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So, we've just finished a second session of Red Flags, which had to be ended before the final battle against the Kraken due to running out of time.
The party consisted of several Rogues (one of whom had specialised in performance to masquerade as a Bard), a Druid, and a Sorcerer. They spent a little time asking around about the gala in Plumetown, getting the lead to the Gala, but didn't bother asking about anything about "K" and thus never found out about Kadhibat. The not-a-Bard attracted the attention of several people around the town by performing and ended up leading a group up the road to the gala.
At the gala, we had our first problem. The PCs had picked up the rumor about the gambling tables being "cursed". The Druid asked the not-a-Bard to distract the guards with a Performance, and then cast Detect Magic and was lit up with Faerie Fire. Since the guards were distracted, they didn't notice right away, and he promptly ran over to hide underneath one of the gambling tables with another high success. Unfortunately, this meant that he was now in a deadlocked position because he could not dispel the Faerie Fire (as an 8th level effect it was out of reach of a regular dispel) and he had no reason to believe the guards would not eject or kill him if they saw he was Fired. I did actually just tell the player OOC that the guards would probably let a single casting of a harmless spell slide, in order that he could carry on being involved in the game, but he remained under the table convinced he would be useless at stealth while in the Gala.
Meanwhile, the Sorcerer had heard in town that Captain Whark was female and had apparently decided he wanted himself some Tengu lovin', so he used a spell to disguise himself as a Tengu. The not-a-Bard and the others did approach Kad when they saw him attracting attention in the Fortress Court, and he gave them a bit of background about the event. He also spoke to the Sorcerer in Tengu as a subtle way for me to point out that the Sorcerer didn't have that language and would be likely to be rumbled, but he apparently decided to proceed anyway.
The party (except for the Druid under the table) moved through into the Pretty Court, and the Sorcerer joined the queue to speak to Whark and offer some jewelry and with a high Diplomacy check was able to improve her attitude, while another Rogue was sneaking around and noticed Necerion and Kasbeel standing by the side of the court. At that point, to keep things moving, I decided that the Sorcerer's offer would be enough to have Whark start the procession to the temple. Everyone except the Rogue who spotted Necerion went with the procession, while he stayed behind and noticed that Necerion and Kasbeel were both gone. That Rogue also took a quick peek behind the door, reporting what he saw there. The Sorcerer continued to ask about seducing Whark and I suggested that while he could improve her attitude, she would not be up for a quickie in the nest in the middle of the gala, except in exceptional circumstances. (Also, the author of the nest description apparently forgot Whark's gender..)
The Sorcerer and the party returned with Whark from the temple dedication, and the Rogue who had spotted Necerion went back to look for the Druid under the table. In passing, the Sorcerer had the Druid jump into a bag of holding he was carrying, and while the not-a-Bard distracted the Pretty Court, the party bundled through the door to the nest.
.. And so the much-vaunted social/infiltration part of the adventure was over with nothing much having happened at all. There just isn't enough meat on the bones to trigger much in the way of interesting social encounters. I'm vagely glad that they didn't end up being trusted by Whark, because the idea that Whark would not even warn the PCs about the Kraken and let them get killed on a noncritical success is rather unreasonable (surely he would at least say "hey, don't go past the X..")
The PCs assessed the shells and with another casting of Detect Magic by the Druid ("I'm already glowing so sod it") identified the floor as magic, but were unable to dispel it, so the not-a-Bard attempted to smash the runes and only just managed to roll the DC to do so. With some Aided Search checks, the PCs opened the wardrobes and were able to identify the items on the shelves as fakes (easily) and that they were coated in poison (barely, thanks to a very high roll and a critical success on aiding). Passing through the secret door, they came to the portals.
The portals, however, seem not to have been thought through very well. After some failed Arcana checks to work out how they worked, the PCs made several attempts at passing through them, happening to select the wrong one each time - but making their Fortitude saves to avoid being driven onto the spikes. They did, however, also try tying each other together with rope and having a PC stand behind another PC to brace them, and I wasn't sure how to deal with this other than by giving a bonus on the Fortitude save. Eventually, the not-a-Bard - with a rope attached - happened to walk through a portal while it was in safe mode, and the others attempted to follow and were repelled, so they decided to just tie the rope to their Bag of Holding, all climb into the Bag, and then have the not-a-Bard pull it through from the other side (since they had established earlier by throwing stones that inanimate objects were not affected by the portals).
The PCs flew over the stones, and then we hit a problem with the mirrors. Can I just say that the mirror trap seems quite ridiculous? Whark is not evil, so by placing these mirrors here he has trapped his lair against everyone _except_ the kind of person who would most likely be robbing him. Not only that, but if a single intruder was pulled into the mirror then there is still an intruder deep in Whark's lair but now they are evil - how is that any safer for Whark!? In addition, the mirror that is to the West of the main entrance appears to have its yellow marked range area smaller that it should be - it is not obvious from the map that any PC approaching from any 5' square but the second one from the West side will be in the range of a mirror they cannot see from the entrance.
