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I have a few questions about the campaign. We are all new to the game (including GM) and never played D&D or Pathfinder before, so I'm afraid something is not going quite right.

The party consists of half-orc Ranger (pure shooter, dumped Int, so no skills), Cleric dwarf (aims for Loremaster, so a lot of Knowledge) and Hunter gnome with dinosaur friend (some Knowledge too + battle skills like Ride).

  1. I'm afraid we are losing on something. Our party has only 3 people, so we are lacking Skill Monkey and Face. We fail a lot of checks frequently (sometimes even Knowledge ones). For example GM already told us, that he tries to eliminate Mechanic checks, as the party doesn't have skill points in it. The number of skills, that are not covered, makes me think that we will completely miss some parts of adventure, because of being totally unqualified.

  2. Is the start of Rise of the Runelords supposed to be that low on gold? At the start of our level 3 (right after the fight in the glassworks) we had only about 200g per character (average wealth for this level is 3000g, as I understand). We proceeded into the catacombs and the flying-invisible bastard almost massacred us. At the end we grappled and pinned her, but bypassing DR 5 and fast healing took so long that she managed to escape a few times. At the end it seemed to me that we won only because the GM let us. Smart control of the monsters during that 5-hour fight would definitely have led to a TPK.

Finally, our dwarf got kissed by a vargouille, so now it might be the end for him.

The GM says, that he follows the book strictly, but it seems to me, that he has some problems with the CR rules and "reward for scene" rule. Also, in his words, "your dinosaur is so strong, that you are basically a party of 4".

Am I being paranoid, and the campaign is running normally?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you clarify what you mean by having 200g? Is that 200g on hand or gained since character creation (IE including equipment you've bought)? Are you accounting for selling equipment that you find on enemies? \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Mar 12 '20 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right now we have about 200-300g per character on hands, but we didn't buy any gear since the start (when we created our chars). We found most of this gold in the glassworks and didn't have time to go shopping, because we were thinking that we were still on the clock. \$\endgroup\$ – Nikok Mar 12 '20 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ And yes, we sold everything we found on dead goblins, with exception for some weapons that were useful to us (mainly, to get different types of damage). \$\endgroup\$ – Nikok Mar 12 '20 at 19:46
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Pathfinder adventure paths can be unforgiving for an unprepared party.

I've played through and GM'd several prewritten Pathfinder 1e adventure paths, including Rise of the Runelords. These adventures have certain patterns that may be clashing with what you expected from your first time adventure.

  • Adventure paths expect a 4 character party, accommodating up to 6 before the balance gets weird. If the party is too small, or otherwise doesn't cover all the typical D&D roles (warrior, skillmonkey, arcane caster, divine caster), then the characters may struggle to keep up with the adventure's challenges.

  • Even if you include the sum value of your weapons, armor, consumables, and other gear, player characters won't have as much money as listed in the wealth by level table.

  • Significant items or events may be determined by single skill checks, such as Perception to find a valuable magical item, or Knowledge to follow an important clue. Failing these checks can mean missing out on treasure or not knowing where to go next.

  • The story is (almost) never focused on the player characters. This means that the adventure's plot can continue even if any/all of the player characters die (and get replaced).

These issues are aplenty in Rise of the Runelords in particular, which was originally designed for D&D 3.5e. The adventure is combat-heavy and can be absolutely brutal. The first two books (Burnt Offerings, The Skinsaw Murders) feature a nice variety of RP and investigation gameplay, but afterward it is mostly combat and dungeoneering. Also, there are also many points in the adventure where the writers assume the party has a prepared arcane caster (such as wizard or witch).

As per your wealth situation, there's not much treasure early on, as most encounters involve goblins. Some enemies have magic weapons, which you can't get if they escape. The book expects the heroes to explore Sandpoint and interact with NPCs, some of whom can pay for assistance. 200gp seems low, so maybe you missed some opportunities, but not by much.

So yes, technically, what you're experiencing is the normal adventure, but it may not be geared for your particular party. You are new players and your characters probably don't meet all the mechanical expectations. While an animal companion is relatively powerful at low levels, it does not contribute as much as a full character with class levels. Considering that your party is possibly unsuited for this adventure's intended difficulty, you may want to discuss with your GM about rebalancing the challenges.

You could also discuss changing to a different adventure. Each book of Rise of the Runelords has a mostly unrelated plot (until book 5 when the "Runelords" are introduced) so changing adventures would not break your game's current story. Compared to Rise of the Runelords, which was Paizo's first published adventure path, many of the later adventures are significantly more flexible, and can better accommodate an inexperienced or undersized party.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As a GM running his first AP, I can tell you that at first it feels daunting to question the words that Paizo put in the book but it is actually very easy to re-balance things on the fly. The easiest thing is reducing number of enemies or their HP values. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Mar 12 '20 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I asked OP about their comment on wealth, and you may want to readdress it in your answer. I'm not familiar with the books to know if there is light loot early or if there is missable pickups (such as a +1 weapon hidden under a floor, say), but it seems that they're level 3 with 200g wealth gained each. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Mar 12 '20 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso I looked through book 1, up to the Catacombs of Wrath (the OP's current progress, based on their question). Aside from basic goblin weaponry, I counted 3 enemy NPCs with magic weapons, and very few treasures. There are some scrolls in the Catacombs that can be sold. So 200gp x 3 PCs is not unexpected at this point. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Mar 12 '20 at 21:56

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