1-01 Absalom Initiation


GM Discussion

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Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Captain, Germany—Rhein Main South

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For the area B5 encounter, what is the savebonus of Tavvar and her aides?

2/5 5/5 *

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Having run this, I experimented both ways: automatic success and automatic failure (and played under a GM who automatically failed their save).

In past PFS1 scenarios, there has been specific text about key allied NPCs to the effect of "So-and-so does not roll saving throws or attack rolls; he automatically makes his save and automatically hits." That is where I get the basis for automatic success.

Additionally, no PC in subtier 1-2 would survive Tavvar critically failing her save on a good damage roll, so that would not appear to be within the scope of the challenge (the participating PCs are already risking their own critical fails).

Now, my experience:

You're doing 2d6 every round to 3 x 14 HP and 1 x 21 HP with an average of 7 damage per round on automatic fail plus up to 2 x 25 hp, fast healing 10 shadow wisps that preferentially attack the assistants for more damage. The PCs failed each time I auto-failed the NPC saves and succeeded but were challenged and could have failed with unlucky saves and/or skill checks each time I auto-succeded the NPCs.

It would appear it was intended to be automatic success. The PCs have to have precise builds and tactics (and available resources) to have a chance against automatic fails.

And it would be way to randomly deadly if you added the possibility of critical failure on the NPC saves.

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Regarding the ritual, to avoid TPKs, make sure that you notice two things:

1. The DC to seal a flaw goes down by 2 every time they successfully use a skill to seal one (our GM forgot and DC 22 is hard to hit at 1st level).
2. Tavvar and any assistants alive count as holding 1 flaw sealed, so the PCs only need to seal the Number (7 to 9) minus the number of living NPCs (our GM forgot so we had to seal 9... at DC 22... fortunately we killed 5 shadow wisps and sealed 4, but multiple assistants died after the 5th was sealed, and their survival is a secondary success condition).
3. Killing shadow wisps seals a flaw (our GM forgot, but I had to break pre-knowledge and remind the GM otherwise our table was toast).

P.S. Our GM was a good sport about it.

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston

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Blake's Tiger wrote:

Regarding the ritual, to avoid TPKs, make sure that you notice two things:

1. The DC to seal a flaw goes down by 2 every time they successfully use a skill to seal one (our GM forgot and DC 22 is hard to hit at 1st level).
2. Tavvar and any assistants alive count as holding 1 flaw sealed, so the PCs only need to seal the Number (7 to 9) minus the number of living NPCs (our GM forgot so we had to seal 9... at DC 22... fortunately we killed 5 shadow wisps and sealed 4, but multiple assistants died after the 5th was sealed, and their survival is a secondary success condition).
3. Killing shadow wisps seals a flaw (our GM forgot, but I had to break pre-knowledge and remind the GM otherwise our table was toast).

P.S. Our GM was a good sport about it.

I interpreted your first two things a bit differently here:

1) Only the untrained occult check decreases, the two trained only stay at the same value.
2) Tavvar doesn't hold a flaw sealed only her assistants.

Regrading their saving throws, I GM'd it a number of different ways over the course of the weekend (ran it 6 times), but I was happiest with auto-fail (but not crit fail) for 6 person tables, and auto-succeed on smaller tables.

2/5 5/5 *

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NielsenE wrote:
1) Only the untrained occult check decreases, the two trained only stay at the same value.

Yes. Apologies for being imprecise in my previous post: each success with the two flaw specific skills reduces the occultism check by 2.

NielsenE wrote:
2) Tavvar doesn't hold a flaw sealed only her assistants.

You are correct! Review shows Tavvar is busy serving as the 'anchor.'

(...still would have been about 4 rounds shorter and saved me a bunch if heal scrolls if 3 flaws had been sealed by the living aides. *grumble*)

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I suppose in the absence of Liz telling us or editing the PDF regarding the NPC saves, my advice would be to take your party into account when deciding which flaw to use: pick it based on the party to give them a pair of skills more than one of them is trained in if you can rather than rolling at random.

Also consider how much healing (to repair the NPCs and PCs) and damage they can generate (to kill 25 hp/potentially fast healing 10 shadow wisps) when deciding how to adjudicate the NPC saves.

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston

Any GMs find good approaches for dealing with Gorm's version of the Haunted House? As listed it was hard for me to give the mission and discoveries in a way that the PCs felt satisfied they had completed it. It never felt quite conclusive enough -- the heard rumors, saw an attack, heard voices, found notes on what they were doing. Which is enough, but it lacks the 'proximal' cause for the evilness becoming a haunt. Players wanted a more 'aha' moment -- a confession, a vision retelling, a ritual site to identify, something. None of which seemed in scope for what the Notes they find were.

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston

Concerning the haunt (that Blake's Tiger and I were trying to discuss spoiler-free in another thread).

I had everyone who was in searching in exploration mode role the perception check before they entered the house. The few who heard it though it was rats, or zombies below the floor boards and tried to find stairs down. Strangely, all my tables knew about PF style haunts (experienced PFS1 players), but none wanted to treat this like a haunt.

