So I ran 2e for the First Time . . .


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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I had my first chance to run 2e and I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the new rules and their effect on my game. I ran the first part of Age of Ashes basically as written.

First up: Secret Checks. I thought that the rules for secret checks would slow things down. I needed to know everyone’s scores and then personally roll for everyone. It sounded like a drag. Plus, it seemed to take some of the fun away from the players. In fact, the secret checks worked great. It actually sped things up because I could just roll quickly for everyone and do the math in my head. When it came to searching in particular, it really helped with meta gaming as people were basically forced to accept the result of their effort. There was also a nice feature of the adventure that basically changed the results based on how much time the party allocated to the search. This made searching into a game of resource management. Finally, the secret knowledge checks were also fun. We had one critical failure when one player tried to find the way toward the tower that sent the party on the wrong direction. We also had a critical success that resulted in another player learning some interesting information about the goblin tribe they were dealing with. In both cases it changed the story in an interesting way.

Next surprise: Damage was not spikey as I thought it would be. I assumed with the new critical rules that combat would involve a lot of burst damage and sudden kills. That wasn’t the case. First of all, criticals were still not all that common. In most cases you would need to roll a 20 to crit by getting 10 over the target number. Second, everyone had enough HPs that the occasional crit could be absorbed by most combatants. Finally, they seem to have made damage from spells more consistent and less spikey. The really strong effects only happen on a critically failed saving throw which only comes up about 5% of the time.

Next surprise: Mobility Equals Resiliency. Speaking of resiliency, I was pleasantly surprised how increased mobility changed the game. 2e does two things to increase mobility: it got rid of most attacks of opportunity and got rid of full round actions. The big beneficiaries seemed to be the glass cannons such as the rogue and the casters. Our rogue was able to move around the battlefield from cover to cover and then spring out with a surprise attack, and then duck back into cover if need be. The casters could back off and position if they were targeted. All players easily able to pull back out of combat when they saw that they were in trouble. Finally, when characters went down it was easy for other players to step up and help them. My impression was that all the mobility kept players from feeling “locked out” of the game by being limited only to certain options. Instead a number of tactical opportunities were opened up to all players and they used them to make the party more resilient as a whole.

Next surprise New and interesting treasure I think we are all used to the usual first level treasure haul. Scrolls, potions, etc. 2e opened things up a bit with new kinds of consumables that could be applied to weapons and armor to give truly powerful bonuses but only once. For example one player now has a modification to his battles axe that will let him at +1 and an extra die of damage for one attack. These new magic items seem fun.

Overall, our group had a very positive experience.

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yeah, that's the thing I find surprising, the module (Fall of Plaguestone) is really straightforward when it comes to "exploration" and even "downtime" activity. I haven't read the AP since I plan to play in it.

Everything is put in very simple terms, roll to beat a check and here are suggestions on what could happen, depend on your players' performance.

Playing the game is really less complicated then what people would make you believe.


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That's great to hear! My group is still trying to decide what they want to play and how we want to go. I offered to run the first part of Age of Ashes as well as The Fall of Plaguestone and the new Society Scenarios.


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Zioalca wrote:
That's great to hear! My group is still trying to decide what they want to play and how we want to go. I offered to run the first part of Age of Ashes as well as The Fall of Plaguestone and the new Society Scenarios.

I'll give you a non spoilery review of Age and Plaguestone. They are both very well done (but you expect nothing less from Paizo as adventure writing is their strength).

Ashes is a very traditional beginner first level adventure with a Keep on the Borderland feel. (i.e. a dungeon complex that the PCs will travel back and forth from to the local hamlet with deeper challenges as they level).

Plaguestone start off as a "whodunit." This leads into some location based encounters and then finally a mini dungeon.

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Eltacolibre wrote:

yeah, that's the thing I find surprising, the module (Fall of Plaguestone) is really straightforward when it comes to "exploration" and even "downtime" activity. I haven't read the AP since I plan to play in it.

Everything is put in very simple terms, roll to beat a check and here are suggestions on what could happen, depend on your players' performance.

Playing the game is really less complicated then what people would make you believe.

