10-09 The Rasping Rebirth GM Thread


GM Discussion

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To begin with, this looks like a really cool scenario, with all the fights, but especially the first and last fights on a scale that feels appropriate for PCs at seeker levels. I can't wait for the chance to GM it a few weeks from now!

My questions are how the "Deskari's Bargain" section would interact with the Paladin's Code of Conduct:

  • If a paladin accepts Deskari's blood or eats only part of Deskari's heart, do they lose their Paladin Class features via willfully committing an evil act? Even if it is for the purpose of slaying Koth'Vaul?
  • If a paladin finishes Deskari's heart, do they lose their Paladin Class features for the same reason?
  • If a paladin successfully steals Deskari's power, do they lose their Paladin class features?
  • If a paladin knows his allied PCs are trying to do any of the above, what action, if any, is he obligated to take in order to stop it.

  • ***** ⦵⦵⦵

    If a paladin knows his allied PCs are trying to do any of the above, what action, if any, is he obligated to take in order to stop it.

    PVP makes this less than unlikely. At most they can try to convince their party and make an anguished NOOOoooOOOOOooooOOOoooo when they take the evil cookie

    Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, France—Paris

    My own POV on this :
    - Not finishing the evil act, but willfully attempting so despite knowing the risks so strong warning, but not direct fall. It falls under doing something evil to destroy something worse, which gives some tolerance.
    - This is the step further so I might plausibly directly strike
    - It would depend on whether the character intends to destroy the power or keep it then
    - There's PvP rules but paladins are beholden to a higher standard. They might overlook smaller peccadilloes, but allowing a teammate to possibly become a *bleep* would be a no-no. This is the rare case where I'll probably allow PvP because of an emergency. Otherwise I could make the character fall for doing nothing.

    I might need to speak with other GMs to see their takes on it.

    ***** ⦵⦵⦵

    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    paladins CAN work with evil to do something worse (that would be most of your party at that point)

    paladins CANNOT, absolutely cannot, DO something evil and still remain paladins.

    Quote:
    - There's PvP rules but paladins are beholden to a higher standard. They might overlook smaller peccadilloes, but allowing a teammate to possibly become a *bleep* would be a no-no. This is the rare case where I'll probably allow PvP because of an emergency. Otherwise I could make the character fall for doing nothing.

    Wow. No. Absolutely not. The No PVP rule is a campaign rule between PLAYERS. The paladins no evil rule is IN GAME and cannot be higher than a metagame situation.

    Making the paladin fall for other peoples actions is the absolute worst way you could possibly handle it. I don't understand how on earth you could possibly think eating the evil cookie is not a fallable offense but letting your party eat the evil cookie is. Its like you're TRYING to make the paladin fall.

    Dark Archive ****

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    This is where the warning to the paladin *player* that this would be an evil act comes in... and where if they choose to do so then they know it has chance of falling repercussions. If they eat the whole thing then it will be an outcome beyond it anyway so can be the tragic eternal struggle trapped there or whichever narrative way they continue it.

    They cannot physically intervene via PVP (and that rule is not overwritten in this case) but they can make their opinion known in character. Its part of playing a paladin in society and is the clause about working with evil where needed.

    *****

    I have prepped this and am due to run it on Sunday and I have a few questions:

    1. If the PCs get lost they end up in the Chasm. How much time does this cost them? High level play is often defined by buffs and accurate timing makes a big difference.

    2. The Eternal Hive has a bite attack. What is its reach, can it make opportunity attacks?

    3. The high tier hive mind has a fly speed but doesn't have fly prepped. Presumably he should have (the low tier one does). What spell should be removed for it?

    4. How long does it take to get from Area A to Area B?

    5. If they fail the check for Picking up the Trail can they end up back in the Chasm even if they have been there before? The Chasm section says if they have been here once they recognise the place and dont end up here a second time. Is this just relevant to the first stage or the whole adventure?

    6. The creatures in Area B have mythic improved critical. the author seems to have thought the mythic versions adds to the critical threat range. It does not, it increases the critical hit multiplier. Do we change this or leave it as is? This also applies to Koth'Vaul.

    Mythic Imrpoved Critical

    7. How long does it take to get to the Portal to Area C from Area B.

    8. The Meteor Strike option for Manipulating the Plane lacks a DC. Some guidance on relevant DC's for other options would also be helpful.

    Overall this looks like a suitably epic end adventure for Koth'Vaul however I suspect much of the opposition will struggle to stand up to touch attacks (I have a gunslinger and an alcehmist signed up). I do think the negative boon is likely to be exceptionally unpopular for a large number of players given lots of us enjoy seeker level play. The online community certainly has quite a few seeker games running, whether the 12+ adventures or segments of adventure paths.

    I could see a negative boon like that in a 16-19 but it could easily be gained by a level 12 character which is very harsh.

    *****

    So, I ran this last night, high tier, hard mode. Things did not go well.

    We had the following party: wrote:

    Level 15 sword and board hospitalier paladin with loads of healing, he had used it all by the end, it was not enough.

    Level 14 sword and board sacred shield paladin offering major AC boost to those around him. Had loads of healing, neither were enough.

    Leve 15 two weapon fighting fighter, lots of attacks, decent accuracy and damage (starting at about +28, 25 static damage, using a scimitar, +19 will save). Sadly did very little.

    Level 15 explosive missile focused alchemist. Lots of energy resistance to deal with. Force missile helped but not having fast bombs hurt a lot.

    Level 15 gunslinger/Fighter/Warpriest, would have been horribly effective if he had been able to act in most combats.

    Level 13 archer ranger with an animal companion that did nothhing in the entire scenario as it could not get into the air and pretty much every enemy flies.

    This report has quite a lot of spoilers in it. Please do not read it if you are playing the scenario.

    Travel:
    The group meet the crusader, scepticism abbounds. They easily make the survival checks and dont encounter the chasm.

    Encounter 1:

    The group encounter the giant beetle. The bad guy is visible, the rest are not. They llose initiative, he opens up with quickened tentacles and a cloudkill. Everyone bought life bubble before setting off, only the alchemist is grappled.

