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Stone Giant

Doug Miles's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber. FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit. 1,666 posts (2,405 including aliases). 57 reviews. 1 list. No wishlists. 19 Pathfinder Society characters. 1 alias.



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Disjointed

***( )( )

Running any scenario for the first time is a learning experience. This entire scenario felt wrong right out of the gate. Too many times in the scenario I had to interrupt the game to explain the contrived mechanics created to move the plot along, or what the author actually intended the PCs to do in this situation. The motives of the NPCs were vague and illogical. The experience on my side of the screen felt disjointed. The battles were boring to run.

First Act:
The CRs for the first encounter should have been cranked up higher because the PCs aren't taking the full brunt of things. The corridors are cramped, and the [redacted]'s aura stops PCs in their tracks making the bottleneck even worse. Good luck making 4 successful DC 18 Fort saves when you step over the threshold. Enjoy sitting there as the GM rolls attack and damage dice for 10 individual creatures every round.

In its defense, the scenario oozes flavor for the Jeweled Sages arc--but falls short of allowing the players to make any real revelations. "Outside the scope of the scenario" makes players into sad pandas. Finally, the complexity of the final encounter was not fun to explain--you literally have to stop the action and describe how a little paperclip appears next to a PC's head and says, "Hi! It looks like you're trying to avoid a disastrous situation. Would you like me to activate the tutorial program?" I don't know if the players enjoyed themselves, but I felt like they had no chance of succeeding unless the mechanics were laid bare. It was too much to forgive in a scenario.


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Why should I care about any of this?

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I have played & GMed this scenario. It is apparent from the beginning that it has the narrowest of relevance to most PFS members. This is a scenario for your social PC, not your combat monkey. A new player is going to be left wondering "Why should I care about any of this?". A GM is going to have a hard time keeping the players engaged at the table. Last night was 3.5 hours of talking before we ever rolled initiative. After the first combat encounter the plot becomes silly. The players know what's up, but the contrived plot tries to turn them away from an early conclusion. The GM either improvises or asks the players "This is what you are expected to do, can you just play along?" It seems like the author believes the players are all mind-readers who inherently know which direction the scenario wants them to leap toward.

If PFS is going to develop these types of scenarios in the future, then it needs to create player handouts with pictures of the NPCs with a brief profile OR give permission for users to create and share resources with images from the scenario on sites like GM Shared Prep. There are 8 key NPCs in this scenario, all with foreign names that are easy for players to mix up.


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Two wrong feet & ugly shoes

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In the author's defense, this module was a great idea as a concept. I don't think Rob McCreary was the one who built the pre-gens that were included with it. They were badly matched against the encounters, which created a lot of heartache. If you play this adventure, steer clear of the pre-gens.

I'll echo the sentiments of other reviewers to say this was a poor execution of a product intended to introduce the novice gamer to the Pathfinder RPG. Two encounters in particular are responsible for this fiasco. They are overwhelming, making the beginning and the conclusion of the module contentious.

On the flipside, there are also encounters that are a trivial challenge and only serve to drag out the game. Likewise, the traps that are included are a small threat to the PCs and do not command much attention. I would have enjoyed more deadly & devious traps and fewer combat encounters.

I look forward to GMing this module again, but I think Paizo missed the mark on this one. Free RPG Day is about putting your best foot forward, and this module has two wrong feet and ugly shoes.


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A Missed Opportunity

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If I felt let down by the misleading title of this scenario, it pales in comparison to my disappointment with the plot. The Chronicle sheet didn’t get much love either. There are positive things about the scenario, if the GM is willing to polish it up. There are some role-play moments you don’t often see in PFS, and players have opportunities for outside-the-box problem solving. The scenario won’t deliver any of it without a GM who can provoke it from the players, however. If the GM is uninspired then success will come down to either some lucky die rolls or having the right skill pumped. This is an adventure for your social characters, not your combat-optimized fighter. The plot takes too much for granted and spoon-feeds the clues to the players. The setting is unremarkable, as are the combat encounters. I haven’t seen The Stranger Within (April’s other new release) yet but I hope it got the love that The Horn of Aroden did not.


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If you liked 'Rescue at Azlant Ridge', this is your scenario

****( )

I've run this three times now and I think I figured it out. It would be difficult to run cold, so make sure you have time to read it through and get the tempo right. The PCs are sent into a mysterious tower inside the Worldwound with effectively no clue what to expect. Each room they investigate reveals another piece of the puzzle, but the clock is ticking. The scenario is a great fit for Season 5, which means if you don't play it soon it will make about as much sense as the Shadow Lodge scenarios from Season 2 do now. One thing that I like is the opponents allow the GM a lot of leeway to push the PCs further than previous scenarios. The climax will not fail to satisfy; it should be a nailbiter. It felt a lot like #2-02 Rescue at Azlant Ridge without the Azlanti insurance policy. Way to go Nathan!


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