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Pathfinder Society Scenario #39: The Citadel of Flame (PFRPG) PDF

****( ) (based on 29 ratings)

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

Once the home to a cult preaching self-sacrifice by immolation in order to achieve paradise, the Citadel of Flame in Qadira's Meraz Desert was presumably wiped out decades ago after Sarenrae dervishes led a crusade to end its morbid message. An enormous sandstorm swallowed both the citadel and the army attacking it, burying both beneath hundreds of feet of sand. Thought lost forever, the citadel's rediscovery prompts the Pathfinder Society to send you deep in the unforgiving Meraz to finally close the book on Qadira's most mysterious cult.

Written by Steven Robert

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 (29)
1 to 5 of 29 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 29 ratings)

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Strong thematics, some good fights

****( )

This adventure has aged fairly well. At low tier the enemies are strong enough to challenge a normal party; sadly the end boss is not at cool as earlier encounters.

What really makes it shine though is the flavor. Read up a bit on Moloch in Princes of Darkness, and think about how his cult would get Sarenrae's hackles raised. The location is a really cool set piece, make sure to use that. The adventure's backstory also adds plausibility to a few hidden items that may come in handy for the PCs.

In this adventure I recommend the faction missions. Most of them are appropriate or funny, and a few of them nudge towards things the PCs might find useful.


Great low level scenario

*****

I've now run this several times and each time has been memorable and a lot of fun for everyone. It is well balanced with difficulty, some dangerous possibilities that can be mitigated by attentive play.

One of my favorite encounters in any scenario, make use of your right to secret rolls GMs!

Spoiler:
The trololol caster just inside to complex is amazing, get your parties Perception, Sense Motive, and Will saves beforehand.. add a few red herrings if your players know why you want that info. Roll for them in advance, if their characters don't figure it out, there's a great opportunity to narrate the encounter from their ignorant perspective.

The aerial grappler is a neat encounter, potentially very dangerous though if the GM doesn't mind the tactics. All three groups I've run through have handled the social encounter differently, most of which were very entertaining and worthwhile. Oh and the ritual, man there are a lot of opportunities to mess with players in this scenario.

Spoiler:
So you wanna do a ritual to an evil God, eh? You know, the one who revels in his followers wandering around in the desert until they die? Too many scenarios reward the players for questionable decision making, not this one. The ritual is almost always a bad idea, but players will do it anyways because it *must* be a good idea based on out of game knowledge..

The final fight is memorable and potentially challenging if the players aren't paying close attention to their environment. I do wish there was some 1-2 tier scaling for the lava damage though, even if that doesn't make a lot of sense. Killing a level 1 character in that manner does not feel good. Good ending to the scenario too, be sure to whisper creepy Moloch things to PCs from the great beyond and play up the danger if any of them get "stuck" to the portal.

There are a few mechanical warts in this scenario, but they can be easily covered up with a decent amount of preparation. Not enough of a problem for me to deduct a star, the scenario is just so much fun!


Stunning location for a dungeoncrawler

*****

If I were to describe this scenario in a few words, I would have to go with 'a straightforward dungeoncrawler at a simply amazing location'. That might actually seem pretty boring, but the opposite is true. While the plot is fairly simple and standard, it is the atmosphere and scenery that really makes this scenario stand out from the rest. The aesthetics and lore behind the Citadel of Flame really give it that extra bit of flavor that it needs. I could continue on how fond I am of the location, but that would make for a boring and long review with me going on tangents just like I am already doing right now.

So lets move on to the combats. I feel like there was a nice amount of diversity and I found it to be not repetitive in the slightest. This keeps you as a player on edge and constantly worrying what's around the next corner. It's also nice that creative thinking is rewarded in a few of these fights. Especially the second encounter offers a plethora of options, which I'd assume makes this a fun scenario to DM by itself. All-in-all, the fights were rather challenging, but there are enough ways to make the foes easier to handle.

As for roleplaying opportunities, I'd have to say that it's not the main focus of the scenario. There are some occassions where you can put those social skills into practice with some NPC's, but most of the interacting will be based on the location you find yourself in and how you, as a character, react to your surroundings. Given the scenery, this can be a lot of fun to act out, but at the same time it's also something that can easily get ignored if some players are not into that sort of stuff. You can obviously play this scenario just by going on a rampage and just kill things, but I dare to say that actual roleplaying can really make this a more than memorable scenario. This is especially true if you're a paladin or cleric of a good deity, or if you're going to do the Cheliax faction mission.

