1 - Ruins of Gauntlight (GM Reference)


Abomination Vaults

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This is a spoiler-filled resource thread for the first volume of the Abomination Vaults AP, Ruins of Gauntlight by James Jacobs.

The GM Reference thread for the second volume, Hands of the Devil, is here.

The GM Reference thread for the third and final volume, Eyes of Empty Death, is here.


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What is the weapons category of the projectile shooters that the morlock engineers wield? And apart from them using junk how is a player supposed to obtain ammo for them?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Peenicks wrote:
What is the weapons category of the projectile shooters that the morlock engineers wield? And apart from them using junk how is a player supposed to obtain ammo for them?

They're not really meant to be things that PCs can pick up and use, honestly. What lets the morlock engineer use them so efficiently is their own "morlockness." Morlocks are, of coruse, taken from HG Welles' story, "The Time Machine," where they're industrious underground-dwelling creatures that tend to the ancient machinery left behind by the previous civilization, so having one set up that's all about using machinery in ways that other people don't quite understand is some of what a morlock engineer is all about.

That said, their projectile launchers are certainly physical objects that PCs can pick up and use. But since they're morlock weapons, I don't think that it's particularly interesting to "dilute" their flavor by letting anyone and everyone use them instantly as well as a morlock would. As such, I specifically didn't include them in the toolbox as things that a PC would normally be able to take advantage of.

If you really wanted to let PCs use them, my suggestion would be that if a PC wants to use one, treat it as an advanced uncommon martial weapon in the bow group that deals 1d6 bludgeoning on a hit, has the deadly d8 and versatile P traits, and a range increment of 50 feet. I'd also suggest giving them a reload of 2, to preserve the fact that morlock engineers have a special ability, "Improvised Projectile," that lets them quickly build ammo for these things. That results in a weapon that for most PCs is pretty sub-par to a shortbow, or even a crossbow. That's kind of the point, though.

But my preferred way to handle these is to describe them as "weird contraptions that seem too rinkydink or jury-rigged to be of much use, and more prone to pinching fingers and making unwanted noise than to do anything that a normal crossbow doesn't already do." So as to preserve the morlock engineer's creepy flavor, pretty much.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Just checking some teleporters on levels 3 and 4...

The teleporter in the alcove in C39 leads to C5b, which has another that leads to a cage in D11. So, assuming that all teleporters are reactivated, C39 would lead to D11 but indirectly, via C5b.

Was that intended? I'm not sure I understand why they wouldn't have C5b lead directly to D11?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Dalvyn wrote:

Just checking some teleporters on levels 3 and 4...

The teleporter in the alcove in C39 leads to C5b, which has another that leads to a cage in D11. So, assuming that all teleporters are reactivated, C39 would lead to D11 but indirectly, via C5b.

Was that intended? I'm not sure I understand why they wouldn't have C5b lead directly to D11?

Huh... looks like there was a mistake made at some point. In my original turnover, area C5 has four teleporters (note that it has four alcoves). My original text for area C5 read:

Spoiler:
In addition to once giving Belcorra a place to spy upon those in area C4, the alcoves served as a teleportation hub that allowed her to move quickly through different areas. Currently, the teleportation circles are dormant; they must be reactivated at both ends via the ritual found in area C35.
The alcove destinations, once the teleportation circles are reactivated are as follows: Area C5a leads to the secret alcove in area A4; area C5b to area C39, area C5c to area D11, and area C5d to the altar in area D15.

The original tags should have had C5a in the southernmost alcove, then going to C5b, C5c, and C5d clockwise, so that C5d is the northern alcove. The teleporters for area C5c and C5d were one-way teleporters, intended for Belcorra to transport prisoners or sacrifices quickly to their fates.

Not sure why things got changed during the later process, but sometimes errors like that happen. Sorry about the confusion. (My guess is that since there were intentionally no return teleporters from area D11 or D15 there was some confusion along the line somewhere...).


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It's all fine; errors happen. Thank you for clearing the confusion!

(The altar would be D13 instead of D15 in the book though. :) )

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Dalvyn wrote:
(The altar would be D13 instead of D15 in the book though. :) )

Originally, I had a few more encounter areas in that dungeon but ended up consolidating them in order to hit my wordcount; the stairs down to the south at area D12 and the passageway from D12 to area D14 both had their own map tags until relatively late in the game, and were tagged D13 and D14, leaving the room to the north D15.

