like I should point out how good Demoralize can be to people. The -10 attack penalty is awfully harsh and that could make a nice 3rd action in combat.

Also, character creation feels way easier. I think I can walk someone who has never played before through the entire process in an hour and a half.

Dat Retributive Strike tho.

Rage mechanics seem to work pretty well. Even a new player could wrap their head around the 3 round rage, 1 round fatigued thing.

Overall, I have been having a blast with the game and how it has gone so far. 6 players is a lot, and I'm hoping we don't miss the Lost Star's survey window. I don't think it will be 6 players every session though, so it should be a little easier.


A few additional thoughts on centipede poison. I rather liked this aspect of the combat, even though tracking it was a little confusing. The fight felt like a real nail biter when all three waves of centipedes won initiative against the whole party, and with the right rolls those bugs were messing people up. On the other hand, the poison had 3 potential points of failure-- the centipede missing, the centipede rolling a 1 on the damage dice, and the PC making their saves. This sort of redundancy would have been a bummer if it was a PC with all those points of failure, but coming from an enemy and I feel like it kept people engaged (especially since they had to roll so many saves) while being neither too hard or too easy.


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So it actually took several more sessions than anticipated to finish Lost Star. My players continue to have a pretty high roleplay factor, which is good, but man do they dilly dally. Also, inspired by Joe, I feel I should mention I'm a pretty hands-on GM for new players especially, often reminding them of their abilities or offering advice on options if they seem like they need it.

After the Quasit fight, the party pushed open the alarmed door and then charged heedlessly into combat with the goblins... and into the rock trap. The intentional character induced stupidity was on full display here-- the barbarian and monk race each other to see who can less cautiously approach, and the cleric spent several rounds just cowering before starting to heal folks.

This fight was a nail biter. Almost everyone in the 6 person party was dropped at least once, and a couple went down multiple times. We were still using the original dying rules at this point, so it was really hard to get someone back in the fight. I added an extra commando to account for the extra players, and these guys put in work. The pyro was also quite deadly against so many enemies at once. AoE stuff can get really nasty in those tight quarters.

It also didn't help that I tuned up the encounter for six people, and the aforementioned stupidity made it more like fight 4.5.

I made a house rule call on the fly-- I had a prone barbarian who wanted to abandon their weapon and try and grapple the enemy. I pointed out being prone gave her a penalty to attack rolls if she didn't stand first, and she responded that while that might be true for striking being on the ground could be an advantage to a grappler. It was a good point, so I allowed it penalty free. I'm fairly sure combat maneuvers get treated like Strikes here by RAW, but grappling and tripping really wouldn't have the same type of penalty. She proceeded to succeed and bash the things face to death on the floor before trying to throw it at another goblin.

The cleric and Paladin kept the party alive and in the fight enough for a win. The alchemist's bombs also made a big difference, as the goblins burned multiple actions trying to get the persistent damage to stop.

After they won, and the monk finished using his BBQ Lore to identify the meat the goblins were cooking, they noticed the hidden door. The monk climbed up and broke it open, starting a trend of him not even trying the handle before knocking down every door in his way.

They wound up in Drakus's chamber. The alchemist failed to pick the lock on the chest but dodged the knife, and the monk smashed it open. Quest Complete! They got the McGuffins and retreated. I ran the conclusion scene with Kaleri, but the PCs opted to go kill Drakus before moving onto part 2, especially since they now had no time crunch. They also opted to keep all the stolen loot, the greedy bastards.

That's about where we ended. The next session was short as it shared an evening with part 2 character creation, and my sorcerer and cleric couldn't make it. This left me with 4 players-- monk, barbarian, paladin, and alchemist. The players seemed a little perplexed about what to do with all their ill-gotten gains, so I suggested expert weapons and armor. They wound up getting an expert axe for the barbarian and handwraps for the monk, plus full plate for the Paladin.

They descended and triggered the hourglass trap. I found this a little more confusing to run than I'd like. Seems like there is nothing stopping the players from just smashing the hourglass or leaving the sandstorm once it is triggered. They did the former and I ruled the sandstorm persisted for the full minute, so then they did the latter.

The party did wind up split though, and the Pharasma obsessed paladin of Iomadae saw the desecrated burial chamber. She asked if the bodies looked likely to spring to life, and I had her roll religion. She did well, so I told it her it was entirely likely given the desecration. But hey, Pharasma was watching, so she charged in, followed by the Sudden Charging Barbarian. Meanwhile, the Alchemist took the longway around and joined the fight late. The monk was too fascinated by poking the sandstorm, and didn't join until even later by charging through it. (Which was a problem since he had the best bludgeoning damage.)

This fight felt intense, but not nearly as bad as the previous goblin encounter. After it was over we ended for the night in game and out.

My final session a couple of people had to bail at the last minute, and I just wound up with 3 players-- Monk, Paladin, Barbarian. Because my alchemist player was sick, I ruled her character was too. But she spent her entire resonance pool making minor healing alixirs and alchemist fire's for the party. It is interesting how much the alchemist contributes without even needing to be present.

So they descend to the chapel. The monk, true to form, doesn't try opening the door before smashing it open and succeeds on the first go. No stealth for Drakus! This fight was awesome. Changing forms and busting out AoO really alarmed my players, though the Barbarian did get a flank going for the cost of soaking that reaction strike.

Even with the flank, they had a lot of trouble hitting Drakus, and he had no problem hitting them. It took the clunky Paladin a little longer to join the fray in the full plate, especially because she burned an action or two trying to figure out what Drakus was.They managed to get him down half-health or so, but he had the Barbarian grabbed and in the single hit points at the start of his turn. He goes for his first strike, succeeds, and triggers the first Retributive Strike of the fight. NAT 20 with the scythe. The three players each rolled a d10 and the blow did over 30 damage, dropping Drakus the Taker. It was a really awesome moment. ^_^

Some shenaigans follow with the monk trying to stick his head in the magic vision holy water and then go eat the mindfog fungus, but it pretty much ends there.

Takeaways. Maneuver rules could use another look. Barbarians should get some sort of rage bonus to them. Also, unarmed strikes while raging don't feel like they should be agile and thus deal less damage. A gauntlet can solve that but shouldn't be necessary. Retributive Strike still rocks. Hazards still feel a little less clear than I would like.

A few survey questions should be tweaked a little to add for more complex answers. Specifically, I ran into issues with how many players I had, because that number varied from session to session.


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So onto part 2. Walked folks through character creation, and it went pretty smoothly. Probably averaged 1.5-2 hours a character. I'm hoping they can do the bulk of the next batch without me. We have:

Goblin Giant Totem Barbarian.
Half-Elf Rogue, Dreadstriker focused.
Goblin Draconic Sorcerer
Gnome Bard, Maestro

There's also supposed to be a ranger and druid but they missed the first session. We ended after clearing the gnoll camp at the river.

So the group hits the road. They have one success, one critical success, and one failure before reaching the foothills, so it takes them just over 3 days. (I ruled Aid could be used here.) The hyena's got the drop on the party, who were largely goofing around with their exploration tactics, so I had the hyenas get free reactions off to strike them before initiative.

