2 - Soldiers of Brass (GM Reference)


Dawn of Flame

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for GMs running the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path, specifically for the second adventure, "Soldiers of Brass."

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All GM Threads in this series:

1 - Fire Starters
2 - Soldiers of Brass
3 - Sun Divers
4 - The Blind City
5 - Solar Strike
6 - Assault on the Crucible


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The haunt on page 27 is a little confusing. Any clarification on this? I don't think there are any rules about in in the core rule book.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have you seen haunts in Pathfinder, Silver Scarab? I suspect that this one works in a similar manner.

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Box Text wrote:
The temperature drops simultaneously with a rise of agonized cries, accompanied by whispering voices filled with despair.

In Pathfinder, the dropping of temperature often indicated the onset of a haunt -- a psychic hazard where there had been a scar upon a landscape, and that might offer information but also traumatizes you in the process.

1) The trigger is the players coming to the area.

2) Tell your players about the temperature drop and the psychic wails, and ask for a mysticism check.

3) A good enough mysticism will identify it as a haunt. Another good Mysticism check might suppress it to help other players get out of the area. Or you could expend a spell to suppress it.

3) If the players don't either suppress it in the surprise round where it manifests (or run by the time the haunt acts) they suffer the effects of it. Haunts always manifest on round 10 of the surprise round. Interestingly, Pathfinder haunts were perceived with perception. This one is perceived with mysticism, making it harder to detect.

4) After they suffer the effects, they learn something. The same is true if they managed to run out of the area of effect, but still stayed close enough to see the ghostly vision. The bigger question is... do they get the vision even if they disable the haunt? I usually offer the vision anyway, as a reward for ending the haunt, but there are GMs who disagree with me about this.

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RADIATING PAIN HAUNT CR 4 XP 1,200
Type magical; Perception Mysticism DC 26; Disable remove affliction (DC 21) or remove radioactivity (DC 17) to destroy

Trigger location; Reset 10 minutes; Bypass Mysticism DC 21 to suppress for 1 round; lesser remove condition suppresses for 1 round/level; remove condition suppresses for 1 minute/level, greater remove condition suppresses for 10 minutes/level

Effect curse (nauseated by searing pain as if exposed to severe radiation for 1 minute); compulsion (a nauseated creature is compelled to immerse itself in the frigidarium fluid to ease imaginary pain, taking 1d8 cold damage immediately and each time the creature ends its turn in the fluid); Will DC 15 negates, and a creature can attempt a new saving throw each time it takes cold damage from the fluid; multiple targets (all living creatures in the room)

Second Seekers (Roheas)

I am running the AP for a party of 6 and I think they're just gonna mow over the encounters as written.

Any ideas on how I can buff this up for them?


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
eddv wrote:

I am running the AP for a party of 6 and I think they're just gonna mow over the encounters as written.

Any ideas on how I can buff this up for them?

I think just adding a few additional creatures to most encounters should work out well to scale it up. Is there any encounters you're particularly worried won't work well?

My own group of 5 started this book recently, and I've been going through and making some minor tweaks. Some of the encounters in this book are pretty wimpy to start with, and I think that's intentional. Not every encounter need to be a challenge. Beating up looters in the first scene for example is a way of showing off how much stronger the PCs are now that they're level 3 and they have their weapon specialization.

Second Seekers (Roheas)

I am most worried about the fight with Mama Throsh being memorable as opposed a cakewalk I think


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

For that fight, I think you could either add a couple of leftover Bloodshot gang members to back her up, or you could fully combine the Kato and Mama fights. Even for a 4 man group, Kato and Mama together should be manageable for a 3rd level party (its CR5), so a 6 man group should have no trouble at all.

Roleplaying Mama as protective of her "last livin' kin" in the form of the gashmaw might add that spark that makes the encounter memorable.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Finally got to run the Practical Prestine and Solar Flare encounters. Both of these are clunky in ways I failed to recognize while reading and prepping.

