Pathfinder Society Scenario #37: The Beggar's Pearl (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 1st to 7th level characters (Tiers: 1–2, 3–4, and 6–7).

When a thief arrives at the Pathfinder Lodge in Almas bearing stolen artifacts and writings pointing the way to a lost dwarven gallery, you are sent into the rugged Aspodell Mountains to find the famed dwarven explorer last known to be searching for the gallery as well as the gallery itself. Once there you find a tangled web of darklands creatures in the thrall of a charismatic cult leader with ties to the darkest shadows of the First Realm.

Written by James F. Mackenzie

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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A challenging BBEG at tier 1-2

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Two healers, a barbarian and a ranged paladin enter, they all leave. Somehow still alive, but laughing at what just happened. That’s the summary of how our session went down on the low tier. We had a ridiculous amount of healing, but we needed it. Admittedly, that’s also because the barbarian (follower of Groetus) decided that “the end was nigh” and jumped down a 100 ft. pit and took slightly above average damage. It was completely in character. Don’t worry though, we managed to save him from completely bleeding out.

The other memorable moment is when we spend 16 rounds trying to hit the BBEG and were unsuccessful. A part of it is just really bad luck when rolling the dice, but also because of her AC and tricks. The rare times we struck true, the damage wouldn’t stick. In short: that particular enemy is really tough to deal with on tier 1-2. I can easily envision a lot of groups struggling there. It’s a challenge for sure.

I had fun though. It was moderately creepy dungeon with some interesting scenery and challenges. What annoys me though, is the title of this scenario. The name refers to a minor trinket that you use early on, but is not relevant for the majority of the scenario. Furthermore the map is unnecessarily big. Sure, it’s better than 5 ft. corridor hell, but this is the other end of the spectrum.

So yes, there are some flaws, but this is certainly flavorful and really challenging on the low levels. The BBEG is one of the more difficult bosses I’ve faced, though thankfully not the most dangerous. I quite like the scenario, though a few things could have been better.


Crazy tough for beginning levels

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So my group was filled with three 1st level and two 2nd levels, and literally the only reason we won was because of the tank dwarf who minmaxed his character to the point all he could do was damage. Against the BBEG he was critical to keep alive, and it was even worse when we learned what we needed to do proper damage. Very few people carry that at 1st level. I do it out of paranoia after gaming for so many years.
I think the biggest issue we had was that you essentially needed to *spoiler* fail the beginning trap. The fact that something like that essentially couldn't be found otherwise made us all scratch our heads.
Overall, it could have been better than it was. More engaging, allowed for tactics a bit more, more enemies or a smaller keep so it wasn't as empty looking, etc. I think this might have been better as a 3-7 instead of having 1-2, and I always recommend it to players who are in that level. If they really want to play it earlier, I suggest it's somewhere in the later stages of level 2.


Not great, has some moments though

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The difficulty seems kind of all over the place with this one. A lot of really easy encounters, and then a potentially devastating BBEG(or potentially super easy). Haven't GMd or played against the 6-7 version but the 3-4 is a joke and the 1-2 is a potential deathtrap for some parties.

The map is large, annoying to draw and keep track of. Which would be fine if there were fun, balanced encounters all over the place, but mostly there's just empty space and.. mites

Positives for this scenario are the RP possibilities with Torvic and the NPC captives. There really isn't much in the scenario and it's on the GM to bring something extra to an otherwise boring and meandering dungeon crawl. The thing I enjoyed most is the creepy, macabre, hilarious setting for the final encounter. That part is great, I really enjoyed messing with my players in that scene right before the fight.


Fun, but takes significant preparation

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I've both played this and run it. When I played it, the GM didn't really manage to play up the spookiness or lore-background of the place. When I read the adventure I saw how much more it could be, and tried to put it in there.

This adventure has some things I really like;

  • A decent grounding in Golarion lore. Stuff you can find in the ISWG, but it makes it more than just a random dungeon.

  • My players did some research before going in and learned that the dwarves had left the place because of killing-madness inducing fungi infestations. I'd drawn the fungi patches on my map and the players were properly nervous of them.