The Fighter approached the room and was reflected in two mirrors - the South and East ones - making his save against one and failing the other, causing an evil fighter to appear. He took up a defensive position further down the passage, hoping to push approaching people into the mirrors. This was rather awkward because the rules expected me at this point to somehow quickly work out how to play a player's 14th level fighter (the mess they had made of their character sheet didn't help). The not-a-Bard moved up to the East mirror, correctly reasoning that it would not trap him while the Fighter was already in it (and, in fact, the South mirror was also disabled since the text says that they can only use Reflection Of Evil once, even if the target saves). The PCs started combat with the evil Fighter, and were able to bring him down after a couple of rounds, although he was able to use Guiding Finish to push a PC into the range of the West entrance mirror (but they made their save).
Since everyone was together, I decided to push the action by having Necerion turn up behind them (technically since the PCs never "solved" the shifting portals, I figured he'd rolled his eyes and worked it out for himself) and Prismatic Spray the party. The Druid cast True Sight on himself and tried to point out Necerion, and the fight mostly consisted of assorted arguments about how the Flat check to target a Sensed enemy worked with area of effect spells, and whether or not you could step while flying (which we decided you can't, meaning that the Fighter flying up next to Necerion meant he had to take inevitable AoOs to do almost anything)
Also, not-a-Bard tried to use a Jump power to Jump up next to Necerion and stab him in the air (he had the feat, which name I can't remember off hand, that allows you to use the Long jump distances when you jump High). I have no idea if I was supposed to allow this or not (I did).
The fight was fairly unremarkable, although the Druid did get to do the party piece he'd been wanting to do since the start of the adventure, which was to cast Dinosaur Form to turn into a T-Rex. Necerion immediately dropped it with one of his heightened dispels.
After that, we didn't have time to proceed to the Kraken encounter so we wound up the adventure there. It was reasonably successful but I got the feeling the players were quite frustrated by the confusions that had come up in a battle against a flying and invisible enemy.
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Seems like you had a lot of the same problems with the adventure as I did. My players also didn't bite on the "K" lead, and got frustrated by the Faerie Fire effect due to a casting of Detect Magic. I would have appreciated some more open-ended information about the party (say... the names of some guards, some more NPCs with a piece of useful information, rolls for the gambling tables, or a schedule for the entire gala), so that the players could actually have a consequential interaction with it. My players ended up doing several creative things, but I didn't have enough information to produce a corresponding result.
This was rather awkward because the rules expected me at this point to somehow quickly work out how to play a player's 14th level fighter.
I would probably ask the player to control the evil clone, but this does depend on how much you trust your players not to metagame in the party's favor.
The Druid cast True Sight on himself and tried to point out Necerion, and the fight mostly consisted of assorted arguments about how the Flat check to target a Sensed enemy worked with area of effect spells,
An AoE spell doesn't target a creature, I believe, it targets a space. The flat check only applies if you're directly targeting the Sensed creature. (So a Fireball would not have the flat check, but something that targets multiple creatures, like Chain Lightning, would.)
and whether or not you could step while flying (which we decided you can't, meaning that the Fighter flying up next to Necerion meant he had to take inevitable AoOs to do almost anything).
I'm pretty sure that I remembered the rulebook saying that flying creatures can't Step, but the actual text says: "At the GM's discretion, some ground-based actions might not work in the air. For instance, most flying creatures can't Step." (Page 315) I'd apply that more to creatures with wings than ones using the Fly spell, but it does say GM's discretion.
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GMing an experienced party, the mirror room was incredibly easy: as soon as they saw a room full of suspicious mirrors they broke all the mirrors. If you play with the 10ft x 10ft squares in the map as given, you can also just walk through the room if the players have any sense. Weirdness: to get a player OUT of the mirror requires a legendary check but as level 14 characters nobody has that... so the mirror is a save-or-die for this adventure (other methods only shut down the mirror). I agree you should just let the player play the duplicate if they are trapped, as they are basically dead.
Portal room they just passwalled around the portals, and obviously flew (or climbed or water walked) past the rocks.
Kraken totally murdered one PC, partially because Necerion was smart enough to pincer when he saw the opportunity, but the other 2 went invisible and flew to take the Theorem from the vault. Everyone was dead or gone before the Kraken's Control Weather or the vault security earthquake went off.
Only 1 character ultimately survived, but we were never going to see these characters again anyway.
Did anybody find compelling gameplay for the whole "nemesis" aspect? My nemesis PC was really excited but the information didn't do much past him being made by Necerion... with the gala restrictions there was no way Necerion was going to confront them and put the plan at risk.
Like most people, my players really weren't interested in researching "K" and had trouble reaching the base DCs even for things they were optimized for: without a 20 it was impossible for them to critical success for vital information. They did not ask Whark for help because they interpreted the mission brief as "steal the Theorem" and saw no reason Whark would help them.
There were a lot of interesting pieces to this one, but they didn't tie together well. You had to put in a lot of work to make it legible to the players: I don't think this would be runnable with a novice or uncreative GM.
Weirdness: to get a player OUT of the mirror requires a legendary check but as level 14 characters nobody has that... so the mirror is a save-or-die for this adventure (other methods only shut down the mirror).
The problem is that the checks for the darkside mirror are written for the "full" version which can fire multiple times. I had assumed, based on this, that the legendary check was to get a character out of the mirror once their duplicate was dead but other duplicates still lived, while the master check to "disable the mirror" would free remaining duplicates after all were defeated. Since Whark's mirrors can only produce a single duplicate each, these effectively become the same, so there's no benefit to the legendary check.