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Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-13: Murder on the Throaty Mermaid (PFRPG) PDF

***½( ) (based on 26 ratings)

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

While on a routine mission to escort a dignitary to the mysterious Mordant Spire aboard a disreputable smuggler's ship, the PCs find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery that could jeopardize the Pathfinder Society's relationship with the isolationist elves who call the citadel home. Can the cunning Pathfinders discover who among the ship's crew of scum and villains is responsible for the crime in time to clear their own names? This murder mystery upon the open sea features a mechanic allowing for a different killer each time it's run to ensure that no amount of word of mouth will spoil the investigation for any team of canny players.

Written by 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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PZOPSS0213E


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Product Reviews (26)
1 to 5 of 26 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 26 ratings)

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Great Roleplaying Sandbox

*****

One of my all-time favorites to run. It's full of fun characters, and it develops differently every time. Just be sure to organize your notes on everyone's alibis.


Run it twice so far, look forward to running it again

*****

Murder on the Throaty Mermaid has a lot going for it. It gives the party a very real, very direct reason to care about their mission/s. It has a sense of urgency about it without being so time-crunch-y that players are rushed into missing out on the fun.

It is very RP heavy. Having run it twice, each of the four hour runs included probably 2-3 hours of investigating, searching, and discussing options. There are enough combats to keep people that don't like RP scenarios happy (2 absolutely mandatory, and 3 or 4 optionals).

The best part for me is that the big reveal can be different each time depending on who shows to the table. This means you need to read and prep a little more, but it's way more fun to GM multiple times. There's also a wide variety of quirky characters for you to work with that should lead to a lot of fun times.


Good concept... flawed execution

***( )( )

I just got back from running this tonight. I'm all about open, non-dungeon-crawl scenarios that encourage roleplaying, but this one stretched that a little. Most of it plays like an investigation, but for all the investigating the PCs do it always ends the same. Despite the numerous pitfalls, the scenario is actually pretty fun overall, though. Once the investigation gets under way, the PCs really enjoyed venturing through the ship, interacting with the various crew, and trying to piece together what happened. I lucked out and got a table full of roleplayers, and I could tell they appreciated the opportunity to actually use dialog to get through the story instead of countless dice rolling.

In order for things not to spiral wildly out of control, the PCs need to be railroaded into certain situations (lengthy spoiler ahead)...

Spoiler:

Just getting started with the first combat proved to be a huge challenge. Trying to keep 6 inquisitive people cooped up on a part of the ship away from the person they're supposed to watch for 6 months? Everyone wanted to run off and do their faction missions right as they got on the ship. It'll take a firm hand from the GM (or a crazy amount of creativity that I sadly don't have yet) to keep the scenario running as written.

The elf attack is so easily misinterpreted as a diversion that half of the PCs tried to get below deck as fast as possible to keep an eye on Sethriel. And the ship might be occupied by the most inept crew to travel the seas.

The numerous red herrings were a good touch... the smell of perfume, Marzack leading the PCs astray, Killik's disguise self (although low Bluff rolls tipped the PCs off... lucky for me he was the last person they talked to!).

But no matter how much investigation they do, the killers reveal themselves at the end. Why?

In the end, there's probably a lot of info that the PCs don't know that allows them to enjoy it more than the GM. My players said they had a lot of fun, so I can't knock the scenario too much. Definitely a tough one to run... especially as my first game I've run for years!


Murder Mysteries and Railroads

**( )( )( )

Hey all. I liked this adventure although I thought there was a couple of problems to it.

Let me say first of all that I loved played my Gunslinger in this module, my gunslinger is a Pirate and a Sailor so he fit right in and he had many of the appropriate skills for the job, including Profession (Sailor), swim and acrobatics. It was awesome to able to use my Profession (Sailor) and be rewarded for investing in it, in short for picking a concept and sticking to that theme on paper and actually being able to use those skills and have those skills make the game and life easier!

That being said there were problems and here's where spoilers come in.
The first thing id like to discuss concerns the problems that occured with the Murder Mystery part of the module:

Spoiler:
In short the problem was that I didnt really find any clues to lead me to the murderer. Others have discussed this in their reviews but I feel like there should have been a few more clues to discover who was responsible. We pretty much searched the ship from top to bottom, we talked to relevant npcs to get their stories and compared their stories to each others to find inconsistencies but even then we weren't entirely sure until the baddy revealed himself at the end. I understand the need to make things hard but there has to answers to find somewhere or it just feels like we are groping around in the dark or worse yet as a player I just give up and wait for the baddy to reveal himself, because I know he will! I'd rather not resort to metagaming.