The sorcerer got a critical demoralize right away, sending one of the little dudes fleeing before burning hands it and the hyenadon. The rogue capitalized and slayed the fleeing one for massive overkill, triggering You're Next and frightening the one untouched Hyena. The bard just used cantrips to Inspire and Ray of Frost critters, and the Barbarian swung his Ranseaur around. They mopped up the fight pretty quickly and had a nice lunch of grilled Hyena.

The Rogue took natural healer and battlefield medic. The former doesn't say anything about bolstering the target on a failed attempt like the latter does. It just says it can only "heal" a specific creature once per day. So it takes multiple attempts, burning 10 minutes each time, but with some Aid the rogue gets everyone back up to full without using BFM.

Next up comes the quicksand. Now they are employing tactics like searching and detect magic. The sorcerer had Survey Wildlife. I had a little trouble coming up with DCs for this, but I gave her hints that there might be insectoid monsters in the area. Her response. "Aw man, are they going to pop out from under the sand? Rogue guy, take a look." He rolls high, spots and identifies not only the lurking Ankrhav, but the quicksand as well.

They happened to pretty perfectly bypass the hazard, and tried to just walk away from the monster, but it of course jumped out to pursue them. And they wreck it. I don't think it landed a hit, and magic missiles, magic weapons, and sneak attacks leave it a lifeless husk.

Finally, we have the gnoll camp. They scouted it effectively with an invisible, flying, talking familiar, which informed them of the scorpion and let them recall knowledge on it ahead of time. I I found this map rather more difficult to run than I would like. think part of it was just the terrain rules being more confusing than I'd like. I couldn't quickly figure out what the ground of the river sloping meant here, or how deep the river was. It was probably my most frustrating part of the evening, especially as the players started to try various stuff.

On that note: The gnome goes to try and talk to the gnolls, but no one speaks gnome. But she nat 20s on the diplomacy check, so I didn't have the things immediately attack her, instead barking angrily and gesturing for her to leave. This served as a distraction for the party to try and sneak by without losing time... Which didn't wind up working. I wasn't really sure how they could sneakily ford the river, and they eventually rolled bad on a stealth check against the very high perception DC of the gnolls. So they get spotted and combat begins.

Running the combat went much smoother than the exploration mode of this section. The Bard manages to catch both gnolls in Calm Emotions and one fails, effectively removing it from combat. This spell seems even better than before. The other takes pot shots at the bard with the bow. The scorpion charges the group of would be sneakers, and the sorcerer enlarges the Barbarian. (Which works great since Sluggish 1 doesn't stack; it just gives free reach and damage.)

They are slugging it out with OK results against the thing, but the barbarian only lands one hit and the scorpion acts just after the sorcerer so the frightened condition doesn't effectively stick. I point out they can delay their turn to go after the sorcerer and before the scorpion. The barbarian opts not to, but the rogue goes for it. The sorcerer then critically succeeds on demoralize and the scorpion is fightened 2, making it easy for the rogue to finish off in melee.

The hostile gnoll tries to cross the river tries to cross the stream to to get into melee with the bard who has been peppering him with magic missiles, but fails his athletics check and gets swept downstream. By the time he succeeds, he's emerged right next to the barbarian who promptly kills him, fords the river with one Powerful Leap, and kills the friendly gnoll.

The rogue naturally heals 10 damage off the barbarian, and then goes for battlefield medic.... Critically fails and deals 10 damage. The good Rogue giveth, and the good Rogue taketh away. XD

We ended there. After 3 encounters they could use a rest but have daylight left to burn. Not sure if they will stop yet or not. I haven't told them exactly how much time they have, but I think I might give them the 9 day estimate next game.

Immediate takeaways: Demoralize is golden. Both the rogue and sorcerer took the intimidating glare feat and rocked it. The sorcerer was often critically succeeding her checks sending enemies fleeing, and the rogue than capitalized on their -4 AC for huge sneak attacks.

On a related note, Dread Strike is great. Rogues in general seem awesome. My player used every feat he had to great effect-- Nimble Dodge, You're Next, Quick Draw, and Dreadstriker. Even the skill feats saw use! Quick Draw really helps switch from the short bow to two weapon fighting with rapier and short sword.

Giant Totem is interesting in practice. I gave the goblin a +1 large great club for the Lady Vord gift, as he seemed like the group's mascot and few others would have a use for such a large weapon. Which is awesome! Except... he already had a large expert ranseaur, and each large two-hander seems to take 4 bulk. Even carrying one at a time the barbarian would have encumbrance issues, assuming they are a fully equipped adventurer. Luckily, this goblin was equipment light, and we ruled he could get a spare camel to carry one of the two large weapons.

All that being said, his damage on a hit was nuts. 2d10+10 ain't nothing to sneeze at.

Attacking 3 times in a round almost never seems to work. The barbarian refused to do much else and didn't seem as effective as the sorcerer, bard, and rogue who mixed it up more.

No Escape really needs to work on creatures within the barbarian's reach, not just adjacent creatures. My player was super disappointed when he didn't get to chase the pursuing enemy, although with sudden charge he caught up and hit them just the same. It already feels worse than Attack of Opportunity, but not working with reach feels like salt in the wound.

Natural Healer seems real good for a skill feat. The druid took it too, so I'm sure that will help. Battlefield Medic... not quite as much.

Building maps is hard when it references multiple terrain rules.

Overall, a pretty good time was had by all. The sorcerer and the rogue duo felt like a pretty badass team and share the MVP title.


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Some further musings on part 2. We have had a lot of complaints that monster saves are too high. I definitely wasn't feeling that way so far. The level-1 monsters were averaging a +5 for their will saves, +6 for the Elite Gnolls. That's only a 35% chance of success. And Calm Emotions can hit a whole group and leave them docile while you kill their allies... Now, not all spells are that good. Fear seems rather lackluster, for example. Especially compared to Demoralize.

Guys. Intimidate is really good now. Our goblin sorcerer was an expert in intimidation and had +9. Against a will DC of 15 or 16, that is going to wreck shop, lowering saves, AC, and attacks rolls. AND maybe sends them fleeing? AND only costs 1 action and can usually be repeated without penalty? AND mental immunity is way less common. It is bonkers good, and can really help you land those save or sucks.

Having access to a good intimidate score is actually a huge feather in the cap for bards, sorcerers, and paladins. I'm not sure how much that should factor into how the sorcerer compares to prepared casters, given it requires focusing on a skill that won't work for everyone's character. But man, that skill rocks.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

As for Intimidate, it is currently better than many crowd-controlling spells, like fear etc.


Laik wrote:
As for Intimidate, it is currently better than many crowd-controlling spells, like fear etc.

No doubt. Some spells could definitely use a buff. The arcane list seems to have a lot of winners on it though, and the Occult list seems rather potent too. Mental Immunity being much rarer really helps this list, and it also packs more non-mental options to boot.


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Rough scheduling conflicts this week, but I didn't want to reschedule and fall further behind the playtest timeline, so we ran 3 with players. Barbarian, bard, and sorcerer. And then came the manticore...

I knew this fight would be hard without archers and no healers. (Bard didn't take Soothe, womp womp.) But we forged ahead. The sorcerer opened by enlarging the barbarian. The manticore then staples the barbarian to the ground, and the gnome tries ineffectually to pull out the spike, then uses a Lingering Inspire Courage. The barbarian rages, draws their one thrown weapon (a trident,) and misses.