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In the Prestine encounter, PCs are confronted by a pushy salesperson. Like one of those Las Vegas guys trying to push their mixtape. What PCs don't know and have no way of knowing is that if they just refuse the mixtape attablossom and leave, they will end up cursed. In character, there's basically no good way to convey this either - Prestine saying "you'll really regret it if you don't buy one" just sounds like normal pushy marketing, not a threat of a curse.

Furthermore, the mechanics for getting out of purchasing one without repercussions are REALLY artificial. Poking holes in her claims doesn't seem at all a logical way to extricate yourself from the scenario, either in front of the GM screen and behind it. There's no way for players to guess ahead of time that they should roll things like Engineering *before* they try to intimidate Prestine into leaving, or that they'll only have one chance each to intimidate/sense motive etc her into giving up. These mechanics can only be presented in a very "Society scenario" kind of artificial way where to GM says "She seems persistent, you can try skills X, Y and Z in order to give you more ammunition for a final use of skill A or B". The skill challenges don't otherwise roll naturally into one another.

I have no idea how to better present the threat of a curse (beyond just outright telling the players, which is meh), but I think this would have worked a lot better as a freeform roleplay without fixed skill rules. Leave things open for stealth to allow people to escape, or diplomacy to charm her into not being so vindictive. Etc.

----

The solar plume encounter on the other hand is just weird and arbitrary. The party is just walking along and minding its own business and then BANG! PLASMA! Perception spots it but there's no mechanics for dodging it except for a reflex save, and all it does is a bit of damage that's easy to rest off without repercussions.

I understand that the point is that it establishes flavor, but it hits an intersection between mechanically pointless and arbitrary. Very "rocks fall but everyone survives".

As a way of establishing the Corona bubble setting, I think it'd work better as the solar plume striking near the PCs and scorching an NPC instead. The NPC might survive, but needs medical attention, and the PCs are the closest by to help. The NPC can provide exposition like "Oh, this happens all the time, but I thought it'd never happen to me".

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo)

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Prestine and the Solar Flare are pretty clunky. I didn't bother with the flare, but I like yours better.

Prestine was tough. We had an engineer with sleeping problems who was initially intrigued but decided it was hooey and said so in front of all her customers. She got upset and dragged him and the other PC (the rest were all shopping elsewhere) inside to have a stern talk with them and shooed them out the back door.

The one I had a harder time with was the biker gang. They tried to mess with the party pilot, and since this whole AP is light on starship stuff, I was hoping this could have been a good place for an enercycle chase. It just ended up being a back-alley brawl though. Not terrible, but also not as cool as it could have been.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsebo)

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
eddv wrote:

I am running the AP for a party of 6 and I think they're just gonna mow over the encounters as written.

Any ideas on how I can buff this up for them?

My party is six and I haven't buffed anything for them I wouldn't have done for four. This module isn't as blatantly deadly as some of the others and that's fine. Eos club they did have some resource management issues. They got through most of the first level and had to decide if they wanted to rest at "home" or in the haunted room. Home could mean the Brass Dragons could regroup, but the haunted room they could be discovered. They rested in town and I added one more pack of Brass Dragons to the lower level. Added some flavor during a fight about how these were the guys they were told to watch out for etc. There were a couple of good battles in there. Monchulla was great, the metalhead mechanic got combined with a group of soldiers because the party split themselves again, and Meiji was very concerning for the group as well.

For the Bloodshots, I definitely had Mama and Kato together. The encounter is much more dynamic that way. I ran this a couple months ago, so I'm trying to remember all the details, but there were at least one or two other enemies there. Surviving Bloodshots from earlier encounters or Big Tola or somebody. There was lots of movement and skirmishing, since we've got a party with lots of different ranges and squishyness levels. Fast melee, slow melee, short ranged, long ranged, area attacks, etc. So the levels and obstructions really worked nicely in that fight.

My group ended up buying Cryo-Generics though. Anyone have any ideas what to do with that going forward? We're currently in Sun Divers about to go to Noma, so there's some time to figure out something interesting.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
MeridiaCreative wrote:
The one I had a harder time with was the biker gang. They tried to mess with the party pilot, and since this whole AP is light on starship stuff, I was hoping this could have been a good place for an enercycle chase. It just ended up being a back-alley brawl though. Not terrible, but also not as cool as it could have been.

