PC Death & Plaguestone Adventure Difficulty


Advice


My players are currently running through Plaguestone. They started the adventure at 2nd level as their 1st level adventure was "crypt of the everflame".

We just had our 1st PC death. Our ranger died in the battle with the blood ooze and "the sculpter".

Unfortunately he is not taking his PCs death very well. How do you as DMs handle the Death of your PCs in the early levels where resurrection is problematic?

Also, how tough have you found the new Pathfinder 2 adventures. Some of the fights & traps have been pretty tough even for 2nd level characters.

So far a crit on a spear thrower trap dropped a PC in a single hit. If he had been 1st level it would have killed him from mass damage. A couple of the monsters and encounters have also been tough fights. Just curious how everyone else's experiences are like?


Handling of PC deaths is simple in my group: if the party can't swing the magic to bring back the dead (whether because of level, or lack of funds) the player just makes a new character - with no complaints because it's a game.

However, my group also very rarely has characters actually die. Thus far in PF2 a few characters have been reduced to 0 HP (some of them more than once) but there has always been healing or stabilization to keep them from death.

As for the difficult of PF2: the new action economy, the way the game math is set up, and the unique traits of each type of monster add up to making combat a very different animal from what it is in other similar games my group has played. The game doesn't seem like it is actually too hard, just that the players are going to need some time to adapt their thinking - for example, if you are wanting to "front line" for your party, in other similar games you'd just move up next to the monsters and that'd be just fine. But with PF2 you actually want to move so that you're the nearest/choicest target but are still leaving the enemy to use its actions to close the distance because if you get right next to that's more actions that can be used doing bad things to you and/or your party.

Traps, on the other hand, and really really dangerous. Our group also had a spear launcher crit take a character to 0 HP in one hit, and if that hit would have been against a less resilient character it would have been death by massive damage. I think that's okay though, as it makes it genuinely worth considering having someone in the party searching for traps (as opposed to everyone taking more self-serving exploration activity options).

Plus, if a simple trap weren't a seriously frightening potentially deadly amount of damage, it would feel less important (in my opinion at least) that a trap got set off. A character needing to take a break and get patched up, or spend a resource like a potion or spell slot, makes a trap more meaningful than if the damage is so low that a player could say "I'll be fine until after the next encounter, at least."


The module says that a judge does the rounds in the area one a month or so, I plan on having a priest who can resurrect characters be traveling with them. The townsfolk are aware of this and will tell the party if they're willing to wait a couple weeks (which would also give me a chance to show them the downtime system).


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Did you convert Crypt of the Everflame to 2E? How did that go?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Plaguestone is pretty tough. I had two players die in the first blight vs the two blind mutant wolves and I was only giving the wolves two actions a turn. Although I think this has more to do with my players all coming from 1e where 1 or 2 optimized characters can take out even hard encounters with basic support from allies where as in 2E everyone has to do their part and strategy and positioning are more crucial.

Also some of the early encounters in town like the boar and the bloodsuckers can be nasty as it is hard to convince the party without outright saying there will be combat that the whole party needs to take the mayor for a walk, or the whole party is needed to question 1 waitress. Because of these early encounters hte party champion went to 0 many times just because he was mostly alone.


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If they started 2nd level shouldn't they have been 3rd when they hit the ooze? Not that that changes the outcome, just curious.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber
orphias wrote:


We just had our 1st PC death. Our ranger died in the battle with the blood ooze and "the sculpter".

Did you forget to award hero points? Did they forget to use them? If so you could retroactively do it and have his friends 'rescue' him before his blood gets sucked dry.

While the adventure has too high of severity that one was fair as it is the level boss. Did the sculptor try to run away as suggested once he loses control of the mindless creature? Once that happened a tanglefoot on the creature it could barely move (that was after they ran away to kill the sculptor)

If you indeed are overleveled that should be bringing the entire adventure down to more reasonable difficulty.

Consolation prize this is a new edition with lots of PCs they have not made yet just waiting to be explored.

I think the biggest thing is remembering that after every moderate encounter you should be taking a treat wounds break. Need to come up with fiction for such a dungeon crawl why they can retreat to do so, in this case their ranger NPC is written to be waiting for them to come back. The level boss will not come after them, his whole thing is to try his creation out on them so he will wait.

Can you think of a way to make the death impact the character? Maybe a traveling cleric is of his deity and wants some service in return, maybe a champion dip since you are at a milestone. There is a side quest for setting up a shrine that could be repurposed.

Session break have them sketch out backup characters, they might like it so much they will get suicidal!


Handling PC death is one of those hard things to deal with as a DM, especially for new players. For older hands I've found its more a "crap I died... alright well I have these 5 other ideas I wanted to try out anyway." But if the player puts a lot of investment into the character I do try and give them a chance to save the character. I am DMing Carrion Crown and the dwarf cleric fell off a large tower due to a bull rush and landed in the water. They survived the fall, however, the rushing water was pushing them downstream and underwater. Dwarf + full plate and no swim. I gave the player 4 opportunities to save themselves. First, a strength save to stay above water, then a swim to get to the bank, then a reflex to grab to a log, and finally a fort to not drown.

Sadly all four were a failure, it was the player's first character so I wanted to make sure they had a chance to survive. I am just glad they were fine with the death and willing to try out a new character.

One key thing I found with dealing with a player's death.

1. Roll in the open. Yes, you can fudge dice behind a screen but this is important and you should let the dice fall where they will. (Side note make sure your dice are fair https://20facesoffate.com/testing-dice-bias-float-test/ )
2. Remind them that it is OK to let a character die or even switch the character out. I generally tend to use the starting point "you are all pathfinders your group may get new party members added in as needed" that sorta thing. At this point, most of the party switched around characters as another player wanted to try out the Oracle.
3. Help them come up with a new character idea if they need it.
4. Most importantly, death is part of the game. I've been playing for a long time and death just happens, especially at lower levels.

I generally don't like it, but I allow the "pile of bards" if they want to keep the character.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
krazmuze wrote:
Did you forget to award hero points? Did they forget to use them? If so you could retroactively do it and have his friends 'rescue' him before his blood gets sucked dry.

It's easy to forget that the module was written with hero points as part of the ruleset.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber
CrystalSeas wrote:
krazmuze wrote:
Did you forget to award hero points? Did they forget to use them? If so you could retroactively do it and have his friends 'rescue' him before his blood gets sucked dry.
It's easy to forget that the module was written with hero points as part of the ruleset.

Hero points is the counterbalance to bosses critically succeeding destroying the party like minions....if you use online or physical trackers you can keep them across sessions rather than resetting them. No point being a hero to earn them when they get flushed at the end of the night. I award them for MVP of the encounter/exploration rather than hourly - just part of recovery and treasure.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
krazmuze wrote:
CrystalSeas wrote:
krazmuze wrote:
Did you forget to award hero points? Did they forget to use them? If so you could retroactively do it and have his friends 'rescue' him before his blood gets sucked dry.
It's easy to forget that the module was written with hero points as part of the ruleset.
Hero points is the counterbalance to bosses critically succeeding destroying the party like minions....if you use online or physical trackers you can keep them across sessions rather than resetting them. No point being a hero to earn them when they get flushed at the end of the night. I award them for MVP of the encounter/exploration rather than hourly - just part of recovery and treasure.

My apologies.

I was quoting your point to emphasize it, not to disagree with you.

But thanks for the explanation. I've not yet fully figured out how i want to interject them into the flow of the story.

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