“Just Look Out The Window”: Affair at Sombrefell Hall (session 2) blow-by-blow report, 1.5 rules.


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This is continuing from session 1.

Note: There may be mistranslations: My GM translated on the fly from English to Swedish as we played, and I translated from Swedish to English as I wrote notes on what happened.

== Characters ==

The characters were:
Arami, Cavern Elf Maestro Bard.
Deena, Cavern Elf Cleric of Honey, passion domain.
Elise, Cavern Elf Cleric of Honey, passion domain.
Keyt, Cavern Elf Rogue.
The characters are played by two players, each playing two characters. All characters have Darkvision, Fleet and Nimble.

== Introduction ==

Last session ended with a cliff-hanger, with persons unknown pounding on the door, just as we were enjoying a tasty late-evening dinner with the inhabitants.

The GM, however needed to start with a little retcon; He had forgotten to give out a +2 armor we were supposed to get at the beginning. So, he decided that the Professor simply gave out a +2 rune he had found during his research: "Could this be useful to you?"

This started a discussion between us two players: "You take it." "No, you take it!" "Who has bad AC?" "They are about equal"... It finally ended with us simply rolling for it, and Arami got it.

== The door ==

We did not want to open the door until we were ready, and we definitely were not going to let the professor do it. So, how long would the door hold?

The GM could not find any such information in the scenario at any of the obvious places: in the room description and in the description of this encounter, so he decided to roll for it. (Apparently he later found it in *later* encounter, not this one, and it was a lot faster than his estimate.)

So Keyt tried to estimate how long the door would last. She rolled 16 on Craft. "At least a minute." That would give us some time to prepare.

Deena cast Sanctified Ground versus Undead, centered just under the chandelier, covering large parts of the room.

We decide to build a barricade. Not the full barricade that had predefined time estimates in the scenario (as quoted by our GM), but just some rubble on the floor to provide difficult ground. We did not build it at the door either - we built it at both sides of the chandelier, with an opening in the middle. The idea was to use this clear path to funnel any assailants into the area just under the chandelier. And as we did not build a full barricade, the GM ruled that we would finish much faster.

Arami rolled a 24 on Diplomacy to enlist the civilians, and Keyt a 22 on Craft to coordinate the work. Keyt spread some caltrops among the rubble.

Elise, who was close to the door, rolled a 19 on Perception and noticed a bad smell oozing in through the cracks. She followed up with a Religion Knowledge of 28 - a crit. She identified the smell as Ghosts, a tougher Ghast with a sickening stench aura and hand attacks that could give you Ghast Fever.

The civilians withdrew, except Lucvi, who we stationed at the chandelier lever, tasking her with dropping the chandelier when we called out for it.

(We struggled to express these activities in terms of Exploration Mode, but it did not really work out - much easier with Encounter Mode.)

Elise cast a Disruptive Weapon on Keyt's short sword, Deena's handwraps, and Arami's whip.

Preparations done, it was time to open the door and let the ghasts into our trap. Arami, Deena and Elise lined up under the chandelier. Keyt stood by the door, ready to open it.

== First Fight ==

Initiatives:
Keyt: Stealth 34 (My GM allows you to take an automatic roll of 20 if there is a wall between you and your opponents, similar to what Invisiblity does.)
Arami: Perception 18
Deena: Perception 18
Elise: Perception 15
Ghasts: unknown, due to our delay tactics, coordinated with the GM. See below.

-- Round 1 --

All player characters delayed. Since we were the ones that would open the door and let the Ghasts in, we could make sure everyone went before the Ghasts. Yet another way to re-invent the surprise round.

Ghasts: pound door.

-- Round 2 --

Keyt: Opened door. Hid behind door: Stealth 32. Fort save against Ghast stench: 16, a success thanks to Sanctified Ground. Held attack versus "last ghost to enter".

Arami: Telekinectic Projectile vs Ghast 3: 18 to hit, 14 damage. Moved back to just behind Chandelier Drop Zone.

Deena: Disrupt Undead vs Ghast 3. Ghast saved with a natural 20. Moved back next to Arami.

Elise: Throw a 6d6 pearl from her Necklace of Fireballs: 19 damage. Ghast 4 save: fail, Ghast 3 crit fail: died, Ghasts 2 success, Ghast 1 fail, and Ghast 5 success. Elise than moved back next to Deena.