I figured the gang is looking for a quick buck rather than a life or death fight, so when my party used some social skills to scare them off, I didn't have the gang press them further. It ended up being a pretty quick encounter to characterize Corona.

As far as encounter difficulty is concerned, what I've experienced is that the CR1/2 Bloodshots or CR1/2 Brass Dragons are effectively irrelevant. They're defeated so easily and have such negligible offenses that you could probably triple the number of them in their respective encounters and the fights still wouldn't be very challenging. My 5-person group of PCs has been waltzing through them.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Probably my final post on this book, but I kinda want to dump these idle thoughts somewhere. Perhaps they'll help someone thinking about the narrative in Dawn of Flame and how to present it to their players.
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Over the course of running this book, I spent quite a bit of time trying to make sense of why the overarching events were happening. The moment-to-moment stuff was all great. The setting was awesome. The characters were not as good as book 1, but still not bad. But I had a heck of a time making sense of the reasons for the high level events. In summary:

  • Why do the Brass Dragons want to steal the DCI data, rather than just delete it? The adventure background says they do, but doesn't say why. The next book's adventure background details that Khaim discovered Noma during his own scouting, so its not as though he needed the DCI data to find it. The GM is left to create or puzzle out an explanation, otherwise the story of this book feels like a rather shallow fetch quest.
  • Why is the annotated DCI data on the Brass Dragons' computers? Is Charrel doing the analysis? Where did the annotations come from? The Brass Dragons don't have the capability nor (based on how they've been described) the inclination to research the sun's interior. The annotations must have come from Khaim's main group, but then why do the Brass Dragons have them now? Working out answers to these questions is left entirely up to the GM, and the truth is pretty important if you have inquisitive PCs who'll be trying to puzzle this out.
  • What else is in the annotated DCI data? This is really low hanging fruit, and I'm surprised that there's no Physical Science check in the book explaining it. Its hard for PCs to be excited about Nib's sudden breakthrough when the contents are almost entirely opaque.
  • Who works out the name Noma? Is it part of the annotations? The box-text has it come out of nowhere.

    I also felt that the Brass Dragons themselves were a real missed opportunity. The adventure background describes them as "a cunning infiltration network and propaganda engine" that foments violence. We got to see that to some extent in Book 1, but in Book 2, the Brass Dragons don't oppose the PCs in a way that showcases this aspect. They come off as just another group of armed thugs. Unfortunately, this leaves them texturally similar to the gangs the PCs fight in Book 2, making them a bit unimpressive. If I ever ran this again, I think I'd want to better show the political chops of the Brass Dragons in action against the PCs.


  • Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
    Cellion wrote:

    Probably my final post on this book, but I kinda want to dump these idle thoughts somewhere. Perhaps they'll help someone thinking about the narrative in Dawn of Flame and how to present it to their players.

    ----

    Over the course of running this book, I spent quite a bit of time trying to make sense of why the overarching events were happening. The moment-to-moment stuff was all great. The setting was awesome. The characters were not as good as book 1, but still not bad. But I had a heck of a time making sense of the reasons for the high level events. In summary:

  • Why do the Brass Dragons want to steal the DCI data, rather than just delete it? The adventure background says they do, but doesn't say why. The next book's adventure background details that Khaim discovered Noma during his own scouting, so its not as though he needed the DCI data to find it. The GM is left to create or puzzle out an explanation, otherwise the story of this book feels like a rather shallow fetch quest.
  • Why is the annotated DCI data on the Brass Dragons' computers? Is Charrel doing the analysis? Where did the annotations come from? The Brass Dragons don't have the capability nor (based on how they've been described) the inclination to research the sun's interior. The annotations must have come from Khaim's main group, but then why do the Brass Dragons have them now? Working out answers to these questions is left entirely up to the GM, and the truth is pretty important if you have inquisitive PCs who'll be trying to puzzle this out.
  • What else is in the annotated DCI data? This is really low hanging fruit, and I'm surprised that there's no Physical Science check in the book explaining it. Its hard for PCs to be excited about Nib's sudden breakthrough when the contents are almost entirely opaque.
  • Who works out the name Noma? Is it part of the annotations? The box-text has it come out of nowhere.

