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Plots and Perils of the Pathfinder Society

Monday, October 15, 2012

We launched the Year of the Risen Rune at Gen Con in August and are moving quickly into the heart of the season's metaplots with the release of two new scenarios this month. In past seasons, we've moved from completely unlinked scenarios to short three- or four-part story arcs within a larger array of generally unlinked scenarios and then further into seasonal meta-arcs covering an entire year's worth of scenarios. During Seasons 2 and 3, the Year of the Shadow Lodge and Year of the Ruby Phoenix, respectively, we still released several multipart stories within the larger arcs, each with its own series title. We're not doing that this year, though, not because we think there's necessarily a problem with multipart scenarios, but rather because we wanted to try something else out.

Multipart scenarios have always been big hits for players, who like the continuity between adventures, as well as for event organizers who can schedule a whole arc for a gameday or convention to give a bit more cohesion to their event. But for everyone who has given positive feedback about multipart scenarios there's been another Pathfinder Society member who's expressed frustration with needing to play them in order, leveling out of a series' tier, or release of scenarios being delayed by a month (or more, in some cases).

In response to this, we've set the multipart arc format to the side this season and are trying something new—a high-level and a low-level metaplot tied directly to the season's larger metaplot. These adventures will build upon one another in a way more like a traditional campaign but in a way that they can be played out of order or by different PCs without their internal continuity suffering. But for someone playing them in order and with the same character, a clear through-line and progression from the arc's start to finish will become apparent. In both cases, the adventure that kicks off the metaplot will be releasing this month!

Pathfinders of 1st to 7th levels are going to be doing a lot of scenarios dealing with the Aspis Consortium and firmly establishing the Pathfinder Society as a prominent Varisian organization despite the Consortium's longer presence in the region. This metaplot begins with Pathfinder Society Scenario #4-07: Severing Ties, and will conclude in June in a Tier 3-7 scenario we're tentatively calling Rivalry's End. This metaplot is set to bring at least two villains back from previous seasons, though who they are and what roles they're set to play I'm not yet ready to reveal.

Players with characters in the highest tier of regular Pathfinder Society play will note that every Tier 7-11 scenario released from this month to the end of the season has direct ties to the cult of Lissala, an ancient Thassilonian faith thought lost to time. Over the course of the season, the Pathfinder Society's highest-level field operatives will be sent to investigate the cult, uncover what they're up to, and ultimately face the greatest threat to ever appear in a Pathfinder Society Scenario. We're planting seeds of the final showdown in some of our earliest scenarios of the year, and players who earn special unique rewards will have the chance to use them to make an otherwise epic encounter in July's Tier 7-11 season finale (currently titled The Waking Rune) perhaps a bit more survivable.

What about those PCs who like to adventure in the middle, like Tier 5-9? Well, that's sort of our catchall this season while we put more thematic scenarios into Tiers 1-5, 3-7, and 7-11 and their respective metaplots. Mid-level Pathfinders will get to follow up on a low-level party's discoveries by venturing into a Hellknight citadel, will have the chance to alter the very nature of the Hao Jin Tapestry, and in May, June, and July, take the Pathfinder Society from Varisia into a neighboring nation and from there into Season 5 with an epic discovery!

As the season plays out and folks get a chance to play through these metaplots, please leave your feedback here or on the Pathfinder Society messageboards. Whether you've got a 1st-level neophyte Pathfinder or a seasoned veteran coming up on 10th level, don't miss this month's release of Pathfinder Society Scenario #4-07: Severing Ties and Pathfinder Society Scenario #4-08: The Cultist's Kiss! While you look for a local offering of these events, check out this art to whet your appetite.

Mark Moreland
Developer

Illustrations by Daniel Warren

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Daniel Warren Pathfinder Society
Andoran *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I like this change for this season, as a coordinator it is always difficult to schedule multi-part scenarios where everyone who play one part gets to play the next.

Now let's all guess the 2 returning Villains!!!

Qadira *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Make your own guess before you read the right answer here...:
Kafar & Nefti of course, they got away in boxed text and everyone wants another shot at them.

This should be a popular scenario, provided "evil acts" still aren't too well defined when revenge is served >:)

*** RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I love multipart scenarios. Especially the look on players' faces when they see the BBEG they killed in scenario 1 is back in scenario 4.

Re: <spoiler>.

Spoiler:
I thought we need a The Devil We Know pt 5, Kafar must die. All the faction missions are to kill him in imaginitive ways, then you get to the Silver Crusade.
"Children of the light, you must bring peace and temper justice with mer- I can't say it, just kill the bastard."

:-)

Qadira ***** Venture-Captain, Indiana—Indianapolis aka Red-Assassin

Nice blog.

Taldor ***

Sounds great Mark. Looking forward to running and playing all of these. Guess I should brush up on the lore a bit too.

