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Hooded Man

Serisan's page

FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 3,332 posts (3,355 including aliases). 6 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 20 Pathfinder Society characters.

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Repetitive, generic, and occasionally setting appropriate

***( )( )

If you want an indication of how the module was written, look no further than the included pull-out map on the print edition. Rather than include any area with machinery, it's a generic flip of a fortress wall, an interior stream, and what amounts to a run-off structure.

The module takes place in 3 areas over 4 acts - two of these are generic mines, with 1 sq = 10 ft scaling and constant squiggles. When the mines aren't completely generic, they're kind of fun. There's some nice RP with a few mutants, a couple likable NPCs, an absolutely hilarious encounter that is shoehorned in, and little else. Could have happened anywhere.

Act 3 has a primal magic event system with a few claw-out-my-eyes moments, including the need to create elementals that have 4+ templates to reach the likely CRs necessarily for the mana storm. I didn't realize that elementals pretty much stop progressing at CR 11. There are use-activated items of CL 17 and characters who could reasonably be casting at CL 19, meaning custom generation of elementals, up to and including adding templates to Gozreh's herald just to fit a poorly thought out table. It is my hope that the Bard Creature + Fighter Creature + Giant + Advanced Elder Earth Elemental I had to generate (CR 17) comes out and starts attacking with dance moves. Note that Act 3 is not part of the sanctioned content for PFS, unless running the Seeker Arc rules.

Act 4 happens in a place that is befitting of the Mana Wastes - a huge factory...just large enough to fall off the edges of a single map. Assuming the final BBEG can act, it can be wonderfully evocative and interesting. This is unlikely, however, based on a number of factors, not least of which is his abysmal initiative modifier. This is the most setting-appropriate section of the adventure, but also the most likely to be derailed, assuming that players did Act 3.

It's a grand romp, otherwise, but it really didn't feel very specific to the Mana Wastes.

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Some flaws, but largely enjoyable


The single biggest challenge with this scenario is that it requires the GM to prep and extrapolate a lot. If you're GMing, make sure you take additional time to understand what's going on and read the PFS GM thread. I've run this 3 times now and have found the scenario very enjoyable, despite what others have said here.

NPCs are fun to work with here and the scenario offers a lot of room for players to RP with them and each other. With the number of oddities in Mercy, you can find parties that are highly suspicious of the activities in town or that do things that offend the townsfolk, which can be fun to play around with. From the GM seat, I found those aspects to be really compelling and greatly enjoyed the way the party got creeped out throughout the scenario.

My understanding is that the published version had to significantly trim down the submitted word count, which explains some oddities of the scenario. Ultimately, this ends up being a non-issue for most tables as you can prep around any areas of concern. A lot of the issues have been hashed out in the GM thread. While the scenario is difficult to run properly without significant preparation, I feel that its other merits compel me to avoid weighing down my rating based on prep time.

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Frustrating but potentially fun

***( )( )

I've both played and run this scenario.

Pros: some limited interesting RP, somewhat free-form sections, the possibility of a social TPK

Cons: Several sections appear to be "read the author's mind" in nature and are not intuitive to either the players or the GM. Skill check DCs are absurdly high. The secondary success condition is nearly impossible with many party configurations as it depends on having a series of specific skills in a series where you can't really get help from others. The level of preparation required for the GM is incredibly high for a 5-9 scenario - it feels in prep more like a particularly complex 7-11, but it doesn't feel commensurately satisfying in play.

Ultimately, I felt fatigued simply preparing it. I would have rather done pretty much anything else with my time because it took an investment of entirely too many hours just to wrangle the last two sections. The players burned through the first section very quickly, but the scenario slows to a crawl very quickly once you're actually in the Bronze House. As we got to the confrontation, it was clear that the players were exhausted and I had to tell them that there was basically an entire act remaining as they started to pack up. They seriously thought they were done at that point.

Despite getting the social TPK cost of 5 PP applied to all of them, the players all enjoyed the scenario and I had a good enough time, but I would not have interest in running this scenario again for the amount of effort involved.

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Played in the 5-6 subtier. Solid adventure, nice mid-scenario subsystem, kind of a DPR check for a final encounter...but the descriptive text is what sells me.

10/10, would innuendo again.

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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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