PFS2 5-13 Thick as Thieves


GM Discussion

4/5 ****

Is Rasuna a Pathfinder, or just studying the Maze with their permission etc?

She says "“I’m an elementalist working out of the Grand Lodge, and Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin gave me permission to study the disturbances we’ve been seeing lately. I didn’t expect to end up in this situation!”

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Various Rewards:

"If at least half the PCs succeed at their retuning check, the raw energy responds to their desire, so long as it’s unanimous."

Do I just ask the players if their characters want a diplomatic boon or a combat boon, and then provide nothing unless they hive the same answer? I'm a little puzzled by the expectation here.

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Plane of Metal:

Folded Hounds can get the speeds and strikes of animal forms. I've included them in the spoiler below.

Animal Forms:
Ape Speed 25 feet, climb Speed 20 feet; Melee [one-action] fist, Damage 2d6 bludgeoning.
Bear Speed 30 feet; Melee [one-action] jaws, Damage 2d8 piercing; Melee [one-action] claw (agile), Damage 1d8 slashing.
Bull Speed 30 feet; Melee [one-action] horn, Damage 2d8 piercing.
Canine Speed 40 feet; Melee [one-action] jaws, Damage 2d8 piercing.
Cat Speed 40 feet; Melee [one-action] jaws, Damage 2d6 piercing; Melee [one-action] claw (agile), Damage 1d10 slashing.
Deer Speed 50 feet; Melee [one-action] antler, Damage 2d6 piercing.
Frog Speed 25 feet, swim Speed 25 feet; Melee [one-action] jaws, Damage 2d6 bludgeoning; Melee [one-action] tongue (reach 15 feet), Damage 2d4 bludgeoning.
Shark swim Speed 35 feet; Melee [one-action] jaws, Damage 2d8 piercing; breathe underwater but not in air.
Snake Speed 20 feet, climb Speed 20 feet, swim Speed 20 feet; Melee [one-action] fangs, Damage 2d4 piercing plus 1d6 poison.

Rust Beetle gains a rust cloud aura (as metal wisp) but Metal Wisps are not statted anywhere in the scenario.

So this text might be useful: Rust Cloud A metal wisp is constantly surrounded by a cloud of rust flakes that cause it to be concealed from creatures more than 5 feet away from it.

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Plane of Fire:

Please read the chase rules as the scenario incorrectly describes them.

"Each round, the PCs face a fresh challenge unique to one area of the Incandescent Terrace"

That's not true. PCs advance in a chase when they accumulate enough points, potentially mid round.

The Development then goes on to say "Development: After the flame flowers, Farah leads PCs through a small cave behind a lavafall that’s spilling over a basalt cliff. If the group earned at least 3 Chase Points per PC, they make it before the lavafall spatters explosively"

So I guess it is just 1 obstacle per round, and the chase points listed in each round are actually not relevant, and instead we've removed the one bit of agency in a chase which is choosing what order to have PCs try and overcome each obstacle.

It feels like whomever wrote this encounter did not understand the chase rules.

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Plane of Water:

I pity the party with a troublemaking goblin or gnome etc who doesn't follow instructions well and picks up the shell before the party gets all bubbled and causes some of them to drown since it takes a minute to turn the shell back on.

*

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Hi Rob! Here are my thoughts:

1. Rasuna's a PFS agent and carries a wayfinder. See p. 5.
2. My idea is to have them write their choice privately on cards the first time through if they didn't prearrange their decision. A roshambo-like hand gesture reveal would work too. I thought a risk of non-unanimity, at least for the first instance, was too good not to explore, and I thought it very unlikely they wouldn't try to game their way out of it if you asked them and they saw they were not of one mind.
3. Yeah, I read it as a modified chase, more like an influence encounter. The last spurt under "Development" would make no sense if run like a standard chase. So: one round per obstacle; track the total number of chase points they get for the whole encounter; ignore chase point threshold per obstacle. (I suppose this means the scaling advice is inapplicable, though the final condition naturally scales already.)
4. I think Idrix can put a stop to any troublemakers. :-)

Hope that helps!

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

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Rob ran a game for me that was fun!

Though I really don't want to see these two thieves again.

4/5 ****

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Some other lingering questions...

Handout #2: Countering Cycle of the Elements. Does this actually do anything?

Also why does it only have 5 elements on it?

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Plane of Earth.

What is the expected solution/interaction with the 2 simple hazards here? I came up with something that worked, but I'm really not understanding what's supposed to be going on.

