the final encounter in Somberfell Hall illustrates deficiencies in the new system (spoilers)


Doomsday Dawn Player Feedback


16 people marked this as a favorite.

So this marks the second week in a row that we found the new rules to be tedious and generally not fun. I would like to say right off the bat that though this will be an overall negative review of the ruleset and encounter design, we still like Paizo, the devs and Golarion. We are long-time players of PF1 and it's because of this that this review is so blunt.

As before, I'm skipping right to the encounter at the end (with the brain collector). One can assume that everything prior to this was acceptable if not better.

The final encounter pitted two paladins and a cleric against the brain collection (who was minionless). We had a few no-shows at the last moment - two additional clerics couldn't make it - and as a result our GM appropriately removed minions from the encounter to make it CL appropriate.

Like the previous session with the elementals, this encounter was a pointless, yo-yoing slog. Encounters with large HP enemies or difficult enemies is fine, of course. But encounters where the PCs spend 9 rounds doing the same thing over and over and over again because that is literally the best thing they can do is absolutely horrible. As a result, our group consensus is that PF2 in its current state is unsupportable. Which is the reason for the playtest feedback - to provide data so that the devs can make this into a fun game. Because right now this game isn't fun. At all.

The brain collector arrived invisible and attacked our cleric. It also had previously cast mirror image on itself. It had one action left when it reached the cleric and hit for 20 damage. My paladin took three attacks on it and hit it once, removing a mirror image. The cleric cast a heal spell on himself and missed with one attack. The other paladin attacked 3 times.. and hit twice, removing the other two mirror images.

After one round, the hits v misses were 1/1 for the BC and 3/7 for us.

Round two was all melee attacks: the party was 0/5 and the BC was 0/2

Round 3 had the BC re-cast mirror image on itself, providing itself with 3 more duplicates. then it hit with its one attack on the cleric. both paladins missed with their retributive strikes. At this point, I was able to convince my GM that by dropping the chandelier onto the brain collector I would be able to knock out all its mirror images (cause the chandelier was so large). Which i proceeded to do, also causing 18 damage on it. This, btw, was the first damage actually done to the BC. The cleric healed himself and the other pally hit on 1/3 attacks.

After three rounds, the hits v misses were 2/4 for BC and we were 4/18, of which 3 were negated by mirror image.

Round 4 had the BC recasting mirror image (AGAIN) and hitting with his remaining action. My pally missed again with retributive strike. The cleric, by this point was slowed to 2 actions, and missed with both of them. I, on the other hand hit twice out of three attacks for a fair amount of damage (I missed all the mirror images twice and hit the BC). The paladin hit twice of three times, knocking out two mirror images.

Round 5 had the BC attacking twice again, hitting both times, while the party was 2/8 in their retributive strikes / attacks. My paladin had started to burn weapon surge before every attack because it was pretty obvious by the this point that we weren't hitting reliably with anything except our first attack

After 5 rounds, the hits v misses were 5/7 for the BC and 10/35 for the party.

Round 6 had the BC attacking (and nearly killing) me. By this point I was slowed as well. BC hit with both attacks and we missed with all 5 of ours (including a retributive strike).

By Round 7 the party was in tatters, but the BC was also low on HP. It attacked the cleric twice more and the other pally actually hit it with a retributive strike. (Keep in mind that by this point we were all enfeebled and enervated to varying degrees - so we had less of a shot to score a hit. I managed a final hit (out of the 6 attacks our party could muster) and did just enough damage to bring it to zero.

Final hits v misses were 9/11 for the brain collector (81%) and 12/46 (26%) for the party.

So lets talk about this math. The brain collector had a +19 to hit. Our armor classes were all within 1 or two points of 25. The BC needed a 6 or better to hit us. Meanwhile our to hits were +13, +11, +11. The Brain Collector's AC was 25. So we needed a 12 or better *at the start of combat* to hit. As we became more poisoned and level drained, our ability to hit decreased. Moreover, 8 of our hits struck mirror images. Take that away and we hit 8.6% of the time.

The numbers literally were against us. We were lucky that the BC didn't crit us, or this would have been a TPK. Otoh, only a nat 20 would have allowed us to TPK the BC.

So where does the problem lie? Well, for starters, the BC was able to cast spells in the middle of melee combat because none of us had AoOs. This was a problem throughout this adventure. Our GM frequently ran wraiths and ghasts past us because it's allowed. This is completely asinine. We used the analogy of a running back in a football game. Imagine if you could only attempt to tackle the running back "on your turn". Meanwhile the back can run 20-30 feet per action on his turn. Every play is a first down because the defenders had no zone of control. Much the same happened here. Rather than being "more strategic", we wound up locking all the people in a storage room and physically blocking the door with PC bodies because occupying a space is the only way to control it.

AoOs need to come back - for everybody. With an AoO we have a chance of holding a line or disrupting a spell.

One might argue that the GM played the BC too unfairly. Hogwash. The BC is an intelligent creature (heck it harvests brains). If it saw a strategy working, it would keep at it. Mirror Image is more powerful in 2e than 1e. (In 1e, if you barely missed with your to-hit, you'd still take out an image). So that (although much more minor) needs to be looked at.

The other thing that was important was the yo-yoing of PC HP. When I got knocked down to 4 HP, our cleric was able to heal me halfway up. If this had been a straight HP fight, this would have been a cakewalk for the PCs because we had more healing on our side. The special abilities (drain, poison) were what tipped it away from us. Regardless, you see the design problem. We spend a two rounds knocking out mirror images, the BC recasts. The BC knocks one of our characters down to almost 0 HP, we cast heal on him. The limiting factor in either case is whether we run out of daily use / resonance before we become too poisoned / enfeebeld.

and with respect to spell points - I used all my SP in that combat, all except one of them to cast weapon surge - and later on when I did cast weapon surge it was to partially offset the negatives.

Returning to the initial thought. 7 rounds of spamming the attack button and watching the BC burn through its spells was not fun. Moreover, I would add that the high AC of the BC probably meant that we weren't particularly likely to hit it with an AoO anyway.