    People start moving out of the tentacles and activating fly effects. The gunsligner fires once at the bad guy and misses with a 38. He fails a will save to realise whats up. Thhey eventually twig after several rounds but most attacks dont go at the bad guy.

    Mid round the bugs make themselves known, they make msotly ineffective single attacks but start focusing down the hospitalier with their eye beams. The big bug bites him and he is swallowed. I forget about the automatic damage for being inside for several rounds. The hospitalier is now on single digit health.

    Round 2 the gunslinger gets mazed and the bugs move to focus on the fighter. He gets in an attack, the alchemist drinks a freedom of movement extract and hides in the cloudkill, the sacred shield paladin cannot do much as the party has scattered. The ranger is being menaced by a bug and launches some arrows.

    Round 3: One of the bugs goes down to arrow fire, the hospitalier is trying to keep himself alive but gets gulped into the acid bath. I throw a random disintegrate ineffectively. The fighter gets focused down to very low health with eye beams. The bugs do small amounts of damage with their melee attacks. The legs did nothing effective all encounter. The big bug bites the other paladin.

    Round 4+: The gunslinger might have gotten out here or the next round. With an Int of 12 he needed a 19+, he burned up his reroll to get out with an extra +4 on the dice. In following rounds he starts to pick off the retrievers but gets focused a bit by eye beams. I am not mean and choose not to re-Maze him with my arcanne bond.

    Eventually the alchemist gets inside the beast and starts readying to bomb the Hive if it casts. He drops quickened obscuring mist but the alchemist has echolocation. The other two paladins have been trying to work on the inside of the beetle and outide people have been shooting ineffectively at the legs and body. The fighter is hiding as the healers are inside the monster, well out of range.

    Eventually all of the retrievers go down and the paladins kill the beetle from inside. The Paladin falls for the decoy, takes the harm trap to the face but mercies away the curse effect.

    Overall this encounter takes over 2 and a half hours to complete. The group is really missing having a full caster.

    Encounter 2:
    They head further in, reaching this area and all lose initiative to the Curators (hello mythic improved initiative). Both fly up, both hit with a claw attack and steal important things (the hospitaliers headband and someones bandloier, the gunslinger or alchemist, I forget which). Each activates their nimbus which will go off next round. I use the steal a few more times in the encounter but eventually give up on it as it slows things down having to recalculate stuff.

    The group again try to scatter, the alchemist activates dust form, the gunslinger draws more ammo and takes one shot. This is not a very effective round for the group.

    Round two+ both nimbuses trigger dazing about four of the party but I roll lowish for the duration (3 rounds). The fighter has to grab a fly potion out of the pack of the dazed gunslinger but he gets mauled. The second curator runs around after the alchemist throwing greater dispel and taking the occasional opportunity attack.

    The alchemist gets some damage onto one of them but various people are badly damaged befoe the daze wears off. The gunslinger manages to finsh them off with some help from the alchemist. The Ranger is only level 13 and struggles to hit them at all given their 40AC.

    Deskari offers his bargain, I give a strongly worded warning about the heart, no one eats it. The non paladins/warpriest all take the blood

    Encounter 3:
    They move onto the final encounter. A few prebuffs are thrown but not many as they dont know how far they will have to go on the other side. Not far as it turns out.

    They pop in and things go to hell. Thats a lot of demons on the board. Koth'Vaul gets control of the Abyss and drops masses on acid on them. He will never lose control of the plane. I ruled that you didnt get to help if you were stunned. Many people were stunned during this encounter. Koth mostly uses it for earthquake as his minions are not immune to acid or fire.

    He moves up into melee and hits the group with mythic chaos hammer. I forget about the auto slow effect on the Paaldins. Vrocks move in and fail to stun anyone with their screech. Overall they dont do very much, they are not accurate enough and their special attack DCs are too low. I decide that life bubble will protect them from the spores.

    The gunslinger gets power word stunned for 5 rounds. No-one can remove it. The sacred shield paladin uses the challenge thing on Koth'Vaul. The fighter has run out of fly options, every enemy is flying, so he goes after the cultists (I forget about the shield other effect for several rounds). One of the glabrezu neutralises him with reverse gravity. He spends the entire encounter floating 30' in the air being uses as a loot pinata. No loot comes out sadly. Even stunned his AC is mid 30's so he lasts until the end despite 3 glabrezu beating on him for multiple rounds.

    In the middle the ranger gets stunned at one point as does the alchemist. The group wipes out the vrock but the mirror images are an enormous pain. Koth'Vaul tries to remove the sacred shield paladin so he can start taking out other group members but multiple lay on hands from himself and the hospitalier keep him up for ages.

    Eventually the ranger goes down, Koth'Vaul moves on to the alchemist who has moved against the cultists and the paladins exhaust their available healing (including a couple of heroe's defiance). The gunslinger has been knocked prone by an earthquake. His stun runs out and he starts to fire and then a glabrezu finishes him off. The alchemist eats a full attack from Koth'Vaul where everything hits and he takes over 100 damage even after halving (helllo myhtic power attack) and he drops unconscious. Vaul then finishes off the Sacred Shield paladin who has simply run out of healing.

    Spontaneous healing gets the Alchemist back to consciousness and he tries to sneak away but he is spotted and the aoo kills him. At this point the only remaining PC's alive are the hospitalier paladin who cannot reach anything and the fighter who is trapped in reverse gravity. We have been going for nearly 7 hours and I call it as aa TPK.

    Overall impressions:
    Overall this was an extremely challenging scenario. On the face of it the group should have been good for it, two paladins, two people targeting touch AC (I think the highest touch AC in the scenario iis about 18), high damage ranger archer and high damage, high defences and saves (+19 will was his lowest) fighter. However, the group really lacked the versatility provided by a full caster. Every single enemy in the scenario flies. A single communal air walk would have made a huge difference.

    I dont actually think having the hard mode adjustment on affected things all that much. The mirror images in the final encounter are brutal for a party that entirely relied on having to hit things to win. While we had two paladins neither were particularly hard hitting. None of the glabrezu's had been dropped by the end, Koth'Vaul had taken maybe half his HP in damage. I never had to use his contingency ability as the party largely did not inflict status conditions of any kind.

