PFS2 1-23 The Star Crossed Court


GM Discussion

4/5 ***

At the request of the previous thread creator, this has been remade with a better subject header. Please continue discussion here.

5/5 *****

I made no such request.

HERE is the original thread with the current discussion points.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ****

I GMed this on Thursday and have two more games scheduled. A few general points - then I will go into more detail in a second post:

Repeatability: This one is low in my view - similar to 1-10 as it pretty much repeats itself. Some extra work can make it better as repeatable - see below.

Size: By far the shortest (page count) of all the repeatable scenarios. But don't skimp on preparation - there is some to be done

Maps: Mixed - one got the border removed (great) - one had borders still intact (needs adjustment / extra work). Maybe this one just slipped through?

Monsters good: This uses monsters from the bestiary - I run this in roll20 and have the bestiary. I had all stats via drag and drop.

Monsters bad: This is a repeatable. It uses in low tier 4 different mephits - unfortunately the icon for the mephits is the same across all four. I replaced the roll20 mephits with a recent set of different ones (Kingmaker). In regard to the higher tier - these are among the worst bestiary pictures there are. Sodhound is an ordinary dog, cinder rat is the dire rat, Brine Shark is an ordinary shark and the Zephyr Hawk is also an ordinary bird.

This isn't a roll20 fault. There is only a single image for each type of elementals and the small ones just don't have a nice depiction. But Paizo is known for the great artwork - and here this is a let down.

Timing: I skipped the optional encounter and finished in around 4 1/2 hours. Was my first run and I thought I was way ahead when time suddenly seemed to have evaporated.

Overall the group had a lot of fun and enjoyed themselves. I will go into a challenge by challenge review next.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ****

A. Hall or Records - this was straightforward Skill Challenge. My group opted for Option 2 - pushing papers.

B. Kesstraka’s Quarters Option 2 made the setup simple for this encounter as they arrived when she was just petrified.

For new GMs - IMPORTANT - the gaze to petrify has the incapacitation treat. Level 6 characters only get petrified on a crit fail !!

In my game the group faced 5 basilisks, 3 acted first (high dice rolling). I had 3 level 6, 1 level 5 and 2 level 4. With 5 reactions per round (unless someone stays >30 feet away) you will either do reactions on players not yet slowed or you can more or less ensure all will be slowed sooner or later.

Averting gaze: this gives a +2 for the saves.

I slowed down 5 out of 6 (failed on one of the level 4) and petrified both other non-level 6 characters. The first petrification really caused a stir as players hadn't seen this before and didn't know it can be removed with the blood of slain basilisks.

I feared a TPP (total party petrification) which can happen in a 6 x lvl 5 group. Level 6 are relative immune. Level 3/4 mean that less basilisks are around.

This leads to the question: what to do if:
in tier 3-4 you pretrify 2 or more and don't have enough basilisk blood? Do you roll 1d3 or do you just assume 3 doses?

What do you do in the case of a TPP? Do you just rule that the guards slay the basilisks and they get depretified but never talk to her - losing the 3TB and her at the meeting but don't go into TPK?

In my view this seem the best options to handle this - but that would be bad if this gets table variation.

C. Lashweather’s Observatory

We had 4 boons - so entering wasn't a problem (one already had lockpicks out when I asked if they just knock).

The group managed a critical on diplomacy and with Lumki already around (indifferent) they got all 12 star signs. Alas - they don't map easily. So one player tried to map them - the others ignored them (and the GM was too busy to correct that).

For roll20 I have now made a deck with all 12 signs and can hand out cards depending on how many they know. I first tried to match the most closely resembling one - but that would become un-GMable if you have to constantly check. I therefore just went clockwise and 1-12 start in the North and go clockwise to enable me a quicker lookup.

Rodeo: I skipped this due to time (and I assume most will do it a second time anyhow)

Final Challenge: There are 8 tasks (oops - just realized that I first read several as seven and wondered that there was one more ..._. I had 6 players - I let each roll a d8 at the start of the game (players love rolling dice). I then used the outcome in that order: 4, 8, 5, 6, 7 (I had the 8 twice - so it perfectly worked).