The trigger as I interpreted it was, the first time a PC re-entered the hall, it triggered. The reset condition is after midnight. The hands only specify the triggering creature (singular) as the target. So I only had one PC get mauled by the hands and be badly bleeding. At which point I dropped into a psuedo initiative (just going around the table, not rolling for it) until either the pc was dead or no longer bleeding. The land speed reduction lasted quite a long time, since typically they stopped the bleeding, but didn't want to rest for 10 minutes inside the house.

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

That makes the encounter much less dangerous, and I'm completely cool with that. I had 2 people Crit Fail on 12 initial damage (so their L1s took 24 damage and went down at Dying 2).

I feel bad for scaring those parties to death (but I managed to not kill anyone by accidentally allowing Heal or Elixirs to stop bleeding).

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

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1. Society or Pathfinder Society lore is missing a DC, I went with 15 (DC 18 in 3-4) since that is the DC one used in other information gathering checks (and fits the lowest level normal DC for player characters in each tier).

2. Precipice Quarter: Thus far in my two runs I went with the Calirso Benarry version of this area, and the "spend the night bit" is a bit challenging, particularly since some NPCs were sleeping and had removed their armor. Even with a couple of rounds to prep (the Zombies were not super silent cumming up through the floorboards), equipping armor was not an option.

That said both groups enjoyed the encounter though it was a bit anticlimactic in one run, being able to trigger weaknesses was well received and the Kyra pregen felt very effective, as did the player using Telekinetic projectile doing slashing damage.

Before they entered I explained Exploration tactics (though all players in both games had playtested and thus had been familiar with the concept) and most went with the one that granted them a free perception check to notice things like hidden doors and traps (the Search exploration activity on page 480 o the CRB).

Both parties could deal "disable" the haunt by using their skills, and the goblin bard was very happy to be able to deal with one of them.

Thus far I haven't seen a haunt trigger.

That said, it took me a couple of tries to read the haunt rules, it is really nice that we now have clear rules to find them before you trigger them (and a couple of other quality of life changes) but being able to apparently remove them permanently with a single check as a big change.

I agree with Blake's Tiger only having one haunt in the CRB is can be a bit confusing particularly since page 524 also features a reaction based single target haunt, though that one can trigger each round. The one in this scenario has likely just once per scenario.

When I first read the Scrabbling Hands hazard I was quite shocked until I noticed that it only affects a single person and does not reset for quite some time. It might have been the uses of "their" in the description, not sure not being a native speaker can trip you up sometimes (I get why it was used though).

When I first read that particular part I was more annoyed that I needed to track marching order in a loose exploration challenge, but that is kinda hard to avoid once you deal with traps.

3. Petal District: All groups mentioned that everything before the ritual was a bit distracting since it usually ends up as the GM reading a lot of text, it really is not very interactive.

3.1 Missing saves, in my second run I went with every one of the NPCs taking normal failure damage, instead of letting them roll. My reasoning for this was based on the fact that they were likely tired and have been working hard to keep things together, and considering their NPC nature I assumed a relatively high chance for a crit fail.

In my first session, the party wizard was actually the first person to try out the death and dying rules, by failing crit failing the check twice. Not doing the save feels fairer to my second group - which had a cleric with them (as did the first but in that run more people used their reactions to prevent damage to the casters).

I would certainly welcome a clarification, but not having them roll and just take a flat amount of damage would prevent this encounter from becoming to swingy.

3.2: Shadow Wisps: I have do admit, that I kinda like their inclusion since that allows a group of tough warriors with little to no applicable skills to just kill those and beat the ritual by offering op their HP and using their decent fort saves.

I assume that the first Wisp spawns when the ritual has acted and that it does not spawn with a wisp already in the room.

What I would have liked to see here, would have been a reminder and page number of the rules regarding tiny creatures with no additional reach (page 474 CRB).
TL DR: It does not have reach, thus it has to enter the square of someone it wants to attack, potentially provoking an AOO if it does not use Step actions. Then it can attack and if that attack works, can try to use the Shroud ability, and if that works attach itself to the targets shadow.

Once that is the case it has reach via Stretch Shadow and could in theory switch shadows and attach itself to another creature's shadow, but only if that creature is adjacent to its current location, not if it was 10 ft. away.

It works but some of the limitations are not immediately apparent without some research in the CRB. This early in systems lifecycle some reminder text would have been welcome.

One of my players commented that many existing players will be loath to spend the action for the knowledge check, I am not sure if that is the case locally, but knowing the weakness can really help here.. as would knowing that it is an undead (for all the casters that can cast heal).

3.3 Ritual and location of NPCs: I went with the assumption of the ritual circle being the size of the round carpet in the middle of the room, with each participant being positioned at one corner. Unfortunately, the scenario is not super clear about that but it felt reasonable.

I also required to players that want to interact to with the ritual to at least be adjacent to it, I could not find any requirement about that, but it cost at least 1 action each.