    I plan to run this a few more times. Having the questions above answered would really help. A couple of extra's crop up.

    Do the extra enemies in the end encounter on hard mdoe change the threshold for control.
    Can stunned PC's roll to control the plane, stunned prevents any form of action.
    The reach of the giant beetle at the start is a really important bit of information that is missing.

    Silver Crusade ***

    andreww wrote:

    So, I ran this last night, high tier, hard mode. Things did not go well.

    I notice for the first encounter that the gunslinger missed. If he was attacking the largest monster, he would, but the bad guy does not share the same AC. This would make a very different fight if he had 40 AC throughout. In the second encounter the AC is 36. The reoccurring damage each round also adjusts the CR for that encounter, more so the longer it lasts.

    Silver Crusade ***

    For the hard mode adjustment in the first encounter, it mentions doubling the Eternal Hive's fast healing. Is this value given anywhere?

    *****

    andreww wrote:
    So, I ran this last night, high tier, hard mode. Things did not go well.
    Quote:
    I notice for the first encounter that the gunslinger missed. If he was attacking the largest monster, he would, but the bad guy does not share the same AC. This would make a very different fight if he had 40 AC throughout. In the second encounter the AC is 36. The reoccurring damage each round also adjusts the CR for that encounter, more so the longer it lasts.

    He was shooting the projected image and failed the will save to realise it was an illusion.

    Silver Crusade ***

    Most unfortunate for him. Did you find any mention of fast healing for the Eternal Hive?

    *****

    I think it means the Hive Minds fast healing. He has 14 in low tier (not replicated in the short form statblock but in the main one in the appendix) and 16 at high tier (although the HP and fast healing line has been lumped into the AC block so is easy to overlook).

    Silver Crusade ***

    Ran it last night. Pretty awesome. We were a lvl 14 party of four with a Paladin, Samurai, Sorcerer inside a Roc's body (best not to ask) and a Shaman.

    In hard mode, most of the four player adjustments reverted back to six player, but a few key DC's changed and other minor adjustments that you should look out for if your table does the same.

    Following the tactics were key to keep from a TPK near the start of each battle. Some monsters had spells and SLA's that are more powerful than their melee which their tactics had them focus on. The focus on their written tactics kept everyone on their toes and after it looked like the party would win, it was fun to throw some curve balls with the other things.

    ***

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

    This scenario was epic enough I took the time to write an actual review. Two thumbs up to the author and staff that worked on this.

    WRT - "Negative" Boon - I underlined and highlighted the word "great" in the handouts line "But this strength will not come without great cost". One player at my table accepted, and seemed to understand what the outcome would be and was not upset. However, I could easily see a player having a very negative reaction upon learning the cost.

    Upon receipt of the chronicle sheet several players commented on the associated boon, and how they think it should have been available to everyone at the table to commemorate the great sacrifice made by one member of the party. It would be awesome if Paizo staff would be willing to change the verbiage similar to below:

    "deity for your future Pathfinder Society characters." into "deity for your future Pathfinder Society characters or the future Pathfinder Society characters of the players who completed this scenario with you."

    Or change the verbiage completely and put a fill-in the blank field to add the character's name who made the great sacrifice on the sheet just like the Legacy ones.

    I have a second seeker group coming though in the next couple of months and do have some additional questions:

    1) Does Planar Adaptation counteract the alignment-based effects associated with not being Chaotic Evil while in the Abyss? I ruled no, as all the examples in the spell of "environmental effects" are physical related (e.g. fire, lack of air, toxicity, etc) Board posting I can find argue both ways.

    2) Resting - My players asked several times if they could rest to regain spells (the primary spell-casters were drained by the end, although they spent MANY slots on buffing the melee to insane levels). My answer was they would VERY likely be interrupted by demons if they setup camp in the Abyss. But is there anything TRULY preventing them from planeshifting home and coming back later? So much as I can tell there is the perception of implied urgency, but no actual mechanical drawback of delaying.

    3) The planar effects that Koth-Vaul is locked into using are 50% ineffective against parties with fly... And if the party isn't flying they are dying as Koth-Vaul had given all the Glabrezu flight. There were basically only two options an intelligent demon could use against flying opponents. More variety would have been nice given the GM is locked to the list.

    A couple of the questions posted previously in this thread came up for me, and this is how I ruled them:

    1) Beetles Reach for Bite - Based on how huge the beetle is compared to map, I let it bit anything that was between the front two legs and forward up to but not including the "PCs Start Here" box. I did not give it AOOs.

    2) DC for meteors, I did 1 higher then acid *shrug*

    Dark Archive ***** Venture-Agent, Ohio—Columbus aka Cirithiel

    With regard to the second boon on the sheet: Is there a way to report a GM’s character as dead?

    ***** ⦵⦵⦵

    Janice Piette wrote:
    With regard to the second boon on the sheet: Is there a way to report a GM’s character as dead?

    ... how badly did THAT Game go?

    There really isn't a way to kill the DMs character in the game.

    Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

    There is now, if they accept the boon. I suppose whether the GM should be able to accept the boon is another story...

    Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, France—Paris

    Putting forward the

    Spoiler:
    "Negotiating with Serpents"
    boon from the #7-22 Bid for Alabastrine where it is clearly underlined in the scenario's text the boon is not available for GMs, where the
    Spoiler:
    "become a god"
    there isn't specifically called out as being closed to the GM.

    But having a clear-cut opinion on that would be nice, as it's isn't of small consequences (as it could be implied that only PCs who currently played it are eligible).

    Dark Archive ***** Venture-Agent, Ohio—Columbus aka Cirithiel

    BigNorseWolf wrote:
    Janice Piette wrote:
    With regard to the second boon on the sheet: Is there a way to report a GM’s character as dead?

    ... how badly did THAT Game go?

    There really isn't a way to kill the DMs character in the game.

    I’m not sure you have read the scenario yet then.

    The character I plan to put the credit on would absolutely do The Thing. Even knowing the consequences. *Especially* knowing the in-game consequences. She always was a bit power-hungry....

    I did not see it called out anywhere that the boon was not available to GMs, so I was assuming that I could choose to have the boon apply.