Maybe you could post about your surprises and experience whet you run Plaguestone. I'd like to hear about it and compare it to peoples' thoughts on Hellknight Hill above.


I super love it because a Hit and Run Alchemist is totally a possible thing to be. I always played hit and run in P1 and well. I knew I was being painfully suboptimal.

In p2 I feel like its okay because of persistant damage and debuffs on attacks.

I just wish I could find in person or text online games haha


"Mobility equals Resiliency"

This works both ways though. There's no reason the DM can't also have the enemies do hit and run tactics. So it can become this slog of trying to chase them down or pin them in long enough to get killing blows.

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For secret checks, I let the players roll their dice multiple times behind my GM screen (so they can't see what they roll) at the beginning of the game.

I write down the results to use them later in order. :)


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MerlinCross wrote:

"Mobility equals Resiliency"

This works both ways though. There's no reason the DM can't also have the enemies do hit and run tactics. So it can become this slog of trying to chase them down or pin them in long enough to get killing blows.

I would argue that this sort of thing generally works against a monster more than it does players when the number of players is greater than the number of monsters. If one strong monster uses an action to skitter away from the melee fighters then the monster has more or less used 1/3 of its "side's" actions just to reduce the number of attacks the melee characters can make; recall that a certain percentage of the party are going to be ranged casters or ranged fighters so the monster's action spent re-positioning isn't going to reduce damage from those guys. There are also plenty of ways to get power attack and barbarians can pick up No Escape at level 2 to similarly bypass an enemy's chance of escape.

Hit and run tactics maybe work a little better with many weak enemies but that is why god made burning hands.


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Thank you for sharing Danbala!


Also I think players have access to more slow down effects. Well humanoid enemies can still get the alchemy slow downs.

So you can kite pretty well that way. Monsters anyway


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MerlinCross wrote:

"Mobility equals Resiliency"

This works both ways though. There's no reason the DM can't also have the enemies do hit and run tactics. So it can become this slog of trying to chase them down or pin them in long enough to get killing blows.

That is why people like barbarians get options where if somebody backs out of range from them they can follow. Also makes grabs and grapples more useful to tie people down in melee.

Attacks of opprotunity and other reactive abilities still can impose danger to those trying to dash in and out of combat but at least in this addition it is not so common as to be very oppressive where you just can't really risk moving at all. Also given things only have one reaction typically if you try to back out of range and get smacked that target can't then retaliate against you casting a spell as a follow up usually.


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MerlinCross wrote:

"Mobility equals Resiliency"

This works both ways though. There's no reason the DM can't also have the enemies do hit and run tactics. So it can become this slog of trying to chase them down or pin them in long enough to get killing blows.

Maybe. But when you are fighting giant rats and skeletons it doesn't seem in character for the enemy to do that. Also, in most cases the monsters are outnumbered which limits that tactic's effectiveness for them.


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One of my groups ran Escaping The Grave on Saturday.

Probably should have read some reviews of the module first. It was fairly weak in terms of engaging player interest. In the end, separating "this was not fun because of the module" versus "this was not fun because of the rules" was difficult.

Martials were more productive than PF1. Our casters were on cantrips most of the time, which was a positive considering in PF1 the cantrips would have been pointless. But that still wasn't enough to keep up.

And the final fight was... dumb. Deliberately not metagaming, my barbarian provoked an AoO from a bad guy and went from two points from raging maximum hitpoints to... dying 1. Due to the math, the bad guy basically had to roll a 7 in order to crit, which issues fatal damage. It nuked our alchemist next. The rest of the party ran away because there was no way to address the CR +1 monster, let alone his henchmen.

But again... that's the material, not the game. We're going to give it another try because we're adults, not children.


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Anguish wrote:
And the final fight was... dumb. Deliberately not metagaming, my barbarian provoked an AoO from a bad guy and went from two points from raging maximum hitpoints to... dying 1. Due to the math, the bad guy basically had to roll a 7 in order to crit, which issues fatal damage. It nuked our alchemist next. The rest of the party ran away because there was no way to address the CR +1 monster, let alone his henchmen.

