When the Stars Go Dark Playtest Feedback (Take a Look, It's in a Book....)


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The PCs:

Dweevil, Human Cleric of Iomedae (Esoteric Scholar background)
Falkon, Dwarf Paladin of Torag (Pathfinder Hopeful background)
McBlasty, Elf Universalist Wizard (Family Friend background)
Scruffy, Human Free-Hand Fighter (Budding Osirionologist background)

We spent a good chunk leveling up the characters and selecting new magic items and spells. One important thing to note is that Scruffy spent all his money on five Rings of Resistance (granting Resist 10 vs. acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic) despite Dweevil encouraging to get Winged Boots or Potions of Fly. He had a little leftover and invested in a +1 Composite Shortbow.

SETTING THE SCENE:

I began with recap of the events of the previous six parts. As Keleri, informed the party that the countdown clock would reach 0 in 1 weeks time, and it was time to use the White Axiom to unlock the power of the Last Theorem. I used an Abstract Algebra textbook as a prop for the Last Theorem.

THE MALIGNANT THEOREMS:

Taking a page from Mark Seifter and the Live Play stream, I had the party roll either Perception or Occultism for initiative. McBlasty won initiative and used Recall Knowledge to learn about the giants and learned quite a bit on a Critical Success (most notably that they are Immune to fire). He then opted to open things up with a Polar Ray, but missed.

The Rune Giants went next, encircling the PCs and blasting them with 4 cones of electricity as they Invoked Their Runes. The giants took advantage of Air Walk to remain 10 feet above the ground so they could not also blind the PCs.

Dweezil cast Divine Aura, buffing the party's AC and providing a blinding effect against evil creatures. Falkon proved quite effective with his Dwarven Thrower (he also used Righteous Ally to add Holy damage to it). Scruffy, on the other hand, was forced to fall back on his +1 Composite Shortbow, and was quite ineffective in the combat, they still managed to do a little damage on the odd high roll or with near misses thanks to Certain Strike.

On the giants turn, they began attacking the party, but two failed their saves against Divine Aura and were blinded for 1 minute each. In my opinion, this was the key factor that allowed the PCs to win this fight as the blinded giants rarely managed both to roll high enough to overcome the party's AC AND make the Senses miss chance form being blinded. I tried to use a couple Dominates with them, but after my first two attempts (on their Will saves, Scruffy had a Success and Falkon and Critical Success), I stuck with swinging with their greatswords and scoring an occasion hit while waiting for Invoke Rune to recharge. The other two rune giants hit hard against the PCs with their Destructive Runes, though I never got to destroy any armor. I rarely scored an AoO against the party, but a key one was when I disrupted Dweevil's attempt to cast Air Walk on Scruffy, which would allow him to close for melee with the giants, but I rolled a natural 20 and not only stopped the Air Walk from being cast, but also dropped Dweevil. Falkon revived him promptly on his turn, after smartly provoking an Attack of Opportunity from his Dwarven Thrower so he could Heal without provoking additional attacks. Dweevil would spend most of the combat healing his allies, occasionally assisted by Falkon. Meanwhile, McBlasty (as the name implies) burned through a lot of high-level damaging spells such as Horrid Wilting, Disintegrate, and Chain Lightning to great effect.

At some point, Scruffy came up with a plan to get around the Rune Giants Air Walk and Reach. He used his Cloak of the Montebanc to dimension Door on top of the giant and attempted to Grapple the giant, but he rolled poorly and fell to the ground.

Naturally, the party focused on downing the two non-blind giants first. Falkon and McBlasty both fell at some point during the combat, mostly from the electricity damage caused by Invoke Runes as it recharged, but each were only down for a short time as Dweevil revived them with his Heal spells. The positioning of the giants after the first two fell allowed for burst healing without also healing their enemies. Eventually, the blind giants fell before the PCs before they could recover from their blindness.

