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Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

THE PCs

Boblin, Goblin Rogue (Finesse)
Dweevil, Human Cleric of Iomedae
Falkon, Dwarf Paladin of Torag
Scruffy, Human Fighter (Free-Hand)

FIRST SESSION

The party began meticulous searching every hex, which in itself became rather tedious. The high DCs coupled with most of the hexes being empty did not make riveting gameplay (note that for most of the first part, I ran it with only two PCs, Dweevil and Falkon, so they had fewer chances of getting a success than a standard 4 PC party.

They encountered the gnomes of first Korlabablin, and I had to improvise some gnome names on the spot since none were given in the adventure (of course, there was plenty of information in the initial briefing that the PCs missed out on because they didn't ask questions, but the gnome's name they inquired about, as always seems to be the case). They learned of the rocs and went towards their nest. Unfortunately, none of the PCs had speak with animals, so their only option here was combat.

ENCOUNTER J. ROC NEST

I only had 2 PCs. I mistakenly ran it with 2 Weak Rocs (which I had prepared in case only 3 PCs made it), but in hindsight I should have further weakened them (or alternately had one of the other PCs run a missing player's character). The initial fight proved difficult, with rocs snatching and then dropping the PCs from 60-90 feet in the air, but the rocs were more interested in driving the intruders away from the nest so the PCs regrouped. After using Treat Wounds to regain their hp, the PCs returned with air walk precast on the dwarf paladin, but the rocs still managed to down the cleric in the rematch.

After returning to Korlabablin and securing their aid, they made their ways through the woods, but did not investigate under the lake even though they were NOT warned of the sea serpent. They then made their way to the cyclopes longhouse and offered to aid against the dragon, then traveled into the tors until they found its lair (due to a short session from outside commitments and only having 2 PCs present, we decided to end things here rather than jump into another combat--the dragon fight kicked off our second session).

SECOND SESSION

ENCOUNTER L. LIRUTHALL'S LAIR

I only had 2 players make it to game night, but I had 2 other PCs ready to go so they were now going at full strength (each player ran 2 PCs). The giant exited the cave first and warned the PCs, and they attempted to negotiate. The dragon (who rolled a natural 1 on his Perception for initiative) then flew out of the cave and unleashed his breath weapon. Early in the fight, my dice were vicious and tore through the PCs quickly. The giant often used flame strike to attack multiple PCs (usually 2 but once or twice he was able to hit 3) with the dragon alternating between its breath weapon and draconic frenzy (with a bite first attack when it didn't need to fly/move before attacking). Round 1, the dragon used its breath weapon; Round 2, fly down and use draconic frenzy, scoring a crit to reacharge; Round 3, fly up and use breath weapon again; Round 4+, land and engage in melee until weapon recharged, at which point only the dwarf was standing. Fortunately for the PCs, my luck had turn with the dragon frequently missing and rolling low damage late in the fight.

After the brutal dragon fight, the party revived the fire giant and demanded he join them or die, which due to his highly dubious bargaining position, he accepted their terms. They looted the dragon's horde, made their way back to the cyclopes and secured their aid as well.

They then headed down the river towards Ramlock's tower, encountering the dryad and securing her aid with a high Diplomacy check (even without getting into the cyclopes logging operations) as they did not otherwise need to gain her trust. They then found the tower and scouted their defenses.

A sending spell to Keleri made arrangements for the final assault, and with their 8 treasure points, they purchased two +3 weapons (paladin and fighter) and two +3 armors (paladin and cleric). Keleri agreed to meet them in 6 to 9 days depending how long the magic items took. In the interim, the PCs decided to check the end of the last river (recognizing the pattern of their being something at the end of each branch) and found the slain cultists. They then returned to the tower and began their final assault with 12 days remaining before the eclipse.

ENCOUNTER M: RAMLOCK'S TOWER

With 7 ally points, this fight was reduced to the mummy pharaoh, the brain collector, and two cultists. With 2 reseach points, the PCs and the Night Heralds were able to cast buff spells over a minute, so the two cultists spread herosim out to all of their group. The PCs had no buff spells precast.

Early in the fight, the PCs made a lot of key saves. The mummy great despair aura failed to paralyze any PCs (although the way the combat shaped out only half the PCs were in range). The brain collector used confusion and phantasmal killer early in the fight, but the goblin rogue saved after 1 round of confusion and the phantasmal killer was wasted against the human fighter. Two castings of resilient sphere only resulted in capturing the dwarf paladin for a single round (since he made the save; the human fighter critically succeeded to now effect) and the human cleric critical saved against enervation. However, on the second attempt by the cultist, he critically failed resulting in enervated 4 and severely nerfing the character.

