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Pathfinder Society Scenario Intro 3: First Steps—Part III: A Vision of Betrayal (PFRPG) PDF (Retired)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 1st level characters.

Dispatched on an envoy mission overland from Absalom to port city Escadar, you must weather the harsh wilderness of the Isle of Kortos before you can hope to meet with the representative of the elusive gillmen, and only then come face to face with the greatest threat to the Pathfinder Society.

Written by Larry Wilhelm.

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.

This scenario was retired from Pathfinder Society Organized Play on August 15, 2013. After August 15, 2013, it will no longer be legal for Pathfinder Society Organized Play and will no longer be available in the Pathfinder Society Organized Play reporting system.

Product Availability


Fulfilled immediately. Will be added to your My Downloads Page immediately upon purchase of Retired.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at webmaster@paizo.com.

PZOPSSINTRO3E


See Also:

Product Discussion (30)
Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Description and author updated!


A Warning / Note based on recently obtained information - the Pathfinder First Steps series REALLY should be played in sequence, without any other games played in between if possible. This makes it less usefull to introduce people to the Pathfinder Society campaign than it might have been, but it's important to know for existing Society members planning to run/play the games.

Liberty's Edge

In Player Handout #1, the names of two gillmen are mentioned: Shoalo and Ohlas. I may have missed something, but I could find no other mention of an Ohlas in the scenario. Is it possible that Ohlas was intended to be a gillman without ties to the others mentioned in Act 2?

Paizo Employee Developer

casiel wrote:
In Player Handout #1, the names of two gillmen are mentioned: Shoalo and Ohlas. I may have missed something, but I could find no other mention of an Ohlas in the scenario. Is it possible that Ohlas was intended to be a gillman without ties to the others mentioned in Act 2?

This is an error we will correct as soon as possible. It should instruct the PCs to deliver the note to the Low Azlanti embassy in Escadar, rather than the traitorous gillmen they face in the bar.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
rather than the traitorous gillmen they face in the bar.

Poor Gillman... never any love.. :(

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

I'm looking at running this for some new PFS players, but I'm not clear on how the PA work. I understand that they are awarded at the end of Part 3, but is it one PA for every module completed successfully (i.e. 3 PA for completing all three parts of the trilogy successfully)?

Scarab Sages

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Each scenario gives 2, only in the last one is 1 of them counted as a faction PA

Silver Crusade

I just played in this and quite enjoyed it.

There was one insanely silly bit, though.

Spoiler:

40 degrees Farenheit is not actually freezing.

It is also not really very cold at all, assuming anything approximating reasonable clothing.

It most certainly isn't anywhere near enough cold enough to do 1D6 non lethal damage per hour on a failed constitution save.

Especially while wearing warm winter clothing, sheltered from the wind, with a fire burning.

Heck, with all that we'd probably be in more danger of heat prostration than hypothermia :-).

I suspect that the author lives in some nice warm state down South where it is considered cold when it drops below 60.

As somebody who lives in a cold climate (Canada, in my case) I alternate between amused and irked by the constant insane rules for cold climates that one encounters in rpgs.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Hey the author of first steps here. (Larry Wilhelm) Thanks for the great review, I appreciate it :). I have to laugh as I live in Edmonton Alberta Canada (the most northern major city in Canada), and have had my fair share of cold weather (-53 C a few years back according to YEG (Edmonton International Airport). Can I ask what exactly was silly about the cold weather encounter so I can learn form it in the future? Once again thanks for the review, just wanted to say I am Canadian, and have had to walk to school in -40 in 4 feet of snow with bare feet, and uphill both ways ;)
Best regards and happy gaming! As a note I was confined to the rules for cold weather found in the Core Rulebook.
Happy Gaming!
Larry Wilhelm

Silver Crusade

Larcifer wrote:

