Prep and beginning of Lost Star


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Last week I got together with a group to play through Doomsday Dawn. We went through char gen and some rules review and got into the first two encounters of The Lost Star. I'm reporting on some initial stuff now because I know apparently they will start ignoring feedback on the Lost Star soon, and I don't know if we're going to finish that scenario in time to be useful.

Specific to playtest rules as presented IN the Lost Star and how to be sure to test the right things
- Would have been helpful to point out in rooms suggested transitions between Encounter Mode and Exploration Mode, especially since the latter is a brand new, codified way of doing the dungeon crawl.
- Because ooze activates when creature is within 10 feet and/or has an ability that has a 20 foot area, specific placement description would have been very helpful.
- Wasn't clear if some creatures needed to be noticed or not -- i.e., should I have rolled Stealth for the ooze? Rolled the party's Perception vs the ooze's Stealth vs 10.
- Overall I could have used about 80% less background narrative and 80% more GM advice for rules setup and tactics, especially bearing in mind the point of the playtest was to test gameplay--sidebars to remind new GMs to the key system issues (like -- "don't forget to roll Perception for the PCs"). I felt like I was pushed to memorize a big complicated story when I really needed to be using that mental real estate for learning the rules. I can make up the story if we really need one, that's the easy part. What I need help with is actually running the g&!&&*n game, especially since this is the "learning the system" module. I don't expect a lot of handholding in standard modules (although I can always use more help than GMs are given in modules), but this needed far more added to it so it could have been a proper teaching tool. The way in which this module was designed in general highlights a key flaw a lot of Paizo products have for any game -- it assumes all GMs are experienced GMs and have memorized every rule instantly, even when the system is new and half-formed. This makes bringing in new GMs--crucial to make the hobby happen--extraordinarily unlikely.
- One thing 1e modules have that this one desperately needed was specific advice on scaling encounters for different groups (I originally was going to have a group of 3, so was trying to figure out how to best do this). The advice in the playtest Bestiary was all but useless--first of all I had trouble in general comprehending the stereo-instruction-like guidelines (the best I could comprehend them, I determined I had to remove 2/3ds of a goblin in the second encounter, which wasn't helpful); secondly, the Bestiary guidelines apply more to creating encounters from scratch than adjusting pre-designed module encounters. At the end, because my 3rd player had to back out due to an emergency, the remaining two players created 2 characters each so I didn't have to worry about it. I probably however would have mainly winged it otherwise rather than try to follow the rules (which doesn't help test the system itself).

(As an aside, the very idea of having to design and/or adjust every fight according to an XP budget is sufficiently fiddly enough it ensures I will never GM the game once it is finalized, assuming the system remains the same. I'll keep GMing the playtest because I want to finish what I started, but I probably won't run a campaign. And given I'm the only person in our group willing to run Pathfinder, it probably means therefore my RL group won't play 2e [I will probably play it in PBP]).

How the two combats otherwise went
- Sewer ooze was fine, and played off as the "trivial" encounter it was meant to be, although I did reduce its hp by 10 just to get through it faster since it was getting late. It did some damage, but the group largely trounced it. The single creature fight highlights that the new action economy in this system makes single creature fights even more to the PCs' favor than in 1e (where single creature fights were still already often too easy). When you have 1 creature with 3 actions--sure, at least that's potentially 3 attacks--vs a 4 person party with a total of 12 actions, it will usually be a breeze.
- With the +10 equaling critical success, it's easy to crit in this game--too easy perhaps? The ooze is immune to crits (something we almost missed) but it could still crit the party, and crits also happened a lot in the goblin fight. It makes things go faster, but it is SO easy to deal lots of damage in this system, it makes it more likely that whoever wins initiative wins the fight.
- Goblin fight felt extremely easy in spite of multiple creatures--but they also lost initiative (see above).
- Cleric player noted command felt weak because of the action system--he commanded a goblin to drop prone, but then realized that the goblin would be able to stand from prone (without a problem) and still have 2 actions to threaten the party with. 2 is still better than 3 actions (from the party's perspective) but he felt like he didn't really accomplish anything.
- ALL THIS SAID the players really liked the pace of combat and liked how the action system gave them better choices for what to do every round.

Other stuff
- Goblin player did not like, for the purposes of the module, being effectively forced to take only 1 background and be denied all others. He was lucky the ability boosts available suited his build, but it would have sucked if it didn't.
- None of us liked that everyone was forced to have a choice of only 5 campaign backgrounds, and had to ignore the chargen backgrounds in the rulebook. This is a big customization downside compared to the 1e Trait System--because you get 2 traits, you can ask folks to take 1 campaign trait while they still get to pick something else they might like for themselves. I'd suggest honestly for general module design either making campaign backgrounds optional (a good party and GM can figure out how to get everyone together, usually), or forgoing campaign backgrounds entirely, letting PCs use generic backgrounds but then instead giving them a "campaign hook" which is either purely a narrative hook to tie you to a major NPC and/or just a minor boost, like training in a specific lore.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I agree with your comments about the lack of advise on running the module (and I shared this opinion in my surveys). I would have thought that considering this is a PLAYTEST, they would want to minimize GM error by providing extra guidance on how to run the rules relevant to each encounter. There totally should be a sidebar regarding invisible creatures for the quasit fight, one regarding poison for the centiped fight, how light sources work for the goblin fight, etc.