I think your GM may have changed something, because

Escaping the Grave spoiler:
Ralthiss has a +10 to hit with melee and a +12 to hit with spells, meaning you'd have to have an AC of 7 or 9 for him to crit on a roll of 7. The skeletal gladiator has a +14, meaning your AC would need to be 11 for a crit on a roll of 7.

The 5' step is still a thing. It just costs an action. I am rather happy its still there but does have a cost.

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Fumarole wrote:
Anguish wrote:
And the final fight was... dumb. Deliberately not metagaming, my barbarian provoked an AoO from a bad guy and went from two points from raging maximum hitpoints to... dying 1. Due to the math, the bad guy basically had to roll a 7 in order to crit, which issues fatal damage. It nuked our alchemist next. The rest of the party ran away because there was no way to address the CR +1 monster, let alone his henchmen.
I think your GM may have changed something, because ** spoiler omitted **

And those are the numbers for the higher Subtier; the numbers for the lower Subtier are 2 less.

Though that does bring up the question of whether the right version was being used for the group? If the party were 1st or 2nd level and the 3-4 encounter stats were being used, it would be pretty rough and the success rates for just about everything would dip precipitously. I've seen a few people note the final encounter as being pretty rough, but critting on a 7 shouldn't happen even if you're a 10 Dex wizard wearing a bathrobe, unless you're a level 1 character playing up into the higher subtier (and even then I can't think of a situation where a 7 works out to a crit.)


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@Fumarole, it was the second creature you mentioned. I did not see the specific statblock, but I had AC 14 due to rage and being a two-hander. I may be misremembering the exact roll the DM said was required, but with the attack modifier you point out we're still looking at a 50% chance of critting. Which seems really wrong. Like... not even in the ballpark of sensible when that crit is fatal. I volunteer that the second crit against my barbarian was my own fault because I chose to stand up and provoke deliberately in the hopes that I might buy the alchemist a chance, if the dice were lucky. They weren't even remotely.

@Michael, I was explicitly told the DM ran the lowest tier. There were five PCs, but the DM (note: this is NOT society play... this was just at home) specifically said he ran the easy tier.

I can only relate what I'm told and what I experienced, but the encounter was a meatgrinder, which shredded all the hitpoints that went near its components. 21 damage with an attack that crits even vaguely close to 50% of the time isn't something you can learn from; you're dead already. It's also basically auto-hit on first attacks, 75% on seconds (which together is fatal), and the same 50% on a third attack.

But more importantly, that encounter was designed to happen after a day of sapping the party's resources, not allowing rest. Again, I try to separate the rules from the module.


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That seems an pretty low AC even with the -1 penalty.

Your barbarians level 1 AC should be 10(base) + 2 (trained in armour) + 1 (level) +3 (hide armour if your dex is bad) +1 (dex) = 17 AC, 16 with Rage, you could also be 14 dex which pumps that up one higher.

It’s a potentially tough fight alright and your AC being lower than expected can really sting especially against the tougher foes in it.


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AC 15. -1 raging. Studded leather, because I'm not looking to reduce mobility. Of course... that means dead. Which is - I guess - the consequence of not picking the highest possible number.

But really, this is derailing a little.

I would like to add two good comments:

1} I was VERY pleased at being able to play against the stereotype. My character, Pho, was our very first ever gnome barbarian. With the voluntary flaw system, she sacrificed by having one extra flaw overall (Wis), and was able to be Str +4, Con +2. Very cool.

2} In the module, there is a DC to move a thing. Her background gave her Heavy Hauler. That specific choice (maxed Str plus that feat) was the only way to meet the DC. So this gnome... she was able to do that which normally would take a team of people. Which was roleplay gold. I mean, really, really cool.


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Eh, if you are Strength 14 or better you can ignore speed penalty from hide armour, but I understand what you mean.