    Dark Archive ****

    Question: Does the Hive Mind have access to Mage Armor, even though it isn't prepared in the appendix? Both in the explanation of the Encounter and in the Tactics section, reproduced verbatim:

    "Unless the PCs took great pains to conceal their approach from the insects in the skies above the chasm, the insects have warned the Eternal Hive of the PC's approach. At the start of combat, the worm that walks is safely positioned inside the belly of the demon-beetle, out of view of the creatures on the ground. It uses project image to appear to stand at the north of the beetle and cast spells during the fight. One retriever also hides inside the demon beetle, held in reserve to protect the worm that walks from assault. The remaining two retrievers have burrowed beneath the canyon floor, waiting to burst forth and surprise unwary PCs. If the PCs catch these creatures by surprise, all of the retrievers are out in the open, and the worm that walks, while still in the beetle's belly, has only cast mage armor."

    "Before Combat The Hive Mind stands 15 feet away from the mouth of the beetle and uses project image to create an illusory duplicate in the front of the mouth. It also casts mage armor, fly, invisibility, and shield in case it needs to enter battle directly."

    But upon looking at the spells that the 12-13 subtier worm that walks has prepared, mage armor is not one of them. He has prepared Charm person, Feather Fall, Grease, Obscuring Mist, Protection from Good, Reduce Person, and Shield.

    What should I do? Since he can't spontaneously cast a spell that isn't in his spellbook, and doesn't make mention that he has a scroll of, but has stats included in his stat block...

    Dark Archive ***** Venture-Agent, Ohio—Columbus aka Cirithiel

    He clearly had a scroll. It isn’t listed in his inventory since he already used it. :)

    In general, “Run as written” means we ignore small stat block problems like this and assume he has some way to cast it. In this case, the mage armor is already included in his stat block; I see no reason to remove it. Dude’s likely to die in 3 rounds anyway.

    No matter how careful the writers/editing staff are, the sheer volume of scenarios that get produced each year means that some of them will have stat block errors. Unless it’s a truly egregious error, just roll with it. Generally just let the bad guy do what the statblock/tactics say he can.

    Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

    With regards to the paladin, IMO any paladin who accepts the bargain is intentionally committing the most egregious of evil acts and should not be eligible for atonement. The bargain is not required to complete the scenario. If the paladin’s allies choose to accept the bargain should not have a direct effect on the paladin, but then you have to decide if the task is a worse evil and work with them to accomplish it. Thereafter you might work to redeem them, but if they don’t, you probably would sever ties. PFS rules prohibit PvP so that is not an option even if it’s to prevent them from committing an evil act.

    ****

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    I’m prepping this and one minor item I noted (I use Hero labs when gming especially at cons). The Worm that walks stats in the scenario differ from the base example - which has a +4 leather armor (and spell failure chance as well as arcane armor training). The scenario clearly expects the worm to only be using mage armor (See the section for the stats without current spells)

    What spells have people used? Given the projected image it is likely the worm will get off more than a few spells while the party also deals with the beetle. Given the staff it seems reasonable to use insect plague.

    ****

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    another minor stat block error - the level 15 worm that walks stats have too many regular feats and too few wizard bonus feats. I suspect that someone thought that either eschew materials or spell focus or augment summoning would be valid wizard bonus feats.

    (this also makes the high tier functionally a bit different from the low tier in a way that will be a bit challenging for GMs - i.e. remembering to apply spell focuses and augment summoning. Eschew materials likely won't make a big difference and given the mage armor at the low tier the armor related feats for the default worm that walks also won't have much of an impact.

    Also some minor errors in the spells (too few level ones, too many for a few others)

    Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Captain, Texas—Austin aka SetonAlandel

    Where are the PCs supposed to start from for area C? A/B have explicit start areas, so I'm not sure where to line up characters for the encounter.

    ****

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    Kenneth Fisher wrote:
    Where are the PCs supposed to start from for area C? A/B have explicit start areas, so I'm not sure where to line up characters for the encounter.

    When I've run it (twice now) I've lined them up on the lower right hand of the map which felt like the logical place (since it seems like the map leads upward from there to a high point where the final ceremony is taking place - and starting the PCs very close to the human cultists etc seems odd. But it is a failing of this last map to not definitely answer this.

    Also as a GM I did allow the players to use the start of the round effect if they succeeded to do things that literally reshaped the battlefield - and more to the point at this level you can probably assume that the players have a lot of mobility options and for the movement of the enemies the map is relatively small already.

    Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Captain, Texas—Austin aka SetonAlandel

    Finished my low tier, hard mode run - I ended up putting them in the middle clearing in between the 3 vrocks and Koth' Vaul.

    Party fell for the crusader's mis-information, walked into the Consuming Chasm by following Find the Path, with two characters getting their mundane gear eaten (The Evangelical Bard scrambled to figure out what they could still cast)

    Area A: Seeing the huge hive and realizing Riftcarver was most likely inside, they spent their round hunkering amongst the rocks and buffing. Ravagers sprung out and got a flesh to stone ray to land as they flanked the party. Hive missed the first bite, but managed to hit and eat on the second. Party realized the fight wasn't worth it and d. door'ed out - the eaten character went invisible, flew down into the belly, grabbed Riftcarver (hello 1 hp!) and d.doored out. Identified Riftcarver with a 32.

    Area B: Survivaled the tracks from the area quickly, made their way to the Rifts. Nalefshnee had some crazy rolls during this time - and it's likely several survived only because I forgot how Mythic Power Attack worked on crits. Round 1 sent the party witch into the melee with awesome blow, and stunned two when I finally remembered to use the flashing lights. Party Inquisitor was very confused when I said Riftcarver kept getting drawn when he lunged with his longspear! Was able to heighten the tension with describing the incoming curators on round 3, then having them sacrifice themselves on round 4. They were able to outlast it, Deskari's automatic damage eventually ground out the creature.

    The Choice: 3 rebuffed the offer, 2 took it, and 1 made the sacrifice play. Watching the player's reaction as they read the initial handout was awesome.

    Area C: Oh boy oh boy. Here it was. Completing in time only because they skipped out on fighting the Hive. Lacking disabling effects, the party mostly was dealing damage or supporting each other in the fight. Throwing a Blade Barrier and using the plane to spray acid on the praying humans on round two had them down on round three. No wards were used before they went down.