I also commented about the lack of monster tactics in the playtest. For instance, in A2, it hints the goblins would charge the PC with their dogslicers for melee, but its buried in the text and never explicitly stated. From reading this forum, it seems the GMs that had the goblins use their shortbows from the darkness created a much higher difficulty for their PCs.

On the other hand, I wonder if maybe this was intentional to see how different GMs interpreted the rules as written in the core rulebook. I know that, in hindsight, I really botched the quasit fight (I had them taking 4 actions each round because I forgot that invisibility costs 2 actions; I also forgot to give the PCs a -2 AC penalty for being flat-footed against invisible creatures; and I never used their healing or fear abilities). I also was more lax on the lighting rules than I should have been and just assumed that because they had a light source that they could see everything.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Byron Zibeck wrote:
I agree with your comments about the lack of advise on running the module (and I shared this opinion in my surveys). I would have thought that considering this is a PLAYTEST, they would want to minimize GM error by providing extra guidance on how to run the rules relevant to each encounter. There totally should be a sidebar regarding invisible creatures for the quasit fight, one regarding poison for the centiped fight, how light sources work for the goblin fight, etc.

At least rulebook page references wouldn't be handy. That's one thing I wouldn't expect to see in a regular module, but is needed when you're learning the system. I feel certain I skipped a number of rules/processes just by not really being aware they existed. I have read through a lot of the rulebook, but I'm the kind of person where things don't really stick in my brain until I've had some practical experience of the thing.

Quote:
I also commented about the lack of monster tactics in the playtest. For instance, in A2, it hints the goblins would charge the PC with their dogslicers for melee, but its buried in the text and never explicitly stated. From reading this forum, it seems the GMs that had the goblins use their shortbows from the darkness created a much higher difficulty for their PCs.

That one was a tough one because it also depends a lot on how much the GM interprets the goblins being distracted by their statue building. I assumed they really weren't going to notice them unless the PCs did something specifically to draw their attention. (In my game, the rogue attempting to sneak up on them and a 1 on the Stealth roll did the trick.)

(Also--if the creatures noticing the rogue triggers the fight, and thus we officially transition from Exploration mode to Encounter mode--does the rogue get to, for example finish moving to where he wanted to go before the Encounter begins?)

Quote:
I also was more lax on the lighting rules than I should have been and just assumed that because they had a light source that they could see everything.

Me too, but I am also bad about that in PF1. Actually in 2E this is easier because at least creatures with darkvision have no limit to their field of vision so it's easier to say in their case they see what's going on, rather than have to track distances.


DeathQuaker wrote:


- Wasn't clear if some creatures needed to be noticed or not -- i.e., should I have rolled Stealth for the ooze? Rolled the party's Perception vs the ooze's Stealth vs 10.

I treated this the same way for my players.

DeathQuaker wrote:


- With the +10 equaling critical success, it's easy to crit in this game--too easy perhaps? The ooze is immune to crits (something we almost missed) but it could still crit the party, and crits also happened a lot in the goblin fight. It makes things go faster, but it is SO easy to deal lots of damage in this system, it makes it more likely that whoever wins initiative wins the fight.

Agreed. Although for my game this only ever came up once. I guess it was just the way the dice fell. I've seen horror stories posted though.

I didn't force my players to take the backgrounds from the adventure. A couple did, but others picked ones from the rule book.

Mine generally liked the new action system, but the fighter still felt like he was just moving and swinging.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Mr.CoffeeCup wrote:


I didn't force my players to take the backgrounds from the adventure. A couple did, but others picked ones from the rule book.

If I were running an ordinary campaign, that is what I would have done. However for the purposes of the playtest I am trying to do as instructed so as not to throw in unexpected variables into the results. Or at least, do as instructed FIRST, and then if there's time to try stuff later then do it with the RAW as a baseline.

Quote:


Mine generally liked the new action system, but the fighter still felt like he was just moving and swinging.

I have a feeling much as with 1e, on one hand this is mitigated by how comfortable a fighter player is with trying new mechanics. My fighter player wanted to try his charge feat and a couple players wanted to play around with their weapon's special properties (once we took some time to understand said properties, which took more time than it probably should have). No one tried any "Combat Maneuvers" aka special attacks using the Athletics skill now.

The other "problem"--which is either a bug or a feature depending on play style and preferences--is I think it remains in 2e, as it's been in most fantasy roleplaying games, that ultimately the fastest way to end a fight is to deal as much damage to the target as quickly as possible (DPR). While you can try slowing, hindering, talking down, or controlling targets, these efforts all take time and often aren't a long term solution to dealing with foes. Killing them as quick as possible is easier, faster, and solves all your problems (at least in a particularly hacknslash game). The Lost Star is intended clearly to be a hacknslash dungeoncrawl--the text emphasizes that the goblins cannot be talked down, and seems to discourage other creative problem solving--so this feature is exaggerated. And so since DPR is ideal, the most useful thing the fighter can do is deal damage (which the fighter does well), so "I hit it and then I hit it again" quickly becomes rote.

This ISN'T a problem per se--I think the module tests other aspects of gameplay later, and I don't take the way the Lost Star runs as indicative of how gameplay always has to turn out. It is clearly intended to be a test of one aspect of gameplay. BUT certainly in this one aspect, DPR is still king, and thus rewards certain kinds of (repetitive) gameplay and not others.

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