Load Bearing Boss (Graveclaw Spoilers)


Blood Lords


Anyone else have an issue with TPKs fighting Iron Taviah? The Iron Cage ability lasted one action (slippery rogue!) but by the time the party downs Iron Taviah they're in no shape to take the immediate 2d8 acid damage from the roiling stomach juices. One character is already down, and the second drops immediately. There's no coming back from this as the acid continues to boil everyone alive.

Has anyone else had this issue? How, as a GM, are we supposed to run this RAW and have anything but a TPK? What's the expectation here? How did this function at the table during Paizo's in-house playtest?


They don't playtest their AP's sadly for the most part so things get missed. I'd just go with a 1D8 Acid damage myself or put in an extra save or something to blunt the damage, just a thought

Tom

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I'm glad you flagged this. My characters will be meeting Iron Taviah in one or two sessions.

Unless I'm interpreting the rules wrong, I don't see the acid damage happening immediately as it would be rolled into the initiative order. Having said that, if the acid strikes before anyone in the party has the opportunity to heal/battle medicine/soothe etc. than that could be extremely problematic.

Perhaps instead of rolling for initiative, the cottage drops into the same initiative order as when Iron Taviah is defeated, giving everyone a round of actions if someone is unconscious to act and creating a bit of tension with a description of digestive juices flowing from the walls, beginning to pool etc.


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I interpreted it as allowing for at least 1-2 rounds as her body slowly dissolves into the basement floor before the monster comes alive.


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rokeca wrote:

I'm glad you flagged this. My characters will be meeting Iron Taviah in one or two sessions.

Unless I'm interpreting the rules wrong, I don't see the acid damage happening immediately as it would be rolled into the initiative order. Having said that, if the acid strikes before anyone in the party has the opportunity to heal/battle medicine/soothe etc. than that could be extremely problematic.

Perhaps instead of rolling for initiative, the cottage drops into the same initiative order as when Iron Taviah is defeated, giving everyone a round of actions if someone is unconscious to act and creating a bit of tension with a description of digestive juices flowing from the walls, beginning to pool etc.

ANother thing to consider (depending on your group) is what happens if Iron Taviah gets taken alive. My group really wanted answers regarding the poison plot and used non-lethal damage to capture her.


The cottage rolls initiative as a triggered reaction (as written) and the reaction is not 'killed', but 'defeated'.

||The Cottage Hungers [reaction] Trigger Iron
Taviah is defeated in the cottage
basement; Effect The basement floor
absorbs Iron Taviah, and the cottage
transforms into a hungry, semi-animate
creature. The cottage rolls initiative.||

In my case the cottage goes next in the initiative order after the player that downed Taviah, and immediately uses its 3 actions to activate all three areas of the cottage. Because no one is flying or hanging from the ceiling, everyone makes a DC24 Basic Save against 2d8+4 acid damage. Taviah is already absorbed into the stomach. She should not have been capturable.


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Purplefixer wrote:

The cottage rolls initiative as a triggered reaction (as written) and the reaction is not 'killed', but 'defeated'.

||The Cottage Hungers [reaction] Trigger Iron
Taviah is defeated in the cottage
basement; Effect The basement floor
absorbs Iron Taviah, and the cottage
transforms into a hungry, semi-animate
creature. The cottage rolls initiative.||

In my case the cottage goes next in the initiative order after the player that downed Taviah, and immediately uses its 3 actions to activate all three areas of the cottage. Because no one is flying or hanging from the ceiling, everyone makes a DC24 Basic Save against 2d8+4 acid damage. Taviah is already absorbed into the stomach. She should not have been capturable.

Doh! Good call on that

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Purplefixer - I did a mock combat in Foundry as preparation for this week's encounter with Iron Taviah, using the cottage exactly as written, and as you've outlined.

The entire party was conscious after Iron Taviah's demise, and like you the cottage appeared in initiative immediately after Taviah (so before anyone else could act). Low on resources and healing, my mock party all ended up dead in the 'mouth' of the cottage, unable to escape.

Based on this, I'm thinking of giving the party a round from the moment Iron Taviah is defeated before the damaging effects of the cottage kick in.

