What's happening in your game(s)?

Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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After finally getting a chance to play a sit-down game of Pathfinder after a long year of VTTs and PbP games, I've been itching to talk about my games and just what sort of makes them feel special. Just a nice relaxing "fluffy" thread where we can gush about our favorite moments (Also, feeling rundown with a new baby, so some feel good tales are a balm for the soul). If you've got stories from Paizo modules, I'd say be kind and put them behind a spoiler tag. Unfortunately, I'm currently running three modules, though I can tell at least one without any spoilers!

Agents of Edgewatch: Book 1:
My Play-By-Post party just finished up book 1 in a big way. They we're knocked around hard in the murder hotel, but eventually made their way down to the basements, where the murderous Hendrid Pratchett laired. After mistakenly splitting an ochre jelly several times, they escaped to rest up before confronting the serial killer. What followed was an insane fight and chase scene that I had rarely had a chance to run.

The liberator and monk charged the hotel owner, getting in some meager damage before he began to filet them with his True Strike - sword cane attacks. Thankfully, he critically failed his save versus a fear spell, which gave the party a chance to press the attack. He went right into retreat mode, smashing his alchemy lab and setting the building on fire. As he escaped through his secret passage, the part gave chase, enduring the fire damage as they ran. Pratchett then threw open the door that held the multitudes of ochre jellies who began pouring forth, barring their passage, with the sorcerer and magus trapped on one side and the liberator and monk trapped with Pratchett on the other. The two martial characters continued to chase the killer to the second floor while the mages battered the oozes in the flames below. Within Pratchett's office, the murderer stabbed into an untriggered trap - canisters of poison gas that quickly filled the room. The champion and monk were in poor shape and getting worse by the moment. Thankfully, the spellcasters made their way up, after sealing the oozes down below, and Pratchett took to running again. The party caught up to him as he began to descend the stairs to the first floor, to make his final dash out the front door. Unfortunately, the first floor was consumed in a roaring inferno now, with a weakened floor giving way to the basement. None of the rest of that party was as swift as the liberator, though, he charged down the stairs at the madman and shoved him in. The champion is validated in their killing of the psychopath who imprisoned and tortured so many, but the brazen way they did it weighs heavy on them as they enter into the second book.

As a GM, this was so much fun to run, even though I constantly seemed to make the encounter so much harder than it should have been. I seemed to constantly have a chance to make the characters' lives a living hell, and I took it whenever I could. It was cruel unleashing the oozes, but also gave the party a chance to catch the much faster half-elf. It was a low blow when he triggered the trap, but it also left him with few actions as he held his breath and struck the canisters. It was pure GM fiat by having the floor cave in to the basement, but I intended to have the PCs make the hard choice of skirting the hole slowly or chasing after the madman with a Jump (and likely the Grab a Ledge reaction). I was caught off guard when the champion managed to catch up and opted to Shove him in rather than Grapple him. The player is excited to explore what that choice means for their character and is already having fun roleplaying their own fears about the attack.

The Slithering:
Another PbP game! This time, our combat was much smaller in scale, but gives me a chance to say something that I don't often. I was frustrated at the mental load. Don't get me wrong, I love PF2 and it's currently one of my favorite systems when it comes to combat, but I ran a fight that left me keeping track of a lot of penalties, afflictions, and bonuses. Even with the slow pace of PbP, I (and my players) made a number of mistakes.

To begin, this fight was a party of four (playtest summoner, redeemer champion, storm druid, and curse witch) versus three jungle drakes. A much smaller fight, but a Severe encounter nonetheless. The drakes alternated with two on the ground flanking and using their draconic frenzy on a singular target while another flew into the air to debuff the PCs with its poison spit. From the players' point of view, this left them with plenty of actions to keep attacking as they were almost always directly adjacent to a drake to hit. From my point of view, I could keep the drakes rotating out in such a way as to make sure that none of them went down early into the fight and prevented the PCs from focus firing, especially once they learned of the drakes' twisting tail reaction. It made for a rather punishing combat, with our two orc PCs carefully holding their reactions in case they needed to keep fighting.

That said, I also had to deal with the witch keeping a bless spell active (+1 to attack rolls, okay I'll keep that in mind) along with his eye eye (right, that one is going to be frightened 1 until he stops sustaining it). Then the redeemer was quick to use his Glimpse of Redemption to prevent damage and (often) inflict one of the drakes with enfeebled 2 (no problem, that's going to be a -2 penalty so that one will likely take to the sky next). The druid nailed a Tempest Surge for clumsy 2 (let's make sure we're taking that away from Reflex and AC now) while the summoner's eidolon tried to draw out AoOs by running between the battle. All of that on top of different PCs being at different stages of the drake venom, some being enfeebled 1 and others being enfeebled 2.