I will say I do like multipart scenarios but I think keeping them to 2 parts would really help out. This way both parts could be released at once allowing players the ability to play through them without a big gap in the middle where they may level out of the tier or forget what occurred. Also allows a dedicated group to sit down and go through both in 1 day.

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Really? You are going there?....;)

I think it would be better to go the route of finding out that a couple of those NPCs that we all loved to hate that always caused us problems were actually Bad guys plotting together to destroy Absalom from Within, though they have not been linked together in the past now will be the time to bring out their devious plans!

Spoiler:
Yargos Gill & Nigel Aldain!

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Michigan—Alma

Villain Guess:
I'm not sure who the other villain is, but I'm really thinking one will be Pasha Mulia Al-Jahkri. In Storming Diamond Gate, the note you find is signed "Pasha" and the font looks awfully familiar, don't you think?

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Eric:
"Pasha" is a title, so that could be anyone. Heck, there's a local player with a magus who's a Pasha (and the Trade Prince of Katheer).

Qadira *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Dragnmoon wrote:

Really? You are going there?....;)

I think it would be better to go the route of finding out that a couple of those NPCs that we all loved to hate that always caused us problems were actually Bad guys plotting together to destroy Absalom from Within, though they have not been linked together in the past now will be the time to bring out their devious plans!

** spoiler omitted **

More likely it will be the nefarious duo of

Spoiler:
Arcanamirium dunce Maren Fuln and the school janitor Lemedor.
Grand Lodge ***

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One of my guesses is

Spoiler:
Pasha Muhlia Al-Jakri

based on some clues from late in Season 3.

*****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This move should help small convention and game day organizers. I still think there there should be one 2-part series released that are required* to be played back to back and released in the same month. Essentially a double-length scenario that can be split into multiple sessions if needed.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Michigan—Alma

Jiggy wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Jiggy:
I'm quite aware that Pasha is a title. I'm still convinced that Muhlia is the signer of that note.
***** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Carbondale aka Disturbed1

Jiggy wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Jiggy:
While I cant say for certain, as I havent looked at the note carefully, when this clue came to light, I heard it mentioned that the font of the text was the same as the old faction missions she used to sign. Considering at the time in PFS those were handwritten notes, I would think that might be a good indicator that it actually is her.

She's got my vote as well coincidently, as well as someone else, though I wont be giving that one away. At least for now.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Spoiler:
Ah, okay, from the way Eric originally stated his guess I thought he was mostly going from "Pasha". My bad.

Taldor ***

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Spoiler:
Red Herring, its just gotta be him

***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

How many high tier adventures will you need to have completed to be best prepared for the final high tier adventure of this season? I ask because I have a level 10 character (with already one scenario under his belt at level 10) and before we schedule any high tier scenarios from earlier seasons I wanted to check whether we should instead schedule all of the high tier scenarios from this season if we want to have the best possible outcome from playing the final high tier scenario of this season... (I'd hate to get all of the boons but then be too high of a level to actually use them - i.e. to level up to 12 too quickly...

(I guess alternatively I could go onto the slow progression path but would like to know if that is necessary...)

Andoran **** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Cape Girardeau aka Arnim Thayer

All I can say is WOW! I am excited to see how this plays out!

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka CRobledo

3 people marked this as a favorite.

The real question we should worry about is...

First Steps 2:
Will I get to use my Way of the Kirin letter???


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Michael VonHasseln wrote:

All I can say is WOW! I am excited to see how this plays out!

Same here!

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Carbondale aka Disturbed1

Supa-psyched about this, Makes me want to read the intro and conclusion of all the scenarios to get the story. :P

*

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I thought the Highest PFS Tier was...Tier 12? and yet we're no closer to getting a second 'retirement' arc.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Chernobyl wrote:

I thought the Highest PFS Tier was...Tier 12? and yet we're no closer to getting a second 'retirement' arc.

When we have more tables reported, we will look at a second retirement arc. However, when reported numbers show that one or two parts of the Eyes of Ten have been reported as played less than 30 times, it just isn't going to happen at this time.

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Michael Brock wrote:
When we have more tables reported, we will look at a second retirement arc. However, when reported numbers show that one or two parts of the Eyes of Ten have been reported as played less than 30 times, it just isn't going to happen at this time.

wow, that is the first time I have seen numbers thrown around with that...

That is extremely low and surprising.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Maybe if someone besides Kyle ran it, more people would finish the arc? ;)

Silver Crusade *

Mike, if we can play scantioned modules above
12th level why do we need to play in eys of the Ten retierment arc?

Would you and James consider put out one 64 page Module for PFS per year that is 12th level+. The 12th + characters could be agents of on of the members of the Decemviate. I'm sure they have things they need to have done in galorian the can't trust to run of the mill Pathfinders.