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I think what makes the Hungry Cottage so challenging is that it's really 2 or 3 consecutive level 6 hazards bundled as a single level 6 hazard. The sustained DC24 saves for level 4 characters round after round is punishing. Some of my PCs have a better chance of a critical failure than a success against those saves at a point when they'll be low on healing and hero points.

Giving the cottage a full round after Taviah's defeat to manifest the Acid Assault, Swallowing Staircase and Gnashing Portal will still make this a difficult hazard but hopefully survivable.

Another solution might be to treat each of the 3 stages of the cottage as level 4 hazards (with lower DCs and damage) or even treat the 'stomach' and 'mouth' hazards as level 3 and the 'throat' as level 2 - with all of those contributing to create a level 6 hazard.

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I ran this encounter with my group the other night, and thanks to this thread I was well prepared to have a handle on what could happen if things went poorly.

Fortunately the party was in pretty good shape overall when Taviah went down – only one PC was at less than half hit points (although their healing reserve was largely tapped at this point). The Hungry Cottage rolled into initiative with two PCs acting before it. I decided to run the stomach and throat as is. The party quickly got the idea to evacuate to the stairwell after the stomach’s first action. Because the stomach/basement activates before the throat/stairwell, no one was further harmed by the acid.

Since everyone was doing well at this point (save one PC who was down to 10 hp) I decided to run the ‘mouth’ as written as well. The fighter used a hero point on his failed Athletics check and successfully lodged a sofa in the front door. The party ended up taking one round of damage from the teeth, and one PC was Dying 2 by the time everyone was out and ready to heal, but everyone survived. Had the fighter nerfed his Athletics check though, a second round of saves against the teeth would have made things pretty tense.

My group did love the cinematic nature of the hazard, and came up with creative alternate ideas to deal with the challenges. The alchemist suggested using lethargy poison as a kind of anesthetic to soothe the contractions of the throat. I allowed an attempt with a DC25 Crafting check (it failed). In the cottage proper, the witch asked if the cottage had an uvula they could tickle to provoke the cottage to cough them out. I allowed a DC22 Perception check (successful, it was a small protuberance hanging over the basement stairwell) followed by a DC25 Nature or Medicine (that failed). Being able to interact with the hazard in an imaginative way made it memorable for the players.


I am finding the traps, like Taviah's cottage, and later the Keystone Trap in Sallowshore are really rough, especially for a party without a Rogue. The cottage I had enter initiative at the top of the round after Taviah is defeated, and it was way harder for the party to deal with than Iron Taviah and minions were. The Keystone Trap, if you don't have anyone trained in Thievery, or Expert in Crafting, is incredibly difficult to do anything about having 60 HP, 15 hardness, and 25 AC for a fresh party of 5th level characters. Even with a BT of 30, its rough for players that level to consistently hit an AC 25, and almost never deal enough damage with those hits to penetrate hardness 15. It was an encounter that made the players feel very futile, and ate up way more of the game night than I feel it should have, leaving everyone irritated on the night. I'd definitely change this to either lower its AC and Hardness by about 5 points each from the start, or at the very least have it use the monster construct armor rules to lower its hardness and ac by those amounts on a crit, although even that is really tough (requiring a nat 20) for players at that level.

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Taviah’s cottage is definitely hard – one of the most fear-inducing encounters in the campaign so far. My group had little problem with the Keystone trap. They have no rogue, but both the bard and sorcerer are trained in Thievery, and an Expert in Crafting alchemist.

I’m wondering if part of the problem your group is facing is party composition. While in PFS there’s no guarantee you’ll have someone with Thievery in your group, it’s probably a reasonable design decision to assume that one or more characters in an AP campaign will be trained in Thievery since it’s such a generally useful skill. With 2e being such a teamwork game, I usually check to see if all the skills are covered across the party, then flag any gaps – still leaving it to player agency to decide if anyone wants to fill the gap, but my assumption is that sooner or later, all skills will come into play in the course of an AP.

Given your party composition, I think your solution of reducing the AC and hardness by 5 for parties without the required skills is great. This campaign may require vetting hazards and making adjustments based on what skills your party covers if no one wants to train or retrain into Thievery.

There are definitely several encounters in Graveclaw that are problematic or require ideal party composition. One potentially deadly encounter is during the Infiltration in Pagked. A critical fail on the Skavelings in the Stacks obstacle is almost certainly going to kill characters if the party has split up (which is the design of the Infiltration).

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