At the last minute, I consolidated those together into area D12 but forgot to adjust the mention of the teleporter link. A great example of why any writer should be wary about sharing unedited text with the public!

Developer

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Dalvyn wrote:

Just checking some teleporters on levels 3 and 4...

The teleporter in the alcove in C39 leads to C5b, which has another that leads to a cage in D11. So, assuming that all teleporters are reactivated, C39 would lead to D11 but indirectly, via C5b.

Was that intended? I'm not sure I understand why they wouldn't have C5b lead directly to D11?

I simplified the teleporters in this room to streamline this part of the dungeon, and the C39 reference is an artifact of that. There's supposed to be only one way in-and-out (other than the secret doors, which aren't helpful if you get there after the person you want to be spying on), and that's area A4, which doesn't work any longer. The other one is the one-way teleporter into the prison.

The simplest fix is to remove the C39 link; it doesn't go anywhere.

For more expansive and complicated teleportation fun, you can use James's original network to bop people around from this room to twice as many places!


So the Lurker in the Light in area C27 tries to use Dimension Door if it gets hurt too bad, but reading the abilities of Gauntlight, it tries to counteract Teleportation. Am I reading it wrong, or is there a chance the Lurker goes "Suck it Heroes, I'm outta here!" and then the spell just... fails and they stand there awkwardly.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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SerraAngel wrote:

So the Lurker in the Light in area C27 tries to use Dimension Door if it gets hurt too bad, but reading the abilities of Gauntlight, it tries to counteract Teleportation. Am I reading it wrong, or is there a chance the Lurker goes "Suck it Heroes, I'm outta here!" and then the spell just... fails and they stand there awkwardly.

The teleportation countering effects of the Gauntlight apply only to those within its structure—the actual circular area that extends through all 10 levels of the dungeon, not to the surrounding areas or rooms. Since the lurker in light's not trying to exit or enter one of those areas, it can dimension door fine.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Forgive me if I completely missed this somewhere, but one of my players raised a great question in our last session: how does one know where the other side of a portal is located? They just found the Awaken Portal ritual and when they learned that both sides of a portal have to be activated, the question came up. Is there a way for them to somehow know through the ritual or some other spell/Arcana check, or do they just need to activate every portal they find in the hopes of connecting two of them?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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aett wrote:
Forgive me if I completely missed this somewhere, but one of my players raised a great question in our last session: how does one know where the other side of a portal is located? They just found the Awaken Portal ritual and when they learned that both sides of a portal have to be activated, the question came up. Is there a way for them to somehow know through the ritual or some other spell/Arcana check, or do they just need to activate every portal they find in the hopes of connecting two of them?

By stepping through the portal; that's the easiest way. I suppose if the party discovered both ends of the portal and manage to identify both sides that they'll be able to suss out where they both connect to.

But learning where one portal is doesn't tell them where the other is.

A big part of why I put these into the adventure is to reward PCs for fully exploring the dungeon levels. It gives them something else to look for in addition to the next set of stairs down, and rewards them when they find them with lots of shortcuts. Kinda like how the gameplay of something like Dark Souls rewards you for exploring and finding shortcuts.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wrin's a primal sorcerer, so she should have some signature spells. I'm leaning towards giving her charm and restoration, since those spells benefit from heightening the most.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Misroi wrote:
Wrin's a primal sorcerer, so she should have some signature spells. I'm leaning towards giving her charm and restoration, since those spells benefit from heightening the most.

Those are great choices. Wrin is in fact sort of based on a PC I started playing, although alas the pandemic put that campaign on hold before she could reach 2nd level. She actually first started out as an NPC ally to the group of players in an office campaing I've been running for a while, which is where her ties to the Cosmic Caravan and her divination power come from.

The version of her that I put into "Ruins of Gauntlight" is thus the third incarnation. She's not a PC, but an NPC, so I didn't build her stats for Gauntlight as if she were an actual PC sorcerer, and as such I didn't give her signature spells (instead using that wordcount to get a little more creative with her unique elements), but she works completely fine with them if you want to give them to her, that's for sure. (The PC version of her quickly got the nickname of "glitter tiefling" for her choice of spells that are super colorful, for what that's worth.)

EDIT: I just found Wrin's character sheet, which I did bring home and didn't leave at the office a year ago when we started to all work from home. She did just hit 2nd level it looks like, so I never got a chance to start picking her signature spells, but assuming we do get to play again (looks at Ron Lundeen across the internet with puppy dog eyes), her first level signature spell is for sure gonna be heal. Second level should probably be dispel magic but it'll be hard to avoid picking glitterdust instead...