Hey the author of first steps here. (Larry Wilhelm) Thanks for the great review, I appreciate it :). I have to laugh as I live in Edmonton Alberta Canada (the most northern major city in Canada), and have had my fair share of cold weather (-53 C a few years back according to YEG (Edmonton International Airport). Can I ask what exactly was silly about the cold weather encounter so I can learn form it in the future? Once again thanks for the review, just wanted to say I am Canadian, and have had to walk to school in -40 in 4 feet of snow with bare feet, and uphill both ways ;)

Best regards and happy gaming! As a note I was confined to the rules for cold weather found in the Core Rulebook.
Happy Gaming!
Larry Wilhelm

There goes my "Darned Texan" theme, huh? Given that I'm a wuss living in Toronto I'll definitely admit that you've had way more exposure to cold than I have.

Although I HAVE camped outdoors in the winter.

That said, my issue is

Spoiler:

The temperature is 40 F. 5 Celsius.

The characters are in a covered wagon, wearing good winter clothing, and huddled around a fire.

At that level there should be ZERO chance of taking ANY damage from the cold.

Instead, we were making 6 (IIRC) saving throws. My character doesn't have a huge fortitude save so even with the +9 (Clothing, Wagon, Fire) he failed (exactly as expected) 2 or 3 times over the course of the night.

One can look at it in two ways:
1) 5 celsius just isn't very cold and the preparations are way more than what is required for comfort. No saves required.
2) In game terms, a 1st level commoner Innuit is dead a couple of days into the winter.

Now, if the characters did NOT have cold weather clothing or the fire things would arguably be different.

Hmm. Maybe. If one could keep moving one could probably go the entire night at 5 celsius without much problem. If you're hiking in 5 degree weather you're ok in just jeans and a shirt as long as you keep moving.

I haven't actually looked at the rules in the rulebook. I wouldn't be at all surprised if all the blame belongs there. But the final result is just silly :-).

I do want to reiterate that I enjoyed the module as a whole. This is a minor nit.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Good point 5 degrees Celsius is t-shirt and shorts weather for me...

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Larry,

What temperature would you recommend we use for the mountain pass? Maybe 0 F (-18 C)? Colder?

It can't be that much colder, a day's walk away from a tropical swamp, without magic being invoked.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

you would be surprised what mountains and altitude change can do :). I'd just play it as written and make sure everyone has fun.

Spoiler:
Its a rules question, we do not want level 1 characters making exposure checks every 10 mins...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I would like to point to the core rule book on cold dangers on page 442. The rules state that at below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (plus 5 Celsius) its a fort save every 1 hr or take nonlethal damage. While I agree that is not really cold, if I followed the Core rule book, and made it colder, I am sure I would have had tpks of level 1 characters. I followed the core rule book on cold dangers. I am sure If I did not follow the rules, more people would be upset.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I agree, Larry, that we don't want a Fortitude save every 10 minutes. But as the text stands now, the party is in absolutely no danger. The party automatically finds shelter. Whether the PCs use the abandoned wagon, or the warm weather gear, or anything else, they need make no checks. (And 40 degrees F is just at the boundary of cold weather. By a narrow reading, even unprotected people shouldn't have to make saves until it gets below that temperature.)

As we say, this is mild autumn evening weather.

If the temperature were below 0 F (-18 C), then each PC and companion would need to attempt a Fortitude save every hour throughout the night, DC 15, with bonuses from any Survival checks. That sounds like a plausible threat, and a reason to keep a fire burning.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

sure, that makes sense. I added the stove and extra outfits cause I thought i'd kill a bunch of PCs with all the fort saves. the cold weather outfits change the saves from 10 mins to 1 hour. so for that portion that should work well.
looking back at my original turnover, i wanted those 4 hours to be under 0 degrees Celsius, i thought i had done that. good catch! i see what the fuss is.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Looking again at my notes I have scrawled.

Spoiler:
I had a big question mark beside, "what if the PCs do not find/take them off frozen corpses [the Cold weather outfits], or gain Thunderhoof's furs. Am I gonna kill several PCs? Should the reward of gaining the outfits/furs bypass this threat?