I remind the players that they have a scroll of fly. The sorcerer winds up casting it on the barbarian and then hopping on his back. The giant totem barbarian goes sudden charging in with his +1 club... and whiffs. woof.

The sorcerer though has come into Demoralize range, and her readied action gets a critical success. Nice! Except... the Manticore fleeing puts him further from the party and higher above the the ground, 120 feet away from the barbarian, and even further from the gnome, who can't continue to magic missile now.

The sorcerer summons a bloodseeker, and the gang closes to within 30 feet of the manticore, who is now turning to fight again. It one shots the stirge and puts a quill in the barbarian with one action. The second action puts a quill in the sorcerer and misses the barbarian. The barbarian closes for another strike... whiffs.

So now I'm scrambling to figure out what happens if a creature under the effects of fly is knocked out. The Fly basic action says if you don't take a fly action at the end of your turn you fall. So I rule that he will begin falling at the end of his turn, giving the sorcerer a chance to respond. She summons an air mephit which spirits her away-- even encumbered it has a 70 foot fly speed. The gnome meanwhile is using Invisibility to escape.

The Barbarian fails his recovery saving throw... but I realize he can now use his Hero Point to regain consciousness. Unfortunately, because he was knocked, the +1 club got dropped. (In retrospect, he could have used it when he first got knocked out and got dying 1. That might have stopped him from dropping the club?) He grapples the chimera with a normal success. He then goes to "break its wings." I rule that as a trip attempt, and per the prone condition on3 24 knocking a flier prone makes them fall out of the sky. Unfortunately, he fails. :(

Manticore knocks him out, I believe with a crit, he fails his recovery saving throw, hits the ground, and dies. Manticore goes to eat the Large sized goblin while the other two escape.

The survivors push on, and meet Zakfah. I only give him one underling since he's only facing 2 PCs. Who don't speak gnoll. This goes badly for them. The goblin sorcerer is in single digit health, tries to flee, triggers AoO, and gets dropped. She succeeds on her death saving throw and regains consciousness. The gnome bard lands both a color spray and a Calm Emotions. The underling fails both-- his saves aren't nearly good enough against such things. Zakfah, however, just passes the save both times.

The gnome manages to get away with invisibility again, and the goblin summons another air mephit while they are distracted with the gnome. The party lives... and is now hiding in a cave half way between the two encounters. I plan to have whatever combination of PCs make it find them in that cave next time. It is day 5, 1pm. They will need to deal with Zakfah to get into the Tomb, but I won't make them fight the manticore again until their way back... Unless they wait for the night heralds, fight them, and leave through the front door.

So, my first PC death. The player took it like a champ though, and mostly blamed himself. Specifically, his bad rolling. But going in undermanned sans the rogue, ranger, or druid hurt. Also, that barbarian was really not optimized for that combat. A sluggish 1 raging barbarian in a chain shirt with no bow? That made him crit fodder, unfortunately.

The manticore is scary as heck, still. And had it pursued the fleeing party I have no doubt they'd be dead too. But it made sense to me that it would eat this enormous goblin, rather than chase down two casters who could hurt it at range when it already used up more than half its quills and had taken some magic missiles to the face.

Group had fun with it though! I told them I couldn't pull punches to avoid compromising the playtest data, as per Jason on twitch, and they seemed to be glad I didn't, even when it led to loss, death, and terror. I also said "no" to a couple of things I normally would have allowed under rule of cool, because I wanted to keep it RAW. The dead PC player seems to want to try another barbarian, but maybe a different totem. He was talking about maybe checking out multiclassing too.


Captain Morgan wrote:

Rough scheduling conflicts this week, but I didn't want to reschedule and fall further behind the playtest timeline, so we ran 3 with players. Barbarian, bard, and sorcerer. And then came the manticore...

I knew this fight would be hard without archers and no healers. (Bard didn't take Soothe, womp womp.) But we forged ahead. The sorcerer opened by enlarging the barbarian. The manticore then staples the barbarian to the ground, and the gnome tries ineffectually to pull out the spike, then uses a Lingering Inspire Courage. The barbarian rages, draws their one thrown weapon (a trident,) and misses.

Not a particular good outcome for your party, but an I would certainly call this an epic attempt to kill the manticore. Maybe a bit too bold and unlucky to chase the fleeing manticore with half the group.


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vestris wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

Rough scheduling conflicts this week, but I didn't want to reschedule and fall further behind the playtest timeline, so we ran 3 with players. Barbarian, bard, and sorcerer. And then came the manticore...

I knew this fight would be hard without archers and no healers. (Bard didn't take Soothe, womp womp.) But we forged ahead. The sorcerer opened by enlarging the barbarian. The manticore then staples the barbarian to the ground, and the gnome tries ineffectually to pull out the spike, then uses a Lingering Inspire Courage. The barbarian rages, draws their one thrown weapon (a trident,) and misses.

Not a particular good outcome for your party, but an I would certainly call this an epic attempt to kill the manticore. Maybe a bit too bold and unlucky to chase the fleeing manticore with half the group.

Oh, absolutely. The draconic sorcerer almost tried to leap onto the manticore when the Barbarian lost consciousness, but opted not to try her luck with the athletics check. It was the sort of thing I would have tried to reward for being awesome in my normal games, but in the context of the playtest it was probably good that she didn't go for it.

Edit: Also, I want to reiterate that Barbarians should get some kind of bonus to athletics checks. Honestly, I know an accuracy boost would drastically mess with their math, and we are trying to get away from changing ability scores to just get bonuses to relevant stuff... But boosting strength does feel simplest solution some times on the back end.


This all sounds great and fun! Really wish I had time to run more adventures in the playtest.


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Our last game was brutal. It wasn't a super long one and we had to introduce some new characters. That night we had:

Goblin Draconic Sorcerer
Half Elf Wild Druid
Half Elf Dread Striker Rogue
Maestro Gnome Bard
Human Cleric of Cayden Cailean

Some notes from the top:

--The cleric was from the deceased goblin barbarian, who played the reckless monk before. This cleric felt reckless too, which was excacerbated by the player not knowing his mechanics and options as thoroughly. The character was hastily assembled and not especially highly valued, which didn't help the combat's difficulty.

--How Wild Shape and Wild Claws interact with magic armor and Handwraps of the Mighty Fists isn't super clear. Still not 100% sure I am running it right. The druid wound up with 18 Wis and 16 strength, IIRC, which left them monstrously potent offensively but a little fragile.

--Wild Claws and Draconic Claws are interesting when compared to each other balance wise.

So we started at 1pm on the 5th day. The surviving party members (Bard and Sorcerer) had fallen back to between the manticore and gnoll fights to hide, and spotted some other adventurers they recognized on the road and joined forces. Despite the bard being out of spells and the sorcerer running low, the group decided to Treat their Wounds and push forward, thinking the 5 of them could easily handle two gnolls.

Unfortunately, while the party had used the last few hours to regather, so had the gnolls. Zakfah had 4 gnoll warriors with him to account for the 5 man party. The party DID try to use the familiar to scout from around the corner, but familiars have a bizarrely low stealth bonus compared to their tiny size and Zakfah like many monsters has a pretty insane perception DC. And since the gnolls had explicitly interacted with said familiar last combat, they recognized it and immediately chased it around the corner, and combat began. (In retrospect it might have been appropriate to give the PCs a round of warning before the gnolls started pouring in, which could have made a difference for buffs, but it DID seem like a fairly straightforward perception vs perception initiative roll.