Developer

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Misroi wrote:
Wrin's a primal sorcerer, so she should have some signature spells. I'm leaning towards giving her charm and restoration, since those spells benefit from heightening the most.

Quick point of order: she's not a sorcerer. She's an oddities merchant. It says so right in the first line of her stat block after her traits.

The more you expect NPCs to look like PCs, the more likely you are to get confused by their stat blocks, when everything you need is right there. Wrin has primal spontaneous spells, bloodline focus spells, and blood magic, but that doesn't mean she's missing anything a PC sorcerer would have (like signature spells). Because she's not a sorcerer.

Wrin also doesn't have the 30 foot base speed an elf PC would have, nor does she have the darkvision a tiefling elf PC would have. None of that is wrong.

We take from existing rules to give a specific feel to NPCs (such as by giving an NPC Nimble Dodge, Sneak Attack, and Surprise Attack to make it "feel" like a rogue), but we're not locked in to any mandated abilities.

I hit this point hard and often, because I know our GMs also create NPCs from time to time, and I don't want to think they've somehow failed for including some class-like abilities but not others. We're not locked into this, and neither are you!

Can you add some signature spells to Wrin? Sure! But you don't have to.

Developer

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James Jacobs wrote:
but assuming we do get to play again (looks at Ron Lundeen across the internet with puppy dog eyes), her first level signature spell is for sure gonna be heal. Second level should probably be dispel magic but it'll be hard to avoid picking glitterdust instead...

Once we're back in the office, I'm picking up this Extinction Curse campaign again! Promise! :-)

Silver Crusade

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Ron Lundeen wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
but assuming we do get to play again (looks at Ron Lundeen across the internet with puppy dog eyes), her first level signature spell is for sure gonna be heal. Second level should probably be dispel magic but it'll be hard to avoid picking glitterdust instead...
Once we're back in the office, I'm picking up this Extinction Curse campaign again! Promise! :-)

We shall hold you to it! :3


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Ron Lundeen wrote:
Once we're back in the office, I'm picking up this Extinction Curse campaign again! Promise! :-)

Stream! Please?! Will even pay.

What I liked about band of bravos was that it was just gamers playing an RPG. I generally don't like the higher production value streams like the ones with elaborate FX and costumes, as it feels manufactured and I can't really relate to it. Though I do undertand that a lot of people like that, and do dressup for home games, and to be fair I have worn a cloak and a helm to play, but I don't consider that excessive.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Streaming games is fun, and I do hope to be able to do some live play streams of games I run or play in at some point in the future... but particularly for me, as a professional in the industry, it's important that some of the games I play or run are for FUN rather than work. If I stream a game, I have to play it differently than if I were not; I have to be mindful of the fact that even as I play, I'm also representing Paizo. Even if it's 100% on my own time. As such, that turns streaming into work, and it's much more stressful for me to do than just to play.

I appreciate that folks enjoyed Band of Bravos, I really do. But I don't want to open all of my personal gaming time up to public scrutiny. As such, I kinda hope that when we get back to Extinction Curse we'll be able to keep it not a public stream. It's Ron's game, of course, though, so if he wants to stream it that's his call.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am having too much fun running ruins of gaunt light in a play-by-post format. The role playing opportunities are a lot of fun to explore more slowly. It would be cool to see someone start to turn play-by-post game reports into an animated YouTube show.

Ruins of giant light really gives a lot of “old school” feel but with using all the fancy improvements that PF2 has introduced. My party is having a lot of fun interacting more socially with the mudluckers on the first floor, but recognizes that the folks of Otari might not be thrilled about having a neighbor that might have been planning to invade them. It is a fun tension that I want to keep going, but not turn the campaign into a pure intrigue campaign. Does anyone have any ideas for keeping the mudlickers around in a fun but slightly nuisance-y way as the party delves deeper and deeper?

Right now, I am playing boss Scrawng as seeing the party as his personal mercenary team but that he is smart enough to know he has to keep them focused on the gauntlight dilemmas, and thinking about trying to expand down to fill the vacuum of power as long as the PCs allow it.


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@James jacobs. Thanks for the reply. I really like the adventure.


Hi there! First, I want to say that I'm very excited about this AP! I'm running it starting this coming Saturday, and am prepping now. I did have one admittedly odd question.

