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Pathfinder Society Scenario #33: Assault on the Kingdom of the Impossible (PFRPG) PDF

****( ) (based on 22 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 1st to 5th level characters (Tiers: 1–2 and 4-5).

The Pathfinder Society sends you to the fabled Kingdom of the Impossible, the island of Jalmeray, to stop an Aspis Consortium black market relics dealer who is organizing the local bandits and violently robbing Jalmeray and Pathfinder Society caravans laden with relics, artifacts, and magical mysteries. When a venture-captain is murdered by the Aspis Consortium agent, it's up to the PCs to find him and do whatever it takes to stop him.

Written by Craig Shackleton

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 (22)
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****( ) (based on 22 ratings)

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Had a lot of fun, but wow it's simple!

***( )( )

I played this module/scenario years ago, mostly forgotten. I had a chance to run it recently, but only had about 1 day notice that I would be doing it, and I was only able to get about 3 hours to prep. This meant I couldn't even read the GM forum -- I had enough time to read & highlight the module, to make maps, and that was it. In some cases, I couldn't even prep enemy stat blocks. For example:

I had no idea of the saving throw DC for a monk's stunning fist. I had no idea if constructs could be sneak-attacked. No biggie, but usually I'm over-prepared, and in this case I was looking things up on my cell phone as we played.

Having said that, it was still a pretty OK game. The gang said they had fun. And it didn't run long. This should tell GMs something: this game doesn't need a huge amount of prep time, and it'll easily fit into a 4 hour time slot. I even ran the optional encounter. Still ended on time.

One of the great things about this super-simple module is that it was on the leading edge for one big aspect of the game. It did something 8 years ago that most scenarios nowadays take for granted (modules didn't always embrace this back then):

It allows for Diplomacy/Intimidate/Bluff to short-circuit some encounters. You don't have to fight. I tried to encourage fighting by having the bad guys pull out weapons and get very hostile (without actually taking a swing). Even still, some of the players saw through the hostility, and could sense that the bad guys were scared/nervous/underpaid, and just wanted out. They bargained hard wherever they could sense an opening. They still had a few fights, but they skipped 2 (including the boss fight!) and let a few bad guys go free. I felt like the players really "earned" their Diplomatic options, because I didn't lead them down that path -- I did let on that the bad guys were scared at one point, but I did keep having the bad guys grab weapons and act dangerous. So when the players chose to negotiate, I felt like they really were trying for it, and when they pulled it off, they really earned it.

One thing about this module that was entertaining: the fights were difficult. Nobody died, but characters kept falling unconscious. What was doubly interesting is that the team had a couple level 3s but were in low tier, so they were overpowered for this module. However, I got lucky, and the terrain is better than previous reviews have let on. Here is the lucky part:

The PCs split themselves up for the monk statue fight -- some outside of the keep, some inside. In addition, they failed the Perception checks, so I gave these monks a surprise round to really try to make it dangerous. That helped make the fight more challenging, but the PCs still overcame it handily. However, see the next spoiler.

And here is the terrain part, which I think every GM should read:

The main advance on the keep can be brutal. Yes, the players can Stealth in. However, GMs shouldn't be giving that away. Stealth requires declaring it; you move at half speed, you duck behind obstacles, etc. I kept asking about their approach, but I never called for a Stealth check or even suggested it -- that part is up to them. So my players? They didn't duck behind anything. In fact, they started buffing themselves about 35' or 40' away from the walls. So yeah, they got caught.

Here is where terrain can make some 1st level enemy grunts into a serious fight for 3rd level PCs. The scenario text states that the approach to the keep is difficult terrain, as it's a steep hill to the keep's walls. In addition, the archers are on the walls, above the range of reach weapons. So as the PCs were noticed and shot at, they started running toward the keep, but had to spend 10' of movement for each square they crossed (this is not me making this up; this is in the module). So they were out in the open for round 1 & 2 of the fight! They got shot. One PC went down.

When they finally got inside, they saw the ladder and ran to it. However, the enemy ran to the ladder and pushed it over while the PCs were mid-climb! The module doesn't dictate that I do that, but it made obvious sense. The archers want to shoot the melee brutes while they're down on the ground. So of course they blocked the brute from getting up on the walls. This gave the archers another 2 rounds of shots. I did improvise in favor of the players, a little bit. Because the walls were crumbling, and because the archers were leaning far over the wall in order to push away the ladder, I had at a couple points declared them as making balance checks that left them flat-footed. Some PCs used this to get up on the walls even though the enemies were blocking (enemies can't take AOO if they're flat-footed). One enemy fell off the walls. Overall it was a big loss for the bad guys, but they got a TON of arrows fired before they went down. If I hadn't imposed some balance checks, it's probable that the archers would have enjoyed another round, and maybe taken down another PC.

