2-20 breaking the Storm


GM Discussion

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

Opening up a thread as I haven't seen one yet. I have a couple of things; one is sort of a nitpick but the other one is more important.

1. Nitpick

Page 4 wrote:

Religion (Recall Knowledge)

A PC who succeeds at a DC 20 Society check to Recall Knowledge might know more about the demon lord Urxehl.

I believe this should be religion.

2. Session Length

I am concerned about session length here due to encounter difficulty (two Severe encounters!), paired with tree mechanics (time must be spent properly learning, deploying, and tracking these resources before back-to-back Moderate and Severe encounters).

In addition to the provided handouts, I have made character sheets for each tree color in each tier in Roll20 (including auras on the tokens so they can see reach/AOE). I also plan on running the RP encounters… efficiently.

Not sure what else to do; I suspect this one is easily a 6-hour session.

For those who've run this, how did your session go? Any other tricks to speed things up?

Thanks!

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland—Hagerstown

1) I went with religion as well.

2) It can run a bit long. My table of 4 took close to 5 hours.

My advice on speeding this up. Give them 5-10 minutes to strategize and plant trees after there scouting reports. If they are not done, then they do not get the benefit of setting the trees prior to combat. IRC there are rules on how to plant and activate the trees in rounds using actions.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

Just adding a data point. Went 6 hours when I played it and it was only that short due to
1) The GM cutting the middle encounter short
2) us doing next to no roleplaying
3) cutting the last encounter short as some players had to leave

The GM had done nothing whatsoever to prepare us for the trees and wasn't pushing us as fast as he should have.

But yeah, it can run long. And when it DOES run long it gets kinda boring. I missed the roleplaying :-). Not blaming the GM for cutting it under the circumstances but I did miss it

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

My table ran 5:30, and I'm usually a very fast GM (very few scenarios are longer than 3:30 in my experience). I had a six player almost max high tier table. The salamanders felt like hit point sponges (as did the trolls, since my party started off dividing damage and not effectively shutting down the regen for quite some time). The middle fight with the skirmisher tactics dragged things out a bit (but also gave one of the only two 'scares' of the scenario since they were effective at getting deep into the PCs territory. The other scare was the boss troll being one round from emerging into the camp.

So many creatures PCs, enemies, trees, each round was taking a good while to get through, and all the fights went more rounds than normal.

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

We struggled to get through the two initial encounters and probably took longer than we should have working out the details of the trees. I haven't read the scenario yet so I'm not sure if there was anything more the GM could have done to help us decide how to place them. We were just a bit too tactically inclined. We got through the social encounter fairly quickly so that was not an issue.

Two of our players had to go immediately at the official end of the slot time (5 hours). We were just preparing for the final fight at 15 minutes left. If it was a solo boss, we might have tried to get through it quickly, but the GM said there were multiple enemies, so we had to call it. This is definitely going to run long for most groups, especially so if you don't have A LOT of DpR.

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

Called 3/3 fights early and still took 4.5 hours of playtime excluding breaks. I felt like I was sprinting all night; partly due to the additional enemies on high-tier adjustments.

The group was efficient and had the right tools to punch through weakness (cold iron/silver), and rolled hot but there are just too many enemies and too many HP to burn through.

They were 1/2 way through Clouded Quartz's HP with 2 minions up as well when I called it; we all have to work tomorrow. They were having a moderately tough time but it was doable.

Overall I am concerned about these high-level PFS scenarios due to the time required.

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

I haven't had long-run times with any other 5-8 before; so I don't think it is necessarily high level scenario problems.

However three alternative victory condition fights, that are all somewhat designed to prolong the combat with listed tactics, plus the trees adding 66% more actions per round on the PC side, it all adds up.

5/5 *** Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

When I played this it took over 5 hours, we skipped the middle encounter completely and had no time for the RP section in the middle other than pick an NPC, roll a die and get a buff.

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

NielsenE wrote:

I haven't had long-run times with any other 5-8 before; so I don't think it is necessarily high level scenario problems.

However three alternative victory condition fights, that are all somewhat designed to prolong the combat with listed tactics, plus the trees adding 66% more actions per round on the PC side, it all adds up.

This has been a consistent issue in 5-8 games in my area and with certain high-tier 4-6's. Maybe it's an area thing and I'd be interested in a larger discussion/sample size in an appropriate thread.