1/5 5/55/55/5 **

What is the point of the downloadable boon in this scenario? It gives access to the same exact item that is already appearing in the chronicle sheet, and then puts a needless limitation of (1) on it. I doubt many people plan to buy multiple copies of the item in any case, and if it gets bequeathed to some other character, the original character loses access anyway.

Unless this is a convoluted way to grant the item to two characters through bequeathals: once via chronicle sheet and once via the download boon.

Horizon Hunters 2/5 ***** Venture-Agent, California—Silicon Valley

Pirate Rob wrote:

Plane of Earth.

What is the expected solution/interaction with the 2 simple hazards here? I came up with something that worked, but I'm really not understanding what's supposed to be going on.

The way I interpreted it is:

1. Use Performance to break the Calcite
2. Someone goes to dam the water, meaning they have to avoid the second hazard with an Acrobatics check.
3. If they fail the Acrobatics, they take damage but still can try to dam the water. If they fail to dam it, they have to try again with another Acrobatics check.

It really shouldn't have been Hazards, since the Calcite one doesn't do any damage, and the needles don't actually have any way to disable them. It should have just been a skill challenge with a risk of taking damage.

Wayfinders 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Contributor

thistledown wrote:

Rob ran a game for me that was fun!

Though I really don't want to see these two thieves again.

Rob (and anyone else who GMed this successfully) I am looking for your roleplay tips. Yeah, the mechanics on this one are messy, but what I really want is tips to make the characters come alive and to briefly give the feel of each of the six planes.

(I am so disappointed that they crammed 6 planes into one 5-hour adventure. This makes the setting feel rushed and thin.)

1) How do I make the PCs sympathetic to these thieves? I understand that they are Robin Hood type characters, but in the scenario they seem rather unlikeable on first impression.

2) How do I distinguish all the NPCs that we meet in the Plane of Wood? There are so many of them, and they blur together for me.

I'm running this at Origins and I want your tips to make this multi-planar romp enjoyable.

Hmm

4/5 ****

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Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:


1) How do I make the PCs sympathetic to these thieves? I understand that they are Robin Hood type characters, but in the scenario they seem rather unlikeable on first impression.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My party didn't like them and was happy to turn them over to the Djinn.

4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro

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Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:

1) How do I make the PCs sympathetic to these thieves? I understand that they are Robin Hood type characters, but in the scenario they seem rather unlikeable on first impression.

On a personal level, I'd argue they are unlikeable, and I as a player and GM for this campaign would rather we not let them go and stop tolerating their illegal antics on our property.

In addition to being vague on exactly 'how' their thefts benefit others in their prior appearance and in the background they're implied to be Robin Hood types but how much that's really true or why they stole from Shurrizih specifically beyond 'he's rich' is given no elaboration when the PCs finally do meet Shurrizih even if they talk him down from attacking you still need to also convince the theives to hand back what they stole. This rubs me entirely the wrong way: it implies the thieves ideal scenarios go:

A) The PCs solve the problem they caused and talk the aggrieved party into not caring about his stolen property.
B) If not that, the PCs might be able to kill the person they stole from so he can't retaliate against them
C) ...fine, I guess we'll give the thing back

THAT SAID: While the above could be argued to be framing things in an overly unsympathetic light, if you want to present them more neutrally and let the PCs react how they choose you could make it clear the thieves did not intend to affect the maze or cause any harm to it. Also, regardless of whether the PCs love or hate them, the disruption to the Maze still needs to be solved regardless so their attitudes towards the thieves only really comes up at the beginning and end of the scenario.

And if you are looking to skew towards presenting them in a brighter light, you could describe the item they stole unnamed in the scenario, maybe it has a interesting pedigree or useful abilities to help others, have the thieves bring up their past thefts and what they did with the spoils, or have Shurrizih be exceptionally haughty and dismissive of arguments for mercy or moderation when they appear.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

Pirate Rob wrote:
Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:


1) How do I make the PCs sympathetic to these thieves? I understand that they are Robin Hood type characters, but in the scenario they seem rather unlikeable on first impression.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My party didn't like them and was happy to turn them over to the Djinn.

I didn't think that was an option. Certainly wasn't allowed to when I played it and I saw no such option when I ran it.

Wayfinders 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Contributor

Rob, there does not seem to be a specific reporting note for turning them in. What did you check for scenario reporting? Box B?

4/5 ****

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They tried to turn the thieves over, but the Djinn didn't accept, The Djinn claimed it was some sort of scheme and that the party was clearly working with them.