The fight ran fairly long but did not drag. Nonetheless, combined with the time needed to update their characters, it was quite late so we had to end the session before they could experience the revelations (and boons!) of the Last Theorem. Until next time....


Nice! Sounds like a solid fight. My group unfortunately learned about the fire immunity the hard way, by the pseudo-Draconic Disciple dropping a Meteor Swarm...

We got surrounded and blasted early too, and our Druid found out about their AoO the hard way...

But then while the Rogue was off shanking things from Invisibility for major damage, we realized we had several mini McBlastys (LOVE that name BTW) in the party. The Sorcerer, Druid, and Ranger w/Wizard MC all had Chain Lightning in their arsenal. 5 or 6 Chain Lightnings were thrown over the course of the fight and it was a HUGE factor in victory. XD

We also had a Goblin Alchemist w/Wizard MC but he had Disintegrate instead of Chain Lightning. Bottled Lightning worked great though.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The party uncovered the revelations contained within the Last Theorem and their associated boons, included each getting access to a single-use wish. I also had the Budding Osirionologist (Scurffy) recognize the Four Pharaohs of Ascension in the vision, and the Pathfinder Hopeful (Falkin) recall that a group of Pathfinders had discovered the Veinstone Pyramid about 11 years ago to incorporate their backgrounds.

Keleri suggested they rest before traveling to Ramlock's Hallow while she obtained a scroll of plane shift, and the party were more than happy. Even though they were at full health, the casters had expended many spells and were eager to regain them. They did not critically succeed on their Occultism check to learn more about the Hallow and did not learn about the time dilation effect, so they think they are on a much shorter clock than they actually are.

Upon arrival, Dweezil cast light so that he and Scruffy could see without a Concealment in the low-light setting of the Hallow. The party identified the lone star as the planet Aucturn and traveled towards Ramlock's workshop.

The Ashen Man greeted them at the entrance shaft and asked his questions. The party mostly played along, except for McBlasty who talked back to him, and earned himself a sullen glare (and the Frightened 1 condition for 24 hours). The Ashen Man then departed, leaving a Weak Star-Spawn of Cthulhu to attack the party.

ENCOUNTER O: THE VEINSTONE PLAZA

The Star-Spawn won initiative, and they party became various levels of frightened by its Frightful Presence. The Star-Spawn immediately cast Warp Mind on Scruffy, who failed the save and was confused for 1 minute. It then used its Overwhelming Mind on Falkin, who on a critical failure became permanently confused. The two of them would spend most of the fight attacking each other. The Star-Spawn's Mental Dominance aura shut-down most of McBlasty's spell casting. Dweevil fared better against the Will save and managed to cast Divine Aura and Flame Strike, and noted that the fire negated the Star-Spawn's regeneration. The Star-Spawn focused its attention on Dweevil, grappling him in his tentacles. Critically failing an escape attempt resulted in him being restrained while the Star-Spawn struck him with his tentacles and constricted him for additional damage. This wore really not going well for the party.

McBlasty attempted to use a Wish to end the confusion on both Falkin and Scruffy ("I wish that Falkin and Scruffy will no longer be confused ever."). However, since Wish is a 10th level spell, and both the Star Spawn's Warp Mind and Overwhelming Mind abilities are also 10th level effects, I had him roll a counteract check on both effects, and he failed both times. The Star-Spawn downed Dweevil and moved to attack McBlasty.

Falkin critically missed Scruffy, and since Scruffy had Dueling Riposte feat, allowed him to make a counter-attack, scoring a critical hit and dropping Falkin to Dying 2. With Falkin down, Scruffy began rolling for Confusion again, and began attack Dweevil (who had recovered using a Hero Point), and dropping him to zero a second time. Falkin meanwhile had fallen to Dying 4, used a Hero Point to prevent dying (the player was wisely waiting until he had no choice to use his Hero Point as being permanently Confused, he was more of a liability than an asset). He then rolled on confusion to attack himself and promptly knocked himself out with his Dwarven Thrower, and this time stabilized from his recovery rolls.