Ghast 2: Move, move. Arami, Deena and Elise were now in range for his stench area. This led to an intricate rules discussion. Does "entering aura" include when you are not the one doing the entering, but it is the area that moves? We finally ruled on the side of the monsters, so it was time for saves. Elise: Fort 27 - success, Arami: Fort 15 - fail and sickened 1, Deena: fort 17, success. The Ghost finished by trying to strike Elise: 21 - miss.

Ghast 5: Move, move, strike vs Arami: miss.

Ghast 4: Move, move, strike vs Arami: 24 - miss thanks to Sanctified Ground and the armor rune from the Professor.

Ghast 5: Move, which triggered Keyt's held attack. Keyt strike vs Ghast 5: 30 - crit with a disruptive weapon. 50 damage - ghast dies.

The surviving ghasts were neatly grouped under the chandelier, between our two rubble "barricades". Lucvi dropped the chandelier: 18 damage. All three ghosts failed to save, and we now had a two-square wide line of difficult ground across the room.

-- Round 3 --

Keyt: move, ignoring first square of rubble. Backstab vs Ghast 4: hit, killed. Backstab vs Ghast 5: miss.

Arami: Draw rapier. Strike against Ghast 5 with outflank: 28 - crit, damage 30, ghast killed. Intimidate vs Ghast 2: 29 - crit, frightened 2 and fleeing.

Deena: kick vs Ghast 2: 28 - crit. Damage 30, killed

-- Fight over --

We dragged away the stinking corpses.

== Preparing for the next fight ==

We dragged the remains of the chandelier closer to the door to get rearrange the area of difficult ground more to our liking, and fetched a ladder from the library so that we could keep an eye out through one of the high-up windows close to the door.

Elise cast Sanctified Ground in this room too, now against aberrations. After this, she climbed up the window to act as look-out. As all the PC:s she had darkvision, so she could get a nice view of the approach to the door.

Keyt repaired the door: Craft 27 - door completely whole again.

Elise rolled 23 on perception, and saw six figures trying to sneakily move towards the front door. She tried to identify them: Religion 25. It turned out to be two Vampires and four Ghasts. With a 19 on her own stealth she stayed hidden behind her window.

The ghasts seemed to go for the door, while the vampires tried to climb the walls, apparently to enter the high-up windows.

Keyt opened the door to let the ghasts into the room in the same moment the vampires entered through the high-up windows on each side of the room, triggering the next fight.

== Second Fight ==

Rolling initiative triggered another rules question: Sanctified Ground gives you a bonus on skills. Does it give that bonus to Perception too? We ruled not, for now.

Initiatives:

Keyt: stealth 30
Elise: perception 23
Arami: perception 10
Deena: perception 30
Vampires: 15
Ghasts: got to go last by timing Keyt's opening of the door, see first fight.

-- Round 1 --

Keyt: delay

Deena: 3-action Lvl 4 Heal. DC 21, damage 18. Vampire 1: save 9 - critical fail, Vampire 2: save 9 - critical fail, Ghast 1: critical fail, Ghast 2: fail, Ghast 3: fail, Ghast 4: fail.

Elise: 3-action Lvl 4 Heal. DC 21, damage 17. Vampire 1: fail - killed, Vampire 2: fail and killed, Ghast 1: fail and killed, Ghast 2: fail, Ghast 3: success, Ghast 4: fail.

Arami: Intimidate x 3. +2 Situation modifier, due to their vampire bosses just having been killed. Intimidate vs Ghast 2: 31 - crit, intimidate vs Ghast 3: success, intimidate vs Ghast 4: 26 - crit.

Keyt: Step. Backstab vs Ghast G3: 26, 30 damage, killed.

Ghast 2: flee.

Ghast 4: flee.

-- Round 2 --

Deena: Cast first action and hold second action of a Disrupt Undead, in case the Ghasts return.

Elise: Delay

Arami: Cast first action of Telekinetic Projectile and hold second.

Ghast 4: Move, Sneak: natural 20, do something unknown.
Ghast 2: Move, Sneak: 12 - failed versus Keyt and Deena, Move - which triggered Deena's held Disrupt Undead. 12 damage, killed.

