Balance questions after the boss fight in the manor prologue


Kingmaker Second Edition


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Last session, my party defeated the Black Tears, but it was a near thing. After only taking moderate damage once or twice for the entire manor, I had to retcon an instant PC death on the first round of combat with Volodmara, when she dealt 46 damage to a PC on a critical hit with her Overhand Smash ability. I basically cheesed the rest of the fight, ignoring the overhand smash ability and not using any of her lesser healing potions, and still had to be very careful not to wipe the party.

I checked her stats afterwards and was not surprised by what I found: Moderate to high AC, extreme hit points w/ 4 lesser healing potions), high attack modifiers, extreme damage on regular attacks (almost double extreme damage on overhand smash). It’s all push and no pull, so much so that I’m not sure how she made it past playtesting, and I hope she gets retuned in future errata.

What have y’all’s experiences been? I’m curious to hear if other groups encountered the same problem, and also if there are any other encounters/creatures I should be wary of.


Both my groups crushed her.

One group has a Starlit Span magus and a champion. So we hammered from range like we normally do and waited for her to spend actions closing the distance.

Other group I bumped to second level before that fight, so that made everything easier.

I can see how a big crit by her or hit could make things nasty quick.


My group had a similar experience. They easily crushed the other Black Tears encounters in the manor, but struggled with Volodmara. The party barbarian rushed forward into the group of assassins and was killed by Volodmara's overhand swing.

This is our first PF2e campaign and it's a lot more deadly than when we played through Rise of the Runelords.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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That last encounter is intended to be a tough one, but yes... a critical hit can indeed swing things drastically into the danger zone. The balancing factor in that encounter is intended to be the fact that the fight takes place in the same room alongside a powerful allied NPC who can swoop in to save the day as needed, but also to let the PCs know that the sandbox nature of this campaign is one that if you don't take care, manage resources, and know when to retreat from something that you stumble into might be too tough to handle is all a factor to be ready for. Again, with the "safety net" of having Jamandi there to step in as needed (which is discussed in the last paragraph of the encounter before the stat blocks on page 38). There's a bit more advice about how to run a sandbox game that has potentail for the party to stumble into an encounter that's over their head on page 6 as well.

Also, keep an eye on the encounter levels at the start of each. This encounter is a Severe 1 encounter, so the GM should keep that in mind before starting things and, if the party is low on resources or badly wounded, consider giving them some hints that there's extra danger ahead. In this case... if you worry that the PCs might be facing something they simply can't do given their resources, having Jamandi step in to finish off the foe on the first or second round of combat is a good call. If you do something like that, make sure to have Jamandi thank the PCs for their help and be grateful for what they've done, because it CAN be unsatisfying for a "kill steal" like this to happen to some players.

EDIT: This is also an excellent example of how game and encounter design works different for tabletop games versus computer games. In a CRPG, you can reload after a fail with ease, but also the program can time fights or interrupt them as needed to present a super tough battle but then have things cut to a cut scene at the last minute to present a sudden plot twist where the PCs are saved at the last minute. Translating this entire first chapter into a tabletop experience from the computer game was really pretty tough for these reasons, since the computer game can do things like this that aren't often in a tabletop game. In hindsight, I should have included a sidebar in that encounter like this:

If in this climactic encounter a die roll results in a PC getting killed, rather than kill the PC off, this is a great time for Jamandi to step in and either block the blow or take the hit. You can use this opportunity to either end the encounter with her finishing the foe off, or as a chance to help the PCs roll with a sudden turn of bad luck.

ALSO also... 2nd edition assumes you are giving out hero points to the PCs; these are a FUNDAMENTAL part of the game balance and are meant to flow pretty quickly, so that the players have more control and agency over sudden bad die rolls or can spend them to avoid death. I'm not saying you didn't give out hero points at all, but I've seen lots of GMs online who consider hero points to be optional or are stingy with giving them out to players. Since you can only have a maximum of 3, and since they don't carry over from game to game... you don't really have to worry about giving out too many hero points.


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The one thing to keep in mind is that the massive damage rules avoid the opportunity to spend a hero point to stop from dying. You can spend a hero point to not die when your dying value would increases. Massive damage doesn't interact with dying values and dumps you straight to dead. Unlike most other things (death effects) that bypass dying, there's not a player-side saving throw to re-roll with a hero point either.

This tends to be a problem with level 1 only -- severe opponents can easily do 2x the hero's HP in a single hit. This stops being true almost as soon as you level up.

All that is to say, your recommended sidebar/Jamandi intercession is still great. Just that hero points can't save the character, even if the GM has been awarding them, and they are available.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

NielsenE wrote:

The one thing to keep in mind is that the massive damage rules avoid the opportunity to spend a hero point to stop from dying. You can spend a hero point to not die when your dying value would increases. Massive damage doesn't interact with dying values and dumps you straight to dead. Unlike most other things (death effects) that bypass dying, there's not a player-side saving throw to re-roll with a hero point either.

This tends to be a problem with level 1 only -- severe opponents can easily do 2x the hero's HP in a single hit. This stops being true almost as soon as you level up.

All that is to say, your recommended sidebar/Jamandi intercession is still great. Just that hero points can't save the character, even if the GM has been awarding them, and they are available.

They can't, but the GM always can, and in a case like this, especially when there's a built in Jamandi safety net... the GM should absolutely feel empowered to take control of the narrative to keep things from coming to a gory end too quickly. ;-)

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