All in all, a badly designed encounter which highlights major shortcomings of the ruleset.


11 people marked this as a favorite.

I really don't like the lack of AoOs. It makes combats ridiculous. To follow up on your metaphor, it's as if the offensive line are unable to block for the quarterback.


8 people marked this as a favorite.

I believe that removing the minions didn't full compensate the lacking player. The minions were very weak, and liable to explode in round 1 of combat. Especially losing a cleric, who could potentially negate most of what the BC was doing damage-wise, and would be another target he wanted to keep Enervated.

That said, you still won dispite this extra disadvantage, and a smart-acting boss.

I think the fact he has a great hit-rate, for a boss, is fine. I'm happy with most of the numbers in this encounter and its overall difficulty for an average party (I had a 3-cleric party, which trivialized it because going to 0 wasn't even threatening. So much healing.)

The big issue was just how low the player hit-rate is. I feel player skill success-rate and hit-rate is really lacking across the board (unless you're a fighter being buffed by a bard/etc). This shows most strongly against bosses (when a 40% hitrate character and a 60% hitrate character both get -30% to hit because the boss' AC is so high... it goes to 10% and 30%, and suddenly being not-optimized has gone from losing you 50% potential increase to 200% potential increase in dps.)

The net result of that is that players fail to do anything and feel unimpactful too often. This is not the same as feeling things are scary, challenging, difficult. This is boring. I understand wanting to avoid rocket-tag, but this might have gone too far the other way.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

No offensive magic? No readied actions to disrupt spellcasting? Neither paladin took the Attack of Opportunity feat? I understand that it is likely your party wasn't built for such things, but if so that is not a major shortcoming of the ruleset but instead a party of hammers that had a hard time finding nails. It's possible the classes section of the adventure overemphasizes the need for divine casting; I'll keep this in mind when I run my players through this part.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

My Sarenrae cleric had fireballs for this fight so the Brain Collector's Mirror Image spell was easily solved for us while dealing damage to the monster's vampire pals. I was also lucky enough to have fairy fire to help with invisibility.

That said, we were all drained to hell and back from the shadow fight so it really didn't go great for us either. After the drains, our highest accuracy martial option was for the goblin paladin to command his riding dog to bite at it.

Paizo Employee Designer

14 people marked this as a favorite.
Quote:

One might argue that the GM played the BC too unfairly. Hogwash. The BC is an intelligent creature (heck it harvests brains). If it saw a strategy working, it would keep at it. Mirror Image is more powerful in 2e than 1e. (In 1e, if you barely missed with your to-hit, you'd still take out an image). So that (although much more minor) needs to be looked at.

Regardless, you see the design problem. We spend a two rounds knocking out mirror images, the BC recasts.

Thanks for the really thorough analysis! It was so detailed I was able to run some numbers on it, and the quoted bit seems like the lion's share of the problem; 8 of your 12 hits were negated by mirror images, meaning that the images extended the fight by a factor of 3x as many hits (so instead of winning on round 7, you would have won fairly early on round 3).

My group had a similar issue with wrath demons in Shattered Star where they could cast mirror image to get much more durability than a mook should have (even though my group was "critting" them a fair amount), and mirror image is way worse with a boss that you'll miss a lot anyway. I initially specced it so mirror image lost an image on a critical failure, but that seemed like you lost images too quickly so it was changed later in the process to remove that part. I already had my eye out from my playtest, and this is good evidence that we definitely need to look at mirror image closely.

Again, thanks for the feedback!

Paizo Employee Designer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Lyee wrote:

I believe that removing the minions didn't full compensate the lacking player. The minions were very weak, and liable to explode in round 1 of combat. Especially losing a cleric, who could potentially negate most of what the BC was doing damage-wise, and would be another target he wanted to keep Enervated.

I might have given the boss the weak template and kept the minions to make it not a solo, but what the GM did was well within the guidelines, and ultimately we want to see GMs trying many different within-guidelines ways to lower the encounter so we can find out more about how robust the system is to various GMs' different ways of scaling for party size.

Though we do have a warning that when decreasing party size down from 4 in general, you might need to overcompensate for the lost PC due to losing variety hurting the PC more than expected based on the percentage of characters alone, but in this playtest, characters were usually not super diverse anyway.


13 people marked this as a favorite.

I don't understand. This fight sounds awesome. You guys barely made it despite being heavily weakened by the loff of 2 players. 7 rounds is not a long time at all. That sounds like an epic victory.

On another note please God no don't bring back AoO. AoO was always one of the mechanics I disliked about 3.x. As someone who actually trains in martial arts, with weapons as well as hands, I know how impossible/stupid it would be to attack someone running past you when you're fighting with someone else. Tunnel vision is real. Also if casting a spell gets get AoO then so should melee attacks. One of the best things to do is attack someone mid attack, sounds like AoO to me.

Your football reference doesn't really work either as all of this stuff is supposed to be happening in the same six seconds. In your football scenario all of linemen would ready actions to grapple and you would go from there. But honestly the more you try and use the turn based system in real life the more it falls apart.


12 people marked this as a favorite.
Rameth wrote:

I don't understand. This fight sounds awesome. You guys barely made it despite being heavily weakened by the loff of 2 players. 7 rounds is not a long time at all. That sounds like an epic victory.

Quote:
But encounters where the PCs spend 9 rounds doing the same thing over and over and over again because that is literally the best thing they can do is absolutely horrible.
Quote:
Final hits v misses were 9/11 for the brain collector (81%) and 12/46 (26%) for the party.

I feel like you missed this completely.

Of course that wasn't fun. A 26% hit rate overall for the players is the kind of thing that feels terrible; it just feels like a slog in play, especially with declining to-hit chances. That's the kind of thing that gets you "did I roll 15+? No? Pass." and tuned-out players all around the table.

There's a difference between "difficult and exhilarating" and "difficult and 'just end it already'". Difficult, barely-squeak-by fights are not inherently fun. They certainly can be, definitely; I've had more than a few! But, they have to be kept from becoming a hopeless or 'bs' encounter. Having it feel like you can actually do something in the encounter is generally a good way to combat that. Effectively missing 34 times, while the boss casts mirror image repeatedly, probably didn't promote that feeling this time unfortunately.