I've been adjusting Book 1 for a 6-PC party, which is what I'm running it for. I noticed that the treasure levels for Level 1 (which I'm working on now) seem a little high for a 4-PC megadungeon adventure. They should be the equivalent of a 5-PC party-level treasure, but seem a bit higher (more higher level items and more consumables).

I just wanted to double-check if the treasure level was supposed to look a little on the high side and, if so, if that was deliberate to prepare PCs for the rest of the dungeon. If it is, then I'll add extra treasure as normal, so the PCs don't end up under-resourced. If it's just randomness, then I'll take the extra treasure into account when I adjust the AP.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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We always put more treasure into an adventure than the core rules might suggest, since not every party will recover every bit of treasure. And some treasure might not work well for some groups. And some groups might give away treasure or use it up in other unexpected ways. And some groups might have bad luck with poor die rolls and end up using up resources more quickly than expected.

And beyond that, some groups are more comfortable with more or less treasure than the standard.

The GM needs to be the final filter as far as setting the right amount of treasure for their table, but by putting extra treasure in there we give the GM more tools to work with. After all, it's much easier to cut a bit of treasure from an adventure than it is to put new treasure in.

SO: Yup, it's deliberate.

Liberty's Edge

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James/Ron

So I had a chance to run through most of Gauntlight level 1 over the weekend for my players, and 2 of the encounters that have lead to TPKs for others were touch and go with my own as well.

I am referring to the Giant Scorpion and Mister Beak.

My main question James relates to design as I have not crunched the XP numbers yet. I have moved away from XP awards and have moved instead to milestone levelling. Usually it works out -- but sometimes there are issues.

Did you envision Mister Beak as an encounter for level 1 PCs, or for level 2 PCs at that point? Curious because... DAYUUM... that is one helluva nasty soulbound doll!

Mister Beak is nasty enough that most GMs need to be alerted to it and consider throttling him back from elite to normal for most PCs. The potential that, as written, Mister Beak presents a campaign ending encounter is problematically high.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Steel_Wind wrote:

James/Ron

So I had a chance to run through most of Gauntlight level 1 over the weekend for my players, and 2 of the encounters that have lead to TPKs for others were touch and go with my own as well.

I am referring to the Giant Scorpion and Mister Beak.

My main question James relates to design as I have not crunched the XP numbers yet. I have moved away from XP awards and have moved instead to milestone levelling. Usually it works out -- but sometimes there are issues.

Did you envision Mister Beak as an encounter for level 1 PCs, or for level 2 PCs at that point? Curious because... DAYUUM... that is one helluva nasty soulbound doll!

Mister Beak is nasty enough that most GMs need to be alerted to it and consider throttling him back from elite to normal for most PCs. The potential that, as written, Mister Beak presents a campaign ending encounter is problematically high.

My original turnover had a mix of encounters covering the whole range of difficulties, but for the 1st level, my goal was to do softer encounters. I have long felt that 1st level adventures should softpedal the design; the goal being to hook the players on the fun and not set them up for failure on day one.

That said, it's impossible to set up a range of encoutners that are varied and interesting that EVERY group will experience in that valley between "too easy" and "too hard." We have to lean on GMs to moderate things as best works for their table in that category.

As for Mister Beak, he's certainly in the category of tough fight, and that is intentional. By placing him in a part of the map that feels remote and far from "where the PCs start," the hope was that even if the PCs haven't reached 2nd level before getting there, they'll have managed to start learning teamwork and the nature of the game and all that so that they'll have that on their side.

Gauntlight is a dungeon crawl, but it's also a sandbox. There's no "one correct way" through the dungeon. Just as your group can beeline it right to the tough encounters, they can also skip entire levels by heading downstairs before they're ready. That's part of the sandbox experience, and it's not for everyone.

Some encounters, thus, are meant to be tough. The idea of finding something too tough to fight and then having to flee and nurse your wounds and ego and then come back when you're higher level to get "revenge" is a big part of the sandbox experience as well.

Of course, that does mean that GMs need to be ready to adjust the standard "monsters fight as best as they are able to kill PCs." If a fight ends up looming toward the TPK range, you as the GM should consider having the monster make tactical mistakes, not attack characters who have fallen, or otherwise give out hints to the players as how they can best escape. In a case like this, having allies in town can help as well; rather than let the party die, you can have Wrin or some allied NPC find them and nurse them back to health rather than kill everyone off.