I think I erred on the side of caution.


Larcifer wrote:
Good point 5 degrees Celsius is t-shirt and shorts weather for me...

So the idea that Canadians drink too much is true!

Wait... 5 degrees Celsius is t-shirt and thin slacks weather for me...

Your friendly works-outdoors-during-Scandinavian-winters viking.


I doubt you're reading this board any more, but just in case...I ran this with a group the other night...

Scenario Question:
Aside from the 4 hours of cold checks the party had to do... there were like 8 in the swamp of Acrobatics (Failure means FORT save versus disease in the swamp). That's a lot of rolling skill/saves in a row. After eight checks, pretty much *everyone* is going to fall and get diseased unless they're wearing no armor and have a +12 to acrobatics. I mean, is that really right, or did I mis-interpret?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Tales Subscriber

I have no problem with the cold encounter, I rather blurred the actual temperature telling the players it was very cold.

Scenario Question:

What I did find difficult was the real effect of the non-lethal damage, as on the way down into the bog, players are able to recover the damage naturally. I can keep them cold in the mountains and so they don't gain HPs back, but once in the bog surely they get them back 1HP per hour. So I don't see that the frozen encounter achieves much, as it doesn't really hinder the players after, unless the encounter is there to just help players learn about cold dangers.


I'm going to play this out as the final in the series. I plan to use the "It is very cold" rather than giving specific temps so we don't have horrible rules discussions, but beyond "It is very cold" play as written.

The part where I thought to come to this forum regards the spoiler...

Bog Event:
phrase, "If the PCs defeat Bog Mother."

I'm not just new to GM'ing, this will be my third actual game. I am not just new to Pathfinder Society, this will be my fourth PFS event. I am not just new to Pathfinder, started playing this fall. I am new to tabletop RPG, I started 'longest Table-top RPG 3.5e' this last summer. So what may appear obvious, I'm trying to be careful not to presume anything and find out my presumption is *wrong*.

I suspect my players will be reluctant to kill Bog Mother unless they feel they have no choice. "Play as written" has Bog Mother "Radagast The Brown" crazy. I suspect my group may try to avoid contact with her if possible. I plan for them to attract her attention, and for us to do her "Radagast" best to "protect her children". In other words, act crazy and try to fight them to the death.

I expect my group will try to avoid combat with her, restrain her if necessary and try to avoid killing her. She's nutz, but my group is not going to look at her stat bar and see "NE", they are going to look at her behavior and see "NUTZ", low ranking in harmful intent and otherwise doing *good*, as written, and as I will be portraying her.

So despite Bog Mother's best efforts at PROTECTING HER CHILDREN (aka 'doing good' in my book), does 'defeat' necessarily mean killing her or leaving her restrained to die? Non-lethal stunning? Running away if they can given the environment? I'm guessing most everyone ELSE sees, "NE" in the stat block and translates that as "Only good ones are dead ones". Given the previous two in the series, I don't think that necessarily sets well with my group. They are not shy about killing, but PROTECTING HER CHILDREN is not a reason to them. I certainly don't want to withhold their reward over it.

Yes, one of them speaks draconic, and we have a cleric who, given opportunity to understand this, he will try to prevent the group from killing her outright if he can. I believe most in the group (including the draconic speaker) would agree with him and prevent those who would not if possible.


The Scenario appears to be an old one. For the purpose of my question, I'll simply use my best judgement that a "defeat" means the group doesn't die from contact, and there are no lingering, unresolved issues to that encounter *AS WRITTEN*. Thus, if the encounter REQUIRED the death of so-n-so, explicitly, I can't get around that. Otherwise, gut judgement, and I hope that's enough.

Sorry if I'm making it more complicated than it should be.

N00b.

The problem with experience is that I'll have to experience it. :(


One other note in the discussion of this product. It is heavy in maps that are no longer available in print. I also understand we will have faction changes.

I would highly recommend a new "PFS Intro" series within Season 5 that keeps in mind the following:

Likely for N00b PFS GM's as well as N00b players.