    The party was expecting the Vrocks to use electrical bursts, and were rather surprised when the vultures attacked them head on.

    Our champion went forward and fought Koth'Vaul one on one in round One. Koth got the first full attack and they went down to negative HP. Players were very frustrated with his use of Mirror Dodge - but it made the fight very dangerous. Mythic spells didn't end up being the best choice for the largely neutral party, but a Mythic Power Word Stun brought our Warpriest up short - resulting in frantic page flipping to find a way to cure the Stunned condition (Heal was eventually found and used two rounds later). With the Vrocks harrying the casters, and Koth Dodging around the field, it felt like he could be - and would be anywhere. End total was 7 incaps, two breath of lifes, and the champion's final mythic point to be used on a swift casting of a cure spell to avoid death to finally outlast the vrocks and Koth'Vaul on round 11.

    Party very much enjoyed the scenario and loved the unique boon.

    Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

    Given that thos is the last published season of PFS, it would be nice if the boon for doing the really bad idea applied to PF2 and / or Starfinder. Since it is only a reskin it shouldn't be too disruptive.

    Maybe there will be a scenario in one or the other that leads PCs to the rasping rifts, and if you have both it will unlock that option.

    ***

    I'm wondering about the interaction of the Projected Image and Invisibility buffs that the Hive Mind uses. Since it's a general rules question I posted a thread about it here but I thought I would post here as well since it will likely be of interest.

    *

    I would like to know what alignment the character is after they become a demon lord, because the alignment of the character during the scenario changed to chaotic neutral from neutral.

    Venture-Agent, Washington—Vancouver aka Krell44

    I have a question regarding future characters who can now select a former PC as "effectively" a deity. How do we determine favored weapon, favored animal, etc as well as which domains can they choose?

    I could not locate any info regarding this on the chronicle sheet.

    Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

    Last line of the boon: You grant access to the same domains and favored weapon as Deskari.

    Venture-Agent, Washington—Vancouver aka Krell44

    Thanks....how in Deskari's name did I miss that.

    Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

    Speed reading! I miss things all the time.

    Silver Crusade

    Hey everyone,

    I played the module this weekend at a convention. Since we had a great time overall, I decided to write a battle report/review of the module from a player’s perspective. Perhaps this will be of use to someone looking to run it soon or and/who is just curious about player feedback and one possible runthrough from the player side. I have not read the module myself and can currently only share my experiences, plus some bits the GM told us about the module after the adventure.

    Spoilers abound, obviously. I heavily recommend not reading it if you’re about to go into it as a player.

    Spoiler:

    Party makeup:

    Rogue 10, brawler 4 (?): our resident stealth specialist/melee striker. High on damage and debuffing enemies per hit with debilitating injury.

    Arcanist 14, heavy control/mobility setup with some added nuking spells. Able to hard lockdown both single and groups of enemies.

    Cleric 14, heavy control channel setup, spreading stacking fear debuffs and disease with the Urgothoa alternative channeling rules. Able to hard lockdown anything, but especially groups of enemies not immune to fear.

    Paladin 12, bloodrager 1, swashbuckler 1 (me): party tank, melee striker. High on damage, self- healing and some utility from use magic device.

    We ran the module on high tier with the 4 player adjustment, without the hard mode. If we had been level 15, we would have ran it with the hard mode.

    The above party played together throughout the eyes of the ten arc and unleashing the untouchable. Also, all 4 of us ran betrayal in the bones separately. We were very tuned to the other players’ strengths as a team and I think the overall level optimization across all characters is high. The only real obvious weaknesses the party probably had beforehand (IMO) is that our ranged damage capacity is a bit low, completely relying on the spellcasters to land spells or the melee characters to fight with their backup weapons, and that both melee characters did not innately have permanent flight solutions, meaning on every fight with flying enemies we’d normally have to at least use the first turn to get the melee into the air. In previous fights, we tended to get around positioning problems for the melee fairly well by the arcanist just teleporting the melee into position.

    Introduction scenes:

    After some funny roleplaying in which my paladin had been accused of heresy against his own church sprouting from typical paladin denseness over the last 14 levels, and his rogue paramour successfully arranging him to be broken out in stylish fashion, we heard the mission briefing and buffed all long term buffs. Since we supposedly had one day to prepare, this allowed the caster to use extended spells which lasted over a day to save spellslots while the buffs were still on going into the abyss. I.E., all our weapons had been buffed to +4 by the arcanist, we had heroes’ feast, a spell which gave everyone the ranger’s favorite enemy and terrain at +2, and life bubble. I used extended reach’d shield others to direct half of everyone’s damage taken to myself if they were within 190ft and a scroll of overland flight, which by all the gods was the best possible last minute purchase I could have done.

    Entrance to the rift:

    -We got the message from the dying paladin and were very suspicious of this, also considering the arcanist made some knowledge checks concerning the BBEG, his nickname and his tendency to lie. Why would the BBEG tell his mortal weakness to the paladin and then just leave him there? However, we were not thorough enough nor skilled enough in heal to pick up all the hints. Thus, while it was suspicious and we were aware of this, we did set out to find the McGuffin scythe.

    Encounter 1:

    The description of the hive was suitably epic and really installed a sense of dread, as was the description of the abyss itself. The sheer size of the hive on the map was also a bit terrifying. No one had dungeoneering as a skill so we had no information about the enemy going into it. We also didn’t do anything special to hide our approach so we didn’t catch it/them unaware, if there’s been an option for that.

    I won initiative and started with good hope as a party buff, then smite evil on the projected image. This made the GM wonder if that would stick or not and he ruled it didn’t, but he rolled a willsave for me which I succeeded on, which gave away it was an illusion of sorts. Obviously, being the intellectually-challenged paladin I had no idea what that meant but passed it along to the others anyway. The hivemind was next, casting cloudkill (ineffective due to life bubble) and a quickened dispel magic on me. He rolled low on the second and, somewhat hilariously, since my caster level was also low (9) the three active shield others actually protected overland flight from the scroll (also CL 9) against the dispel, since one of the three ate it instead. This would turn out to be vital for the rest of the adventure since I still had active flight on at all times.