So the narrow path on the cliff side created a choke point which wasn't helped by having more combatants. The druid grew claws (but didn't wild shape) and moved up to the choke point, followed by the cleric with his rapier. The sorcerer enlarged the druid too. Unfortunately, this meant fire wound up concentrated on the healers, and over the course of the fight they both got dropped. Luckily, through hero points and healing each other they managed to get back into the fight. (At least one of them even got dropped twice. Pretty sure the cleric did, and the druid might have as well.

Highlights of this bit included the druid showing gnolls off the cliff, and one of them failed their "grab ledge" reaction and fell off. It was nice use of the environment. I will say Enlarge, like Rage, should really provide an athletics bonus.

The sorcerer got a little too close to the combat as well, IMO, rather than hanging back and using cantrips and summons and such. On the upside, the bard felt pretty pleased with her contributions via cantrips and compositions, despite not having spell slots or weapon prowess. She was very pleasantly surprised to find out her Ray of Frost did a 1d8 and not 1d3.

Once the druid and cleric fell, the surviving gnolls poured over their fallen bodies and took it to the sorcerer, who quickly fell. The rogue and bard continued to chip away though and stayed up. And once the gnolls came past, the sorcerer used a hero point to revive behind them and unleash a heightened burning hands hitting several targets who had become perfectly positioned. This really helped turn the tide. The rogue finally dropped Zakfah with a sneak attack, the druid popped back up and decapitated a gnoll, and the final gnoll wound up fleeing from a critical demoralize.

We ended with them resting on the ledge, having not yet discovered the latch to the door.

Over all, that fight was surprisingly brutal, and definitely felt the closest the game has come to unfun. I think people still enjoyed themselves, and felt happy they won such a hard fought battle. But I did feel compelled to point out that this felt harder than it would have been because of the nature of the playtest and the Jason's call for GMs to not pull punches even it got bad.

Still, there were some mitigating factors. There was no true tank, but the cleric and druid leapt into the fray like they were. Neither leveraged their magic most effectively-- the cleric prepared nothing but heal spells, probably because he didn't understand his channel pool. Looking at the Animal Form statistics the druid would have been much better off using that instead of Wild Claws, but she hadn't looked at the numbers close enough to realize this I imagine. And the rest of the gang wasn't necessarily tactically optimal either.

Now, I think there's something to be said for not NEEDING optimal tactics or builds, but I'm willing to chalk that up more to the nature of the playtest being a playtest than the system itself requiring it.

Unfortunately due to scheduling issues we have had to cancel for the last two weeks. The last one could have only had 3 players, and not for very long, so it didn't seem worth everyone commuting. Especially because I wasn't sure how I'd adjust the elementals to compensate for less party members, and my players had already been getting their asses kicked so bad.

I'm bummed about this, as we have fallen super far behind the playtest schedule and I really want to play more. That combined with the level of negativity in the general discussion forums has had me pretty bummed out. That being said, we just converted our characters from Ironfang Invasion into PF2 characters before starting book 3. I'd like to make a thread detailing how that goes, but I'm not sure which forum it should go in.

Oh, and one other random consideration. Since they lost the +1 giant club the barbarian had, I'm probably going to change Tular Seft's +2 scimitar into a +2 rapier so the rogue or cleric can use it. The druid would be the only who could use the scimitar but they prefer claws and teeth anyway.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Thanks for the detailed reports! I would guess losing the +1 weapon was also significant. You may potentially want to give another character a +1 weapon as well for the next few encounters (if they pool up their sp, a group could even conceivably have a second +1 weapon in the beginning, but I wonder how many groups have done that).


Mark Seifter wrote:
Thanks for the detailed reports! I would guess losing the +1 weapon was also significant. You may potentially want to give another character a +1 weapon as well for the next few encounters (if they pool up their sp, a group could even conceivably have a second +1 weapon in the beginning, but I wonder how many groups have done that).

Thanks for reading, Mark! Yeah, losing that +1 weapon certainly didn't help. I'm not sure how to do that currently. Zakfah's scimitar could be +1 but no one in the current party will be able to use it, or at least want to in character. Technically they could move the rune over to an existing weapon but that would take a day and they are of course on a time crunch. Only thing that occurs to me is a dead adventurer, but I'm not sure how one of those got into the tomb and left the electric latch in tact.

As for how many groups efficiently pool their money as described, I'm guessing very few. Mine certainly didn't-- after going through the process of character creation folks don't have a lot of patience to compare treasure tables, they want to jump in and play. My folks DID pool the money and loot they found in Lost Star to equip themselves before the Drakus fight, but that's a pretty different scenario.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Captain Morgan wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Thanks for the detailed reports! I would guess losing the +1 weapon was also significant. You may potentially want to give another character a +1 weapon as well for the next few encounters (if they pool up their sp, a group could even conceivably have a second +1 weapon in the beginning, but I wonder how many groups have done that).

Thanks for reading, Mark! Yeah, losing that +1 weapon certainly didn't help. I'm not sure how to do that currently. Zakfah's scimitar could be +1 but no one in the current party will be able to use it, or at least want to in character. Technically they could move the rune over to an existing weapon but that would take a day and they are of course on a time crunch. Only thing that occurs to me is a dead adventurer, but I'm not sure how one of those got into the tomb and left the electric latch in tact.

As for how many groups efficiently pool their money as described, I'm guessing very few. Mine certainly didn't-- after going through the process of character creation folks don't have a lot of patience to compare treasure tables, they want to jump in and play. My folks DID pool the money and loot they found in Lost Star to equip themselves before the Drakus fight, but that's a pretty different scenario.

Yeah, it's tricky. Before you added in the new characters, I guess you could have sent in one of them with a new weapon from the Esoteric Order to bring to the party. Logan pulled that trick once in a playtest session where I guested in his game and came bringing some items he wanted to give them.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Thanks for the detailed reports! I would guess losing the +1 weapon was also significant. You may potentially want to give another character a +1 weapon as well for the next few encounters (if they pool up their sp, a group could even conceivably have a second +1 weapon in the beginning, but I wonder how many groups have done that).

Thanks for reading, Mark! Yeah, losing that +1 weapon certainly didn't help. I'm not sure how to do that currently. Zakfah's scimitar could be +1 but no one in the current party will be able to use it, or at least want to in character. Technically they could move the rune over to an existing weapon but that would take a day and they are of course on a time crunch. Only thing that occurs to me is a dead adventurer, but I'm not sure how one of those got into the tomb and left the electric latch in tact.

As for how many groups efficiently pool their money as described, I'm guessing very few. Mine certainly didn't-- after going through the process of character creation folks don't have a lot of patience to compare treasure tables, they want to jump in and play. My folks DID pool the money and loot they found in Lost Star to equip themselves before the Drakus fight, but that's a pretty different scenario.

Yeah, it's tricky. Before you added in the new characters, I guess you could have sent in one of them with a new weapon from the Esoteric Order to bring to the party. Logan pulled that trick once in a playtest session where I guested in his game and came bringing some items he wanted to give them.

Hmm, I might retcon they gave the cleric a +1 rapier. I don't think he managed to land a hit last combat so it won't be a big story deal, and they can decide to pass it off to the rogue if they want the cleric to focus on spells.

