The Pathfinder Second Edition Playtest is upon us! As such, I gathered together a motley group of adventurers to tackle Part 1 of the playtest adventure module Doomsday Dawn.
- The Brother: Dungeons & Dragons diehard who prefers 3.5 and Fifth to Pathfinder.
- The Rookie: New player whose TTRPG experience is limited to four sessions of Fate Core.
- The Novice: Introduced him to TTRPG three years ago with a lengthy Pathfinder 1e campaign.
- The Fanatic: Longtime Game Master of other systems (Homebrew Battletech, Fate Core, etc).
The party was composed of a Dwarf Barbarian named Thrakus Furyseeker, a Halfing Bard named William Maplethrop, a Human Fighter named Titus, and a Human Sorcerer named Ashi. Three of the four players chose Pathfinder Hopeful as their background with only the Sorcerer branching out and selecting Mindquake Survivor.
We started off with a quick roleplay of Ashi recruiting the three Pathfinder Hopefuls to find the lost Star of Desna for Lady Deverin. They then met with Lady Deverin – who took an immediate liking to William – and – to their surprise – a Goblin named Tagla. Without getting into too many details, the group was charged with recovering the lost Star of Desna and defeating the Hobgoblin Drakus the Taker. Tagla made no secret of the fact that she suspected Drakus to be a vampire but Lady Deverin was skeptical.
After a lengthy journey through the sewers of Magnimar the group arrived at an entrance to the Ashen Ossuary – the slimy cistern. There they quickly dispatched a sewer ooze, taking only a handful of damage, before cautiously advancing.
Every member of the group, even the Rookie, remembered to have some method of navigating the dark recesses of the Ossuary. I probably should have awarded them Hero Points just for that but not stumbling around in the darkness was really it’s own reward.
Taking the lead, Titus spotted some goblins building a statue of Drakus the Taker and managed – just barely – to avoid being spotted by them.
The group had a lengthy discussion about tactics at this point and finally decided to send the Sorcerer – the only PC with any Stealth – to lay some caltrops. Of course the Sorcerer then rolled terribly on Stealth.
The Goblins quickly showed up the mobility of the new action economy (as well as their Scuttle ability) to swarm all around the Sorcerer. This quickly became desperate for the caster as health was whittled away…but the Fighter raced to the rescue and was joined shortly afterwards by the rest of the party. Each player member slew a single Goblin in this encounter. It was rewarding to use the new system’s mobility against the group…and then watch them quickly adapt mobile tactics themselves.
The group explored the area afterwards and thoroughly looted everything. They fought with the centipedes – a lengthy battle with no pay off – and skipped the mindfog fungus. The Barbarian had a terrible night with pathetic rolls throughout – I think he only had three or four decent rolls.
Without getting into too many spoilers – moving ahead, the group discovered the profane idol and cleverly threw it out of the chamber with telekinesis. When it split in two releasing quasits they then slammed the door shut and waited… Thinking, erroneously, that the quasits would fight any goblins waiting deeper in the dungeon. After 30 minutes they decided to advance deeper into Ossuary and soon came into conflict with the tougher group of Goblins. This is when the now invisible quasits ambushed them from behind.
Thrakus the Barbarian, Ashi the Sorcerer, and Titus the Fighter all came close to dying. Ashi remembered, too late, about his bite bloodline ability granting temporary health…this only delayed him going unconscious. Ashi reached Dying 3 before being healed by William. This made up for William not playing music for half of the session due to misunderstanding the rules. Notably, Titus got off the only (I think – there may have been one earlier) Attack of Opportunity of the night against a Quasit.
Things were looking desperate for the players at this point so I made a split second decision to improve their odds. I pulled the strongest goblin – the commando – out of the battle for three rounds to give the players a chance to rebound. It was probably a mistake – I think they could have fought their way out, especially with full hero points, and if not a session like this is the best place for a TPK to occur. In any case, they survived to run away so the Starfinder Second Dry Run remains the only TPK that I’ve had in a local game.
The group had to retreat and did not complete their quest so we’ll need to schedule a second session… But they did get through 70% of it – enough to get some solid impressions of the new system.
- The Brother: He was hoping for something more. He said that it just made him want to play Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition.
- The Rookie: Found the rules a bit confusing but really liked it. Said this was more his speed than Fate Core.
- The Novice: He likes the tactical combat more than in Pathfinder 1e…but that was hampered by a night of terrible rolls.
- The Fanatic: Generally positive but had some technical feedback.
List of Specific Edits
- Add Poison to Index. The only poison entries point towards equipment, would be helpful to have one pointing towards the affiliation rules which outline how poison works.
- Lore Subcategories. The Additional Lore feat directs to, “choose an additional Lore skill subcategory” but players were confused if they could make this anything or if it had to be from a background they selected. More guidance here.
- Class DC or Spell DC. These are the same thing so why not call them the same thing? Spells use your Class DC? This would further simplify things.
- Shields on Character Sheet. Shields could really use their own section on the character sheet. Tracking the various attributes of a shield is complicated enough without sprawling it on the side of the page.
- Furious Focus. We must be doing this wrong as it seems far superior to any other option… Does the new Fail condition apply to all Fighter strikes or is there a limitation I’m missing?
- Organization of Equipment. As noted in my First Play Thoughts, it would be helpful for this to be better organized. In particular, I was asked where to find potions several times.
- Bulk. Also as noted in my First Play Thoughts, Bulk is a great simplification that’s made almost incomprehensible by the terrible equation on the Character Sheet.
- Dying. In a 180° turn from my Initial Review, the Dying rules ended up not being all that complicated after all. We actually liked them in use – even the player who was dying. But I found them super confusing when I read them before playing so perhaps clearer wording?