Another key spell was cast by the brain collector, who cast paranoia on the goblin rogue, which even on a success, prevented him from flanking and getting his bonus sneak damage. The cultists took to the air and mirror imaged while the brian collector remained on the ground for melee (although he also cast mirror image early in the fight) with the goblin rogue and human cleric while the mummy pharaoh engaged the human fighter and dwarf paladin. The cleric attempted to dispel magic on the enervation effect, which I was not sure would work or not. It seems like the spell lasts for 1 minute and grants the condition for that length of time, so I ruled that it would. He failed the dispel check (since he took a -5 penalty for using a Level 3 dispel magic vs. a Level 4 enervation).

A couple blindness spells from the cultists were also rather ineffective. One target made the save and was only blinded until the start of his turn (I think it was the goblin rogue) whereas the dwarf paladin was inflicted with blindness for 1 minute, but he was able to remove it with his mercy on his turn as well. The cultists used their last third level spells to haste themselves so they could use their crossbows (2 actions to Strike, 2 actions to reload, using the hasted action for one of the Strikes).

The mummy pharaoh was the first to fall--he got two sandstorm wraths out, but was largely ineffective with her longspear (he only hit twice I believe, and infected the human fighter with insidious mummy rot). Then the combat began to drag on. The cleric cast air walk on the goblin rogue who engaged the one cultist in-the-air. This cultist switched to his mace (I forgot that he could still use his crossbow in melee range without penalty under the new rules), and the two engaged in a slap fight with both sides did little damage each round to each other. The brain collector downed the enervated cleric and then moved on to the dwarf paladin, and with the aid of some true strikes (which actually didn't help him any), downed the dwarf paladin as well. Hero points and healing would allow both to recover and rejoin the fight. The other cultist used most of his 2nd-level spells to soothe the brain collector and keep him going as he was their main offensive weapon, and combined with the mirror images, kept the Night Heralds going for several rounds.

I had lost track of the rounds, so I began hand-waving when things like Fly, Enervation, Paranoia. I also had the insidious mummy rot trigger its second save by fiat. I wished I had been more meticulous with my bookkeeping here, but some of the PCs beneficial effects were also ended this way (namely the cleric's fire shield spell which he cast in the first round).

From hero points and self-healing, the human cleric and dwarf paladin rejoined the fight, and eventually winnowed down the brain collector. The human fighter withdrew from melee, switching to his shortbow and taking pot shots at the one cultists while guzzling potions for several rounds. The human cultists realized they need to take out the cleric first and began focus firing on him (as the combatants had all gathered near each other by this point), but one by one they fell as well.

Note that I intentionally did not replenish the mirror images as they ran out as I felt this would only prolong the fight even longer, and it was already starting the become a tedious game of attrition with mummy down and all the big spells spent. This is the first fight where it really felt things dragged on in the Doomsday Dawn playtest.


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Good feedback.

I'm wondering how many days all that marching around took, especially since you stated that they meticulously searched every hex.

For my group, they've used 35 days so far and only encountered the rocs and gnomes. Through roleplaying, the gnomes put another location on their map so they can move straight there, but with all the bouncing back and forth, I think they will run out of time before they get to where they need to be. They currently have 1 research point, 0 ally points, and 0 treasure points.

FYI, if you will: regarding your final paragraph, I feel like that was a bad way to run a playtest. Better, IMO, would be to play the monsters to their best ability, refreshing those at-will Mirror Images because they are tremendously useful for avoiding damage. Yep, that really drags out the fight. It might even cause the PCs to lose. But both of those things are valuable details Paizo should know.

By playing the monsters below their potential, you run the risk that a Paizo dev will read your post and think "Hmmm, the GM cut some corners to save time. Not sure what to do with that data. Monsters too hard? Can't tell because he cut corners. Long fight? Maybe just right for a climactic boss fight, maybe not, can't tell because he cut corners." Etc.

For playtests, it's probably best to play it exactly as written and give specific feedback about what worked and what didn't.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

They had 12 days to spare.

While I get what you are saying, I don't see it that way. I was folowing the rules set by Doomsday Dawn and the Playtest Rulebook. If Paizo wanted me to follow certain tactics, they would have listed them explicitedly, as they did in the Heroes of Undarin. The fact that they did not says to! me that they WANT the GMs to vary their tactics, which is also part of the point of having an open playtest.

Also, I am not sure that this tactic would quakify as suboptimal. The cultists were lacking in offensive power as is, and while spending 2 of their actions to cast mirror image every time they ran out would prolong the fight, they needed to focus on dealing damage and dropping the PCs if they were to have any chance of winning.

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