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WalterGM's page

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8. RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter, 7 Season Dedicated Voter, 8 Season Dedicated Voter. FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest. 2,993 posts (3,102 including aliases). 12 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 27 Pathfinder Society characters.

Owner of Palouse Games

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A perfect tie in to Siege of Serpents


This is an excellent scenario that has more than earned its place in my top 5 favorite PFS scenarios of all time. John knocked it out of the park with this scenario, and here are few reasons why.

Story is a big thing for me when it comes to scenarios. I’m always more interested in an exciting story than a mindless dungeon delve, and Serpents Rise has exciting story covered in spades. Not only do we have the overall story, which parallels the events of Siege of Serpents, but we have 6 unique side stories, each directly tying one of the Aspis agents being played by the players into the meat of the main story. These pseudo side quests (somewhat reminiscent of old faction missions) are well written and engaging. They do draw the spotlight on one or two players at a time, but fortunately can be concluded in about 5-10 minutes a piece. In a situation like a home game, where table time isn’t an issue, having one-on-one side quests isn’t really an issue. But in a convention atmosphere, or at a game day that limits slot time, I can imagine situations where some of these side stories derail the main game quite a bit. Fortunately, a well prepared and skilled GM should be able to keep the pace of their game flowing through these side missions.

Each pregenerated character is unique, intelligently constructed, and relatively well equipped. I enjoyed that pregens pulled from Unchained, Advanced Class Guide, and other newer sources to create characters of moderate to high power, ones that easily overshadow the classic level 7 PFS pregens (Harsk, we’re all looking at you, buddy). They all also have brilliantly written backstories, outstanding art selections, and personal motivations so diverse and complex that some of them honestly make me question all this dwindling animosity I once possessed towards the Aspis Consortium prior to this scenario.

While there has been some negative feedback regarding the gear on each pregen, I find their loadout to be appropriate to the scenario. Coupled with the invitation to make further purchases at the beginning of the scenario and the roughly 2,000 gp available to the party through pooling character wealth, most cautious players will invest in a wand of cure light wounds and some utility potions or scrolls.

Challenges and Combat
The non-combat situations present in the scenario challenge players to think outside the box to achieve success, rather than just roll dice and succeed or fail at their skill checks. This is just what you want in your game, as nothing dulls a table experience more than boiling every non-combat encounter down to “roll a d20 and add ___.” The one involving Janira especially requires some good conceptual problem solving. I also deeply enjoyed the last non-combat encounter that introduces that “seventh pregen” into the mix. Nothing gets a table pumped for the final encounter like having your players give an impassioned speech about why the Pathfinder Society needs to burn for its sins.

Paired alongside these well structured non-combat encounters, the combats were, by and large, equally challenging as well. While the combat in area A is a rather a-typical combat, all of the other encounters are quite unique and refreshing. The one in the tapestry room can be especially challenging for players, while the final encounter, if prepared for adequately, should last several rounds. For GMs reading this review that are planning on running, see the spoiler below.

GM only:
Remember that the creature in the final area makes use of his scroll, as detailed in his “before combat” tactics. I’ve heard reports from other tables where their fights against the final opponent were less than epic, and they were all due to the fact that the GM neglected to make use of that scroll before combat begins. It changes the fight significantly and turns what should be a 5-10 round combat into a 1-2 round combat.

This scenario is an easy 5 star review for me to give. I deeply enjoyed running it and am hoping to see it opened up as a 4 or 5 star exclusive scenario once Season 7 is in full swing. I think that having more than a 5 hour time slot would be beneficial to the scenario, as there is a lot in the first half of Serpents Rise that could be explored in more depth if time wasn’t an issue. I wouldn’t recommend any GM run this scenario cold, and would advise GMs prepping this scenario to read the pregens backstories and handouts as well—there’s a lot mentioned in them that is missed in the scenario proper.

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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.


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.


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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