12 people marked this as a favorite.
Rameth wrote:
I don't understand. This fight sounds awesome. You guys barely made it despite being heavily weakened by the loff of 2 players. 7 rounds is not a long time at all. That sounds like an epic victory.

Mashing "attack" and usually missing is not epic or fun. It's tedious and frustrating. You don't feel like an epic hero when you can't hit anything.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

To me, winning a fight on very low HP, or having a long fight, does not mean it was a good fight, tense, or fun. A subset of people here believe that is enough for it to be a successful design.

I can have two theoretical characters with 100 hp and 105 hp, that realiably deal 1 damage to each other per turn. This will end with the second guy surviving a 100 round fight on 5 of 105 hp. And it would be predicable, and dull.

This is obviously not that extreme, but I feel a lot of people are experiencing the same idea of low-impact turns where there is much flailing at the air.

It's not an easy fix, since it involves tweaking some pretty base math.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
The Archive wrote:
Rameth wrote:

I don't understand. This fight sounds awesome. You guys barely made it despite being heavily weakened by the loff of 2 players. 7 rounds is not a long time at all. That sounds like an epic victory.

Quote:
But encounters where the PCs spend 9 rounds doing the same thing over and over and over again because that is literally the best thing they can do is absolutely horrible.
Quote:
Final hits v misses were 9/11 for the brain collector (81%) and 12/46 (26%) for the party.

I feel like you missed this completely.

Of course that wasn't fun. A 26% hit rate overall for the players is the kind of thing that feels terrible; it just feels like a slog in play, especially with declining to-hit chances. That's the kind of thing that gets you "did I roll 15+? No? Pass." and tuned-out players all around the table.

There's a difference between "difficult and exhilarating" and "difficult and 'just end it already'". Difficult, barely-squeak-by fights are not inherently fun. They certainly can be, definitely; I've had more than a few! But, they have to be kept from becoming a hopeless or 'bs' encounter. Having it feel like you can actually do something in the encounter is generally a good way to combat that. Effectively missing 34 times, while the boss casts mirror image repeatedly, probably didn't promote that feeling this time unfortunately.

That is my bad, I reread the end of his post where he mentioned 7 rounds and I assumed it was 7. To be fair 9 isn't really all that bad either, but I know that isn't your point.

My argument is that I don't see how this MAKES a bad experience. Would hitting him on 8+ and killing him in 3 rounds made it more enjoyable? I don't think so. At least not to me (though I understand that not everyone wants the same type of game). It's just seems to me what he described is EXACTLY what a boss battle should be after that sort of scenario. A HARD fought battle after WAVES of enemies drained your resources and then you have to fight a roided up boss? Yeah that should be difficult and not easy. But also how would have that fight changed if they fought him with the two missing players? Probably MUCH different I'm sure. Or fought him at the beginning instead of the end. A much different outcome. The point of the encounter also serves a purpose.

I also don't see how this could have been changed either. Either you raise his hitpoints and lower his AC so that you "hit" more often but then it just becomes a grind. Or you lower his AC and keep hitpoints the same and he's just murdered in 3 turns, like the last edition. The big bad boss guy killed in 3 rounds, woo.

Btw what's wrong with missing in the boss fight? Again I feel like people are leaving out that VERY important information. IT'S A BOSS. Like how "epic" would the fight against Thanos in Infinity War have been if they took him out in 18 seconds. Hitting him every time and just taking the gauntlet from his cold dead hands. OR how epic would the cave troll fight would have been in LOTR if Fellowship had just surrounded the Cave troll and killed it in 18 seconds. Come on guys, use your imaginations a bit. Think outside of "I hit" "He missed" "I missed" "He hit". If what the dice are saying is the only important thing then I think you're missing the point of Roleplaying. It's not Final Fantasy, there's other stuff going on. It's up to YOU to IMAGINE the scene. The system just gives it structure.

But I guess I will have to see how my group handles, we're literally doing the last two waves tonight. I'll see how they react to fighting that boss after having their resources drained. Maybe I'll come away with a different mindset. Who knows.


11 people marked this as a favorite.

The problem is that the fight doesn't feel epic at all, just for being long and tough. Each individual turn felt dull. For the amount of actions, decisions, dice rolls, that the players had to make, nothing was happening narratively. Brain blisters weren't exploding to weaken the boss. An impending 10-turn countdown to an explosion wasn't nipping at their heels. The house wasn't on fire, forcing them to battle the Brain Collector in a moving conflict where the available space changed frequently. They stood there, and missed a lot, and then did it again, and maybe a hit happened, which didn't seem to do much, and then the boss fell over.

At least for my group: Every turn felt similar, uneventful, unthreatening (he could not adequently challenge the healing of 3 clerics, even after 4 other encounters). It was long, and they had to use plenty of heals, but the feeling was not 'woo, well done, hard fought' it was 'can we go home now, I want to forget I bothered with this. That took so much time from my life'.

Once I realized he couldn't challenge their healing, I was about prepared to skip the second half of the boss's HP pool, because the fight was clearly not fun. We stuck through it for the sake of accurate playtest results.

3-rounds of high-damage super-dangerous combat like PF1, with dying rules more like PF2 than PF1 to avoid the amount of character deaths, is a lot preferable to spending a lot of time flailing at a sack of AC, mirror images, and hit points.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I guess with one player more it would have been a better experience, however I assume having fun fighting is not the premise for this specific adventure, rather than a tedious grind to test the healing capabilities.

Also which party compositions will be created with this kind of hard coding restriction, will there be mostly clerics? Will there be non-arcane sorcerers, how about bards? Paladins, druids (which order?)

Druids, bards and sorcerers (with cleric and bard having a higher likelihood having an area effect spell) can take care of mirror images, if your party is only going for melee combat there it is tedious, and well the spell does its job very nicely.

I would prebuffing Ilvoresh with a diminished party is a bit much.