Liberty's Edge

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Captain Morgan wrote:
As for how many groups efficiently pool their money as described, I'm guessing very few. Mine certainly didn't-- after going through the process of character creation folks don't have a lot of patience to compare treasure tables, they want to jump in and play. My folks DID pool the money and loot they found in Lost Star to equip themselves before the Drakus fight, but that's a pretty different scenario.

Mine did, in fact, do precisely this, for the record. They pooled money to get the Monk +1 Handwraps of Mighty Fists. He threw one of his 2nd and his 3rd level items into the group pool in exchange (which allowed the Dwarf Fighter to get both Expert Full Plate and a +1 Rune).

Of course, the Monk player made his character before the session where everyone else did, which allowed for some thought into this sort of thing.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
As for how many groups efficiently pool their money as described, I'm guessing very few. Mine certainly didn't-- after going through the process of character creation folks don't have a lot of patience to compare treasure tables, they want to jump in and play. My folks DID pool the money and loot they found in Lost Star to equip themselves before the Drakus fight, but that's a pretty different scenario.

Mine did, in fact, do precisely this, for the record. They pooled money to get the Monk +1 Handwraps of Mighty Fists. He threw one of his 2nd and his 3rd level items into the group pool in exchange (which allowed the Dwarf Fighter to get both Expert Full Plate and a +1 Rune).

Of course, the Monk player made his character before the session where everyone else did, which allowed for some thought into this sort of thing.

Could just be my group then; their system mastery isn't that high. Several haven't played PF1 at all, and those that have played in Ironfang Invasion which doesn't really have any shopping and instead relies on found magical items.


Pooling ressources, while called up in the preparation, is really not a thing my Groups are used to do. Maybe in a real campaign, but buying Equipment in a new System is complicated enough as is.


DerNils wrote:
Pooling ressources, while called up in the preparation, is really not a thing my Groups are used to do. Maybe in a real campaign, but buying Equipment in a new System is complicated enough as is.

Oh, yeah, in a long term campaign it comes up a lot more. People are more familiar with their needs at that point and the loot pool is already kind of communal once they've gone through their first dungeon.


Finally got to play again, ended just before the mummy room. Fun session, no one got knocked out except a familiar. Ran with the sorc, bard, cleric, and a substitute player running the rogue. Per Mark's suggestion I added a +1 rapier, which let the rogue kick a lot of butt. Dread Striker continues to be an amazing feat.

The cleric turned out to be missing some stat boosts, so he should have been more effective than he was last game.

I did have several problems running the game based on the direction of the module. Didn't quite seem to be systematic issues, just stuff specific to Doomsday Dawn.

*Can players spot the electric rune trap with the same perception check to find the latch? I ruled no; they rolled to find the latch and succeeded, then did a separate roll for traps and failed. So rogue got zapped, and about an hour was spent treating his wounds.

*I took Deadmanwalking's approach to the water and earth room-- I ruled the elementals only activate when a creature enters their own move range, as opposed to the second activating as soon the first does. As such, the party only ever encountered the water elemental in there, which they beat without too much issue. Immunity to crits isn't very fun though.

*The fire elemental seemed like it would be chilling in the lava flow in the bottom of the room to me, but it only had a +5 athletics to climb the DC 18 walls. Which led to some pretty pathetic looking attempts to clamber out on his part, especially when the party gave him the fleeing condition and he leapt back into the lava at the bottom.

*I didn't think the elementals could leave the room since they were specifically bound to it, so no pursuit.

They did a pretty fine job fighting the water elemental, but then critically failed to identify the elemental gem. I told them if you ate it you gained a breath weapon. The rogue tried to swallow it, but it was too big, so they enlarged him and he got it down. When he tried to activate it and realized he had nothing but a tummy ache, he puked it up before the Enlarge wore off. It was hereafter referred to as the puke stone. XD

The fight of fire and air felt pretty exciting-- persistent damage presents a nice little complication for the PCs to deal with, but they kept patting it out and used Resist Energy to mitigate the damage. The cleric burned two heals in the fight. The gnome bard decided this was the ONE FIGHT she wouldn't use Ray of Frost in, which was silly, so it went on longer than it should have.

The magic puzzles worked decently well. The party seemed pretty lucky and managed to get through them without big issues, even with only 3 gems. (They only used Thievery on the missing earth gem station, too.)

It is going to be pretty late into day 6 when we begin next, but they still should have more than enough time to clear out the last encounter and leave before the Night Heralds arrive. I suspect I will simply handwave hey make it past the manticore because I REALLLLLY want to be done with this section.


My group had a ton of trouble with the elementals, and ended up sleeping after each of those rooms. The air elemental and water elemental in particular were problematic due to the lack of a magic ranged weapon. However, they were super efficient on the way to the tomb so they got out a few hours ahead of the Heralds. With only a few hours difference I would have just had them force march to catch up, and fight the PCs with the Fatigued condition applied to the Heralds, but it was getting late and we just wanted that slog of an adventure to be over. So instead I had them roll Survival and used the high rolls to handwave the party getting away.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

All game long my character had been advocating getting the clock and then deliberately ambushing the Night Heralds; but when it came time for this, there was no more player enthusiasm and we didn't do it.

Very frustrating that no one spoke Osirian or Gnoll, but even with the GM asking us to take these, we couldn't. I would have liked to talk to the windy guy.


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Last session of part 2 was tons of fun, actually. We just had the one encounter with the mummies, and the party handily wrecked them. Burning Hands (with buffed damage) absolutely decimated them, and the rogue used a torch for additional fire damage.

Of note, the rogue player was a new substitute this time with 0 playtest experience, although lots with other editions. Handing him the pre-built Rogue and giving him a quick pitch on the new action economy, and he hit the ground running with nary a problem.

They had fun exploring the final rooms and talking to Mabar. The rogue immediately hit on him so I on the fly decided he and Tular Seft had been lovers, and Mabar was a little jaded after that betrayal. XD

The mirror trap triggered, and was a nice little thematic capstone. They otherwise raided the various items in the interment room, and failed to identify most of them.

Because the Bard and Mabar could both do multiple castings of invisibility, I let the party slip by the manticore again without a fight. They also left him a bunch of bland but filling munchies from Mabar's Create Food, which served as a pretty clever distraction when he landed where he saw them wink out of existence.

They left before day 7, so the Night Heralds didn't catch up with them. Obviously I could have made them catch up anyway, but I want to move on in the playtest and frankly wasn't stoked about running multiple NPCs with different abilities. I've found that encounters that involve separate pages of the bestiary are just awful to run from PDF. I'm dreading part 3's various undead combinations, TBH. I can probably solve some of that by copy/pasting into word, but then I lose action icons. If anyone has suggestions for how they handled it, I'm all ears.

We got a lot of the work for new characters done. The rogue substitute is planning to play next week, and did a pretty good job of using the book to make his cleric of Erastil. The party is shaping up to be:

The human cleric of Cayden Cailenn from Part 2, probably multiclassed to get some frontline power.

The gnome bard from part 2, looking like a pretty traditional bard.

Elf fey sorcerer, multiclassed into paladin. Mostly done for armor, but she wants Lay on Hands too.

Half elf cleric of Erastil-- he's got a pretty amusing southern farmer vibe off Erastil. Hearing him read the deity description on page 288 in a rural American accent really tickled me.