To make it less repeatable (and because order matters) this seemed like a good approach. I would have skipped the last roll if I got 6 different ones or rolled extra if there are too many of the same.

The group managed 4 out of 5.

Overall everyone was quite happy. I first made a mistake by missing the incapacitation - so level 6 is more difficult to petrify). But I think in principle this is good. But there should be an option written down for full petrification or if someone from the back flees and gets help.

That way as GM you can't let the gloves off.

4/5 ***

Good catch on incapacation. It's one of the things I find myself frequently missing as a gm...

Now I'd I could only get my players to remind me when their effects have incapacatate...

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

For the negotiation challenge - on the one hand the scenario says you shouldn't repeat the same because the DC will go up. But for a lot of tasks your choices are Deception and some specific lores that you probably won't have. Was it perhaps intended that the players would Follow the Expert on any member of the party who does have those lores?

4/5 Venture-Captain, Canada—Ontario—Ottawa

Would you be able to Follow the Expert? It's not really exploration as far as I could tell. When I ran it I just told the players they could either roll to indicate their participation in the negotiations or not roll to indicate abstaining from that particular challenge if they didn't have a great skill set for it. Worked out well with them succeeding on all the challenges but one.

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

Well if not exploration then what is it? It's taking the whole day so doesn't seem like encounter mode, and it's also not downtime because story is happening. The "skill exploration activities" sidebar on page 480 lists tasks like Coerce and Make An Impression as exploration actions.

I'm wondering if the author expected parties to use things like Follow the Expert, to make up for requiring so many specific lores that only some of the characters would even have (and saying that there's a punishment for re-using the same skill).

1/5 *

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ran this for a party of 4 5th level characters.
They provided the bribe, and as such started making saves vs poison right before the discussion with the ambassador. The bassalisks then attacked. I was worried about a TPP, so I sent some of the gazes against the ambassador. The adventure described them as being trained, with the ambassador as the target. The adventure didn’t give her a level or a fort save modifier, so I made something up. She ended up petrified, but the party was able to succeed without any PCs turning to stone, and many of them Recalled Knowledge to know about the blood. Unfortunately, they were poor with Diplo/Intimidate, and only succeeded at one of the checks to impress her.
The observatory was easier. One of the PCs was ally to the Ixruni, so they had their in. They got all of the constellation info (which I should make a player handout and just number them on the map). That fight was relatively easy.
Despite being just past the 1 hour mark, I elected to run the optional encounter. I am glad I did; it’s fairly quick and also a lot of fun, as a change of pace for the PCs.
Finally, in the final section, the party succeeded at 4 of 5 encounters. (The one they failed was 3 successes, 1 crit fail with no Hero Point to reroll, and no bonus success, having not recruited the ambassador). Sadly, that meant they failed Secondary Success. Thankfully, that was only 2 fame/rep, as the boon and treasure bundles were not tied to secondary success.
All in all, I enjoyed running this scenario.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ****

I ran it now a second time. The group was very happy until - well - they failed on the last part after managing everything else. Only got 2 out of 5. So overall - zero fame. One player felt pretty personal about it and at least one other regular of mine chalked it up as 'experience' but you heard between the lines a certain disappointment.

The problem with the skill challenge: You need a skill of 11 to succeed. There are multiple ways to get bonuses - but a group low on luck / skills can easily 'fail' by not getting 4 success (for a group of 6) in 3 or more challenges.

With hindsight - that might be not that bad. My group got 100% treasure and the boon. BUT - the failure came unexpected and due to poor diceroll - nothing that the group could have done better.

My advice: Tell the group there are 2 parts - setting up and negotiations. Treasure is in the first part / fame in the second. Failing in the second (and getting zero fame) is a real possibility !!

I guess if I would have warned them ahead of time, then nobody would have left disappointed. This way I went to success - oops - sorry - no fame - and it left a bad taste.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ****

I did a little bit of Maths.

edit: Tables are horrible on this board - so I tried my best ti align them at least partly to make them more readable.

