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I'm not a native english speaker so excuse my errors in the following text please.
I ran "The Lost Star" as a GM last week. It took us 2 sessions around 3 hours each.
For starting I want to say that overall I had fun and my players told me they liked it and want to do the Chapter 2 so it's already a good point.
There are still some points that seems odd to run though.
In the first part I will summarize how the Chapter was run, and in a second part I will explain the point that needs explaination for me, or adjustment.
Part I : The Lost Star
Explaining the new rules
I took some hours the week before the game to explain the new rules to the players. They are PF1 players and didn't seems to have issues with the rules when I told them.
They did it without much trouble for what I have heard. One of them told me he really like how it is done.
Preparing the game
It took me some works. I needed to translate a lot of thing in my langage which took me some time.
Roll20 provided the map freely so it was quick because I just add to make some tokens for the monsters and I could start.
Overall I think I needed around 4 hours.
The actual party
Dwarf Barbarian - Mind Quake Survivor
Half elve Druid (Leaf Order) - Mind Quake Survivor
Elve Ranger (Archery focused) - Hunter (didn't took campaing background)
Human Sorcerer (Arcane) - Budding Osirionologist
It took a bit of time to actually made the story so that everyone was connected to Keleri one way or another. After which an envoy went to tell them that she wants to ask them something.
She quickly explained what happened, then leads them to the vault where Talga was waiting, still chocked and the mind clouded by the mushroom effect. The druit took some time to make her feel better by being reassuring.
They didn't ask a lot of questions apart from "how many goblins are there ?" and Talga told them around 10.
Talga didn't draw them a map (they didn't asked) but she did say them that she think Drakus is a vampire. This didn't seems to made the players concerned by the danger.
Then Talga lead them to the Ashen Ossuary. At this point nobody add light so the druid casted Light on his scimitar.
A1 : The Ooze, a punching-ball story
I didn't know how the Sneaking rules would work since it can works outside the fight and then for the initiative. For the entire playthrough I ruled it like that :
- When the PC are in range to detect ennemy that are sneaking, I made them roll Perception (sometimes secretly, sometimes not ... because I asked mechanically).
- If their perception beats the Sneak DC, everyone rolls Initiative with Perception and the fight start.
- If they failed, the NPC decided when he want to attack and then use Sneak for his initative while players use Perception (or sneak if they would be sneaking, but they never did)
But it could lead to strange situations where the ambusher act last.
The fight itself was ... boring. The Ooze manage to hit someone, then everyone hit him. He barely survived, didn't manage to retaliate, and got killed the next round by the Barbarian.
The players understood that this fight was like a tutorial so they didn't care that it was not exciting.
A2 : The Goblins, or how to paint the soil red
The PC where not sneaking at all and had ligh source so the goblins spotted them as soon as they entered the room.
But the Barbarian rolled a good initiative and was first. He could only see one of the Goblins from his position so he charged in and killed the Goblins in one Strike. Then he was next to another Goblin, which he killed with his last Strike.
The 2 last goblins tried to flank him but that wasn't enough to take him down.
Someone then took down one goblin and the barbarian killed the last (or maybe killed both ? I don't recall well).
Overall it was easy because :
- The Barbarian was a dwarf and could saw them in the Dark even if they were far in the other side of the room
- The Barbarian had good initiative and destroy half of them (didn't rage to save one action)
- The goblins rolled poorly, and decided to focus on the barbarian since he seemed to be the most dangerous so the others were fine.
The group wanted to continue so I remembered them that the game is not only about fight, since they didn't even tried to search the room (they didn't either in A1 but there was nothing anyway).
Only one tried to search the room. He succed but not critically so he didn't found the last item.
Since they didn't know what was the potion the Sorcerer decided to take one hour to study it with arcana. In retrospection I shouldn't have autorized that since potion are not magic and he would need alchemical tools to run test, and nobody had one.
While he was taking that hour of study the group decided to split.
The druid goes to A6 but didn't actually entered the room.
