I am nearly finished prepping this and I have to say it does look like a suitably epic introduction to the final PFS1 arc. There are quite a lot of editing errors (unsurprising for a very high level scenario with 3 different tiers). I will post them in due course but one major omission does need to be dealt with.
There does not appear to be any listed way to qualify for either the Eylysia's Insight or Mantis Bane boons. I can guess at what they might need but we really need to know.
Ok, having gone back through things I have a few queries.
Great claw attack and damage values seem off. With their buffs active it looks like it should be:
11Bab +8str +2GWF +2weapon -1size +5Divine Power for +27
Damage should be:
12 str +2WS, +2weapon +5Divine Power
Damage looks right if we assume they are one handing their weapons or possibly the increased benefit of higher caster level divine power was overlooked.
Either way I asume we run as written?
Tier 17-18 Rurat's natural attack sequence attack bonus is 1 too low.
The Elder mantis and Progeny both lack a fly speed, the regular mantis have one. Is this intentional?
Saviya choses dispel magic with spell immunity. Spell Immunity gives you unbeatable SR, dispel magic doesnt allow SR. This choice does nothing. Do we stick with it, change it or let it work?
Saviya is using a heavy shield, its worth noting she cannot cast and also use her weapon. It isnt hugely relevant as she isnt very good with it but still.
The illusions from her weapon take a swift action to move about making them awkward in combination with her quickened spells and other immediate action effects such as two feats and her wepaon ability.
The tier12-13 assassins are supposed to use their wands of see invisibility. They dont have wands but they do wear Mantis Masks which let them do the same thing. I assume they are supposed to use the Mask. The elite assassins do have wands but cast it instead. Looks like these didnt get moved to the right stat block.
The elite mantis stat block for their attacks has some issues. Their non two weapon fighting attack bonus is lower than their two weapon fighting bonus. Their dex is noted as 16 but they are getting +5 dex to AC. It looks like they should be:
10bab +5dex +1weapon +2heroism +2GWF
That would make their two weapon bonus make sense an their regular bonus start at +20.
How much of Eylysia's will save is from resistance? Mind Blank gives her +8 resistance bonus and given the first thing likely to happen in the fight it is going to be relevant.
I have run this once now so thought I would add some thoughts about the experience. It ran at tier 14-15 on normal mode. I have another tier 14-15 game running in PbP, I have a tier 17-18 game soon via roll20 and have offered a table for it for PbP Gameday VIII.
We had 6 players:
Witch 13, lots of control, very low HP
Sorcerer/Oracle Mystic Theurge 14 (max level 6 spells, grandfathered early entry)
Archer Ranger/Rogue 15
Multiclassed fighter, alchemist, barbarian (single digit will save)
The group had little in the way of long term buffs available. They had no real way to protect themselves from divinations but several of them did buy hats of disguise. They took the awareness point for existing but avoided being spotted on arrival.
Arriving at Strakes they began investigating. Unfortunately they failed most of the checks to learn what was going on. One of them spoke to the wrong person but they got just enough information to point them in the right direction but needed some help.
They took an attack on the way to the Pagoda but managed to avoid the patrols. Entering the Pagoda they failed to avoid detection. As I read it everyone needs to pass this check, it is not like the others only requiring half or more. They took a second attack.
Descending to meet the master they had a long and brutal fight. The fight looks like it is very variable depending on which stairway you come down. I rolled randomly and they came out in the top left corner, far from the enemy.
The ranger dealt a load of damage to one greater claw and then things started to go south. As written the claws tactics didnt really work at the start as bone flense is short range and they started miles away. The monk dimensional assaulted into the middle of the enemy and went down to a full attack from a greater claw. The master disarmed multiple PCs and started throwing around cold damage.
The main difficulty with this battle was people lacking a way to see invisible things. Eventually the theurge managed to plug mutlple of them with glitterdust but without that it would have been much worse. I did try to mind wipe one person but they just made the save using a GM reroll.
This fight took a good 2.5 hours. There are a lot of enemies, they can self heal, the greater claws have DR and the battleground is very large making area effects less effective. The greater claws also have very high and reliable damage potential, swift action greater invisibility is very strong.
