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pauljathome's page

FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto. 1,775 posts (2,665 including aliases). 29 reviews. 1 list. No wishlists. 46 Pathfinder Society characters. 11 aliases.

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Overcomplicated and good evidence that Ultiimate Intrigue is NOT good for PFS

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There are many aspects to this scenario that I like but it really is overcomplicated.

Even with the GM thread and the pfsprep site it took several hours to prepare and I was still searching for particular information while actually running the scenario. There is a LOT that the GM has to do and keep track of while running this. I am not at all surprised that there seems to have been much greater than usual table variation with this one.

I was chatting to some other GMs before a different game and 2 of them (both 4 or 5 star GMs) said they don't plan to ever run it due to the complexity.

I think that the new mechanics focus too heavily on knowledge checks. The most valuable character at this social scenario was probably the wizard.

I also found some of the mechanics forced a quite mechanical approach at times. Discoveries, especially, just became a quick exercise in dice rolling.

Even with the Influence checks there were difficulties, even after they knew what skill to roll. They talked fairly naturally, and were surprised when I had to take what they were telling me and basically go : That is diplomacy you're rolling, right? Not the Knowledge Planes that you know is the best skill? Heavy handed questions like that got them to adjust what they were saying. But asking a player with 0 knowledge planes to improvise a speech involving knowledge planes that the other guy would approve of didn't work well with all players.

The strong focus on specific skills sonetimes detracted from the roleplaying that can happen in more free form social encounters

But the players had a good time. And I strongly approve of the social interaction and the attempt to let people without diplomacy also contribute.

I hope that there are further scenarios using rules similar to this. But perhaps they could be a lesser part of the scenario, and not quite so scripted?

Edit: I ran it a second time and saw much the same things happening. The players get so involved in the mechanical aspects of maximimizing their influence that the roleplaying got severely truncated. I hate to use rollplaying vs roleplaying but it seems to fit what happened.

Despite the attempt to widen the set of useful skills one player at the second table was essentially useless. At tier 4-5 trying to make the Sense Motive DCs with just his raw wisdom was almost useless.

And the most valuable character was, once again, the wizard. Given that wizards who care are already good at diplomacy (Student of Philosophy) having the knowledge skills be so incredibly valuable just seems like a bit of overkill to me.

In particular, I think that the Discovery skills should have been far more varied. Three skills, all fairly rare for many characters.

Yesterday I played in Hellknights Feast (which has a precursor of the social interaction rules) and I found it better than this. More free form, more roleplaying, and the interaction was part of and not the entire adventure.

I should note that in both runs the players seemed to enjoy it more than I did.

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Too much of a grueling slog for a tier 1-5

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This is based on playing at high tier.

I liked a lot of the story but it just seemed far too grueling a slog and far too random for a low tier adventure. Lots and lots of saving throws and rolls which seem to leave a very high chance of any low Fort save character being diseased.

My unchained rogue was almost completely useless in this scenario. A dex based character so he gets no benefit from the McGuffins (all the wpn choices are utterly useless for a wpn finesse based character). A melee based character so nearly useless against the various opponents that one couldn't close with.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that my experiment to see if an unchained rogue is a viable character is coming to an end with the clear answer of "nope. Still sucks rocks. Just a little less"

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Very good scenario with an atrocious ending

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The scenario as a whole is excellent and I would have happily given it 5 stars. There is a good mixture of intrigue, role-playing, skills, interesting combats.

Once again, we are in the Year of the Skill Monkey. But, since I like to play skill monkeys, that is a GOOD thing :-).

There is atmosphere galore and an interesting set of intermixed puzzles.

The ending, however, dropped my rating from 5 stars to 2 stars.

Do NOT read the Spoiler if you're playing this. It will ruin things

DO NOT READ if playing:
So, the entire mission of the Pathfinders is to build good relations with Cheliax. But in the final encounter there is no way to succeed except to murder hobo your way through. No diplomacy option is allowed. The characters are presented with a choice of really bad options and are supposed to realize that the best solution is to kill the lawful authorities who are quite legally arresting them.

We chose to flee which seemed like the lesser evil. Surrendering seemed a really bad idea, diplomacy wasn't an option, killing legal authorities seemed really bad.

I guess we overthought things. Clearly, one should just murder hobo anybody who looks at you askance. Killing the authorities is obviously the correct answer. Too bad if you're a Chelaxian (one character), a paladin (another character) or somebody else who wouldn't do that.

We lost close to half our loot and our secondary success condition due to not being murder hobos.

Shame on you Paizo

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Far too much prep and far too many errors

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If you are not an expert on Occult Adventures expect lots of lots of prep time on this. Far more than its worth.

And then you run into the issues that, once again, Paizo just doesn't follow its own rules. The stat blocks are wrong, an entire encounter relies on a creature doing something that it cannot legally do, etc.

I enjoyed playing it but I am NOT enjoying prepping it. If there was time, I'd back out of running it.

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Too many effects that you can't do anything about

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Based on playing the module.

At its core it isn't a bad module. Some interesting mysteries, some interesting fights. Very little role playing, you're basically just going in to kill things.

However, the author used WAY too much of "make saving throws or start to suck. A lot" effects with no reasonable ways of avoiding the situations and no in character ways of even knowing that you were affected.

Poison effect:
The memory loss poison, at least the way that we interpreted it, is just a killer. Its kinda amusing a little at first but quickly gets really silly. Interpreted as written, a character is essentially worse than useless for 8 hours (worse than useless since they SHOULD be burning through consumables and spells)

mind affecting affect:
The last session was certainly fun for the player of the character who was confused all session. NOT. Fortunately we were playing on a VTT so he just went home but this is NOT goood dungeon design

Despite being a character down and playing in Core more we'd have succeeded except for some really bad luck. But those negative effects add up a lot.

Hmm. Writing this convinced my to lower my rating to 1 star. A person not getting to play for a session is really, really bad design

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