The Barbarian goes to A5.
The druid goes to A4 when he came back. I think someone else got there before but I don't remember.
The Ranger goes to A3.
I will talk about A3 last because it was when s+@! happened.
A5 : Mushroom of wasted time
The Barbarian entered the room, triggered the effect, succeed on his save, walked away saying this wasn't his business.
Nobody ever went back to this room.
A4 : Not Doctor House
They failed so hard their medicine check that they weren't even able to spot a hole in the neck of the goblins.
Since all even where simultaneous I prefer to think that the noise from the events in A3 where the cause of that.
A3 : First one to bit the dust
The Ranger goes in, failed his Perception check. Then the monsters showed up, everyone rolled initiative. I also made the PC not in the room rolled since they will rush to help.
The monsters were first. They surrounded the Ranger and with the tons of attacks they had they put him inconscious quite easily. And poisoned.
At this point I was pretty confused about how poison would impact the saving throw for recover. I ruled that since the poison deal dammage, his dying condition would increase and he would have no save to recover until the poison is cleared. But I rulled poorly and sometimes made him roll twice because I was still a bit confused.
Since the dying rules will change I didn't care much though about searching for the "righ rule".
The other rushed to help him but it took them one round to be there.
The room was swarming with the monsters, and in theory they should have killed the dying Ranger because he was the only target in the room, and they are stupid animals that probably wanted to feed on him.
But since the game just started I didn't wanted the player to be out so easily (and early) so I didn't make the monsters attack him. The Barbarian tooks a bit of damage from the one that was next to him.
The round after the Barbarian killed the only monster that was blocking the group from rescuying the Ranger. The druid goes in, picked him up, and then leave.
I didn't know how dragging should works so I just made the druid goes half speed.
After that they managed to save the Ranger (I had to make him spent a Hero point. I dislike this a lot but that was the only "legit" way to save him because he would have died on his turn and was next in initiative).
Since they were hurt a lot they decided to quit the Ossuary and took 1 day to recover.
Then, when they came back, the druid wanted a rematch against the insects.
A3 : The rematch
The druid and the Barbarian rushed in first, followed by the sorcerer, and the Ranger in the rear back.
To summarize, the barbarian and the druid won the initiative and killed a bunch of the creatures. They retaliate but not so much.
The Sorcerer placed a Burning Hand that really hurts them. The Ranger hit some of the opponents.
The ennemy didn't had a secound round if I recall well.
They spotted easily the idol and the druid took it with his hand, which release the Quasits.
The fight was not really hard, they manage to deal a lot of damage quickly so one Quasit went invisible to then sit in the room and use his action to heal himself.
The other got killed but surprised everyone by transforming in wolf.
Then it took a lot of rounds for the PC to actually sense the Quasit. But even so, since telling other the actual position was an action, sometimes the PC could do it and the Quasit just moved elsewhere.
In the end the druid manage to hit him and the Quasit changed in wolf, then attacked (ending the invisibility). I made an error by assuming that "knockdown" was a free action, but that doesn't change the fight.
The last Quasit killed, only the druid had taken damage (but a lot).
In retrospective I could have done the fight way more hard by having the Quasit flying to the roof. One action to move, one to attack, one to move back to safety. Only the Ranger and the sorcerer would have been able to hit.
I just ... forgot.
I think the Quasit where really cool to play as a GM and really felt different from the other NPC. I really like how the bestiary make each monster feels unique.
The PCs didn't even tried the south door and managed to managed to spot the alarm on the other one so they proceed.
A7 : Game of Throne
Since they didn't trigger the alarm but weren't trying to sneak the Goblins were not surprised as they heard them a bit before they enter the room, but didn't had time either to prepare an ambush.
The fight was really long so I won't go in details.
The Barbarian rushed in alone, and got hurt really bad. He took down several Goblins.
The trap hit only one player.
The Goblin Sorcerer did a lot of damage, and some nasty crits hit the PCs. The fight was really uncertain until the end.