-- Round 3 --

Deena: Seek for the missing ghast: Perception 23, spotted. Disrupt undead - killed.

Fight over.

== Preparing for the next fight ==

Keyt tried to repair the front door: Craft 12. "Umm, I'm working on it..."

Deena took up lookout position next to the door again.

Arami and Elise patrolled the rest of the house. The GM was to roll for random room for them when something happened.

Some secret rolls later, Elise spotted something moving outside the big windows in the dining room with her darkvision. Arami and Deena hurried to join her. Elise got to roll Knowledge Religion for each, and got a 27 on both: Elite Wights.

== Third Fight ==

Due to the situation, we got to choose ourselves between perception and stealth for initiative.

Keyt: stealth 34 (got to take 20, since she was in the hall, and not in the dining room)
Deena: perception 29
Elise: perception 27
Arami: stealth 23
Wights: 14

-- Round 1 --

Keyt: move, move, sneak: 17 - fail.

Deena: 2-action lvl 4 heal + Healing Hands vs Wight 1, 44 damage. Save: natural 1 - crit fail, instant dust.

Elise: same versus Wight 2: 50 damage. Save: 25 - success.

Arami: Inspire Courage. Telekinetic Projectile vs Wight 2: 30 - crit, 14 damage.

Wight 2: Move, climb, step to close with PCs.

-- Round 2 --

Keyt: move into outflank. Backstab: 31 - crit, 30 damage - killed.

-- Fight over --

Keyt looked at the dinner table to see if it could be tipped up against the window.

Deena returned to the ladder at the entrance.

Arami checked on the NPCs.

Elise decided to check the Professor's study. Perception: nat 20 - sees two shadowy figures about to enter the window.

== Third fight, continued ==

Initiatives:
Elise: perception 25 (including +5 situation modifier)
Deena: perception 23
Keyt: perception 22
Arami: perception 10 (natural 1)
Wights: 15

-- Round 1 --

Elise: 3-action 4th lvl Heal: 23 damage. Wight 1 save: successful, Wight 2 save: fail.

Deena: Leap (from ladder, over our difficult ground rubble), move, move.

Keyt: Move, move, sneak: success.

Wight 1 and Wight 2: enter the room, and start some kind of weird summoning chant.

Arami: Move, move, Intimidate vs Wight 1: 20 - success.

-- Round 2 --

Elise: 3-action 4th level Heal: 20 damage. Wight 2 save: fail, Wight 1 save, success.

Deena: 2-action 4th level Heal vs Wight 1: 18 damage. Wight 1 save: success.

Keyt: Move (with Acrobatics: 22), backstab vs Wight 1: nat 20 - crit: 48 damage - killed. You're Next vs Wight 2: crit.

Wight 2: Flee through the window and fall (nat 1 on acrobatics, 2 damage), stand up, move.

Arami: Move (acrobatics: nat 1, have to stop), move (around obstacle), scan: perception 26 - see nothing more than the fleeing wight.

-- Round 3 --

Elise: move, hold.

Deena: delay.

Keyt: delay.

Wight 2: move back to just outside window, intimidate vs: Arami x 2: fail x 2.

Arami: Inspire Courage. Trip Wight 2 with Assurance(Master Athletics): automatic success, as it still was frightened 1. Strike with whip: hit, 6 damage.

-- Round 4 --

Elise: move, Disrupt Undead vs Wight 2: 14 damage. Wight 2 save: 14 - fail.

Keyt: Draw knife, move, throw: hit. Damage 18, killed.

Fight over.

== Session End ==

In this session we got a lot of mileage out of all characters being Cavern Elves; darkvision meant we all could keep a lookout through the windows, and moves of 35 and 40 meant we could spread out to patrol, and quickly rejoin each other when something happened.

It does not feel that the tactics we used worked well with Exploration Mode at all, tactics that otherwise felt natural for us to use.

Time spent: 3h 20 min
Hero points spent: 0
Death saves: 0
Damage taken: 0
Consumables used: 2 holy water as material components, 1 fireball bead.
Resonance used on anything other than daily imbuements: 1 for the fireball bead.
Spell Points used: 0


Stupid autocorrect: ”She identified the smell as Ghosts, a tougher Ghast with a sickening stench aura and hand attacks that could give you Ghast Fever.” should be: ”She identified the smell as Ghasts, a tougher Ghoul with a sickening stench aura and hand attacks that could give you Ghast Fever.


