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Sajan

WalterGM's page

RPG Superstar 2013 Star Voter, 2014 Dedicated Voter, 2015 Dedicated Voter. Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber. FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar RPG Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington. 2,672 posts (2,766 including aliases). 11 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 21 Pathfinder Society characters.

of Palouse Games



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What did I love about this scenario? Everything! (except the maps)

*****

After running this last night, the Overflow Archives has wormed its way into my heart as one of my new favorite 1-5 scenarios. There is so much that is right about this scenario, its hard to find a specific place to begin, so I’ll just start throwing out everything it does right.

Exciting characters The Overflow Archives is packed with memorable and unique NPCs. From the VO briefing at the start alone, we get two excellent characterizations of well known Pathfinder Society NPCs, as well as a perfect “third man” in the form of the Pathfinder initiate. Follow this scene up with the fishermen, the sleeper, Gormandelle, and the Fox—every NPC you encounter in this scenario will stay with you afterwards. Scott Sharplin does a great job of picking interesting creatures and giving them outstanding personalities. As a GM, its impossible to run this scenario and not be animated as you cycle through all the different personalities. I surprised myself with how much I got into roleplaying, and when a GM does that, it really encourages the players to follow suit, which is exactly what I want to see more of in 1-5s.

Amazing plot I want this review to be as spoiler free as possible, so I will tell anyone that is thinking of running this to please prep it first. There are no complicated rules or abilities, nothing that isn’t already listed in the back with the monster stat blocks, but what The Overflow Archives does have is one of the cleverest plots you’ll find in a PFS scenario. You need to do your players justice and give this scenario a once over, otherwise you’re bound to make mistakes. The scenario does a great job of presenting the information you need to understand what events have occurred in the past, and you’ll need to remember that information as your players start asking the right kinds of questions.

Well placed faction mission Although only the Dark Archive will find something specific in the Archives, the faction mission doesn’t detract from the overall storyline at all. It is also a clever side quest, one that you’ll easily be able to identify from across the room once you know what it is, similar to “I do this for Taldor,” but it involves the GM yelling instead. I had a great deal of fun making noise for this faction mission.

Brilliant Riddle I don’t know where Scott pulled this riddle out of, but it is a sublime piece of trickery. My players literally beat their head against the tables when they finally figured it out. One stood and applauded the pieces of paper before them, proclaiming, “oh my God is so good!” It is a great thing to be able to give those feelings to your players, so thank you for that.

Solid finish When I read the effects that surround the conclusion, I visualized it perfectly. This is the only part I will spoil, as it is to help future GMs describe what happens to their players in greater detail.

Spoiler:
Jumanji

I’ll end this review by asking anyone that might play this scenario before they run it to please not spoil this for yourself, as all you are doing is depriving yourself of an amazing experience. My biggest regret with this scenario is that I GM’d it first, instead of playing it myself. My second biggest regret is the maps for the lower levels. Since these are both custom maps, having that second one be entirely diagonal is aggravating as a GM. However, as this is the only thing I would change about the scenario, The Overflow Archives is still an outstanding scenario that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys having a good time.


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Possibly my favorite 1-5 scenario

*****

Having now played this and run it twice, I've gotten my thoughts in order for this review.

First off, there has never been a scenario like this before, and as of writing this, it is still the only one that exists. That means that Library can be thought of as sort of a “guinea pig scenario” when PFS development was trying something out to see how it was received. And just for attempting that, I’ve got to give them a big hand. After six years of content, to write something that so breaks the mold of what you expect from a scenario, that takes a leap of faith. Lucky for them, authors Kyle Elliot and John Compton really hit it out of the park with this one.

The scenario required the creation of never before used mechanics—clues—in order to keep investigation of the Library of the Lion exciting, and man does it work. I’m reminded of another scenario, where in players have to research a cure for a terrible plague, but it mostly boiled down to X amount of skill checks, meaning Y amount of time, and that was about it. With the clue mechanic in Library, my players instead are very engaged in the actual research, debating over who searches what room, and are always eager to read whatever clues they received aloud to the table, proudly announcing their successes. This is a great thing to see. Especially when I can get players who have non-social PCs engaged in a challenge that’s 100% different from combat.

The restricted time frame the PCs have to explore also added a great element to the scenario, the running minute count I kept on the board served as an invisible hand, always ushering the players to stay on point. That’s also a good thing to have in a scenario like this; without it I can see PCs getting overwhelmed with the amount of rooms to search or even boringly moving as a unit from room to room until they find all the clues. As it is, with a party that works well together and thinks outside the box, I’ve found that all of my tables have been able to find all the clues and make it back under two hours—even with just 4 players present. That is a great feeling to be able to reward your players with.

