This was a pretty good session, and one that really highlights how gameplay changes as PCs’ level increases. The acquisition of the Fly spell allows them to bypass all the defenses leading into the mansion and just head straight for the laboratory, turning an above-ground mini-dungeon crawl into a lightning raid. There’s also the jump to escape from the mansion at the end. To normal people, a 40 ft. jump means serious injury, and possibly death. To 8th level Pathfinder characters, it’s 4d6 points of damage, which they can easily handle. An analogy I like to use is that at low level D&D/Pathfinder characters are standard action heroes: they may know a trick or two, maybe have some special skills, but they’re still basically human-level. Think Indiana Jones. By the time they hit 8th-9th level, they’ve become superheroes, capable of feats that are completely impossible for humans, like shrugging off a 40 ft. fall. Once their levels get in the teens they’re basically demigods, and it’s hard to find parallels in popular culture. Maybe the most powerful superheroes, like Professor X or Superman? Or maybe you just have to go straight to ancient mythology to find the equivalent.
At any rate, I think that a lot of complaining you hear about how hard it is to run high level games comes from this radical shift in genre that occurs as the characters level up. You can start with a relatively gritty action hero campaign and within a dozen sessions find you’re dealing with the fantasy version of the X-Men, which can catch a lot of GMs off guard. We’ll see how I do as these guys get more and more powerful.