The ritual was thus far the hardest part of the scenario for both runs, but my sample sized really is too small.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

Blake's Tiger wrote:

That makes the encounter much less dangerous, and I'm completely cool with that. I had 2 people Crit Fail on 12 initial damage (so their L1s took 24 damage and went down at Dying 2).

I feel bad for scaring those parties to death (but I managed to not kill anyone by accidentally allowing Heal or Elixirs to stop bleeding).

Just curious, did your players have someone trained in the Medicine skill and access to a healer's kit?

1/5 5/5

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Even with pre-rolling, the first section can *drag* if you put too much time on it, but it's kind of necessary to introduce the new faction leads. The fastest (of two runs) it took about an hour to get the missions out at GenCon. 50% distraction rate on the first table, 75% distraction rate on the second.

For the mansion haunt of scrabbling and scratching hands I reached under the table and started scratching and clawing at the underside.

Both tables immediately caught the hint and took the appropriate safeguards.

For the boat, I think saving the Rage option for folks who want 'hard mode' is probably the best.

I had a Merisiel attempt to sneak attack Lonely and proceed to get punched down to Dying 1 with one shot on the first table, and the rest of the table was able to talk the poor being down before Merisiel really died hard.

On the second run, the party quickly caught onto the Curiosity and we had a good roleplay session of folks appealing to said curiosity.

For the ritual, on the first run I had to rapid-sketch it, because some of the exploration and other things other places ran over-long.

On the second, we had five of our six pregen characters able to make at least one of the rolls, and the one that didn't was able to handle the wisp enough to allow the ritual to be shut down quickly.

I could easily see the thing becoming a TPK QUICKLY, though.

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Maybe.

Seoni, Merisel, Harsk, Valeros, Ezren, Amiri.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

Blake's Tiger wrote:

Maybe.

Seoni, Merisel, Harsk, Valeros, Ezren, Amiri.

Ah gotcha, you got a group completely without medicine skills and a healers kit, that makes things harder.

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

They even said something at the beginning to the effect of, "We don't have a healer? No? Ah, we'll be fine."

4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Southcoast

A few notes from when I GM'd this at GenCon:

B5: Yeah, the missing saves threw me off. What I did was I assumed their save bonus was +0, but then didn't upgrade/downgrade successes and failures, so they always took full or half. It ended up being a good balance. Additionally, I read the encounter as all of the assistants together hold down one flaw, so I just took one off the total of flaws they had to fix. I did have one table flying through a lot of the encounters with ease, so when we got here, I created new flaws with crit fails just to keep them on their toes. Nobody died and they still got the second prestige, but I wanted them to have a bit more of a challenge.

DCs on Society and Pathfinder Lore: I just used the level-based DCs from the Core Rulebook. That was easy enough at the time because everybody was level 1.

Haunted House: I actually only had one table disable all the haunts before they could trigger. The others had to deal with at least one of them.

Medicine: I consistently reminded players that the Medicine skill is a strong way to heal HP. They were all delightfully surprised by that.

As for Tavaar, one thing did concern me: the conclusion, reporting conditions, and adventure summary on the Chroncile Sheet all refer to recruiting her to the Pathfinder Society, but I didn't see a single dialogue prompt or text instructions stating that this was something the party should consider.

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston

only one of the faction leads request you recruit her

4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Southcoast

NielsenE wrote:
only one of the faction leads request you recruit her

B'oh, that's right. No wonder I was confused; that mission never came from that leader at the tables I GM'd.

1/5 5/5

Ironically, the party was able to give a very solid reason as to why NOT to recruit her (seems that malfunctioning rituals tend to discourage recruitment, who knew??) the first time I ran it, and the second run the person who sent them just wanted the notes, preferably NOT on human flesh.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

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Joe Bouchard wrote:

A few notes from when I GM'd this at GenCon:

B5: Yeah, the missing saves threw me off. What I did was I assumed their save bonus was +0, but then didn't upgrade/downgrade successes and failures, so they always took full or half. It ended up being a good balance. Additionally, I read the encounter as all of the assistants together hold down one flaw, so I just took one off the total of flaws they had to fix. I did have one table flying through a lot of the encounters with ease, so when we got here, I created new flaws with crit fails just to keep them on their toes. Nobody died and they still got the second prestige, but I wanted them to have a bit more of a challenge.

Look, its perfectly okay to make mistakes, but intentionally adding more flaws for crit fails really is not running the scenario as written.

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston

One mistake I made the first time running it was adding extra 'personality traits' to why the ritual was failing rather than adding extra flaws to close for the higher player adjustment. It made it easier not harder, but seemed to make sense that you wanted to make sure it didn't feel like only character could contribute.

Both the ritual and the crowd encounter, suffer a bit, IMO from scattering the rules between the appendix and the encounter write up.

4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Southcoast

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Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Look, its perfectly okay to make mistakes, but intentionally adding more flaws for crit fails really is not running the scenario as written.