5/5 *****

The trees all have preset tactics. When I run this I will run what the trees do after the players decide where to place them.

**** Venture-Lieutenant, Online—VTT

The brown dolok trees lack any wording in how they distinguish friend/foe. If an ally is the only target in range, do the brown trees use ensnaring roots on the ally? I believe yes

For reference I'm looking at other trees, like Blue, which distinguishes between friend/foe and has something else to do if no foe is in range. Red specifies it targets opponents. Violet specifies it doesn't act if there are no injured allies in range.

Quote:
Brown Trees: Brown trees use Ensnaring Roots every round.
Quote:

Brown Leaves:

• Ensnaring Roots [two-actions] An array of ensnaring roots emerges from the tree in a 20-foot-cone. All creatures standing on
the ground in the area must attempt a DC 20 Reflex save.

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

It says 'all creatures' so I ran it as friend and foes.

Dark Archive 4/5 5/55/5 *** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Midwest

andreww wrote:
The trees all have preset tactics. When I run this I will run what the trees do after the players decide where to place them.

This might be the best way to handle it, to be honest.

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

I also ran brown as friends and foes.

GMs should only run the trees themselves if they can do it QUICKLY; you are risking player engagement when you run PCs' allies for them, especially if you are not a fast GM.

I made complete character sheets for the trees in roll20 and let players run them (however I rolled their saves with macros). I felt like having players run the trees increased engagement and ownership of tactics; it also took some things off my plate so I could run monsters more efficiently.

Of course, this can depend on your particular group's abilities. I got to lean on people who are already proficient in roll20.

5/5 *****

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In my experience players are much slower at running stuff, especially stuff which is new to them and even where you provide them with a full set of macros. This applies even to players experienced with Roll20. I have no idea how or if you can do this with Foundry.

Dark Archive 4/5 5/55/5 ****

There's a definite need to push the in combat pace as a GM in this one. A nice middle ground could be, "X, it's your turn, your tree is going to attack/heal Y."

I discouraged use of brown trees, pointing out the targeting of all creatures.

Pushing towards fast decisions on the choice of trees by goading in a helpful direction can also help some indecisive groups. I put colored Roll20 auras on the trees and had the players rename the trees after themselves. Both groups I ran for went with 2 blue, 2 purple, and 1-2 red. It worked pretty well to them and allowed them to choke the enemies at the bridge.

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

I don’t know why most of the trees wouldn’t be fast for anyone to run. They have clear instructions. If you have them built with a macro of some kind, it’s just a matter of pushing the button.

5/5 *****

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I come across loads of players who can easily take a minute to manage to roll a single d20 when I ask them to make a flat check. People get flustered.

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

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I've seen many VTT GMs who take a minute to roll a single d20 too. Not everyone is good at this stuff, which was sort of my point.

GMs running this need to do an honest self-assessment of their abilities and their player abilities, because players will be miserable watching a slow GM roll 80% of the turns in every encounter. Likewise, they will be just as miserable watching fellow players struggle.

It's all about context; one method is not always superior.

A hybrid approach is also achievable, with fast players or fast GMs helping slow players where needed (or, GMs sharing responsibility with a capable / trusted player). Acknowledging time limitations, continual assessment of skill level and ability to multitask, and setting a tone of mutual cooperation seems key — the other details matter a lot less.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

This one definitely needs some sort of warning for the session length, I had 6 players in high tier, and everything took forever, it took me about 5 hours with some not so clever tactics and minimal roleplaying... that thing is a bit of a grinder the volume of combat alone is draining.

Dark Archive 4/5 5/55/5 *** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Midwest

TwilightKnight wrote:
I don’t know why most of the trees wouldn’t be fast for anyone to run. They have clear instructions. If you have them built with a macro of some kind, it’s just a matter of pushing the button.

With solid macros and good players, it can work just fine.

Sebastian did this, and it was quite fun.

The handouts are clear on what they do, and at the table I was at that Sebastian run, the party handled the trees fine.

But, it was a large part because Sebastian had done the prep for us.

Course my “Hero Tree” took a while to get its cold blast working.

Dark Archive 5/5 *

The one set of creatures in the 1rst wave can just d door to the edge and strde off unless pcs are able to stop them before the vreatures go again.
Party was mostly at the bridge.

