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Pathfinder 2E Exploration mode discussion

MaskedGuy

Explorer
Wait, does age of ashes' hexploration segment have time limit or random encounters? I don't remember either of time

Paizo APs often follow the "players happen upon ritual at the exact right time!" method of storytelling with some rare exceptions so I'm surprised if it does have time limit. On random encounters I'm pretty convinced it doesn't have them because 2e in general doesn't have random encounters.
 

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kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Wait, does age of ashes' hexploration segment have time limit or random encounters? I don't remember either of time
Although Age of Ashes uses what appears to be a prototypical version of hexploration, it does not have random encounters like the hexploration in the GMG does. I don’t know about time pressure, but other discussions here have indicated there wasn’t much if any in that AP.
 

!DWolf

Explorer
Not sure if I can even post this but, if anyone is interested: My Time Wheel. My plan is to put it on a wheel and mount it so that it spins and thereby give a physical representation of time passing as the PCs travel.
 

Attachments

  • Timewheel1.png
    Timewheel1.png
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kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
If the question is whether it worked, it worked for me. As for appropriateness, I think tools for use at the table when doing exploration are more than appropriate given the topic is exploration mode. 🙂
 

!DWolf

Explorer
I was wondering if the upload would work. The actual file is an absolutely massive drawing, but I turned it into a png., to try and get it to upload. Glad to see it did!

I ran my jungle game today and I tried the time wheel out but instead of a spinner I just put a token on it. Much easier and, if necessary, I can split the players up in the time dimension by adding another token. It worked perfectly and the feedback I got was that having a visual tracker was a great help and the players were mostly getting confused by the third watch when only two of the PCs could act because of the heat.

I also prepared something I thought of last minute that actually didn’t come up in the game: an outdoor dungeon. It was an small island connected to the mainland by a low tide causeway. I put a hex grid on the island with quarter mile hexes (takes about 10 minutes to cross so each hex is a turn). The island is also covered with mildly toxic fungus so the characters have two clocks: the causeway (12 turns) and their fortitude saves. There are also wandering monster patrols triggered by a dice roll and a pair of two room dungeons on the island holding the boss monsters. I didn’t get to use it though because my evil smile gave me away and the players decided to avoid that plot hook, so I get to try it next time.
 

!DWolf

Explorer
Despite a horrible week at work (covering for multiple people out with covid :( ), I managed to run the mini-hex “dungeon” from my previous post. It went okay but it could have gone better. I implemented a variant of the scout action in which each person scouting got to see the hazards of one of the adjacent hexes and that worked pretty well. What didn’t work was the environment- it was a very boring fungus covered island. I added some terrain and scenery and hazards to improve it, but couldn’t really get it to gel (it didn’t really help that I was exhausted when running it and my voice was almost gone from doing NPCs). I think the base idea is sound, and my players had fun, but next time I try this I am going to use a more dynamic environment- I think a village raid or a riot or something similar would work a little better than a dead, silent island.

On the plus side players had several Eureuka moments where they put things together. The first was when the Wizard - who always asks about the lore of the shipwrecks they found - used the lore of a recently discovered shipwreck and some other clues they found while exploring to realize there was another survivor on the island. The second was when the players realized that what they were looking for on the above mentioned small island was probably in a ship wreck and so they traveled along the coast to find it (and headed right to it). Very smart and I love it when my players reason their way through problems.
 

!DWolf

Explorer
So two Saturdays ago, I played my Jungle game in which the PCs assaulted an enemy camp and managed to kill an old woman (deemed an acceptable loss) and a monkey (their primary target) before retreating back into the jungle. At first I didn't think I did anything interesting with exploration so I didn't post anything here, but after reading the discussion about dynamic encounters in the other thread, I realized that I absolutely did something worthy to post with the camp assault. So I started writing up what I had been doing instinctively. Then I realized that with Pathfinder 2e I could 'mechanize' what I had been doing using encounter mode, hazards, and subsystems. So I did that instead. Hopefully, people find this interesting/helpful. I intend to do the same with how I run “skirmishers in intricate environments” when I find the time.
 