I am really happy that AoO is not the default anymore, your could have readied actions to try to disrupt spells though.

Dataphiles

3 people marked this as a favorite.

The only thing I take issue with is that it seems like there were clearly some things that the players could have done differently. For starters, they could have been readying an action to attack a caster that is casting spells in melee, effectively letting them negate the spell and punish the caster.

While I have no doubt they were still thinking smart, it can get a little tiring hearing people say they tried one thing and thought the combat was boring. At level 7, there are potions and magic items and combat maneuvers and positioning that all add to the list of "things to do instead of standing in place and attacking 3 times". This is made even more important given that you guys didn't do anything other than the final encounter because you assumed stuff would have gone swimmingly. If I had all that gold to spend on one fight, I can imagine getting loads if trinkets and other magic items to make it interesting.

All I'm getting at is that when you're not having fun, it isn't always a defficency in the system. Gone are the days where you 5-foot step and full round attack--pathfinder is trying to evolve away from that, and they have out a lot of work into enriching combat with items and tactics. Not using them means you're not even using the system, you're just trying to play Pathfinder 1e in a 2e scenario.

* Also, I don't want this to sound too standoffish. I realize there is a lit of butting heads on the forums, I don't mean to add my voice in a negative way. It can just get exhausting to see a lot of negativity all the time. I personally like the system and have already had incredible times with my friends. I just wish looking at the forums wasn't such a bash-fest.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As a reminder being energy drained and poisoned doesn't matter, or I don't think. They each give the same type of penalty and unlike PF1 it doesn't seem like energy drain stacks with each hit.

I've also seen that its useful to squeeze out every bonus, like you should have cast bless, or flanked the creature which could have brought that +13 to a 16. Your players also rolled a bit low on average.

That said... I do think 'boss' monsters are too difficult. Players don't like missing on a 12 or so, then quickly picking up their dice and not seeing any 20s end their turn as I've seen several times in my group.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:


Thanks for the really thorough analysis! It was so detailed I was able to run some numbers on it, and the quoted bit seems like the lion's share of the problem; 8 of your 12 hits were negated by mirror images, meaning that the images extended the fight by a factor of 3x as many hits (so instead of winning on round 7, you would have won fairly early on round 3).

Yup - that was our main take from the boss fight. Glad the numbers helped. And this, btw, is a great thing about roll20.. I didn't record these numbers as I was playing, I went into roll20 the next morning and pulled the numbers. fortunately, we annotate our rolls enough so that I could reconstruct the combat fairly easily.

I still firmly believe AoOs need a hard look as well - though the wight and ghast fights may be a better example of that. Our party has come to the realization that it's frequently better to lose initiative so that the enemy "comes to us", allowing us to spend more of that first round counterattacking and less of it moving to melee.

Moreover, something simple like blocking a door is impossible with one character now because a door exists along the edge of a square and diagonal movement is allowed.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Seannoss wrote:


I've also seen that its useful to squeeze out every bonus, like you should have cast bless, or flanked the creature which could have brought that +13 to a 16. Your players also rolled a bit low on average.

We had a flank on every round for every character except the first. Our cleric considered bless at several points, but concentrated more on healing. The +1 wouldn't have been much of a help, regardless - I could go back and look at the numbers, but we were only off by 1 a couple of times.

As for the other things, its really easy to say the morning after "you should have purchased this magic item" or "you should have prepped this spell". However, we were working under the design parameters of the playtest, which were to focus on clerics and others who could channel positively. That directive, plus the location in Ustalav, screamed undead. I mean, it screamed it from the tall tower with a megaphone. Our party was specifically designed to slaughter undead - which is why everything up to that point was a cakewalk. Even the runaway ghasts weren't more than an annoyance. Additionally, everything in the playtest to this point has been skewed heavily towards martial characters over casters. No one wanted to play a divine sorcerer, for example, and with the way alchemists are gimped, no one wants to play them either.

And while we did have a limited number of consumables, they weren't specifically helpful in this case. We had also cast sanctified ground on the very spot where the final battle happened. Our party logically concluded that with waves of undead being thrown at us, including vampire spawn that the final boss would also be undead (likely a vampire). It was a great plot twist that the final boss was a brain collector. It was not so great that he had three mirror images prepped. And honestly, it was the third mirror image that was the back breaker in terms of our enjoyment. We slogged out the first mirror image, and dropped a ceiling fixture on him to end the second one - note I used my ring of the ram to knock the chandelier off and towards the brain collector. Following that, I used weapon surge every round as part of my melee attacks (and keep in mind my to-hit was better than anyone else's in the party.)
Moreover, the cleric had a lion's shield as one of his magic items and used it frequently to gain the benefit of higher AC as well as an attack. And in the first round the cleric cast Blindness on the Brain Collector, who easily made its save. A blinded brain collector would have been severely limited against the party. There's only so many rounds you can waste trying to be fancy.

So, to sum up, we prepped with sanctified ground, cast bless, used weapn surge, used a ring of the ram and a lion's shield plus dropped a chandelier on him. I think we successfully tried enough varied ways to knock him down while still throwing enough attacks. But from the very beginning, it was pretty clear that our third attack (action) was useless and our second attack had better than a 3/4ths chance of failure. Whereas we were seeing the BC hit with his second attack more than 2/3rds of the time. We only survived because we kept him busy enough that he only got that second attack in infrequently.

So honestly, I feel that we used our magic items to our best advantage. If this were a series of battles in an AP, we would never have had such a partisan party configuration. But if winning the boss battle requires knowing what the boss is and purchasing specific items before the adventure begins, I would argue there is something amiss with the encounter. Moreover, as it has been said beforehand, Mirror Image is OP and fixing that makes the fight a more manageable and interesting affair.


It sounds like you were little unlucky. Did you never manage to hit him through his mirror images? The chances aren't very high, but the way you describe it seems to imply you never did.

Same goes for the conditional penalties and such. Reading your original post, it sounds like you had high conditional penalties, but from what I see in this encounter and the rest of the scenario, apart from possible high poison giving you -2 to everything strength based, there is nothing that should have given you a penalty higher than 1, since conditional penalties don't stack and the given conditions don't stack either. Or is there a rule I'm not understanding properly?