Remember that to a player, a near-death experience is more than enough to keep the fear of death in the game. A player character doesn't HAVE to actually die to keep that edge in play.

In particular to this case, milestone leveling really works poorly for an adventure like this. The element of being able to "grind" your levels up is a big part of sandbox play, and milestone leveling doesn't work as well. Unless you switch it to a milestone system like "Once the PCs do 10 encounter, or once they finish every 3 sessions, they level up" I guess. Tying a level to specific in-game events makes sandbox style campaigns kind of awkward to run.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I for one love how there is a good spread of difficulty in encounters throughout the different levels of the dungeon. Having a couple of really challenging encounters on the first floor of the dungeon helps make it clear that the expectation is not that the PCs envision the dungeon purely as a vertical platform, but a 3D living place where they should do what narratively feels right to the party, not what the system expects from them. Very few of the truly threatening encounters of this dungeon pursue PCs outside of a specific encounter range.

If your players have a belief that their characters should have a right to stand and face any encounter in direct combat, without creating a plan for how to learn about what kind of threat it poses to them, how they might defeat it, and what they are going to do if the plan goes wrong, they might not really want to be playing in a sandbox dungeon crawl, and they might need a more linear adventure that you set on rails for them. Or you need to make sure that they understand that "sandbox dungeon crawl" means that encounters are not lined up for the party to be able to tackle in set specific increments and that it is entirely possible for them to get in over their heads.

One of the reasons I love sandbox adventures as a GM, is because it gives players a lot more narrative power over the game, creating much more of a give and take relationship between players and GMs for overall story being told. But players do need to be prepared for that, and may need help adjusting their expecations away from more linear RPG experiences, where the story is pretty much headed to one logical place.

Liberty's Edge

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James Jacobs wrote:

Remember that to a player, a near-death experience is more than enough to keep the fear of death in the game. A player character doesn't HAVE to actually die to keep that edge in play.

In particular to this case, milestone leveling really works poorly for an adventure like this. The element of being able to "grind" your levels up is a big part of sandbox play, and milestone leveling doesn't work as well. Unless you switch it to a milestone system like "Once the PCs do 10 encounter, or once they finish every 3 sessions, they level up" I guess. Tying a level to specific in-game events makes sandbox style campaigns kind of awkward to run.

Oh I have no problem with tough encounters. I agree completely that the game shines brightest where there is a real and palpable chance of death.

The reverse of that of course, is that in order for there to be that real and palpable chance... uhm.... there is a real and palpable chance. And that cuts both ways.

Deaths I don't mind. TPK's on the other hand, are problematic.

As for sandboxy play, yeah I agree. I had sort of expected that I might get away with milestones here premised on access to the 2nd level, just the same. I didn't crunch the numbers (as I sometimes do) to find the 2nd level break point. I was more focused on their hitting 2nd level before the cemetery. I wasn't paying attention as carefully as I should have to the hidden horror that is Mister Beak.

In other news: poisons in PF2 are pretty nasty! I had the stat block for the Giant Scorpion loaded -- but for whatever reason I didn't look carefully at it (you have to click on the entry to see all of it in Foundry). So when the character became poisoned, I just Googled it on AON in another window when I didn't see it quickly on the statblock (without clicking on the venom entry). And I clicked on the first link on my search results.

And therein lies a cautionary tale.

Turns out, there is an entry on AON for "Giant Scorpion Venom". It matches that of the stat block word for word -- except for one teensy weensy important detail. The entry is here: Giant Scorpion Venom

Yeah, on the monster stat block, the venom is the same, but DC18, not 22 as it is for the extracted venom entry.

This was entirely my fault. I own the book in both dead tree and PDF formats -- and I even had it entered in my stat block in Foundry, too.

I could have had it tattooed to my forearm for all the good it did me. You see, it doesn't matter how many times you have it if you don't actually look at it. When you look via Google and assume the AON entry is correct? Well it kind of is correct... and then again, it very, very most definitely wasn't :)


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Steel_Wind wrote:

Oh I have no problem with tough encounters. I agree completely that the game shines brightest where there is a real and palpable chance of death.

The reverse of that of course, is that in order for there to be that real and palpable chance... uhm.... there is a real and palpable chance. And that cuts both ways.

I completely agree with that. Making players "feel" that death is close is one thing. Actually killing a character is another one. The difference between both situations seems thin, the difference in the mind of the players is big.

