Monday, May 30, 2011

Games In Review, May 30th, 2011

This week we'll be recapping my Council of Thieves Pathfinder game.  I went back on a previous ruling and allowed Ultimate Magic with a few banned items, mainly because I decided in the time between sessions that Council of Thieves will be my last Pathfinder RPG campaign for a while.  Honestly, the system is really burning me out.

So, we start this session with Urguk, the half-orc sorcerer and Elsbeth, the half-elf rogue quite dead.  Also, Darien the Oracle is about to go MIA for a while because Jeff needs some time off.  Thus, after everyone was up to speed and looked around the room, the group headed back out of the Nessian Spiral to get their friends raised and perhaps sell a few items.

Once the party was hale and healthy again, and explained to the Children of Westcrown how everything is proceeding, the group returned to the Nessian Spiral.  In order to raise the characters, my players used the Prestige Points that they had gained from the Children of Westcrown to pay for the raise dead and one of the restorations, and I let them buy off their other negative level with a Hero Point because they have limited time and would have to wait for a week to get another restoration cast.

The group returns to the Nessian Spiral, investigates some of the locations they visited earlier, and Chesterfield manages to cast suggestion on the Cerberus yet again.  Poor Cerberus.  The group also found a grubby thief that was a member of the Council of Thieves that agreed to work as an informant for the group.

The new informant explained to the group that the Council of Thieves is split between factions, and that one of their old contacts is a member of the Council of Thieves.  He also tells the PCs that the cleric they killed was a diabolist that had summoned the Cerberus and was planning on trying to get the pit fiend under control of the "young" faction of the Council of Thieves.

After some exploration, the group finds where the tieflings that are suppose to maintain the site live, and realize that they are all dominated.  Chesterfield wants as many of them alive as possible, because according to the contract they work for him if they can snap them out of their stupor.  He calms emotion on them, but that doesn't keep the tieflings from alerting their mistress.

The mistress of the tieflings was a poorly summoned succubus that has been teleporting in and out of the Spiral to cause problems around town.  She has a hard time harming the paladin, so she dominates the Hellknight, and sends him after the paladin.

After some illusions and some combat, and the dwarf taking some chunks out of the paladin's rear end, the paladin and the rest of the party finish off the succubus  (who took a few magic missiles full on as well), and the group finds another of their old contacts held hostage.

They drop her back at her home, come back to the Spiral, use the newly found Keyrod to shut down three of the cooling towers  (and thus shutting down three of the pillars of Hellfire), and we called it a night.


  1. Hi, I've been reading your blog for a while and I enjoy it a lot. Thank you!

    I thought that it might be now that I comment for first time as you used interesting sentence in this post: "Honestly, the system is really burning me out." Want to share how PF system is "burning you out"? I'm interested as I've about the same feeling sometimes nowadays. I've gm'ed Rise of the Runelords (twice) and enjoyed while doing it, I've played Second Darkness and Council of Thieves and liked them (especially the later). Now I'm gm'ing Curse of Crimson Throne and I'm enjoying the story but still something is troubling me. I'm feeling that I should take little break from PF as you.

  2. The photos showing Invisible Chesterfield came out really well. I still want to try some other casting resin, and see if I can get a clearer mold. Plus, that model has been out of the mold for several weeks, and it's still not entirely hard.

  3. @Blue_Hill . . . part of my burn out is my own fault for keeping up too closely with what is going on as far as what Paizo has coming out in the RPG line. I just really think that Paizo has a lot of potential, but they are putting out too much too fast.

    I'm trying to find a nice balancing point between allowing the PCs to have options when new things come out and keeping the rules manageable in my mind, but the more the comes out, the harder that is. And each new book brings with it more items that a GM needs to become proficient in handling (I never though the pit spells would create some of the questions they have in the campaign, for example).

    For everything I have to look up, or think about how I need to rule on an ambiguous rule, that's time away from actually having fun at the table. Add to that how much prep time I do for a Pathfinder game versus how much of that prep directly contributes to the fun in the actual game, especially compared to how much time I spend doing prep work in my DC Adventures game.

    (For my DC game, a lot of my prep work has to do with coming up with plots and brainstorming where the PCs might go next in the storyline, as opposed to fiddling with treasure or XP or modifying stats to create a better challenge for the group)

    On top of that, while its part of the game and the rules are built on this assumption, I find myself increasingly unhappy with the amount of time dealing with buying items and selling items, even though I've streamlined the process as much as I can.

    That's just the short hand version, but I wanted to make sure to get you an answer, since you've been good enough to follow the blog and comment. I really appreciate you following along, and hope to hear from you in the future.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I know those feelings, like I sayed before I will need a break from PF so those things are familiar to me. My group in CotCR is very melee heavy and they have done their homework with using Core rules and APG as they see good. That has made them powerful and some of them have really nasty tricks to challenge me and my encounters. Especially barbarian is very powerful with feats from APG and oracle has so awesome stats that you would need a ~56 point buy to do that (used method 4d6 and drop lowest).

    I got Ultimate Magic in my hands and before I read it I had bad feeling about it: more work to make things go smoother. My players turn to me when in doupt but I can't remember all the rules and I always say that they should know rules if they want to use something new. Yet there is more to come as Ultimate Combat is coming and that book I fear more than Ultimate Magic (which turned to be more balanced than APG or so I felt (okay let's not mention the Echoing Spell feat)).

    But then on the other hand sometimes PF works just perfectly. Our last session of CotCT was only roleplaying, I rolled some will saves to dead allies as they used Speak with Dead to them but if we leave that out we only roleplayed. I had chance to get wild with subplots and secrets and that was good way to enpower the campaign. That session was "between the books" session BUT was really necessary when i think about the rest of campaign. (We have now the last book of the six left so story is almost at the end, eventhough this subplot could extend this campaign to take lot longer than AP itself takes).

    So what I'm suggesting to you that you run 2.5-4 hours session (I don't know how long yout PF session are, we do mostly 4-6 hours) that deals with subplots like getting to know npcs, pcs getting to know each other or planning their next non-violent move in Westcrown. It cures the feeling of the campaign and you can design plots, not just modify the encounters. I have played Council of Thieves and "pure" roleplaying session fit in perfectly.

    Some thoughts shared again. Hopefully you find something useful from this post. ^^"

  5. Having a good solid roleplaying session can really recharge the batteries. Early on in the Adventure Path the first half of the Sixfold Trials carried us for quite a while, with people knowing what their character was about and who they were interacting with and the like. Both the play and the Cornucopia were great for that.

    The beginning of What Lies in Dust wasn't too bad, either, as we had a good amount of time roleplaying with the Erinyes head, the intelligent glaive, and Rance Lucca at the Devildrome.

    I think that might contribute a bit to my burnout. Earlier in the AP there seemed to be more roleplaying encounters built in, but between these adventures, we went from the dungeon crawl of Delvehaven to the chaos in the streets and the dungeon crawl of the Nessian Spiral.

    While there were roleplaying bits in those parts of the adventure, they don't seem to have the same importance as earlier encounters.

  6. That is a real problem with adventure paths: in first three books there a great or at least good variety of encounters, both social and combat. Parts four to six are mostly combat with some interraction with npc but not as much as in first three. I've always tried to add more social challenges to my games but I don't always have the time to do that so it's shame that APs are "built" like that. Especially that importance you are talking about it's important in those social encounters.

    I would cut boring combat encounters or add them together to make them bit more interesting. In Delvehaven I felt as player that fighting against those low level rogues wasn't really necessary as gm and players could just narrate the whole fight and make faster progress toward important encounters. Time sinks just suck.