The series as a whole does not provide much inspiration or recruitment opportunities for the GMs to explain *why* a player should consider a given faction. "Oh, you can take the Chelaxian faction, but you can't really be 'evil', you just have a chance to play at being evil, or neutral with evil tendencies, when you are allowed." This series does not really do so much in my mind to explain why a given faction should appeal to anyone, it is simply, "Here is a faction head acting out an exaggeration, a cartoon of what that faction is really all about. Allow your inner prejudice to help you decide if any faction is worth your time of day. Then again, possibly not."

As a N00b PFS player (nevermind N00b GM) I found it difficult to articulate faction choices. A new Intro series should have some "faction sell time" that goes beyond a faction head acting like a pointy-haired boss. Suggestions as to what type of player/ class/ race a 'faction sell' effort should be made to would help. Are you a cleric? Then you *know* how important it is to spread Goodness and Light! Please consider talking to me when you return on these issues, as well as any of the rest of you." After the faction mission, if the player wants to RP talking with the faction head, more sell-time for ... in this example .. . Silver Crusade. Don't have, in this case "Ollysta Zadrian" act like an idiot that would have any serious cleric go, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Another thing that demands a *new* Intro series since Season 3... THIS scenario requires four freakin' flip-maps (or manually drawing out the flip maps). At least three of the four are no longer in print. The stuff is expensive. I'm a N00b GM. This is pain. Tease me, allow me to consider maps that may be useful for other things in upcoming scenarios I would consider hosting.

Telling me I *would* have to spend $13 x 4 maps, of which you only use the one side of a double-sided map, sucks badly. Having only 3 out of 4 in print is galling. Oh, but I could buy the PDF at $9 each and spend another $20 to reprint at a print shop! Or I could hand-draw the maps out ahead of time. Oh, can't do that using one blank flip-mat. How 'about you have two huge mats and use both sides of it? How about you use maps that are in common use enough YOU KEEP THE FREAKIN' THING IN PRINT? Maybe you could find out how many n00b GM's have the Beginner Box and make use of that one map in one of these, and a reasonable-to-draw map for the blank side?

I'm just starting this out. I've already had to pick up core rule-books, and a bunch of other stuff to have a decent game I'm not embarrassed to host. I'm not made of money, and this 'free' Scenario is horribly 'expensive'. I can recreate the maps at ($9-PDF + $20 print) $29 each * 4, I can have my gamers wait while I hand-draw complex maps 'live' onto my Beginner Box blank map, I can suck out the images and blow expensive printer ink, or I can suck out the images and print back/white in edge-detect, then hand-color in all four maps, which is what I am doing.

And that sucks, but it's what I can do with what I have.

I'm not made of money. I want to give Paizo my money over time. I want to build up. But this scenario is pretty harsh on that.

I've posted as much in another area of the forum, and people have been very helpful and understanding. But I believe Season 5 needs a new, updated Intro series. I believe Paizo can do better to intro PFS. And I believe Paizo *must* do better.

Thank you for the opportunity for me to present a n00b GM's point-of-view as I start out, along with other gamers on PFS play.

--Romaq

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Romaq wrote:

The Scenario appears to be an old one. For the purpose of my question, I'll simply use my best judgement that a "defeat" means the group doesn't die from contact, and there are no lingering, unresolved issues to that encounter *AS WRITTEN*. Thus, if the encounter REQUIRED the death of so-n-so, explicitly, I can't get around that. Otherwise, gut judgement, and I hope that's enough.

Sorry if I'm making it more complicated than it should be.

Not a problem. You are absolutely correct that defeating the enemy does not require killing the enemy. Knocking her unconscious, stabilizing her, and leaving counts as overcoming the challenge.

