[Playtest] Improv Session


Advanced Player’s Guide Playtest General Discussion


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This is a bit of a long writeup from a DMs perspective on a short ~3h scenario I ran in which I had players playing one of each of the playtest classes. I’m going to give a bit of a rundown of the scenario and how it ran.

Each character was level 6 and was loosely based on the iconics.

A Human Empiricist Investigator who used a bow, they maxed dex/wis and kept a good int.
A Human Life Oracle, they maxed Cha and had good con and dex. They focused heavily on healing and support spells. They grabbed an extra revelation spell for battle cry and spent most combats at their moderate curse.
A Half-elf Fencer Swashbuckler, they had good dex and a balance of strength and cha They used a rapier and buckler
A Human Fates (Occult) Witch. They had good int and dex. They had a balance of support and damage spells and had the lesson of snow for personal blizzard and lesson of shadow for malicious shadow.

The scenario was loosely based on Kakoriko Village from Ocarina of Time and was mostly put together on the fly (I had the time it took the players to make their characters to prep).

It started with the cast finishing climbing a harrowing set of mountain stairs to find the village they had planned to stay at ablaze. The place had been set on fire by a shadowy spirit that had been sealed in the town well. The oracle used Ethereal Sense which gave them a chance to glimpse the shadowy beast before it disappeared beyond the town which was a wonderful piece of flavor.

Non-Combat Skill challenge 1: They then had a brief set of skill challenges where they helped to gather and treat injured villagers, put out buildings, and organize a fire brigade. The oracle and investigator spent time treating villagers with their medicine and used diplomacy to organize them. The witch used ray of frost and personal blizzard (I allowed it to cover sections of building) to put out buildings. The swashbuckler led the bucket brigade. Overall everyone felt in place here.

Non-Combat skill challenge 2: Once the fires were out the cast set into investigation mode to figure out what happened. The investigator hit the books, checking out the town head’s library for stories that might tell more what happened (and they had put out his home first), he discovered a king had been drowned in the town well in times long past – and that there was a cistern beneath the well. The rest went to check out the town, the oracle gathered information from the townsfolk (and learned that something had burst from the well just before the fires started. They then went and discovered the cap of the well had been blown open and that the well was overflowing water. Following that they asked around to learn that the well was drawn by the big windmill that was rapidly drawing water in the strong winds. They went to the windmill to find the giant flywheel in the base was running loose and that the guides and locks for it were broken (A villager had damaged them in their haste to get extra water pumping from the well to fight the fire). The Witch set into fixing that, the swashbuckler helped them, and the oracle went to talk to the people in town more. The group failed forward with some poor craft checks costing them the rest of that day and the next morning to fix the windmill (but time wasn’t a huge concern so not much happened out of narrative). They then spun the windmill backwards to drain the well (With a crit athletics check from the swashbuckler and some help of the life oracle to delay the fatigue from reversing a windmill by hand) – and used the newly fixed lock to stop it from refilling. A grappling hook, rope, and some athletics checks to pry open the well bottom led the group into the main dungeon event. Soon after entering the cistern a giant skeletal spider dropped from the ceiling.

Combat Encounter 1: I modified a giant Tarantula LVL6 into a skelletula by removing the hair barrage and venom and giving it Resistance 30 to physical damage from the front, a one action ability that let it face any attackers it wasn’t flat footed to for the round, a reaction to make its leg attack when hit from the front and turning it into a skeleton. The swashbuckler really shined here with Tumble Behind letting them easily dance behind its armor. The oracle and witch mostly cast cantrips here with one heal from the oracle to patch up the swashbuckler and a personal blizzard from the witch (Of which I rolled great, never losing any attacks to the concealment – and the swashbuckler hated, losing 2 natural 20’s to concealment). The investigator did pretty good, they had an easy study on the spider, and an impressive first shot, although they had a hard time finding a good use for their third action. Overall the slightly tuned up CR6 was no problem.
Beyond the spider was a puzzle.