Speaking of which: you (as a party) should really look into doing the Cheliax faction mission, even if you're normally not aligned with them. This closing comment may sound very awkward and strange but trust me when I saw that it's a really unique experience and well-worth getting sidetracked for. You may insert evil laughter here.


Properly prepared, an unforgetable dungeon crawl

****( )

Perspective: GM two times at Tier 1-2

This is the kind of Scenario once you have well prepared and appropriately set with notes, it's just easy to pick up from your collection and roll over the table without other preparation than choosing the minis/tokens. That's one star.

As a dungeon crawl the encounters are varied and interesting. If properly prepared -understanding all powers, tactics...- the encounters are challenging but balanced as long as the GM sticks to the given tactics. That's a second star.

From a roleplaying point of view, there is at least one, but probably even more good opportunities, which is rare in a dungeon crawl. The best on this side though is how fantastically the scenario succeeds on letting the players discover all the history behind, which in most scenarios is kept secret for other than the GM, as well as the nice aesthetics descriptions of the architecture. That's a third star.

From the fun point of view, the Cheliax faction mission is just a so much fun moment for everybody you want to hand faction missions to everybody even if they do not count to the prestige points anymore. For the rest, the scenario is not that much original, but stands good as a dungeon crawl. As I cannot give half star, there it goes my fourth.

The scenario just loses the fifth star because there are mechanics the scenario omits which can totally break some of the encounters, making them way too easy or overkill the party. The author shall remember us some mechanics from the Core book which are not usually used (the sacred weapon of the cult is a very complex one), and give more detail on how to use some monster tactics so player characters are not rendered helpless (this can be avoided by careful reading, but some rules are so corner cases that we GMs use to forget after reading).

GM advise:

Make sure you know how a whip works, to whom can and cannot deal damage, and how to move the monster so the whip tripping can be used to max advantage.
Study how illusion and figments in particular work (here you have a 3.5 article totally useful still for Pathfinder).
Revisit the rules about casting spells from wholes. You need a 1' whole at least, and casting a fireball from something like that requires an special attack described in the spell.
Remember the bridge is closed. No flying from far away each turn.
Try to maintain the forge encounter into the diplomatic style, there is a really nice opportunity for roleplaying there. Profit it and shorten the time to run the game.
Do not forget to read the before combat section and apply it properly. This is specially important on the last encounter or it will be just too easy.
It is not explained how to deal with the lava rivers. They are not big, thus I made it you can move without problems through them, but you cannot leave your mini over one (too much heat, and too dangerous to stand there). It worked fine both times for me.

Length: Medium (4 hours are ok. Much shorter if you avoid giving attention to the aesthetics of the Citadel and the history behind)
Experience: GM x2 at subtier 1-2
Entertainment: (7/10) There are moments in the scenario that will last in the memory of the players.
Combat/Challenges: (9/10) This is among the best of the adventure.
Uniqueness: (6/10) Not unique, but deserves recognition from the simplicity of its plot and the Citadel in itself. The combats set ups are quite unique, but I rate that in the combat section.
Roleplay: (7/10) There is one with an NPC and another with the environment, which is cool.
Lore: (10/10) The best is the aesthetics of the Citadel and the history behind.
Mechanics: (4/10) The suggested mechanics doesn't seem to understand how some kind of spells work. Without explicit clarification, it's left to knowledgable GM's to properly play it within rules and following the scenario at the same time. The ideas behind are fun though.
GM difficulty: (6/10) First time needs a lot of preparation, or you will probably play it bad, giving a poor or even very bad experience to the players. After you really know how to deal with the mechanics I pointed out in the spoiler, it is incredibly easy to roll the scenario into a table. I would not recommend it to inexperienced GM's.

Global: 3.5/5


Straight forward dungeon run, with some extras

****( )

This is a pretty straightforward dungeon run. It does have some nice extras in a couple of really interesting fight set ups.

Its a good scenario if you have little prep time. The maps are easy to draw, and the creatures are either straight out of the beastiary, or detailed completely in the scenario.

Some of the fights can be deadly on the lower teir, but creative thinking will help a lot!

I remcomend this scenario for: People who like dungeon crawls in interesting settings. Will have a couple of nice challenges for those who love tactics.
Not recommended for people who like roleplay. There is very little in this scenario (only one encounter).


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