the least fun I've ever had playing pathfinder


Doomsday Dawn Player Feedback


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Tonight we play tested the final half of Pale Mountain's Shadow, and it was a real bummer for us.

Since the last game, we learned some sad things about the game, I learned how crappy longbows are compared to shortbows, monks who have no enemies to run up on have not much to gain from rolling extra attacks at the bottom MAP, barbarians don't have high enough attack rolls, and damage without magical d12 weapons is suicidal.

The elementals were absolutely brutal, killed off the barbarian who had the only magic weapon on the team. Our druid had no where near enough healing resources to help him, and the persistent fire damage killed him off. The immunity to crits made our druid (the main damage dealer) really upset.

I built a half-elf wizard/fighter dedication with the intent to buff myself, but I played too conservatively with my limited resources and spent most of the night just wiffing d20's (kinda hard not to when your chance to land a hit under the best conditions is 40%). Had I been a fighter that would have been 50%, and probably still not fun.

The mummy fight showed everything that this edition is really weak at in combat, attack rolls were too low, damage was abysmal, and enemy HP was way too high. It took 8 rounds to kill the 4 CR2 mummies, even though we were a man down, wasting 3 actions a turn to get the chance to do 9 damage total was really awful for me. The monk wasn't doing much better. We spent most of the night fishing for 20s.

Not having a cleric made the night even worse, and my wizard could not hit the elementals even in the best of conditions unless I was rolling absolutely amazing (and crits were mathematically impossible despite building for them). The tight math needs to get fixed, it's too constraining and limiting on what classes can succeed.

I just didn't have fun playing a game designed around making sure I couldn't succeed too much, and it dragged the night out and made combat last wayyyy too long. Stances and buffs taking up actions now cut into our time, stretching the night out even longer than it already would have taken.


It's crazy how my experience and your experience are so similar yet different.

Like for instance my players also hated the no crits. Yet they were all hitting very well, they would have got many crits if they could.

On the other hand they mopped the zombies in 2 rounds. Was barely even a fight.

If you don't mind me asking what was the party made up of and how did you guys go about working together?


Rameth wrote:

It's crazy how my experience and your experience are so similar yet different.

Like for instance my players also hated the no crits. Yet they were all hitting very well, they would have got many crits if they could.

On the other hand they mopped the zombies in 2 rounds. Was barely even a fight.

If you don't mind me asking what was the party made up of and how did you guys go about working together?

My guys skipped the elementals altogether and solved the puzzle by combining skill efforts (Rogue and Cleric cleared it quick).

The mummies, well, they had an absolutely f*ed up Healing Domain Cleric and a firebombing wizard, so that didn't last long either.


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Yeah, my group just looked in the elementals' rooms, said "Nope", and just kept "Brute Forcing" the device until it was solved.

Rameth wrote:
On the other hand they mopped the zombies in 2 rounds. Was barely even a fight.

You aren't joking. 2nd-level Burning Hands (Reflex Save DC 18) vs. Mummies' +2 Reflex is no contest.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It is interesting to read about how groups approached this chapter. Speeds things up if they decide perhaps they can skip the elementals. And the difference between using fire v. mummies and not using fire. That 'weakness' stat can really change things in a hurry!

Liberty's Edge

We had similar problems in our group, although the mummy fight was easy thanks to my dragon totem barbarian with fire damage and our ranger's clever idea of using a torch as a weapon when we noticed the weakness. On top of that, I had not maximized AC and we had no dedicated healer. The closest we had was an alchemist, but that meant using a lot of resonance in order to heal. We could never start a day at full hp and I kept falling to 0hp. The elemental fights, which we tried to skip, but went back to when we realized we could only brute-force the puzzles with almost perfect rolls, were brutal.


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I'll go over it with the guys, but I built a half elf wizard with fighter dedication. Universalist, with point blank shot.

Max DEX, but a 14 STR and 16 INT.


