I played this at high tier and had a great time. The story is great and typical for the land of the linnorm kings. Fights were tough but fair.
The only reason that this does not get the full 5 stars is because I think the writer tried to put too much into the scenario. Even without the optional encounter the GM had to rush us through the last encounter because we had no time left.
I played this with together with The Degraded, I was the demon-hating ranger archer. I have wanted to play this scenario for a long time with that specific character. She is an elf with the tanglebriar demonslayer archetype and a background in Kyonin, so this scenario should be perfect for her.And that made it all a bit too easy for me. But that has nothing to do with the scenario itself.
So what about the scenario? It gives a good impression what Tanglebriar is about, with interesting environmental effects and though fights. I really liked the first and the optional encounters, because both are challenging and use some things not often seen. However the map used in the optional encounter is too small for the encounter. Using the regular forest flipmat for this encounter would have been better.
The final encounter has a lot going on for the GM. Unfortunately most of that is just scenery and high-level PCs are probably aware of that. A few twists (class levels on the mooks? and removing some hazards) would have improved the final combat, while reducing the burden on the GM lower.
I rate this scenario a 3: the Tanglebriar background is very good, which would warrant a 4, but that is offset by the things mentioned above.
I played this at high tier with 4-player adjustment. (6 players, APL 5)
Note that I do not read reviews for scenarios that I am about to play as I think it spoils part of the fun. I might change that after playing through this one.
I had high hopes for this scenario. I really love The Before the Dawn scenarios and a follow-up can only be a good thing, right? "NO!"
This scenario caused my first character dead. It is not that this is the first character that died (I had 5 deads before), but it is the first time that the scenario caused a character to die.
My opinions on the encounters
The first encounter is trivial and is a waste of playing time.
The second and third encounters are great, they make a lot of sense in the location and adventure. Despite the fact that my tripper monk could not trip that much I liked these encounters.
The last encounter is also a waste of playing time. Why: because there was no fun. There was only: what more shenanigans can we pull of to defeat the writer. In my opinion PFS should not be: who can pull the weirdest trick out of the big hat.
That way we get into an arms race, which nobody will win. I don't mind the occasional hard scenario. There is hard mode for that, we have spoilers like Bonekeep has. It would have made sense to include a warning at the start of the scenario.
My monk can get to a plus 20 on acrobatics. I rolled mediocre to get past the BBG without provoking and contemplated to use my reroll on that acrobatics check. The GM asked me what the highest number was that I could reach with a natural 20 on the roll and told me flat out that I should not use my reroll, because I would fail anyway.
The BBG managed to exactly hit my AC of 27 (according to the GM later with a +20 to hit modifier) and proceeded with a grapple check (grab), which it could only fail on a natural one because of insane modifiers. One round later I was dead, thanks to grapple to do damage, constrict damage and most importantly of all: no chance to get loose, even with a good escape artist modifier.
No, we did not drink from the fountain, we failed the knowledge /spellcraft checks to figure out what it does and were not prepared to drink from a source of water that the archeologists, who had been compelled had been drinking from.
Let me end with the good things about this scenario:
The lore and setting are great. The scenario really adds to both player and character knowledge, which I love.
I GMed this in the standard campaign at low tier for a six person party, including The Degraded and Quentin Coldwater. You can find their reviews below.
Starting with a 3 score I adjust that for
+1: Setting potential
The setting has a lot of potential: an ancient Jistkan place buried beneath sand for a few thousand years, a lot can be done with that! Background is solid and makes sense, so we are off for a great scenario right?
-1: Unfortunately not
For me as GM the different encounters felt unconnected, with strenuous ties at best. Off course that also made it hard for my players to feel the connection between the encounters
Thoughts on the serie
I do not really understand what the connection between the series is. I can find some things, but in my opinion a series should have a more clear meta-plot that connects the scenarios.
Other than the location on Golarion they might have been completely separate scenarios. Having played and GM-ed several other three of fourpart series (Shades of Ice / Scions of the Sky Key / Destiny of the Sands / Devil we Know / Faithless or Forgotten / Quest of Perfection) this series ranks the lowest in connection between the scenarios.