As McBlasty fell before the might of the Star Spawn, Scruffy's confusion ended, and Dweevil (having recovered using his second Hero Point, which he received since his player hosts our game at his house) healed the two of them back up. He also used his Wish at this time in attempt to Desynchronize the Veinstone Pendulum, thinking that they did not necessarily need to defeat the Star-Spawn. With an assist from his Cloak of the Montebank, Scruffy and Dweevil flanked the Star-Spawn, with Scruffy scoring a critical hit against the Star-Spawn. McBlasty had used his Hero Point to recover and realizing he could use his Necklace of Fireballs without having to make saves against the Star-Spawn's Mental Dominance aura, began lobbing them, and combined with some critical hits from Scruffy brought down the Star-Spawn.

This fight was extremely tough for the party. Early on it looked like the Star-Spawn was on its way to a TPK. At some point during this fight, 3 if not all 4 of the PCs had been dropped to 0 Hit Points. However, the Hero Points and Heal spells really allowed the party to recover and regroup, and with some lucky dice rolls and fortunate choice of equipment, were able to overcome the challenge.

Afterwards, Scruffy attempted to dispel Falkin's confusion, but like McBlasty earlier, his check failed to overcome the Star-Spawn's DC. Note that the party has now used three of their four Wishes and have not yet reached the workshop. Out of options, the party tied Falkin up to prevent him from attacking them (or himself) while the rested so Dweevil could prepare a Restoration spell heightened to 9th level, and he, despite taking a -5 penalty for being a level lower, was finally able to overcome the DC with his spell check.

The party then spent some time pondering the shaft, but given its depth, did not really have the means to transverse it except for a pair of Greater Potions of Flying. However, Dweevil decided to gamble that their was some kind of levitation effect in the shaft and jumped him. Fortunately, he was somewhat right as the gravity warped and deposited him safely in the workshop. The other party members followed suite.

ENCOUNTER P1: DARKNESS BETWEEN THE STARS

The party were met by the Shoggoth, who was little more than speed bump. The Shoggoth charged the party and attempted to Engulf as many as he could, but some successful Reflex saves meant that the evaded his first attempt. McBlasty struck him with a Polar Ray while Falkin and Scruffy struck with their weapons (with both grumbling about their critical hits being negated due to the Shoggoth's immunities). A second attempt to Engulf its foes resulted in Scruffy and Dweevil being engulfed by the creature, but a Finger of Death spell from Dweevil (he was able to make the flat-check from being grappled) finished the Shoggoth and released him and Scruffy from its form.

Afterwards, Falking rolled a natural 20 on his Occultism check to identify Aucturn in the star-field above and note that the stars were those of Golarion's sky albeit with 2/3 missing. The party spent 10 minutes to Treat Wounds and fully heal from the encounter. Rather than explore the side chambers, they opted to instead head straight for the large ominous double doors. They have found the Veinstone Pendulum and its guardians: three Deh-nolos and an Ancient Green Dragon.

And that's where we ended the second session.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Posting out of order here, but I wanted to post a detailed blow-by-blow of the Ramlock fight while it was still fresh in my mind.

EVENT 2: DESYNCHRONIZATION RITUAL

Things started out slow as the party beging rolling their Occultism and Perception checks to gain axiom points, with the pendulum harassing the party members as they went. Dweevil cast Divine Aura to boost everyone's AC and with some improving dice rolls, they accumulated 12 Axion points, triggering the arrival of Ramlock. I believe each PC was hit at least once.

RAMLOCK ROUND I:

Ramlock started 120 feet up from the party. Scruffy, having used the last of his fly potions, moved over towards Dweevil in preparation for an Air Walk spell.