We had an animal druid, dwarf build. Pretty standard. Though he built to use a scimitar he never needed it as he didn't run out of uses of wild shape, which gave him the attack stats of a lvl 5 fighter with a magic weapon.

There was a dwarf barbarian who dipped fighter and switched back and forth between double slice and sudden charge depending on his needs. He had no AC tho, and enemies crit him a lot because of it. He went Dwarven waraxe/ short sword.

The monk was a pure unarmed build with crane style. Had horrible damage numbers.

I was utility magic and ranged with a bow. Had to switch bows half way through because of how bad long bows are, luckily there's a couple composite short bow drops in the adventure because Paizo knew we'd screw up and pick the wrong bow to use. When doing the exploration stuff we killed it as a team, and had two extra days to stop and rest in between 15 minute adventuring days. Didn't stop that from being the case though.


Rameth wrote:

It's crazy how my experience and your experience are so similar yet different.

Like for instance my players also hated the no crits. Yet they were all hitting very well, they would have got many crits if they could.

On the other hand they mopped the zombies in 2 rounds. Was barely even a fight.

If you don't mind me asking what was the party made up of and how did you guys go about working together?

Honestly I think it may be a symptom of the classes and rules on abilities being as they are.

Fighters being the only class that can land crits means they're the only ones who can land hits somewhat consistently.

What was your team build like?
I'm actually eager to retry this one with a different configuration of players. Also I'm lazy and didn't feel like I got enough mileage from taking the time to painstakingly recreate the dungeon map.


We had a Bard, Monk, Cleric/Fighter and a Ranger.

The constant buffs from the Bard plus the occasional boost from the Cleric meant they were hitting really high like all the time. The Monk and Rangers AC flanked and the Ranger used Favored Aim. So they were almost always at +1 or +3 essentially. They crit a lot until they got to the elementals which everyone unanimously disliked lol.

The Monk also didn't really like the damage either but he did have like a 12 Str as he thought Con would be more important but I ended up telling him that 8 extra HP probably wasn't comparable to +2 more damage on every attack, of which he gets a lot cause of Flurry.

Liberty's Edge

My group also did fine in this one for the most part (Alchemist, Bard, Str Monk using Dragon Style, and Fighter). They pooled cash to buy the Monk a +1 set of Handwraps, though (with the free +1 weapon going to Fighter) and he in turn gave a 3rd level item to the Fighter allowing her to get +1 Full Plate (Expert Full Plate as one 3rd level item, a +1 Rune as another). So they were a bit better equipped than some groups might've been.

They did also skip the Air/Fire Elemental room and avoided the Night Heralds fight.


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We had no group buffs, we all tried being self sufficient, and no one built for feinting.

So strategy and buffs along with some system mastery seem to be mandatory for success. I don't hate that, but it limits player choices.


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Pale Mountain's Shadow is not a very fun module, IMO. I would pin that on bad module design mostly. Difficult terrain allover the place, flying enemies with powerful ranged attacks, powerful elementals that are crit immune, time pressure, etc.

It tries to screw the party at almost every encounter and prods them forward. I don't think any system could have made that particularly fun.


master_marshmallow wrote:

We had no group buffs, we all tried being self sufficient, and no one built for feinting.

So strategy and buffs along with some system mastery seem to be mandatory for success. I don't hate that, but it limits player choices.

Agreed that this one required more focus on strategy and system mastery than others to really enjoy. Our team of players (me as multiclass Wizard Cleric, a Storm Druid, Draconic Sorcerer, and Paladin) skipped the Elementals, enjoyed and solved the puzzle, had a much better mummies fight once the fire weakness was discovered (Sorcerer and Druid both had Burning Hands available), and got the clock out of the dungeon by the end of day 6, deciding to skip meeting the Night Heralds to RP not risking success and returning the materials to the Order quickly.

While this adventure started out questionable, I would say it was well enjoyed by the end...though it is easy to see how different choices / focus of play would have made this much less enjoyable.