Excaliburproxy wrote:

I would argue that this sort of thing generally works against a monster more than it does players when the number of players is greater than the number of monsters. If one strong monster uses an action to skitter away from the melee fighters then the monster has more or less used 1/3 of its "side's" actions just to reduce the number of attacks the melee characters can make; recall that a certain percentage of the party are going to be ranged casters or ranged fighters so the monster's action spent re-positioning isn't going to reduce damage from those guys. There are also plenty of ways to get power attack and barbarians can pick up No Escape at level 2 to similarly bypass an enemy's chance of escape.

Hit and run tactics maybe work a little better with many weak enemies but that is why god made burning hands.

Danbala wrote:
[Maybe. But when you are fighting giant rats and skeletons it doesn't seem in character for the enemy to do that. Also, in most cases the monsters are outnumbered which limits that tactic's effectiveness for them.

Against 1 big target sure. And against Several targets yeah AoE still exists.

4 PCs vs 4 Bandits or even like 4-6 goblins I've just seen it turn into a running battle. And not an actual epic running battle the kind you'd seen in movies or fiction. More like Tom chasing Jerry. So then my own groups see this cartoonish running fight or the martials standing in place to screen the Ranged, usually in a corridor to the point we're back where PF1 put us.

That's funny once. Having it happen all the time is annoying.

Besides, where are we in the multi swing math?


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HidaOWin wrote:
Eh, if you are Strength 14 or better you can ignore speed penalty from hide armour, but I understand what you mean.

Damnit! I caught that meeting the Strength value let you ignore the check to skills, but missed that it worked on speed too. Okay then. More blame on me.

Thanks for the tip!


Glad to hear the OP's positive experience with PF2 in play. I'm looking forward to giving it a trial run this coming weekend.


OP; glad to hear about your game! Looking forward to more of people's experiences (and maybe less complaints on theory craft and builds).


Excaliburproxy wrote:
I would argue that this sort of thing generally works against a monster more than it does players when the number of players is greater than the number of monsters..

I find it best to throw a number of monsters at least equal to the number of party members against the PCs.

Focus fire/action economy is a big thing.

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Ran Escaping the Grave 6 times at GenCon. Setting the tone with a standardized "now I'm not saying time is important, but I am keeping track of it" helped to set a sense of urgency.

The players were engaged with the scenario and for the most part tried to find the quest goals with a sense of urgency. One group preferred caution over urgency, avoiding as much as possible splitting search parties too far. Overall, 2 groups had the best possible time, two a medium result, and two were too slow and triggered the hardest boss fight.

Compared to the scenario I played and the other non-special being run, my impression is that EtG had the best, most "boss-fight" feeling boss fight of the three release non-special scenarios. It is a tough fight.

I also ran the beginning of Age of Ashes, just getting through the initial Call for Heroes. Players are exploring their characters, role-playing, using their skills to know stuff, and did pretty well in first combat.

So far, so great for my experiences.


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There were also few things about 2e, that were more difficult as a GM than I expected:

First up: Action List. When I played to 2e at Gen con and I said “I swing my sword” Jack, our GM, would often correct me by saying “Ok. You take a strike action.” I found it irritating at the time, but now that I have a game as GM under my belt, I know why he did that. Each of the actions have different attributes. The GM needs to understand clearly what action you are using because these actions may trigger certain reactions. For example, if you say “I take a potion out go over to James and pour it into James’ mouth” what you are really saying is “I use an interact action to take out a potion. I use a Stride action to move to James. then I use my final action to use Interact to poor the potion into James’ mouth.” The interact action has the manipulation trait which means it triggers certain reactions — most notably attacks of opportunity. Also the traits effect how often an action can happen in a turn (actions with the “flourish” trait can only be used once per turn). They can also effect the order of you action as some actions can only happen after you use the Strike action, for example. All of this has the potential to be pretty complicated. I wasn’t expecting just how complicated this could be to run. I think Im up to the challenge but it will take some work.

Another thing that will take some getting used to: Item traits. So all of the weapons have traits, armor has traits and so on. This created some confusion in my mind. There are 12 different traits that apply to weapons and they all have special rules. On top of that there are “weapon critical traits” that apply to classes of weapons. Weapons also have materials as before and can be subject to runes or other enchantments that also have special terminology. This is also true of armor that has its on set of traits and materials. For the players this is straightforward: they only have to worry about the traits of the weapon they are using and they can’t use the weapon critical effect if they have a special feat. But for the GM you need to have a handle on all of these rules and how they interrelate. In some cases these rules impact the tactical options of the NPCs. It’s a bit much to try to take in all at once. Again, I’m optimistic I can get on top of it, but it caught me off guard how much extra load this put on my brain.