Once the battle was over they disguised one of their number as a mantis agent and snuck the prisoners out with the reverse chewy manouver.
I wasnt clear if they needed to make another round of checks to get out of the courtyard or to move through the city. As they had already maxxed out their awareness I decided it wasnt necessary. They got the information they needed from Strake and headed off into the jungle.
I skipped the encounter with Rurat due to time. I did initially start it but decided against when I realised the time. My players were a bit miffed that they could not diplomacise him. They did have the clues about his general attitude but didnt pick up on them.
This encounter didnt take a huge amount of time but still was pretty damned dangerous. The enemies are massive, have huge reach and the area provided is pretty small. I ended up quadrupling the map area for the group just to give them some sort of chance. They attacked from invisibility, fortunately two people attacked had freedom of movement. The monk got mauled and grabbed. Various people provoked many times but the witch really saved the day with a hex with prevented the use of claw attacks. Damage was taken but this was done with in about 40 minutes
On paper I think this is probably the weakest of the encounters with mostly class levelled enemies. They managed to get their surprise attack off, badly wounding the ranger and setting off the bleed. The witch dropped particulate form on everyone negating any further sneak attacks or bleed damage but I ruled that the rangers bleed would continue given the special rules in place.
The soul eaters were predictably dangerous and savaged people with their high attack bonus. I would have killed the witch with destruction (she had sub 100hp and failed the save) but I allowed a retrospective boon to be applied as it was late and we were all tired. The multiclassed barbarian did nothing the entire fight as he failed the save against the high priestesses first spell and never managed a save (+6 will save in seeker tier, not recommended).
Eylysia was actually quite useful, providing critical healing at times and trapping the priestess in a resilient sphere to give the group a round of breathing room. I also allowed her cone of colds to get rid of some of the illusions from crimson bluff.
This ended up being a far more gruelling and difficult fight than I had expected.
My current PbP group has an oracle, sorcerer, swashbuckler, paladin/cavalier, arcane archer and monk at tier 14-15. The 17-18 group is likely to have a summoning wizard and druid. It will be interesting to see how the do differently. the 17-18 group may well play on hard mode.
If we're GMing this at GenCon, should we offer folks the option of Hard Mode? I'm a little nervous about that could make the scenario run long.
I'm running a couple tables of this at GenCon and was just wondering the same thing. What I think I will do is make the offer with the caveat that I will evaluate things after the first fight and if we are not making good time, I'm not doing hard mode going forward. I would be very sad not to get to do the optional encounter though. I just want those things on my table as I think it will look amazing.
|⦵ Gary Bush Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha|
Played this on Sunday with 6 characters in high tier 17/18.
1. As a player, I wasn't realize there were Awareness points. But the group prepared well and didn't run into any patrols. (I assume the attackers at Eylysia's lair were not a patrol.)
2 We fought Rurat as not enough people disguised themselves as Reptilian.
3. The scenario took 6 and a half hours on normal mode. I _cannot_ recommend hard mode at Gen Con, or any location with time limitations. Note: that in the final fight, the Fire/Water Kineticist panicked when the Red Mantis Squad showed up and knocked out Eylysia with Suffocate in the first round. If she's supposed to help the party, then that slowed things down.
4. For people interested in party composition & tactics
We entered port with a Mind Blank running, went to the party, the Pagoda, back to the party with two Break Enchantments to get Strake back in his body & departed via Wind Walk before the Mind Blank expired.
The Kineticist took out both Soul Eaters with some help from the Paladin, about 75/25. The Kinny easily passed out more damage than any other character, followed by the inquisitor.
I played this at high tier with Andrew as the GM.
I believe that there was one character who was level 16, the rest of us were 17 or 18.
We did NOT play in hard mode and it took us a little over 6 hours to finish the scenario (with Andrew pushing things along a bit from time to time).
None of the characters were insanely overpowered but we were all fairly well built and fairly well played. Even so, some reasonably difficult encounters (I don't think we were ever close to actually losing, but we were definitely close to seeing some characters die).