I'm preparing this for tomorrow, and I wouldn't want to make it too easy or too hard for the players.

Edit: Oh, I just noticed that enfeebled from the shadows stacks. Did you get your shadow thorn from you a lot?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
JackieLane wrote:
Did you never manage to hit him through his mirror images?

In fact we did, three times, I think. And we wiped out a whole set of mirror images by dropping a chandelier on him (via GM fiat).

Quote:


there is nothing that should have given you a penalty higher than 1, since conditional penalties don't stack and the given conditions don't stack either. Or is there a rule I'm not understanding properly?

The -2 to strength includes to hit and damage. Moreover, the slowed effect reduces your turn by one action. Whereas earlier in the combat we were attacking and casting 2 action spells, the cleric got slowed very early on and that removed the casting part. So, it became a choice - cast or attack. Because we needed 3 hits to get rid of the mirror images before we could do any damage, the consensus was if healing wasn't essential hit it and take out a mirror image.

The last thing was the energy drain ability attached to Ilvoresh specifically because of the vampiric brain. Enervated applies to your proficiency bonus (your level) and Enfeebled applies to your strength bonus. So, while they don't stack, the apply to different modifiers and the end result is a -3 to hit, dropping our ability to hit by 15%. Fortunately, it appears that successive enervations on the same target don't stack.

Basically it was a 2 on 1 fight - the two paladins vs the brain collector with the cleric healing one paladin or the other almost every round. And it went that route because early on two things became apparent - one the BC could hit us almost at will, and do buckets of damage in the process. We couldn't retaliate in the same. Two, the BC's high saves made spellcasting less than likely to succeed.


Well I just ran the last 2 waves last night and it seems you might have been very unlucky. In my group only one person ended up enfeebled after the shadow fight, thanks to Restoration, and the last fight only lasted 3 rounds. At the end we had two people enfeebled and one enervated and almost everyone was completely out of spells but we didn't have anyone drop to 0.

JackieLane wrote:
Same goes for the conditional penalties and such. Reading your original post, it sounds like you had high conditional penalties, but from what I see in this encounter and the rest of the scenario, apart from possible high poison giving you -2 to everything strength based, there is nothing that should have given you a penalty higher than 1, since conditional penalties don't stack and the given conditions don't stack either. Or is there a rule I'm not understanding properly?

The Shadows enfeebled condition stacks and says it won't go away for several hours. So if you were unlucky enough for your whole party to get enfeebled and not have a way to get rid of it that could be really bad.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yeah, I've noticed in previous fights that even slightly higher level monsters tend to dish out high amounts of damage very reliably and have fairly high saves.

And I can see how getting slowed ealy on could be very detrimental.

As for the conditional penalties, I'm still unsure about the ruling. Flavor wise, they do affect different things (strength and... level of experience), however, the rules state that the penalty applies to "checks that include a proficiency modifier" for enervated and "attack rolls, damage rolls and strength-based checks" for enfeebled. While they are not the exact same set of checks and rolls, it still applies to the check, not to your stat, which makes me think it should not stack...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My crew has done everything except the final encounter. We have one Paladin (me) and three clerics. So far, the Paladin is killing almost everything. He took one hit at the beginning because of a crit and hasn't been hit since (not that the baddies haven't tried). We agreed to give the Paladin the +2 armor, and he has a +1 magic two handed sword with a ghost touch rune and disruption from his weapon ally. And with the new crit rules, I've never critted so much in my life. It's been boring really. Bring on nine rounds of Brain Collector! (Granted, the clerics haven't fared as well).


5 people marked this as a favorite.
JackieLane wrote:

Yeah, I've noticed in previous fights that even slightly higher level monsters tend to dish out high amounts of damage very reliably and have fairly high saves.

And I can see how getting slowed early on could be very detrimental.

I think that's the thing. thanks to the increased HP, the autobump in almost everything by level, boss monsters have been pushed even higher to compensate. Which means that if something goes wrong the math can fall apart really, really quickly - in particular as it seems that crits have been baked into the system as something that is supposed to happen a lot more frequently.

It also means that if you don't optimize your character from the get go, you'll fall dangerously far behind in to hit and damage. Which seems counter-intuitive considering all the automatic advancement going on - but it's true because the bad guys' auto advancement has (of necessity) needed to keep pace. So its on the fringes - the feats, the extra damage from magic items, pre-buffing where battles are won and lost. and these are, inherently, harder to balance because they are very non-linear.

If I hadn't thrown everything into my weapon, my ability to hit and do damage, my paladin wouldn't have been able to affect combat at all. I contrast this with a 1e encounter where we had three 7th level characters (in Kingmaker) - a wizard, a bard and a rogue and were able to take down a few difficult encounters in an adventuring day because we could be versatile. That seems to have lessened to this point (and here I'm speaking about my playtest experience in general, the nerfing of spellcasters and rise of martials specifically).


I still would not go too far with the conclusions drawn from this fight, you had 3 PC's and you were slowed and you had no AoE so of course 3 mirror images are very hard to beat, having effectively 6 actions/round fewer then a normal group.

The boss was a very strong caster and more than a viable threat in CC.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Quote:

One might argue that the GM played the BC too unfairly. Hogwash. The BC is an intelligent creature (heck it harvests brains). If it saw a strategy working, it would keep at it. Mirror Image is more powerful in 2e than 1e. (In 1e, if you barely missed with your to-hit, you'd still take out an image). So that (although much more minor) needs to be looked at.

Regardless, you see the design problem. We spend a two rounds knocking out mirror images, the BC recasts.

Thanks for the really thorough analysis! It was so detailed I was able to run some numbers on it, and the quoted bit seems like the lion's share of the problem; 8 of your 12 hits were negated by mirror images, meaning that the images extended the fight by a factor of 3x as many hits (so instead of winning on round 7, you would have won fairly early on round 3).