Ramlock was next an opened things up with a Time Stop. With his Superior Quicken Casting, he cast a total of five spells in this time: Black Tentacles, Blur, Haste, Scintillating Pattern, and Spell Turning. Note that Time Stop allows for the casting of ongoing effects such as Black Tentacles and Scintillating Pattern since they are not direct attack spells.

Falkin and McBlasty continued on the ritual, but at the end of his turn Falkin critically failed an was also stunned (McBlasty, form his Wish used last session, was given a Spell Check to counteract the confusion, but rolled natural 1). Dweevil granted Scruffy the requested Air Walk spell while maintaining his Divine Aura. Dweezil made the save against the scintillating Pattern (and thanks to Divine Will suffered no ill-effects), but was grapple by the Black Tentacles.

RAMLOCK ROUND II:

Scruffy spent another round on the ritual, waiting for Ramlock to get closer. Ramlock then cast Weird on the party dealing upwards of 60 damage to everyone, except Scruffy who made the save and took half. Using his Hasted action, he then flew done 60 feet (note because he is flying downwards he can move at double the normal speed). This put everyone in the Mind Quake Aura. McBlasty failed the save and was Confused for 1d6 rounds and Stupefied 2 while Scruffy critically failed and became Confused for 10 minutes and Stupefied 4 (McBlasty, form his Wish used last session, was given a Spell Check to counteract the confusion, but rolled natural 2). Dweezil made the save against Mind Quake (a critical success again thanks to Divine Will). Ramlock, seeing that Dweezil was the only one not confused, used his Superior Quickened Casting to cast Warp Mind on Dweezil, which Dweezil failed and became confused as well for 1 minute.

McBlasty rolled a 2 on Confusion and attacked himself with his magical rapier, and Falkin was stunned. Dweezil rolled a 1 and attacked the nearest creature (Scruffy), trapping them both in what I call a Confusion lock since they have to keep attacking each other.

RAMLOCK ROUND III:

Ramlock then flew down to the platform and attacked McBlasty with his tendril, then Tendril Slammed him twice into Falkin. Falkin attempted to attack Ramlock with his Dwarven Thrower but missed whereas McBlasty cast Imploision (making the Spell Roll against Ramlock's spell DC to prevent failure due to the Stupefied condition) against Ramlock (Ramlock attempted to use Spell Turning on it, but with a -10 penalty from the level difference, was unable to do so; he saved and took half damage). Dweezil and Scruffy continued to beat on each other.

RAMLOCK ROUND IV:

Ramlock cast Power Word Kill to finish off McBlasty. He then spent one action to detach him from his Tendril, used his Hasted action to attack Falkin, and then bashed Falkin into Scruffy with Tendril Slam. Falkin continued to be ineffective with his Dwarven Thrower. Dweezil was next in the initiative order, attacking Scruffy and drawing his attention back to him instead of Ramlock since he was the last one attacked.

RAMLOCK ROUND V:

Scruffy struck down Dweezil on his turn. Ramlock Tendril Slammed Falkin twice more into Scruffy and dropped him, and then used his third action to cast Power Word Kill on Falkin to finish off the party resulting in a TPK, which since the party was unable to stop the convergence between Golarion and Aucturn stands for Total Planetary Kill.

THOUGHTS:

First of all, in my opinion, the party made two big tactical mistakes. First of all, they had burned through all their Wishes in the Star-Spawn fight and the Dragon fight. All of them were mostly ineffective, with McBlasty being the only one that had any benefit. Had they saved all 4 (or 3 and continued to make ritual checks), they could have used them the round Ramlock appeared and easily finished the ritual.

Second, the players had been so used to saving Hero Points for Death and Dying that none of them thought to use 2 to reroll on of their saves against Scintillating Pattern, Mind Quake Aura, or Warp Mind, which together crippled the party's ability to be in any way effective.