Steel_Wind wrote:
And therein lies a cautionary tale.

We all make mistakes. I misread complex hazards personally. On the other hand, complex hazards are extremely badly written in the rules. They have actions that don't work like normal actions generating a lot of confusion. In my opinion, they should be rewritten.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The scorpion nearly killed a character who tumbled into the room to flank it and the rest of the party started running. I had Wrin run in, give some advice (mostly "taunt the scorpion away from the unconscious guy", cast a spell or two, and generally rally the party to take it out. It was pretty cool.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ron Lundeen wrote:
Misroi wrote:
Wrin's a primal sorcerer, so she should have some signature spells. I'm leaning towards giving her charm and restoration, since those spells benefit from heightening the most.

Quick point of order: she's not a sorcerer. She's an oddities merchant. It says so right in the first line of her stat block after her traits.

The more you expect NPCs to look like PCs, the more likely you are to get confused by their stat blocks, when everything you need is right there. Wrin has primal spontaneous spells, bloodline focus spells, and blood magic, but that doesn't mean she's missing anything a PC sorcerer would have (like signature spells). Because she's not a sorcerer.

Wrin also doesn't have the 30 foot base speed an elf PC would have, nor does she have the darkvision a tiefling elf PC would have. None of that is wrong.

We take from existing rules to give a specific feel to NPCs (such as by giving an NPC Nimble Dodge, Sneak Attack, and Surprise Attack to make it "feel" like a rogue), but we're not locked in to any mandated abilities.

I hit this point hard and often, because I know our GMs also create NPCs from time to time, and I don't want to think they've somehow failed for including some class-like abilities but not others. We're not locked into this, and neither are you!

Can you add some signature spells to Wrin? Sure! But you don't have to.

That is a fair point, and one I do forget from time to time. Quite a bit of unlearning from 1e, for sure. I think that giving her signature spells gives her additional assistance to the party, so it's worth a little extra difficulty.


I've faced many issues with the Cultists in the third floor. The map, with the small corridor leading to a big hallway, is both a blessing for the players and something awful as they can't use stealth or take the ghouls by small groups. As soon as they start the fight, it becomes a slug fest in the corridor. The ghouls, being intelligent, start bringing their friends and at that stage, there's only one solution: retreating.
And the other ways to get to the ghouls are either very hard to find, like the secret door, or unsettling, like the well or the elevator. I have 2 parties who ended up in the slugfest, countless deads in the second party, and there are still ghouls in there...


Starts like an old school megadungeon. Very brief background and introduction, then get right into exploring.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I don't know if this has been reported yet, but the Blood of Belcorra haunt has a hilariously wrong Stealth bonus - it's listed as +23!

I assume someone got simple and complex hazards mixed up, and the haunt should have a Stealth DC of 23 and a bonus of +13.

Developer

MaxAstro wrote:

I don't know if this has been reported yet, but the Blood of Belcorra haunt has a hilariously wrong Stealth bonus - it's listed as +23!

I assume someone got simple and complex hazards mixed up, and the haunt should have a Stealth DC of 23 and a bonus of +13.

Yeah, that sounds like an error. Thanks for bringing it up!


Does anyone have any suggestions for backstory on the Majordomo? My players just fought it, and it was definitely the most brutal encounter so far (they have a swash and a precision ranger, so the immunity to precision damage was rough.) They had an extra shadow at the end and had to book it out of there.

When they make it back into the crypt after the new shadow fades, there's no real loot or information about why the shadow was there, which I think will be a bit of a letdown. Figured I'd check to see if anyone had something they were using before I started coming up with my own stuff.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Wow, that encounter almost got my group too. The champion lost his shadow, the sorcerer was down but stable, and the party was split at both ends of the hall. The oracle came through with a final blast that destroyed the shadows.

Off the top of my head, because I didn't think about this. I showed my player the picture and they noted the "business" look. And they haven't explored her office yet. Maybe I'll throw in a faded painting of her to show she was of some importance to Belcorra.


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My group ran from the shadow and came back the following day after the alchemist loaded up on ghost charges. Fortunately it doesn't pursue people.

As far as Mr Beaky goes putting something into a level 1 adventure with 6d6 Vampiric Touch is just mean. It has a very high chance of outright killing pretty much any level 1 character and, if your group does any sort of scouting, he can conceivably be the very first encounter you have.

