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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Oct 2015

    Default Re: [Dreamscarred Press] New Playtest: the Voyager, a psionic skirmisher!

    There is not much point in talking more about a voyager's noncombat capacities apart from "they are very good skill monkeys due to Intelligence as a key ability score, 6 + Intelligence skill point, (admittedly noncombat-restricted) bardic knowledge, and accomplished accomplice." Most of my voyager playtest sessions involve the characters skill monkeying around. The clarification for using Stealth with afterimages has cleared up matters a great deal, at the very least. I do have to say that trap foresight has proven rather unsatisfying throughout the entire campaign so far; we have come across many Disable Device checks wherein regular old trapfinding would have been preferrable, due to trap foresight being completely incompatible with taking 10 and taking 20.

    The following battle reports all share the same combat parameters:

    Party: Melee voyager (metronome), ranged voyager (crossfire, metronome), 10th-level

    Buffs on the Party: 10-point defensive precognition, 9-point inertial armor, 9-point metamorphosis (two less size categories, natural armor, flight), 7-point slip the bonds, 5-point metaphysical weapon on both weapons, 3-point concealing amorpha, 1-point force screen, and, in the case of the melee voyager, 10-point offensive precognition

    The first two combats took place during the same adventuring day, with mere minutes between them. The third combat belonged to a separate adventuring day, and a fourth combat is soon to follow just minutes later.

    All three of these combats involved CR 20 to 22 opponents played to the best of my ability as a GM. It became very clear that even without the cheese that is form astral suit, and even without the psionic-power-sharing mechanic, a 10th-level half-manifester can hemorrhage power points to bloat their numbers to ridiculous heights. Metamorphosis, acquired via Expanded Knowledge as a bonus feat, was by far the biggest offender here, due to the benefits of shrinking a Small character down to Diminutive. The party had AC 51 with boots of speed and temporal duelist active, which was rather ridiculous.

    Battle Against the Buffed Tor Linnorm:
    Enemy: One supposedly CR 21 tor linnorm. This one was stronger than usual: it had a +4 enhancement bonus to Strength, Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma, and its breath weapon had no recharge time and never affected itself. I suppose that effectively made it CR 22 or so. The tor linnorm also had Symbol of Mercy as a bonus feat, for all intents and purposes.

    Starting Terrain and Positions

    Terrain Gimmick: Starting and/or ending one's turn over the "profane lava" squares dealt 30 damage, which ignored fire resistance, but not fire immunity.

    Intended Difficulty: Easy.

    Initiative Results: The melee voyager, then the tor linnorm, then the ranged voyager.

    Battle Duration: 8 rounds.

    Power Points Expended: The melee voyager spent 6 power points on two uses of sidestep.

    Notes on the Actual Combat: All throughout the battle, it was trivial for the voyagers to avoid the "profane lava" squares, because they could move, perform an augmented attack, and then use augmented attack to bounce back to a square over one of the safe islands. It was likewise easy for them to avoid the "Fortitude save or spend the round choking and coughing" effect, even if they started their turn within a cloud of smoke, because as metronomes, they could simply use rewind to teleport away immediately before their actual turn started. Touchsight made the smoke a non-issue. The voyagers were hard counters for the tor linnorm, for all intents and purposes.

    Unfortunately, the ranged voyager was able to take only one actual turn. Due to temporal duelist, they could fail the DC 35 Reflex saving throw against the tor linnorm's breath weapon only on a natural 1. As fate would have it, during the second round, they rolled a natural 1 on their Reflex saving throw against 24d8+2 fire damage, a rare moment wherein improved evasion would have actually been useful. The ranged voyager was placed under the equivalent of a Symbol of Mercy.

    The melee voyager had to solo the buffed tor linnorm throughout the rest of the battle. The tor linnorm ditched the breath weapon and attempted an Improved Vital Strike against the melee voyager, but had a terribly hard time hitting due to bloated AC and temporal duelist. The tor linnorm switched to Power Attacking Awesome Blow, which I ruled to be a weapon-based combat maneuver (and thus an attack) for the purposes of sidestep. Power Attacking Awesome Blow missed only on a natural 1, but temporal duelist forced a natural 1 at one point anyway, and concealing amorpha likewise forced a miss even despite Blind-Fight. The melee voyager absorbed the rest of the Awesome Blows with two sidesteps and their natural hit points before finally finishing off the tor linnorm.

    The melee voyager mostly used accomplished accomplish to boost their attack bonus against the tor linnorm, foreshadow to avoid attacks of opportunity, and the occasional rewind to escape the breath weapon's area of effect.


    Battle Against the Rajadhiraja:

    Enemy: One supposedly CR 22 rakshasa rajadhiraja. This was a stock CR 20 maharaja rakshasa with the default list of spells known, plus the agile and advanced templates. The way I ruled the agile template gave the maharaja a whopping four turns per round, although two of those turns offered only standard actions with no move actions or swift actions. The rajadhiraja also had a nodachi in place of a falchion, and effectively had Symbol of Mercy as a bonus feat.

    Starting Terrain and Positions

    Terrain Gimmick #1: The "blood waterfall" to the side granted total concealment to anyone inside it. However, it was so gross that anyone who started or ended their turn in it was sickened until the end of their next turn.