    The cleric was after this and could see through the fog with gauze mask, and dispelled the image with CL19 dispel magic. He also channeled and found the two legs of the hive that had tried attacking us (both missed) could be feared and were vulnerable to AOE.

    The arcanist tried casting a spell at the hive and hit, but the hive was immune, since we didn’t know yet it was swarmlike in traits. The hive then successfully ate the arcanist with his freedom of movement having no effect since it supposedly has auto swallow hole without needed a grapple first. The hivemind then mazed him away, breaking his Shield Other.

    At this point, the rogue (who was small and ‘riding’ on my shoulders) and I flew in to engage the hivemind inside the hive. We then ran into an issue: the hivemind is supposedly immune to everything a melee or non-caster character could possibly to do it, which meant the both of us were pretty much useless for the entire encounter. We’d taken a few actions for the rogue to attach the swarmbane clasp to my shoulders, but it was ruled that this wouldn’t work since the hivemind is not a swarm but rather a Worm that Walks. Is this intended? Because if it is, I really do not see how a party lacking a full caster or a blast specialist could win this encounter; it is essentially invincible to any kind of weapon damage.

    Well, knowing the thing was invincible to us we rather tried getting the scythe followed by the only possible plan of fleeing. On the rogues suggestion I, as the pilot, flew up to it, had her grab it and would then attempt to run out. The rogue got blasted by the trap (didn’t check for it) but made her save, the remaining 75 damage was split between us due to shield other.

    Meanwhile, the arcanist used some buffs/chronicle buffs to boost his int check for maze and got out the following turn, while the hivemind and the bug outside went for the cleric, who was the only one still outside. It was rules shield other would still work on her, since there would probably be at least a tiny hole to see through within the swarm of bugs the hive was made of.

    Since the bug on the ground lacked a way to see the cleric, who had been hiding in the cloudkill conveniently given him by the hivemind, he flew up to her, wasting one turn. The cleric now found herself surrounded by the hive legs, the hivemind and the bug, but that’s where she wants to be, surrounded by channel targets. 3 channels later, the hive was panicked with the two front legs dead, the hivemind was fightened, and the bug outside was also frightened.

    The hivemind then teleported back inside, where the arcanist cast feeblemind on the hivemind and it failed the save. Some hilarious imagery followed of the huge hive running for its live from the puny cleric outside. However, this left us with another problem, as the Hivemind then just started hiding inside the hive, and we had no way to get to it. Eventually, the GM rulled that the melee characters were allowed to attack the swarm from within to speed things up and because he couldn’t see how you’d otherwise would be able to get out of the thing once you were inside.

    Two turns of attacks later, we killed it, looted the body and moved on. The cursed scythe was identified, remove curse was used by arcanist point and we used a carriage to quickly get us to the correct site 2.

    TLDR:

    Encounter 1 strong points:

    -Epic scenery
    -Epic enemy
    -Doesn’t pull punches with spells like maze being used. The bug or bugs outside are supposedly also quite deadly with their eye rays and attacks, though the only one that was present due to 4 player adjustment couldn’t do much in our case.

    Encounter 1 weak points:

    -Enemy is essentially invulnerable against non-caster PC’s if the above claims were correct, which in a random group setting like PFS seems like a major design flaw to me. Coupled with some mechanics in the next encounter, this was made even worse since the rogue essentially got to do (almost) nothing in 2 out of the 3 combats we were in.

    -On the other side, there seems to be some anti-synergy on team badguy between the two enemy types, with the large bugs outside unable to see targets inside the fogcloud made by cloudkill, thus also unable to engage them effectively.

    Encounter 2:

    We fortunately made the knowledge check and travelled to the correct place, with the cleric again passing the check to not get sidetracked.

    Upon leaving our chariot, we lost initiative to the demons who used their mythic initiative hacks. Their turns were used moving into melee range, quickened dispelling a random target (the arcanist, who again lost Shield Other to this (a recurring theme by now) and attacking a random target (the arcanist), ending him in the swarm. His charm prevented him from being grabbed though which allowed him to fight on normally. I think the demons then immediately used their AOE Daze attack, but it might have been later in round 1. All I remember clearly is that the rogue never got to take her first turn.

    I barely parried an attempt to sunder an enlarge potion I drank and 5-ft flew myself in between the party and the demons. The cleric used her fear/disease channel 3 times and very quickly drained the enemy’s mythic points due to the amount of willsaves they had to make, also blowing up the swarm heading our way for one turn. Then the arcanist paralyzed one demon with chains of light, which the enemy barely failed the save of thanks to the cleric debuffs. The rogue unfortunately failed her willsave against the AOE daze effect and although the GM only rolled a 2 on the 1d10 (!?) for the daze rounds, this effectively locked her out of the fight. This was understandably really frustrating to her, since the two of us as melee/non-casters had been fairly useless in the first fight due to a semi-invicible enemy. That there were now also multiple shots of a pc being stunlocked the entire fight before your first turn even came up was a bit hard to swallow.

    Well, round two started and I was now adjacent to a paralyzed demon, so one auto crit later, it was dead. The other adjacent ally had tried a disarm as an AOE against me when I did the coup the grace, but another parry easily deflected it due to smite evil on the second target. Since the demon did not have improved disarm, this in turn provoked from me which was somehow also a critical hit. The resulting 180-ish damage along with chip damage from the cleric channels and a finger of death (save was succeeded) from the arcanist then killed the remaining demon somewhere mid round-2.

    Overall, this fight had gone extremely well for the party thanks to a number of good rolls from us, though it was a bit soured by a sense of how unfair this module had been to none-casters, especially to general melee characters without permanent flight and very high willsaves (which I did happen to have, lessening the blow to my paladin, but which not every character will have access to). The rogue effectively hadn’t gotten to do anything in either the fights or the skillchecks outside of the fights (which all seemed to be heal, survival and knowledge checks) even though we’d been in the module for about 4 to 5 hours now.

    Overall encounter 2 pro’s:

    -Epic scenery.
    -Getting ambushed by mythic monsters instills a good scare.
    -Enemies stealing items automatically on attacks is a fun idea.