4/5 ***

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joe kirner wrote:

The one set of creatures in the 1rst wave can just d door to the edge and strde off unless pcs are able to stop them before the vreatures go again.

Party was mostly at the bridge.

That's not what their tactics tell them to do. (See page 8.)

Grand Lodge 5/5 ****

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What to do if someone plants a tree ON THE BRIDGE !!

The scenario says: The PCs can plant their Dolok trees in any square on the map they choose, although squares that are underwater or ablaze could pose a risk.

An old stone bridge, weakened by tree roots, with a 5 foot diameter, 60 foot high tree on top (I estimate 20 tons weight such a tree would have in real life).

I ruled that bridge couldn't take it and would just break apart and the tree falls into the river and gets swiped away.

1 dead bridge / 1 suicide tree.

It will make it interesting as half the group is on one side of the bridge / the other on the other side. At least the characters can swim better as the Brimoraks.

It is PbD - but I asked - do your really want to plant the tree THERE?

I'm still undecided if this is creative play or stupidity? If I punished them or rewarded them?

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

I think that sounds a bit overly punitive to me. The scenario says 'anywhere' and outlines two ramification of terrain choices. Adding a 'gotcha' like that sounds a bit past what I'd expect in terms of adaptive to the players decisions. Maybe unless the players were intentionally asking if they could destroy the bridge.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ****

I did ask - is this truly what you want.

Meta interpretation: That actions sounds very daft.

I can’t tell if the intention was to destroy or block the bridge. But I recommend to rethink it to allow a more suitable place.

They know the enemy comes across the bridge. Also at the time I thought it is automatic win as Brimoraks would under no circumstances swim through the water.

All players on the wrong side should have much less trouble to swim. Off course - now looking at their ability to dimension door this would force that - eventually.

I hadn’t looked at all ramifications - good or bad - and they might even differ by tier and CP.

This is why I post it here.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ****

Back to the original question:

What happens if someone plants a tree on the bridge?

Do you allow it?

Do you disallow it?

What happens if you allow it?

Do you give a warning to players trying to do so?

Looking at tactics and abilities:

Brimorak: These monsters have 2 possible ways across the water. They can Dimension Door or they can leap (30 feet movement, auto success).

The tactics say that the Brimoraks will use their Dimension Door to flee if brought to 10HP or fewer.

Their Extinguish Aversion should mean they don't leap across - unless really forced / in mortal danger (that is my interpretation - meta = they can leap but just and they would fear to fall in).

Salamanders: They are too slow to jump/leap across. They take cold damage if they start inside the water. In addition they have a weakness against cold - so these should also only cross in the most severe circumstances anywhere but the bridge.

Yeth Hounds / Yeth Beasts - they happily go across anywhere (Air Walk).

Ash Archers: They should be happy to shoot across - but likely would enter the water to reach any tree planted close to it.

There are alternatives to blocking the bridge instead of destroying it or block it with a character. You can plant trees at the exit/entrance to the bridge.

I just got a resilient sphere brandished as an option. Player actually wanted to block off the entry to the fountain/hole - until I realized it needs a traget/creature inside.

Crafting: I now had twice groups asking to craft barricades (see Lion's of Katapesh where this is an option). I'm not allowing it as a) you only have underbrush to work with (unless you turn the Dolok Trees into timber) and the description points to an imminent attack (I rule <10 min).

What I haven't seen yet - good old caltrops !! I would have to look into snare crafting (and timing) if that could be an option.

5/5 *****

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The salamanders have a +17 athletics score, more than enough to long jump across the river fairly easily.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ****

andreww wrote:
The salamanders have a +17 athletics score, more than enough to long jump across the river fairly easily.

Correct - somehow didn't appreciate that Long Jump is 2 actions for a total movement (Stride + Leap) of twice the movement (40)

Somehow was under the misconception I need to stride 10 and am only left with 10.

Thanks

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

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Thod wrote:

Back to the original question:

What happens if someone plants a tree on the bridge?

Do you allow it?

Do you disallow it?

What happens if you allow it?

Do you give a warning to players trying to do so?

I just followed what the scenario said about terrain; they're magical trees so it seems to me like they can just work.

5/5 5/55/55/5

What do the trees need to do pershaps I can give you a macro to give your players, or to put on a tree token?

