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Pathfinder Society Special: Blood Under Absalom (PFRPG) PDF

***( )( ) (based on 10 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Special designed for Levels 1–11.

The Ruby Phoenix Tournament is nigh, and organizations and individuals throughout the Inner Sea are scrambling to secure a spot in the legendary Tian fighting competition, among them the Pathfinder Society. In an underground qualifier event overseen by an enigmatic old monk and his oni spokesman, the Pathfinders must overcome the opposition to ensure the Society can send representatives to distant Goka to compete in the Ruby Phoenix Tournament itself. Battles will rage and blood will flow under the streets of Absalom, and only the greatest combatants will emerge victorious.

Written by Tim Hitchcock.

This special is designed for play in Pathfinder Society Organized Play, but can easily be adapted for use with any world. It is a single scenario played by multiple tables simultaneously (minimum 5) and requires one GM per table and an overseer GM to coordinate the entire event. This special is compliant with the Open Game License (OGL) and is suitable for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

This Pathfinder Society Special uses the following GameMastery accessories:

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Product Reviews (10)
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Average product rating:

***( )( ) (based on 10 ratings)

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Multi-table fun

****( )

I'll preface this by saying that I ran this with a table of 4 very experienced players (In a room of about 30) at tier 3-4 and I had a lot of fun. Also; SPOILERS ahead.

Things ran far smoother than expected after reading through, and players remained engaged throughout. It helped that my party trounced anything in their path until they reached the elemental room. The first wave was a cake walk, but because of the elemental traits, DR/-, and high damage output, I nearly TPK'ed simply by virtue of the fact that other tables were taking too long. My party did their best just to stay alive. I had to double and triple check that I was running the right enemies due to the number of times party members fell unconscious. Had I been more vindictive I could have definitely wiped the party. The monk fight immediately after felt a lot fairer while still making for a climactic boss fight.

However the multi-table event definitely did not feel like we were a room of players working together. With no opportunity to influence other tables, it felt disjointed, and led to complication in the boss room as mentioned above as we waited for other tables to catch up.

Another gripe of mine was the theatre scene. This was an opportunity ripe for actual roleplaying with costumes and props and everything, but it ultimately fizzled down to a rematch against a previous already-easy enemy team but made easier again. Sure Pathfinder has a robust combat system, but it felt like a missed opportunity all round.

Highlights include the Ronin sub-plot, and the scramble for the rubies. The players immediately engaged the Ronin when they first encountered him and handled the barmaid-scuffle without hesitation. They also had a lot of fun fighting wave after wave of competitors for more rubies, and it really helped create a feeling of a packed tavern.

Like I said, the overall game was very fun, and the players enjoyed themselves. Which should always be the goal of any RPG. I look forward to playing more multi-table scenarios like this one in the future.

Fun adventure, dubious mechanics

***( )( )

So let's be clear: this one isn't high-brow literature. But the plot is coherent and has a certain kind of style. For the whole thing, think of it as a kind of 90s video game/martial arts tournament kind of atmosphere. Roll with the silliness and then it's pretty fun.

That also illustrates the problem with this scenario. It's a series of fights (not a bad thing in itself) with some awkward RP interludes that much resemble cut scenes in a video game. There's not much flexibility here.

There are also some moments in fights where you're given an objective, like "get to that person". But the way it's written, you're supposed to fight some monsters first, and so should the other tables. Only when all the tables have killed X monsters can you get to that person. But this kind of falls apart when you start using fly spells or dimension door etcetera. You basically run into an invisible wall of "scenario says no". Again, a lot like a video game.

It also shows how clumsy the early multi-table specials were. This one relies a lot on synchronizations between all tables, making it feel rather forces. I recently played Legacy of the Stonelords which had much better synchronization mechanics. RPG technology advances, it seems.

Despite these flaws, I had fun playing this. The fights are flavourful and occasionally quite challenging, especially if you play with a 4-person party, like this one is meant to be played. Having a head GM with a flair for drama also helps.

A meatgrinder Special that's fun, but also has issues

***( )( )

I played this special today, together with around 26 to 28 others today in the Netherlands. As is the case with all the specials, you're bound to have a lot of fun simply because you can interact with other tables, as well as creating mayhem and mischief for everyone else. It's silly, it's hilarious and based on that alone I have to recommend this special in general.

That aside, I do have some issues with this special, three issues to be precise. The first is the fact that the amount of time per section is simply too short. We barely had time to actually roleplay things, something we would have liked to do. Now things just ended too quickly and honestly ruined some of the fun. This is more problematic if you take issue number two in account: other tables crushed their opponents so quickly, that we only had one round against our opponent before we already got to move on. So there we were, ready to swing at the big guy since we had just buffed ourselves, we move in for the kill and.. the guy surrenders and we get to move on already. Yea, that's no fun.

My third issue is that the plot seemed utterly random and didn't make a lot of sense. Maybe this was because of stressed for time we were, but to me it seemed as if they had a lot of fun ideas for encounters and just decided to put them all together, only to create some story to make sense of it later. That said, certain parts were unique and a lot of fun. It's a shame it needed a fair bit of explanation and if you combine that with a small time window, you might not get to get the full experience (and entertainment) out of it, which really is a shame.

So, it's essentially a meatgrinder that can be really fun, but really suffers on the time-aspect. For a scenario, that's a mere 3 stars. However if you want to have a good time, participating in a Special is always a recommendation. This might not be the best Special out there, but you are still guaranteed to have fun.


***( )( )

Not very interesting, after the fact.

Reward not worth the Risk

***( )( )

Let me start by saying that it was fun. I had a great time running a tier 3-4 table, and my players seemed to have a great time playing it. I second a lot of what the other reviewers have said about the creative and challenging encounters, and the opera scene went much better than I could have ever hoped. Two of my players got really into the Clown roles and the rest enjoyed beating the tar out of some Aspis goons.

That said, when it came time to hand out chronicles, there was a resounding feeling of "That's it?" There are no "Found Items" on the chronicle. All you get is the standard tier appropriate amount of gold, and a one time (more at higher tiers) use boon with a very narrow focus.

I haven't played or ran a more recent Special to know how it compares, but the reward for this one was underwhelming and a sour note to an otherwise good scenario.

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