    Encounter 2 cons:

    -Seemingly very unfair and unfun design towards melee characters, especially those with only decent willsaves and/or non-constant flight. Having multiple decent chances to be stunlocked for the entire fight every round, even before your turn comes up due to enemy mythic initiative, IMO is not good game design. Also on this note, it seems like every monster in the module was flying every encounter and had at least 15-ft reach, which adds to this problem. It is also really frustrating to get this setup after the first encounter with the hive, in which the non-casters are apparently expected to sit by and watch as the casters have to win the encounter by themselves(?).

    -Having your items stolen is something which could make for a lot of on the fly recalculating of character sheets, which can slow down the game a lot.

    Bargaining scene:

    Lots of fun roleplaying here in bargaining with Deskari. Eventually, after great deliberation (knowing full well he would lose his character and that it would mean the end of our merry band of 4, though finding it an extremely cool and fitting end to the character which no one could blame him for – I’d probably have done the same thing in his case :) ), the cleric of Urgothoa decided to eat the full heart whereas the rogue and the arcanist simply stole some blood to use.

    As the very dense paladin, I was facepalming throughout the entire thing. I Imagine what happened IC was that the paladin walked up and defiantly rejected the deal, fully expecting his boon companions to follow his example, only to slowly turn around and find them all gorging themselves on dead demon god essence behind his back. Fun times!

    I received an out of character warning from the GM that even stealing the blood from Deskari was fallworthy for a paladin, even if only done specifically to combat the BBEG. Personally I appreciated this since it was fitting and also probably prevented a lot of debate on whether or not temporarily working with an Evil diety to destroy a greater evil would make you fall or not. I might have tried stealing blood otherwise which might have led to an unexpected fall ruling and a lot of discussion or being heavily nerfed for the rest of the module.

    Encounter 3:

    We casted a few long term buffs before stepping through the rift leading to the BBEG. In retrospect, the demonized cleric could sense the BBEG right on the other side and I could have used more buffs going in. This combined with a tactical error on my part and the BBEG being a badass almost killed my character. It also didn’t help that I’d forgotten to add damage and hit bonuses from spiritual weapon to parry and attack/damage rolls even though it was on :’)

    Anyway, even though I rolled very high the BBEG won initiative and tried to sunder my weapon on round 1. This didn’t do much since the weapon had an effective +7 total enchancement bonus, counting spiritual weapon. I did however get disarmed on turn one and then somehow tripped. Good variety of maneuver use of the enemy I have to say!

    The demon cleric channeled and found out the cultists were able to use wish-like effects to remove all the penalties he was inflicting to the boss. Then he used his new mythic powers and started flame striking and quickened flame striking the cultists, which had them at exactly 0 HP after his turn. Now the rogue finally had her moment of glory in haste-charging and consequently domino-tripping the five lined-up and staggered enemies. (unsure if that is a legal move, but it was awesome so it was allowed).

    Meanwhile the arcanist again paralyzed one of the demons and one other was, I think, running away from the cleric in fear.

    The BBEG won the contest for the abyss in the first turn (afterwards, we won the rounds since we had a lot of Deskari power and had knocked out all the cultists) and used a free action meteor swarm on me. In a move I’m sad to say I’ll never be able to replicate, since the required feat was PFS-banned sometime recently which I was made aware of following the session by another player, I used smash from the air to parry three out of the four incoming meteors while I was prone. They still exploded around me, but hey, it was cool :) The last one hit me square in the face with a saving throw of natural one, and the blunt force + explosions on everyone, half of it redirected to me, did a fair bit of damage.

    In rounds two and three, the rogue used her second (?) bit of mythic power to get adjacent to the paralyzed demon and then used coup de grace, which finished it. I tried attacking the BBEG but he teleported out after the first attack. I made the blunder there of going after him rather than healing more or buffing up more first, since he wasn’t attacking anything and I was fairly injured. In round three, I ate the resulting full attack/ Mythic extra attack and even a parries of 50,49,48 and 40-ish could not beat most of the BBEG’s rolls, which I guess emphasizes how little heavy ac-investment would have mattered here as an effective defense. It ended with me somewhere around 8 hp and then 50 after my full attack turn which failed to kill him. Out of penache, I was set to be killed by the BBEG the following turn.

    Meanwhile, the cleric had used dimensional anchor so the BBEG couldn’t teleport away. The rogue then used her last bit of mythic power from Deskari’s blood to get close to the BBEG, barely made the acrobatics check needed to not provoke on approach and got in the last hit at the last possible moment before his next turn, which felt like a suitable cinematic finisher.

    Encounter 3 pro’s:

    -The final boss is appropriately threatening and has good backup in the way of the cultists, which can heal or remove conditions from him.

    -The control for the abyss thing and the resulting free spells was/were cool.

    -Decent scenery, if not as epic as the other two encounters.

    -Felt like martial and especially characters could contribute a lot more to victory; the amount of melee hate seemed a lot lower than encounter 1 or 2. This is helped a lot by that I think drinking the blood temporarily gives you both mythic points and a fly speed (? at least, I think I remember hearing this from the rogue), which can then be used to get adjacent to enemies and still full attack, even if they are relatively far away.

    Encounter 3 cons:

    -There was some decision paralysis on how many spells people got to choose from in the abyss control contest. Given how high level most of these are, it’s very possible players are not too familiar with their effects.

    Closing roleplay:

    Some laughs were had over how the cleric now got to dress up his new home in the Abyss, and we said our farewells. I imagine my paladin would have been shocked to see his ‘virtuous and pious’ friend’s demon transformation to be permanent and finding her not particularly bothered, but hey, he IS really thick and had missed all of the dubious elaborate reanimation schemes the cleric had bluffed her way through during previous adventures.

    The arcanist barely managed to close the rift on his way out. Since the skillchecks required were all intelligence based and highly specific, the rogue and I couldn’t do anything to help. (...)

    Unfortunately, by then we were a bit tired and had to wrap up the rest of the story, so the ending was paraphrased a bit.

