PF2 1-19 The Iolite Squad


GM Discussion

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Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Society Subscriber

This one runs quick. 3.5 hours with a 5 minute break. This included a good 20-30 minutes of roleplaying the trek to the training grounds. I suggest that you could drag out the skill checks by RP'ing during the Joint Training Excercises to give it some more meat, and again on the skill checks leading up to B5.

We played in the highest possible adjustment for 5-6, and things ran smoothly. There's a typo on page for referencing where the Traveling with the Iolite Squad text is (says it's on page 4 when you're reading page 4, it's in fact on page 5). There's a further errors in both Web Lurker (Ettercap) stat blocks, the Web attack has the "Effect: Web trap". This was left out for some reason. My advice on running the combat with the Wargs is to have some way to know if they've used their Avenging bite ability. A lot of their damage triggers off that reaction, and you'll want to track it. With the Giant Tarantula's don't forget they have a climb speed, so even though it's cramped, they can get up on the walls to do their attacks and spray. That's about my only criticism really. The spaces got really cramped with all the Large spiders piled onto each-other until I just had them cling to the walls.

The skill-checks in the Joint Training exercises will snow ball a little bit, but it's not overly rough. For the floating skill decreases you might ask the party during training where they wish to apply them if it's not immediately obvious to just balance things out so the DCs are all roughly equivalent in part B.

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

From my first read though, I can tell I'm going to want a couple more notes than usual just to make sure I don't miss something. Nothing 'complicated' just lots of paired moving parts.

A little uncertain about the warg fight -- the hobgoblin squad actions seem very weak compared to the PCs and if I'm reading it right they only take one action (not 4 of them). I was expecting a more pronounced single very effective action given the description in the text, compared with what's presented in the appendix, seems hard to show off their 'combat powress and coordination' when as a group they are less effective than a single PC.

5/55/55/55/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Seattle

The Fort Save DC for the elderly giant tarantula's venom in low tier (25) is higher than the DC for the regular giant tarantula in high tier (23). This is probably not intended.

Eric Nielsen wrote:
the hobgoblin squad actions seem very weak compared to the PCs and if I'm reading it right they only take one action (not 4 of them). I was expecting a more pronounced single very effective action given the description in the text, compared with what's presented in the appendix, seems hard to show off their 'combat powress and coordination' when as a group they are less effective than a single PC.

Agree with that. The problem (I guess) is that in order to have them participate on the same level as PCs, the fights would have to be made a lot harder, and as a result the combat would a lot riskier (swingier) for the actual PCs. The 'workaround' is the approach used in the spider fight - to have the hobgoblins be fighting other foes off-screen.

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

I've run it twice now (high tier both times).

People have liked the role play, and I like that its spread up in chunks across the adventure. It feels easier to have the hobgoblins open up a little and/or adjust their attitudes/opinions since there's time and different settings to work with.

The warg fight has felt fairly well balanced and the hobgoblins's efforts were appreciated -- but you have to focus on the non-strike effects. The distract a warg to from an injured/too surrounded ally, or the blind a warg both were very well received and felt like 'as effective as a pc', but not 'as effective as a group of pcs'. So they felt a little weak, but acceptable. I think one other solution that _could_ have helped was like them act once, but at the GM's choice of initiative, coming in when their action could make the biggest difference. Would highlight their tactical planning/training. One table roflstomped the warg fight, other table had a very tense battle; the early table got a lot of early crits though.

The joint training bit people have enjoyed the flavor, but have been disappointed in the mechanics. The best roll wins scoring has been different than we're used to in past scenarios and feels odd for 2e. Characters are high enough level that aid is now possible rather than a bad idea, but its still better to just roll yourself if best wins. There's also what feels like a suspension of disbelief that while the party is spread out to different training sites, the hobgoblins are simultaneously at all of them?