My group had a similar issue with wrath demons in Shattered Star where they could cast mirror image to get much more durability than a mook should have (even though my group was "critting" them a fair amount), and mirror image is way worse with a boss that you'll miss a lot anyway. I initially specced it so mirror image lost an image on a critical failure, but that seemed like you lost images too quickly so it was changed later in the process to remove that part. I already had my eye out from my playtest, and this is good evidence that we definitely need to look at mirror image closely.

Again, thanks for the feedback!

Can we drastically increase the number of images it creates (4d4+casting stat) and have images destroyed on an attack failure? There was a scene in a Drizzt book where he was fighting a wizard protected by stoneskin, and he just starting throwing broken furniture at the wizard as fast as possible to get the most hits in (ad&D stoneskin blocked a fixed number of 'hits').

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

DM Livgin wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Quote:

One might argue that the GM played the BC too unfairly. Hogwash. The BC is an intelligent creature (heck it harvests brains). If it saw a strategy working, it would keep at it. Mirror Image is more powerful in 2e than 1e. (In 1e, if you barely missed with your to-hit, you'd still take out an image). So that (although much more minor) needs to be looked at.

Regardless, you see the design problem. We spend a two rounds knocking out mirror images, the BC recasts.

Thanks for the really thorough analysis! It was so detailed I was able to run some numbers on it, and the quoted bit seems like the lion's share of the problem; 8 of your 12 hits were negated by mirror images, meaning that the images extended the fight by a factor of 3x as many hits (so instead of winning on round 7, you would have won fairly early on round 3).

My group had a similar issue with wrath demons in Shattered Star where they could cast mirror image to get much more durability than a mook should have (even though my group was "critting" them a fair amount), and mirror image is way worse with a boss that you'll miss a lot anyway. I initially specced it so mirror image lost an image on a critical failure, but that seemed like you lost images too quickly so it was changed later in the process to remove that part. I already had my eye out from my playtest, and this is good evidence that we definitely need to look at mirror image closely.

Again, thanks for the feedback!

Can we drastically increase the number of images it creates (4d4+casting stat) and have images destroyed on an attack failure? There was a scene in a Drizzt book where he was fighting a wizard protected by stoneskin, and he just starting throwing broken furniture at the wizard as fast as possible to get the most hits in (ad&D stoneskin blocked a fixed number of 'hits').

This could easily play with the critical rules as well.

Success: Roll to see if you hit an image. If you did, the image is destroyed
Failure: You hit an image and the image is destroyed
Critical success: You automatically hit the real target
Critical failure: You miss and don't even hit one of the images


So I went into this thinking I should be careful of Mirror Image.

Ilvoresh started invisible and mirrored, as many others have suggested, because he's not dumb... And that was pretty much the end of his spellcasting career, as he was surrounded by Clerics with Fighter Archetypes and Paladins with AoO. Enlarge Person made sure that stepping wasn't a valid option either.

Even with the images on, casting anything was barely possible, and he was quickly whittled down until I opted for facetanking a few AoOs to get away long enough to Confuse the paladin. The fight went on with poison, enervation and the usual shenanigans, but very little magic.

This was definitely a hard fight for the players, but I felt massively humbled by the power AoO has against casters. Definitely a big deal.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:
Again, thanks for the feedback!

Mark further on this, it's not really specific to mirror image.

You guys have set the base chance to hit pretty low - so you need to be extremely careful with ANY layered defenses or debuffs on top of that.

even with just a 55-60% connect chance and no other factors, combat has the potential to go several rounds of whiff whiff whiff


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'd be curious to know how many GMs took advantage of Ilvoresh's fly speed. The ceilings are quite high at 15', even higher for the Receiving Room (20') and Library (not specified, but given that the second-floor balcony is accessible I'd rule at least 30'). That should enable Ilvoresh to cast spells far more easily.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rameth wrote:

I don't understand. This fight sounds awesome. You guys barely made it despite being heavily weakened by the loff of 2 players. 7 rounds is not a long time at all. That sounds like an epic victory.

On another note please God no don't bring back AoO. AoO was always one of the mechanics I disliked about 3.x. As someone who actually trains in martial arts, with weapons as well as hands, I know how impossible/stupid it would be to attack someone running past you when you're fighting with someone else. Tunnel vision is real.

I agree, this sounds like a proper boss fight. It also represents the trope of succeeding against (almost) impossible odds. Like you, I would consider this an epic victory (not to mention a knuckle-biting fight).

I also feel AoO is one of the most unrealistic in-combat mechanics. Tunnel vision is known to affect even police officers and trained soldiers IRL, so there's no reason it wouldn't affect even seasoned, veteran adventurers. Finally, I always thought PF1's "stand and deliver" style combats, where everyone had AoO, were way too rigid. Combat is, and should be, a fluid, ever-changing affair. Removing AoO helps make it so.

OP, from your description, it sounds like your biggest issues were the GM pre-buffing the boss and a streak of bad dice rolls.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Fumarole wrote:
I'd be curious to know how many GMs took advantage of Ilvoresh's fly speed. The ceilings are quite high at 15', even higher for the Receiving Room (20') and Library (not specified, but given that the second-floor balcony is accessible I'd rule at least 30'). That should enable Ilvoresh to cast spells far more easily.

The receiving room is 30'. First and second story at 15' each. The chandelier was 20' I believe.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rameth wrote:
On another note please God no don't bring back AoO. AoO was always one of the mechanics I disliked about 3.x. As someone who actually trains in martial arts, with weapons as well as hands, I know how impossible/stupid it would be to attack someone running past you when you're fighting with someone else. Tunnel vision is real.

The problem here is that without AoO rules of some sort you can't even react to the person right in front of you. Should tunnel vision apply to the creature you are actively fighting and paying attention to?

In your martial arts training, don't you think you would get an advantage if your opponent paused to drink a soda?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Same thing that happened with the OP happened in my playtest on Friday. An extremely long battle (9+ rounds) where it was only long because our spells were ineffective and we couldn’t hit. My level 5 wizard did not feel good with the opponent getting crit success on 2 out of 3 fireballs. I LIKE long fights, but I like them to be eventful and long for the right reasons.