Here are the GM comments, pasted from This Thread.

Session 2 - we did the first 3 events. Fighting in PF2 is fun, but the transition from Exploration to Encounter mode keeps being a problem. We sorely miss surprise rounds, but with some workarounds we got much of the same effect.

Let me give an example. In the first encounter, a number of creatures are bashing at the door. Initiative is rolled. All the PCs delay. The monsters' turn comes up, and they attack the door. The PCs the open the door and all get their turns. Encounter is mostly finished.

I could of course say that initiative has to be rolled AFTER the door is opened, but with the PCs having an observer on the upper floor watching the monsters and a coherent plan, that feels like it would have been very arbitrary.

Talking over how this was to be played out took as much time as playing the actual fight - which wasn't that long. :o

The second encounter was the most exceptional and the most fun. The scout looking out a window spotted the vampires climbing up the walls. Poor monster initiative checks (I penalized the Ghasts again because they were so predictable when the PCs opened the door again, and the vampire spawn rolled poorly). 2 area channels and 3 demoralize stunts later, and a LOT of fumbled Fort saves, the vampires were dust and 2 ghasts were fleeing and one dusted - only one remained and became an easy victim. The ghasts tried to sneak back on the next round, but were eventually seen and Disrupt Undead-ed to dust.

In the third encounter, the PCs patrolled the house, specifically looking out the large windows using darkvision. Wights are not very good at Stealth and were seen. The western group was dusted almost before they entered the room (1 actually got in and was backstabbed by the rogue hanging on to the the outside of the house in order to flank). One of the PCs went directly to the East and spotted those wights, but those had time to get in and start awakening the poltergeist (I let them do this in the wrong room). They almost made it, but the last one was intimidated into fleeing, breaking up the ritual just as its turn was coming up, and was then defeated.

Sum of first 3 waves - No damage to the PCs, 6 channel energy, 4 spells [Edit: By Mats' report, this was actually more], and 1 pearl form a necklace of fireballs (and 1 resonance) expended. The Poltergeist never got summoned, as the Wights were all killed or scared off before they had a chance to spend 2 rounds in the house. The rogue seemed to roll a critical on every attack, but with heavy intimidation and constant flat-footedness that wasn't so very hard. Yes, one of the characters is playing a rogue, it was the only way to get this to ever be played - player wasn't going to make another character.

Assurance on Athletics once again worked well with trip maneuvers, but also climbing up the outside of the house (not a difficult climb, as the Wights could succeed at it). Thanks to Sanctified Ground, the bard saved a lot of actions, which mainly meant more intimidate and whip trips going on.

Edit: Ah yes, the template to level up a monster seemed too strong, the leveled-up wights were way better than the vampire spawn rogues at the same level.


Off on a tangent about breaking down doors.

Destroying the door triggered a long discussion between me and the other playtester after the session. My estimate while playing was that the optimum time for 5 ghasts using only claws to tear down a solid wooden mansion door would be 1 minute. Considering that these ghasts were not engineers, the actual time it took was 1d6 minutes. The sound on the door was described as "a slow, rhythmic pounding", which is NOT the sound of claws splintering the door like buzzaws.

Now RAW. A wooden door has hardness 10. The ghasts do 2d6+3 damage with claws. That means that each ghast can easily do two dents on the door on its action. In other words, it would take less than 1 round for the ghasts to break down the door if they acted optimally. The scenario (in encounter #2) tells us it would take five ghasts 3 rounds to break down the door. A decent estimate comparable to my own [1 minute optimal turns into 1d6 minutes actual] above.

The discussion between me and my player was whether claws are effective door-breaking tools or not. The player, who is a simulationist, argued that they were not. Most melee weapons are actually not that good at breaking things - the exception being picks and hammers. My point was that all objects are too weak in PF2. Instead of the 1:2:4 relationship in the table on p 354, it ought to be 2:4:6. That would give a wooden door hardness 15. The ghasts CAN damage such a door, but only on a critical hit (Do you even make attack rolls against unattended objects? If you do, they need even more hardness.) or if they rolled max on 2d6+3. Suddenly my 1 minute estimate seems fair.