Furthermore, the NPCs in this scenario are among the most memorable and unique Society has to offer (Grandmaster Torch being a solid exception). Both the Guardian and the librarian each serve both a crucial mechanical point as well as being a delight to roleplay as. I can use the Guardian as a GM to offer hints if needed to the PCs, or to fill in gaps in their understanding of the history of Taldor, while the librarian can serve to give the PCs a more grounded understanding of both the Lion Blades and what service to Taldor truly is under Prince Stavian. By having these NPCs in the scenario, and making them so memorable and unique, it made getting my players to roleplay a breeze. They wanted to try and negotiate with the Guardian and to try and fool the librarian. I’ve never had a scenario so give me the tools I need to make NPCs interesting as this one does.

In addition to all this, Library is literally packed with lore about the Inner Sea. There are detailed tidbits present in the clues the PCs uncover, there is excellent lore regarding Taldor in the scenario, and several of the final rooms are open ended enough to include items from whatever exotic and untapped nations the GM wishes to mention. I found myself pausing the scenario at points to give brief history lessons on the Inner Sea region, having my players make a token Knowledge check as an excuse for me to dish about the rich world that Pathfinder takes place in. I thoroughly enjoyed the ease that I was able to do this with in the scenario, and I believe my players enjoyed uncovering random bits of lore, becoming more immersed with each new thing they learned.

Finally, no investigative, thinking-man’s (and woman’s) scenario like this would be complete without puzzles. And Library has some of the best ones in PFS. I will not detail them at all, as to do so would be to do a disservice to this remarkable scenario, suffice it to say that at one point, a player tried to make a Knowledge check to get hints as to how to bypass one of the puzzles. I smiled and simply told him no—everything you need to succeed in Library of the Lion is right there in front of you. You just have to work your brain a bit.

In the end, I highly recommend Library of the Lion, it is in my top five scenarios of all time and may be my new favorite 1-5. It is a delight both to run and to play, and if you have any questions when prepping it I encourage you to post over on the GM boards. Kyle and John have been consistently on top of answering any and all questions and further explaining the mechanics. My only advice would be for GMs to prep this scenario thoroughly in advance, and to play it before running it if possible. There is more prep work for this 1-5 than any other out there, and I am not exaggerating.

So do your research and draw your maps, because Library of the Lion is worth the extra work. It’s a wholly unique experience and one that everyone should be able to enjoy.


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Valeros looks good in the spotlight

*****

I've been getting all the Pathfinder Comics as they've been coming out. I've enjoyed them all thoroughly, but this is the first one that's had me smiling page after page.

The story presented for Valeros is a perfect way to encapsulate his character. We even get a solid taste of Amiri in Origins #1, which is a welcome addition to the tale. I would have assumed both iconics to have a friendly, but competitive relationship, and the one presented in the comic supports and develops that. My other major praise has to be the dialogue. All of it is so in character and wholly entertaining. The one-liners delivered by Valeros alone had me chuckling. In addition, all of the minor jokes, both visual and written, all fit seemlessly within the larger story without detracting from its impact.

I hope the rest of these are as entertaining, and I look forward to the next installment.


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Such revelry that Cayden would be proud

*****

Every bit of Hall of Drunken Heroes warms my cold, lifeless GM heart. Even in re-reading the introduction to the Hall itself I find myself grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

"Cayden’s Hall is a massive, open fest hall of rough-hewn timbers. The latter have been replaced many times over the years thanks to their predecessors being burnt to cinders when the large, celebratory bonfires often burning within the wooden structure mixed badly with the very large and very inebriated crowds frequenting the establishment."

I think it's impossible to resist wanting to play a game where that is the setting. In addition to such a great location, the game starts off with what is probably the best briefing ever, as Osprey brings in a demon for the PCs to pump for information, like some 1970 beat cops.

Outstanding.

We then are taken into Cayden's Hall, thrown into a memorable barroom brawl and are free to roam through a series of clues and leads before arriving at what is probably the most challenging fight in all of Season 1 (sans Eyes of the Ten). And the fun's not done yet; you're only half-way through the scenario at this point!

I could keep going, but you shouldn't keep reading. Download this scenario and play it right now!


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This might be my favorite scenario of all time

*****

What an excellent scenario!

When this adventure came out, it was a showstopper when I ran it at PaizoCon. Players stood out of their chairs when the reveal happened that Season 4 was going to have a Thassilonian theme. That alone is great to have in a season finale scenario. But that aside, this scenario still carries its weight as we start moving into Season 6.

Each of the encounters is unique, challenging, and wrought with roleplay opportunity, and the trap(s) that lie within the Well of Tainted virtue are still whispered among my players to this day. In addition to having an especially potent BBEG, this scenario is well equipped to handle a seasoned party of Pathfinders and give them a run for their money.

It wastes no time placing your players into the action and has a thrilling "Stargate" styled introduction to boot. Despite their retirement, even the faction missions in this scenario are worth exploring. Cheliaxian PCs may indeed enjoy playing this scenario if they are willing to explore their... morally ambiguous side.

Literally the only thing that I have issue with in this scenario is the map. But given the setting and epic gravitas of this scenario, I don't mind drawing it out each time one little bit.

To this day, this scenario is the gold standard I use when gauging the quality of new 7-11 scenarios, as well as the season finale scenarios of season 4, and 5. And I still like Portal of the Sacred Rune more.


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