I just wrote this over on the Tsu social media as kind of a mini post and thought I would expand on it a bit here.  I am going to talk about a module in a continuing adventure path (AP) from Paizo.  The AP is Reign of Winter and the module is Rasputin Must Die.  This is the fifth (of six) modules in the AP and is the reason that I ran it.  I did not read the module first as I wanted to discover it with my players and I feel that I may have built up what it could be and am now just crushed by what reality actually is.

I think it is also important to note that my players and I are having different experiences of the game.  After I closed off the hangout last night we had a quick discussion and it is clear that my players are enjoying the AP where I have lost the love with it, because of this module.  This is also not “GM burnout”.  I had the best game that I have had in a long, long time the night before this one – I just think that my tolerance for long grinding battles filled with careful measuring and rules lawyers has significantly decreased and in its place is the need to have role-playing interaction.  Anyhow, enough editorial comment, this is what I wrote on Tsu.

Rasputin Must Die
Cover of Rasputin Must Die

Last night saw me run the end scene in the Reign of Winter adventure path. Quite honestly this is the second four hour session we have had with this scene. I am really, really over it.

It is really disappointing because this module is the reason that I ran this AP. Rasputin Must Die! – the players go to Earth! But one combat, the end scene is set to take up probably 10 hours of play. That is wrong.

The module itself is all combat, combat, combat pretty much too. There were 6 characters at the start of the battle (and an animal companion) and now there are three and a dead animal companion. Just when they thought they had it beat; up jumps Rasputin again in full fighting form. He is an 18th level Oracle and the players are 14th level. Rasputin also had 3 nosferatu companions and an Erodaemon helping out. This fight is a TPK when you consider that the AP is actually designed for only four PC’s in a party. My group is 50% up on that.

Rasputin also has the spells pretty much that I could have instant-killed many more of them. I have been told that I am not doing my job if I do that though. Not sure what that means. If I were Rasputin and trying to steal his mother’s (Baba Yaga) power then I would squash anyone that got in my way as fast as possible. Logic rarely holds sway though.

So I am here this morning disappointed. This module has lost all of its gloss and glimmer and now just seems a chore. It is a 360 degree turnaround from the Silent Legions game I ran the night before.

I don’t want this to reflect on my players though. I know that some of them are really enjoying this. It is just that I had this great hope for this adventure but in reality it has turned into a grind fest. I really had the feel last night that I was playing a video game (lets say Final Fantasy XI) where you can get to the end of the game really quickly and have a great time doing it BUT you can’t end the game until you go and just grind attack for 80 hours or you will never be powerful enough. Where is the fun? Really, where has the love of story gone?

The thing that really annoys me is if (because it is not a given at this stage) they finally grind their way through this battle, there is little that they can do to bring lost companions back without direct intervention from me. First and foremost, the Cleric died last night and he was the only one with the power to do such things. I offered them the glimmer of hope that there is a creature that acts as a magic item broker who can probably get the cleric up again – but where do I stop? They need probably a ring of three wishes to not only get people back but make things right again.

I just wonder if they even play tested this fight. Really, the story of this game is propelled by a geas that they pick up in module one (where there still seemed to be a portion of story) but the fact of the matter is there is only one character now alive that went through that process. I have given the geas to every passing character since the start though – but I am thinking that I am probably doing the wrong thing. Maybe, just maybe the support of that original character might drive the rest onward helping the evil witch.

Thanks for listening and keep rolling 🙂

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