Transformation of Play

The module and my notes book

As promised, here is post two for the week which will discuss the game that we had on Tuesday night. As has been pointed out in previous posts the players are in the 5th module of a 6 module adventure path presented by Paizo for their Pathfinder game. The module is titled “The Thousand Fangs Below” and is part of the Serpent’s Skull adventure path.  The four players are all at 14th level and they are +Cam Mcloughlin who plays Janthir of the Kale, a Fetchling rogue/sorcerer/arcane trickster.  Scott Desmond plays an Aasimar Monk/Cleric named Kaleb who has a heavy focus on the monk class.  Mark Desmond plays Seroquel/Hank a Tiefling Alchemist/Master Chymist.  Courtney Knights plays Seleca an Elven Cavalier.

Leading in to this adventure the group had been through a period of turmoil where while their characters levels had developed to a good point making them on paper seem like a formidable group, their behaviour let them down and the group were acting as individuals rather than a group.  So much so in fact that a group of six serpent-folk guards being the baseline encounter would tax them greatly, almost certainly killing a member of the group and cleaning them out of any resources they had banked up.  The details of their problems can be found in my post a couple weeks ago entitled Issues in Game. The group were now in the “end game” part of the module which is a foray into the serpent-folk fortress known as the “Thousand Fang Fortress”.  This fortress is of course crawling with serpent-folk and their servants making this a daunting task for a group that two weeks prior were reeling from just one patrol.

The week previous to this saw their first incursion into the fortress but Courtney was unwell so all the discussions that the group had about playing like a team were put into place, but they were uncertain how things would go when Courtney returned.  So it was with some trepidation that on Tuesday evening they started up again as a whole group facing the dangers of the Thousand Fangs.  The party were exceptionally nervous about this part of the module as they were certain that at each turn they would be faced with serpent-folk en masse sent to destroy the intruders.  That said, I as the GM used the NPC that was searching for her love in the fortress (which finding him is kind of the end condition for the module) to convince them to continue on whilst they still had the resources to do so.

Some of the heroes of the evening

The party took this on the chin and continued on, sending Janthir out to scout ahead and moving forward as a group when given the all clear.  The group found a “harem” of one of the leading serpent-folk and dispatched them reasonably efficiently. They then had Janthir scout out a new area where he failed a perception roll badly and lead the group into a room with about 5 or 6 of the guards that had harried them so badly before.  The serpent-folk got the jump on them and the battle was joined.  Seleca charged a little too far into the room causing a problem where she could be flanked badly and then proceed to roll some poor attacks.  The rest of the group however were able to get some good ranged shots in and thankfully this bought down a good deal of the serpent-folk, with Seleca’s cohort (a 12th level cleric) keeping her on her feet.

From this room Janthir did some more searching and found that they were near the overlook to the main entrance of the fortress.  He had been near here before, simply on the other side of this point and the group came up with a plan of attack against the four serpent-folk manning the area.  With plan in place the group set to attacking and had immolated three of the guards with a combination of fireballs and alchemist bombs.  The remainder of the party set to dealing with the final guard whilst the alchemist took to opening doors and found that one other barrack area contained another five of the serpent-folk who they then set on.  There was a bit of a running battle here but the players, especially Kaleb and Seleca made short work of these foes, bailing them up at the door and using the Cavaliers tactics to good purpose.

The remainder of the party tried to then make it out into the larger chamber where they knew (and had surmised correctly) that there were a couple of massive cyclops who had been dominated.  The plan was to break the domination and then set them either against the serpent-folk or raise the portcullis and free them.  Hank flew invisibly in where the lever to raise the portcullis was and hit the lever as the bard and the sorcerer managed to free the cyclops from their enchantment, only to realise that the cyclops, being cute, loving chaotic evil creatures began to attack everyone, not just their captors.

Seleca ran out to aid her companions as the portcullis began to rise (I deemed it would take 3 rounds to fully rise) and she, along with the monk fresh from the previous serpent-folk managed to kill both cyclops in two rounds so they never got to see freedom.  Around this time two more squads of serpent-folk emerged from the balconies that overlook the room and began to rain down arrows on those in the chamber.  Janthir had made his way to the building in the centre of the chamber and stealthed in finding a group of serpent-folk considering options (telepathically) about dealing with the incursion.  He noted that the General was amongst these serpent-folk so he knocked his Oathbow, whispering the name of his target to it and loosed three shots.

From invisible he managed to strike with the first arrow, get a critical threat with the second arrow and strike with the third arrow.  He rolled to confirm the critical and did so.  Janthir has been built as a sniper character, so with the Oathbow in hand, closer than 40′ from his target and invisible this was always going to do a lot of damage.  In fact, along with the critical damage (which was determined using the iCrit system from Paizo) the archer managed to do 178 hp of damage with those three shots.  Ironically 2 more hp than needed to knock his opponent down.  Largely this was due to a critical that meant his arrow had struck the heart of the general, and the sneak attack damage that he added to the rolls.

I didn’t use all of these, but I came close…

At this point in time I called a close to the game although they were still in battle.  It was midnight and we had been playing 5 hours solid with many having commitments the next day.  Everyone was buoyant about the game and they all probably wanted another round but I called it at this point.  The group that two weeks prior to this could not take down 6 of the serpent-folk due to their individual play style had worked slickly as a group with some good roleplaying to boot.  The group had bought down two huge cyclops, the highest ranking officer in the fortress at this point in time and 21 serpent-folk guards or their equivalents.  I was in shock at the turn-around!

This is the main reason that the players wanted this to be blogged about.  They had all pretty much followed my other posts and agreed on my synopsis, but they want to say that they have got it together and are thundering toward the finish of this module.  Let’s hope it lasts!

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