    I also felt that the Brass Dragons themselves were a real missed opportunity. The...

  • I would like to know your thoughts on making the Brass Dragons better. So far I've had them frame the party for a bombing and producing propoganda to turn people against the crew. My next step is to have them followed while in Corona. Any actions they take will be twisted against the PCs to make them look like trouble makers. Thoughts?


    Just double checking the Frigidarium Haunt, they suffer the effects of having been exposed to severe radiation for 1 minute. Since being in radiation makes you try a fort save every round, does this mean they have to immediately make 10 fortitude saves to not gain radiation sickness?


    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

    It's just the one check. It acts as though they failed an entire 10 rounds.


    I could use some rough ideas.

    So I had the other thread where my group nearly wiped on Jalusann.
    They went on a side mission, leveled up, and got some new gear.
    Now they will need to go retrieve the data.

    Option 1: They go right back, and wreck her easily. They had killed all of her special people, and her reinforcements would probably be more CR 1/2-1 troops, which are nothing and would just be a chore. (And part of my parties complaint that the huge difficulty jump came out of nowhere)

    Option 2: She has requested special reinforcements (from the general, or she just had them elsewhere) so its more of a challenge. Makes for a more epic fight, but lots of extra work on my end. Not even sure what enemies to add, and I'd run the risk of overshooting the mark and making it too hard.

    Option 3: Come up with a scenario where Jalusann has left, to rejoin the main forces and show up later in the campaign. But then I need a decent reason that the data would have been left behind.

    I kinda feel like Option 3 is the most interesting all around, *IF* there is a good reason for the data to be left behind for the party to find. Its also less work for me in the short term =)

    Any ideas? Mainly for options 2 and 3?
    Thanks.

    Second Seekers (Jadnura)

    Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

    If you have the next chapter, Sun Divers, you can check out page 15 (spoilers, obviously):

    There's an encounter with Brass Dragons commandos looking to avenge Jalusann. It's a CR 7 encounter, made up of one CR 5 soldier and two CR 3 operatives. Could be worth stealing (at the risk of invalidating that encounter in Book 3 :D)


    If it hasn't been too long, I'd go with a mix of option 1 and 2. One thing I like to do when the party has to back off and come back is to make the reinfiltration qualitatively different. So instead of just repopulating the dungeon or massing reinforcements, make the second time round a distinctly different sort of dungeon run so that the players feel there's variety.

    So in this specific case, I'd probably have Jalusann holed up in her control center with 2-3 additional CR1 allies. In a fight these will probably do little more than serve as flanking and get a few minor hits in. However, to show that Jalusann is ready for a second attack, I'd put in many booby traps throughout the Eos Athletic Center's lower level. These should be *obvious* (low perception DCs to spot), but fairly deadly. The party may hit one before they think to start searching for traps, but if they're searching they should be easy to find. The goal is to give the feel of the opposition having bunkered up, without creating a drawn out slugfest with many low CR goons.
    ------

    Also, totally missed this from last year. Although its way too late for Kurashiu, maybe it might help other GMs.

    Kurashiu wrote:
    I would like to know your thoughts on making the Brass Dragons better. So far I've had them frame the party for a bombing and producing propoganda to turn people against the crew. My next step is to have them followed while in Corona. Any actions they take will be twisted against the PCs to make them look like trouble makers. Thoughts?

    I think the ideas Kurashiu suggested sound good. Though I would err toward making the propaganda/disinformation actions set dressing than to penalizing or aggravating the PCs too much. Having unfair things being said about the PCs goes a LONG way toward motivating the players to act (at least for groups I've GM'd for), and there's usually no need to follow it up with any in-game repercussions.