Taldor ***

Dragnmoon wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
When we have more tables reported, we will look at a second retirement arc. However, when reported numbers show that one or two parts of the Eyes of Ten have been reported as played less than 30 times, it just isn't going to happen at this time.

wow, that is the first time I have seen numbers thrown around with that...

That is extremely low and surprising.

Its actually rather hard to schedule this when you only have a few level 12s in your area. Need to get more players to this point then some thought can be put into another retirement arc.

I would like to see a new intro arc, or maybe even an intro module, that takes a players right to level 2 before another retirement arc.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Lou Diamond wrote:

Mike, if we can play scantioned modules above

12th level why do we need to play in eys of the Ten retierment arc?

I assume Mike also has stats on how many tables of 'the Ruby Phoenix Tournament' and 'Academy of Secrets' have been run too, so has a good idea of how many PFS PCs there are above 12th level.

Quote:
Would you and James consider put out one 64 page Module for PFS per year that is 12th level+. The 12th + characters could be agents of on of the members of the Decemviate. I'm sure they have things they need to have done in galorian the can't trust to run of the mill Pathfinders.

I think the point is that with the numbers seen from the reporting, it doesn't look like the demand for such a thing is there.

***

I started playing PFS towards the end of last season. I'm excited to now be able to play (er...GM, most likely) through a whole season as it happens. Season 4 looks like its shaping up to be lots of fun. Wish Ekkie could make another appearance. :-)

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Lou Diamond wrote:

Mike, if we can play scantioned modules above

12th level why do we need to play in eys of the Ten retierment arc?

You don't need to. But when a scenario has been around for 2-3 years, and at least a year before any of those high level modules were opened, and still have in the 20s or 30s reported, it is hard to justify the time and effort to produce a high level scenario when it will only get the play of 10-15 tables in one full calendar year.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka CRobledo

We are about to add 2 more to that number in GA. We are trying our best :(

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CRobledo wrote:
We are about to add 2 more to that number in GA. We are trying our best :(

Tell Kyle and Nani to stop killing everyone!

Cheliax ***** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Columbia aka kikai13

I know who the two bad guys coming back are!

Spoiler:
Lenny and Squiggy!

And, FWIW, I really like that there is an overarching story this season without smaller arcs. This should be really easy and fun to run.

Cheliax *

As one of those people that have played the retirement arc recently, it is well worth making an effort to get people to the point where you can run it.

Taldor *

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

How does one tell which of the Year 4 modules are the Low Level and which are the High Level arc? I cannot see it in the descriptions.

Many thanks

J

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Fleanetha, that's a great question.

The descriptions of each scenario tell you what tier it's intended for. For example, the description for "4-14: My Enemy's Enemy" begins "A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7". So that would be low-level.

Taldor *

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Many thanks Chris for the prompt response. Not quite there yet though - I'll explain a bit more. My understanding from this blog post is that Year 4 mods from #4-07 onwards are in 3 groups:

1. a High Level Lissala arc

2. a Low Level Aspis Consortium arc

3. Other mods not associated with either arc

Allocating the mods to these three groups is baffling me currently, for instance, not all Tier 7-11 mods seem to be Lissala associated (#4-12). Not all 1-5 / 3-7 seem to be Aspis connected (#4-09, #4-11, #4-14, #4-15). I cannot find a categoric list of which mod falls into which group.

Hope that explains my conundrum more clearly.

J

Qadira ****

Check the symbol in the upper-left corner of the front cover. Red "Gylph of the Open Road" is the low-level arc; Sihedron rune is the Lissala high-level arc; no symbol is no arc.

Taldor *

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Thank you Scott, but that cannot be right I'm afraid; though it begs the very interesting question of what those symbols mean and why they are placed on the mods they are. Those symbols all appear on mods earlier than the start of the 2 arcs. It looks like a design change was effected for #4-05 onwards and those symbols were dropped along with a red stripe down the left hand side.

Still baffled then.

I did look more closely at the mod covers though based on Scott's idea and on #4-08, #4-10 and #4-12 (all tier 7-11) there is a banner over the title labelled 'Year of the Risen Rune' - is that to indicate High Tier arc, though the summary of 4-12 does not mention Lissala at all?

J

Cheliax ***

Fleanetha wrote:
I did look more closely at the mod covers though based on Scott's idea and on #4-08, #4-10 and #4-12 (all tier 7-11) there is a banner over the title labelled 'Year of the Risen Rune' - is that to indicate High Tier arc, though the summary of 4-12 does not mention Lissala at all?

The seven blade "sihedron" rune next to the Year of the Risen Rune is Lissala's symbol. Those three are all Lissala scenarios.