Danbala wrote:

There were also few things about 2e, that were more difficult as a GM than I expected:

First up: Action List. When I played to 2e at Gen con and I said “I swing my sword” Jack, our GM, would often correct me by saying “Ok. You take a strike action.” I found it irritating at the time, but now that I have a game as GM under my belt, I know why he did that. Each of the actions have different attributes. The GM needs to understand clearly what action you are using because these actions may trigger certain reactions. For example, if you say “I take a potion out go over to James and pour it into James’ mouth” what you are really saying is “I use an interact action to take out a potion. I use a Stride action to move to James. then I use my final action to use Interact to poor the potion into James’ mouth.” The interact action has the manipulation trait which means it triggers certain reactions — most notably attacks of opportunity. Also the traits effect how often an action can happen in a turn (actions with the “flourish” trait can only be used once per turn). They can also effect the order of you action as some actions can only happen after you use the Strike action, for example. All of this has the potential to be pretty complicated. I wasn’t expecting just how complicated this could be to run. I think Im up to the challenge but it will take some work.

Another thing that will take some getting used to: Item traits. So all of the weapons have traits, armor has traits and so on. This created some confusion in my mind. There are 12 different traits that apply to weapons and they all have special rules. On top of that there are “weapon critical traits” that apply to classes of weapons. Weapons also have materials as before and can be subject to runes or other enchantments that also have special terminology. This is also true of armor that has its on set of traits and materials. For the players this is straightforward: they only have to worry about the traits of the weapon they are using and they can’t use the...

One correction: critical specialization effects work by weapon Group, which is not considered a "trait".


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Danbala wrote:

There were also few things about 2e, that were more difficult as a GM than I expected:

First up: Action List. When I played to 2e at Gen con and I said “I swing my sword” Jack, our GM, would often correct me by saying “Ok. You take a strike action.” I found it irritating at the time, but now that I have a game as GM under my belt, I know why he did that. Each of the actions have different attributes. The GM needs to understand clearly what action you are using because these actions may trigger certain reactions. For example, if you say “I take a potion out go over to James and pour it into James’ mouth” what you are really saying is “I use an interact action to take out a potion. I use a Stride action to move to James. then I use my final action to use Interact to poor the potion into James’ mouth.” The interact action has the manipulation trait which means it triggers certain reactions — most notably attacks of opportunity. Also the traits effect how often an action can happen in a turn (actions with the “flourish” trait can only be used once per turn). They can also effect the order of you action as some actions can only happen after you use the Strike action, for example. All of this has the potential to be pretty complicated. I wasn’t expecting just how complicated this could be to run. I think Im up to the challenge but it will take some work.

Another thing that will take some getting used to: Item traits. So all of the weapons have traits, armor has traits and so on. This created some confusion in my mind. There are 12 different traits that apply to weapons and they all have special rules. On top of that there are “weapon critical traits” that apply to classes of weapons. Weapons also have materials as before and can be subject to runes or other enchantments that also have special terminology. This is also true of armor that has its on set of traits and materials. For the players this is straightforward: they only have to worry about the traits of the weapon they are using and they can’t use the...

having run several sessions I don't think you need to be that anal. The basic actions can be used in conversational tone just fine. More complicated activities players tend to call by their names anyway.


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Danbala wrote:

There were also few things about 2e, that were more difficult as a GM than I expected:

First up: Action List. When I played to 2e at Gen con and I said “I swing my sword” Jack, our GM, would often correct me by saying “Ok. You take a strike action.” I found it irritating at the time, but now that I have a game as GM under my belt, I know why he did that. Each of the actions have different attributes. The GM needs to understand clearly what action you are using because these actions may trigger certain reactions. For example, if you say “I take a potion out go over to James and pour it into James’ mouth” what you are really saying is “I use an interact action to take out a potion. I use a Stride action to move to James. then I use my final action to use Interact to poor the potion into James’ mouth.”