Attachments

  • Enemy Camp Raid.pdf
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  • Jungle Chase No Spoilers.pdf
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kenada

Adventurer
Supporter
Interesting. Looks like a hybrid of a couple of VP-based subsystems. Did you do the whole thing using your raid subsystem? How’d it interact with class abilities?
 

!DWolf

Explorer
Interesting. Looks like a hybrid of a couple of VP-based subsystems. Did you do the whole thing using your raid subsystem? How’d it interact with class abilities?
The first part of the game was finishing up the small island and interacting with NPCs to try and decide how to fight the enemy, but the camp raid pretty much used the raid system, though the hazards weren’t in existence yet (because I thought of using them to codify things as I was writing it up for posting) and I was running that part based on straight experience instead. I did use different research results because I stripped out spoilers for the AP in what I posted (I was also using unique results from each vantage point instead of a single list), and didn’t do the chase at the end (which had different and more snarky cards). When I rallied the opposition I also used encounter turns because they seemed better. If you are interested here is what happened in more detail
  • The players waited until the cannibals inhabiting the camp had sent out a large war party to look for them, leaving only a skeleton crew at the camp.
  • I had the map in my head as a player unknown structure - if I were to run it again I would have set it up for the players to see - the advantages of box maps are that they are easy to draw after all.
  • From the first vantage point the players got a mostly complete view of the camp and I laid out the entire camp battle map (I have an oversized printer) for them. They also got a rough number of creatures and the locations of the sentries (mostly to the north) and glimpsed an old woman moving through the camp to the south. They decided to circle around to the second vantage point to inspect further and managed to do so stealthily.
  • From the second vantage point they observed what looked like an magic users hut on the outskirts of the camp. Through checks and their prior knowledge they determined that the old woman - who looked nothing like the massively inbred cannibals - was probably either first generation on the island or came from the cannibal’s original shipwreck and could probably speak their language.
  • After a couple of hours of them observing and not much happening they decided to head to the third vantage point, but the wizard unilaterally decided to sneak closer to cast detect magic outside the hut first. He got close successfully but then triggered the alert when he cast. When he tried to sneak away he then got spotted by the witch and her monkey.
  • At this point an encounter started (off the edge of my massive battlemap :( ) as the basically the party rushed forward to help the wizard and the wizard tried to retreat while under the effects of a spell that gave him only two actions a turn. The enemy also started to rally (using two rally points and rallying in encounter turns). The group was at the witches rally point and so her skeleton guard joined in on the second turn.
  • There was a ferocious fight: all of the players targeted the monkey (they HATE monkeys) and it died, the wizard went down twice, and one of the fighters was rocked by a skeleton and witch debuff combo. Then even though the witch had two mirror images left, she got hit by the alchemists last bomb AND a sling stone from him and went down and the fighters (one hasted by the wizard) tore through the skeletons.
  • At this point it was the end of turn 4 and the other cannibals had finished rallying and entered the battle. The party heavily damaged and out of resources decided to retreat. The cannibals didn’t pursue because there was actually only eight of them left in the camp and they needed to tend to the dead witch but mostly because we had 2 minutes left in the session.
And thus my chase cards and beautiful full map of the camp went unused. But such is the way of tabletop RPGs.
 

!DWolf

Explorer
And here is “Fighting Skirmishers in an Intricate Environment”. This one is based on a system I use mostly for horror games and is much more experimental than the raid system because I have heavily rebuilt it to incorporated a bunch of pf2e improvements. The new version takes into account exploration turn structure, adds hazards, and, most notably, tightly couples the chase mechanics with the environment. Hopefully, we will see how it runs next Saturday.
 