As a GM, it is your call to decide if the party has overcome an encounter. If the PCs avoid an encounter, it does not necessarily mean they did not overcome it. The best example being sneaking past a watchman. If the party is on an espionage mission that requires no one know they were present, leaving bodies would mean they had failed to overcome the challenge. However, if their mission is to assassinate a noble, they obviously haven't overcome the challenge if he is still alive, unless they managed to accomplish whatever goal assassinating him was aimed at some other way. (Such as intimidating him into assisting rather than obstructing whatever they were trying to accomplish.)

As to the flipmats, I cannot find the comment I read, but I have heard rumors of a new intro module being in the works, one that does not require three sessions to complete. (Edit: Here is the post.) Hopefully that will alleviate the problem you are having. I can say that I have run this module without using a single map before, but I understand that might be difficult for you just starting out. If nothing else, just hand draw them on graph paper!

Hang in there! It does get easier with practice!


Hand-drawing 4 huge maps. I shudder. I went the route of sucking out the images, using edge detection, expanding to scale, dithering back/white then using colored pencil in. Actually, my wife is doing the colored pencil part so I can organize the flow of the rest of it.

Paizo can do better for a series that would be as much for n00b GM's as n00b players.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

You think those are huge?

...don't run Storming the Diamond Gate then. ;)


I don't know about that scenario, and at this time it looks like I will simply purchase the low level scenarios as they come up month-by-month so I have a hope in hell things like flip-mats are not out-of-print. I also want to have our group current, at least within the month lead time I want to put on a good production.

If I had to go through the trouble of hand-drawing a map, I'm going to want draw it as well as I can and have it so I can reuse it. My preference is to incrementally invest. If it is a huge map, my hope is that it is one I can make into chunks and reuse the chunks for other things. Baring that, it is some place we are likely to see over and again for years, such as the Grand Lodge.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I do the same, and have my hand-drawn maps collected in a binder along with chronicles and faction handouts.

For the large maps (like Storming the Diamond Gate) I use Gaming Paper rolls and keep them in shipping tubes for storage.

For smaller maps that I want to be able to lay out piece by piece, I use Gaming Paper singles. I can usually fit all the sheets in one document protector with everything else for the scenario. As an example of how I use them, see here and here.


Yeah, a Costco pallet of sheet protectors is next on the grocery list. That and "shotgun envelopes" to help me organize things I bring out.

I have to go through the routine of practice, buying 'bang for the buck' products and a heavy dose of "get over it." When people play my games, I really want the game to 'pop' so they can tell where they are and what is going on. I also want it to have 'wow' to have it as entertaining a game as I can make it.

I just have to sort through those issues. As an Intro series, I'd like the game designers to presume we have *nothing* except perhaps the Beginner Box, Core Rulebook and Bestiary 1. Pointing people to the Gaming Paper Rolls as you suggest is ok. Or perhaps a Paizo TinyURL pointing people to low-cost suggestions to help n00b, budget-conscious GM's get started with a game that gets people wanting to come back for more.

Following that, of *course* we would be happy to sell you flip-mats WE HAPPEN TO HAVE IN PRINT.

Silver Crusade

Romaq wrote:

I'm going to play this out as the final in the series. I plan to use the "It is very cold" rather than giving specific temps so we don't have horrible rules discussions, but beyond "It is very cold" play as written.

The part where I thought to come to this forum regards the spoiler...

** spoiler omitted **...

I'm going to dispense with spoiler tags since the adventure is retired. The entire Bog Mother thing when I played through it just came off as ridiculous. The way it was presented caused me (playing a paladin) to do my damnedest to not kill her, and in fact try to avoid her. When it came down to it, I grappled her and started to apply nonlethal damage with unarmed strikes.

Now, there's some psychos in the local group who thought "Sweet, she's held down!" and skewered her on a spear, getting rid of the problem the "easy" way, but then again these same gentlemen assaulted the innkeepers straight off in the Glass River Rescue, so I don't exactly trust their judgment. :p From where I sat, we had no grounds to simply murder her just because the road went by her house. The GM afterwards assured me that there was nothing we could have done and she would have fought us to the death on sight, but it just screams poor encounter design for it to play out the way it did.

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