You're right, and with a new system, I made a judgement call to provide more entertainment to one table that was flying through everything and looking particularly bored about it. It was the one challenge they had across the entire scenario.

And, not for nothing, I also deducted two flaws for crit successes, as this was one of the very few things in the scenario that did not address crits.

3/5 Venture-Agent, Canada—Alberta—Grand Prairie

Seconding Nielsen. The split rules definitely had me flipping between sheets trying to find details.

I copied how the Rose Street Revenge delayed most the briefing until you were ready to start the mission by having the graduation party as a series of flashbacks. That way the briefing was fresh in the player's mind before every section. I actually missed having a line or two of box text for each faction leader introduction.

I struggled with getting the players to understand that the interruptions were bad, they kept viewing them is another interesting NPC.

I made a narrative mistake of describing the ritual flaws; When Harsk fixed the first flaw he brought his war-axe across the floor, precisely trimming the ritual circle where Tavvar had sloppily 'painted outside the lines' in her haste. Then Valeros tried the same thing and critically failed his (thievery) check, the entire table gasped ready for doom, and I had to play it up that Valeros hesitated and thought better of it at the last second and that there was no critical failure. Fyi, I'm happy there was no critical failures, that would have made it very rough.

I really enjoyed the tour through the Blackros Museum. I had a table that was all new to Society so I got to repeatedly hint at the troubled history of the building. So I'm excited to deliver on that set up in the future with these players.

It was disappointing that there wasn't a Gorgon w/ gorgon art in the Bestiary to show the players while explaining the history of the Running of the Gorgon. The party applied a creative solution of pulling up a wagon and declaring that they were cleaners their to apply moss treatment to the statue. Their bluff bought them a little time but they ended up having to flee an angry mob with the statue in the back of their wagon, this bypassed the daemon encountered but that was good because I'd ran the zombie encounter in the haunted mansion and we were going to run too tight on time.

Grand Lodge 4/5 ****

Anyone have a hard time reporting this? It's not appearing as a viable scenario to report in my event list.

Scarab Sages 3/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, Nebraska—Bellevue

I really enjoyed this scenario. Ran it three times at GenCon and will run it again locally in about a week. I appreciate the breakdowns above. I didn't get the ritual completely right in any of those, but in general people enjoyed the scenario and we finished all four quests in plenty of time. I used the narrative part at the first to link the new faction heads to some of the old faction heads -- linking the two campaigns as a unified story. Those people are still out there after all.

The interesting thing at GenCon was that on Friday morning, I ran for 6 pre-gens. By Saturday night, I ran for 2 pre-gens and 4 created PCs. The difference was interesting and a bit challenging. The pre-gens I was ready for, the created PCs threw a couple of curve balls.

In three games, I had 4 PCs infected with zombie rot and 5 with the disease from the little demons in the park. Each table had someone who got to demonstrate the dying rules. One of those guys demonstrated dying to wounded to dying again. (Thanks to the ritual). That said, we demonstrated to everyone the utility of Treat Wounds.

The funniest part, by far, was the fact that in each case - the religion character "disarmed" the haunt only to have it trigger when they came back from further explorations. (They didn't realize the check wasn't good enough and declared "all clear". In both cases, the players stood around for some time waiting for something to happen before deciding, "he must be right".) Nice trigger.

3/5 *** Venture-Agent, California—Livermore

Travis Z-man wrote:
Anyone have a hard time reporting this? It's not appearing as a viable scenario to report in my event list.

Yeah I've also been having problems. It's not set up for PF2 yet

3/5 ***

This is my first 2e game. I was supposed to play it, but the GM had an emergency and I had to run this thing cold in a system I don't know so I have a couple questions.

How was the haunt in the haunted house supposed to work? It had a stealth DC instead of a perception DC like old haunts and I couldn't figure out what to do with that. Also is it supposed to do 4d6 damage to anyone in the room cause I almost killed half the party with that.

My other question is how much money were the players supposed to get? There's a table at the end, but the values seem pretty low even for a low level game with a silver economy.

Scarab Sages 3/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, Nebraska—Bellevue

The marxman wrote:

This is my first 2e game. I was supposed to play it, but the GM had an emergency and I had to run this thing cold in a system I don't know so I have a couple questions.

How was the haunt in the haunted house supposed to work? It had a stealth DC instead of a perception DC like old haunts and I couldn't figure out what to do with that. Also is it supposed to do 4d6 damage to anyone in the room cause I almost killed half the party with that.

My other question is how much money were the players supposed to get? There's a table at the end, but the values seem pretty low even for a low level game with a silver economy.

You have my sympathies. There's a lot going on in this one. It'd be hard to run cold.

The Haunt's Stealth DC is what your PCs test their perception against. How well is it hidden?

The haunt has an interesting trigger. It triggers when someone re-enters the room. Which is what made my experience interesting. They detected the haunt entering the room, attempted to disarm it and rolled high, but just shy of what they needed. So they thought they had stopped it, going on to explore the house. They then came back into the main room. First player to re-enter triggers the haunt, at which point it has to wait until midnight to reset. The 4d6 can hurt, but the persistent bleed was a lesson point about the value of medicine and healer's tools.