The exploration of the cave works pretty well, again aside from what feels like a 'best roll wins' repeated for the PCs assistance (inline text makes it sound like a single PC, end of adventure text makes it sound like best roll wins, DCs are set at the +4 modifier for 'everyone can try, just need one success' from the rulebooks). Having two treasure bundles hidden behind either consecutive success or crits feels a little harder than usual. -- Especially the only that's only earned on a crit.

Spider fight was appropriately challenging both times. One tables was constantly poisoned, other table always saved (opposite from the warg) and that changed what they were more worried about, but still worked well.

Would have liked a bit of more of the in-character box text from the hobgoblins. Both groups really liked the Sgt's speech and the Adrak's comments on the traps. While I tried to adlib some of my own, I didn't feel it resonated as well.

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

logsig wrote:

The Fort Save DC for the elderly giant tarantula's venom in low tier (25) is higher than the DC for the regular giant tarantula in high tier (23). This is probably not intended.

I've only run high tier so I didn't encounter that, thanks for the head's up. I did check that the regular giant tarantula has the same stats in the bestiary, so its more likely that they applied the adjustment +2 instead of -2 to the elderly, rather than flipping the DCs between the two.

Grand Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

Eric Nielsen wrote:

From my first read though, I can tell I'm going to want a couple more notes than usual just to make sure I don't miss something. Nothing 'complicated' just lots of paired moving parts.

A little uncertain about the warg fight -- the hobgoblin squad actions seem very weak compared to the PCs and if I'm reading it right they only take one action (not 4 of them). I was expecting a more pronounced single very effective action given the description in the text, compared with what's presented in the appendix, seems hard to show off their 'combat powress and coordination' when as a group they are less effective than a single PC.

The hobgoblins *are* weak, compared to the PCs. The PCs are levels 3-6, the hobgolins are probably level 1-4 (being a newly formed recruit squad.) But they have military training and coordination and work well together as a team.

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

I feel the scenario isn't setting them up to be weak though.

They are all presented as veteran soldiers, personally decorated by General Azaersi. Akrag and Gintka perhaps a bit less so in terms of explicit veteran status.

For the first encounter we're told:
"Be sure to narrate the Iolite Squad’s actions and
emphasize their combat prowess and coordination—
after all, they’re a military group, and they should give
the impression of being about on par with the PCs in
terms of their combat training and experience."

This sounds like they are the same level as the PCs. Likewise in the joint-training exercises that the Iolite squad is effectively setting the DC (hand to hand and smoke working) they DCs are level-appropriate for them being on the PCs level. (You could make the case that the other two DCs are set by the environment, and not the Iolite squad).

Hard to use the field trial portion's DCs for confirmation for either 1-4 or high level.

Then in the final fight, they fight and beat a giant tarantula off-screen, which is again a level appropriate challenge for in-tier. (CL+3 challenge for the low-tier, CL+1 for the high-tier)

Grand Lodge 2/5 Contributor, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Setting up the hobgoblins to be competent, but not steal the spotlight from the PCs, was certainly a challenge when writing this one. I appreciate the discussion of what worked, what didn't work, and how they came across at the table!

Dark Archive 4/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Turku

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It seems a bit weird that one treasure bundle is locked behind needing a critical success in a single specific skill with a moderately high DC in low tier. Basically quarantees that this scenario does not award full treasure bundles, although a larger group has a better chance to gain that because they'll get more tries. (Page 14, recording ancient relics)

DC is 20, likely decreased to 19 by the previous success. Level 3-4 PC's will have a profiency of 5 or 6 (unless one of the group has specifically chosen this skill with their only skill increase). Add in an ability modifier and you're looking at something between 5 and 12, with 10 being a "reasonable" max score.
Basically, roll as many dices as there are PC's, and if someone rolls a nat 20, you get a bundle.

Not really a fan of this kind of lottery, although I've enjoyed the collective skill challenge treasure bundles in previous scenarios where the group has needed to do well on avarage to gain TB.

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

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Yeah setting DC's with the 'everyone rolls' modifier for difficulty and then requiring a crit feels like a bad interaction of those rules.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

It definitely left a bad taste in my mouth when I had to subtract a treasure bundle. Seemed very unfair.

