Pathfinder Society Scenario #19: Skeleton Moon (OGL) PDF (Retired) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 1st to 7th level characters (Tiers: 1–2, 3–4, and 6–7).
When Pathfinder alchemist Andrax d'Aponte contracted a mysterious wasting sickness, he set his mind to feverishly researching the disease and its cures. With the rare skeleton moon hanging in the sky above Absalom, the Decemvirate sends you to an ancient siege castle outside the city to recover d'Aponte's research notes and inquire about his involvement in recent Pathfinder deaths in Osirion. What you find, however, is a man changed by madness and paralyzed by paranoia and fear. Will you survive the night of the skeleton moon?
Written by Benjamin Wenham
This scenario is designed for play in Pathfinder Society Organized Play, but can easily be adapted for use with any world. This scenario is compliant with the Open Game License (OGL) and is suitable for use with the 3.5 edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game.
This scenario was retired from Pathfinder Society Organized Play on November 15, 2010. After November 15, 2010, it will no longer be legal for Pathfinder Society Organized Play and will no longer be available in the Pathfinder Society Organized Play reporting system.
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I was a player in Skeleton Moon which had been translated from Season Zero rules to Pathfinder. Frankly, if this had been my first season zero module, there is a chance I would have outright quit society play. It is only because the encounters were modified for Pathfinder play that things were bearable.
The story behind the module is muddled and uninteresting. I am actually still unsure what was going on, even after it was explained to me by our GM after the module was over. To those who have their hopes up, I can confirm that it has nothing to do with Groteus, and while normally I'm very interested to go and re-read the modules once I'm done playing them, this is one I have not purchased. To add insult to this injury, there is little to no opportunity in the module for anything more than a little intra-party roleplaying.
The encounters blend together and if you have a group with somebody who likes to move ahead even a little bit, you might find yourself enjoying a module that exists as one massive encounter. Unfortunately though, the worst part of the module isn't its challenge (who doesn't enjoy a good challenge?), it was the fact that it's absolutely brutal and has the capability of one-shot killing characters with almost no chance for recourse. If we had been playing with untranslated 3.5 rules from season zero it would have been a TPK on the first encounter, and who wants to show up to a game and not even be able to live past the first encounter? Another encounter later in the module has a creature capable of outright killing characters in one attack without a critical hit.
More than anything, the module was just uninteresting, but combined with the fact that the fights were not challenging, but rather, just outright awful, I honestly can't suggest this module to anybody. In fact, I've just convinced myself to give the module one star (I was about to give it two).
The biggest problem with this scenario (as other reviewers have mentioned) is merging encounters, which can be problematic for the players. If the GM isn't careful to take steps to break up the encounters, it can end up like one long battle.
The story is cohesive and entertaining, but doesn't lend itself to much in the way of non-combat encounters.
I also liked the non-linear aspects... in theory. In running them, I found it difficult to remember what encounters trigger where/when. This would have been a serious problem, if not for the sidebar that explained the where/when for me.
The module was really strait forward which was fine. However the big problem I saw was that some of the encounters are basically right on top of each other. It's very easy for multiple encounters to all be triggered at once without players having any real idea of the implications.
The end result it that half the module felt like just one long extended battle.
This module is one of the classic ones where play balance and some map issues really skew what is otherwise a fairly creative and possibly fun adventure.
I've played this mod and seen it run (ran it myself once, seen it 2 other times) and I believe in every case we've had a player death or come darn close. This module has some very swingy encounters, that can go either way; it really depends on party composition.
Re-runs of this mod with conversions to the new rules and Bestiary can really fix it -- there are strong balance issues at Tiers 3-4 and 6-7, that a rework of a single monster (as pictured on the cover) can help with. I'd also suggest prospective GMs read the product discussion thread and clarifications on intent of the author. I'd also suggest re-drawing the contained maps and expanding the general area of the tower rooms -- the courtyard map in particular needs to be a bit larger if players are expected to have more than one course of action in a key encounter.
The fun portion of this mod comes from playing up a few encounters that could otherwise just be boring combats -- how they are presented can make a big difference, and you have to play up the descriptions and NPC interactions to maximum effect.