Money is done a bit differently. There are treasure bundles called out in the scenario (total of 10). Each treasure bundle is worth the value listed on the table. So 1st level 1.4 gp x 10 = 14gp for the scenario if they get all 10. Note, the table is reward based on player level, not APL. So if you have 3 firsts and a third level, they all get rewarded based on their level.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
1. Society or Pathfinder Society lore is missing a DC, I went with 15 (DC 18 in 3-4) since that is the DC one used in other information gathering checks (and fits the lowest level normal DC for player characters in each tier).

Thank you!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What about Goblin Players? Do the Attendees bat nary an eye at the presence of goblin Pathfinders or does it depend on GM Discretion?

2/5 5/5 *

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Goblins are always available, official races for PCs now. There is no instructions in the scenario for the NPCs to treat goblin PCs any differently.

Now, an individual goblin's actions might influence things, but not simply being a goblin. In my tables, it was an elf who was the most disruptive to the social scene.

2/5

In the ritual chamber, is it half damage for a successful save vs. the surge of shadow energy (2d6)?

Liberty's Edge 5/5 5/55/55/5 *** Venture-Captain, Maryland— Baltimore

gilaxus wrote:
In the ritual chamber, is it half damage for a successful save vs. the surge of shadow energy (2d6)?

It's described as a basic save, so half on success, no damage on critical success, double damage on crit failure.

Paizo Employee 4/5 ** Developer

Money: In Pathfinder Society 2, players recieve gold equal to the amount listed above the sign-in sheet multiplied by the number of treasure bundles they uncovered. This scenario has 10 possible treasure bundles.

Ritual: The Ritual takes 1 action per attempt to disable. You can attempt to disable it three times per round. If your players are concerned that attempting multiple checks causes you to get hit multiple times,y ou can even make it clear that the researchers are using all their actions to attempt to stabilize the ritual, but are only getting hit by the wave once per round. When a player asked if they had to be in a specific place in the room, I flavored it by saying the researchers can do the fixing, your just trying to figure out what adjustments they have to make.

Haunts: Keep track of who walks over the area with the scratching noises. The hands attack the first player who walks over them a second time. If the players all just walk over the area once and for some reason leave the other end of the house by jumping out the window, they will never trigger the hazard. The hands only attack one player. This all resets at midnight.

Satisfactory Ending to the Haunted House: I used the Mephistopheles haunted and the players had their big "Aha" moment when their research of the book made it clear that spreading the truth lets the souls go free, because he is the "Archdevil of Secrets".

Paizo Employee 4/5 **** Organized Play Lead Developer

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To answer the questions floating around here as well as one other I got asked today:

Lore DC: The Pathfinder Society Lore DC should be 15 (or 10 if the PCs have the faction champion boon for the person in question, which applies to the minor factions).

Saving Throw Bonus of Ritualists: When selecting their number of Hit Points, I assumed that they fail every round (but never critically fail). So let's go with that.

Disabling the Ritual: Each attempt to disable the ritual takes one action.

4/5 ***

Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:


Disabling the Ritual: Each attempt to disable the ritual takes one action.

I played it like that as well, although the disable in the glossary action seems to state it's 2 actions?

4/5

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Anorak wrote:
What about Goblin Players? Do the Attendees bat nary an eye at the presence of goblin Pathfinders or does it depend on GM Discretion?

No issue with goblin characters, but GMs may raise an eyebrow at goblin players.


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As a player, The entire adventure struck me as wildly inappropriate for 1st level organized play initiates as player death and TPKs would be a very common occurrence. As a player, I did not read the module, but the GM showed sections in our after adventure discussion, so I recognize that this post might be wrong if the parts I did not see modify the module.
Difficulties for skill challenges and hazard saving throws were set by the module in the 18-22 range, while the book has a much more survivable recommendation of dc 15 for L1 players. Our GM set 48 hour time limits on most missions, so the players had to go from encounter to encounter without sleep as all missions were given at the party.
Keep in mind that in organized play, party composition is random (about 50% of 4 player groups will either no tank, or no area healer). And many characters will not be optimized. While well designed parties had a chance at survival in the tougher encounters, but player death and party death will occur, given the math, a large percentage of the time because of the 2.0 critical success and critical failure rules.
For example, the escaped creature has a +12 hit prob. Average non tanks have a 17 AC (3 trained in Light armor, 2 dex, 2 for light armor). The creature hits 85% of time (fine), but critically succeeds 25% of time. On a critical success, it has a reasonable chance of killing the character outright due to massive damage, disallowing the hero point save as hero points are spent at the start of the players turn (ie: too late). If a character dies outright in the first blow, it becomes problematic for the remaining three characters to put the creature down - a little bad luck and you have a TPK or survivors fleeing, leaving their downed comrades. Likewise the +16 hit prob, with garbage should be changed to non-lethal damage (as garbage would likely be in real life), as critical successes will be the norm.
The hazards were similar in inappropriate difficulty, as has been mentioned in some earlier comments. For a dc 18 save, most players will have a +5 save, which means they will critically fail about 15% of time, instantly being put in dying condition or dying outright due to massive damage. If 2 out of 4 players go down, the odds of the other players disabling the hazard, and saving the ones that went down are astronomically unlikely. Many newer players will not have memorized the books and might futz around trying to figure out what to do to disable the hazard - are Haunts even in the players handbook?
Pathfinder 1.0 low level modules generally had too easy of combats, allowing players to sleep walk through modules. But if you are GMing this, I would recommend lowering all DCs to the level recommended by the players handbook - to 15s or 16s. And the encounter with the 4d6 base damage with persistent bleed should be heavily modified; lethal "object lessons regarding healing kits and medicine skill" for 1st time players in a new system are inappropriate, and double damage to 8d6 on a critical failure save is instantly lethal to 1st level characters. Time limits should be reset to 7 days to allow the players to rest, or even run, resupply, rest and return.
Don't get me wrong - I had a blast playing, but if this module is going to be the 2.0 pattern, every player should have 2 or 3 back up characters written up prior to the start of play. Or you could do it like the role play classic Paranoia, where every character was given 6 clones to use up as the player repeatedly died.

