Two encounters in Part 2 representative of the playtest.


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback


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Rather than go encounter by encounter through Part 2, I thought it would be a great idea to highlight two encounters as examples of what was great and awful about Part 2.

Our party consisted of a halfling ranger and animal companion, an elf barbarian, a dwarf druid, a dwarf alchemist and a gnome sorcerer. Because our fifth player was a last minute addition, I didn't have time to adjust up the encounter difficulty appropriately. So it should me mentioned that all encounters should have been appreciably easier for the party to complete.

The good - The Manticore fight

The dead gnolls telegraphed the manticore fight quite well. Although the party knew that the manticore would be the enemy OOC, neither the druid nor the ranger were able to roll high enough to match the DC to identify the quills. Regardless, they were able to tell from the tracks that something flying had attacked the gnolls. Their preparedness allowed them to see the manticore farther away and not be 'surprised' by the initial attack. The manticore kept to the skies and shot spikes at the party, while the party tried various methods to engage it at range.

The turning point of the battle was when the elven barbarian scaled the side of the cliff and lept from the cliff onto the manticore's back, attacking it. This constituted four actions, but since the barbarian had 3 hero points, she spent them all on an extra action. This nearly knocked the manticore out of the sky, and the manticore became obsessed with getting the 'rider' off it's back, while the rest of the party continued to attack it.

The manticore did land three hits on the barbarian in one round near the end - one being a crit. These hits nearly "one shot" the barbarian. but fortunately her rage kept her going.

Overall, this combat was a lot of fun. The barbarian was able to use "raging athlete" to great effect and come up with an innovative way to bring down the manticore. On the down side, the rest of the party found hitting the manticore a difficult roll. The ranger was frustrated with double slice not hitting, while the alchemist found his bombs to be mostly ineffective (although the persistent damage was nice). As a GM I found adjudicating a mount trying to throw off it's rider to not be well supported by the rules. additionally, near the end I tried to throw the barb off the manticore by smashing the manticore into the walls of the cliff. In both cases, we solved these with acrobatics and athletics checks, but I, at least, found those rules to be a poor fit.

The bad - the water / earth elemental fight.

The party reached the tomb with most of their daily rations of spells, powers, etc.. intact and at full health. The first room they encoutnered was the water / earth elemental room. The party's initial reaction was to ignore the room as a distraction. However, they investigated too far into the room and triggered initiative.

The water elemental's attack was quite effective, if unispiring. The water elemental routinely hit on between 2-3 actions each round. Moreover, the earth elemental glided to the rear of the party and attacked the rear. The earth elemental's attacks were annoynaces for the party. The water elemental attack, on the other hand, was quite deadly for the party. The +13 to hit modifier combined with an AC/TAC of 20 meant that the WE hit with approximately 2/3rds of its attacks while the party missed with approximately 2/3rds of their attacks. Moreover, the WE's damage output was at least 2x the party's damage output (the WE did something like 40 hp of damage to the barbarian in one round). As GM I had to metagame somewhat and spread out the WE's attacks or we would have had a TPK for certain.

The fight lasted for six rounds before the party was able to kill the WE. By the end it had become a tedious, repetitive fight. The party felt like they were forced by character design into certain tactics based on the WE's high AC, immunity to crits and high HP. Moreover, they missed most of their hits by 1-2 points, indicating that had they optimized their characters a little more they might have made easy work of the water elemental. I mention this because PF2 has repeated to us the mantra that they wanted to get away from forcing us down a particular path of feats and character choice selection.

By the end of the fight, the party only succeeded by expending nearly all of their spells and healing just to keep party members alive. We were running low on time, and so I handwaved most of the rest of the playtest module. It was agreed that, following this, the party would likely have had to rest to regain spells and healing, using up another day. This was ok from the countdown perspective as the party had three days to give before triggering the final encounter.

Overall, the party felt discouraged by the playtest session. Primarily, they felt that critical hits were too influential and happened too frequently in both encounters and on both sides. Moreover, the barbarian had the party's only magic weapon, which was essential in slaying both the manticore and the water elemental. Remove that extra die of damage from the barbarian and the manticore battle becomes much deadlier and the water elemental battle ends up in a TPK. Again, we felt that this took the spotlight away from the characters and placed it on the weapon.