    I ended up taking a pretty light hand in characterizing the Brass Dragons in my own game (mostly because I was too late to make more substantive changes). I made sure that all the Brass Dragons at Eos knew the PCs by name and commented about their exploits so far. At the end of the book when the PCs investigated the Brass Dragons mainframe, I emphasized all the data on disinformation ops and intel gathering. My PCs took that info to the Dawn Patrol, which gave me the opportunity to provide some post-hoc characterization. Between books 2 and 3 the Dawn Patrol investigated the data and found that the Brass Dragons had established roots all over the Burning Archipelago, tapping comms systems and security cameras. The PCs got a lot of credit for uncovering this.


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    Balthesar wrote:

    I could use some rough ideas.

    So I had the other thread where my group nearly wiped on Jalusann.
    They went on a side mission, leveled up, and got some new gear.
    Now they will need to go retrieve the data.

    Option 1: They go right back, and wreck her easily. They had killed all of her special people, and her reinforcements would probably be more CR 1/2-1 troops, which are nothing and would just be a chore. (And part of my parties complaint that the huge difficulty jump came out of nowhere)

    Option 2: She has requested special reinforcements (from the general, or she just had them elsewhere) so its more of a challenge. Makes for a more epic fight, but lots of extra work on my end. Not even sure what enemies to add, and I'd run the risk of overshooting the mark and making it too hard.

    Option 3: Come up with a scenario where Jalusann has left, to rejoin the main forces and show up later in the campaign. But then I need a decent reason that the data would have been left behind.

    I kinda feel like Option 3 is the most interesting all around, *IF* there is a good reason for the data to be left behind for the party to find. Its also less work for me in the short term =)

    Any ideas? Mainly for options 2 and 3?
    Thanks.

    I think I would use Cellion's idea, but I would also have them relocate to a safe house of some sort. They're waiting for transport to be arranged, and have booby trapped the new location, but there's only a few of them and the PCs have to hunt down the new location.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Hmm wrote:

    Have you seen haunts in Pathfinder, Silver Scarab? I suspect that this one works in a similar manner.

    ★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

    Box Text wrote:
    The temperature drops simultaneously with a rise of agonized cries, accompanied by whispering voices filled with despair.

    In Pathfinder, the dropping of temperature often indicated the onset of a haunt -- a psychic hazard where there had been a scar upon a landscape, and that might offer information but also traumatizes you in the process.

    1) The trigger is the players coming to the area.

    2) Tell your players about the temperature drop and the psychic wails, and ask for a mysticism check.

    3) A good enough mysticism will identify it as a haunt. Another good Mysticism check might suppress it to help other players get out of the area. Or you could expend a spell to suppress it.

    3) If the players don't either suppress it in the surprise round where it manifests (or run by the time the haunt acts) they suffer the effects of it. Haunts always manifest on round 10 of the surprise round. Interestingly, Pathfinder haunts were perceived with perception. This one is perceived with mysticism, making it harder to detect.

    4) After they suffer the effects, they learn something. The same is true if they managed to run out of the area of effect, but still stayed close enough to see the ghostly vision. The bigger question is... do they get the vision even if they disable the haunt? I usually offer the vision anyway, as a reward for ending the haunt, but there are GMs who disagree with me about this.

    ★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

    RADIATING PAIN HAUNT CR 4 XP 1,200
    Type magical; Perception Mysticism DC 26; Disable remove affliction (DC 21) or remove radioactivity (DC 17) to destroy

    Trigger location; Reset 10 minutes; Bypass Mysticism DC 21 to suppress for 1 round; lesser remove condition suppresses for 1 round/level; remove...

    radiation a poison and sinces its sever are we to expect the PC's to Make the DC 30 fort check to avoid this for 1 min obivoiusly they are needing to get out but are nausiated for starters, suffer the effects of raidation sickness and slowly slide down the track till death ? i mean this can be a party wipe if ran wrong and would like more clarfications here

    i get the trigger and asking for a mystisum roll but if not passed they all have to make a dc 30 check is what im understanding take the posion damage that ....well lets be real its not alot but its stright to HP one of the few times and from what im understanding thats for 1 soild min.

    Unless they leave the area at that point they mostlikly are radiation sickness and the dc to save from that is a dc30 .... Or am i just you know overthinking this

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