Party successfully talked the Djinn down after that, and convinced the thieves to hand over the goods.

Wayfinders 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Contributor

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So, on the idea of trying to make myself sympathetic to the thieves, I decided to finally read 5-01, a scenario that I have avoided because of my Flip Tile aversion. The art work of the thieves in 5-01 are portraits that portray both characters as younger and more vulnerable looking. And having closeup portraits to match those of the other NPCs in that crowded intro scene would be an advantage, so I think that I will be grabbing that art instead of the art from the scenario.

I would have liked the option of turning the thieves over the Djinn for justice being written into the scenario. That would have been a true player choice with interesting story repercussions.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Minnesota

Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:

2) How do I distinguish all the NPCs that we meet in the Plane of Wood? There are so many of them, and they blur together for me.

I'm running this at Origins and I want your tips to make this multi-planar romp enjoyable.

Hmm

Any suggestions on this?

Wayfinders 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Contributor

Pirate Rob wrote:

Some other lingering questions...

Handout #2: Countering Cycle of the Elements. Does this actually do anything?

Also why does it only have 5 elements on it?

SOURCE MATERIAL

"The Cycle of Elements" Rage of Elements p. 8-9

There follows a discussion of which elements counter which other elements, that then concludes with this section:

THE ROLE OF AIR wrote:
Air, though not mentioned in the feeding and countering mechanism, is still integral. When energy from elements of the cycle mix and take on a non-solid form, that becomes air. Which is to say, air is always feeding and being fed—plus countering and being countered—by the five other elements. Some go so far as to say that the Plane of Air is, in a way, the immaterial counterpart to the Universe. To an extent, the existence of the Plane of Air ensures that even if the flow is completely severed, all Elemental Planes can continue to exist and function—if a little diminished. This was likely how the closure of the Planes of Metal and Wood did not result in catastrophe, but rather settled into a new equilibrium.

Now... I have not seen anything in the scenario that really talks about all this countering and feeding of elements, but it's clear that air is the missing element here. It's also the element that we do not focus upon or really deal with until the end of the scenario.

The elements that all have named sections in the scenario are the ones represented on the wheel.

HOW I PLAN TO USE THAT WHEEL

I'm going to blow it up as big as feasible, laminate it and cut it into a pretty shape. And then I am going to put it on a table with 'Running Pants' my chase mechanic mini, as guide to "You are HERE." I may stick text near each element to label the planes.

In other words, I am going to use it as a visual aid to help the players (and yes, the GM - er, me) into remembering what plane we are visiting at any moment in time. Because oh man... I need the help.

Wayfinders 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Contributor

Now that I have printed and laminated the wheel... I am dead certain that the Countering Cycle of Elements is meant as a sort of meta-map of the adventure, as each section of the adventure moves from one element to an element that could have countered it.

The weird thing is that nowhere does it say this. I wonder if some of this adventure wound up on the cutting room floor...

Sovereign Court 3/5 ****

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I'll be running it at Origins as well. I'm printing the wheel out also. I think it will be a nice prop to let the players try to figure out where they're going next. It's too bad there's not more to it, but I think it may help with the feeling of the ride at least.

There are other problems of course, the unwieldiness of the underwater combat and the potential deadliness of the end combat, if they choose or are forced into it. Luckily GMs have a lot of flexibility in this regard. But really...any GM could turn the last combat into a TPK if they wanted to, unless the party has very very strong ranged characters.

And I'm hoping that playing the thieves as much more sympathetic and true robin hood types will help make the choices at the end more palatable.

Wayfinders 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Contributor

So there is a lot of gear given out, and most of it is in Rage of Elements which is not on Archives of Nethys yet. So... I made some 5-13 Thick as Thieves Gear Sheets. This should make it flow more easily.

The wheel looks nice, and I brought in the original art of the two thieves. I have my aquatic combat handouts -- now to bone up on the story, wave my hands a lot and pretend that the mechanics of this scenario work. I think my Deception check is up to it!

4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro

Running this this weekend in what will likely be low-tier on the high end of CP adjustments. So for anyone who's done that:

How do replacing the Thunderclaps with Living Waterfalls work?

Swapping an air elemental with a water one means that there's barely space to awkwardly shove them on the map (given a good third of it is an open air void and the Waterfalls can't fly), the few places the Large creatures can stand would block off much of the paths that would let the PCs actually move, and on top of everything the Waterfalls are constantly Slowed 1 because again there's no water there.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a scale-up possibly downgrade the enemies before, but I'm trying to see if I'm missing something.

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