EDIT: and I am pretty sure the Risen Rune arc is larger than just Lissala. Wrath's Shadow is related.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Fleanetha wrote:

Many thanks Chris for the prompt response. Not quite there yet though - I'll explain a bit more. My understanding from this blog post is that Year 4 mods from #4-07 onwards are in 3 groups:

1. a High Level Lissala arc

2. a Low Level Aspis Consortium arc

3. Other mods not associated with either arc

The scenarios that fall into each category are:

1. Race for the Runecarved Key*, 4–02*, 4–08, 4–10, 4–12, 4–20, 4–26

2. 4–03*, 4–06*, 4–07, 4–14, 4–17*, 4–23

3. All the rest.

* indicates scenarios that can be used in the given arc but aren't directly tied to the ongoing metaplot.

Additionally, folks will find that scenarios 4–09, 4–11, 4–13, and 4–EX are related to one another, as are 4–22, 4-24, and 4–25 (which are the mid/low-level season end series leading right into Season 5.)

Now that all scenarios for the rest of the season have been announced and have product pages, it should be possible to plan when to run these to maximize continuity for your player base.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Mark Moreland wrote:
Now that all scenarios for the rest of the season have been announced and have product pages, it should be possible to plan when to run these to maximize continuity for your player base.

Assuming release dates don't change. Can we count on them remaining as-is for the rest of the year (the final Wednesday of any given month)?

Paizo Employee ** Developer

As far as I know, but Jessica is a better person to ask. I'll point her this way.

(The only exception to that statement is that I am fairly sure we'll be holding the June scenarios to release at PaizoCon instead of a week earlier. But the July and June scenarios should all be available at the same time that first weekend in July.)

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:

As far as I know, but Jessica is a better person to ask. I'll point her this way.

(The only exception to that statement is that I am fairly sure we'll be holding the June scenarios to release at PaizoCon instead of a week earlier. But the July and June scenarios should all be available at the same time that first weekend in July.)

So by your statement here, the July AND June scenarios will be available by the time PaizoCon opens it's doors?

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Assuming everything is handled the way it was last year, yes, we will put the scenarios up for sale on paizo.com at the same time as attendees at PaizoCon can first play them. There may be some delay in that in terms of time of day, but that's a question for the web store team (Liz).

Taldor *

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Thanks Mark for the clarification - very useful

J

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
Assuming everything is handled the way it was last year, yes, we will put the scenarios up for sale on paizo.com at the same time as attendees at PaizoCon can first play them. There may be some delay in that in terms of time of day, but that's a question for the web store team (Liz).

WOOT! Awesome to hear! You guys ROCK! Especially since I will be there at PaizoCon to play them! :D

Paizo Employee Project Manager

Drogon wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
Now that all scenarios for the rest of the season have been announced and have product pages, it should be possible to plan when to run these to maximize continuity for your player base.
Assuming release dates don't change. Can we count on them remaining as-is for the rest of the year (the final Wednesday of any given month)?

Generally speaking, yes. For the foreseeable future, the release dates will be the final Wednesday of the month.

The ones for this month are likely to be a few days late -- we've had several large, high-priority projects hit simultaneously that are using 100% (actually, more like 125%) of our edit capacity, so everything else is waiting for the editors to become available again.

Paizo Employee * Webstore Gninja Minion

Mark Moreland wrote:
Assuming everything is handled the way it was last year, yes, we will put the scenarios up for sale on paizo.com at the same time as attendees at PaizoCon can first play them. There may be some delay in that in terms of time of day, but that's a question for the web store team (Liz).

Ohai! Just give us the time and day, and it will be done. :D

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Jessica Price wrote:
Drogon wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
Now that all scenarios for the rest of the season have been announced and have product pages, it should be possible to plan when to run these to maximize continuity for your player base.
Assuming release dates don't change. Can we count on them remaining as-is for the rest of the year (the final Wednesday of any given month)?

Generally speaking, yes. For the foreseeable future, the release dates will be the final Wednesday of the month.

The ones for this month are likely to be a few days late -- we've had several large, high-priority projects hit simultaneously that are using 100% (actually, more like 125%) of our edit capacity, so everything else is waiting for the editors to become available again.

No offense, guys, but this is what I'm talking about. I've been nailed twice in the last six months with late releases due to higher priority stuff taking up your time. Once I was given a single day to prep a scenario that should have been released two weeks prior (Golemworks). The other was when we scheduled a scenario for a convention in February based on a date listed by you guys in October (Day of the Demon - apparently the January release date listed was for 2014, which seems odd). We put it on the schedule for Genghis Con based on that January date, but then got the rug yanked out from under us because the scenario won't release for another 10 days after the convention. Sadly, we have no ability to change our event listing (the book was published in November), so we simply have to disappoint a legion of PFS players come Feb 14-17.

This month, I'm assuming, is due to the Kickstarter being funded and you all having to shoulder that work. C'est la'vie.

I will continue to be careful with my scheduling. Thanks for the warning.

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