Its as bad as Thornkeep level 1.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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andreww wrote:

My group ran from the shadow and came back the following day after the alchemist loaded up on ghost charges. Fortunately it doesn't pursue people.

As far as Mr Beaky goes putting something into a level 1 adventure with 6d6 Vampiric Touch is just mean. It has a very high chance of outright killing pretty much any level 1 character and, if your group does any sort of scouting, he can conceivably be the very first encounter you have.

Its as bad as Thornkeep level 1.

That's a fair point, but looking at it a bit more closely, that's a problem not with the adventure but with the soulbound doll. Giving them 3rd level spells is not great since that's a level 5 creature thing. They should be errataed so that their innate spell is, at most, a 2nd level spell, looking at it more closely.

In the meantime, I suggest swapping out the 6d6 vampiric touch phantom pain heightened to 2nd level. Not that that'll help the people Mr. Beaky murdered already.

I'm technically taking a half-day today, but if I remember, I'll flag the soulbound doll's overly powerful innate spells as potential errata for future consideration.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

B23 The Well.

This might be a stretch, but wouldn't everyone in the room be affected by the gibbering mouthers gibbering aura??
Or at least the ones who peer down the well.

One could argue that the acoustics of the cave and the well shaft itself could affect this, hence the perception check just to hear it. But no matter where the creature is in the pool, it is easily 60' to anywhere in B23.

I wasn't initially looking into this. I was preparing myself because my players rather enjoy lowering people with ropes into pits and such.
That PC is definitely going to hear it and if they fail the save and out of confusion, cut the rope themselves.


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James Jacobs wrote:

That's a fair point, but looking at it a bit more closely, that's a problem not with the adventure but with the soulbound doll. Giving them 3rd level spells is not great since that's a level 5 creature thing. They should be errataed so that their innate spell is, at most, a 2nd level spell, looking at it more closely.

In the meantime, I suggest swapping out the 6d6 vampiric touch phantom pain heightened to 2nd level. Not that that'll help the people Mr. Beaky murdered already.

I'm technically taking a half-day today, but if I remember, I'll flag the soulbound doll's overly powerful innate spells as potential errata for future consideration.

DOn't sweat it.

I quite like it that you teach newcomers to the game that there can be fights you should run away from. (More specifically, that dungeon delvers can't rely on the meta thinking that goes "we're on level 3, so we're safe from anything we can't handle as level three heroes").

If you feel the need to change anything in this or any other instance, I suggest you instead shore up the forewarning aspects. Having "too hard" fights is not bad as long as players don't feel frustration and instead go "well, we did get fair warning but we went ahead anyway, so the loss of Bob the Mighty is on us."

Best Regards


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It's less to do with the encounter and more to do with the level 2 creature having a 3rd level spell. I ran into similar problems in AoE and my players were level 3 when they nearly dropped to a surprise harm. It definitely stands out a bit in contrast to other aligned dolls who may only have something like nondetection or grease. A CE or NE doll punches way above its level in a way that comes out of nowhere.


AOEs like harm have always been problematic as GMs don't usually kill secure against a PC, but these do that.

EDIT: Especially undead with harm (I know these aren't undead; this is a general comment on a particularly dangerous combination).


Dr A Gon wrote:

AOEs like harm have always been problematic as GMs don't usually kill secure against a PC, but these do that.

EDIT: Especially undead with harm (I know these aren't undead; this is a general comment on a particularly dangerous combination).

Sorry, I should also make clear that when I wrote AoE, I meant Agents of Edgewatch.


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I've started my own little project to remake the maps for Abomination Vaults, and ultimately compile them in to a Foundry VTT module.

The first map is done - and it can be downloaded from Google Drive here.

Feedback welcome!


narchy wrote:

I've started my own little project to remake the maps for Abomination Vaults, and ultimately compile them in to a Foundry VTT module.

The first map is done - and it can be downloaded from Google Drive here.

Feedback welcome!

That's really beautiful. Thanks for sharing!


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Ruzza wrote:

It's less to do with the encounter and more to do with the level 2 creature having a 3rd level spell.

A CE or NE doll punches way above its level in a way that comes out of nowhere.

Well, from the players' perspective nothing changes. Imagine the monster simply being 5th level.

I mean: the question boils down to what is your complaint:

a) "the encounter is too deadly"
or
b) "the monster does not follow the rules"

Because if a) then I guess that's fair enough. We all have opinions. As I said, maybe the writers can look at the foreshadowing provided and learn from this instance. Or, your complaint is not generally felt, and maybe you just had bad luck. Either way, you expressed your opinion and that's ok.