The party is getting pretty comfortable with character creation, although the updates being separate from the rulebook PDF doesn't make it easier on them-- they aren't religiously reading and internalizing every update like I am. Of note, left alone with the book, the new guy built his character most of the way up in an hour and a half with very little input from me. Once I got him settled on the ability scores he did the rest just fine.

Still need to figure out equipment for the party. I wasn't stressing having the characters completely finished last night largely because I don't know how much 1.6 is gonna change yet.

Oh, on a related note. The older surveys ask which versions of the updates you are using, but aren't retroactively fixed to include stuff after the testing period. So folks like me who are behind the curve can't note we used 1.5 for Pale Mountain, for example. (Well, we actually had several versions of the rules over the course of the time we played, but still.)


My solution to that was taking the maps, and then just copy pasting screenshots of the relevant creatures, traps and mechanics near each room. So I have one giant jpg where I just zoom in the relevant parts. So far it's worked like a dream. I do have Photoshop, but I think it should work in gimp or paint too.

Also made a google docs where I pretranslated and summarized most of the dialogue I'd need for later, because I suck at translating on the fly since my brain keeps offering words in german instead of spanish, which the rest of the table doesn't speak.

We too are only in Pale Mountain, with them just about to enter the tomb. Lots of fun so far. Reading this thread has been inspiring. :)


O. N. wrote:

My solution to that was taking the maps, and then just copy pasting screenshots of the relevant creatures, traps and mechanics near each room. So I have one giant jpg where I just zoom in the relevant parts. So far it's worked like a dream. I do have Photoshop, but I think it should work in gimp or paint too.

Also made a google docs where I pretranslated and summarized most of the dialogue I'd need for later, because I suck at translating on the fly since my brain keeps offering words in german instead of spanish, which the rest of the table doesn't speak.

We too are only in Pale Mountain, with them just about to enter the tomb. Lots of fun so far. Reading this thread has been inspiring. :)

Oh, yeah, that could work! I'm not super good with paint but I bet I can figure that out.

Glad you are enjoying the thread.

One thing I'd like to reiterate: my parties haven't been super well optimized. The characters for part 1 didn't all have 18 in their primary stat, and the characters in part 2 often neglected secondary stats-- the bard had no dex for example, which made landing Ray of Frost less reliable, slash giving him lower AC. The cleric even straight up skipped some ability boosts.

Part 3 will probably continue this trend, especially since some of the same characters are porting over. The sorcerer only has 14 dex for example-- though with full plate she might be OK. I think strength is only 12 so I'm not sure she will be much of a melee threat though-- but she has 16 intelligence.

I imagine this will be consistent throughout our DDD run. Should be interesting to see, since so many folks seem to think maximum optimization is mandatory. To be fair, they may be correct when it comes to skill DCs, but combat has worked out pretty well thus far. And we haven't had our game ground to a halt from any skill checks either, aside from Treat Wounds taking a while to roll up to full.


TBD if we are gonna use 1.6 updates for channel energy for part 3.

I'm also considering some form of concession to the cleric of Erastil-- perhaps letting him use a shortbow as a favored weapon instead of a longbow, because a longbow wouldn't be worth much in this scenario. Actually, might just side step the issue by having him taking weapon familiarity on his half elf. He already seems to want weapon Elegance, so that seems pretty OK, and it nets him a rapier too.


Captain Morgan wrote:
They left before day 7, so the Night Heralds didn't catch up with them. Obviously I could have made them catch up anyway, but I want to move on in the playtest and frankly wasn't stoked about running multiple NPCs with different abilities. I've found that encounters that involve separate pages of the bestiary are just awful to run from PDF. I'm dreading part 3's various undead combinations, TBH. I can probably solve some of that by copy/pasting into word, but then I lose action icons. If anyone has suggestions for how they handled it, I'm all ears.

I've been opening the Bestiary PDF in multiple tabs in Edge (I don't use Edge much otherwise) so I can switch between different pages easily.


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Part 3.1 went well! We wrapped just before Wave 2 started. I'll note I had a minor cuncussion this week, and I had a harder time tracking stuff as GM than usual I thinl.

My cleric of Erastil had to cancel, so I brought in a newbie. Rather than hand someone who never touched the playtest a 9th level caster, I built them a goblin Defender Paladin. They asked for a horsechopper, a blade righteous spirit, and a disrupting weapon, which obviously came in handy. They also took Shining Oath because Ustalav (plus the goblin was named Sir Shlurt The Shiny) and Channel Life to fulfill the prerequisite healer role. The paladin wound up with 5 heightened heals per day, which is more than the 1.6 cleric has. Pally also took the AoO and Ranged Retritbution feats.

The remaining cleric, BTW, opted to use the 1.6 nerf. But he also prepared almost no spells other than Heal, so I don't expect him to have an issue. XD/ (I think that was more laziness than trying to game the system though. Dude also just likes being able to heal like crazy; he played an Oracle of Life in my PF1 game.) Otherwise he went pretty heavy into the fighter multiclass, with unlimited AoOS.

The sorcerer took the dedication for paladin of Gozreh and got some sweet heavy armor, making her much less squishy than her previous sorc. She also took lay on hands cuz she likes that power from her part 1 paladin, which IMO gives her a much better use of spell points than the rather bad Faerie Dust. Her spontaneous Heightening Spells were Heal and Summon Nature's Ally.

The Bard did bard stuff.

The investigation portion moved at a nice pace, despite only one PC REALLY being dedicated to investigating. A couple of clues did get missed because the perception DCs were high and only 1 or 2 players bothered rolling them, but they found the journal and the note in the library.

No one could lockpick, so no one tried on the attic lock, which was probably for the best given how many people have wound up complaining about the lockpicking DCs here. Instead, they melted the lock off with repeated acid splash. Given a metal object has 9 hardness, I reason 1d4+5 could eventually dent it and break it. If I had counted it as a reinforced object, all the acid splash in the word wouldn't do it, but they could have hacked their way through eventually.

After finding the zombie, they took its head down to the study and confronted the professor. After his explanation, there was the knock at the door, they sent a research assistant to open it, and he immediately got killed and eaten by Ghasts.

The bard opened with Bind Undead, which didn't work of course because she didn't confirm these were mindless. The ghasts then charged into the study and the battle was joined. They got demolished, obviously, even with some forgotten Retributive Strikes and such. No Heals were used, but the Bard did hit 3 with Color Spray. One failed and 2 critically failed. The blinded Ghasts flailed helplessly while the martials crit them to pieces. The sorcerer really just used cantrips and did fine.

The bard was a little overzealous with the spells-- the Bind Undead fizzled, and she wasted a 1st level magic missile . We will see how she's doing by the last wave, but she's got really excellent cantrip access between her First World Magic and Compositions, so I think they'll be OK.

The sorcerer also willingly took their own acid splash splash damage, rather than switch cantrips. Again, not the most tactically optimal play.


We had to cancel last week because of snow, and this week because of Thanksgiving. I've had to resign myself to the fact that I won't finish the playtest before the survey period ends. I'll be lucky if I even get to start and complete one more part, so I can't even do the 1/4/7 thing. And I never ran the Resonance test.

I'm quite sad about this. I really wanted to be able to fully participate. I'm still stoked for second edition and I feel like my voice has been heard on the forums. But it is a bummer.

