Sfs 2-02: Waking the Past


GM Discussion

1/5 5/55/5

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

A few things in this scenario seem like they are worth asking about, here.

If I am reading correctly, it seems like the nanite spray abilities have no attack roll, and no save that affects the actual damage. Am I misreading something, or is this intended? I want to double check, since it seems fairly nasty in a low tier adventure where the players will never be able to take a 10 minute rest without being interrupted due to the golem arriving when they've been in one place for 5 minutes.

1/5 5/55/5

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

So, from a couple of tables run yesterday, it seems like it is a fairly common player reaction to keep running forward, away from the nanotech cloud trap and nanotech golem, and never double back to try to loot that Armory. Unfortunately, the credits marked off for not taking the rifle from the armory seem to be about a third of the scenario.

The information that PCs can obtain about cold weapons being present in the facility and being effective against the golem don't provide much incentive to get back there, once a player has tried to attack the golem and realized that they aren't going to be able to hit it, regardless of the weapon they're using. If anyone has good ideas about other ways to make it seem like the Armory is important enough to worry about, I think the extra emphasis may be needed.

Scarab Sages 4/5

My table didn't have that reaction - after identifying the monstrosity, they decided to continue waiting for the armory to open and watch it form. - It wasn't a very good night for them, overall.

Once they realized it was hostile (Tried to clue them in by the broken gas container being destroyed by it's whip), they unfortunitly attempted to run into the Dr.'s labratory, where the breath weapons wrecked their HP. Lv 5 Solarian down to 1 hp, broke the Engineer's combat drone. They managed to lock the door and avoid the combat while the monster was in the initiative order.

Splitting the party was rampant in this scenario as well, and not just because of the monster hunting the party - finding the side passage meant the two Medium sized soldiers in heavy armor weren't willing to brave sub-to-near freezing temperatures to traverse the passageway, resulting in them waiting in the elevator shaft while the light armor characters got into the optional encounter.

Thankfully, they were able to bring the drones to bear in the combat - which made the Mechanic ecstatic.

The nanite projector seems like it needed another editing pass. "Projector's ranged attack bonus equals the computer operator's BAB plus their Intelligence modifer and targets EAC" Had some trouble figuring this out. Is the weapon supposed to only miss on nat ones, or is it supposed to hit EAC? I interpreted it as the latter, as that made the most sense. This unfortunately gave the team hope they could defeat the creature at low tier / 5 people, and waited the five minutes for it to show up.

I was also unclear as to if the monstrosity was willing to leave the facility - thankfully my players didn't think to try to short rest in A1, so it wasn't an issue for me.

They did finally figure out that closing the doors to the room it was in and waiting would make it go away, so they got the door open by running in, trying to open for two rounds, then running out of the door on the 4th round.

An overly tense scenario, particularly with being given tips on fighting the thing and STILL having it vastly out of their league, and the party didn't seem to have much problem in agreeing to keep AbadarCorp's find secret from the planetside workers.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Spoiler:
Quote:
the party didn't seem to have much problem in agreeing to keep AbadarCorp's find secret from the planetside workers.

I....HOW?

There is a monster down there that can cut through a heavily armed and armored pathfinder expedition like butter and make undead . John Q public is going to stick a drill into his house. He's going to come to the surface and mow through a city before some CR 10 adventurers get there to see the shakey cam version of the blair witch project meets night of the living dead.

Under what possible logic are people fine with that....????

1/5 5/55/5

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

My players were unanimous in leaking the information.

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The clean version of the map doesn't have doors on it. Thats a layer that someone's going to need to see

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The undead soldiers trick attack. Are they supposed to use their claws?

1/5 5/55/5

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

That is how I read it. There's nothing else they could be trying to use when they trick attack when moving into melee, per their tactics.

5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

Our GM crew got into a debate about the golem's tactics. The tactics clearly state that it focuses its attacks on a target until they are dead. Does that mean it administers a coup-de-grace if a PC goes unconscious?

Option A: Yes. Dead has a specific mechanical definition in the CRB. The golem should continue to attack until that condition is achieved. This makes it infinitely more dangerous, but thematically appropriate.

Option B: No. The golem does not have lifesense, no Medicine or Life Science skill, and no intelligence, so it cannot perceive the difference between unconscious/dying and dead. Therefore when it knocks a target down, it assumes they're dealt with and moves on to the next closest target. This takes a bit of the edge off, but seems more in line with how other 'boss' monsters work.