Agree that AoO needs be available for ALL MARTIALS at level 6 (barbarians, rangers, monks don’t get it!). AoO not being there for levels 1-5 is good, it let’s people learn the game. Beyond, I’m not sure it’s needed.

Having said that, the penalty for getting hurt by an AoO is much more severe now, that would need to be changed.

Maybe healing is a problem as well. Maybe touch healing should take 2 actions instead of 1, maybe range healing should go away? I noticed this as well on Friday, basically we were unbeatable until we ran out of healing. It certainly is different than PF1, in PF1 healing did not scale with damage, now PF2 healing outscales damage.


BTW, how are Monks excluded from "Martial" category now?
I don't really see how, besides leaning on 3.x/P1E-isms which no longer apply.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

...someone missed my post on how 3 characters having AoO made Ilvoresh a glorified giant spider.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
sherlock1701 wrote:
I really don't like the lack of AoOs. It makes combats ridiculous. To follow up on your metaphor, it's as if the offensive line are unable to block for the quarterback.

At this level, the lack of Attacks of Opportunity is not the fault of the game system but the players. They've all had ample opportunity, regardless of what class they are, to acquire this. If they don't have it, then they've just prioritized other feats ahead of this.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

FYI, when I ran this encounter I did *not* use optimal tactics. Ilvoresh didn't fly, didn't cast Mirror Image. He did try to use Suggestion and Confusion and use his 3rd action for a melee attack, which actually was pretty fun.

By this point in the adventure, my players were already extremely frustrated from the fight with the shadows (which dragged on for over an hour and a half, and eventually we just gave up and called it -- the Paladin was only doing 3 or 4 damage per hit due to the very high resistances the Shadows had). We were already at our session ending time when the final battle began. I knew that if I played this with all the tactics I've read about here, the fight would probably take two hours and my players would rage-quit.

So I played him dumb and we still had a pretty tough fight. But more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Rycke wrote:
sherlock1701 wrote:
I really don't like the lack of AoOs. It makes combats ridiculous. To follow up on your metaphor, it's as if the offensive line are unable to block for the quarterback.
At this level, the lack of Attacks of Opportunity is not the fault of the game system but the players. They've all had ample opportunity, regardless of what class they are, to acquire this. If they don't have it, then they've just prioritized other feats ahead of this.

How exactly is this? From what I've read, only Fighters and Paladins have the ability to get an Attack of Opportunity (and the latter is a 6th level feat, so it's definitely not a given). I suppose it's theoretically possible to multiclass fighter in order to get an AoO, but expecting most players to spend two of their class feats to multiclass, which likely won't fit their character concept, just so they can have a reaction seems a bit of a stretch.

Am I missing something?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In my game Ilvoresh pretty much had everything going for him. He used Mirror Image multiple times. The party was already all enfeebled 3 from the shadow fight (they had a bad time in the dark) and his confusion went off and the paladin critically failed. The party still managed to drop him in around 8 rounds and they weren't missing as often. Our dwarven cleric got downed but he used a hero point to get back up and ran off and healed. We had an archer cleric in the back firing off arrows and when they realized that the mirror images were absorbing a lot of the damage they decided to use their fire ball necklace. This is where the battle turned to the PCs favour, as our druid's animal companion began to land some blows and then finally the Paladin PC managed to act normal for a round and went over and finished Ilvoresh off.

Overall everyone said they had a lot of fun. Even the Cleric that got dropped and didn't contribute too much to the fight still said they liked the fight.

Silver Crusade

@Tamago: You can get a once/day AoO if you have 16 strength.

Fighter Dedication wrote:
You can use the Attack of Opportunity reaction (see page 87 of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook) once per day.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Rycke wrote:
sherlock1701 wrote:
I really don't like the lack of AoOs. It makes combats ridiculous. To follow up on your metaphor, it's as if the offensive line are unable to block for the quarterback.
At this level, the lack of Attacks of Opportunity is not the fault of the game system but the players. They've all had ample opportunity, regardless of what class they are, to acquire this. If they don't have it, then they've just prioritized other feats ahead of this.

That’s not an acceptable argument if every non caster has to drop class feats to multiclass to acquire attacks of opportunity to be viable then what was the point of taking them away from everyone except fighter until higher levels, if you have to build your characters one particular way to be viable why bother including all the other options?

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

5 people marked this as a favorite.
PCScipio wrote:
@Tamago: You can get a once/day AoO if you have 16 strength.
Fighter Dedication wrote:
You can use the Attack of Opportunity reaction (see page 87 of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook) once per day.

If you have a 16 strength AND you are willing to drop 2 class feats (realistically three, assuming you want to be able to do it more than once/day) AND your character concept supports being a multiclass fighter AND you don't want to take any other archetypes or multiclasses... you can get attacks of opportunity.

I don't think that's a realistic expectation.

If it were a single General feat that let you access Attacks of Opportunity or something, I'd be much more inclined to think it was viable for non-Fighters to do this.


Tamago wrote:
PCScipio wrote:
@Tamago: You can get a once/day AoO if you have 16 strength.
Fighter Dedication wrote:
You can use the Attack of Opportunity reaction (see page 87 of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook) once per day.

If you have a 16 strength AND you are willing to drop 2 class feats (realistically three, assuming you want to be able to do it more than once/day) AND your character concept supports being a multiclass fighter AND you don't want to take any other archetypes or multiclasses... you can get attacks of opportunity.

I don't think that's a realistic expectation.

If it were a single General feat that let you access Attacks of Opportunity or something, I'd be much more inclined to think it was viable for non-Fighters to do this.

That would be an acceptable alternative if they feel attacks of opportunity are too strong for characters to simply have, would you still have the feat level locked or would you let people take it at any level?

Because that could cause a lot more people to go human for the level 1 feat.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Tezmick wrote:
Tamago wrote:
PCScipio wrote:
@Tamago: You can get a once/day AoO if you have 16 strength.
Fighter Dedication wrote:
You can use the Attack of Opportunity reaction (see page 87 of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook) once per day.