The PC Sorcerer manage to blind and daze some goblins, and I think that is the only reason the PCs won in the end.
During the battle, two PC were on the floor dying : the Barbarian and the druid.
Since they had determined that the potion was a heal potion during their 1 day outside, the sorcerer tried to shove in the mouth of the Barbarian (the Druid recovered alone before the end of the fight).
At this point I remembered them that using a potion cost Resonance, and the dwarf Barbarian had 0 Resonance. Everyone was really tense when he rolled the flat 10 DC to see if the potion was wasted or not. Fortunately it was not.
I am still conflicted by the fact that consommable take Resonance. If he had die on that It would have been really ... not fun.
Since they took a lot of damage they again decided to return in town and took 2 days to recover.
When they came back the Day n°5 they noticed that the water in A6 was clear but didn't tried to drink it.
This fight was also long.
I made everyone use one movement in the room (or stay oustide if they wanted) and then declenched the attack of the skeletons.
The Sorcerer was took down quickly since he was unfortunately at a bad spot when the Skeletons rised. He managed to regain conscious during the fight but his spell did 0 damage against the resistance of the undead. Their DR made the fight a bit longer that it could have been.
At some point the druid remembered that with 3 actions he can canalize his heal spell to heal allies and hurt the undead, which helped.
In the end the PCs were victorious, got healed a bit, searched the room and find the loot.
Since the Sorcerer was always casting "detect magic" I told him I forgot to tell him that he sensed a magic aura from the water in A6. So before A9 they goes there, and after using "Read Aura" to determine that it is Necromancy, he drink some water to recover. Everyone except the Ranger (who was not hurt because he fire arrows from outside the room earlier) drank.
Then they went to A9.
A9 : Indiana Jones
The Ranger spotted the trap and managed to deactivate it so everyone could pass with no risk.
Then the Barbarian smashed the door to A10 on his first try.
A10 : Boss Battle
Drakus went third, so the barbarian and the druid could position themselve in the room.
Drakus reverted and went to the barbarian. I allowed the "Mind Quake Survivor" a special check with their Dominion Lore to recognize the Faceless but they failed.
Drakus hit the Barbarian with his last action and really hurted him.
The Sorcerer entered the room and trying to goes around Drakus, thinking there is not attack opportunity. Bad mistake. He took a critical (I think) hit and goes down.
The rest of the fight was just the PCs attacking Drakus and Drakus attacking the PCs. They killed him without anyone else being inconscious but he really was scary.
I had really bad rolls with Drakus overall. If I had been just a bit more lucky I could have make the Barbarian unconscious early, which would have prevent him to crit Drakus. And then I think Drakus would have an easy time huntdown the remaining.
At this point I didn't even bothered about the dying rules anymore. They were annoying and I knew that Paizo already decided to change them so there was not point in "testing" it.
After the fight, they split.
That was dangerous, I think it was more like the players though "the boss is down, so there is no more danger" but also with the dead goblin on the altar that made 10 goblins in the Ossuary, which is the number given by Talga.
In A10 himself, I heavily insisted on the trash that were put on Pharasma Symbols but no one tried to clean the place.
After the game the druid told me it was because his PC doesn't really care about gods, I don't know for the other. Maybe I am just bad at making a good ambiance that make you invested in the RP ?
The Barbarian founds the item, doesn't care about the dagger, didn't really react at the vision in the bowls, ignored the book and then asked the sorcerer to look at these things.
The sorcerer took everything and decided to study the dagger for 1 hour after which he knew what it was.
The druid and the Ranger opened the chests. Since they had Drakus key the trap didn't triggered. They found the loot, the Desna Star and the "notes on the last theorem" but couldn't read it.
They came back, looked in the bowl. The druid was the most concerned by the vision, and I think the Ranger didn't try to look.
They did nothing with the prayer book.
They came back at Keleri, give her all the loots so that she could give them back to their owners. They told them about the vision of the bowl which made her interrested, and worried.