I chose option B, as for my players, losing their characters in the first room of this map would have been the opposite of fun, and especially frustrating as they really hadn't had a chance to fully figure out what the hell was going on yet by the time I took one of them down. However I could see the argument for option A, RAW, if you're an especially malicious GM.

5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

Question 2: Doors within the facility.

Quote:

Unless locked, the doors slide swiftly into the wall to the right

when a Small or larger creature stands within 1 foot of them for
more than three seconds. These doors remain open as long as their
doorways remain blocked, then swiftly close three seconds later.

I took this to mean the doors have no actual panel to allow opening them manually. Basically I ruled that the door opened if you ended your turn in front of it, and it would close at the end of the turn of the last creature to trigger the door (I.E. stand in front of it or walk through it). This made for some really interesting tactical decisions while the team tried to escape the golem and still loot everything they could without leaving anyone trapped behind an automatic closing door. Took a bit of headache to keep track of which door opened/closed when, but it was fun.

5/5 5/55/55/5

I'd Go with B, definitely the first time. The monster really doesn't scream "i can kill you all puny peons" until it takes out a PC (the one weakness in the scecnario but it's a pretty big keystone). If it keeps hacking apart the same person it may eventually notice and then finish them. But be sure to let the party learn their lesson ... once.

The Exchange 4/5 Venture-Captain, Illinois—Central Illinois aka JERRY WAYNE 073

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On the eve of hitting the road for Gencon, I thought I would share my Dr. Hsiung and Nanotech Golem custom minis. I'm looking forward to running this one in Indy this weekend, it is dark and creepy.

Waking the Past custom minis

3/5

So... I ran this at Gencon. Bit of a rant/background. I'm a bit of a oldschool GM, how the Dice falls is how it happens. I don't want you to die, but I ain't gonna save you, and risk is a part of the game. You should sit down with the understanding that your character may die, and if you don't want that to happen, there are a LOT of better systems out their for that kind of gameplay than pathfinder.

With that said? This scenario was a bloody massacre. I had 2 TPKs, 2 tables where at least 3 people died, and the other half ONLY survived because pre-gen players where willing to throw themselves in the way to buy the actual players time to escape. One table just flat out quit before starting when i gave them the warning.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the scenario itself. But it unfortunately has a few... conflicting problems. First off, the society play has trained to many people to think things are safe and always to level. While this scenario may demonstrate EMPHATICALLY that this is not the case, the fact that the Golem can murder death kill everyone makes it a more feel bad than a demonstration. The same goes for his "No AOO's" handycap. Unless the GM explicitly states that it can't, no one is willing to risk the possibility of a AOO against this thing, and they hamstring themselves horribly trying to not provoke. Only one group of 5 figured it out at gen, because he "Succeeded" at a acrobatics check, then "Failed" With a much higher acrobatics check later. He called BS and I told him to "Think back to what happened last time". It was a light bulb moment, but unfortunately to much of the team was slaughtered at that point to have a hope.

Secondly, without fail, every group triggered the mini-boss battle with Dr. Hsiung and ended up having to fight on two fronts. The only time someone managed to find the tunnel, a bad timing roll on the computer's check meant he was trapped in a tiny room with a very angry golem.

Third, that stupid rifle. It meant the death of more players this weekend because people kept finding the tablet, realizing it was "Important" and trying to get past the golem into the armory (Or had already gotten into the armory) and split the party, leaving some trapped in the armory to be mushed. Others would inevitably get killed trying to save them.

Fourth, that stupid bloody door. All your beefcakes dead? Guess you lose, cause your gonna take a lot of time trying to nat-18+ to get that thing open. Still have your beefcakes but no techies? Good luck getting the 22+ by yourself. Even working together people had trouble making that check, and 3 of them? Was just mean.

Fifth, I read it as it said on the tactics. "Until Dead". It has no medicine to know if your proper dead or not, but the thing eliminated all sapient life on the planet. It surely understands the concept of a double tap. Few times this actually was the only reason people got out is that it would waste time to crush a downed PC even if it didn't need to.

