#10-04: Reaver's Roar


GM Discussion

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Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

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karpana wrote:
I've come here for some advice on what happens if the PCs engage the reaver at the start, choose not to run and actually kill the thing.

Within the scope of organized play where there are limitations to what you can do as a GM, I typically have a basic expectation that I will lay on the players if they want to go against what the author is clearly encouraging them to do (in this case run away from the epic/mythic monster). That being simply, "you all came here with the intention of playing a fun game and experiencing the story the author and developers have created. Don't work against the scenario."

Sometimes players can be too clever for their own good. In a home game where I can do whatever I want based on the player's actions, go ahead and break the adventure. I can either simply boost the monster in real time to the point it is clear you need to run away or die, or I can adjust the story to account for your destruction of a BBEG before its time was up. In PFS, GMs have much less freedom. Don't make their job harder than it needs to be be by intentionally wrecking the narrative simply because you can.

2/5 5/5

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I take the exact opposite approach; the scenario shouldn't be used as a bludgeon to railroad players. I like it when players come up with clever or unexpected solutions to problems, because that's when the GM gets to have the fun of improvising.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

A GM also must know his limits and when improvising is beyond them.

2/5 5/5

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

In the particular instance cited here, if the PCs just decided to fight the reaver and somehow won (it has stats, after all), my instinct would be to say “awesome, good work guys!” and continue with the rest of the scenario adjusting as necessary (there’s still puzzles and orcs to deal with).

In general, I’m trying to say I never want players to feel like RPGs are video games with a “you can’t do that because the writer didn’t think of it” mentality.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Thankfully, guidance has already been provided.

Dark Archive

karpana wrote:
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Knowledge check DC33 to recognize it helps. (15 for Rare, 17 for CR.)
I thought myhic ranks added to the CR ... So would this not be a 15+17+2 for a total for 34 (instead of the 32 you proposed)

Ok, so just to clarify, the final DC will be 33?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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Yes, 15 for Rare, 17 for CR, 1 for MR.

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Edit: Here we are. "To determine a mythic monster's final CR, add half its mythic rank to its original CR. For example, a 2nd rank mythic owlbear's final CR is 5 (2 × 1/2 + 4)." So just a +1 to the DC.

Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Upper Midwest aka Silbeg

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Ok, I am going to find out if the clues given will cause the players to run.

Gameplay Thread in my PBPp

I have a bad feeling that this team will engage, and I am trying to give a heavy hand, without taking away from player agency.

If you have run this, or at least read, please let me know if there is anything else that I could do.

I will let you all know how it goes (though in the next day you'll be able to see for yourself!)

Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain, Germany—Rhein Main South aka schattenstern

My advice is talk about the great T-Rex chase (from the season 6 adventure) with the players before unning this scenario: They will immediately know what to do and not even think about challanging this poor helpless little creature. It worked when I played and both times I gmed it.

The only "downside" is that the final fight is completely and utterly underwhelming for the buildup.

Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Upper Midwest aka Silbeg

Just ran this tonight

Paladin 11, cleric 11, ranger 11, fighter 11, Druid 11, sorcerer 10

They were scared by the whole thing... as they should be. Liked the encounters with the orcs...were good speed bumps for them

The reaver traps were vicious. They really scared the team! The cleric spent most of the adventure hobbled, since he used his restoration on the fighter already.

The reaver was a fast fight. They downed it in under two rounds!

Fireball, flamestrike, Fire snake, crit from a bow. Fast work

Liberty's Edge 1/5

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Reaver's Roar chase rules, p. 8 wrote:
For each obstacle, each PC can attempt one of the listed saving throws, skill checks, or ability checks, or they can attempt to cast a spell or use an ability appropriate to the described challenge. At the end of the turn, use the highest result. Any other check results with a total of 10 or higher should be treated as though the PC had used the aid another action to assist. If any PC uses a particularly appropriate spell or ability, such as casting transmute rock to mud to slow some of the orcs, grant the highest check a +2 bonus.

Does the sentence in bold mean that any check with a result of 10+ gives a +2 to the highest result, or only if the check is the same as the high result?

Example: in Phase 1 (Reflex save DC 18 or Acrobatics DC 28), Ezren manages a 12 on his Reflex save and Merisiel gets a 27 on her Acrobatics check (Kyra and Valeros both roll nat 1s on Reflex). Does the party fail, or do they succeed because Ezren's Reflex save is treated like a successful aid another check for Merisiel's Acrobatics check?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

I've been running it as any check counts.

Liberty's Edge 1/5

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
I've been running it as any check counts.

Thanks - that’s the way I read it, but I didn’t want to make the checks too easy if it was supposed to be much harder to aid.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

It definitely makes a difference in difficulty to succeed as well as to adjudicate. Having to juggle different skill results would be a headache so I hope we are correct.

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Agent, Finland—Turku aka Tomppa

Played this yesterday and enjoyed it immensely, then took a bit of time to flip through the adventure, only to realize that the scenario as written does not survive any sort of contact with player characters, and GM's should be very well prepared for various "creative" solutions.