Yeah, I'm with Malk_Content in that you don't need to be that anal. You could say (and I'd hope to see more of this): "I take a potion out, go over to James, and pour it into his mouth. That's an interaction, stride, and interaction for my 3 actions, Dan."

Then it feels more natural for the description, but includes the player accounting for the specifics with the GM.


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Bill Dunn wrote:


Yeah, I'm with Malk_Content in that you don't need to be that anal. You could say (and I'd hope to see more of this): "I take a potion out, go over to James, and pour it into his mouth. That's an interaction, stride, and interaction for my 3 actions, Dan."
Then it feels more natural for the description, but includes the player accounting for the specifics with the GM.

Hopefully, we get to that point. In this first game, things sometimes slowed down when I clarified the specific action and the traits associated with that action -- it caused some players to revise their turn.


Colonel Kurtz wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
I would argue that this sort of thing generally works against a monster more than it does players when the number of players is greater than the number of monsters..

I find it best to throw a number of monsters at least equal to the number of party members against the PCs.

Focus fire/action economy is a big thing.

I feel that. I am setting up my own campaign to start in the next two or three weeks and I am going to try a few different balances of enemies and see if I get any unusual or disastrous results. I can maybe comment more on it then.


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Reckless wrote:

Ran Escaping the Grave 6 times at GenCon. Setting the tone with a standardized "now I'm not saying time is important, but I am keeping track of it" helped to set a sense of urgency.

The players were engaged with the scenario and for the most part tried to find the quest goals with a sense of urgency. One group preferred caution over urgency, avoiding as much as possible splitting search parties too far. Overall, 2 groups had the best possible time, two a medium result, and two were too slow and triggered the hardest boss fight.

Compared to the scenario I played and the other non-special being run, my impression is that EtG had the best, most "boss-fight" feeling boss fight of the three release non-special scenarios. It is a tough fight.

This suggests to me what happened with us.

The DM said we were on the "easiest tier". Others have mentioned that word with regards to the overall difficulty/statblocks involved, as a PFS module. I assumed that's what he meant. Now, I think he meant that we were on the easiest version of the boss fight based on time. We likely were on a higher tier due to having 5 PCs instead of 4. So this too explains some of what we experienced.

I should read the module.


Danbala wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:


Yeah, I'm with Malk_Content in that you don't need to be that anal. You could say (and I'd hope to see more of this): "I take a potion out, go over to James, and pour it into his mouth. That's an interaction, stride, and interaction for my 3 actions, Dan."
Then it feels more natural for the description, but includes the player accounting for the specifics with the GM.

Hopefully, we get to that point. In this first game, things sometimes slowed down when I clarified the specific action and the traits associated with that action -- it caused some players to revise their turn.

I'm sure we will. I like the trait system and I think that, yeah, it has a bit of a learning curve out of the gate but once it's been played with a bit people will be able to quickly internalize it, which will in turn lead to quickhand jargon and descriptive turn narration like Bill suggested.

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Anguish wrote:
Reckless wrote:

Ran Escaping the Grave 6 times at GenCon. Setting the tone with a standardized "now I'm not saying time is important, but I am keeping track of it" helped to set a sense of urgency.

The players were engaged with the scenario and for the most part tried to find the quest goals with a sense of urgency. One group preferred caution over urgency, avoiding as much as possible splitting search parties too far. Overall, 2 groups had the best possible time, two a medium result, and two were too slow and triggered the hardest boss fight.

Compared to the scenario I played and the other non-special being run, my impression is that EtG had the best, most "boss-fight" feeling boss fight of the three release non-special scenarios. It is a tough fight.

This suggests to me what happened with us.

The DM said we were on the "easiest tier". Others have mentioned that word with regards to the overall difficulty/statblocks involved, as a PFS module. I assumed that's what he meant. Now, I think he meant that we were on the easiest version of the boss fight based on time. We likely were on a higher tier due to having 5 PCs instead of 4. So this too explains some of what we experienced.

