Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-03: The Ghenett Manor Gauntlet (PFRPG) PDF (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for Levels 5–9.
When the Pathfinder Society failed to obtain a valuable artifact from a wealthy Druman noble using diplomatic means, the eccentric collector challenged them to take it through skill from one of his well-guarded manors throughout the world. You are sent to Ghenett Manor in Katapesh with the hopes of surviving long enough to return with the prize—assuming it’s there at all.
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.
I've seen it mentioned by people on the boards a few times that parties running through Ghenett Manor have failed the overall mission. While I knew that this was a real possibility that I actually wrote into the scenario, I'm curious to know:
A) How often are groups failing the scenario objective?
B) What is the reason they fail?
(e.g., they bring back the false tome, Besai doesn't come back alive because they don't find him/they kill him/he gets killed/they leave him behind because he's an annoying a**hole, etc.)
C) Does failing the mission have a big impact on their overall enjoyment of the scenario?
I haven't run it yet, but I have a few thoughts on the matter:
It seems that the sonic trap has a sporting chance of killing Besai. He has terrible fortitude and reflex saves, so chances are he blows them both. The average damage from the shout and chandelier is 28, which would reduce him to -1; however, if the trap rolls high, there goes the mission success. I also think that DC 30 to notice the true book location might be a tad high; the only pregen able to even achieve that number is Merisiel.
While I do think that failure should be an option for scenarios, this one seems especially hard and I could see that leaving a bitter taste in one's mouth at the end of a four-hour session.
I would like to add that the map is way too big. The full thing is around 4 feet by 7 feet. When I run it, I condense the size down to about 3x5 feet. I say the boarder of the map are the walls and shrink the size of the gardens in the back. A bunch of these rooms are unused in the adventure.
I have only run it once so far and the group succeeded. Maybe 30 is high for 5th level but not bad for 9th.
a) My group decisively failed to retrieve the tome.
b) I'd attribute the failure to a couple factors.
One, by the time we had finished the final encounter we had both exhausted our spells and health and hit the four hour mark. We figured the tome was our capstone reward, and it never occurred to us that it could be a counterfeit.
Two, the tome's actual hiding place is a bit irregular. We failed our broad perception checks and never looked back.
Three, there are so many potential hiding places for the book that we simply got tired of making perception checks and singling out specific shelves, dressers, safes, etc.
c) Failing to find the tome was really just a final kick in the pants. What makes this scenario unenjoyable is that the NPCs are allowed to get away with murder, but the players get browbeat for standing up for themselves. In my mind, if an NPC arranges for a amorphous tentacle monster to attack you, you shouldn't have to worry about keeping his house tidy anymore. I've never felt more suffocated by Pathfinder Society alignment requirements than I did in this scenario.
I think the scenario would be more effective if either:
a) The master of the house was cast as a clearly benevolent figure who wished to test the mettle of the heroes. The challenges could be less lethal, and the tome could be offered as a reward at the end. This would make adhering to the "do not steal or break anything" restriction more palatable.
b) The master of the house was cast as a clearly malevolent figure who was actively trying to kill the heroes. The stipulation of leaving his house in one piece could be waived, and confronting and slaying/capturing him could be the final encounter. This would add a satisfying payoff that the original scenario is lacking.
As it stands the scenario skirts the line between these two binaries and consequently makes the players feel jerked around.
The biggest threat to our characters when we ran through it was the Chaos Beast - 4/5 of the party wound up as puddles of goo before we could return to civilization for a Remove Curse. During the scenario, for ease of play, the GM ruled to only have us save for stability once between encounters otherwise we would have been bogged down by rolls of minutia. Only the party sorcerer didn't get infected, so he could escort our puddles to get help.
Not sure if any other players considered this, but our group escorted Besai to the Manor's front gates and told him to wait for us down the road and away from the dangerous house.
I was unaware the Perception DC was so high! 0_0 My character saw the empty book stand, thought the Aspis Consortium had beat us to the book due to our saving Besai, so I threw the podium in a fit of rage... which revealed the secret hiding spot.
...those who ended up with the false tome, didn't Besai insist on seeing it? He's written to actually demand keeping it, inspect it at minimum. At a glance Besai identifies it as a false tome. How are parties ending up with the fake Mutani Manual? I watched 8 different tables play this scenario at GenCon 2011 and not one ended up with the false tome. Each party also located the Manual either by making the Perception check or moving the podiums on their own, though the latter method was most common...
Besai is not only a giant prick but also worthless in a fight. Since saving him is one of the objectives, the group decided to avoid a major headache and have him hang back. Like Licidy, we basically tried to remove him from the equation.
As for the podium, again, it's a weird place to hide the tome and requires a very high perception check for a party that skews lower level.
H'okay, here's a quick question about a certain encounter in the manor.
Exactly what kind of illusions are the flesh golems in the banquet hall? The description in the module only states that they are "intricate illusions."
I put the golems in initiative order when my players enter the room, so they had potential to get up and attack them (reacting to aggression). But if I don't know what type of illusion they are (figments, shadows, etc.), I don't know how to treat their damage.
I know they poof out of existence after a round, but there is still potential for interaction beyond "hey look, weird things are coming."
Also, are they all individual illusions or is the room one large illusion?