The writer makes several assumptions on PC behavior that are probably not going to happen, and even the situations are unlikely.

Firstly - it's unlikely that any party "just walks up to the bastion" unless the GM just railroads them there by stating that "as you're walking towards the bastion, stuff happens." The party knows roughly what they are up against, knows that the creature is deadly, and knows it makes it's lair in the bastion. It's... just foolish to assume that they don't try to scout the place out in any way.
Our party sent in 2 draconic allies, observed one getting wrecked by the reaver before it could react, observed the other get chased down before it could flee. We then sent in the sorcerer while they were possessing another dragon (that was basically buffed with everything we had. There's no time limit, we can spend all our daily resources multiple times during various days to gauge what the threat is), accompanied by a third draconic ally that acted as a bait. (these could have been just summoned creatures and/or familiar, animal companion, or something). A simple scouting mission is enough to invalidate the whole chase scene.

Okay, sorcerer got into the bastion, didn't touch the floor so no creaking, scouted around, found the fountain, couldn't perform ritual by himself, came out.

We planned to teleport the party in to the safe looking room that the sorcerer had inspected (wasn't actually safe) - first the sorcerer, bringing along the witch, the druid, and the gunslinger. The witch was supposed to teleport out, then teleport back in with the rest of the party after examining the room. Obviously, now that we were grounded (sorcerer was flying earlier) we triggered the trap, gunslinger lost over half of his HP and a leg.
There was literally no way we would have ever considered that "maybe we should stay here and try to make it to the fountain to perform the ritual", we bolted immediately with the witch teleporting us back to the party. Thinking the reaver was trying to break through the barricaded doors, we thought we had to hurry before it wrecks the place, and rushed up the hill towards the bastion, confronted it outside, and killed it.

At no point during the encounter, was fleeing (chase scene) really an option. GM would have had to force fleeing on us, it would have never occurred to players - because you simply can't outrun enemies. You run, they take an AoO, and then they follow. Plus DC to recognize the beast is so high that we had no way of knowing if it had magical abilities, ranged attacks, what it's speed was, etc. Trying to run would have seemed like a suicide.

In addition, even if we had fled, at no point the Bastion would have been our option for shelter - it's the fricking beasts HOME. There's NO REASON TO ASSUME IT WOULD BE SAFE. I found it funny that the adventure writes that fleeing there "should be an obvious option".
Not to mention that even IF you do flee there, the reaver attacks through the floor, nearly kills a PC or two - there's no reason for the party to stay there when they are very obviously in mortal danger. Teleport exists, and in a situation like this, or when if the reaver gets an upper hand in combat, "Anywhere but here!" is a more likely plan of fleeing that "oh, let's go to the beasts den!"

Also, I think "if they kill the reaver, have it ressurrect and confront the group after they've performed the rituals" is... not a good advice. At best, the party has already beaten the beast at full strength, and now you're throwing a weakened version of it against them. That's really anticlimatic and feels just... cheap. Secondly, at worst, the group already spent considerable resources to kill the beast once, and you throw it against them again when they are already beaten and battered, resulting in PC deaths, and there's a high chance of players not appreciating the fact that they beat it once already, only to have to die to it "because adventure was written so that you'd have to fight it After exploring the bastion, not before". It just feels poor form, no offense meant towards Sayre.

EDIT: I should add that our party strongly debated even trying to scout the bastion before confronting the reaper. Sure, it was obvious that the the helmet needed to be recovered, and we were thinking that it might help in the fight against the reaver - but at the same time, roughly half of the party argued that we should kill the reaver first, because teleporting inside, snatching the helmet and teleporting outside, could result in the reaver following the artifact, possibly expanding it's territory, and/or bringing death and doom upon the rest of the village.

2/5 5/5

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I generally agree with you that the scenario requires too much railroading by the GM. Like some of the other Season 10 scenarios, all the reviews were eaten during the website's Time of Troubles, but they still show up in individual profiles. I may as well reproduce mine here so at least some folks can see it.

NO SPOILERS

I ran Reaver's Roar at low tier using the four-player adjustment, with each player running a pre-gen. The session turned out better than I thought it would from my first read-through, as this is one that could get off the rails very quickly if the players make the "wrong" decision On the other hand, after such a big build up, the combats turned out to be far too easy. I do appreciate the incorporation of interesting setting lore, the inclusion of a puzzle (something we don't see often in PFS scenarios) and some opportunities for role-playing.

SPOILERS!:

Reaver's Roar takes place in the nation of Lastwall, the final stop for crusaders working to contain the evils of the Whispering Tyrant's undead hordes. When the Inner Sea World Guide was published several years ago, a small town in Lastwall named Roslar's Coffer received a capsule description about how it had become the territory of a red reaver: a huge, monstrous demonic beast attracted to things of beauty. In this case, that thing of beauty was a temple to Sarenrae located near the village. In a nice bid to continuity (and preparation for the setting to be updated in the game's second edition), this scenario involves the PCs rousting the red reaver from Roslar's Coffer and recovering some holy artifacts in the temple.