Puzzle 1: There were 4 10’ wide and 8’ deep pools of murky water. One at the entrance to the cistern, and 3 at the back end beyond about 60’ of tunnel. In a side chamber lay 6 sarcophagi. They explored each pool by tying a rope the swashbuckler (who had the pirate background and was comfortable in water) and found a hidden door that they couldn’t open in the initial pool, a statue of a man chained to the ground with his mouth open in a scream in the far center pool, and a switch in the left and right far pools. They first pulled the side switches to find that they opened a trap door to a big underground bog (and were very thankful they tied the swashbuckler up before they fell into the traps). Moving to the sarcophagus room the oracle noticed each had a spirit hanging over it – and in one spirit's hand was a spectral key. They opened the that tomb and started

Combat Encounter 2: One Mummy Guardian LVL6 and 5 Zombie brutes LVL2 (reduced to medium size) reflavoured as a Ghibdo and Redead. They had ample time to prebuff here and put haste on the swashbuckler, disrupting weapons on the swashbuckler and investigator and started a bless for the group. The witch and oracle both failed on the mummy’s aura of despair at the start of combat and the mummy took that time to put some serious hurt on the witch. The zombies slowly opened their graves and shambled to the group. The investigator mostly focused on the mummy, but had a really hard time here because the mummy had a pretty high will save, stopping his study from being reliable. They were able to keep relatively safe and did some mostly mediocre damage. The witch had a bad string of luck in this encounter and primarily contributed with their pre buffs. The oracle spent most of their time keeping the witch alive – but had one really great 3 action heal. The swashbuckler had an amazing time here, they kept to the front and the very low level zombies crit failed their attacks against them often for a ton of riposte’s and they got several great setups to use Impaling Finish (which also crit often because of the low level zombies).

Finishing the Puzzle: They grabbed the key from the mummy’s crypt and jammed it into the screaming statue. It broke off and revealed a winch that opened the secret door in the first pool. They dropped down that into the last boss of the well.

Combat Encounter 3: I took a Leukodaemon LVL9 and removed his spells, and bow (and swapped him from a daemon to undead). I then added a whole bunch of tall hands growing from the ground all around the room. The hands had a reaction to grab anyone who moved while next to them. This was Dead Hand. The swashbuckler won init and got to walk through the forest of hands before they could react. They got a strong start on the boss making a successful tumble and a finisher in the first round. That luck didn’t last long when they got crit 3 rounds in a row from the boss. After realizing how difficult it was to gain panache against the boss they held onto it for the bonuses, instead of spending it. The oracle spent most of their time burning 2 action heals into the swashbuckler and 3 action heals after breath attacks. The witch had a balance of soothing the group (and their familiar which crit failed a breath attack save), casting buffs on the swashbuckler (heroism and another haste) and using their malicious shadow. The investigator had a very hard time here, only landing 2 studies in 7 rounds and overall just finding it difficult to meaningfully damage the boss. The swashbuckler went low a few times, and the rest of the group took some decent damage from the breath attacks, but overall they didn’t find the encounter exceptionally difficult. With the bosses death they got a set of magical lenses that could cast detect illusions 9 at will and a hint to go to the graveyard beyond town.

And that’s the session. Some thoughts:
The Investigator was very hit and miss. They did well out of combat with their large number of skills and could always find some way to be useful. In combat they had more troubles, low will enemies like the skelletula went great, they did good damage and were pretty safe. (And granted most of the parties knowledge with known weaknesses – to the extent that as DM I couldn’t really think of any more knowledge to give them). High will, and high level enemies felt much worse for them, the mummy rarely got studied successfully and they couldn’t even keep up with the caster’s cantrip damage. Against the Leukodaemon in particular study was very, very weak, as they needed a pretty high perception check, and then a pretty high attack to actually make use of it. I’m not sure if they even got the bonus damage against it.

The life oracle did wonderfully. I was initially worried their curse was too punishing, but in play it was almost a non-issue. The bonus healing from the moderate curse well overtook the healing penalty from the minor curse, and it didn’t matter if no one else could heal them when they just healed so much themselves. The player felt a little disheartened in that they practically couldn’t afford to use spells other then heal with their spell slots though- in particular they had Searing Light as one of their third level spells but needed to use all of them on heals (admit ably super great ones that overturned the 3 unlucky crits on the swashbuckler).

The Swashbuckler was amazing. The panache and finisher system made them super dynamic in combat and they cut through pretty much any challenge. While they had troubles gaining panache against the final boss, once they had it the bonuses it gave just for holding it were enough oomph to hold their own.

The Witch did well, the strong buffs on the occult list and the decent damage options let them fit right in. I can’t say they were super stand out, but they filled in their role effectively, and the player had fun. If I was to choose a full caster I would probably pick witch.

Paizo Employee Designer

Thanks for the extensive session feedback!

Wayfinders

This is a brilliant write up! This is exactly what my group and I were hoping to do on our next scheduled game - have each player take one of the new classes. Kudos on a well documented description of the events.

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