  • Huge map. Ridiculously big. Get a big table. But it gives multiple avenues of approach, what The Alexandrian calls Jacquaying. The players aren't railroaded, they have actual choices in how to explore the dungeon. That's worth some table space.

  • Decent variety in encounters. Most of them are pretty doable for a low-level party, even with poor tactics, but that makes it harder.

  • Good climax scene. When the players reach the end room and you get to distribute minis, they get proper scared. And that's when the boss starts coming at them. This adventure's boss is truly a nasty piece of work at low tier.

    The bad

  • Secondary success condition is a bit random, and rather hard to achieve.

  • There's a clever bit in the beginning that a GM might easily miss, which would make it much harder.

    Spoiler:
    In the ravine next to the trap at the entry, there's silver bars. The PCs may need them to finish off Morylaeth, who has both DR/silver and regeneration/silver.

  • The BBEG's statblock is really tricky. You can't run that cold. Even well-prepared, you might make mistakes. But if you do it even halfway right, it's an absolute terror at low tier. (Pun intended.)

    Spoiler:
    The template used originally comes from the Advanced Bestiary, a 3PP product published by Green Ronin. The template's been reprinted in Paizo Bestiary 4, with some differences. Green Ronin's Frightful Presence ability is based on 3.5 rules, and works better than Paizo's, which seems to have errors in it.

    As a GM you should thoroughly study this NPC's stats and the fear rules. She uses fear abilities to prevent the PCs from mounting a mass offensive against her, and she's got high AC and DR to protect her. Combined with Regeneration, she's hard to take down.

    At mid-tier, she's much weaker; by then people will be prepared for DR/silver, paladins are immune to fear etcetera.


  • Interesting, but relatively easy

    ***( )( )

    This scenario plays out oddly. There is a fantastic level of setup presented for the setting and the enemies, and there is a great deal of opportunity for roleplay. The NPCs have a significant amount of backstory that can be talked out of them, and it actually effects the scenario. The final opponent is made to appear as a looming mythical figure, terrifying all those who may oppose them, and the setting for the final scene is cinematic and memorable.

    The combat, however, consistently falls short. The final boss is terrifying for a low tier party, but will consistently be torn down by higher tier characters. The remainder of the dungeon is minor and forgettable combats, which feel largely like they exist to fill space. I feel like there could have been more done to keep the players engaged and challenged. Perhaps making the trip last longer so they have to weigh the benefits of sleeping?

    Despite it's lackluster combat, the scenario still remains interesting and engaging for mid tier parties, but will likely disappoint those playing in 6-7.


    1 to 5 of 16 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next > last >>
    Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

    This scenario has an "add to cart" button, but doesn't look like it's been released yet. It's not actually adding the book to my cart even when I add it but thought it might deserve mentioning.

    Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

    I just bought this and No Plunder, No Pay and both now say they're in My Downloads but neither one is there.

    Scarab Sages

    Same here. I purchased this mod and need to prep it for this weekend but it doesn't appear in my download area either. I think they're working through this though.

    Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

    Hmm. I thought I flipped all the switches in the correct order, but Ross keeps adjusting the list of switches I need to flip. He'll have to check it out in the morning....

    Liberty's Edge

    Me too! Same problem.

    Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

    Justin the Big wrote:
    Me too! Same problem.

    Fixed now. I flipped the switch right below the one I should have flipped. Sorry!

    Scarab Sages

    No Spoilers, promise...
    I've read through the mod and I'm VERY excited. It has a very old-school feel to it (imo), a la AD&D. It also has new-school as well. It looks like it may run long though. I'll be running it tonight and this weekend. I'll post my thoughts after the convention here in Georgia (Catchup Con).


    FirstChevalier wrote:

    No Spoilers, promise...

    I've read through the mod and I'm VERY excited. It has a very old-school feel to it (imo), a la AD&D. It also has new-school as well. It looks like it may run long though. I'll be running it tonight and this weekend. I'll post my thoughts after the convention here in Georgia (Catchup Con).

    I'm eager to hear how it goes! My suggestions have some spoilers...

