What's up with PFS2 #4-16?


GM Discussion


#4-16: Dacilane Academy's First Great Prank War:
I recently played through #4-16: Dacilane Academy's First Great Prank War, and it went poorly. The GM who ran it assures me that it's bad as written, but the GM also made several mistakes throughout the scenario.

At the start, the Venture Captain gave us three objectives: provide advice to participants in the Prank War, judge the pranks (which apparently isn't a conflict of interest), and make sure none of the pranks are dangerous.

We arrived at the school building to find a girl reading a book. She said the prank war was stupid and she wanted no part in it. The GM started repeatedly asking, "Are you just going to let her sit there and read her book?" We interpreted this as a hint that we need to convince her to hide so she doesn't get pranked. For our trouble, one of us was forced to make a Will save, becoming frightened 1 for 1 hour because the girl "has a scary face." Alright, message received, we decided to head inside. The GM explained after the session that we were supposed to convince her to join, the reward being a treasure bundle. Even the GM doesn't know how we were supposed to know to do this, since it wasn't our objective to bring in new contestants.

Later, the library was on fire. Except it wasn't; the GM accidentally read the wrong paragraph. Then the library was actually on fire. We entered the room and started putting out fires. The fey that set fire to the room were still there, so I Recalled Knowledge to determine if they could be reasoned with. Yes, they could, so we didn't attack first. When their initiative came around, they attacked us, so we fought back. During the battle, some enemies that came out of hiding to attack us teleported back into hiding because the GM accidentally had them attack earlier than they were supposed to. We defeated the enemy fey and put out the fires. The GM revealed after the session that we were supposed to dispatch the fey nonlethally, the reward being a treasure bundle. What?!

A whole lot of rooms had nothing going on in them, but the room descriptions had enough detail to convince most players that we needed to somehow intervene in something there, so we wasted a lot of time on red herrings. The GM later said that we were supposed to examine about 15 such rooms, but he cut many out to save time, as there otherwise would have been no time for the final boss. Except there actually was time; the GM realized at the end of the session that he'd alloted an extra hour of time he forgot about.

The GM later sent us our Chronicle Sheets, and not a single story checkbox was ticked. The accompanying choices were pretty nonsensical, so the GM must not have bothered. The GM awarded us all 10 treasure bundles, saying we shouldn't be punished for the poor quality of the scenario.

But the GM was making errors and retcons all throughout the session, so I don't know how much of the scenario was poorly written or just poorly read.

2/5 5/5 *****

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

I don't consider it a badly written scenario. It can be a bit more non-linear than some, as most of the investigation is open ended and the party can go on in different directions, along with a bit of different escalations/interactions based on how people resolve things. It also requires a bit more time management, since as you mention the number of quirky rooms can consume a lot of time. Ideally you know how much time to allow, since it can be some of the best role play moments.

However it sounds like the GM was either trying to run in cold (which could be difficult) or decided ahead of time that they didn't like it/want to understand it and just gave up.

Grand Lodge **

There aren't even 15 rooms in the building...


Super Zero wrote:
There aren't even 15 rooms in the building...

Maybe I'm misremembering the number the GM said, but I think it was an unreasonable number to expect players to handle within 5 hours. How many rooms are the players actually expected by this scenario to handle?

2/5 5/5 *****

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

There's 13 numbered rooms:

Nothing: 7 (Brief description, at most one roll involved)
Brief Role Play/Interaction: 3 (interacting with students, multiple rolls) (+1 from event)
Combat: 3 (+1 from event), many have non-combat quicker/resolutions.

Plus Final Location/combat

PCs are expected to get through all of it. I see most groups doing it in under 4 hours. This does require at least trying to some level of disabling/diplomacy rather than brute forcing everything.

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

Having run this scenario three times that yes while a little linear the fun comes from both the players and GM just having fun and making stuff up. In one instance I wholesale concocted an NPC fey that followed the party around, turned them into Kirby's, and had traps taunt the players. In another the players took the term war seriously and gathered all the fey into an army.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Okay, I have to ask. Based on the description you've just outlined as your experience....

Had the GM actually read the adventure beforehand at all?

Legit question, because a lot of the issues you've stated are things which might be averted with more prep and planning. I know that I've sat through more than a few sessions which have this same vibe in terms of lack of readiness, and it does genuinely ruin the fun.


I've made similar errors with an adventure I'm running despite having read the adventure beforehand. Sometimes the formatting tricks you into reading aloud things you're not supposed to read aloud yet, I guess. And since it was Roll20, the formatting was likely even harder to parse.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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There are legit things you can be upset about with the scenario, but they're different things than the ones you mentioned. Your problems definitely seem to be more GM-induced, what with them repeatedly bringing up "there's a thing there... oh wait no that happens later/elsewhere".

Also as a GM it's okay to be a bit more explicit if you sense that communication isn't going well. It's fine to just read a room description and conclude with "it's a lovely part of the school but nothing important is happening here."

My personal gripes with the scenario

Spoiler:

Some of the "trivial" hazards deal a really high amount of damage. They're correctly graded as trivial by the numbers if you look at the hazard creation rules, so I guess the author couldn't go any lower than that, but...

... the time between encounters to heal up is really low, because everything happens in a few in-game hours. You can make this work with some of the new healing abilities like kineticist Ocean's Balm that you can spam on every PC and you don't need to spend time refocusing after it. But with things like Treat Wounds or Lay on Hands + Refocus, it's hard to keep up. And there are a lot of damaging hazards and encounters.

The high damage dealt by the "jolly" encounters kinda clashes with the tone. If something is gonna chew through half the HP of a high tier PC, it's a little crazy to not evacuate the children/civilians.

Finally, when you find out that there's a redcap in the school, why aren't you immediately focusing on getting the children to safety? This "the show must go on" mentality is criminally irresponsible.


Ascalaphus wrote:

My personal gripes with the scenario

** spoiler omitted **

Those last issues also apply to Hogwarts, so maybe it was a deliberate riff? I remember playing the Harry Potter video game adaptations, and all the professors were like, "Today we will be learning the Expelliarmus spell. Harry, please crawl through this small hole in the wall, go through the obstacle course full of giant swinging axe blades and rabid monsters, and retrieve the Expelliarmus spellbook. And then duel Malfoy when you're done." And then no one else has to do it and class is dismissed.

Paizo Employee Editor

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SuperParkourio wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

My personal gripes with the scenario

** spoiler omitted **

Those last issues also apply to Hogwarts, so maybe it was a deliberate riff? I remember playing the Harry Potter video game adaptations, and all the professors were like, "Today we will be learning the Expelliarmus spell. Harry, please crawl through this small hole in the wall, go through the obstacle course full of giant swinging axe blades and rabid monsters, and retrieve the Expelliarmus spellbook. And then duel Malfoy when you're done." And then no one else has to do it and class is dismissed.

Absolutely not. None of the scenarios I develop will ever reference or riff off of that franchise.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

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I flagged this post as being in the wrong place. It really needs to be in the GM forum because of all the spoilers.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Shay Snow wrote:
SuperParkourio wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

My personal gripes with the scenario

** spoiler omitted **

Those last issues also apply to Hogwarts, so maybe it was a deliberate riff? I remember playing the Harry Potter video game adaptations, and all the professors were like, "Today we will be learning the Expelliarmus spell. Harry, please crawl through this small hole in the wall, go through the obstacle course full of giant swinging axe blades and rabid monsters, and retrieve the Expelliarmus spellbook. And then duel Malfoy when you're done." And then no one else has to do it and class is dismissed.
Absolutely not. None of the scenarios I develop will ever reference or riff off of that franchise.

THANK YOU! <3

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