I was playing a L1 Monk/L17 druid that relied almost totally on shapechange for damage. Took the level of monk at L18 so I was quite glad to see how it played. She was incredibly good defensively and contributed offensively but did significantly less damage than the paladin or the archer
I deliberately somewhat underplayed the druid. She is a ridiculously good scout, for example, but I never bothered mostly because it would almost certainly have eaten up too much time. And one character (we had a summoning character (wizard?)) spamming summons seemed quite enough to me so I NEVER summoned and my Lion animal companion stayed as a statue throughout.
Andrew told us what the hard mode adjustments were. I think we would still have prevailed at hard mode (likely with a character death or 2 along the way) but it would have taken longer.
One issue at high level play definitely showed up. Several of us weren't really familiar with their character (I last played my druid over 2 years ago) and so we dithered a little. Option paralysis is always a bit of a problem at high levels, its worse when you're in a new group with moderately unfamiliar characters.
Bottom line - I'd be VERY wary of hard mode in a Con slot. If I ever run this locally, I'll almost certainly dedicate 3 slots to running the two scenarios (non hard mode) or 2 per scenario (hard mode).
We managed a little under 5 hours at 14-15 tier. I haven't read the scenario, but I think we had a good teleporter and made agressive use which helped us shave some time. Our GM is also quite experienced with high level play so that certainly helps. There was the 1 encounter on normal mode with the very rarely seen in PFS ability that looked like it was going to proove very lethal. As it was there was only 1 death, but I'm sure Hard Mode would have TPK'ed us. That said we had a couple of level 12's so were were very far from optimized for a Hard mode.
I've put together a set of half-assed statblocks for all three tiers. The formatting is rather inconsistent, and I can't guarantee 100% accuracy, so I'd rather not put them up at PFSPREP.
However, if anyone would like a copy, please send me a private message with your email address, and I'll send them to you as attachments.
|Linda Zayas-Palmer Developer|
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Ok, having gone back through things I have a few queries.
ENCOUNTERS A and B:
Yes, just run as written for these.
This is an error that does fundamentally affect the encounter. GMs can give them the same fly speed and maneuverability as the regular mantis.
Go ahead and pick another spell for spell immunity, since dispel magic doesn't work.
While the heavy shield plus casting was an oversight, it should be fine because she basically only has the weapon to create the illusory images.
Its true that her swift actions are in high demand. Each GM will need to use their discretion about which choices are best for her to take in a given round.
For the assassins, the wands got moved out of low Subtier when I realized that UMD was going to be a potential issue and the mask basically covered it anyway. The high subtier still has the wands around as a backup for the assassins if they run out of spells (and primarily to give the PCs partially charged wands). For the elite ones, the regular bonus would be +20 instead of +16, that's a typo, as is the listed Dex of 16.
And finally, Eylysia's saving throw numbers do not include the bonus that mind blank applies to mind-affecting and divination effects. She does not have a resistance bonus other than the mind blank spell.
Thanks Linda, that is very helpful. Currently running it in PbP and may be running one or more tables for the Gameday.
Its a big complicated beast of a scenario with multiple class levelled enemies. I strongly recommend a lot of preparation if you are running this, there is a lot to get your head around.
I also have a set of stat blocks for each tier along with running notes. I have hesitated to put the notes up anywhere as they contain a lot of information about the scenario as I hate running from PDF. If you wwant a copy of my stat blocks PM me.
|Jeffrey Stop Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit|
For A1, the mod lists a permanent alarm spell 100 feet down the stairway. It lists it as a trap and gives a Perception DC to find it.
As far as I know, alarm is not a trap (though magical traps seem to include the spell as part of their nature) and cannot be detected in this way.
And if it was truly a trap, it should have a Disable Device DC listed.
I assume the scenario applies it as a deviation from the usual rules. It cannot be disabled but people could try to go around it or dispel it.
The groups I have run for recently have slightly fallen afoul of the inability to buff just before entering the chamber. People seem to forget that wands and spell buffs require you to be able to speak to activate them.
I've run this myself and now I'm in a game playing it and in my party we have a summoner whose eidolon got memory drained by the hyakume. This has lead to an argument about how the memory drain ability will affect the eidolon, what it will do and if it can be broken. It never came up when I GMed it so I have nothing to go on here.
