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Hooded Man

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FullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 2,439 posts (2,445 including aliases). 2 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 13 Pathfinder Society characters.

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Dated and easily derailed

*( )( )( )( )

I am so late to this party. Finally ran this scenario tonight. It does not hold up well. Most of this is simply the change in expected power levels combined with the unpredictable nature of regional meta. When written, this was probably a much more interesting and challenging scenario. The party was very well-balanced and, as typical for the MN lodge, we had a table of 6 (not the greatest situation here) - Occultist 9, Bard 8, UC Rogue 8, APG Summoner 9, Fighter 8, and Alchemist 6. I'll be describing these in spoilers just for space's sake.

Waystation + Sledding Up:
There was very little to work with for Rysam and Krysher. I had handed out the faction missions with the explicit "these are not for prestige" statement and the Liberty's Edge folks tried to shake down Krysher immediately. They could tell he wasn't fully honest, but did not do anything to derail things here. He was summarily executed by the UC rogue at the end of the scenario.

I handed out the dogsledding rules, the party determined who could best handle mushing, and they were off to the races. The ascent was thoroughly described, though the fact that there are only 2 events on the way up was somewhat disengaging for the players. They eagerly seized on what was available, though, and figured out some things about the taer and Aspis presence with The Bodies.

The avalanche was one of the things I was most concerned about. Having read the rules thoroughly on this in advance, I was relatively certain that this would either be a non-issue or a TPK, as determined solely by the result of the d6 roll. I got a 2, it was a non-issue. 1 character was buried, but the Occultist could use telekinesis to remove 250 lbs. of snow per round, while the eidolon could clear 1400 lbs. per minute without tools. I'm glad it was relatively forgiving in that a 2 or higher trivialized the encounter since a 1 is almost always going to be a TPK. The only PC in the party who could make the strength check to escape being buried was the fighter. The eidolon was flying the entire time, so even then it wouldn't have been a TPK for this group - it would only take about 5-10 minutes to clear everyone with just the eidolon working.

The Maw:
The players were thoroughly amused that the anger of the taer barbarians make them stinkier. The 5 barbarians lasted less than 2 rounds. This, however, is where the scenario broke.

The monstrosity arrives a few minutes after PCs start digging...

A few minutes, eh? Well, the ice was destroyed in approximately 18 seconds by the fighter + eidolon. Mind you, this fighter is not a two-hander, but a sword and board defender. They find the bones, pop them in a haversack (still under the 1 minute mark by my count) and start heading back to the sleds, objective in hand. I decided that their "few minutes" were up at this point and had the remorhaz appear by the eggs. The party opted to go to the sleds and leave since the remorhaz can't keep up with the dogs. A couple Handle Animal checks later and the secondary success condition is essentially automatic - the waystation was never on fire because the taer were never enraged into attacking.

The Descent:
The Handle Animal checks were fine all the way down and started being hot as soon as the Aspis rolled out. The Occultist uses telekinesis to devastating effect here, throwing one of the sleds into another, sending all 4 Aspis agents flying. The eidolon flies over to another sled and simply destroys the front end, freeing the dogs and sending the Aspis agents into the snow. The Occultist then telekinetically grapples Fyrth, who remains stationary as his musher and sled move at increment 8 speed. In effect, the encounter was over in slightly more than 1 round.

What bothers me here is that this was assumed to be a chase. Frankly, even a 3.5 core-only party could resolve this within a round without leaving the sleds within 1-2 rounds of "combat." Some suggestions from the party for resolution:

  • Cast sleep on the dogs.
  • Fireball the dogs.
  • Shoot the dogs.

Frankly, this entire encounter could be resolved with level 1 spells at range as long as you can make the violent motion concentration check. It sounded cool, it was interesting to prep, but the reality of it was simply not a letdown.

This was non-existent. The scenario was easily derailed at The Maw, so Act 5 literally did not happen. It is also not particularly clear what an appropriately leveled caster with Create Water prepared does to the fire - I assumed a bucket of water is 1 gallon and Create Water is going to give you at least 10 gallons, which leads me to believe that I should be doing level*2d4 "healing" with each casting of a cantrip.

As mentioned above, the PCs suspected Krysher was up to no good and summarily executed him in the kitchen before leaving. I cut to Osprey and started writing chronicles at this point because there was not a whole lot of anything to work with here.

Where do I even begin with this? I want to start with expletives, but I'd rather not invoke the wrath of the moderators.

First, the gold is INCREDIBLY low. Like, a full tier behind. I actually pulled chronicles from 3-7 scenarios in advance to compare and it's within 100 gold on a significant number of them. I was amazed that there was not a revised chronicle for this scenario and, if I didn't have the option to do a level 1 version of the chronicle, I simply wouldn't have taken GM credit for the scenario. The players were baffled by the max gold on this scenario.

Second, nearly all of the wealth is predicated on two encounters: the remorhaz and the Aspis ambush. I took a liberal reading of the conditions ("defeat" being that they successfully completed the remorhaz encounter via bypass, just like traps, and the PCs certainly "survived the ambush"). Were I to take a more strict reading of the scenario, the players could have gotten full prestige, but walked out with only 333 gold for the chronicle. That is ridiculous. I felt bad enough with the 3531 gold in the 8-9 subtier, but to reduce it further? No. Absolutely not. This is woefully out of line with other scenarios in the tier. Even the Alchemist, who pulled in out-of-subtier gold, barely got rewarded for his efforts. Seriously, I apologized to the players for how lame this chronicle was.

The players, in the end, thanked me for doing the best I could with a dated scenario. It had so much promise, but just a few issues caused the whole plot train to derail. Thinking through it, though, I want to stress that literally everything that happened could have been duplicated with a 3.5 core party. Whether that's a failing of the play environment of the time or a lack of imagination on the part of the author, I'm not sure, but this felt like a 3-7 scenario with 5-9 written on it by accident given that it certainly did not predict the types of resources available to 8th and 9th level characters. Additionally, because of the unique subsystem presented for dogsledding and use of relatively obscure pieces of the ruleset (altitude, avalanches, and cave-ins, for example), the preparation was significantly more difficult than other 8-9 scenarios I've run.

In short, don't run this for players who know how to play the game. If you do run it, it's ideal to do so in Core and with 4 players. Frankly, the design felt as though it failed to plan for the existence of casters. This severely undermined the fun of everyone involved.

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Good product, some issues

****( )

Great variety, good content for the price. It feels like the book was rushed through production at the expense of editing, however, and will require a fair amount of errata. Almost fully functional, but a few of the things that need errata are rather essential things, such as one of the Inquisitor's abilities that simply has no function without the errata.

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