Scarab Sages 2/5 ***

Just wanted to quickly come in to say that I'm a big fan of Mr Wasko's work. Both this scenario and Lost on the Spirit Road have been absolute bangers in the PF2 catalogue, can't wait to see what he writes next.

@BigNorseWolf: I made NPC character pages on Roll20 for the trees and gave them to the players. I'm sure similar solutions exist on other online software. Macros help but the tree character sheets worked fine as well.

@Thod: I'd allow the trees to be placed anywhere, with the caveat that trees placed on the bridge are more likely to be directly targeted by enemies and thus in greater danger in the first round. Doug's logic seems reasonable to me, and I especially don't think trees capable of digging roots ???-feet below ground would have the potential of being swept away by a river.

@Brown Trees: Both as a player and as a GM, both of my groups decided Brown Trees were a bad option for the separate reasons of A) Reflex DC felt kindof low and B) friendly fire seemed like a bad idea.

@combat pacing: I recommend GMs in this scenario especially remind players that tree actions should be automatic as routines do not allow for choices on the players' end. Additionally, any GMs that think they'll run into time constraint issues should try to get in the habit of reminding players who is going next with a prompt to be planning their turn. Having each turn start with a "It's X's turn; Y, you're on deck so be thinking of your next move" helps a ton with keeping players on the ball in my experience. Additionally, I think its a good idea to handwave healing between rounds in this scenario if the group has at least one living Violet Tree and if the enemies are ever reduced to 1 combatant in the first two combats. If victory is assured and the enemy will be unable to leave the field to cause havoc in the camp within the next round, don't be afraid to wrap up the combat to save time for the other fights.

5/5 *****

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These are the macros I use for the trees.

Macros:

Low Tier:

&{template:rolls} {{header=Water Blast }} {{roll01=Attack [[1d20 +10]] for [[ 3d6]] cold }} {{desc=**Range** 60'}}

&{template:rolls} {{header=Branch }} {{roll01=Attack [[1d20 +12]] for [[1d10+6]] B }} {{desc=**Reach** 20'}}

&{template:rolls} {{header=Heal}}{{roll01= [[1d8+8]] HP}} {{desc=**Range** 30' }}

&{template:rolls} {{header=Ensnaring Roots }} {{desc=**Area** 20' cone
**Save** DC20 Reflex
**Success** The creature is flat footed until the start of its next turn
**Failure** The creature falls prone
**Critical Failure** As failure plus [[1d6]] B damage
}}

High tier are the same just with adjusted attack, damage and saves numbers.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Falgaia wrote:


@BigNorseWolf: I made NPC character pages on Roll20 for the trees and gave them to the players. I'm sure similar solutions exist on other online software. Macros help but the tree character sheets worked fine as well.

If something is a character page then you have to go back and forth between looking at the character page and the roll20. Some people with one big or 2 screens play that way but it drives me bonkers. You can stick the macro on a token so it pops up when you hit the token, keeps everything in one place.

Envoy's Alliance 1/5 ****

Here is a question for y'all.

Yeth beasts attack any PCs before heading to the village.

Yeth Beasts refuse to enter any bright light put out by violet dolok trees.

Yeth Beasts don't have a ranged attack.

I'm seeing an issue where all my players are within the light of the violet dolok trees, the Yeth beasts refuse to go into the light, but there are valid targets on the field...

do they give up and head for the village?

Thoughts?

4/5 ***

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I'd have the yeth beasts attack any trees that aren't in the violet light. I bet most PCs would come out to defend the trees.

Envoy's Alliance 1/5 ****

Matt Morris wrote:
I'd have the yeth beasts attack any trees that aren't in the violet light. I bet most PCs would come out to defend the trees.

This is a wonderful answer! Thank you!

****

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The adventure says,

"Creatures who move adjacent to or fly anywhere above a square with lava take 1d6 fire damage"

Is this per movement, or per lava square?

If I move 25 ft (5 squares) parallel to the edge of the lava, do I take 5d6 or 1d6 fire damage?

If I move 50 ft in two movements, is it 10d6 (going past 10 adjacent lava squares), 2d6 (two movement actions), or 1d6 (one continuous movement)?

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland—Hagerstown

I ran as if they end their movement next to a square with lava. Otherwise it gets too deadly for the PC's.

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