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Pathfinder Society Scenario #31: Sniper in the Deep (PFRPG) PDF

**½( )( ) (based on 9 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 5th to 9th level characters (Tiers: 5–6 and 8–9).

When rumors stir of a hidden treasure ship in Absalom's Flotsam Graveyard, the Pathfinder Society sends you beneath the Inner Sea to investigate. Mayhem, undersea adventure, and chaos are to be had in this rousing rampage beneath the roiling waters of Absalom's harbor.

Written by David Eitelbach and Hank Woon

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 Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Product Reviews (9)
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**½( )( ) (based on 9 ratings)

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A thankless slog in the Flotsam Graveyard

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Played in a home game in low tier with an APL 5 party. We added the faction missions back in for flavor. After playing, I reviewed the scenario pdf with my GM glasses on.

Sniper of the Deep serves as a great example of some of the mediocre, awkward scenario design in season 1. Its story is uninteresting, its flow and pacing uneven, it has the potential to stall out without leads for the players to pursue, its difficulty is unusually out of line, and ultimately it culminates without much fanfare.

Its positive aspects are probably its varied encounters and the unusually testing environments. The players really are challenged to be prepared or face the consequences.

Barring the other issues with this scenario, I think this is one of the most badly presented stories in season 1:

At its core, its the old "missing pathfinder + get the macguffin" worn out trope. The scenario only provides the barest bones of motivation for anything happening. The beginning provides no interesting lore or background, no reason to believe that the pathfinder or the macguffin are actually important, or any indication of what may have happened. The VC is specifically designed to tell you nothing. If the party is smart enough to interrogate the antagonists at the Lusty Mermaid, they get very little else to go on: just that Airk is dead and he had some notes to the location of the macguffin.

Even the DM background information provides no interesting motivations for any of the action. Dargo seems to want the macguffin just to sell it (it is solid gold after all), and all the other antagonists seem to be motivated by gold. The titular Sniper may as well be a stash of gold bricks for all it matters.

All this lack of story makes the whole scenario dry and flavorless.

The combats also leave a lot to be desired:

The underwater environment of the second half, as well as the defenses of the swarm and incorporeal encounters, make everything drag on forever. By today's standards, none of the encounters are extremely deadly in low tier, but they do take a lot of rounds to resolve as the players do half damage or less due to the crippling environment. And those rounds lack any dynamic element, as the movement difficulties make every fight a stand-in-place slugfest. As a result, some encounters went on for half a dozen rounds or more. I wasn't the only player that got fatigued (or even bored) by the proceedings.

And finally, the entire scenario is written in a very adversarial way:

There's a clear preoccupation in the writeup on penalizing the players for their mistakes rather than rewarding them for their successes. NPCs are written to be uncommunicative at best, but actively adversarial if players misstep. For example: mentioning Airk or Dargo at the Lusty Mermaid immediately gives a -4 penalty on diplomacy checks, despite it being the first thing a party is likely to do. Even if players are successful on negotiating with or diplomacy-ing Larro, he attacks them anyway. The entire side-branch involving retrieving Airk's body is pointless, providing additional peril to the players while giving them nothing in terms of story, hints on how to proceed, or even loot.
The fights on the ship are in a light fog + the slanted deck is difficult terrain + half the fights are underwater + the enemies mostly ignore these penalties. Players that are smart enough to enter the ship from the outside and underwater are rewarded with the Skum fight and the undead fight combining with each other.

It just sums up into a general feeling that the whole adventure is needlessly grueling. This feeling is inconsistent with the importance of the scenario. I'd understand a grueling scenario if it was an infiltration of Geb, or a back-and-forth campaign at the Worldwound, but these are just some common thugs and thieves trying to get their hands on a hunk of gold. It's just not narratively "worth it".

As a GM, I likely will not want to run this scenario and I will likely recommend players stay away from it. Its a very poor example of what PFS is capable of and generally just isn't much fun.

An RPG Resource Review

***( )( )

Like many of these adventures, it all begins with a missing Pathfinder and the artefact he was hunting when he disappeared. There's the customary background story for the GM, laying out what is really going on and a summary of how the adventure should run, then the briefing from a rather brusk and obnoxious Venture Captain to be read out to the players gets the adventure underway.