Then she read a bit of the "Note on the Last Theorem" and get really worried so she shared her secret with the PC and asked them for further help.
It ended there.
Par II : My opinions
Was it fun ?
Yes, it was fun. But the fact that the PCs should retreat every 2 fights feels really not fun.
The monsters hit too often in my taste. On average they all had 50% chance to hit on their first attack, then around 25% on the second. When they are a lot that could really turn bad for the pc if they lost the initiative.
The build seems to have nearly no weight. Why bother preparing for a fight if you always have 50% chance to hit and 50% chance to be hit anyway ? I feel like anyone will end up rushing in because that doesn't matter.
The Knowledge are really strange
What is the point of being trained / expert in Lore ? Apart from some feats that are not really exciting ?
Well, there are the rituals but I feel like it is not sufficient.
I think it would be better to have a solid system like this :
Religion Lore :
Untrained (knows only what they heard in the stree) : Recognize symbols of major deities. Knowing their eddicts basically.
Trained (actually read several books or had a teaching) : Knowing the eddicts well. Being able to recognize not only symbols but also religious verse or prayer and link them to the deity.
Expert (past several time to study the subject, not only remembering it but understand the real meaning behind the words) : Being able to determine if a religious text has been altered to change the meaning. Knowledge same as "untrained" about minor deities, ancient ones or Deities that are not commonly known.
Master : Knowledge same as "Trained" about minor deities, ancient ones or Deities that are not commonly known. Knows the history of the main cult really well, and can remember legends of really ancient time (like a forgotten hero of Sarenrae and his legendary sword buried in some place, or the story of how a pecular demon was killed)
Legendary : You are google and may remember everything religion related.
The Familiar is ... useless ?
Remember the Druid ? I said he was from the Leaf Order, which gave him a familiar.
I never spoke about the familiar after that, because he did exactly nothing during the 6 hours plays. Nothing.
We didn't even bothered making a token for him since we can't found a single time where we would need him.
I means. The druid used the "power" to build itself, and apart from that it was like the familiar didn't even existed.
At one point we though about make it scout but ... well, it was just most efficient to let a PC does that. His sneaking is not great, he doesn't move faster than most PC, and his HP and CA are garbage. It was more usefull to only took the "master options" each day.
One question from a player
The "forceful" trait of the scimitar (a weapon with which the druid is proficient) reads : "When you attack with it more than once on your turn, the second attack adds a circumstance bonus to damage equal to the number of weapon damage dice, and each subsequent attack adds a circumstance bonus to damage equal to double the number of weapon damage dice."
Do both of these abilities stack ?
When I hit an enemy with two subsequent attacks with my scimitar, the second attack will deal [2d6+(strenght mod)] thanks to "savage swipes".
Does that mean that, thanks to "forceful", that second attack will deal [2d6+(strenght mod)+(2(forceful))] as a total ?
I don't think it stacks but since there is no clear rulling that I could find...
Light rules ?
So, in the rules, you are in clear light in the range of the Ligh spell, and then directly in total darkness ?
I would have add a Dim Ligh zone which would be half the clear light zone or something like that.
Perception rules for trap ?
What is the range to spot a trap ?
I mean, if no range is indicated, you can have your "trap detector" being the last in the group and still saw trap before the first PCs walk on it.
I found it weird.
I would rule that most trap need you to be just adjacent to the square, except for some (for instance the Pharasma Trap is so huge I think you can see it from 2-3 squares away. Even if the statue itself is obvious from way more than that)
If a monster poison you, you take the Stage 1 effect on his turn ?
Then, if your initiative is after him, you take your save and eventually take another poison damage ?
If that work like that, this means you take twice the damage in one round, which I found weird.
As said in Part I, the rules are strange because it could lead to the ambusher acting last if he roll poorly and the PC roll good.
I would maybe have rule like this :
- The PC make the Perception check against the Stealth DC of the ambusher (or the Ambusher make a Stealth check against the Perception DC of the PC ? I don't know)
- If the PC spot the ennemy, everyone roll initiative. The NPC use perception for initiative since he is not sneaking anymore.