Skill Heropoints needed Success (expected for group of 6)
_0___3.00___-1.68
_5___1.75___0.89
_6___1.50___1.41
_7___1.25___1.88
_8___1.00___2.28
_9___0.75___2.63
10___0.50___2.91
11___0.25___3.14
12___0.25___3.45
13___0.25___4.40
14___0.25___5.03
15___0.25___5.66
16___0.25___6.29

Explaining the numbers. Skill is your modifier. HeroPoints is how many HeroPoints you need if you reroll every crit fail.
Success is how many success the group gets. I modelled it on a group of 6.

You tend to get 1 success for free. This means you need 3 more to succeed overall.

It is best for someone without a trained skill at all to abstein as his/her contribution is negative - even asuming lots of hero points.
But it also means you need someone with skill 16 to cover for someone not taking part.

The skill range 9 to 12 is all close enough to have luck interfering - meaning you might succeed (or you might not).

From 13 onwards success is pretty much a given unless catastrophically bad dice rolling.

You can get +2 for the boon. You get some mutagens and potions. You likely get a +1 on diplomacy for one character. And you can get a one time +4 for the rodeo.

But also keep in mind a level 4 in the high tier, trained, charisma (or other ability) 11 would get you only a base skill of 7 which is clearly short of enough success - unless he/she rolls extremly lucky.

4/5

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Thod wrote:

Monsters bad: This is a repeatable. It uses in low tier 4 different mephits - unfortunately the icon for the mephits is the same across all four. I replaced the roll20 mephits with a recent set of different ones (Kingmaker). In regard to the higher tier - these are among the worst bestiary pictures there are. Sodhound is an ordinary dog, cinder rat is the dire rat, Brine Shark is an ordinary shark and the Zephyr Hawk is also an ordinary bird.

This isn't a roll20 fault. There is only a single image for each type of elementals and the small ones just don't have a nice depiction. But Paizo is known for the great artwork - and here this is a let down.

How is it Paizo's fault if Roll20 does not label their tokens nicely?

By the way, there is individual artwork available for all Bestiary monsters on the Bestiary Battle Cards.

4/5 Venture-Captain, Canada—Ontario—Ottawa

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Zaister wrote:
Thod wrote:

Monsters bad: This is a repeatable. It uses in low tier 4 different mephits - unfortunately the icon for the mephits is the same across all four. I replaced the roll20 mephits with a recent set of different ones (Kingmaker). In regard to the higher tier - these are among the worst bestiary pictures there are. Sodhound is an ordinary dog, cinder rat is the dire rat, Brine Shark is an ordinary shark and the Zephyr Hawk is also an ordinary bird.

This isn't a roll20 fault. There is only a single image for each type of elementals and the small ones just don't have a nice depiction. But Paizo is known for the great artwork - and here this is a let down.

How is it Paizo's fault if Roll20 does not label their tokens nicely?

By the way, there is individual artwork available for all Bestiary monsters on the Bestiary Battle Cards.

The PDF of the battle cards is $41.99, I take great offence at the fact that I will need to pay an 3 times the price of the bestiary PDF itself just to have pretty pictures of the few creatures that don't have picture in the bestiary.

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

I'm rather tired of mephits, they seem to be the standard we need an elemental of level so and so much monster here.

And even when we get to go back to physical play - for years PF1 scenarios used a lot of different mephits but we only had 1-2 fire mephit pawns in the Bestiary box.

If you're going to make a monster your workhorse, match that with your art and pawn boxes.

Grand Lodge 4/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Columbia

Averting one's gaze does not help when encountering basilisks. It is the gaze of the basilisk, not the gaze of the PC that has the petrification effect.

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

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I think it does; it's gaze abilities have the Visual trait, and the trait is defined as such in the Glossary:

CRB p. 638 wrote:
visual (trait) A visual effect can affect only creatures that can see it. This applies only to visible parts of the effect, as determined by the GM.