Once the surveys close I will need to decide what to do, as my Thursday group will probably still want to play. I could run the rest of DDD with less pressure to keep it RAW and avoid tweaking stuff. My players were pretty excited to do that pirate ball.

Or I might just run a converted Burnt Offerings, like Jason mentioned. (Man I hope they release that to tide us over between the surveys ending and the final game dropping.)

Paizo Employee Designer

Captain Morgan wrote:
Or I might just run a converted Burnt Offerings, like Jason mentioned. (Man I hope they release that to tide us over between the surveys ending and the final game dropping.)

That's the Burnt Offerings I converted and ran during the alpha for the rest of the design team. I just ran the original Burnt Offerings, subbing in the monsters from the playtest bestiary as appropriate (we used to have a few of the other BO monsters in alpha, which with that I think gave everything in the adventure except a few named NPCs).


We only got through waves 2 and 3 on Thursday. The MVP of wave 2 was the paladin-- Disrupting Horsechopper, lots of crits, plus retributive strike.

They didn't start dipping into heals until wave 3. They tried to rely on Treat Wounds between waves to heal instead, and they didn't have enough time for it.

MVP of wave 3 was probably the sorcerer. Summoned crocodile to draw some attacks, glitterdust to make the poltergeist visible, and some big fireballs with critical failures from the wights leading to stupid high damage to both. I believe 3 AoE channels were used this battle.

Wall spells and web don't feel very good this edition. Maybe a little over nerfed, though I'll admit they were too strong in PF1. There just never seemed to be a situation where these spells helped more than a fireball did. Fireball real good.

Fun trivia: they sent Royce out to answer the door for wave 1 because the knocking was spooky. Royce immediately got killed. So when they rolled knowledge religion and found out that poltergeists are usually from someone dying a violent death at their location, they all assumed it was Royce.


Finished Part 3 last night. One of my player's sprung a last minute addition to the game. Luckily I had that Cleric of Erastil sheet in my back pocket, but I didn't really adjust my encounter difficulty. (And having a complete newb at the table didn't help our already slow pacing.) I think it managed to be fairly fun despite that, but I definitely felt myself rushing to get it finished.

Event 4 took a long time. I think this was mostly due to a combination of indecision and poor tactics, but it lasted at least 7 rounds. I did like the zombies acting as a distraction for the first round to quickly be decimated. I put two in each room upstairs and it spread the party out some for when the shadows came in at opposite ends.

The shadows took a while. The Paladin quickly got Enfeebled 2, which put the player's on their toes. One shadow used Darkness, but the sorcerer countered with light-- I think it felt good to have a triumph shut the enemy down that hard. I couldn't figure out a way to make shadow leap and such abilities useful because spending an action to hide first seemed real dumb when I needed two actions to shadow steal.*

I misread the light weakness as letting a player bypass the shadow's resistance, rather than just treat a mundane weapon as magic. I caught it before damage was dealt, but I can't help thinking my version would have been more fun. At any rate, the sorcerer tried stabbing the thing with her light up trident a bunch, but was very poorly optimized for melee despite her paladin multiclass. Folks didn't quite seem to get the synergy of using the 2 action heal to bypass the Multiple Attack Penalty, which didn't help. 1 action heal >> 2 action heal would have really sped things along.

Most of the damage wound up coming from heal spells, unsurprisingly. The cleric of Erastil used a True Strike Searing Light that would have crit if he wasn't Enfeebled. The Cleric of Cayden Caileen lost his shadow, but late enough in the combat to where they quickly finished the greater shadow and then easily murdered the baby.

The bard and sorcerer both had restoration, so they were able to get the cleric patched up, and between that and treat wounds everyone had full HP, and only the Paladin and Erastil Cleric went into the final fight with Enfeebled 2.**

Now I messed up pretty bad in the next fight and forgot about the Vampire Rogue Spawns until they had killed Ivoresh. Ah well. I don't think they would have lasted long against the AoEs being thrown around and they were barely relevant with their levels being so low.

So the Erastilen sniped from the balcony with his longbow, and the rest of the party rushed forward. Ivoresh opened with Mirror Image, and the Bard used Mage to drop the Chandelier and the sorcerer used fireball. They managed to put 51 damage on him before even closing to melee. Unfortunately in that time he Ivoresh confused the Paladin, taking him out of the fight for several rounds until the cleric dispelled it.*** And then Ivoresh crit on a vampiric touch and patched some of that damage.

The bard hit him with two Phantasmal Killers she'd been saving up. He saved on the first and failed the second, but she got juuust shy of the damage needed to pop a brain, which was a bummer. Meanwhile, Ivoresh was basically wrecking the fighter cleric in melee. Cleric couldn't roll well and Ivoresh couldn't miss. The cleric did critically save against paralyze though, which was nice.

The sorcerer, meanwhile, turned into a T-rex. she took out two mirror images but didn't land an actual hit. (The last image got taken out by a crit by the archer.) Unfortunately, Ivoresh then confused the t-rex, who went after the fighter cleric.

The party managed to pour on some damage despite that, and the bard used her last spell slots on magic missiles (heightened or otherwise) and they managed to take the thing down. And then used Calm Emotions to keep the t-rex from eating them, haha.

*Rules question 1: Do "your previous actions must have been..." abilities like grab or shadow steal require said actions to be done on the same turn?

**Does Enfeebled apply to all damage? I ruled it applied to normal weapon damage and spell damage, but didn't count it against 1d6 positive dealt by disrupting, since that felt like it shouldn't be affected. (And I was counting it separate for Resistance purposes.)

**Not completely sure I ran the counteract rules right. The cleric rolled a natural 16, and applied his +11 spell roll for a 27. Ivoresh had a DC of 23, and for going up a spell level the DC of the check might have been a 28... but I ruled it worked because Ivoresh had spent most of the combat frightened. I'm not positive he was frightened before casting the spell, but eh. It was late, I wanted to finish.

Gonna try to do part 4. At this point, the updates have changed so much they are basically building the characters from scratch. We have an alchemist, paladin, monk, and probably barbarian. Might wound up with a 5th PC, we will see.


I'm feeling frustrated for the superstitious dwarven barbarian. Ancient Blood and Unburdened being mutually exclusive really hurts the character concept, and the other dwarf feats aren't that exciting for it. Honestly, Unburdened would make just as much sense as an ancestry feat anyway. There was a really nice tie in between Ancient Blood, the totem, and the Mindquake Survivor background, but now I feel one of those has to give for the barbarian to keep up for movement. (Or use valuable class feats to patch the speed, instead of doing fun things like Swipe.)

Witch Hunter is not great, and there aren't other thematic options available at level 9. .

Also, the AC looks rough, and not just from rage. If you max STR and CON, Dex can only get to like a 14. Even if you accept that you will be slower, a breastplate still puts you a point behind the optimal AC threshold before rage or fatigue. (Or before Sluggish 1 if you are a Giant Totem.) You can't really fix this until 10. I dunno if you're supposed to just eat the hits and try to tank with CON, but it feels like the optimal play is pumping dex early and that's not on theme.

Maybe I'm underestimating how good those temporary HP are. I certainly don't think resisting magic damage is going to make up well for lower AC though. :/


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I think I'm feeling some of that Playtest fatigue. My players haven't been great about completing their characters before the actual game, which saps time from the table and is hard to fix when everyone is present. Also, I forgot about he adjustments to DCs in the playtest for this session. And I'm finding it harder to care about running RAW instead of running fun, given that the Paizo team is already hard at work on the new edition and the way the surveys have handled updates to the rules which came out after the survey period closed.