    Spoiler:
    If the scenario starts to run overlong, Torvic's jumbled memories may gel enough to suggest where the Lady Morilaeth's revel is being held.

    Additionally, the derro torture-sage is no great supporter of his nightmarish leader: Skilled diplomacy or roleplay may convince the vile researcher and his thralls to stand aside while the party heads upstairs to the Masque of the Pallid Measure. Of course, the party needs to get Torvic off of him to pull this off.

    A group with additional time for play might choose to add a horrific "dream sequence", taking advantage of Morilaeth's deadly power over night terrors. Once Lady Morilaeth knows of the party (probably from a fleeing mite), she can try to stalk them in their dreams. If the party chooses to rest, one of the party members could be targeted by night terrors, while the rest of the party is only present in the victim's dream. I wouldn't reveal who the real victim was until the scene ends (and he begins rolling saving throws) and I wouldn't tell them it was a dream: They'll figure it out soon enough.

    Foreshadowing the Masque of the Pallid Measure... "Orchestral music awakens you, and you find yourself in an opulently-decorated ballroom. You're all seated at a feast table piled high with delicious dishes. Each of you wears a brightly-colored costume and ornate masks cover your faces.

    Festive figures wheel and twirl across the dance floor as dwarfish servants pour wine and deliver trenchers filled with desserts. Beyond the revelers, an elegantly-clad woman urges her guests to enjoy themselves."

    The revel continues until one of the PCs decides to take off their mask (or it becomes tiresome, in which case the revelers begin shouting "unmask!" The unmasking reveals each of the revelers (and the PCs) to be a ghoulish figure, which immediately begins attacking and devouring those around him. The "delicious food" on the table is revealed to be maggot-filled carrion. Blood flows copiously from the wounds the revelers (and PCs) inflict on each other, covering the floor. Shapes seem to rise from the spilled blood, arms pulling struggling victims into the floor beneath them.

    Scarab Sages

    I loved the scenario. Beggar’s Pearl is very fun, and does feel very old-school to me. However, without throwing out a spoiler, it’s very ambitious in its scope to be completed in a convention slot. I ran it as a slot zero, then two times at the convention. We tabled the slot zero as a ‘home game’ so it could be completed legitimately. The first convention slot was able to start early and finish late through chance, and ran long by almost fifty minutes. The second convention slot finished ten minutes early, but only because I had learned where I could cut corners and where I had to focus attention.

    On the whole it’s a VERY fun mod. I highly recommend the adventure, though my tables commented they were getting tired of mites and blue things for what it’s worth.

    I didn't ready your post above this one until *after* I wrote everything in this post (other than this edit)...

    Spoiler:
    This is a dungeon crawl with 4 combat encounters, three traps, and one optional combat encounter spread over two very large area maps. The encounters themselves are not difficult and no group should worry about playing up, in my opinion. The dungeon delving slows the pace down dramatically unless the judge steps in to keep the party from probing every ten feet for the next trap.

    My other critique is to add some call outs for the faction goals in the module text. I had a difficult time flipping back and forth from the faction goals in the back to the areas in the text until I made my own sidebars near them.

    Lastly, I noticed the scaling for the tier 6-7 presented no challenge to my last table of six playing at that tier. The scaling seemed to use the idea of greater numbers presents a greater challenge, but that didn’t work out. Perhaps I ran the encounters wrong or the dice bounced against the monsters but it seemed like they waltzed right through it. I like the idea of not maxing out each encounter so some are easier rather than a full-on no holds barred such as many LG mods were/are. That’s part of the old-school feel I think. That’s my opinion. We welcome yours.


    spoiler monster question:
    Someone mentioned this used a template from the Advanced Bestiary is this true if so which one?

    Liberty's Edge

    Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
    Qwilion wrote:
    ** spoiler omitted **

    Spoiler:
    Nightmare
    Liberty's Edge

    anyone know what "if printed" to 1" squares the dimensions of the map are? I was thinking of taking it to Kinkos.

    Mike


    Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

    I recall it being about two flip-mats worth, but it's been a while.

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