Please, stop treating natural clearings as dungeon rooms.


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion


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I've either played in or ran several APs where it seems that the author designed an encounter assuming that the edges of a natural clearing could be used as hard bounds. But they can't be. They can be flown over, and some characters might even be happier or at an advantage in the jungle.

Examples:

Strength of Thousands 2:
For example, the thieves' swamp in Strength of Thousands 2 was almost completely bypassed by PCs who simply walked around it to reach F5 directly from the surrounding jungle.

Fist of the Ruby Phoenix 3:
In Fist of the Ruby Phoenix 3, the Dancing Night Parade is a sitting duck in the middle of a clearing for anyone who can enter the jungle.

Liberty's Edge

Great post, but spoilers would be nice ;-)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I don't think these are irreconcilable positions. I could just as easily say "Please stop treating an ambush on a busy bridge crossing as an inevitable encounter".

My group handled that by rolling very high on Deception checks to Disguise versus poor Perception rolls on the part of the ambushers.

It's okay for a group that bought 4 Hats of Disguise to get away with bypassing an encounter, just like it's okay for characters with Fly to bypass the limitations of an encounter where terrain is a major factor. Just like it's okay for someone who's been sitting on a Potion of Gaseous Form to bypass a locked porticullis.


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These are OK, _if_ it's actually intended by the author that what are in some cases fairly large chunks of the AP can be bypassed. The example in Strength of Thousands 2 bypasses an entire encounter series, for example, and since there's no consideration either way in the text it's not clear if it's what is planned for.


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I mean, if my players were to see "that clearing up ahead looks like a good place for an ambush, let's traipse through the adjacent woods to see if anybody is waiting for us" my take on that from the GM is "good, I like that my players are thinking about the game world that much."

Players avoiding fights by being clever and sneaky is a good thing, and a thing to be rewarded! If we funnel everybody into every potential fight, that's a waste I think.


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Welcome to the joy of players with narrative control. It is the opposite of railroading (TV Tropes explanation here).

My players have derailed entire encounters. The 1st-level party in the very first game session of my Iron Gods campaign jumped ahead 35 pages to a planned 3rd-level encounter, a bandit-controlled warehouse. That wasn't a big problem, because I could have toned down the enemies. What ended the session early was that instead of fighting the bandit gang, they contacted the local authorities about it. The captain of the town guard dealt with the problem.

In Night of Frozen Shadows, 2nd module of Jade Regent, the Frozen Shadow ninjas were supposed to kidnap the lost heir escorted by the party off scene. The Frozen Shadow's reason was that they deduced that she was the heir, but the plot reason was so that the party would battle the Frozen Shadows. The original players were so good at keeping the secret about the heir that two players who joined later did not know the secret, though they suspected something because the party ninja Ebony Blossom was always beside the heir as her bodyguard. The Frozen Shadows suspected nothing. I tried to force the kidnapping for other reasons, but not off-scene due to the bodyguarding. The attempt failed. And the story was better for it, too, because the party battled the Frozen Shadows for more noble reasons.

Yes, the players can avoid a clearing. Or they could scout a clearing and ambush its occupants from the cover of the jungle. Or they could bluff their way through. Or use diplomacy. The module could have forced the encounter more, with a wall or ravine or sentry, to railroad the party into a fight. But that is not as fun as letting the players decide what happens. The players like outsmarting the module, such as victory through Stealth.

Adventure paths are pre-written and cannot adapt to the players. The GM is in charge of adaptions. The player who maintains the Discord server for our Ironfang Invasion campaign gave everyone labels; for example, the leshy sorcerer's player is labeled, "Harmlessly Cute," after an ancestry ability that she roleplays well. I am labeled, "Trying to Expect the Unexpected." I try to predict when they will derail an encounter and what it means. Will the enemies in the clearing show up later as reinforcements? Will the party try to talk peacefully with the enemy leader and he will be agreeable because the party did not kill any of his followers? Will the enemies in the clearing simply never matter again? We GMs have narratives we can weave, too. It is part of the fun of being a GM.


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

My players avoid encounters all the time, and since we use milestone leveling the only downside for them is missing out on potential loot.


Fumarole wrote:
My players avoid encounters all the time, and since we use milestone leveling the only downside for them is missing out on potential loot.

I see the merits of milestone leveling, but I am bewildered on how to use it when my players avoid the milestones. They skip many non-quest encounters and also invent new missions that support the main quest.

In my current Ironfang Invasion campaign, they invented a new way of moving the milestones: they jumped ahead to a mission in a future module. For example, the beginning of the Ironfang Invasion chased them out of the village of Phaendar. They were not supposed to return to Phaendar until the 6th module. Instead, they returned between the 3rd and 4th modules to free their former neighbors kept captive as slaves. The 14th-level slavemaster and 15th-level commander that they were supposed to encounter at 16th level they instead encountered separately at 12th level. It made for two interesting boss battles, so this side mission was good for the campaign. But I will have to rearrange the adventure path in the 6th module.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
hyphz wrote:
These are OK, _if_ it's actually intended by the author that what are in some cases fairly large chunks of the AP can be bypassed. The example in Strength of Thousands 2 bypasses an entire encounter series, for example, and since there's no consideration either way in the text it's not clear if it's what is planned for.

Almost always the answer is "If the party bypasses (x) without engaging them, give them XP as if they had defeated (x)"


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It is the general problem PF 2 (and other systems) have that try to use a static place for anything.

There is magic that makes these storytelling tools obsolete.
Either start writing with these in mind (kinda hard, and not to my liking with higher levels) or find other solutions ("ok all i know you can just tp in and fly away but...just try to follow the map so we can play what I prepared ok?")

Dark Archive

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Yeah I don't like milestones x'D

Sidenote, my jade regent party completed second book of ap without ever gaining enough notoriety points to trigger frozen shadows attacking them events :p

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