- If the PC doesn't spot him, the ennemy can attack when he want (providing he doesn't trigger another check to perception by his action) and when he does he doesn't roll initiative. The PC roll initiative, and since the ambusher took them by surprise he then is considered to have roll 1 higher than the higher resultat of the PC (which means, he is always first)
But such a change could be really deadly so I am not sure it would be fine too and would probably need to change a lot of other thing to balance.
Skill level difficulties : My [u]Major issue[/u]
I have a hard time understanding how the level works.
I understand well the difficulty adjustment and I like it, but the levels ... how boy.
According to the Rulebook, balancing on a tigh rope in a strong breeze would be something like "Level 3 Severe DC". Yeah. Ok. Fine. That seems like a really difficult one for me, and it is just level 3, trivial when PC are level 9. So what exactly am I supposed to put in the game to keep it challenging at higher level ?
Should I make them jump from asteroïd to asteroïd, while in a tornado, to actually present a "level 10 difficulty" in acrobatics ?
We need a lot more of numerical indications and example.
As it stand now, around level 10, anything you can think of is trivial for everyone, except if you manage to put them in some really ridiculous and unlikely situations.
There is no example above level 5 of difficulty.
That is just 1/4 of the game.
I just don't understand how I am supposed to actually put an arbitrary "level" on each task.
I mean, if it's just "lol, you choose difficulty" then why having such rules ? At this point it is more efficient to let anyone decided the DC by themselves.
But there are rules. I just don't understand them at all.
Balancing on fallen log is level 1, balancing on tigh rope is level 3. What is level 5 ? Rope on fire ? And then, level 9 ?
If I told you "I want to jump on this giant turtle that is swimming", some people would say "level 2", other would say "level 4", and nobody would be wrong because the rules says nothing about how you chose the level.
PF1 was simple : flat DC, then modifiers that could stack.
But here the modifiers are the "gravity" (severe, extreme, ect...) so what do you use for the levels ?
It is really the only rule that I can't understand. I may be just plain dumb, I don't know, but it make absolutely 0 sense the way it is written for me.
Sorry for the long post anyone.
Here are the survey resultats :
How long did it take to play Part I ?
How long did it take to prepare it ?
Around 4 hours.
The map provided by Roll20 helped a lot.
How many session did it take ?
2 Sessions because we played in the week.
If we played in the week-end we would probably have done the 6 hours in one session.
How many hero point did you give
1 each PC, when I realize it was the "only way" to save the Ranger.
But I don't like it at all.
Outside the playtest, I will never use it.
How many times was a player reduced to 0 ?
How many was killed ?
The ranger should have died though, but if he died then the others would have died too in the next fights (unless he recreat a character and went as backup) so I saved him.
Players Answers :
How long did it take to create Character ?
Druid : 2-3h
Sorcerer : 4-6h (because Roll20 was really lagging for him)
Ranger : 2h
Barbarian : 4-5h (because Roll20 was really lagging for him)
How many time did you character reach 0 resonance ?
Druid : 0
Sorcerer : 0
Ranger : 0
Barbarian : 0 (doesn't have resonance to begin with)
Note : There was only 1 item that cost resonance, it was the healing pot, and it was used by the Barbarian which was already at 0 resonance.
How many time did he crit fail the check while overspending resonance ?
Druid : Didn't try
Sorcerer : Didn't try
Ranger : Didn't try
Barbarian : 0
How many time did your character run out of spell slots ?
Druid : Every day
Sorcerer : Never
Ranger : Not a caster
Barbarian : Not a caster
How many time did your character run out of spell point ?
Druid : 0
Sorcerer : 1
Ranger : Doesn't have SP
Barbarian : Doesn't have SP
How many hero point did you use ?
Druid : 0
Sorcerer : 0
Ranger : 1
Barbarian : 0
Sorry if my feedback is a total mess.
Have a good day.