If you have a 16 strength AND you are willing to drop 2 class feats (realistically three, assuming you want to be able to do it more than once/day) AND your character concept supports being a multiclass fighter AND you don't want to take any other archetypes or multiclasses... you can get attacks of opportunity.

I don't think that's a realistic expectation.

If it were a single General feat that let you access Attacks of Opportunity or something, I'd be much more inclined to think it was viable for non-Fighters to do this.

That would be an acceptable alternative if they feel attacks of opportunity are too strong for characters to simply have, would you still have the feat level locked or would you let people take it at any level?

Because that could cause a lot more people to go human for the level 1 feat.

I'd probably make it a level 3 feat. That's when characters get their first a general feat anyway, and it is early enough that it could see use throughout most of the character's career. But it still allows Fighter to have something special, since they are the only class that gets it at level 1.


Quandary wrote:
BTW, how are Monks excluded from "Martial" category now?

Are you talking to me? I'm not saying monks are excluded from being martials, I'm saying they are martial and they don't get AoOs without multi-classing into fighter. I think it should be available to all martials at level 6.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:


Thanks for the really thorough analysis! It was so detailed I was able to run some numbers on it, and the quoted bit seems like the lion's share of the problem; 8 of your 12 hits were negated by mirror images, meaning that the images extended the fight by a factor of 3x as many hits (so instead of winning on round 7, you would have won fairly early on round 3).

My group had a similar issue with wrath demons in Shattered Star where they could cast mirror image to get much more durability than a mook should have (even though my group was "critting" them a fair amount), and mirror image is way worse with a boss that you'll miss a lot anyway. I initially specced it so mirror image lost an image on a critical failure, but that seemed like you lost images too quickly so it was changed later in the process to remove that part. I already had my eye out from my playtest, and this is good evidence that we definitely need to look at mirror image closely.

Again, thanks for the feedback!

Except PCs will also be using that same nerfed (new, I guess?) version of Mirror Image and those who can cast this spell are nowhere near as resilient, dangerous and powerful as the Brain Collector.

Or any other monster, for that matter.

Now I get why all spells have been nerfed to barely viable or clear uselessness.
You're (not you specifically, you as in the whole staff) are designing spells to be balanced primarily for monsters' use.
Even an optimized PC is going to have a hard time with them, currently, and so you nerf spells some more.

The issue is: PCs get lower AC, HP, saves, attack bonus and so on.
Not to mention that they can't burn all of their already-limited-spell-slots in just one encounter.

Sure, the Brain Collector just keeps recasting Mirror Image ad nauseam because this is the only fight he'll ever have in his entire career.

I don't presume you intend it to be the same for PCs, otherwise, retirement pension plans are going to go through the roof in the world of Golarion.

If anything, PCs should get access to more powerful versions of spells and abilities than monsters get.
Take a look at Quickened Casting.
Now take a good look at a certain very high level opponent who happens to have something very unique, Superior Quickened Casting.

How is it that a monster who is already built to be better than every possible optimized character in the party gets access to stronger magic and attacks than the PCs who hope to defeat them?

Nerfing spells to fix difficult encounters is not the answer if you're going to make the PCs using these spells even weaker.

It's been most illuminating really, because I had been wandering exactly what had the thought process been for nerfing all spells across the board.
Having isolated the problem helps, because now maybe there's some chance that we can discuss whether you could consider other options.

Maybe the idea is not to nerf Mirror Image in the first place but rather limit the number of Mirror Image spells that the Brain Collector has access to?

Or just make it so that an optimized character doesn't feel, as the OP did mention, that only their 1st attack has a decent chance to hit in a round?

Don't make it so monsters get worse, make it so PCs get better at handling them.

That way, you make the encounter less deadly and more interesting but regular magic-using PCs don't take an extra arrow to the knee in the process...

Seems the most simple and sensical solution to me.
It's clearly not the one you, at Paizo, went with.
It saddens me greatly but I'm going to keep hoping that there's a way to provide feedback that will make you see it might not have been the better option in the first place.

Besides, I now you can't talk about anything that is under scrutiny at the moment but the particular topic at hand makes me want (no, makes me need) to ask:

Are we getting surveys relative to the use of magic at some point?
Will we be able to assess the power level of spells for each spell list, the number of spell slots each spellcasting class receives and our general enjoyment of them?

You acknowledged in the past having read the popular thread by magnuskn about arcane spellcasters but it's all been radio silence since then and, as much as I want to be patient, your comment about nerfing yet another spell has been really unnerving.

One of my players has quit the playtest after he rolled a spellcaster (new player) and another one is in the process of doing the same (very experienced player), for similar reasons.

I keep trying to remain positive.
I point out all of the changes that happened that they asked for with skills, archetypes, out-of-combat healing and soon to be ancestries.
But the same question always returns about spellcasters and what's going on with them and me telling them "surely it's in the work, it's coming, you'll able to fill detailed surveys for that" is no longer working.
My guys want actual proof that Paizo will at least consider assessing whether people are happy with spells and spellcasters the way they are and they no longer trust me when I tell them to just have patience. :/


JackieLane wrote:


As for the conditional penalties, I'm still unsure about the ruling. Flavor wise, they do affect different things (strength and... level of experience), however, the rules state that the penalty applies to "checks that include a proficiency modifier" for enervated and "attack rolls, damage rolls and strength-based checks" for enfeebled. While they are not the exact same set of checks and rolls, it still applies to the check, not to your stat, which makes me think it should not stack...

Another expression of the lack of good editing; the playtest rules are ambigious like this in a lot of places.

---
Furthermore, I am of the opinion that Table 10-2 should be destroyed


Just make AoO a combat feat that anyone can take. That way it's not "normal." But if someone wants to blow a feat on it, they certainly can. And then you don't know if the monster has it or not.

Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Playtest / Playtest Feedback / Doomsday Dawn Player Feedback / the final encounter in Somberfell Hall illustrates deficiencies in the new system (spoilers) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Doomsday Dawn Player Feedback