Not to mention the extra work figuring out the math :-) :-)

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

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As can be seen in my review of the scenario I completely agree with the three posters above me.

Mike I think you did a good job with making the hobgoblins feel "there" but not useless or overbearing.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Overall, I liked the scenario a lot and we had great fun interacting with the squad members.

However, like pretty much everyone here, I agree that locking treasure bundles behind critical successes is just not cool.

That is particularly true for high-subtier, since the DC here is 23, so many characters (including probably all martial characters out there) that are untrained in Society couldn't even get a crit success on a natural 20 unless they had an improbably high INT-modifier.

Another encounter area in the scenario had a provision of getting a treasure bundle either with a crit or with two regular successes. That seemed a lot more reasonable (also that area was using Perception with the same DC instead, which everyone is automatically at least trained in...).

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, France—Paris

albadeon wrote:

However, like pretty much everyone here, I agree that locking treasure bundles behind critical successes is just not cool.

That is particularly true for high-subtier, since the DC here is 23, so many characters (including probably all martial characters out there) that are untrained in Society couldn't even get a crit success on a natural 20 unless they had an improbably high INT-modifier.

Another encounter area in the scenario had a provision of getting a treasure bundle either with a crit or with two regular successes. That seemed a lot more reasonable (also that area was using Perception with the same DC instead, which everyone is automatically at least trained in...).

I've been told by some GMs that the general idea was to make very uncertain to have all the Treasure Bundles. I personally don't completely agree but it's consistent with other things I saw, such as

Spoiler:
having to choose between PP and treasure bundles in one another case
(won't name the scenario because of possible spoiler problems).

The trend is to make the best outcome very uncertain money and RP-wise but they might not do so in the best way, let's see.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

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Philippe Lam wrote:

I've been told by some GMs that the general idea was to make very uncertain to have all the Treasure Bundles.

Then I hope they realize that will be very unpopular with many people.

I'm not saying that getting full rewards should be automatic. Poor choices, poor play or REALLY bad luck can cost you.

But there is a HUGE difference between "all the characters failed their normal DC perception checks" (acceptable) and "nobody rolled a 20 on their trained only Society check" (unacceptable)

Whatever the intent, the reality is that for many people not getting all the rewards feels like a punishment. And being punished for not rolling a 20 just, uh, isn't good

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, France—Paris

I get it. As it was already hinted on the Discord group, there's quite the amount of discontent about that, and with what is written there that makes me think that the base idea wasn't bad but that the execution wasn't great either.

Here's hoping they will correct it soon.

Dark Archive 4/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Turku

It's a fine balance, and there are different opinions. I think it's fine (even good) to have one or two bundles very uncertain/difficult, but yes, it's different if there's a skill check where everybody rolls and half of the people need to succeed (and you can still save crit fails with a hero point) versus needing one person to roll a nat 20.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm totally fine with reducing the expected average gains from an adventure to some level below max, though pauljathome is of course right that there will be players who feel like having failed or being punished when that happens.

But losing money by pure random chance just feels bad (while actually making the roll doesn't fell like anything special, because players aren't usually aware that they needed a crit success at that particular point). Why not base it on player decision? You could allow them to deliberately give some loot away, maybe as a bribe, or to financially support someone in the story, and in return get some other mechnical benefit (reroll, reduced DC, etc.). Maybe they have to chose between two different routes to the goal which yield different rewards?

You could even have the occasional boon that they only get by deliberately not obtaining or keeping all treasure bundles, though it's probably a smart thing to make this one independent per player, otherwise you end up with inter-player arguments when the cleric really wants the "benevolent donor to the church of Sarenrae" boon that allows him to cast a maximized heal, while the barbarian has no use for that and instead wants the treasure bundle to buy a bigger sword.

5/5 *** Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Raleigh

Question about 1-19 Iolite Squad Alpha. The Elderly Giant Tarantula has a double weaken added to it for all of its stats except for the poison which has elite stats. Can I assume that this is a mistake and the DC for the poison is suppose to be 19 and not 25?

