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Pathfinder Society Scenario #47: The Darkest Vengeance (PFRPG) PDF

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

When a newly opened Ustalav Pathfinder Lodge goes silent, it's up to you to investigate and report back to the Society as to the source of the disappearance. The mystery deepens when you arrive and find the house silent but infiltrated by an old threat now in control of one of Ustalav's most powerful artifacts.

Written by Tim Hitchcock and Mark Moreland

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)
1 to 5 of 22 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | next > last >>

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

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A Taste of the Darklands

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I recently played this scenario in a home game (playing down to low tier at the recommendation of our DM). This made most of the combats quite easy, but didn't detract too much from the overall feel of the scenario.

To discuss the elephant in the room:

The Final Encounter:
We were lucky that our group had a way to deal with this encounter, and I expect things would have gone pretty hard south if we didn't. After the not-too-unexpected surprise of deeper darkness we moseyed on out of the room and our cleric summoned up a beastie with tremorsense to deal with the boss more effectively.
I'm not a big fan of this kind of very binary encounter (you have a solution or you don't) and I can imagine it being way worse for lower leveled players.

The story felt quite solid, with a good amount of mystery packed into a short time. Sure it was more "told" than shown to the players, but the parts you got to interact with (the machine and the last couple of encounters) worked well to reinforce everything.

Story:
The handouts seem to spell out Skeldon as the bad guy in the scenario, stealing from the Dark folk and sacrificing Pathfinders. I approached the final encounter with the impression that it might be possible to negotiate with any dark folk and/or let them extract their vengeance (...like the title of the scenario... y'know). That impression what swiftly dispersed when my PC got shanked for serious damage in the first round of the deeper darkness effect despite taking no actions to help Skeldon.

Also, the journal hypes up his work in the darklands, only for the area under the lodge to be a large cavern and one more room... what a letdown.

So overall: Spotty but decent combats, great flavor, while the end soured me a little, I had a lot of fun with this one.


A lot of great ideas horribly executed

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Every part of this scenario would be really interesting and cool if it were executed well, but there's so much wonky and vague stuff going on that nothing really...works.

The entire scenario is pathetically easy, until the final encounter that is practically impossible (and very deadly) as written.


Not as terrible as I expected, but not without issues

***( )( )

If a scenario has "dark" in its name, I assume all sane people prepare to fight in bad light conditions. I personally don't believe that players should contort themselves to avoid making use of the scenario name, blurb or front cover image when preparing for the adventure. It's not their fault the editor spoiled it.

In this case, there are actually quite a few in-scenario hints that you will be struggling with light conditions, so being prepared is legitimate.

We played this with a 6-player party on high tier. It was unusually dangerous for a S1 scenario (which is, after all, built for 4 players with less options than now). Which I'm fine with; a bit of a challenge is good. I think including all the foreshadowing given, the high tier is doable (nowadays). Dangerous but by level 4-5 you should be ready for opponents who have a real plan for fighting back.

On low tier, I think it's quite busted. The boss is way over the top.

All in all I'm not a fan of "darkness gimmick" scenarios. This isn't the first and definitely not the last. The problems with darkness as a gimmick are;

Spoiler:

  • Calculating areas of light and darkness, especially when people start deploying countermeasures, is annoyingly complicated. Especially if the source of light or darkness moves about, continually calculating how far regions of normal, dim, dark and supernatural darkness extend, is a lot of work. Add to that the fact that there are way too many vaguely conflicting light and darkness powers out there and you spend a lot of time looking up and explaining rules.
  • It's repetitive. Just about every darkness encounter I've ever run into is rogues trying to shank you for muchos sneak attack damage.
  • It leads to an arms race where you "have to" play a race with darkvision. Nice surprise for new players. Not.
  • It makes scenario difficulty very swingy. If you have a darkvision table, it makes encounters trivial. If you don't have any, it's murder.

We went into this with a well-prepared group and despite a few dicey moments made it through in one piece. We did have a good time. It's not a terrible scenario, but not great. And should only be played with a proper high tier table.


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Uh, yeah this IS deadly even if you follow rules and play fair.

***( )( )

This module has some extremes -- a cakewalk encounter followed by some extremely deadly encounters. The review before mine had this text: "it is extremely challenging if that encounter is ran incorrectly or is strictly interpreted against the players." And that prompted me to write this review simply to rebut that. The answer to that statement is NO. As in, no, the module is not difficult because GMs run it "incorrectly" or are mean. The encounter is deadly because following the rules makes it deadly.

Being a good GM who follows the mandate of Pathfinder Society management -- "run modules as-is" -- makes that encounter deadly.

encounter spoiler:
The encounter involves not just darkness, but supernatural darkness, so even those with darkvision are blinded. No one can see anything. By the rules, the PCs won't even know accurately where to move, much less how to accurately interact with a machine that they have not inspected. I have seen GMs offer cheats such as allowing some alchemical light sources to penetrate the darkness a little, but that is completely rule-breaking. The darkness effect is not the lower-level weaker version. It's the higher, more powerful one. By the rules, it wipes out all non-magical lights, returns the light "setting" to the ambient light of the surrounding area (which is no light at all), and then moves it 2 levels darker than that. It is absolute darkness, of the kind you would find in a sensory deprivation chamber. Everburning torches and other low-level light spells won't offset it, unless you are playing in a home game (not PFS), where you can get an everburning torch cast at a higher level.

Interacting with a machine somewhere in the room should involve slowed movement or Acrobatics checks, and Perception checks at penalties as outlined in the "Vision and Light" section of the rule book. It should involve miss chances from that same rules section, especially because they are in combat initiative as they interact with the machine. At low levels, the PCs are in serious, serious jeopardy from unseen attackers. They are also at risk of losing the man they are trying to save, since he has mere rounds to live and the solution to the darkness problem can take many rounds longer (even minutes or hours if they have to return to town). None of that is because GMs are douchey or cheaty. It is because those are the true rules, and PFS management has said "don't you dare veer away from the rules." So even if a GM is pulling for the PCs, the encounter can result in death. The GM did not suck at running the encounter. The module is simply too hard to be run as-is for many low-level groups. The fault lies there.

In a home game, all bets are off. I could tweak this in 5 seconds to be level-appropriate, and the problems with the module would be overcome. It would even be fun.


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