Basically, this would be a great home game where I could come up with a way to bring them all back after a slaughter, but for PFS? This should have come with a bonekeep-esque warning, which is what i ended up giving every team that sat down after the first night to let them know how dangerous this mission was. Everybody had fun, but unless your willing to fudge numbers in the players direction, spoil things, or do other things to hamstring the scenario, the chances of it all going sideways are HUGE.

Sovereign Court 3/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Minnesota—Champlin

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I GM'd this today at 2D Con in Minneapolis. Knowing it could easily be a TPK, I warned all the players at the beginning of the scenario's reputation and that there was something in it they were not supposed to try to fight. I had 5 pregens and 2 actual PCs being played. Three of the players have Org Play numbers with 3 or 4 digits, so there were some very sharp folks at the table. (One of them texted Thursty when the golem got the first hit and his response was, "RUN CHILDREN! RUN!")

When the golem appeared almost right at the beginning, one of the PCs got a great Engineering check and another got a great Mysticism check. So, I gave them some hints about what it might be like while trying to maintain the sense that it was ancient and of a strange design. I pointed out that it seemed to be moving sluggishly compared to what they would expect from such a creature. They used this and some tests to figure out what its limitations seemed to be.

Once they attempted to attack it and missed against an EAC in the mid 20s, they realized that they were never going to hit it. At that point, it was focused on the solarion, who began leading it in a loop between the Lounge, Rear Entrance, and the Elevator Room while the rest of the party spread out to dig up important items and clues. They finally entered the last room, triggering the golem to appear there among them. When it started zeroing in on 1 of the PCs, that person just lead it from one end of the room to the other, while the rest of the party tried and tried and tried to get the door open. I fully believe this would have been a horrible train wreck if I hadn't warned them--and if the golem's tactics didn't say that it focused on 1 target until dead.

This type of scenario can be great. The players really enjoyed it. However, I want to point out:
- The key to such scenarios is to make the enemy unkillable, NOT to make it unkillable AND able to 1 or 2 shot PCs in tier. It should have a high AC and/or obvious regen/DR/resistances, but its damage should be a HECK of a lot lower.
- The checks on the final door were a bit too high for the tier.
- It would really help to make the layout of the place less linear. More options for the whole group to get away from the thing and circle around to finish up with items or clues that they noticed, but didn't have time to spend on would help.
- The auto-opening doors really work against the PCs in this. It prevents them from being stealthy to check on where the golem is and trying to avoid it or get past it. I would rather allow for clever players to come up with ways to deal with the situation than forcing them to resolve the challenge the way the author thought they would.

Silver Crusade 3/5 5/5

Something I don't think anyone's mentioned yet is that for the first 5 minutes, the golem should be taking 1d6 cold damage per minute from the temperature. As a result, it should be slowed for 3 out of 10 rounds. In fact, since it's ongoing damage, there's an argument that it should be slowed for the entire first 5 minutes of the event, until the temperature of the facility rises enough that the cold damage changes to nonlethal, which constructs are immune to.

4/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Anyone who plans to run this should probably remind your players that it takes a DC10 engineering check as a full round action to jam a door.

Silver Crusade 3/5 5/5

Ran this today. The PCs managed to get my hints that this thing was a huge threat, and while one went down, they managed to kite it while handling the rest of the encounters to avoid anyone else getting knocked out. The slow speed is the saving grace. It had a lot of tension until they finally figured out what they needed to do.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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I've gone into a bit more detail in my product review on ugly warts in this scenario. But I just want to point out one thing.

It's not okay to just drop unsuspecting players into a horror scenario.

This scenario is absolutely not a normal SFS genre scenario. It's decent as a horror scenario. But would you say it's okay to tell a friend "let's go to a superhero movie" and then actually take them to a slasher horror movie?

I think Paizo dropped the ball hard on this scenario by not putting a [horror] tag in the product description. Because the blurb sounds really like just about any other scenario ever - most dungeoncrawls are also about stopping some horrible ancient evil, but when you play them, you're not powerless to actually do anything about it. So this is a nasty bait and switch.

As a GM you should be careful when scheduling this. Consider your players, whether this is actually what they would enjoy, and whether you should tell them beforehand that this is a different kinda scenario. I think you have a duty of care to your friends here.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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Played this alongside Lau. I totally agree with him, though I feel slightly less harsh about it.