The scenario begins with a joint briefing from Venture-Captain Shevar Besnik and the leader of the Silver Crusade, Ollysta Zadrian. The mission the PCs are given is fairly straightforward: travel to Roslar's Coffer, find the temple known as the Bastion of Light, and figure out a way to banish or kill the red reaver. A lot of references are made to how the red reaver has somehow become incredibly strong and that perhaps things within the temple could be useful in defeating it, and GMs better hope that their players take the hint for reasons detailed shortly.

The journey to Roslar's Coffer is uneventful. The writer does a good job describing the place, and how the villagers have gradually withdrawn, leaving abandoned homes and stores, within about a 1 mile radius of the temple. A local dwarf historian can provide the PCs with directions and the layout of the temple, but the rest is up to them.
Here's where things get dicey. As the PCs approach the temple, they'll see the red reaver chowing down on some orcs that are also trying to get into the temple. But this is no ordinary red reaver: it's been given mythic levels and other templates to make it, at both subtiers, a CR 17/MR 2 creature! The idea here is that the PCs are supposed to see this beast and be so intimidated by it that they run for the safety of the temple using the Chase mechanics. The two potential problems with this set-up occur if the PCs don't take the hint and try to fight the red reaver (after all, PCs are warned about terrible monsters by villagers every day). The first possibility, of course, is that they could all get killed in a battle that is highly unfair; a TPK just an hour into a session isn't exactly fair. The second possibility is that they could kill the red reaver and win the scenario right away--despite the creature's appearance, it doesn't really deal out that much damage and I know there are some PFS groups with super-optimized characters (hold monster with a high DC and a coup de grace can kill a lot of things!). Either way, it's a risky gambit for a scenario. Fortunately, the group I ran it for went with the Chase option.

The Chase itself is fine, though I still find it hard as a GM to incorporate the skill checks in a natural and organic way so that it doesn't feel too "gamey." I didn't like how the success conditions of the Chase were implemented: basically, they just give the PCs more or less time inside the temple before the red reaver breaks through the (off-camera) barricades the PCs are assumed to put up. My suspension of disbelief was broken in having to imagine that a mythic red reaver with a Strength of 32 couldn't break through some hastily-barricaded wooden doors and windows. In addition, even if they somehow do terrible on the Chase, the PCs are still given plenty of time to do everything they need to do in the temple. Finally, it wasn't clear to me how to convey to the players, using in-game language, how much time their characters thought they had left. It all felt very forced to me.

Once inside the Bastion of Light, the PCs have to deal with a few things while searching for the holy item they've been sent to recover. First, there are fungal spore pods that can sap PCs' Constitution. Second, the red reaver can make a single attack through the floorboards or a window (mechanically this is treated as a trap). This was interesting because there's a "Gruesome Mangling" special effect that can result in a character losing a limb! Third, there are bands of evil orcs from the Twisted Nail tribe rummaging through some rooms. In an interesting move that I've never seen in PFS before, some of these threats are placed normally in particular rooms but the GM is given an optional "bank" of traps and orcs to place in whatever rooms they want in order to keep up the tension. I'm a bit torn by the idea, because I like empowering GMs to customise the scenario for how the session is running, but it could result in some GMs making things easier or harder than others and thus violating the PFS principle that GMs can never add, remove, or alter encounters.

A good role-playing opportunity within the temple is a severely injured orc warpriest of Sarenrae named Uirch. The PCs can fight him, of course, but if they offer him enough healing he'll help the PCs with information or (with the four-player adjustment) even help them fight. The thing that's a bit odd, as pointed out in the forums, is that Uirch is described as terribly injured and the GM is told that the PCs need to give him 35 hit points worth of healing to gain his trust, but Uirch has the warpriest spells prepared to completely heal himself. And, to boot, he's sitting right next to a magical healing font that could put him to right.

Above, I mentioned that there is a puzzle was included in the scenario. Puzzles are hard to do well, but I have to give the writer credit for this one. It involves finding and placing a series of symbols in the right order within an ankh. Figuring out the placement of the symbols requires understanding their relevance to the religious doctrines of Sarenrae, and some real depth and attention to the setting lore is displayed (or developed) here. And for the "we hate puzzles" crowd, an option is given to just brute-force the thing and take a time penalty (I think the time penalty should be longer given how much time the PCs have in the temple to begin with, but that's a minor quibble).

At some point, the red reaver busts into the temple for the big final showdown. This was disappointing when I ran it. There are so many buffs available within the temple, and so many magical ways to weaken the red reaver, that the battle became laughably easy. In my session, the creature got killed in two rounds and never even scratched a PC--and that's with everyone playing pre-gens! PCs who do everything right within the temple to buff themselves and weaken the red reaver should be rewarded with an easier battle, but not a trivial one.

To wrap up this review, I think Reaver's Roar is a real mixed bag. I like how it picks up a hook from a sourcebook and runs with it, the puzzle was done well, and the general premise of "PCs under siege" was fairly original. On the other hand, the red reaver could either be way too hard or way too easy and much of the scenario felt forced and unrealistic. The germ of something really good is here, but just hasn't quite ripened.

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