Also, I think the Solo Boss Monster fights seem overly difficult and not at all on par with similarly Difficult encounters containing multiple enemies. Monster that are 3 levels (and sometimes even 2 levels) higher than the PCs are significantly more powerful. This really highlights how significant a +2 or +3 bonus is in the Playtest.

That said, I had a blast with most of Doomsday Dawn, with the exception of the Mirrored Moon (to be fair I am not a fan of sandbox adventures in general).


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This was awesome reading! Thanks for sharing!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it.

I will post a summary of the dragon fight late tonight when I have some more time. I also wanted to add that the party was fully rested before starting the ritual and had full HP, powers, and no residual conditions.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

And now the promised dragon fight

P5. THE COUNTDOWN COURT

Since the party had just fought the Shoggoth in the next room, I reasoned that the green dragon Aetperax and his allies were able to pre-buff for the fight and Aeteperax had cast Spell Turning on himself. Since the PCs were not stealthy, Aeteperax and the 3 Deh-nolos also all had cast Haste just before the party opened the door. They would all mainly use this bonus action to fly, allowing all to both cast a Spell (or Breath Weapon) and make a Strike each turn.

AETPERAX ROUND 1

The green dragon Aetperax and the Deh-nolos won initiative and acted first. Aeteperax started by flying towards the party with his Hasted action, used his poison Breath Weapon, and then attempted to Demoralize one of the PCs who saved against his Frightful Pressence (McBlasty I believe). With the party realling from Aeteperax's frightful presence, the Deh-nolos attempted to further weaken their Will saves with Feeblemind, targeting Dweevil, Scruffy, and McBlasty. Scruffy failed his save and suffered a -4 penalty to Will saves throughout the fight. They followed up by taking to the air and using a Synthesized Crystal ranged strike (I rolled a d4 each time to determine whether the energy damage was 1 acid, 2 cold, 3 electricity, or 4 fire).

Falkin used his Wish (the party's last) to wish for his Dwarven Thrower to be Dragon Slaying. Looking through the Weapon Property Runes, I ruled that his Dwarven Thrower would function as a Vorpal Weapon against dragons (giving him about 20% to instantly-kill Aetperax on a critical hit). McBlasty blasted Aetperax and his allies with a Meteor Swarm, and Dweezil cast his favorite spell, Divine Aura, to grant the party a +2 AC against evil creatures. Scruffy retrieved and downed a Greater Potion of fly, and used his third action to active his Dueling Dance.

AETPERAX ROUND 2

Aeteperax followed up with a Chain Lightning spell (heightened to 7th level), then Striking McBlasty with his tail and downed McBlasty (and made his save against Divine Aura). The Deh-nolos then either cast Dominate or Feeblemind (depending on their saves last round) on the remaining 3 PCs, with Scruffy being Dominated while continuing to Strike with their Synthesized Crystals.

Falkin began striking the Aeteperax with his Dwarven Thrower, but unfortunately did not land a critical hit. Dweevil cast Regenerate on McBlasty (which allowed him to yo-yo back to health throughout the rest of the fight). Dominated Scruffy struck Dweevil, with Falkin using his Retributive Strike to lessen the damage. After this first round of Domination, Scruffy made his Will save to break its effects. McBlasty regenerated and cast Cloudkill on two Deh-nolos in close proximate, but sadly they were immune to the poison.

AETPERAX ROUND 3

Aeteperax next cast Horrid Wilting on the party, downing McBlasty a second time. He followed up with another tail Strike. The Deh-nolos contunied to Dominate or Feeblemind as applicable and attack with their Synthesized Crystals.

Falkin continued to attack with Dwarven Thrower (still no critical hits) while Dweevil cast a second Regenerate on Scruffy (who was still standing but low on Hit Points). Scruffy flew over to one of the Deh-nolos (the one no in the Cloudkill) to attack, drawing an attack from Aeteperax's Twisting Tail. This disrupted his first move action so he used all his movement to close for melee. McBlasty regenerated again and cast Disintegrate at Aeteperax, who used Spell Turning to turn the spell back at McBlasty; however, the ranged touch roll was not enough to strike its uninteneded target.