I should read the module.

Could be a misread by your GM. They have scaling in the scenario for 5 or 6 players. For 5 players

Spoiler:

The GM is supposed to add a zombie.

If you do it the fastest, it should be necromancer fatigued and 1 skeletal champion (plus the aforementioned zombie). A little slower and he's not fatigued. Additional slowness yields 1-4 additional zombies. Of you play with 6 players, it's two skeletal champions plus zombies based on speed.

With the skeletal champions having +10 to hit, they need to roll 14 or better to crit, doing 2d8+8 damage on a crit. (or 1d8+4 doubled)

The Skeletal Gladiators (on the higher tier) are +14 to hit with 1d8+8 damage.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Also a level 1 character in the 3-4 subtier would get a significant mentor bonus from the higher-level Pathfinders (and there must be higher level Pathfinders around to be playing 3-4 in the first place). It sounds like you somehow played the 3-4 subtier with 5 1st-level characters though, and even completed the investigation as fast as possible, in which case Anguish, your group are incredible tacticians and great at teamwork to even make it that far. You guys rock! Now I want to try to play that adventure on the same settings with my most tactical players and see if they can make it there. I kind of like the name "Anguish mode" for the play on words, but only if you would feel it was an homage / positive thing. If I do this (not sure I have the time), I will report back with how it goes.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Reckless wrote:
For 5 players

Thanks for the details. What you describe is what happened. More later, as I reply to Mark.

Spoiler:
Fatigued necromancer, 1 skeletal champion (creature 2), plus a zombie. It was the champion that was the real issue. The zombie was occupied (nearly) killing the druid's animal companion in one round.

Mark Seifter wrote:
Also a level 1 character in the 3-4 subtier would get a significant mentor bonus from the higher-level Pathfinders (and there must be higher level Pathfinders around to be playing 3-4 in the first place). It sounds like you somehow played the 3-4 subtier with 5 1st-level characters though, and even completed the investigation as fast as possible, in which case Anguish, your group are incredible tacticians and great at teamwork to even make it that far. You guys rock! Now I want to try to play that adventure on the same settings with my most tactical players and see if they can make it there. I kind of like the name "Anguish mode" for the play on words, but only if you would feel it was an homage / positive thing. If I do this (not sure I have the time), I will report back with how it goes.

You're welcome to the name. It'd be amusing, if anything.

Some of the words you use mean things to me in a dictionary sense, but not a game sense. We don't do PFS. I bought these adventures for us to have something shorter to run than the month's module or AP. "Mentor bonus?"

As for our progress...

Spoiler:
We're pretty veteran players.

We screwed up the skill tests on the way in, because d20s do have sides labelled "2" and "3", and we were blessed with witnessing that fact repeatedly.

Upon arrive at the town, we immediately visited the college first, viewing it as the least random, most purposeful structure in the area. Building-to-building is fine, but a distinct building is always a preferable target.

There, we split in teams of 2 or 3 (5 PCs), mostly "team Small (my gnome barb and a goblin alchemist)" and "team average" (human druid, human wizard, human cleric).

We avoided the collapsing ceiling trao and centipedes on the basis that the room didn't need obvious messing with.

The floor trap was avoided by recognizing it as a danger, and my barb roped the goblin up and he belly-slid to the edge. No meaningful drop because I already had tension on the rope, expecting it.

We found the NPC, and headed back to town, armed with knowledge of what we needed. In a hurry, but unbloodied.

We had one (big) issue with heading into town. One of the players decided to hustle, and I elected not to, being disinclined to be fatigued/exhausted. The rest of the party went with, so the zombie encounter in town was 4 PCs, no barbarian. It was rough, and a couple PCs went down, but ultimately it was won. I'd say that fight was fair and reasonably balanced (I believe it was properly scaled up for 5 PCs, so what it brought to the table was fierce but fair.) Reading the stats, it looks like we got subtier 3-4 on this. Definitely plague zombies and the horse's aura.