Once they've had this rather impatient briefing, it's up to the party how to investigate the matter, although they are told which inn he is staying at, so that makes a good starting point. Things go downhill rapidly and it is almost impossible to avoid a good tavern brawl. Fortunately there's a good floorplan for the inn (and you can use Paizo's GameMastery Flip-Mat: Waterfront Tavern if you want, as the plan here is based on it). Rather oddly, to progress the adventure, it's assumed that the party manage to question people and it's not clear how they find out where they need to go if they do not engage in conversation instead of or at least as well as having the brawl. Although the missing Pathfinder has obligingly left his notes behind, not everything they need to know is in them.

That aside, presuming they do find out where they need to go, there's a sea cave and some underwater exploration ahead. This is all well laid out and exciting, with sharks and other less natural foes to deal with as they complete their quest. The Faction missions are quite convoluted and require Faction members to be on their toes as several of them need them to sieze the moment to do whatever it is that they must accomplish.

Apart from the need to ensure that the party actually discover the information they require, it's an exciting adventure with plenty of action abover and beneath the water.

Not impressive undersea dungeon

**( )( )( )

Played in high tier.
battle oracle 8
gunslinger 8
wizard 7
grappling monk 5
paladin 8 (GM said it can be too deadly, just put in his character only channel and lay on hands)

Another all-combat module, one of which is very challenging, be with GMs strickly follow the tactics, it's not overwhelming.

Just a kick-butt game, nothing too memorable escept the one combat many commends have mentioned.

Artificially Difficult

**( )( )( )

Played this at high tier with a group consisting of a Cleric, Paladin, Zen Archer Monk, Hydrokineticist, a Sorcerer and a second Paladin.

Overall I felt this scenario had a somewhat interesting story with some very interesting, but poorly explained locations; ultimately though, it's just a deathtrap for all but the most cheesed out combat parties.

Heavy encounter spoilers follow.

The first area starts off with a fairly generic bar fight, if the PCs win initiative like we did it's unlikely the enemies will even get to do anything before being killed. I actually had to talk the GM into giving the enemies a surprise round on us to make it at all challenging. This is also where pretty much the entire story happens in the form of exposition from a pile of journals, the rest of the scenario is pure combat.

We actually skipped the cave encounter entirely, having decided as a party that the ship was more urgent, but resolved to come back after that was dealt with, unfortunately we ran out of real life time to complete it. The GM showed us the stat blocks after we finished and I can safely say we would have had a pathetically easy time with the cave; the Sorcerer alone could have ended it in one shot with a fireball, even a poorly rolled one.

The ship contains all the other encounters for this scenarios and in short, is a total deathtrap. The map is two layered and angled sunken ships that makes understanding it through a 2D map almost impossible, I seriously didn't know what was going on till the GM showed us the full map after the game. On top of that pretty much the entire thing is both underwater and considered difficult terrain, so the entire party was shuffling along at 5ft per turn (the GM was nice and let us do this with a move action rather than the full-round it should have taken); this negated any sort of tactics we could have employed and every fight amounted to both sides just standing there trading blows till one of them died. The Zen Archer and Hydrokineticist were particularly useless due to being focused on ranged attacks in an entirely underwater environment.

Finally, what makes this scenario so deadly is that there are ghosts that do level drain in this underwater area, where the players are heavily hindered in their ability to fight and can't even retreat. The ghosts on the other hand are incorporeal and suffer absolutely no penalties to their movement or attacks. They also apparently have no pre-written tactics so a particularly mean GM could kill a player every turn if the ghosts focus on them.

We only survived because we had the Cleric and both Paladins do pretty much nothing but channel energy to kill them for several rounds and our GM intentionally spread out the level drain to give us a chance. I feel bad for any party that isn't heavily composed of divine casters that can deal with undead quickly.

The encounters after this aren't too bad, only made difficult by the level drain the party will still be under and the continued lack of mobility. If you have a few PCs that can take a lot of damage and someone that can heal them then it becomes a straightforward grind with the party 5ft shuffling forward between fights.

Tough Aquatic Fun

***( )( )

GM'ed this for the high tier. Party was Cleric, Monk, Witch and Ranger.

Firstly, it is good to have an aquatic scenario. PFS really needs a few more.

Secondly, this was probably a very very difficult scenario back when it first appeared but these days with the extra books available it is now about just right at high tier.

I enjoyed running this one although it is very combat heavy with little opportunity for roleplay.

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