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I'm new to Pathfinder and started it with my group on roll20 due to Corona. I have decade long gm experience in in games like DSA (Das Schwarze Auge) and Shadowrun but not for Dungeon Crawlers.

Long story short: We are playing the Fall of Plaguestone module and my group (Rogue, Wizard, Paladin and Priest) needed hard intervention from my part as not to die on multiple encounters. Since I still need to get a feel for the difficulty I'm not changing anything from the module and play it by the letter.

The group nearly died by: (contains spoilers)

The bear guarding the medicine bushes in Plaguestone, the wolfs in the tree-root-cave (no ranged attacks possible), the battle against the animals & minders at the pen (because of unlucky dice) and the fight against the blood-slime.

Enemies are totally able to one-hit my players with a critical hit and I feel the only reason they survive at all are the mighty resurrection possibilities of the priest (the 3 action heal). I'm looking for advice how to make the adventure more fun by not obviously saving my group, but also for other opinions on how difficult that module is.

The priest and the paladin are level 2, the others level 1. The others will level up after the next encounter as there is only a small XP difference.

Cleric AC 17, HP 24
Paladin AC 18, HP 32
Rogue AC 18, HP 18
Wizard AC 18, HP 12

I feel like the group struggles as a whole but the rogue is the weakest member in battle. The last fight (against the blood slime) was a total loss that had nothing to do with crits. In other fights I would say the crits are the problem but I'm not saying the dice are against my players.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The priest and the paladin are lvl 2, the others lvl 1. I feel like the group struggles as a whole but the rogue is the weakest member in battle. The last fight (against the blood slime) was a total loss that had nothing to do with crits, in other fights I would say the crits are the problem but I'm not saying the dice are against my players. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Rasim Jul 2 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ How did the difference in XP happen? The game explicitly says that the group should be on the same level if you don't make any adjustments to the difficulty. \$\endgroup\$ – Patta Jul 3 at 5:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Szega sorry, sorcerer was a translation error by me, it is a mage (or wizard?) actually. He has Dex 3 and the magic armour spell. The paladin is the prebuild Seelah (pathfindercommunity.net/iconic-characters/…). \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Rasim Jul 4 at 15:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, yes, I was confused by that at first, too. Challenges don't show their XP amount, just their level, and the XP depends on the level now. Feel free to write that as an answer, even if it's to your own question :) \$\endgroup\$ – Patta Jul 15 at 6:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that Fall of Plaguestone is harder than average - the number of severe encounters is high. Even on Paizo forums, where you would expect experienced players it is recognised as being harder than most adventures. This is probably partly due to it being written while they were still developing PF2, but also the author, Jason Bulmahn is known for writing harder than average scenarios. \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Jul 16 at 10:42
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After following the comments and re-reading the GM part in the rule book I came to the following two mayor problems:

  1. The game module "Fall of Plaguestone" doesn't list all the XP due, but only bonus XP for certain objectives. To keep the group on the expected level for encounters it is necessary to award the group for overcoming adversaries and hazards (Core Rulebook pg. 507). Andrew Mullen created a handy spreadsheet listing all XP the group would earn in this module. Had I done so, my group would have had a higher level making fights more balanced.

  2. Pathfinder 2e is heavily based on hero points to subsidies role play and to make fights more interesting while also using them to make player characters more hero like. The rule book specifies that the group should start each gaming session with one hero point and each member should earn approximately one more each hour played. (Core Rulebook pg. 507) I gave my group only the one point in the start and at maximum three more each session (so less than 1 per player) which obviously enticed my group to only use them seldomly resulting in a clear disadvantage.

It is also noteworthy, as @Isaac mentioned, that the Fall of Plaguestone is more challenging than other adventures. As a helpful source for GMs that may struggle with this as well, there is a live-play podcast available from "Roll For Combat" that plays the whole module, giving you a feeling how challenging each encounter will be and what you could do wrong.

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