    Aside from having saved the world from the Glabrezu and all his schemes coming to light eventually, I was thrown back in jail for disappearing during my trial of alleged heresy against the church of Iomedae (for insisting swords can be used to stab in addition to slashing, knowledge seemingly lost to the people of Golarion, and that swords can also be used to actively block attacks, a lost art apparently only known to swashbucklers), but eventually released. The rogue had managed to steal the swords of everyone in the Church’s high command to mimic Iomedae’s displeasure, upon which they were divided on what to do and eventually released me. Apparently, I was also visited frequently by the rogue during times when all guards of the church were suspiciously absent. Meanwhile, I’ve been told the same rogue will be taking frequent trips back and forth to the rasping rift to remain in touch with her friend, the now evil (?) demon demigod and retired cleric, which I assume I don’t know about. Surely this can only go well :)

    Meanwhile, the arcanist had declared that he was getting increasingly paranoid about the rest of the universe constantly getting stronger and more dangerous alongside him, and is probably still hiding in his magnificent mansion away from society.

    The statues were of an arcanist with glowing chains around him, after how useful chains of light had been. The paladin looked forward with his hand resting on nothingness, since the rogue it was supposed to be on was permanently invisible, even her statue (which was also made hard to recognize for onlookers with see invisibility). And the last statue of the mysterious disappeared fourth pathfinder was never made.

    We hope to continue the remaining PFS adventures with help from 1 or 2 other characters to fill in for the cleric, who he group will no doubt sorely miss. Overall, we had a lot of fun with what was overall a truly epic adventure.

    Overall adventure rating:

    Pro’s:

    -Truly epic setting, stakes and enemies. I’ve not experienced this level of awesomeness in an adventure since the Epic-tier adventures of D&D 4th edition, seven or so years ago.

    -Very challenging even without the hard mode.

    - The retirement option in this adventure and what it lets you do during the final encounter is IMO very memorable.

    Cons:

    -Some very frustrating encounter design. There is seemingly overwhelming hate against non-casters in encounter 1 and enemy-spammable stunlock effects in encounter 2, which are not very fun to experience if even one save is failed. In a setting with usually random party members, at least the first one is a big problem.

    -There also seems to be an over-emphasis on survival and knowledge checks without any social or physical-related ones ever coming into play outside of combats, which adds a bit to the feeling that if you don’t have both a survivalist and a high-int caster, you are screwed.

    -The above two heavily evoke a feeling of being very reliant on the full casters in the party for success with others not contributing as much.

    I'd rate the combats overall a 7.5 out of 10 (challenging, but can be very frustrating, I.E. enemies literally invincible to everything outside of casters is a problem both mechanically and in player-enjoyment). The flavor/setting is a perfect 10/10, for an average rating of 8.8/10.

    Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, France—Paris

    - The encounter design has probably been made on purpose. It's the last year before v2 so they ramped up the difficulty by a big margin. At that tier, it's on the players to make sure their characters can resist. It's not very nice to be locked into not being able to play, but it emphasizes having good resilience at the same time than wanting to play to the strengths of the characters. For example, what's the point of being good at controlling things if being controlled first ? Or being unable to do teamwork because of being denied the actions to do so ? Doesn't mean I like it, but I fairly expected fighting through denial tactics (bigger the scenario level is, bigger is the chance this occurs).

    - Seeker scenarios usually won't involve much social (at least the year 7, 8 or 9s), so while the lack of skill variety can be disappointing (and I don't disagree with this), this is consistent with what to expect of these. Party balance is important, my first run, we got TPKed because no divine caster, no wizard. That said, them without others who could shield them is not fine either.

    - Being too reliant on the others at later levels could be a negative mechanics-wise, my personal opinion is that the character should be able to fight alone if forced to. First walkthrough : I did some prep, but it was insufficient. On my replay, the swashbuckler 14 I brought was better equipped to face the same threat, so I was able to immediately hound the threats without delay. Despite their overall good resistance, I could swat them away with a reasonable pace.

    Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

    The worm that walks should not be completely immune to weapon damage unless it discorporates, which would then make it vulnerable to the swarmbane clasp.

    Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

    I have noticed that a number of the seeker scenarios have "sauce for the goose..." feel to them. One of them has a sunder / disarm brawler who is clearly there as an "homage" to those PCs who like to play that style of character and turn their own tricks back on them. And certainly there are PC builds built around stun / daze.

    At this level. I expect most parties to have so.e sort of access to freedom of movement. (I think that would negate stun?)

    For those casting black tentacles first round, I would expect that to break invisibility. Which should mean it would be pretty easy for the pcs to see that there are two "worms"

    *****

    Freedom of movement would not prevent stun in my view. It is a condition which prevents you taking any action, not just movement.

    Tentacles would break invisibility but he is back in the throat of the thing so may not be in line of sight of the party.

    Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

    That is how I ran it, once the worm made an attack, the image and the worm both were visible. But the height of the beetle and angle to see it meant only the image was noticed until someone entered the mouth.

    Stun is not preventing movement, it prevents taking actions, so I agree that FoM doesn’t help in that case.

    Scarab Sages *** Venture-Agent

    Is there light in the Rasping Rifts or The Rift of Repose? It isn't mentioned in the planar traits for the Abyss in Planar Adventures but I don't have The Book of the Damned or the Wrath of the Righteous volume the scenario references for more info on the two layers.

    I can't see why there would be light in a plane where the inhabitants all have Darkvision. It may not be a huge deal as I assume most Seekers will have access to some serious light sources but The Hive Mind can Summon a Shadow Demon and once it starts tossing around Deeper Darkness the natural light conditions might matter.

    Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    All that special effects lightning in the background and those evil [whatever] might give off ambient light. The Abyss doesn't have to be dark just because the inhabitants can see 60ft in the dark.

    And remember that 60ft limit, it's only enough for short-range tactics, makes for a lot of bump in the night if 60ft vision is all there is for everyone.

    Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

    As far as the summon monster VI, I was planning on having it summon a lillend azata, partly for the pure joy of making an azata use its bard song to praise deskari's creations. Partly so it can make it toss of hold monster spells on the melee PCs...

    Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

    Also, doesn't the eternal hive still need a spellbook? Especially for its bonded item?

    *****

    It does but I just used it to cast a spell I knew it has because it was on its memorised list. Mazing two people in the fight is relaly quite unpleasant.

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