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston

I think the adventure as written is appropriate for level 1s; but I think its a bit more complex than people often assume to GM and as such its open to fair number of misinterpretations as people get used to the new system. Its also designed to teach how a number of concepts work in 2e so some bad things are more likely to happen (but typically in a way that the party can rather simply recover, if the GM isn't out to kill players)

I think its also trying to shift the needle on what scenarios/encounters look like. There was a greater effort, IMO, to have non-combat solutions be viable to all of the issues. Its a tough line to draw, I had a number of tables that were itching to fight and try out their new characters, but who were also happy to see that they didn't have to just fight everything. Though a number of tables at GenCon around me were definitely lamenting the fact that 'dumb/aggressive' fighters/barbarians now have a much higher initiative modifier and the 'I'm bored, I attack' style play from them can short-circuit some of the more interesting encounters. Fighting the fleshwarp (which is the only 'boss' monster in the scenario), isn't a foregone conclusion, and I think GMs should be playing up the hints/personality to at least make sure that the party has an idea its not attack on sight (unless its Rage when they should be even more prepared for 'this is serious' especially as a lot of groups go there first.)

I don't believe there is any time limit, though I've known GMs who forced it all same day, and others who allowed a full rest whenever the party wanted on this one. Depending on which version of which mission you got, some of them have implied timeliness (house about to be demolished, dangerous creature loose), some soon but not critical( justice delayed aspect on the statue street, someone meddling with rituals she doesn't understand)

Hero points can be spent any time your dying condition would increase (not just start of turn), but that still might not help in the case of massive damage.

The hazard you mentioned (damage + bleed) only affects 1 character. If your GM had it hit everyone that's wrong. And it only resets 1/day.

2/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Based on what you've written, your GM made some mistakes, some of which I made myself the first couple of runs.

Among some of them: the hazards hit only the first triggering person and the Occultism DC decreases each time it's made in the ritual (hopefully they sealed flaws with each shadow wisp killed).

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

Timur7 wrote:
As a player, The entire adventure struck me as wildly inappropriate for 1st level organized play initiates as player death and TPKs would be a very common occurrence. As a player, I did not read the module, but the GM showed sections in our after adventure discussion, so I recognize that this post might be wrong if the parts I did not see modify the module.

I haven't thoroughly read it yet but I have played it, and it did feel tougher than say, The Confirmation or The Commencement. But I don't totally agree with your assesment;

Timur7 wrote:
Difficulties for skill challenges and hazard saving throws were set by the module in the 18-22 range, while the book has a much more survivable recommendation of dc 15 for L1 players. Our GM set 48 hour time limits on most missions, so the players had to go from encounter to encounter without sleep as all missions were given at the party.

I do think the intention is that you experience some resource strain because you have to do more than one thing per day, yes.

DC 18-22 is high for individual skill checks, but they're often DCs that only one person has to succeed at. That's in line with the DC advice in the CRB (p. 504, Group Attempts).

The DC of saving throws against monster/hazard abilities is not based on the level of the PCs facing them, but on the level of the monster/hazard they're facing. Also in the case of monsters, it seems they use a different internal method for generating stats, not the table on CRB p. 503; this is also clear in the Bestiary.

Timur7 wrote:
Keep in mind that in organized play, party composition is random (about 50% of 4 player groups will either no tank, or no area healer). And many characters will not be optimized. While well designed parties had a chance at survival in the tougher encounters, but player death and party death will occur, given the math, a large percentage of the time because of the 2.0 critical success and critical failure rules.

We're going to have to develop a new meta for what roles in a party seem particularly important. That said, if you're getting totally random parties, try introducing a system like Warhorn in your lodge that lets people declare the class and combat role they'd like to play. It helps set up less random parties.