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Well it does say at the beginning of the chapter that this is the "Special Environment" Adventure, so I was not surprised to see almost all environmental effects in play.

What constantly confuses me is why the playtest has imminently skippable Encounters as part of the Adventure design. What Information does Paizo glean from "My group ignored the elementals/Gnolls/Fungus" etc.?

I mean, any sane adventuring Party will ignore the Lava room, and as the riddle is just dice rolling - what do we learn from this?

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DerNils wrote:
I mean, any sane adventuring Party will ignore the Lava room, and as the riddle is just dice rolling - what do we learn from this?

My group tried a couple times to solve the puzzle and met with no success. They were getting rather frustrated by this. Then I *very strongly* hinted that there might be some stuff in the rooms they skipped that could make it easier, so they went back to the elemental rooms to get the gems and lower the DCs.

So, what we learned from this is that if you have a dice-rolling puzzle and the numbers you need are too high, your party will get frustrated and give up/look for a way to make it easier.


The lava room was a breeze for my players. The fire elemental died in round 1 due to getting in melee with the barbarian, and the air elemental... lasted ok? But wasn't a high enough damage threat when all 4 players had a ranged option.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Just in general, I've been seeing a lot of "did you bring a range option?" as the line between the groups that handled Pale Mountain all right and the ones that didn't.


Data Lore wrote:

Pale Mountain's Shadow is not a very fun module, IMO. I would pin that on bad module design mostly. Difficult terrain allover the place, flying enemies with powerful ranged attacks, powerful elementals that are crit immune, time pressure, etc.

It tries to screw the party at almost every encounter and prods them forward. I don't think any system could have made that particularly fun.

Well it is not necessarily designed to be fun, if it is bad design comes down if it does collect the data that they need, as it is a playtest adventure.

My group cleared all the elemental rooms and then still brute forced the riddle. (Wildshape druid gnome, Divine Sorcerer elf, Dragon Totem Barbarian human and a TWF Ranger halfling)

Longbow is very situational which is sad, I want that to change.

A wildshape druid cannot sustain a group especially not when he wants to be a frontliner, only out of combat healing is not sufficient, against higher level opponents.

Keep in mind that the group is item starved for their level so normally magic weapons would be more prevalent. I can also not stress this enough, magic weapon is an awesome spell for early levels.

Crane monks seem to be low damage high mobility to get into the fray and out, I could see jump behind opponent for the flank flurry jump back.

I wonder about the barbarians low ac though, he dipped fighter right? So he could use heavy armor to compensate for the low dex that I assume? Sure still lower than a fighter but should be decent.


vestris wrote:
Data Lore wrote:

Pale Mountain's Shadow is not a very fun module, IMO. I would pin that on bad module design mostly. Difficult terrain allover the place, flying enemies with powerful ranged attacks, powerful elementals that are crit immune, time pressure, etc.

It tries to screw the party at almost every encounter and prods them forward. I don't think any system could have made that particularly fun.

Well it is not necessarily designed to be fun, if it is bad design comes down if it does collect the data that they need, as it is a playtest adventure.

My group cleared all the elemental rooms and then still brute forced the riddle. (Wildshape druid gnome, Divine Sorcerer elf, Dragon Totem Barbarian human and a TWF Ranger halfling)

Longbow is very situational which is sad, I want that to change.

A wildshape druid cannot sustain a group especially not when he wants to be a frontliner, only out of combat healing is not sufficient, against higher level opponents.

Keep in mind that the group is item starved for their level so normally magic weapons would be more prevalent. I can also not stress this enough, magic weapon is an awesome spell for early levels.

Crane monks seem to be low damage high mobility to get into the fray and out, I could see jump behind opponent for the flank flurry jump back.

I wonder about the barbarians low ac though, he dipped fighter right? So he could use heavy armor to compensate for the low dex that I assume? Sure still lower than a fighter but should be decent.

