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zean's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 252 posts. 3 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character.

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Poorly Structured, Boring Sub-Systems

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What a dull way to end an interesting arc.

This scenario is poorly structured and has a terrible sub-system for defending the town that really does nothing other than to force us to sit around and fill out an excel spread sheet. I absolutely hated this part of the scenario.

Then we get to the encounters, which I feel were not explicit enough in telling GMs to not send the entire army, mid-boss and final boss, all in the same battle!

I understand it said NOT to do this, but I think the fact is is that the scenario is set up such that many GMs WILL do this, because there is not much clear distinction between one wave and the next set of encounters. Basically, it's set up to put the GM to doing something terrible, if he or she deviates even just a little bit from what's written.

So yes, this is a scenario where I say, please don't send the entire army in the same battle with no time to rest in between the encounters. It's a bad idea. And shame on this scenario for setting up the possibility.

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Missed Opportunity - Disappointing

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I'm not going to lie. This is one of the more disappointing Pathfinder Society scenarios I've lead. Especially for what it does, and what it's supposed to do (introduce players to four of the 10 factions), I really felt like this scenario came up short.

To give background, I have lead this scenario about 4 times, and watched it lead about 3 times. I'm intimately familiar with its pacing and logic, and I always cringe at the same times. This is by no means a bad scenario, but it isn't really a good one either. The only reason I lead it is because it's the only scenario for PFS that bothers to try to "introduce" the world of Pathfinder Society to the players. Thus, I find myself constantly leading the same suboptimal scenario over and over again.

Here are my feelings of the contents of the story itself (Spoilers):

First, let's deal with the premise. It's a basic fetch-quest scenario. Not the worst thing, and I'll give it a pass. If anything, I actually wish more scenarios told players upfront exactly what it was they needed to do. Could the writer have made it a little less obvious that they needed to players to go to points A, B, C, and D, and complete all these little tasks across the map? Maybe. I don't know. Still, this wasn't a bad way to frame a scenario. Just felt it could have used more polish.

Next is the warehouse. This is actually a really good part of the scenario, and strangely, might be the best part of the scenario. It's well framed, has a simple yet interesting encounter, and leaves a lot of room for the PCs to come up with creative solutions to a problem. The premise for the mission is plausible, and the interesting positioning of the box and Dire Rats that attack the players leads to a situation where it's really up to the group's tactical thinking abilities to figure out for themselves how to save the box without having it fall into the water.

After this is the orphanage plot. This one is interesting. I feel like it really depends on the group, and having a good GM. I've seen some groups really botch this, and others feel really confused as to what they were supposed to do here ("I built my character to do about 6 damage per round and have a high AC... suddenly I'm expected to be a detective who actually goes around asking questions and interacting with people normally?") Overall, it might throw some groups for a loop, but with a good GM, I actually really enjoy this part of the scenario. It reinforces that Pathfinders are normal human beings (or elves or half-elves or half-orcs or halflings or gnomes) with normal lives. This is another strong point of the scenario.

Next we get to the "puzzle" section in the Osirion faction intro mission. I hate this section. It's cheesy and nonsensical, and Amenophus is acting just plain strange by asking a random band of Pathfinders to go and solve a random puzzle to "prove" to his people that they are "worthy" to explore their vaults. This makes no sense. Furthermore, the puzzle itself, for all of its setup, is just plain dumb. All you do is brute force everything and try keys everywhere until you open up all the containers. There's really no thinking to it. While I don't doubt some people will enjoy this section, for others, this is really an eye-roller, as a group is set to go through the motions of "solving a puzzle" by trying to see which key fits in which box. It feels like a puzzle, but all you get is a "let's brute force everything" encounter.

Finally, we have the meeting with the Paracountess. This is actually pretty good. The fight with an Imp in his weakened position forces the party to come up with some sort of creative way to deal with an enemy that can turn invisible. It's not too hard, and there's little chance of failure since the Paracountess herself is there, but it still is an enjoyable task for a party to work with each other on how to find a hiding Imp. Also, I know a lot of players really enjoy the Paracountess and go on to join Cheliax, just because they find this part so.. uhh.. appealing to their character's tastes. Yes. Let's go with that.

But wait! Now we come to the "ambush" scene. Oh boy. Now this is where the scenario can really fall apart. I have seen some groups totally blow through this, and I've seen other groups where the party was TPKed or had to run away (this happens about 1/4th of the time I see others run this scenario). This is a VERY difficult encounter for a GM who runs the characters optimally. So my advice is don't. The GM really has to play the ambush scene on "easy" mode, or they risk killing the entire party, after they'll have spent their resources, hit points, and spells dealing with other parties. Add to this that it's very easy to first-time parties to really botch the tactics on this tiny little map, and you've locked yourself in for a real headache of an encounter. It's important to note that the "morale" of the Rogue is to RUN AWAY (which should make the scenario much easier), and it's also important to note that the Cleric is a Negative Energy cleric and cannot heal her fellow party members with the Channel Negative Energy ability. Color Spray is incredibly harsh on a new party, and so while the scenario certainly states that the Sorcerer uses this spell, I really would think twice before using this and possibly killing the party with one spell in one foul swoop. Cast Burning Hands instead from the scroll, or use Magic Missile. Seriously. Color Spray sucks when used on a player on their very first Pathfinder scenario.

Overall, you have 2 good encounters (the werehouse and the paracountess), 2 badly written encounters (the "puzzle" and the ambush), and then 1 in-the-middle encounter that really depends heavily on good GMing ability. That's why I felt this scenario really, at best, is a 3 out of 5 for me. Which is really a shame, because I want to introduce players to Pathfinder Society with a 5 out of 5 scenario instead. Shame.

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Best scenario I've played yet


This was just an overall really well-written scenario. It had a good balance of different types of encounters, and the setting of the Ascendant Court is incredibly flavorful and easy to portray to players. There was the usual issue of some things being a tad contrived (as is usual to all PFS stories) but I think this scenario did a good job of giving its characters believable motivations, which is something that many scenario writers seem to struggle with.

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