Timur7 wrote:
For example, the escaped creature has a +12 hit prob. Average non tanks have a 17 AC (3 trained in Light armor, 2 dex, 2 for light armor). The creature hits 85% of time (fine), but critically succeeds 25% of time. On a critical success, it has a reasonable chance of killing the character outright due to massive damage, disallowing the hero point save as hero points are spent at the start of the players turn (ie: too late). If a character dies outright in the first blow, it becomes problematic for the remaining three characters to put the creature down - a little bad luck and you have a TPK or survivors fleeing, leaving their downed comrades. Likewise the +16 hit prob, with garbage should be changed to non-lethal damage (as garbage would likely be in real life), as critical successes will be the norm.

The creature hits for 1d10+5 damage which for a CR 3 creature is actually not that extreme. On a crit that goes up to 2d10+10 so an average of 21, max of 30. According to CRB p. 461 you die from Massive Damage if you take twice your maximum HP in a single blow. So a scrawny Con 8 elf wizard with 11 HP would juuuust scrape by on an average critical hit. But a typical human rogue with Con 12 would have 19 HP and simply cannot be killed through massive damage by this critter. So I guess the lesson here is "don't me a minimal HP character".

Also, keep in mind CR 3 for a level 1 party is quite extreme. Even a CR 2 creature is quite scary. CR 1 creatures are plausible threats. Readjust your mental model of PFS1 CR to say "CR +1 is as scary as CR +3 was in PF1".

The creature is not really intended to be fought. A fairly doable DC 15 Sense Motive check reveals a way that it can be pacified without violence. Given that everyone is proficient with Perception that's a doable check. The method of pacification is "random", but as explained on page 4 of the scenario, that just means "GM chooses or rolls a die if they can't choose". If you think these are very green players, pick one of the behavior options that allow pacification without a second choice, like option 1 or 4.

Timur7 wrote:
The hazards were similar in inappropriate difficulty, as has been mentioned in some earlier comments. For a dc 18 save, most players will have a +5 save, which means they will critically fail about 15% of time, instantly being put in dying condition or dying outright due to massive damage. If 2 out of 4 players go down, the odds of the other players disabling the hazard, and saving the ones that went down are astronomically unlikely. Many newer players will not have memorized the books and might futz around trying to figure out what to do to disable the hazard - are Haunts even in the players handbook?

The haunts only affect 1 PC at a time. After that the PCs have plenty of time to purge them before the reset. So if nobody spots the haunts (and remember, the PCs were warned this house might be haunted!) then it becomes all about immediate first aid.

Timur7 wrote:

Pathfinder 1.0 low level modules generally had too easy of combats, allowing players to sleep walk through modules. But if you are GMing this, I would recommend lowering all DCs to the level recommended by the players handbook - to 15s or 16s. And the encounter with the 4d6 base damage with persistent bleed should be heavily modified; lethal "object lessons regarding healing kits and medicine skill" for 1st time players in a new system are inappropriate, and double damage to 8d6 on a critical failure save is instantly lethal to 1st level characters. Time limits should be reset to 7 days to allow the players to rest, or even run, resupply, rest and return.

Don't get me wrong - I had a blast playing, but if this module is going to be the 2.0 pattern, every player should have 2 or 3 back up characters written up prior to the start of play. Or you could do it like the role play classic Paranoia, where every character was given 6 clones to use up as the player repeatedly died.

For PFS, changing the DCs like that is not allowed.

I do think the "must have a healing kit to even attempt Treat Wounds / First Aid to stop Bleed" is a bit of a gotcha. I would advise GMs to check that at least someone in the party has one. Could be done in a "readiness talk" with one of the NPCs at the party.

4/5

NielsenE wrote:


<snip>

I think its also trying to shift the needle on what scenarios/encounters look like. There was a greater effort, IMO, to have non-combat solutions be viable to all of the issues. Its a tough line to draw, I had a number of tables that were itching to fight and try out their new characters, but who were also happy to see that they didn't have to just fight everything. Though a number of tables at GenCon around me were definitely lamenting the fact that 'dumb/aggressive' fighters/barbarians now have a much higher initiative modifier and the 'I'm bored, I attack' style play from them can short-circuit some of the more interesting encounters. Fighting the fleshwarp (which is the only 'boss' monster in the scenario), isn't a foregone conclusion, and I think GMs should be playing up the hints/personality to at least make sure that the party has an idea its not attack on sight (unless its Rage when they should be even more prepared for 'this is serious' especially as a lot of groups go there first.)
<snip>

Regarding the fleshwarp, when I played we had a pair of rogues scouting ahead stealthily and we found it hiding under the stairway. The positioning led us to interpret that as preparing to ambush the party which quite naturally resulted in two sneak attacks to counter-ambush the ambusher. It didn't even occur to us that it was just trying to hide from the party.

2/5

I am having some difficulty determining if certain creature abilities suffer from the multi-attack penalties. It says in the core rulebook that every check that has the attack trait suffers from the multiple attack penalty.

