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FlorianF's page

FullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 44 posts. 6 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 Pathfinder Society characters.



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Very nicely made... with one big issue.

****( )

Very much recommended as well-timed, rather easy to prepare game. Interesting and varied monster, good fight and amusing (if deadly) traps. BUT...

Spoiler:

The angel
The deva's a nice original idea but... setting aside the complexity involved in the wizard convincing an angel to its bidding (Cha contest, anyone?), his behaviour is quite odd. Why in hell when he does allow the "tomb robbers" inside he asks them to leave their stuff outside? It makes sense that he asks to leave the shrine's stuff inside, but not the other way around. And no players would accept the former, so they would need to fight it... which a Good PCs should not do in conscience. Same if they fail the very high diplo check(*).
So, change his behaviour, cause it makes no sense.

Faction missions issues 
Silver crusader have to steal and destroy a relic from within the shrine... which the angel should prohibit... and they're likely to be good. Misssion failed.

Andoran have to find a "local contact"... which is actually a Taldoran in Varisia. Duh. Mission Failed (for paying too much attention to the NPC!).

(*) At least the writer did a good job using decently high DC, but I pity the fool trying this at Level 7! Why oh why don't scenario always have varying DC per subtier??


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Good, but not for every PC

****( )

Played at tier 10-11 with 4PCs. Took about 5h, but could run longer.

Refreshing plot with a story that makes sense and is accessible to the players, for once. Fights are tough but the players have no excuse to not come fully prepared.
Barring issues below, a recommended scenario which does create some roleplaying, good fights, and serious decision points.

GM comments below.

Spoiler:

Good stuff:
Rather easy to prepare. Final map prints well.

Issues:
1) the investigation is really just a series of diplomacy checks until you rescue Tomasz, at which point he tells everything. The city's description is actually pointless. So the GM should either dress up the investigation, or just ask for diplo rolls and speed things up.

2) as with The Disappeared, it makes no sense that the Society would send any random PC on this mission. Paladins and other faithful PCs are a no-go on this, unless they're taking their faith *very* lightly, or not taking the main mission seriously and going to storm the cult HQ.

3) Repetitive monsters.

4) The tattoo seems very cheap for what it is. Its evil nature is really understated, especially if a future GM is not aware that you bear it. For that reason, it shouldn't have been allowed. Normally, you can expect your PC be checked with Detect Evil from time to time, at which point you would register as evil and probably come under *close* scrutinity from the Society. And "Well it's just a tattoo from Lissala, no worry!" wouldn't work so well...


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Coud be way better

***( )( )

I prepared this module lended by my FLGS, and I was disappointed. AS pointed out elsewhere it suffered badly from editing and cutting, with lots of iterative monsters.

Spoiler:

Played for PFS, it's of course way too long, but removing the pointless spriggan armies mostly solves this issue.

My main gripe is good-old railroading, lack of failable plot points, and fuzzy encounter setup.

* The setup wedding is pointless. Whatever you do, it has no bearing on the following. You can't even get worthy information, or even gear, for what follows. Might as well skip to the ceremony. It's striking that the fate of the wedding couple is totally unimportant. If they die, nobody cares.
* The romp in the forest is bugged. How are you supposed to actually meet Vinroot? And why would you need to? And what if you fail to make the encounters?
* How are the spriggan patrol in the Realm to act? What group is NOT going to go directly through to the tower?
* The drunken treant encounter is very obscure as to how it's supposed to work (if you use Diplomacy, you're going to get whacked repeatedly by animated tree attacks while doing so. Is it really the idea?)
* What if you do NOT manage to convince the conclave of fey? Adventure ends there?
* What if you fail to make the final arcana check. Adventure fails?
* And of course, prepare for a party wipe in the final fight.

All in all, GREAT maps, but they're very poorly used. For the above reasons, the wedding map is useless, the forest map is useless (if the players actually navigate it, they're going to spend hours doing nothing), the Realm map is useless (they're going to go straight for the kill) and the Fortress map, though alright, is just way way too big for PFS.

Also, for PFS: several magic items found are useless within the module.