Question to the hivemind: how did you guys run the ghost mantises’ Ghost Claw ability, because it specifically calls out being able to make attacks of opportunity on the Material Plane, not anything about non-AoO attacks.
I limited their Ghost Claw attacks from one plane to another to AOOs. Otherwise, I had them emerge from the ethereal plane (move action) and then either take one attack if there was a PC within 30 ft or move towards the PCs.
|Steven Schopmeyer Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero|
We took the full five hours Thursday morning in the first slot at GenCon, handwaving the rest of the fight with Saviya. (Bewildering Koan would have given us a number of rounds to beat on her so it wasn't a big deal.) Definitely do not recommend trying to run Hard Mode there due to time constraints, although a TPK would certainly end it on time!
KingTreyIII wrote:Question to the hivemind: how did you guys run the ghost mantises’ Ghost Claw ability, because it specifically calls out being able to make attacks of opportunity on the Material Plane, not anything about non-AoO attacks.I limited their Ghost Claw attacks from one plane to another to AOOs. Otherwise, I had them emerge from the ethereal plane (move action) and then either take one attack if there was a PC within 30 ft or move towards the PCs.
In that case it makes their “before combat” tactics a bit strangely worded: “The mantis lurks in the Ethereal Plane, moving toward approaching prey to use its ghost claw ability.”
|Steven Schopmeyer Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero|
I was a bit meaner. I allowed them to make opportunity attacks as the group explored and then triggered initiative giving them a chance to tranport to the material plane and pehaps do something on the off chance they actually grabbed someone. However, at this level freedom of movement or a talisman are pretty much everywhere.
Took us 7 or 8 hours with many pauses on 17-18 tier with hardmode. We took our time to RP. Some of the characters were quite monstrously optimized, others were just decently well built, so it never really felt dangerous. The "mass combat in the background" was cool, but the different options to pay for it were nowhere equal. 3d6 spell levels are quite a lot compared to hp loss. Everyone except me decided to lose hp and then heal back to full. I just spent some ki and replenished it with a wand of replenish ki. Other than that, it was a cool seeker adventure, definitely looking forward to running it in the future.
I ran this twice at GenCon, the first group ran in Hard Mode, middle tier. They didn't have any problems with encounters until the last, where they were not able to get the cleric down before time ran out (Time Stop + Heal is a devastating combo). Second time was low tier, normal mode, and they got through all encounters, including the optional (my favorite of the scenario). In each case (including when I played it), we had someone in the party with a permanent see invisibility of one flavor or another (Magic Item, Class Ability or Familiar), so none of them were surprised by the Mantises.
|Janice Piette Venture-Agent, Ohio—Columbus aka Cirithiel|
I ran part 1 for a local group the weekend before GenCon at 17-18 (yup, I’m a glutton for punishment).
Our run time was about 7 hours. Mostly spent on roleplay, as this was a power build group and they trivialized the encounters.
Like CigarPete, both Mantis encounters were shut down quickly by people with near-permanent see inivisibility. They knew what they were walking into in the Pagoda encounter and focused fire on the Hyakume. He didn’t last past round two. Three huge water elementals then played mop-up on the claws and that was that. The party was highly amused to discover the new body of the person they were searching for. His new and old body were transported back to Absalom for someone at the lodge to sort out. (The players, of course, are not yet aware of what is about to go down back at the lodge. Poor Monkey Goblin might be thinking he was better off on Mediogalti Island after all.)
Much fun was had Roleplaying the party scenes and sweet talking the patrols around town. I was pleased that none of my party was ready to slaughter the gnome on sight and they listened attentively to her story.
Part 2 is this Saturday. Also at 17-18 (I said I was a glutton for punishment!). I’ll report back on how it all ends...
Encounter A2 has an odd intersection where the four-player adjustment meets with the hard mode adjustment in subtier 14-15.
You're supposed to remove the four lesser mooks, and also replace the lesser mooks with greater mooks.
How are you supposed to combine these? Run with only the two greater mooks originally present, plus the hard-mode adjustments to the master?