Pathfinder 2E Stone golems aren't so tough!

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
Last night I ran an encounter in a wizard's tomb with a 12th-level stone golem, two 8th-level infernal stone lions and 4 7th-level Azlanti shadows against 5 11th-level PCs (Fighter, rogue, cleric, wizard and druid). That adds up to 130xp on the "Building Encounters" scale, which should be "severe +". I had heard that golems were super tough foes, but it turned out not to be a very dangerous encounter. The druid almost reached zero hit points, the rogue was at half, but I don't think the fighter got below 2/3 hp. (FWIW, I regularly homebrew creatures to a higher level, to make a better challenge for the PCs, and perhaps I should've gone a little further here.)
Le Golem de Bandolas.png

Sure, that golem soaked up some damage, subtracting 10 from every melee attack, and the spellcasters wasted a bunch of spells before finally, in round 6, the wizard decided to use RK to find out more info about it. The fighter was the real star, with heroism, haste and stoneskin (and his raised shield) he also soaked a lot of damage, and the haste was simply countered with the golem's slow ability.

I've revised my thinking about golems - they may be super tough when encountered at +3 or more over party level, but they are far from invulnerable, especially from a hard-hitting fighter close to their level.

(the four shadows aren't on this map because they appeared a round later when the rogue opened the crypt on the left and found the golem-killing weapon... which they never used.)
 

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Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
I should hasten to point out that in PF2 it's really easy to "adjust" monsters to a higher level (or CR in DD3.5/PF1 parlance). I just look up each statistic according to its original level on the "building creatures" tables, then find the corresponding value for the target level on that same table. If I'm raising a creature more than a level or two, I'll then look for some cool or appropriate feat or power to add to the stat block, and if it's a spellcaster, I'll add on appropriate spells for the new level.

This, coupled with the design parameters of the "building encounters" chart, gives me a good idea of what the party can handle, without slipping into TPK territory.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
So, the stone golem should have gone over to the wall and destroyed a pillar or two, damaging nearby PCs and adding some difficult terrain in there?
 

I suspect that you're right, part of the reason it was easier than you expected was that as a +1 relative to the party, the golem wasn't hitting quite as hard as other people using it at a somewhat lower level, which sounds obvious, but specifically the resistance is probably magnified by hitting less often and by how relatively desperate you are to end it when its doing +3 tier damage to a party.

I assume that at level 12 you went with 32 AC as a level step up along the moderate AC column?
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
So your PCs lost resource to a monster of about equal level? Sounds like its doing what its suppose to do really
 

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
I suspect that you're right, part of the reason it was easier than you expected was that as a +1 relative to the party, the golem wasn't hitting quite as hard as other people using it at a somewhat lower level, which sounds obvious, but specifically the resistance is probably magnified by hitting less often and by how relatively desperate you are to end it when its doing +3 tier damage to a party.

I assume that at level 12 you went with 32 AC as a level step up along the moderate AC column?
Yes, since the stone golem was only raised one level (11 to 12) I sumply clicked on the "elite" button on Aon and used those numbers.
It was a good fight, but I'd heard so many comments on how tough golems could be - probably based on golem fights from APs where they are level +3 or +4 foes. So there's that.

Tonguez, you're absolutely right, the system was working as expected. As I said before, the total encounter was 130xp, or just over the "severe" encounter guildelines, so the system expects the PCs to be successful. Note that I didn't include the nearby bottomless pit trap in these calculations, since it wasn't really a factor in the fight. But it should have been. I should have used the golem to push a couple PCs into the pit. They would've been able to fly out, but precious rounds would have been lost, with the other PCs fighting down a man or two. And as GMMichael pointed out, I could have added additional environmental hazards to the mix, with the golem's antics bringing down part of the roof on them. Food for thought, for a future fight.
 

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