One important thing here, I think, is telegraphing. As written, the monster has a few disadvantages and exploits, while also having some things PCs NEED to know, otherwise they're dead. And the scenario doesn't give it. I think a GM should really telegraph HOW it enters and exits if a door is jammed. Our GM simply said, "it just appears in the room," without indicating it came through the vents or something. Big Hero 6 is a good example of how to do it well. Have it make a rattling noise as it crawls through vents, play up its particleness, and maybe give the PCs some leeway in hindering it. It should not be totally immune to everything the players throw at it, but it should at least slow it down. As for when it's slowed, explain how slowly it reacts to you all, as if in slow-motion. That already suggests it might not be able to take reactions. A proper horror villain is lumbering, but inevitable. Two-shotting a PC is technically that, but it is not fun. It leaves very little room for error. Especially when in Starfinder, HP healing is a lot less effective and a lot less common. I was glad we had a Healing Mystic at our table, otherwise I would've been putty.

James Krolak wrote:

This type of scenario can be great. The players really enjoyed it. However, I want to point out:

- The key to such scenarios is to make the enemy unkillable, NOT to make it unkillable AND able to 1 or 2 shot PCs in tier. It should have a high AC and/or obvious regen/DR/resistances, but its damage should be a HECK of a lot lower.
- The checks on the final door were a bit too high for the tier.
- It would really help to make the layout of the place less linear. More options for the whole group to get away from the thing and circle around to finish up with items or clues that they noticed, but didn't have time to spend on would help.
- The auto-opening doors really work against the PCs in this. It prevents them from being stealthy to check on where the golem is and trying to avoid it or get past it. I would rather allow for clever players to come up with ways to deal with the situation than forcing them to resolve the challenge the way the author thought they would.

That door was so crap. We were waiting several rounds for it to open, twiddling our thumbs, while our last party member was kiting around the monster, without even knowing if it was effective. Worst of all, she was one of the two people good at Computers, so having her run around meant that our only so-so other Computers guy had to operate that door all on his own.

That crawlspace was a trap. Yes, it technically loops around, but not everyone can go through it. If things go badly, people will end up backed into a corner and die.
As said, a two-shotting inescapable death monster is no fun to fight. I've had risky fights with strong opponents before, but there were tactics to mitigate it (Fossi comes to mind). Yeah, it takes away some of the scare factor if it's less powerful, but the fact that we can't kill it is still scary enough. Now it's just all bad stuff piled on top of each other: strong, inescapable, no weak points. Pick two out of three. At least give the players hope.
And yeah, loot is easily missable, yet mission-critical for either prestige points or money. Now, Society play keeps in mind you don't get full rewards all the time, but this piled on top of everything else is just really feel-bad. You could've survived by the skin of your teeth and still haven't earned anything. That's just a downer.

5/5 5/55/5

Just going to say I loved it and all my players had a ball.

They got the message really quickly once the first player got snapped like a pretzel.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

I think as a horror scenario this is one of the better attempts Paizo has made. It's pretty gutsy to put it in organized play.

But it's really risky, with player reactions. It's a bit like taking someone to the cinema saying you're going to watch an action movie (typical organized play) and taking them to a horror movie instead. You may find that some people get pretty upset about that. Even people who enjoy a horror movie if they know they're going to see a horror movie.

In the first hour of the scenario when it became clear where this was going I was counting up my Fame and seriously considering just say "okay I'll pay my fame for body recovery and raise dead. I'm not playing this. Give me a Chronicle, I'm going home". I didn't, we played an intense game and at the end I kinda liked that we escaped. But I think there's something wrong when a scenario provokes that kind of reaction from me.

5/5 5/55/5

Aliens was an action movie. Only three people made it home, and one was an NPC.


I remember playing in this at Origins and I'm 99% sure my GM didnt give us any warning or hunt at all other than telling us we were in rounds. He had no expression on his face, no sympathy, and between a high attack roll missing and a high trick attack failing we figured it out pretty quickly. It was chilling, terrifying, amazing, and we almost tried to go back to kill it out of a sense of heroism. Never would've wanted that spoiled for me, as announcing to the party "oh god, we're in a horror movie" and the gm finally smiling evilly was amazing.

I'll be running this in February with my local gaming group. One of them has run this before. Question is, do I warn them or not? I feel I should, but would hate to ruin the surprise

Dataphiles 5/55/55/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands aka CptJames

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TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
I'll be running this in February with my local gaming group. One of them has run this before. Question is, do I warn them or not? I feel I should, but would hate to ruin the surprise

The way I did this, was by when the monster appeared and swung at them, I just asked if a 38 or so vs their AC was a hit.