    Terrain Gimmick #2: The blood on the floor was, for all intents and purposes, simply difficult terrain that could be circumvented by Acrobatics-based bunny-hopping.

    Terrain Gimmick #3: The bone spurs were effectively ceiling-height pillars that granted total cover.

    Intended Difficulty: Extremely hard. This is by far the most difficult battle they have faced so far. I projected a very low chance of them winning this one. If they had lost, I would have spared them, let them skill monkey around in a noncombat sequence, and allowed them to remove the rajadhiraja's agile template before trying again in a rematch. Nevertheless, they pulled through.

    Initiative Results: The rajadhiraja's four turns, and then the voyagers.

    Battle Duration: 6 rounds.

    Power Points Expended: The ranged voyager spent 5 power points on a power channel to reapply a metamorphosis for flight, while the melee voyager spent 3 power points on a sidestep to avoid a critical hit.

    Notes on the Actual Combat: The party had no access to good-aligned weapons, unfortunately, and the rajadhiraja was already buffed with true seeing and mage armor. Fortunately for the party, the rajadhiraja had no means of actually viewing the party's buffs, aside from the obvious metamorphosis and the true-seeing-perceived inertial armor.

    During the first two rounds, the rajadhiraja did nothing but spam baleful polymorph and quickened baleful polymorph (apparently, this was a rules mistake from me as a GM, since a character can use only one Quickened spell per round). Fortunately, the characters had been investing in magic items to shore up their poor Fortitude saves; this and defensive precognition helped them completely luck out and come out of this cheesy volley unscathed. It was only afterwards that the rajadhiraja opted for the tactic of using greater dispel magic, Quickened vampiric touch, and full attacks.

    The party managed to reapply buffs The party stayed 35+ feet from one another at all times to avoid weird. The used augmented attack's dash function to bounce into the "blood waterfall" and gain total concealment against the rajadhiraja as needed, effectively splitting up its fire, even if it did sicken one voyager at a time. For their parallel actions, all they did was spam accomplished accomplish to rig attack rolls, and rewind for better positioning. There were also a couple of desperate uses of pause hoping for a natural 1, and one of them actually did work; that was when we discovered the potential for metronomes to cheese the duration of pause simply by having allies use "delay."

    The rajadhiraja's obnoxiously high regular AC and damage reduction 20 had proven problematic for the melee voyager, all the more so when the rajadhiraja started flying out of the metamorphosis-dispelled melee voyager's reach. The melee voyager solved this by using boots of speed to help with high jumps, and by spending standard actions on "throw splash weapon" with alchemist's fire rather than augmented attacks. Although this did not come with the benefits of blink, it did land attacks against touch AC while benefiting from momentum's accuracy and damage increases.

    Temporal duelist was certainly a life-saver here. It helped deflect many of the rajadhiraja's Quickened vampiric touches and caused a few misses on its full attacks.

    The rajadhiraja placed the ranged voyager in a Symbol of Mercy by the seventh round, but the melee voyager finished off the rajadhiraja with her third flask of alchemist's fire by the eighth round.


    Battle Against the Advanced Zarxorin:

    Enemy: One supposedly CR 19 zarxorin, upgraded to CR 20 with the advanced template.

    Starting Terrain and Positions

    Terrain Gimmick #1: The zarxorin used its freeze (ex) ability to take 20 on its Stealth check and thus earned a surprise round as it popped up right underneath the PCs.

    Terrain Gimmick #2: This was an underground forest, so the ceiling height never allowed for flying above the zarxorin's reach.

    Terrain Gimmick #3: Although the "supernaturally dense forest" spaces could not be moved into, the characters could move behind the rocks for regular cover, granting +4 AC and +2 Reflex.

    Intended Difficulty: Hard.

    Initiative Results: One surprise round in which the advanced zarxorin acted. Afterwards, the advanced zarxorin, and then the voyagers.

    Battle Duration: One surprise round, and then 4 regular rounds.

    Power Points Expended: None.

    Notes on the Actual Combat: This was a rather luck-dependent battle. The advanced zarxorin spammed menhir focus pool (su) every round to force 20d6+2 electricity damage (Reflex DC 42 halves), with 1d6 rounds of slowing for anyone who took the damage. The voyagers succeeded on every single Reflex save due to their buffs, such as metamorphosis for Diminutive size and defensive precognition, due to their momentum increasing Reflex, and due to temporal duelist cranking up their Reflex even further.

    The voyagers spammed accomplished accomplice to raise the melee voyager's attack bonus against the AC 38 advanced zarxorin, foreshadow to gain breathing room against its 30-foot reach, and occasionally, rewind to get into a better position. The voyagers' judicious usage of augmented attack resulted in them ending every one of their turns behind cover for +2 Reflex, and also more 40+ feet away from the advanced zarxorin. This way, it was impossible for the zarxorin to both attack and blast lightning (except during the start of the battle), because the voyagers were simply out of reach.

    The ranged voyager provoked attacks of opportunity with each of their shots, but fortunately, concealing amorpha, many AC-raising buffs, and temporal duelist bloated their defenses high enough that the advanced zarxorin's attacks of opportunity simply did not cut it. The enemy was not smart enough to go for disarms or sunders either.

    This was a great showcase in just how well voyagers can exploit simple cover and regular-movement-speed enemies.
    Last edited by EarthSeraphEdna; 2018-01-29 at 04:21 AM.