Yes, the module is from the early days of Pathfinder. Yes, it has "old style" fights that are easily overcome by today's PCs. However, you can get a real boost in these fights if you pay attention to the maps and take into consideration the environment. In one of the encounters I didn't discuss, there is a forested area. There is nothing in the module about difficult terrain or what the forested parts mean in terms of combat rules, but there are general rules about tree trunks providing cover, and leaves providing concealment, and so on. As a GM, you can certainly give the fights a little "oomph" and still be within the rules.

Most enemies don't have a lot of tricks. Most fights are "normal." This is what I mean when I suggest the module is "simple." However, it is also enjoyable, and the way the module allows PCs to handle things makes for a good time.

Has one very fun idea, is pretty bland otherwise.

****( )

(I GMed this twice.)

I can be short about this: it has a few very fun ideas, but they're never really fleshed out. It's typical Season 0/1 fare: there's a fun idea, but there wasn't enough attention to really make it come to life. Jalmeray is a cool location but isn't utilised, the intrigue with the Thakur could've been improved, and so on. The scenario hints and teases at it, but that's all it does. Latter seasons really pack that extra oomph that really make you invested in the scenario, this one just throws you in the deep end without any guidance.

Combats feel a little lacklustre. The enemies never really posed a threat and with this setting, you could really have made use of some more exotic creatures, even in season 1. What's worse on the GM's side is that the scenario keeps referring back to the same stat block (and one fight even has enemies 4 pages apart), leading to a lot of flipping back and forth unless you make a separate printout. But that's behind-the-scenes stuff that doesn't really impact the experience for the players.

If you're inclined, you can roleplay a whole lot here, instead of fighting. As a result, a lot of fights can be talked away, and the scenario cut short as a result. Be sure to keep that in mind.

In the end, I have trouble coming up with a ranking. It's missing a whole lot to make it a classic, but what it does it does competently. I wasn't too blown away by it, but my most recent players seem pretty charmed by it. I'll lean towards 4 stars, but it could just as easily have been 3.

A bit bland, but still a decent scenario

***( )( )

This scenario felt relatively painful for a 1-5 scenario compared to the latest seasons. It felt as if the opponents were able to put up more of a fight, though that could have also been some luck on the GM's side. The various statues were a nice and flavorful touch, as was the fact you had to lose a fight, but I do have to admit I missed some 'typical' Jalmeray flavor. As it stands now, I can't really say I was blown away by this adventure.

The story itself is pretty straight forward, but has some nice titbits. The way the language plays a vital point in this scenario, as well some of the other role-playing parts can really mess with a player's mind and a bunch of depth to the scenario. Even better was the fact that the BBEG does not necessarily has to be evil and can be dealt with through other means. It's not as black as white as other scenarios tend to be when it comes to that aspect, though the variety in encounters was a bit lacklustre to say the least.

All in all, I'd say it's a fun scenario and certainly not a bad one. It just lacks that extra bit of uniqueness to make it really stand out from the rest and to make it memorable.

***( )( )

An RPG Resource Review


Consignments of artefacts and magical items belonging to the Pathfinder Society have been going missing in transit in the Isle of Jalmeray, something calculated to annoy the Pathfinders (even before the local venture-captain was murdered)... The backstory for the GM explains all, and a party of Pathfinders is now needed to deal with the situation.

The adventure opens with the party being given their task: to travel across the island with a fake legendary item - the sceptre of the arclords - with the intention of having it stolen by one Zamir, the bandit lord (and, it is thought, agent of the Aspis Consortium) believed responsible for the thefts. The sceptre has been attuned to a special Wayfinder, which will point towards it wherever it goes, and the party are to follow to Zamir's lair and put a stop to his antics either by recruiting him or in a more terminal manner. Zamir has been getting information from a spy within the Pathfinders. This individual has been identified but left unmolested for now, and he has been given information about the proposed shipment. How does it feel to be bait?"

So begins a tightly-plotted adventure with some interesting aspects - for a start, the party is supposed to let the sceptre be stolen so they have to LOSE the fight with the bandits... not an easy thing to do, it's hard to manage without giving the game away, and who likes losing a fight anyway? The eventualities of their not managing to lose the fight or not have the sceptre stolen are covered reasonably well with other options of finding out where Zahir's lair might be provided. - it's nice to see a scenario author remembering that most plots don't survive contact with the players. Zamir's base and the operation he's running there are well-described and there are various ways in which the party can infiltrate the place and meet him. It is interesting to have a potential diplomatic solution as opposed to a final brawl, options are open.

Possibly the most disappointing thing about this adventure is that the exotic nature of Jalmeray doesn't really feature - it's up to the GM to add their own flavour to proceedings to achieve the right feel for the place. Other than that, it's a well-crafted and slightly unusual adventure that can be fun for players and GM alike.

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