They got the hint pretty quick. No warning was required after that.

However, if they read the scenario blurb, it does make it sound like they wake the Balrog:

"However, they're not alone. The PCs soon discover not only that something is waking up, but also that there are some secrets best left undisturbed."

Having said all this, Paizo should just chuck the Horror tag on this.

So it's totally up to you, you can just mention it's a horror scenario without going into specifics right?

5/5 5/55/55/5

James Hargrave wrote:

scenario blurb, it does make it sound like they wake the Balrog:

"However, they're not alone. The PCs soon discover not only that something is waking up, but also that there are some secrets best left undisturbed."

But that's the kind of thing starfinders deal with all the time, usually with pew pew lasers.

5/5 5/55/5

I haven't seen this much complaining and whining that the BBEG required some thought and not just a Vesk-rush since Traitors Lodge.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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James Hargrave wrote:
TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
I'll be running this in February with my local gaming group. One of them has run this before. Question is, do I warn them or not? I feel I should, but would hate to ruin the surprise

However, if they read the scenario blurb, it does make it sound like they wake the Balrog:

"However, they're not alone. The PCs soon discover not only that something is waking up, but also that there are some secrets best left undisturbed."

Having said all this, Paizo should just chuck the Horror tag on this.

So it's totally up to you, you can just mention it's a horror scenario without going into specifics right?

Not everyone reads the blurb. Some people prefer as few spoilers as possible, so tags aren't the most useful. It's a little immersion-breaking, but I'd prefer if a GM warns people beforehand or right as they're starting the scenario that this is the case. Then people still have the option to opt out.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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James Hargrave wrote:

However, if they read the scenario blurb, it does make it sound like they wake the Balrog:

"However, they're not alone. The PCs soon discover not only that something is waking up, but also that there are some secrets best left undisturbed."

Yeah the problem with that is that like a quarter of all scenario blurbs sound like that.

James Hargrave wrote:

Having said all this, Paizo should just chuck the Horror tag on this.

So it's totally up to you, you can just mention it's a horror scenario without going into specifics right?

Yeah, I think that would be exactly the right solution.

Shadow Lodge 3/5

Horror? Nyet! This was pure adrenaline packed action... I ran it at a con.. everyone survived... (hurt but alive) and all with excited relieved grins...
Step 1 foreshadowed the extreme danger by highlighting the fact they were trapped with no help.
Step 2 gave the party a bit of warning at each monster entrance (you hear the vents rattling or blue sparks start to form at the vent entrance ... etc)
Step 3 oh you rolled a 19 and missed? Hmmm still want to fight? Yes? Ok does a 38 hit you ... still want to fight?
Of course a summoner mystic in the party did help a bit with critters for it to chase...

Do agree the skill checks at the end were a bit high... perhaps by 3 pts

4/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
I'll be running this in February with my local gaming group. One of them has run this before. Question is, do I warn them or not? I feel I should, but would hate to ruin the surprise

I didn't warn my players ahead of time, but I did have it spend a round materializing so the players could try to hit it and realize how outclassed they are.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Nathan Monson wrote:
TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
I'll be running this in February with my local gaming group. One of them has run this before. Question is, do I warn them or not? I feel I should, but would hate to ruin the surprise
I didn't warn my players ahead of time, but I did have it spend a round materializing so the players could try to hit it and realize how outclassed they are.

Keep in mind that you can miss because you miss the AC, you roll low, or the thing is effectively a swarm and immune to damage.. or the thing is going to one shot you.

Since the first few of those are far more common in starfinder than the latter, it really, really needs a warning sign.

Dark Archive 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, United Kingdom—England—Coventry aka terry_t_uk

Quick question on A1 : Mine Shaft encounter
The text says "In Subtier 3–4, the creatures are four vermin genetically related to common asteroid lice."

The stat block says "SUBTERRANEAN LICE (6)"

Which is it?

Thanks in advance.

Terry

5/5 5/55/55/5

..both? Subterranean lice are vermin related to asteroid lice?

Dark Archive 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, United Kingdom—England—Coventry aka terry_t_uk

I was talking about the number of creatures :-)

Text indicates 4, encounter stat blocks says 6

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