Grand Lodge 2/5 Contributor, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

The existence of a treasure bundle that is quite difficult to acquire may be due to my misunderstanding of the nature of the bundles. Maybe when I was writing I incorrectly assumed that it should be relatively difficult to get 100% of the treasure. The developers tend to provide extensive guidelines on those things, so it was probably just something I missed in the deluge of new information related to 2nd edition mechanics/scenarios. My apologies for the unexpected and unpleasant difficulty in acquiring those precious silver pieces!

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

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I don't think its correct to 'blame' you for it. I think there's a lot of factors at play -- we don't know what the guidelines you received were, we don't know if those guidelines have changed over the months since PFS2 launched, we don't know if the guidelines are different for 1-4 and 3-6 tier. Empirically it has felt like its been getting harder, and that may be a good thing, just wasn't communicated. Or it may be that that was no change and 3-6s have always been harder and we just have a smaller sample size until recently. Etc.

I think I've run this one 4 or 5 times now and its one of my favorite PFS2 scenarios in spite of the critiques that I've had of it. I've been trying hard to develop better improv roleplay skills and this scenario I felt really worked for me there. Maybe because I had a military background so it was easy to layer some of that experience on them, maybe because while the roleplay felt integral to the story and scenario, there was practically no mechanics involved to get caught up in and worry about messing something up by adlibbing too much.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

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No worries :-). As you point out, the effect was very minor. I also definitely enjoyed the scenario too.

I was primarily concerned with providing guidance for the future. Either so that players could adjust their expectations or so it didn't happen again if it was unintentional.

Envoy's Alliance *

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Philippe Lam wrote:

I get it. As it was already hinted on the Discord group, there's quite the amount of discontent about that, and with what is written there that makes me think that the base idea wasn't bad but that the execution wasn't great either.

Here's hoping they will correct it soon.

Let say I want to join that discord anyone got a link?

5/5 *****

Kromkore wrote:
Philippe Lam wrote:

I get it. As it was already hinted on the Discord group, there's quite the amount of discontent about that, and with what is written there that makes me think that the base idea wasn't bad but that the execution wasn't great either.

Here's hoping they will correct it soon.

Let say I want to join that discord anyone got a link?

Probably a reference to the general organised play discord.

http://pfschat.com/

4/5 5/5 **

Does anyone have an illustration page for the Joint Training Exercises skill challenge? Something suitable for VTT/PbP where people can put their avatars in the area for the challenge they are doing?

Ideally it would have simple pictures of something like traps, wrestling, a book, and a smoke pot. Just looking for something that looks nice and gives the feel for what the options are.

Dark Archive **

Web Lurker wrote:
Web Trap: A creature hit by the web lurker’s web attack is immobilized and stuck to the nearest surface until it succeeds at DC 20 Acrobatics check to Escape.

Is this overriding the standard Escape action or could you also use unarmed attack or athletics?

(This is an example of why all of my characters are trained in athletics and acrobatics.)

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

Jed Roach wrote:
Web Lurker wrote:
Web Trap: A creature hit by the web lurker’s web attack is immobilized and stuck to the nearest surface until it succeeds at DC 20 Acrobatics check to Escape.

Is this overriding the standard Escape action or could you also use unarmed attack or athletics?

(This is an example of why all of my characters are trained in athletics and acrobatics.)

I assume this is just an error in the Bestiary and that it's really a DC 20 Escape check, using any of the regular options for Escape.

Grand Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Jed Roach wrote:
Web Lurker wrote:
Web Trap: A creature hit by the web lurker’s web attack is immobilized and stuck to the nearest surface until it succeeds at DC 20 Acrobatics check to Escape.

Is this overriding the standard Escape action or could you also use unarmed attack or athletics?

(This is an example of why all of my characters are trained in athletics and acrobatics.)

I assume this is just an error in the Bestiary and that it's really a DC 20 Escape check, using any of the regular options for Escape.

That is my assumption as well.

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