He cared more about versatility and mobility. Since he built fir double slice, he took the doubling rings and two weapons, which meant heavy armor wasn't on the table.

But it's still valid.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

In addition, if I recall correctly, a lot of barbarian abilities - such as rage - shut down when wearing heavy armor.


master_marshmallow wrote:
vestris wrote:
Data Lore wrote:

Pale Mountain's Shadow is not a very fun module, IMO. I would pin that on bad module design mostly. Difficult terrain allover the place, flying enemies with powerful ranged attacks, powerful elementals that are crit immune, time pressure, etc.

It tries to screw the party at almost every encounter and prods them forward. I don't think any system could have made that particularly fun.

Well it is not necessarily designed to be fun, if it is bad design comes down if it does collect the data that they need, as it is a playtest adventure.

My group cleared all the elemental rooms and then still brute forced the riddle. (Wildshape druid gnome, Divine Sorcerer elf, Dragon Totem Barbarian human and a TWF Ranger halfling)

Longbow is very situational which is sad, I want that to change.

A wildshape druid cannot sustain a group especially not when he wants to be a frontliner, only out of combat healing is not sufficient, against higher level opponents.

Keep in mind that the group is item starved for their level so normally magic weapons would be more prevalent. I can also not stress this enough, magic weapon is an awesome spell for early levels.

Crane monks seem to be low damage high mobility to get into the fray and out, I could see jump behind opponent for the flank flurry jump back.

I wonder about the barbarians low ac though, he dipped fighter right? So he could use heavy armor to compensate for the low dex that I assume? Sure still lower than a fighter but should be decent.

He cared more about versatility and mobility. Since he built fir double slice, he took the doubling rings and two weapons, which meant heavy armor wasn't on the table.

But it's still valid.

Fair enough, and yes rage is shutdown by heavy armor, so I guess fighter multiclass is not ideal there. He can go for twin parry later.

I guess such a build needs a rather dedicated healer early on.


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And that wasn't obvious by reading the classes.

Perhaps something akin to druidic herbalism could and should be incorporated to give druids an option to get more healing going.


Well, what I took from the Adventure is that they wanted to try out some Special Terrain. The Lava room from that perspective is really puzzling - the Elemental should only trigger once you enter the Lava Maze proper, and then it's probably going to either sit in or behind a Lava Stream, Setting Things on fire with ist reach. Or it should push People into the Lava.

If you just shoot the thing from outside the room, well, we again learned nothing about how Lava Impacts a combat.


EberronHoward wrote:

Yeah, my group just looked in the elementals' rooms, said "Nope", and just kept "Brute Forcing" the device until it was solved.

Rameth wrote:
On the other hand they mopped the zombies in 2 rounds. Was barely even a fight.
You aren't joking. 2nd-level Burning Hands (Reflex Save DC 18) vs. Mummies' +2 Reflex is no contest.

Same here - we had a cleric and a paladin in the party, the mummies were toast in 2 rounds -- and I even added an extra in order to make the encounter level-appropriate for the five PCs!

As for the elementals, the water/earth room was BRUTAL; between almost drowning, and the earth elementals' crumble power, they had a hard time and almost lost someone.

Weirdly, the Fire/Air room was way easier than I thought it would be; they focused fire on the fire elemental (pun intended) and he went down very quickly; the air elemental followed suit, but three rounds later because of the whole vapor ability. When you have two characters who can smack the fire elemental with a CANTRIP for 14 to 15 damage with each hit (ray of frost), he doesn't last long.

In the end, they cracked the puzzle, got the macguffin and books, and left with two and a half days to spare -- well outside of the night heralds' arrival.


One thing we found is that it is unclear how climbing out of water works. Specifically, Does it take an action to climb out beyond moving and are you prone when you climb out. That makes a pretty big difference to the threat of the water room and to a lesser extent the river and the gnolls.


Yeah I wasn't sure on how to rule earth glide either, so I had him borrow down then over then back up, took multiple turns for him to cover any ground.

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