Don't get me wrong, it was a fun fight and one in which my players got to use everything they could to keep the battle going. It was a nova encounter, but one that quickly showed me just how many status effects both my team and the monsters they were facing had. The summoner said it best with, "That was incredibly fun, let's never do that again." At the end of the encounter, though, everyone felt great for playing so well and realized the Three Card Ante that I was pulling with the shuffling drakes. It was a good fight, and kept my players on their toes and it helped me to run afflictions more efficiently.

And finally, my spoiler free tale of my long awaited sit-down game of PF2. Where my group lives, we have a high turnover rate of English speakers in the area, so we ended up needing to look for a new player. We found one in the form of a long time 5e player who had recently moved to the area and was looking for a TRPG group. He arrived and proudly declared: "I'd like to make an alchemist!" I, personally, enjoy the alchemist class, but it's not one that I would point to and say, "Yes, if you're new to the system, this is the one to try." I wasn't one to say no, however, and we built out a quick goblin bomber. He loaded up on bombs and descended into the dungeon with a mountain stance monk, a monastic archery monk, and a warpriest of the Green Man. It was not the normal party in the sense that he knew them. He very quickly grokked the three-action economy, firing his crossbow, storing it, and quick lobbing a bomb into a batch of enemies. When the mountain stance monk strode to a choke point and then readied an action to punch anything that came adjacent to him, he started preparing actions to fire his crossbow once enemies left cover. When the warpriest identified the resistances of some skeletons, he began using Recall Knowledge actions as well. He even managed to land a crit on a prone and frightened enemy and his response was, "Well, we should just try and make that happen all the time."

It was a fantastic session with an oddball group. He's happily joined in for the start of our Abomination Vaults game and he seems to be sticking with the alchemist. I'm looking forward to seeing how this game turns out.

Okay, my long-winded tale-telling done with, what's going on in your games?

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Just one good one at the moment.

Beginner Box:
While running a group through the Beginner Box, they decided that it was cruel to murder a baby dragon. That stance was softened by having a conversation with the dragon, but they still opted not to. With a bard and a ranger wrestling with the dragon, things were looking bleak until the fighter critted with an AoO and losing most of its blood during its turn cowed the dragon.

So, like a dog chasing cars, the party had to ask itself, "Well, now what do we do with it?"

And so, The brave group of adventurers started the Abomination Vaults as a break from babysitting a dragon who has named himself Otarix and considers every person in the town to be his hoard and spends his days matchmaking to increase the size of his hoard.

Our party of currently five players got some mixed results when starting the AoA AP, mainly because of its thight math and how it effects checks and combats. We have the paradox situation that both GM and players complain about how combat feels and thus all available role-playing situations are easily much more appreciated than all fighting combined, which really is a bummer as by its very nature DnD and PF feature a lot of combat, especially during the adventures climax. Our GM complains that he has no fun because most encounters are either "lost" before they even start and without him being able to create at least some sort of dread or tension or are so overpowering that he has to pull punches (we had approximately two should-have-been TPKs in each of the first 2 volumes). On the other hand we the players found combats no fun because every single one felt like a no holds barred bashing your faces in slug out in between Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago for two to three rounds, followed by two to three rounds of mopping up and we consequently very rarely felt heroic or on top of things, just like random survivors of an otherwise very bloody battle. All in all the general impression of thightness of math did not leave much room for memorable scenes, however not everything was bad or unfun so I will close with some more benevolent examples.

Age of Ashes, Volume 1:
When we explored the lower levels of citadel Altaerein we encountered some Charau-ka, which we wanted to take prisoner for interrogation. So for the first time in the AP (and the first time ever somebody of our party tried to do so) my otherwise rather stoic Warpriest of Sarenrae used Athletics in order to grapple one of our opponents and ended up rolling a critical success, thus fully restraining the unfortunate apeman. At this point our ranger looked me square into the eye and with some deadpan humor just stated: "Well, at this point I guess you can cross off 'wrestled a gorilla' off your bucket list."

Age of Ashes, Volume 2:
During one of our fights in the jungle an otherwise healthy enemy wanted to escape to live to fight another day and to probably warn his allies and our GM was just about to make it happen in the narrative because of an already comfortable lead when our ranger insisted to stay in encounter mode. He then pulled out a Vine Arrow which he had kept in store for several levels already, activated it and proceeded to critically hit said enemy, not only gaining the additional immobilisation effect of the Vine Arrow but also the immobilisation effect of his own bow critical specialisation, pinning said enemy with two separate effects and giving our melees the time needed to catch up, corner and subdue him. There was much cheering at the table when the roll for the shot ended up a natural 20.