But if b) then you should know there is no rule against monsters having spells "above their level". It happens quite often that a monster has a specific spell at a stratospheric level because it is completely central to that monster's identity. Is this doll's design a good example? That we can debate. But it's not like it's an automatic errata-worthy mistake.

Cheers


narchy wrote:

I've started my own little project to remake the maps for Abomination Vaults, and ultimately compile them in to a Foundry VTT module.

The first map is done - and it can be downloaded from Google Drive here.

Feedback welcome!

Feedback: when I click the link I get a webp file. I'm assuming you didn't actually create it in that format - maybe you can rejigger your Google Drive settings to allow us to download it in the actual format used?


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Zapp wrote:
narchy wrote:

I've started my own little project to remake the maps for Abomination Vaults, and ultimately compile them in to a Foundry VTT module.

The first map is done - and it can be downloaded from Google Drive here.

Feedback welcome!

Feedback: when I click the link I get a webp file. I'm assuming you didn't actually create it in that format - maybe you can rejigger your Google Drive settings to allow us to download it in the actual format used?

I created it in Photoshop, so the original file is a very large (8GB) PSD file. I have saved it as a webp, because it's a good format for file size vs quality. I can certainly add an uncompressed PNG, but sharing the PSD isn't an option as it's includes a lot of links to the Forgotten Adventures assets.


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Zapp wrote:

Well, from the players' perspective nothing changes. Imagine the monster simply being 5th level.

I mean: the question boils down to what is your complaint:

a) "the encounter is too deadly"
or
b) "the monster does not follow the rules"

Because if a) then I guess that's fair enough. We all have opinions. As I said, maybe the writers can look at the foreshadowing provided and learn from this instance. Or, your complaint is not generally felt, and maybe you just had bad luck. Either way, you expressed your opinion and that's ok.

But if b) then you should know there is no rule against monsters having spells "above their level". It happens quite often that a monster has a specific spell at a stratospheric level because it is completely central to that monster's identity. Is this doll's design a good example? That we can debate. But it's not like it's an automatic errata-worthy mistake.

Cheers

I don't think you're taking into account how PF2's monster design works. The soulbound doll is a 2 level creature and is appropriate for 1st level characters to fight as Low 1 encounter: something not fundamentally difficult. While this holds true for a soulbound doll that is Good or Neutral (as their single-use spell effects alter how the PCs interact with the encounter rather than outright destroy them), an Evil soulbound doll (which good PCs are likely to end up facing in published adventures) deals way more damage than they should by monster design guidelines in the GMG.

While a single-use ability for a level 2 creature at the extreme end of the scale should deal around 1d12+4 damage (averaging about 11 damage), the LE soulbound doll deals 5d6 (averaging 18 damage), the CE doll deals 6d6 (average of 21 damage), and the NE can dish out 3d6 in an AoE (this one is actually mostly in line with the guidelines, though harm's versatility should be noted). For reference, a level 1 dwarven barbarian with 16 Con will have 25 HP.

Not only does this make for an encounter that is inappropriate for level 1 characters in terms of "spike damage," it makes them difficult to balance an actual encounter around, almost enough to render the guidelines useless just if you decide to run them as is from the Bestiary.

It's not the biggest problem in the world (plenty of people have run AoA, AoE, and AV at this point and survived; mostly in situations where the dolls were alone), but yes, I would say it's 100% errata worthy. Even JJ himself has flagged it to be errata'd.

EDIT: I should note, in the hypothetical situation of a 4 person team of PCs versus a singular evil doll, one PC may go down, but the group should triumph. However, that's certainly not a Low 1 encounter and nor does it lend itself to being included in differing enemy compositions.


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Ruzza wrote:
EDIT: I should note, in the hypothetical situation of a 4 person team of PCs versus a singular evil doll, one PC may go down, but the group should triumph. However, that's certainly not a Low 1 encounter and nor does it lend itself to being included in differing enemy compositions.

The main issue with Vampiric Touch is the death trait. This isnt a case where a PC is "going down", they are going straight to dead. After it has used its once per day spell it largely becomes trivial but most likely you are looking at one dead PC. Without the death trait I really wouldnt have much of an issue with it. It would be likely to knock one person out but the situation is mostly salvageable outside of massive damage.

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