So how do you handle Shroud and Stretch Shadow from the Shadow Wisps in Blakros Museum? I played it that there was no dice roll, so there was no multiple attack penalty.

However, if the wisp used a player's shadow to attack another player that would suffer from the MAP. Is this correct?

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston

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gilaxus wrote:

I am having some difficulty determining if certain creature abilities suffer from the multi-attack penalties. It says in the core rulebook that every check that has the attack trait suffers from the multiple attack penalty.

So how do you handle Shroud and Stretch Shadow from the Shadow Wisps in Blakros Museum? I played it that there was no dice roll, so there was no multiple attack penalty.

However, if the wisp used a player's shadow to attack another player that would suffer from the MAP. Is this correct?

Shroud is not an attack, so it is not effected nor effects MAP. At least as listed. (It does seem very similar to all the Grab/Trips/etc that would trigger MAP, but it lacks the attack trait, so RAW, no MAP interactions.)

Stretch Shadow has a couple of bits -- it does damage, no roll, to the attached creature, and then makes a Strike with reach 10. A Strike interacts with MAP in all the usual ways.

Dark Archive 2/5

I'm prepping this for Dragon*Con this weekend and wanted to double check one thing.

Am I reading this correctly that if you get the Westgate mission from Calisro Benarry to help the Naga, instead of from the others, you only face the crowd? However, if you get that mission from Eando Kline (goblins) or Fola Barun (deamons) there is a 2nd fight at this location? It appears that you are supposed to calm (or fight) the crowd in all 3 versions of this encounter. Is that correct?

Is it supposed to be balanced out in some way that I am missing? For example not running the optional if they go to the haunted house some time after Westgate, or just making sure that I pick Calisro's version of the mission if 4 pregens sit down to my table?

Also, assuming that I am reading it correctly, what is the timing of the second attack? I am currently planing to play it by ear depending on how much or how little the party has been challenged up to this point - but kind of plan it to happen just as they free the petrified person (who will then duck for cover as a non-combatant).

Sovereign Court 3/5 5/5 *

The balance for Calisro is they're much, much more likely to have to fight the crowd. As the DCs to placate the leaders are 5 higher for her mission.

The idea being that the party will most likely fight the crowd for her, and has a strong chance of bypassing the crowd fight for the others, thus doing the goblin or demon fight as the only encounter there.

Also note the modifiers on the fight itself for Calisro's version. The leaders and crowd all get +2 to attack rolls, damage, and I believe saves.

Dark Archive 2/5

GM Suede wrote:

The balance for Calisro is they're much, much more likely to have to fight the crowd. As the DCs to placate the leaders are 5 higher for her mission.

The idea being that the party will most likely fight the crowd for her, and has a strong chance of bypassing the crowd fight for the others, thus doing the goblin or demon fight as the only encounter there.

Also note the modifiers on the fight itself for Calisro's version. The leaders and crowd all get +2 to attack rolls, damage, and I believe saves.

Thanks! I just noticed those adjustments for her version of the mission on my most recent read through.

2/5

I'm working through reading the scenario, will be GM'ing it twice on the coming weeks. Sounds like some really evocative encounters, really looking forward to it. The discussion in this thread so far helped my with some not-obvious mechanical aspects. But I have a couple of questions, story-wise:

Flotsam Graveyard, Vigilant Seal
So, Eando wants the PC to make a judgement on what to do with the creature. I'm drawing a blank here on what a viable (and satisfactory) conclusion could be. Having it Rage would seem like a cop-out, since that takes away all the choice from the PC's. However, supposing the pacify the Fleshforge Dreg, what then? I don't have enough background information to make an adequate call on what seems viable. Will the creature still be a threat? It's a construct with very limited intellect, right? Could it be re-purposed by the PC's?

Westgate, crowd statistics
The stats for the angry crowd leave my wondering. Are they meant to do lethal damage? IS the crowd so angry that they'll risk murdering some Pathfinders over it? On that note, could you kill someone by throwing garbage at them? The whole thing seems to make much mroe sense if they do nonlethal damage. But that's not as it was written. Could the crowd take a penalty to attack to deal nonlethal damage with a 'normal' attack (like the crowd leaders might do?)

Westgate, Cacodemon
The scenario doesn't really mention how these fiends are unleashed. It seems like a Summon spell wouldn't work, because then the summoner would have to stay present and concentrate. Maybe a magic item is thrown at the PC's, which 'ports in a number of the monsters?

4/5 ***

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GM Iff wrote:

Westgate, Cacodemon
The scenario doesn't really mention how these fiends are unleashed. It seems like a Summon spell wouldn't work, because then the summoner would have to stay present and concentrate. Maybe a magic item is thrown at the PC's, which 'ports in a number of the monsters?

I've been describing it as 2 demons in a trench coat that burst free after the crowd dispurses, upset that their plan for violent insight failed.

Horizon Hunters 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 ***

Just died from a Massive Damage crit from another character in the haunted house.

60 points of damage to a 16 point character.

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