Lastly, the alchemist felt helpless for most of these combats, thanks to the high ACs and low damage done by bombs. The alchemist also went through all of his bombs and heals and all of his resonance to the point where he exhausted his ability to interact with magic. This happened at the height of the water elemental battle, effectively removing one character from play. So, basically one and a half encounters completely overwhelmed the alchemist class. We felt that this made the class unplayable for any extended adventuring day.

In conclusion, we found that the playtest still has much to recommend it, but that it needs some intensive rebalancing and refocusing so that the characters, not their items nor resonance shine. We decided to continue on with the playtest because (a) we feel that our feedback is valued and (b) there is the hope that the flaws within this part of the playtest were as much design decisions as new rules.

Thank you for listening.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Thanks for the feedback; that manticore battle sounds epic! Great use of hero points by the barbarian.


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Thanks, Mark.

I think the proximity of the two encounters enhanced the clarity between the extremes. The manticore encounter was challenging but interesting. Here was a flying creature that was bright enough to use its height to an advantage. Intentionally I left a small flaw in its strategy- it remained close to the cliff face. I honestly wanted to see if the PCs could exploit that to their advantage. So I was thrilled to have one of them pull this feat out of their back pocket and come up with this great plan. Then, the PC was sad because he was one action short of accomplishing what he wanted to do. That's when I reminded him about the Hero Points he'd accumulated (for helping with the online campaign prep, forums, etc..). The player was thrilled that it all paid off.

Honestly, if I had any criticism about the hero point it's that I think two should be the amount for an extra action - especially due to their more transient nature in PF2. In PF1 hero points were very much "save my butt at all costs" last resorts. As I understand the intent, you want hero points to be used more frequently for heroic deeds in a session. More the "save the day at the end of the 30 minute episode" than "keep the main character from dying at the end of the season cliffhanger".

Btw I told the player later that if he'd missed when he'd jumped at the manticore with his attack, he'd have to make an acrobatics reaction to try to grab onto the manticore - otherwise he'd fall to the ground. Crit fail would have been falling off the cliff.

So.. yaay plus. The negative is much easier to describe. The water elemental had one basic attack- the wave. So it was the same attack over and over and over again. Now the PCs strategy of fighting it at the waters' edge wasn't the brightest. And for awhile they had their escape route blocked by the earth elemental. But even then, not really - the escape route was blocked only because they still think in PF1 terms with AoOs. And it didn't help that they had some pretty bad rolls. (On one round I don't think that any of the PCs rolled over a 10.)

But this is the problem - PCs roll mediocre for the first two rounds. With a mediocre first roll not hitting, you already know that the second roll is unlikely to hit and the third roll won't hit at all. So, in your mind, you feel like your round is wasted. Meanwhile, the bad guy doesn't do anything interesting to keep you engaged - he just keeps pounding at you relentlessly.

Could hero points have helped here? Maybe. I seem to recall that there were ways hero points could give you a moderate boost to a roll in PF1. A moderate boost would have turned misses into hits and made the characters feel more useful. Im sure a couple PCs would have blown their hero points just to help end the combat earlier. Might it have been better if the sorcerer and druid had access to slightly more spells or a larger variety of spells? Possibly. The martial characters didn't seem to be making much headway, leaving the casters to pick up the slack.

So, on the one hand bad rolls are partly to blame, but on the other side, a level appropriate encounter needed some pretty high rolls or min-maxed characters to consistently hit on the first try.

And if we haven't said - thanks to all of you for being brave enough to go forward with PF2. While its apparent there are some fundamental things that need fixing, we remain confident that, given time, Paizo is up to the task.


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I recently also played IPMS, and wanted to give side feed back as well. I had a pretty miserable fight against the Manticore, and did okay against the elementals.

Fundamentally, my monk had a +9 to hit (+10 with bless or the extremely limited Ki Strikes), which just didn't cut it against the 20AC of the manticore and large elementals, having your most accurate attack be a coinflip I found was incredibly dispiriting, especially when your best option for most turns in a combat is Flurry+Strike+Strike, with the two Strikes needing 20 to hit, (19 with backswing)

I also tried to climb the wall and drop attack the Manticore but flubbed the climb check. I flubbed a lot of rolls that session.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The WE did not seem as overpowering againat my PCs. Hoewever, 3 of my 4 PCs all picked a +1 armor for their 3rd level magic item, except the cleric who took the lesser staff of healing, and had good ACs, so that might have something to do with it. Plus luck of the dice is always a factor.