Minor points about Mats' report.

The vampires in Mats' post were actually vampire spawn.

The falling chandelier was a bit odd to GM. In a movie, the "lure" - the characters presenting themselves to draw the monsters under the chandelier - would stand back. The monsters would charge as a mass, and have the chandelier dropped on them as they were moving. Here, the lure had to stand just behind the chandelier, so that the monsters would stop under it to attack. This is also what happened.


Starfox wrote:
Sum of first 3 waves - No damage to the PCs, 6 channel energy, 4 spells [Edit: By Mats' report, this was actually more], and 1 pearl form a necklace of fireballs (and 1 resonance) expended.

Went through the report and did a tally:

Spells cast:
Deena: Sanctify Ground
Elise: Sanctify Ground, Disruptive Weapon
Arami: none

Channels used (written as Heals in the report):
Deena: 3
Elise: 4

Cantrips used:
Deena: Disrupt Undead x 3
Elise: Disrupt Undead x 1
Arami: TK Projectile x 2


Just as a note, you can't ready spells like you did:

You actually can't break up the actions of a spell and "ready the last one"

P. 296 that has the activities rules specifies that:
A) you have to do an activity all at once (if it gets interrupted, all actions spent so far are lost)
B) in encounter, you need to complete the activity within your turn (not within a full round) and all actions already spent are lost at the end of your turn.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I actually made the same ruling on readying spells in my games. It certainly might not be RAI, but I think it squeaks by on RAW, since you are - technically - taking all of the actions for the spell on your turn (after all, Ready is an activity that takes two actions).

I also think that if it isn't legal, Paizo desperately needs to provide a legal way for spellcasters to ready spells, because you could in PF1e, it was a major part of tactical spellcasting, and dedicated caster players are going to want to keep that. It's also not without drawbacks; since you already started casting the spell, you can't choose to not cast it if you change your mind - or at the very least you lose the spell if you do.


MaxAstro wrote:

I actually made the same ruling on readying spells in my games. It certainly might not be RAI, but I think it squeaks by on RAW, since you are - technically - taking all of the actions for the spell on your turn (after all, Ready is an activity that takes two actions).

I also think that if it isn't legal, Paizo desperately needs to provide a legal way for spellcasters to ready spells, because you could in PF1e, it was a major part of tactical spellcasting, and dedicated caster players are going to want to keep that. It's also not without drawbacks; since you already started casting the spell, you can't choose to not cast it if you change your mind - or at the very least you lose the spell if you do.

ready is on your turn, the reaction that comes off it, is not.

so, the actual spellcasting 2nd action is by definition outside of your turn, since it's a reaction at another turn.

So, even if you could interrupt the casting in half (which by raw you can't), the half cast you already did, just goes poof the moment your turn ends, ruining your spell.

plus, the moment you stop the casting midways, you by definition, interrupt it.

you can't ready "half an activity", from what i get both RAW and RAI, an Activity is an all or nothing.

you don't pause midway, you don't stop midway, it has to be performed like a single, continuous, action.

at least, that's the raw for sure, and the way it's worded, I'm sure it's the RAI as well.


I made this ruling after reading @MaxAstro. I know it's not RAW, but it makes more sense than RAW does.


Starfox wrote:

I made this ruling after reading @MaxAstro. I know it's not RAW, but it makes more sense than RAW does.

that's fair.

and in an actual game it may be good if casters feel the need to be able to ready spells.

just not sure how helpful it is in a playtest environment.


shroudb wrote:
just not sure how helpful it is in a playtest environment.

I imagine one reason Paizo wants playtests at a lot of tables because those tables have idiosyncrasies that the rules ought to be able to work with. My table usually has a very liberal interpretation of rules. When I can reasonably get away with it, I do that in the playtest too. And when i can't, like with the DCs from Table 10-2, I report how bad I think those rules are.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It would be helpful if people who need to deviate from the rules said so clearly in their posts and questionnaires. If you only report how bad rules are when you can't fudge your way out of it, that leaves bad rules on the books as a hazard to other groups.

I really miss being able to ready spells. My PF1 group makes HUGE use of Ready and Delay actions (and so do the adversaries). Losing that pushes the balance still further towards "striking is better than casting."

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