Attachments

  • PF2E Skirmishers in Intricate Environments.pdf
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  • PF2E Sea Cavern Chase Cards with No Spoilers.pdf
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!DWolf

Explorer
So I didn’t get to test the experimental modifications to my old skirmisher rules in yesterday’s jungle game, but because of the discussion in the other threads about the system being unable to handle stacking encounters and fight-rest-fight-rest-fight-rest being the only way it can run (and me strongly disagreeing with both these assertions), I figured I would write up some of what happened (there was other exploration stuff and conversation with npcs for about an hour in the beginning):
To start with while exploring the island the characters had discovered and done a few useful things:
  • Through the wise use of a potion of water breathing they managed to obtain a pirate’s buried treasure, said treasure including three powerful scrolls (two of which they already used, the remaining being a scroll of fireball) and a bunch of talismans.
  • They befriended a powerful dryad who was able to let them move more quickly through the jungle than they otherwise could.
  • They found an unhinged shipwreck survivor who greatly desired to kill the cannibals that were hunting them.
  • Their previous raid on the cannibal camp killed the enemy spellcaster (who was the brains of the outfit).

So three characters (two players couldn’t make the session): a wizard, a cleric, and a fighter decided to go to the cannibal camp and see if they could sneak into the (dead) witch’s hut and try to steal the magic items they previously detected. I used my raid system for this. At vantage 1 they determined that 17 enemies, including the leader, were in the camp but they decided to press on to vantage 2 (from which they had the easiest route to the hut), luck wasn’t with them and the enemy spotted them and rallied. The characters decided to retreat - but also to try and lure the cannibals out and head along a loop and so they could get back to the enemy camp while it was empty.

The cannibals followed and a chase started - the characters dealt with the trackless jungle, angry monkeys (Level -3), dense foliage, a ravine, and a steep hill. Getting to the top of the hill, they decided that it was a good place to make a stand and whittle down the cannibals. Javelins rained down on them, most being deflected by the foliage and their shields, as the cannibals advanced in three groups of five (with the leader being in the second group). The first group got to the hill and began climbing while the characters focused fire on the pointman, then the second group got to the hill while the first was climbing it and they bunched up. The wizard decided then was perfect time to use the scroll of fireball and just devastated the enemy - five died outright. The cannibals kept coming though and an epic fight ensued as three waves of the enemy came up the hill and were met by multiple burning hands (cleric of Sarenrae) and the fighters sword. The end result was the characters standing with a couple hp remaining each (two had wounds), fourteen dead enemies (Level -1 each) and the enemy leader (Level +2) completely untouched. They booked it. After a couple more chase obstacles they stumbled into quicksand (level +1) but managed to escape. They then tried to lure the enemy leader into the quicksand but he saw though it and started around. The characters responded by circling around the other side and back the way they came, beating him back to camp. They were exhausted and wounded and they decided instead of entering the camp to retreat across the river to the dryad’s hill where the cannibals feared to tread.

The next day they grabbed their survivor buddy and tried to sneak into camp (I again used the raid system): two Critical fails on the final approach. The enemy railed (the leader and two level -1s) while the characters tried to quickly choose good tactical positions. The resulting fight was brutal and it looked like the leader was going to win: he had just under half hp left while the characters were barely on their feet with most wounded and their ally at 1 hp - then the Wizard hit him for insane damage with a critical shocking grasp and he died. They then rested and explored the enemy camp. There was some rp/moral dilemma with what to do with the cannibals unable to fight and the session ended with them deciding to descend into the cave system below.

So the overall the sequence went like this: Exploration (other stuff) - Rest - Exploration (recon) - Exploration (Chase + hazard) - Encounter (combat) - Exploration (Chase) - Encounter (hazard) - Exploration (chase) - Rest - Exploration (recon) - Encounter (combat) - Rest - Exploration (investigation and roleplay); and, if you crunch the numbers, the party to mostly defeat a group of enemies and hazards that on paper had a budget of 575 xp (for reference an extreme encounter for 3 characters is 120 xp) and then defeated a 140 xp encounter. And the game ran perfectly doing this - it was a fantastic session.
 

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