This means that the Avert Gaze action is a bit over-worded;

Avert Gaze, CRB p. 472 wrote:
You avert your gaze from danger. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus to saves against visual abilities that require you to look at a creature or object, such as a medusa’s petrifying gaze. Your gaze remains averted until the start of your next turn.

Because by the definition, all effects with the Visual trait are visual abilities that require you to look at the source of the effect for anything to happen.

For further evidence, the phrasing of the basilisk's abilities is pretty similar to the medusa. Neither of them mentions the PCs looking at them, because that's already been taken care of by the Visual trait.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Thod wrote:

what to do if:

in tier 3-4 you pretrify 2 or more and don't have enough basilisk blood? Do you roll 1d3 or do you just assume 3 doses?

I just noticed there is a small difference between the basilisk in the Bestiary and this adventure's appendix. According to their description in the appendix, the basilisks here apparently all have enough blood to coat 3 medium creatures, not 1d3. So this is less of an issue, though you could still potentially end up with more victims than available blood doses.

Grand Lodge 4/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Columbia

Lau Bannenberg wrote:

I think it does; it's gaze abilities have the Visual trait, and the trait is defined as such in the Glossary:

CRB p. 638 wrote:
visual (trait) A visual effect can affect only creatures that can see it. This applies only to visible parts of the effect, as determined by the GM.

This means that the Avert Gaze action is a bit over-worded;

Avert Gaze, CRB p. 472 wrote:
You avert your gaze from danger. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus to saves against visual abilities that require you to look at a creature or object, such as a medusa’s petrifying gaze. Your gaze remains averted until the start of your next turn.

Because by the definition, all effects with the Visual trait are visual abilities that require you to look at the source of the effect for anything to happen.

For further evidence, the phrasing of the basilisk's abilities is pretty similar to the medusa. Neither of them mentions the PCs looking at them, because that's already been taken care of by the Visual trait.

Yep, you are correct. They took another monster and ruined it by adding Visual to the list of traits.

Horizon Hunters **

Thod wrote:

I ran it now a second time. The group was very happy until - well - they failed on the last part after managing everything else. Only got 2 out of 5. So overall - zero fame. One player felt pretty personal about it and at least one other regular of mine chalked it up as 'experience' but you heard between the lines a certain disappointment.

Group 2 player here. We definitely had a below par composition for this adventure. None of us were social characters, only one intelligent character, and none of us had the lores.

The biggest impact for me, and likely the rest of the players, was the fact that there's such a disconnect between the first 80% of the adventure where you earn your treasure and the last 20% where you earn your fame and prestige. We did extremely well during the combat encounters and diplomacy checks but hit a bad patch of randomization during the critical part making a lot of it feel pointless. I think it would have gone over between if the first set fame and prestige was either 3/5 -or- both diplomats and second was 5/5 or 3/5 and both diplomats.

When I do get around to running this, I might add a bit of dialogue letting the pc's know just how important the meeting is compared to anything that might happen before it to prevent any feelsbad.

** Venture-Lieutenant, Online—VTT

For the boon on this adventure....
The text reads as if it is a boon meant to be used once, since it says 'For that adventure', and that it has a box to check before the boon; however, it does not have the limited tag, just to go ahead and circumvent future misunderstanding, can we get an official "This is limited" please :) OR, if this is not the intention would you please clarify. Thank you!

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/55/5 *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

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The boon also seems to do nothing if you are already an expert - it makes you trained or expert or if you're HIGHER than expert changes the step, but nothing AT expert. Is that intended?

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

I think it is worth noting that the Basilisks *reaction* cannot paralyze. Only it's focused gaze can paralyze.

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

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Jimmy Dick wrote:


Yep, you are correct. They took another monster and ruined it by adding Visual to the list of traits.

That is how gaze attacks have *always* worked in Pathfinder. And for that matter in greek myth (at least for medusa)

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

How does Avert Gaze interact with the Basalisk's reaction?

Avert gaze lasts till the start of your next turn. The Petrifying Glance is triggered by the start of your turn.

Is Avert Gaze still in effect when the glance triggers?

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

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Interesting catch. I would say yes, because actions are supposed to do something.