So. It's got fine elements, but need tons of work, re-inserting the original monsters (from the podcast), fixing the encounter schema, designing an alternate final dungeon, giving meaning to the wedding part... But it still has good moments.


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Very good, minor flaws

****( )

Played at tier 5-6 with 5 players, took us 4h30 without optional enc.

A well-made scenario, well-timed, interesting, with unsettling, but good flavour. The fights are varied and interesting as well.

Also, unlike many scnearios, it makes use of map packs (though the chosen map do not always fit closely with the location)
These, and other maps, are easy to print out if needed(they fit well on 8½x11).

Plot tweaks:

Spoiler:

To fix the issue that Jason S points out, make sure that the Angelic Guardian attack the bearer of the wayfinder (supposedly, Sheila). It makes for a more interesting fight AND it explains why this attempted assassination could have been worth it.

Why oh why would Black spend TWO HOURS casting spells while the PC *wait in his office*. They won't. But most important, he *knows* when the golems are delivered, so he ought to use his scrying on the manor at this point. Then, knowing his plan failed, he creates the simulacrum and everything's ready when the PCs arrive at his office!

Remember to give the PCs all the journals to help them understand the story.

Absolutely skip the optional encounter at tier 5-6. Those soulbound dolls, same as Frostfur captives, are absolutely dumb creatures. Or if you use them, mix them in the final encounter.

How are the pathfinders in the cylinders suriving *being immersed in acid*?

The PCs were actually disappointed (and so was I) that the final mutli-head golem did NOT attack them. Also, what was it, anyways?

Issues, the usual suspects

Spoiler:

* As usual, the plot is done and gone when the PCs come in. I would like to see a scneario where the PCs actually witness the events going on. This could actually encourage the players to care about the story. Otherwise, why would they care so much about something that's over?

* As usual, the BBEG is built with no relation to its theme and has the usual bland magic missile / lightning bolt / meh. Why? There's umpteen UM spells that fit his "madness/disfiguration" theme and make for a more memorable encounter.

* for a man who can build golems for a living, everyone wonders why the boss does not have dozens of minions to, you know, shield him from grappling PCs (relying on difficult terrain and tentacles instead).

other tweaks

Spoiler:

I re-skinned the wood golem as an animated furniture piece, which turned out great. Players are now deathly afraid of chairs and chests.
I couldn't resist adding an old pink sleeping robe of (somewhat) useful items in the basement.
Also tweaked Black's spells to make them more thematic.
The final map does not fit the descriptions well: what's the pool at the back? Where's the sarcophagus?


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Good dungeon, but where's the plot gone?

***( )( )

Played in 4h30 with 6 level 4 PCs, inc. optional encounter.
The skinny
Good dungeon that will disappoint players who like to follow the plot.

Overall
First, a warning: Graphic, grisly contents. Might not be approriate for the occasional young players that pops up at gaming stores.
Good background, great premise, exciting set-up, strong flavor… leading to a dungeon that flushes the plot down the drain and therefore encourages the kind of “room by room strip-search the dungeon” adventuring that discourages some players (and me) from playing scenarios. There’s no way the players can understand the good background. Acting on the great premise gives them no reward. Paying attention to the strong flavor leads to nothing. So much of a waste that it feels like a late rewriting pared down these elements. Am I right?

The good
As said above, the premise and flavor is very good.
The dungeon itself offers varied threats and monsters and is not linear. A party may end up fighting the boss early on (which is good considering he has 2 of the 3 magic items of the place).
Well integrated faction missions.
Good timing.

Plot issues

Spoiler:
Lots of “future stuff hints”. Strong mentions of the Aspis Consortium at the mission start, but none whatsoever afterwards.
Teleporting mask piece thing is very contrived, so is the secret bypass corridor to the boss room. Same for the falling block trap rigged to… a makeshift bricked wall? This kind of stuff discouraging players from trying to figure things out – or encourages them to over-rationalize.
Why did the boss split up the mask except to push PCs to explore his temple?
As said above, trying to understand the cult(s), its fate and the aims of its leader is pointless.
As in other scenarios, the boss is built using straight templates and levels, with baseline spells, with almost no tie to the story theme. I.e., in what way is Tholrist any wrathful-er than some other random evil cleric? Even the 100% theme-appropriate wrathspawns suffer from their monster write-up being lackluster: besides their rather useless wrath scent, their sinful bite feature is not tied to wrath in any way.
Why do wrathspawns torture people? They’re not painspawns…
Why did the spawns emerge from the temple to start with?
Who’s depicted on the masked statue? (I guess it’s Tholrist)
Is the cult that of Lissala, Alaznist, or its fiendish master ?