After that, we found the cart and divided up three ways. Alchemist repaired the cart, indicating he'd scream his head off if troubled. The rest of us divided into two teams and searched the place. No trouble with traps as we detected and avoided them. As far as I know, we got all the loot.

We made an equine friend.

Back to the college with cart and horse. We triggered the ceiling and centipede trap but it was pretty trivial. My barb handed her equipment over to the cleric, rendering her at 0 bulk carried, and just... power-lifted the statue. Again very cool that the DC (16) was just attainable by one character with the lucky right feat. I really wish Pho lived, because she was cool.

Anyway, outside, and up comes the meat-grinder.

Ralthis never did anything meaningful because the fight was really over in two rounds. I intended to let the enemy come to us to burn an action or two, but the druid malfunctioned and sent her companion forward to deal with the zombie. The alchemist moved up somewhat, and lobbed at the skeleton. The skeleton moved to him and popped him for most of his life. At that point it became a "can I rescue the alchemist?" game, not a "can we win this?" game. I moved around to try to flank to give the best odds at hitting, and deliberately forced myself to not act as if everything has AoO. Which of course the skeleton did.

As mentioned elsewhere, my AC was lower than "expected" by a decent amount because a} I didn't realize I could use medium armor without a speed penalty and b} I didn't pump up Dex "because I'm a walking bag of hitpoints, right" and "I'd like some social skills, so Cha is nice". My fault for not having the expected stats. With AC 14, that monster could hit me on a 1 and crit me on a 10. I see from its stats that the damage rolled was below average, because it did 23 on the first hit/crit. Average is 26. I dropped (having entered the fight with 2hp of damage, at a raging 24 max), but was given a ranged heal. The alchemist also went down.

The zombie got harmed back to health after the druid's animal companion gave up and ran away. The wizard was "out" of anything non-cantrip and those weren't getting him anywhere. I provoked to stand up, hoping the dice would be merciful and I'd find a way to burn the AoO and drag the alchemist away. Nope. Now my AC's 12 because prone. So, yeah. Crit.

So tactically we did most things right. If we had let the final fight come to us, it would have been better, but not great. My character - I believe - was effectively dead the moment I accepted an AoO, regardless of my motivation.

Looking at the adventure, I can see and confirm the DM ran subtier 3-4, which was just fine. I doubt that we would ever have survived with these numbers. 50 hp for the skeleton, when I need to roll a 14 to hit and do 10.5 average damage? Not terribly likely. And Ralthis could have just used a few 3-action harm spells to kill us. I mean. But looking at this, a pair of creature 4? Yeah, not bloody likely. Maybe with some clever kiting and guerilla tactics with building structures, but that would've required surviving a couple rounds to recognize it was necessary. I'm willing to bet that knowing the stats now, this group could do it - at least some of the time - but absolutely not a chance under the as-played circumstances. But bottom line, this encounter isn't the module's fault.

Anyway, thank you (both) very much for engaging and discussing this. I don't deserve any dev input, let alone the time you've burned on me so far. I just want you to know it's appreciated.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Yeah, that 3-4 version of the final is so far beyond an extreme encounter for level 1s, even with maximum success on the rest of the adventure. It's basically supposed to be a boss fight for level 3 characters. Honestly great job beating the <redacted> at 3-4. Its

Spoiler:
aura and the beefier zombies
make that a nasty fight for 1st level characters! So it's not the system, it's not the adventure, it's not your group (who are majorly awesome for winning that fight down a member!) It's just a mistake of running a 3rd level adventure for 1st level characters. If anything it shows the resiliency and power of a clever and tactical group to achieve the really impressive victories you did achieve, in combat and skills alike.

It's not called a mentor bonus, but basically the only time a level 1 would be forced to play in a correctly-run PFS adventure is when say 3 4th level characters and a 1st sit down to play. In the case where you are the absolute minimum level possible (so 1 in this case), the higher-level Pathfinders are basically assumed to take extra effort to give you pointers and look out for you, so you get some extra benefits (a proactive Pathfinder can even gain boons to increase the way they can help their lowbie buddies out). This wouldn't matter to you in not playing PFS since ideally you can just all be the same level and not play the other subtier.

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