The fire elemental, on the other hand, dealt a lot of damage between his regular attacks and persistant damage, not to mention an explosive surprise when he died.


So I think I should reiterate.. it's not the difficulty of the combat, it was the repetitiveness. Maybe its us not understanding the tools well enough, maybe it's just an unlucky assortment of party selection. But honestly, among us, we've probably played most, if not all, of the APs along with a whole mess of other RPGs.

I shudder to think of how well we would have fared against the fire elemental. I took a look at it's stats vs the water elemental and based on that, I'd guess we would have lost at least a couple party members. Again. that's not bad if we lose them in an interesting fashion.

Scarab Sages

Mark Seifter wrote:
Thanks for the feedback; that manticore battle sounds epic! Great use of hero points by the barbarian.

Don't take hero point into account when designing please.

I know around 25-30 players and NONE would want to use it.


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Nice Report - if you should ever Encounter the Manticore riding Barbarian again, the bestiary actually has a good example of how to handle it.

Bestiary p. 81 wrote:


[Reaction]Buck The riding pony won’t use this reaction against acreature in control of it, that domesticated it, or that trained it.
Trigger A creature Mounts the riding pony or gives it a
Command while riding upon it.
Effect The rider must succeed at a DC 14 Acrobatics check to
Maintain its Balance or fall off the riding pony.

If you upscale this with the Manticores Level, you have a nice guideline of what Mounts do to unwanted riders ;)

As to the Water Elemental fight, I hope that I will get at least one Player into the water, probably by the Earth Elemental shoving someone in (or me improvising a Drag Maneuver for the WE)

Once they are in, a lot of the other WE's powers come into Play and make for a much more interesting (if deadlier) combat, where Players will struggle to help their poor vortexed friends to get out.

One Thing bothering me (it was brought up in another thread) that as per RAW, the WE has -2 to his attacks underwater (due to bludgeoning). The Water trait really needs to say that creatures with it ignore penalties for fighing in/under water.


Ooooh, I missed that in the bestiary! My bad. It's basically what we did at our end. I never thought to look under horses (no idea why it didn't come to me). something like that should be in the general maneuvers for monsters section, though.

Yeah, my PCs at least had the good sense to stay out of the water :)

Paizo Employee Designer

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DerNils wrote:


One Thing bothering me (it was brought up in another thread) that as per RAW, the WE has -2 to his attacks underwater (due to bludgeoning). The Water trait really needs to say that creatures with it ignore penalties for fighing in/under water.

Noted, thanks!


My players had very nice and inspiring fights against both the manticore and the water elemental.

The party failed to realize the upcomming encounter fudging their checks. And then they have been ambushed, no cover no nothing, so their first notion was to press themselves against the wall and return fire.
Which did work quite well alongside several healing instances to mitigate the damage. The number of quills ran down, when the gnome druid stepped forward to cast gust of wind to blow the manticore out of the air, the manticore made its save however being angry it wanted to kill the druid, as it was occupied staying afloat it tried to attack the druid with its spines, which in turn got blown away by the gust. I ruled as the manticore had trouble with the gust it would be strong enough to blow the spines away as those would be similar to large javelins at best and aiming them would have been quite hard too. Saving quite the amount of damage and making the manticore descent as he was now almost completely out of spines and the party gained quite the bit of damage on him. He tried to rip the gnome to pieces got surrounded and killed and then shoved into the depths.

In the second fight it was again the druids time as she had the sailor background and thus turned into a bear jumped into the water and proceeded to flank the water elemental without penalties. The Barbarian on the other hand easily took out the earth elemental and dished out some real damage before the water elemental knocked him out and shoved him into the water. The bear and the rest of party then killed the water elemental, the sorcerer applied her glutton's jaws for the first time scaring the party in the process and the ranger hacked away at it with double slice. The druid being able to swim really well was the crux in the battle and she could also save the barbarian from drowning after they killed the WE.

Paizo Employee Designer

vestris wrote:

My players had very nice and inspiring fights against both the manticore and the water elemental.