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I'm running a homebrew game, and long story short:

The game takes place in a post apocalyptic world that follows a calamity 500 years ago where a powerful wizard sought to merge the Dreamlands and the physical world together so he could reshape the world to bring back his ravaged homeland (at the cost of basically the souls of every other person save his own countrymen). He was stopped, but the roots of the world tree he summoned to form a bridge between worlds ripped apart the continents, leaving all known landmasses (to the party) as a collection of islands.

Using the power of science, technology, and community, the world rebuilt, but the scars of the calamity, known by scholars as the Convergence, remains, and the border between dream and reality grows weaker each day. In some senses, this has been good; aether, the force that makes magic possible, is pulled from the dreamlands, and a weaker boundry means more magic, and the world's tech is basically industrial revolution era, but replace coal and oil with magic. Recently, however, sentient nightmared started crawling from the dreamlands and attacking mortals by sowing fear and despair. The party is working with a group to research a way to keep the monsters at bay.

Currently, they are on an island where the fae and humans live side by side; the peace kept by mystically binding contracts and agreements. However, a dryad that has been corrupted by a nightmare, is trying to start a turf war and punge the island in eternal darkness for her twisted, light fearing plants to overgrow. At the moment, they are preparing to engage a seige and take the offense after rescuing a researcher who developed a special rune that kills nightmares by destabilizing their bodies

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I've been running my players through a slightly modified Age of Ashes (mostly taking out pointless encounters, adjusting things that are overtuned, plus a few minor story changes to fit in backstories). The party is a group of four disaster lesbians marching through Golarion killing things and flirting with just about every attractive woman they meet. They are:

  • A dhampir elf monk from Kyonin. Primarily uses dragon stance and has invested into scouting a lot.
  • An aasimar strix cosmos oracle (formerly human aasimar prior to reincarnation) from Cheliax. She has a focus on healing as well as negative damage spells like Enervation and Vampiric Touch.
  • An elven occult witch from Absalom (formerly human prior to reincarnation) whose patron is the Black Butterfly. Focuses on utility spells and crowd control with a bit of healing on the side. Has really invested in nonmagical utility as well with the archaeologist and medic archetypes.
  • A half-elven fighter with barbarian multiclass, also from Cheliax. Hits things very, very hard. Turns into a werewolf on the full moon, which has only been a problem a couple times.

Anyway, onto the story, which happened just last night.

Age of Ashes Book 3:
My players had just passed through Dreamgate after spending a few extra days in the Citadel curing the monk of Abyssal Plague. When they emerged, they saw Cypress Point under attack by the Scarlet Triad and sprung into action. After freeing one of the captured townsfolk, they elected to go to the smokehouse instead of the boat. Now, the book has two encounters in very close proximity with from what I recall no good explanation for why they don't happen at the same time. So, to play up the cruelty of that chapter's boss, I had One-Eyed Amnin just watch them fight his goons and then thank the party for showing him who wasn't worth keeping around.

The fight with him then started with no time to heal or refocus. The fighter was a little lost on what to do being the only person without a good ranged option (I let the monk use Eclipse with monastic weaponry even though it isn't a monk weapon because she worships Desna) so she had the idea to use her Bashing Charge feat to break down the wall below Amnin and cause the structure to collapse. She ended up rolling a nat 20, which she needed in order to break through a stone wall. While it didn't cause the building to fall down, it did give her access to the kidnapped townsfolk as well as a quicker path to the stairs on the other side of the building.

When she eventually got to the roof, she successfully managed to push Amnin off, dealing a little bit of fall damage and leaving him prone. With the oracle up next, she walked up to him, placed her foot on his chest, dug into him with her talons, and cast Vampiric Touch killing him. It was probably the coolest way I've seen a player deliver a spell.

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I am reluctant to say im playing in Abomination Vaults right now because the group is zero RP. I have no idea if a story is even involved or not here. The good news is, I joined up to give PF2 another shot and kick the tires on the system. Im getting that experience expeditiously with this new group. Games up again tonight!

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Planpanther wrote:
I am reluctant to say im playing in Abomination Vaults right now because the group is zero RP. I have no idea if a story is even involved or not here. The good news is, I joined up to give PF2 another shot and kick the tires on the system. Im getting that experience expeditiously with this new group. Games up again tonight!

Sounds like your in my group. The lack of RP is stifling at times. Though when everyone introduced their character and everyone else said they were the quiet stoic type I shook my head, at least I'm playing a trouble making Kobold swashbuckler.