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

That was my inclination as well, I was just wondering if I was missing a rule.

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

Any suggestions on travel time/briefing time between location A (Hall of Records) and where Calisro & Eras are and location B (Kesstraka's Quarters). (in the poison case, it seems to matter, with no written guidance).

I'm sorta assuming Narsha rushes the PCs out with the documents after poisoning them. And the 30 minute onset generally passes in transit back to the pathfinders/briefing/journey to the next site. So stage 1 for anyone who failed the save would happen as the fight starts? Some number of the next saves (every 5 minutes after onset, ie T+35,40,45,50,55) would be happening during the small talk with Kesstraka? So probably 2-3 saves worth of time before the Down to Business checks?

1/5 *

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Eric Nielsen wrote:
Any suggestions on travel time/briefing time between location A (Hall of Records) and where Calisro & Eras are and location B (Kesstraka's Quarters). (in the poison case, it seems to matter, with no written guidance).

I'd have the poison onset right when the party gets to location B, for dramatic effect. It'll continue to affect that encounter, but should probably be done by the time the party makes it to location C. Edit: Basically as you describe. I thought i did the small talk prior to the basalisk encounter, but as long as the PC's are answering tactfully the Stupified shouldn't matter at that point, though roleplaying it during discussions can be quite fun.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern

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Do we have an idea on what Lashweather's AC should be, in case the PCs inadvertently leave a path to him open?

4/5 ****

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Mike Bramnik wrote:
Do we have an idea on what Lashweather's AC should be, in case the PCs inadvertently leave a path to him open?

Personally I would fall back on the Armor Class and Saves from the GMG, making Lashweather a level 3 or 5 creature (depending on subtier) with the Low adjustment.

4/5

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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Has anyone been able to make out which of the symbols in Lashweather's observatory is supposed to which? I couldn't match the description to what's drawn on the map at all.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern

The best my VL and I have come up with is that it's "dealer's choice" - GM picks which symbol is which and can change it around each time you run the adventure.

There is no guidance in that regard in the scenario, but since there is no guidance on that part at all, we have to make do as best we can.

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

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It didn't really seem that important to me, so I just put the elemental ones on the cardinal directions and assigned the rest randomly.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 *** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Thod wrote:

in tier 3-4 you pretrify 2 or more and don't have enough basilisk blood? Do you roll 1d3 or do you just assume 3 doses?

In both tiers, the scenarios states that "a single basilisk contains enough blood to coat 3 medium creatures."

So it looks like the scenario writer took out the random roll.

4/5 ***

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Maybe they just rolled and got 3, reduces the variation between tables.

My favorite Dilbert

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

So, I assume that since 2 treasure bundles are part of the optional encounter, if the players do not have time to complete the optional encounter, they forfeit those two treasure bundles?

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Zaister wrote:
Has anyone been able to make out which of the symbols in Lashweather's observatory is supposed to which? I couldn't match the description to what's drawn on the map at all.

I was a bit aggravated with this as well. I don't think it would have been too much trouble to use the actual symbols in the descriptions or at least place numbers on the map. I can do it myself easy enough, but I don't know if the developers had an idea of which symbols should be which because of the various effects. Some effects are "better" than others circumstantially. Was the intent of these effects to help the PCs or the elementals or both?

Also, it would have been nice if the map had a central square for Lashweaver to stand in. As it is arranged, we have to pick a random square which could place him closer to/farther from enemies.

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

TwilightKnight wrote:
So, I assume that since 2 treasure bundles are part of the optional encounter, if the players do not have time to complete the optional encounter, they forfeit those two treasure bundles?

It's in the Treasure section of that encounter:

p. 15 wrote:

If this encounter is skipped for time, the PCs

still earn the Treasure Bundles as long as they succeed at
the adventure’s primary objective, but they do not gain
access to the items.

I think it's against policy to dock treasure bundles for not doing optional encounters, because then they're not really optional anymore. And there's enough reasons why a table might be slow that have nothing to do with players slacking (cold-running GM, trouble mustering, time spent onboarding new players etc.)

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