The party failed to realize the upcomming encounter fudging their checks. And then they have been ambushed, no cover no nothing, so their first notion was to press themselves against the wall and return fire.
Which did work quite well alongside several healing instances to mitigate the damage. The number of quills ran down, when the gnome druid stepped forward to cast gust of wind to blow the manticore out of the air, the manticore made its save however being angry it wanted to kill the druid, as it was occupied staying afloat it tried to attack the druid with its spines, which in turn got blown away by the gust. I ruled as the manticore had trouble with the gust it would be strong enough to blow the spines away as those would be similar to large javelins at best and aiming them would have been quite hard too. Saving quite the amount of damage and making the manticore descent as he was now almost completely out of spines and the party gained quite the bit of damage on him. He tried to rip the gnome to pieces got surrounded and killed and then shoved into the depths.

In the second fight it was again the druids time as she had the sailor background and thus turned into a bear jumped into the water and proceeded to flank the water elemental without penalties. The Barbarian on the other hand easily took out the earth elemental and dished out some real damage before the water elemental knocked him out and shoved him into the water. The bear and the rest of party then killed the water elemental, the sorcerer applied her glutton's jaws for the first time scaring the party in the process and the ranger hacked away at it with double slice. The druid being able to swim really well was the crux in the battle and she could also save the barbarian from drowning after they killed the WE.

That sounds pretty great; seems like you have an awesome group!


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vestris wrote:

... the manticore made its save however being angry it wanted to kill the druid, as it was occupied staying afloat it tried to attack the druid with its spines, ...

My reaction with the manticore was quite similar. One party member, in particular, enraged it and it focused on that person to the exclusion of all others for a couple of rounds. Glad I wasn't the only one to come to that conclusion.

And that's a big thing - the party member comes up with something innovative to try and it works, they deserve to be rewarded with victory. I know if I played the manticore completely calculated, that would have been a much closer combat. The same with the WE.

But I played the manticore as a critter which isn't used to a stand up fight where it takes a ton of damage. So it's first reaction was to focus on the damage dealer until it lost a certain number of HP, then realize it might actually die and try to flee.


Yeah. I play him as evil, arrogant (especially against small foes) and not too bright. Prey that takes almost all his spines and still puts up a fight must be something very irregular for him.

Elementals aren't too bright as well. And yes players that do cool stuff should be rewarded sometimes with heropoints, sometimes just by their bravery or creativity paying off and sometimes both.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

In our game, the party bard cast Sleep on the Manticore and sent it gliding off down the hillside while they hustled up to the next (gnoll) fight. I had the manticore come back when they had dropped a couple of those and harry them inside the mountain.

Once inside, our group was very low on HP and had no party healer. When we faced the water and earth elementals, it looked like it was going to be all she wrote, but the players decided to turn tail and run again. Ultimately, they just went right to the puzzle and figured it out within 24 hours (three of the characters had the possibility of rolling as high as a 26 on the check, so attrition statistics kicked in).

Once inside, the mummies just about finished us off in the first round. Our AC 25 fighter was down, and everyone else was in single digits. But then the luck of the group miraculously changed, and the fight was over two rounds later. There was much celebrating, but there is still an angry manticore somewhere outside...

Paizo Employee Designer

Mummies can definitely be tricky because they debuff almost every aspect of your character. Especially when you bring a low-level mummy to play in a higher-level encounter but they still provide that debuff aura even though they don't count for much of the XP. In those cases, taking out the mummy first and ending the aura is a good idea!

Silver Crusade

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Mummies can definitely be tricky because they debuff almost every aspect of your character. Especially when you bring a low-level mummy to play in a higher-level encounter but they still provide that debuff aura even though they don't count for much of the XP. In those cases, taking out the mummy first and ending the aura is a good idea!

Except, of course, currently characters are very unlikely to know that about mummies. I've almost never seen players using an action to learn about monsters.

I guess for mummies this aura MIGHT be the "obvious" information that the GM gives on a normal success. But this is a clear example of how the current monster knowledge rules are flawed :-)

Paizo Employee Designer

It's one of those things that you find out as soon as the first character enters the aura, at least based on my first encounter with them as a player during the alpha playtest.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
It's one of those things that you find out as soon as the first character enters the aura, at least based on my first encounter with them as a player during the alpha playtest.

These level 2 Mummies do not have an aura.

It'd be nice if they did, one appropriate for their level like Frightened 1 for one round until save then bolstered. But maybe that would be too much rolling for too small an effect, especially w/ four!
Anything better though and it's like the level 6 Mummy (or Bard...).

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