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I'm giving PF2 another shot as well. I've run it 1-5 once before and found it to be stifling in some respects. This time I'm trying very hard to not compare it to other things and get a feel for it as it's own, very different thing.

We are two sessions in to a conversion of the Lost Mines of Phandelver.
I wanted something pretty simple and classic D&D style and I don't find anything in the current PF2 native lineup that meets that description.

I've though posting a thread somewhere with our experiences but don't if would be of interest to anyone else.

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I'm running Age of Ashes. My party finished book 2 and took 2 months of downtime before book 3. I started the campaign with 5 players, but I'm down to the 3 dedicated players that are in it for the long haul. I might pick up one of the players who dropped earlier after a character death, but he's always been on the fence with roleplaying in general. Here's what's happening:


To handle the party of 3 in the AP designed for 4, we decided it might be nice to use the dual class optional rule to get a dedicated tank into the party instead of just my warpriest cleric and switch hitter monk (and illusionist wizard). To handle this, I offered the Anima Invocation, which is a ritual human sacrifice to empower another, from the Ekujae in exchange for taking a Gaes to defeat the remnants of the avatar of Dahak the Ekujae drove into the gates. Just the warpriest ended up taking the deal due to the moral implications. We talked a lot about whether this sort of uneven power distribution would be okay out of character before moving ahead, but my players were all fine with it. After holding a funereal ritual service to empower my cleric player, he took a month and a half of retraining to get his character in order.

During that time, my players started to decide their place in the wider world by refusing to work with the Scarlet Triad and instead contacting other organizations to strengthen the trade route between Breachill and the 5 Kings Mountains. They also crewed up their home citadel with a few lower level adventurers and some other crew to man the defenses and keep the citadel maintained. The overall effect of their actions will be to "level up" Breachill into a settlement with better access to adventuring gear as well as fend off anyone who might want to take control of the gate nexus they control.

For some combat highlights, we ran 2 large map encounters at the mines and the final battle with the Cinderclaws. I flipped the script from the book, and the last boss was the dragon with Belmazog under his control. The 2 large map encounters involved multi-stage planning from my party, which they got really into. In particular, the mines encounter utilized all of the illusion power or my wizard and all of the mobility of my monk as well as the hard wedge of my fighter and cleric to allow them to take on a whole encampment without artificially separating the encounters. The final boss encounter involved the party stacking every mechanism for fire defense under their power, and it ended up with them going just over the top with the cleric getting to dying 3 with 2 death saves under and no hero point right at the end of the fight.

Overall, the game is feeling epic as hell and a lot of fun. I'm scaling back the difficulty a bit from the level I've been running it at (slightly harder than base AoA), but I'm glad we got through some really difficult encounters together to set up the epic tone of the adventure. My players and I, even the 2 that dropped out, are all really experienced wargame and RPG players, so having a good chunk of challenge is what we all want.

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evil homer wrote:
I've though posting a thread somewhere with our experiences but don't if would be of interest to anyone else.

In the very least, this is as good a place as any! I have heard of Lost Mines, but haven't run 5e content. How are you finding the conversion? With a new system, I - personally - would be wary of converting (something I tried to do early on with 3.5's Savage Tide and PF1's Emerald Spire before realizing how much I'd have to remake from the ground up). I fully support it, for sure, but also Abomination Vaults seems pretty on the money for "classic dungeon delve."

Planpanther wrote:
I am reluctant to say im playing in Abomination Vaults right now because the group is zero RP.

I may have mentioned this in another thread, but man this stings and I feel for you. Otari is such a developed little section of the world with a lot of interesting NPCs that were fleshed out through adventures (Beginner Box, Troubles in Otari, and AV) as well as short fiction. I'm a huge fan of AV, but so much of that is the intermingled history and relationships that NPCs have with the main dungeon.

Playing in my roommate's EC campaign as a xulgath (lizardfolk) tiger stance monk with a deinonychus companion from beast master. My dm told me about the xulgaths being important to the story so he told me I could flavor my character as a xulgaths who's still smelly but uses lizardfolk stats. Creeper was an outcast dino tamer who was last in the pecking order in his tribe. The constant bullying from his peers and tending of his buddy, Fluffy, taught him compassion and he left his community to find a more welcoming home. He doesn't speak much common (yet) but after certain story developments at the end of book one I'm gonna hand the professor at the circus a book called Common for Kids and after a between book quest for literacy start to really communicate with the band of weirdos that took me in. Our party consists of a shoony bard, a tengu fighter, and an orc ancestors oracle. Having a lot of fun breaking the action economy with monk beast master.

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