Never the less, the game was fun once we got down to it. Party was:

Dwarf Cavalier Fighter
Half Elf Bomber Alchemist
Dwarf Superstitious Barbarian
Human Blade Ally Paladin

The Barbarian was a good sport about the changes, and opted to wear light armor with 12 DEX and take Ancient Blood. So I'm expecting that character to take a LOT of damage, but she also took Toughness and Mountain Stoutness so maybe she'll be OK. (I also let her use Doubling Rings on an enchanted gauntlet to double dip potency runes on punching stuff and switching hands on her dwarven war axe. Not sure if that works RAI but I read it works fine RAW. And again, finding it harder to say no to fun at this point.)

The party is NOT well balanced. All melee, no magic. We shall see if it works.

They succeeded at some but not all of the exploration checks, but probably mostly because I forgot about the increased DCs. Their first stop was the lake. I kind of hand-waved that they noticed something worth investigating in the lake. The alchemist had Elixirs to grant them swim speeds, which simplified things. Once they were out on the water... You know who shows up.

The lake monster fight was actually pretty epic. I used the Spine Rake activity as two actions as it was definitely supposed to be.They managed to land almost nothing on it except a crit on a Ring of the Ram blast, which did a solid 40 damage, plus another 11 or so from one hit. Meanwhile, I think almost every attack it made was a crit. Then of course, it started swallowing people.

The Pally got swallowed first, and couldn't climb out. She was forced to use Final Rest to cut her way out since her scythe was too bulky. The barbarian then got grabbed, and she actually forced her way down the thing's throat to try and help the paladin cut free. At about this point the alchemist fled. The fighter got taken to 1 hit point and then Swallowed and knocked out. He would have suffocated, but that round the Barb and paladin finally managed to cut their way out and everyone gushed out of the thing's throat.

I reasoned it wasn't going to be able to eat them until its throat healed anyway and it had taken around 80 damage at this point, so I let the party flee as the module suggests. They really want vengeance on that thing but I don't think they have a chance. XD

The barbarian actually held up the best in this fight. Between the thing's crit rate and many automatic damage abilities, AC didn't seem to matter much, but having 172 hit points, plus temporary HP, plus superstition self-healing sure did.

They then moved onto Tulaeth's domain. They succeeded on the check to improve her attitude (the paladin has Glad Hand so they got two attempts) despite forgetting to pop a Silver Tongue mutagen. They failed the Request Aid check though, so they got sent to deal with the cyclops problem.

They immediately realized a dragon was attacking the cyclops upon seeing the damaged longhouse, but failed the check to parley. However, the Barbarian wanted to challenge one of the cyclops to a contest of strength... and critically succeeded on the intimidation check to call one out. At that point, it became too hilarious to not let it happen.

So the cyclops gather outside to watch this wrestling match. I'm planning on having them just roll grapple against each other until one critically succeeds and pins the other. The barbarian wins initiative, successfully demoralizes with Battle Cry, then gets a critical success on her opening grapple. XD It was fun to narrate, especially with her Sudden Leap feat in play and various professional wrestling type trash talking. (In retrospect, I should have allowed the restrained character at least one action to try to break it before the count was finished.)

I figured this impressed the cyclops enough for them to at least tell the party about their dragon woes. This was another fun moment, because the goblin sorcerer from part 2 was obsessed with becoming a dragon. I changed the name of the red dragon to said character, and it got his player super pumped.

So next week they are going to go fight the dragon. I've made the dragon a caster per the sidebar in the bestiary. Makes more sense for a former sorcerer, and it might make the Witch Hunter feat relevant. I think the barbarian should do well here, since the AoE of both the dragon and fire giant count as arcane effects that she'll get full bonuses from her totem, raging resistance, and ancient's blood.

I also think the Alchemist will shine given they know what they are fighting. Brew up a ton of Liquid Ice and Quicksilver Mutagens, distribute them before approaching the dragon's lair, and just pelt the two creatures with their weakness until they close into the very potent melee blender.


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We got right up to the final encounter on the final pre-Mu spore day. We had the monk, barbarian, alchemist, paladin, and an archer ranger with an animal companion and druid multiclass. Tactics weren't optimal and the fights felt a little more touch and go because of it. Lots of resources weren't leveraged. But they won anyway.

As predicted, the alchemist really kicked ass in the dragon fight. The party didn't lean into him as hard they should have-- no one used a mutagen, and only the archer was outfitted with spare liquid ice. But doing 14 damage on a miss was excellent, especially when it could hit both enemies at once.

The barbarian managed to disrupt a spell on the dragon, which was choice. But the dragon hasted itself and cast Stoneskin before that, which made it quite dangerous. The low AC of the barbarian also became a problem here-- he got crit a couple of nasty crits from the dragon and sent to dying 2.

The Paladin got some retributive strikes in, including persistent damage. The monk mostly wiffed with bad rolls. The dragon's breath weapon forced the pet to flee-- animal companions do seem too fragile. I kind of think raising their hit dice one step either every time they get a new upgrade or every time they increase in size might be a good change. Might try it as a house rule.

The party snagged 7 treasure points and 5 ally points in this whole chain of events. They bought +3 Hide armor for the barbarian, +3 handwraps for the monk, and a +3 scythe. The ranger snagged a staff of fire. Those spell feats are actually kind of choice.

They then found the gnome village and went to deal with the rocs. The ranger flubbed the wild empathy check, so the fight began. The rocs were pretty scary with their reach and snatch shenanigans. I ruled that the party could attack a roc's talons while it grappled an adjacent ally (and said ally could attack it too) which kept the fight from being a slog. Barbarian used Sudden Leap a lot.

The ranger got grabbed, but then the grabbing roc got grabbed by the monk. On its turn the roc flew up and dropped the ranger. I forgot the monk was attached to it though, so I ruled he was still clinging to the roc. (It made more sense that the roc would carry him off without noticing than be immobilized.) Monk then landed a fierce dragon flurry for 8d12+8 damage, dealing over 60 and killing the bird out of the air.

The alchemist did a lot of damage with alchemist fires, including a crit. I had some trouble understanding how wing rebuff works. "If the roc pushes the creature the triggering action is disrupted." But you need to use a follow up action to Push, which obviously you can't do on a reaction outside of your turn.

Unfortunately, the party failed their various displays for the gnomes and didn't get the treasure. :(

They also discovered the dead cultist site and the location of the moonmere. They wound up pushing the time table to be thorough in their exploration, but got there just in the nick of time. We will see what happens in the finale.

Lots of interesting takeaways all together.


The final encounter was pretty brutal, but they won. It took longer because the Cultists started using Soothe to keep the Brain Collector going. But this was several weeks ago and I don't remember much for details.

We skipped part 5, handling it basically as a cut scene, and are building characters for part 6 because everyone wants to go to the pirate ball. The new party is:

Gnome Barkeep Bard (from parts 2 and 3)
Gnome Barkeep Draconic Sorcerer
Human Pirate Rogue
Half Elf lore Bard

The two Barkeeps will finally be able to get some use out of Hobnobber, which is neat.

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