The second thing Id like to discuss is the problems with being railroaded into a plotline and the weaknesses of deus ex machina:
Spoiler:
In the module as we played it the baddies surprised us just after a storm hit the ship. Being a skilled sailor I had run up to the deck to help steer the ship through the storm and my Half-orc friend had followed me to help, while the less skilled members of our group hid in the crew quarters and strapped themselves down. That's what you do when you're on a ship and in a storm, you hold on for dear life! So my problem is this, the baddies knew exactly where we were and came right at us. We didnt get a perception check to see them coming, perhaps because the storm was such a distraction. But if the storm is covering their approach like that, if its that distracting that we don't get a roll at all, then surely the baddies don't automatically know where we are either! The storm should also have covered our exact locations thus giving us the time to untie ourselves and get our bearings (we were literally still tied to the steering wheel when they attacked it was that soon). That's what we in the business call a plot convenience or being railroaded into an encounter that's been tilted in the favour of the npcs. That's more than a little unfair, if your gonna run an ambush you should at least give the pcs perception rolls so that they have a chance of seeing it coming, that way if they fail to spot the ambush its their own damned faults.
Now on to the deus ex machina aspect of the module. When you arrive at the Mordant Spire it turns out that the Elven ambassador that got murdered had a cloned copy of himself in backup just in case he got killed. Which of course renders much of the urgency and threat of the module completely null and void. When we played it we were frightened that the Elves would blame us for the murder and kill us when we got to the Spire! As it turned out we need not have been worried, we could have just turned up, shrugged and blamed anyone we liked on board because it really didn't matter. The Ambassador was still alive effectively.And of course theres the question of: if the Elven ambassador is powerful enough to Clone himself how is it he was murdered in his sleep so easily? What no contingency? No rope trick? No Faithful hound sleep guardian?

The third and final point id like to make concerns crazy Npcs and why they shouldn't automatically attack people!

Spoiler:
While we were investigating the ship, questioning crew members and searching for clues, one of my fellow players ran into a little problem. He walked up the Dwarven cook to ask about buying poison from her, because he'd heard she might be able to get him some. She reacted by throwing bombs at him. That's right she flipped out and blew him the F up. Talk about crazy. Not only that she took him out in two shots because she was doing 2d6 damage per bomb and he was only a 1st level fighter. Now you might argue he shouldn't have been wandering around by himself, but you don't buy poison in groups do you? you do it discreetly. Also when have you ever known players to follow the rules? of course we were gonna split up. So what was a 3rd level alchemist plus doing working as the ships cook? whats worse that's one hell of a random encounter to trigger by accident while your by yourself don't you think? I think that Dwarf was just too overpowered and too random, if she was the murderer and thus the main encounter of the module i might have agreed with her being that powerful.

In conclusion this is a fun little adventure with a lot of potential for role playing! There's only a couple of fights but that just fine, you can spend a lot of time just talking to other pcs and npcs. Its also nice to see a module designed for sailors and pirates! I loved that. Its problems is that there needed to be a little more work done on plot and that as usual the encounters come off feeling less like they are fair and balanced and more like they are built to cater for min maxed player characters, which I loathe.

Oh I almost forgot!

Spoiler:
At one stage our party rogue got into a fight with the rust monster in the bilge of the ship! apparently he got curious and the cage it was in was a little fragile so it got out. His mithril chainshirt got eaten. HARSH! A lower level character cant afford that sort of loss! If it was me I'd probably just wipe that character and start again and I'd be pissed at the GM and the module writer for being such a so-and-so!

Id like to give this a higher rating, and maybe its more the GMs fault than the modules but Im afraid I have to go with 2 stars.


Murder of my logic sensors...

*( )( )( )( )

The scenario is shiny, and its what every GM and Player want: An interesting crew, an elusive and mysterious VIP and of course, murder!

That being said, it fails to deliver across the board and comes off as stiff and unwieldy. It felt like 8 hours of roleplaying crammed into half the time with no thought for seemingly obvious player actions. The villain was too apparent and his hatchetman even moreso.

Without getting into specifics, it seems like it would have been a better two-part scenario, allowing for a build-up of tension and a more realistic culmination of the plot instead of the "just go with it" linear results we encountered.

The preparation time we gave the GM of one week was barely enough, so if you decide to run this, make sure your GM devotes TWO WEEKS minimum.


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