Editing issues
Many descriptions information is scattered through the description and text. Once again, bullet-point list would help.
Several typos.
B2 corridor info incomplete.

Design issues

Spoiler:

With 4 PCs, a single harpy’s captivating song is pretty useless as there’s no dangerous terrain around and it ties up her actions.
Lack of tracking skill check DCs to follow the spawns, eventhough the PCs are likely to try it.
Haunt obstacle lacks DCs for other means of traversing.
Placing treasure as gems set on statues is risky: many careful or pious PCs will not try to remove them. Should we punish this?
Rage is not casteable on undeads (how does the cleric get this spell anyways?).
Because the boss has time to cast before the PC break down the wall, his stats and his ghouls’ should include the spell, that would save tons of prep time.
Not restricted to this scenario, but skill checks DCs are often too low and not scaling. No team can miss a DC10/12 check. Result = trivial to succeed at, and don’t reward skilled PCs.
This is a general comment on scenarios layout, but description scattered throughout the text is really nor helpful. Also, complex bosses with spells definitely should have simplified combat sheets with some precomputed stats, and removing useless stuff (cantrips, touch of evil…).

Suggested tweaks

Spoiler:

The consortium
One of the archeologist is from the Aspis (I actually used Nester Rees from First Steps), and betrays the dig team, tying them up with the help of Riemme Batelle (a shadow lodge pathfinder who trusts PFS little) and a few fellow workers, broke the temple wall and stole the statue’s mask (thinking it to be the real thing. Also they left the belt because they got hit by the trap already) then fled on the diggers’ ship (before the PCs’ arrival). In the process, he woke up the spawns who then climbed up and slaughtered the bound-and-gagged laborers. Riemme also ended up backstabbed by Nester, and carried away by the spawns.

The mask
Tholrist broke up the mask because his ritual uses powers from all three entities.
Also, they have powers. Wearing it gives some wrathsense:
o Upper temple statue: cheek part, affords wrathvision
o Cave statue; nose part, affords wrathscent
o Torture chamber statue; affords wrathearing
Also, entering combat wearing it triggers a rage with a Will DC16+2per part save.

Four temples, four powers
Clarify thus, tying up the rooms more tightly to the powers:
Upper temple is strictly Lissala. The statue is Lissala’s. Runic text describe her cult. The pit contains offerings, not blood. It also makes getting treasure more straightforward.
Room with Wrathspawn is Alaznist’s temple. Mosaics depict his cult. The statue is Alaznist and standing adjacent triggers rage. The victims are not tortured, they have been forced to fight each other instead.
Torture room and cave is Yamasauth’s shrine. Mosaics depict his cult. Bodies have been tortured and transformed. I did place the ooze and skellies here, and reskinned as multi-armed, grisly skellies. This avoids the weird block trap and bricked deadend, as well as the contrived secret bypass corridor. Anointing the bodies damage the creatures, not the haunt. Haunt’s screams reveal Tholrist’s plan.
The secret temple is Tholrist’s hideout. Floor mosaic illustrate his plans.
Also, remove the secret door. The only special door is the bricked-out entrance to the secret temple.

Wrathspawns
The spawns’ bite triggers Rage, not sickness. They’re deaf, and can only detect the PCs by wrathscent.

Harpy tactics
Have the harpy start on the dome and use their songs on Halla outside to draw the PCs outside and attack stragglers.

Tholrist tactics
I had Tholrist start the fight inside a sarcophagus and the ghoul laying immobile on slabs. Count the time it takes the PCs to break down the wall and use his prep spells as appropriate.
Instead of Rage, simplify and have him Aid and SoF on both ghouls. A viable tactic is have him move to a corner, casting silence so as to just encompass the area in front of him.


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