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

****( ) (based on 32 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 (32)
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Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 32 ratings)

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An Exercise in Paranoia

****( )

I recently played through Citadel of Flame in a home game with a 3-man group of lvl4 PCs, vs a mix of the upper and lower tier encounters. As a result, I'm not really in a good place to say how balanced things were.

The flavor here was really entertaining. A few bits stand out as particularly memorable (listed in the spoiler below) but overall it managed to fill me with incredible paranoia about what lied in wait for us. It manages to take your out-of-character thoughts and expectations and plays with them in order to make you overly concerned about what is coming.

Spoiler:
The initial discovery of the Sarenite corpses, the Holy arrows, and the inscription at the entrance tripped our "incoming demon" alarms. From then on we snuck about expecting trouble at every turn. The rooms do a great job of playing up how Moloch-centric the scenery is, never letting you forget what might be around the next corner.

We correctly skipped participating in the trials in the tower, but that didn't stop me from wondering what awful thing would happens from flaunting the "rules" of the tower. My DM played up the sounds of fire from above so we kept expecting more fire elementals to rush down at any moment. Also, I was convinced the sentinel statue would come to life to pursue us for not kneeling. It all made for good in-character opportunities for RP.

The post final boss seal was suitably eerie, and left me second-guessing our decision on what to do with it. On the way out with the smith we had chosen to kidnap, I was incredibly convinced that he was possessed and that there would be one last encounter. I was surprised and a bit disappointed that that didn't turn out the be the case!

The first encounter was very clever, though my own reasoning for what was happening had me barking up the wrong tree before we worked it out. Second encounter ended up being a pushover due to our character builds.

Unfortunately, the final boss ended up being a bit disappointing as the pets were easily dealt with and our Ranger handled the boss before she got to do much.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this scenario, though the resolution was a bit disappointing after how much the environment and atmosphere hype things up.


*****


Warning for GMs: take your time on this one.

****( )

(I GMed this.)

I love the setting in this. Someone clearly spent a lot of time and energy on making this scenario all come together, and it shows. But, even though the thematics shine through greatly, some other stuff was paid less attention to. As a GM, this was horrible to run. There were some big mistakes here and there, a lot of flavour text is missing, and it's just plain chaotic in its structure. Also, it's pretty easy to get the drop on the final encounter, invalidating the majority of her tactics and leaving her neutered. Which is a shame, I feel.

In all, great to play, terrible to run. Would recommend playing this, but only with a GM who knows what he's doing.


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!


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