AETPERAX ROUND 4

Aeteperax then cast a Polar Ray at Scruffy, downing him while he continued to attack with tail Strikes. Scruffy fell, but would be back thanks to regenerate. The lone Deh-nolo by him cast Mirror Image at this time, while the other two cast Synesthesia at the other PCs. Naturally, they all continued to fire more Synthesized Crystal strikes as well.

Falkin continued to pound at Aeteperax with his Dwarven Thrower (still no crits). Dweezil cast Blade Barrier on Aeteperax and all three Deh-nolos. Scruffy recovered and landed a critical hit, dropping a Mirror Image and striking the Deh-nolo. McBlasty used his Staff of Evocation to cast Cone of Cold on Aeteperax (the Deh-nolos were all spread out too much to also catch in the blast at this point).

AETPERAX ROUND 5

Aetwowerax had finally recharged his breath weapon and struck again at the party (save Scruffy who was not clustered near the other PCs). He flew closer towards the party to extract himself from the Blade Barrier and switched to Striking with his jaws with his third action. Scruffy's Deh-nolo moved out of the Blade Barrier as well, drawing an AoO. He then successfully cast Synesthesia on Scruffy and followed up with a bite Strike. The other two moved out of the Blade Barrier as well and attempted to mix things up as the party were frequently making their Will saves cast True Strike followed by Enervation, but these attacks both missed their targets.

Falkin cast Lay on Hands, which thanks to Greater Mercy, negated the slow effect from the Prismatic Spray. I had some confusion as whether this would negate the Flesh to Stone effect completely since its dropped him to Slowed 0 (I believe so), and also whether this means he has 3 total actions this turn or just 2 (I believe 2 is correct as if I am not mistaken PCs get actions at the START of their turn, when he was still Slowed). He then made another Strike against Aeteperax (still no critical hits). Dweevil cast Heal on himself while Scruffy made three Strike on the Deh-nolo with no hits. McBlasty cast another Cone of Cold, this time catching both of the other Deh-nolos along with Aeteperax in the blast.

AETPERAX ROUND 6

Aeteperax next cast Prismatic Spray on all save Scruffy, with Dweezil taking electricity damage, Falkin getting hit with a Flesh to Stone, and McBlasty a poison spray. He followed up with another jaw Strike. Scruffy's Deh-Nolo attempted to cast Phantasmal Killer on him, but his spell was interrupted by an Attack of Opportunity (which succeeded to hit true against the Deh-Nolo despite both having concealment from Synesthesia and 2 remaining Mirror Images). He then attacked with a bite Strike. The other two Deh-Nolos, seeing most of their spells fail against the PCs, opted to erect Mirror Images of their own as the continued to Sythesized Crystal assault.

Falkin continued to attack with his Dwarven Thrower (still no critical hits) while Dweevil returned fire on the Deh-Nolos. Scruffy whittled down his Deh-nolos Mirror Images. McBlasty cast another Cone of Cold, dropping Aetperax.

CLEAN-UP

With Aetperax down, the Deh-nolos were little challenge to the party. Scruffy dropped his Deh-nolo with another Attack of Opportunity provoked as the Deh-nolo attempted to renew its Mirror Images, and the party quickly finished the other two.

AFTERMATH

Afterwards, the party elected to rest before attempting the Desynchronization Ritual. Dweevil cast one restoration on Scruffy before resting and another the next morning to completely remove his stupefied condition. They other effects on the party all dissipated on their own.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

My group was smart and saved all their wishes until the end. So, Ramlock appeared when they hit 12 Axiom Points, but they were able to get up to 24 in just one more round, so he only got one round to attack them before he was banished.

So, overall, that was kind of anti-climactic. I welcome smart play, but one of the players specifically said he didn't like how easy it was to get through the last encounter.

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