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Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-16: The Midnight Mauler (PFRPG) PDF

****( ) (based on 14 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7.

The Decemvirate sends members of the Pathfinder Society to the former crown jewel of Ustalav's royal courts, the decaying city of Ardis. Tasked by the Society to look into the fate of Absalom's former Master of Blades, Vonran Vilk, what they find will lead to exploration, diplomacy, murder, haunted pasts, and tragic love. Can the PCs stop the rampage of the Midnight Mauler before he kills again?

"The Midnight Mauler" was originally an exclusive adventure, run only by 4-star Pathfinder Society GMs, Venture-Captain and Venture-Lieutenant campaign volunteers, and Paizo staff for its first year, but has been revised and updated for public release

Written by Crystal Frasier.

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.

Note: This scenario has been updated from its exclusive version for public release. Purchasers have access to both the exclusive version released as Pathfinder Society Scenario #2–EX and Pathfinder Society Scenario #3–16, but as of February 29, 2012, only the latter is legal for Pathfinder Society organized play. Except for minor changes involving faction missions and general copyediting, both versions of the scenario are the same; only the legal version of the scenario contains a Chronicle sheet.

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Product Reviews (14)
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Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 14 ratings)

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Fun, but nothing amazing.

***( )( )

(I played this.)

As others have commented, this is extremely railroady. The NPCs literally tell you where to go and players have no real input. I don't mind that too much, but others might. Regardless of that, there's room for some roleplaying and some fun NPCs to interact with, so it's not as if there isn't anything to do at all.

Combats were fun, with the middle one especially interesting, though possibly quite dangerous. Other fights weren't as deadly and I feel like they could've been upped somewhat in lethality (we played up). The first encounter has a moderately scary monster, but with small mooks surrounding it that posed no challenge whatsoever. I'd rather have seen several decently statted enemies than one "sub-boss" and a few mooks with a handful of HP each. These fell simply because of unfair action economy on our side.

Some spoilers here, so in tags.

Final encounter spoilers:
There's a chase scene in this. There's some hatred against chase scenes, and while I understand it, I don't mind them terribly, as long as they're handled well. Unfortunately, this one isn't. There's an over-reliance on certain skills, and some characters can't pass certain spots because they lack the skills, especially some pregens. I never progressed past the first spot because I couldn't make a DC 18 with a +11 bonus seven times in a row, but that's just bad luck and I won't hold it against the scenario. But still, some characters will have trouble with some checks, and while I know you're not meant to be good at everything, I think some combinations of checks could've been better thought out. A fairly high DC on either Bluff or Stealth is pretty hard on Fighters, Clerics, Paladins, and so on, while some low-Strength characters will have trouble passing the Climb/CMB check.

What's even worse is that the chase scene leads directly into the final encounter. The scenario admits that people will most likely arrive in waves, but in our case our Druid had such a head start (he had a movement speed of 80, so he double-moved every time) we couldn't possibly keep up with him. The boss damaged him pretty badly and all he could do was try to delay until help arrived (which, sadly, wasn't coming). Now, this was all our fault and I won't hold it against the scenario, but I'd appreciate it if authors would keep this in mind. I think other chase scenes didn't lead directly to the final encounter, and I appreciate that. There's less at stake there.

One final thing is that the secondary success condition is directly tied into the primary success condition. I'm fine with not always getting full prestige rewards, but failing both conditions at once seems like bad design to me. In our case, the boss got away, but didn't kill Rutowski. In the conclusion it says that if you fail, the town will catch him the next day and kill him, thereby also exposing him. Preventing his identity from being exposed is the primary condition, and curing him is the secondary (along with preventing the murder of Rutowski). Which means that if the beast gets away, you immediately fail both conditions, which is a bit of a letdown.

One final complaint is the Paizo editing. I saw the GM constantly flipping between multiple pages. Paizo still has lots to learn in this department. Since season 6 they're putting creature stats in an appendix, which helps a lot, but I feel things could still improve.

Despite our somewhat sour ending, we still had a fun night. We made some mistakes and those are all our fault, not that of the scenario. I like Crystal's work and I hope she gets to do more.

Highly enjoyable!


I've never played this, but have GM'ed it. The party consisted of 4 PCs, lvls 4-5. 2 martial-types, a knowledgeable sneaky type, and an arcane caster. 2 experienced players, 2 moderately experienced players.

A detailed breakdown:

Story: 5/5:
Mauler contained adult themes and handled them with style and sensitivity. There was a gothic appeal suitable to Ustalav, without overplaying it.

RP: 5/5:
Several flavorful NPCs made this enjoyable while encouraging PCs to RP in (perhaps) unexpected ways. The PCs talking poetry with an arrogant noble after outraging his so-superior butler was amusing on so many levels.

Combat: 5/5:
The combats were varied, played to several different combat styles, and encouraged creative thinking. The sewer terrain made that combat interesting, the plants encouraged PC creativity, and the potential for non-violent resolution of the boss fight was a solid twist.

Special Mechanics: 5/5:
There are two things worth noting here: the obvious inclusion of the chase, and the (perhaps) not so obvious issue of the wolfsbane's ongoing poison effects.

1. The chase. 3 of my players loved this, had a blast, and were able to resolve it fairly quickly. The 4th player's PC was an arcane caster who had heavily specialized in things which did not lend themselves well to the chase, and whose spell selection was not helpful either in aiding him in the chase, or affecting the Mauler from within the chase setting. As a result, this player was quite vocal about his distaste for the chase mechanics (this was his first exposure to them). Everyone else enjoyed the chase, including the other player who had not previously encountered the chase mechanics.

2. Tracking the ongoing effect of wolfsbane poison. This may not always come up, but it took the PCs several rounds to realize that the Mauler may die from the poison and do something about it. This ordinarily might not be a big deal, but it becomes important.

Maps: 4/5:
There was nothing wrong with the maps. They were all assembled from flip maps or map packs, which is fine. But I like to see unique maps when possible. I was amused by the unusual shape of the sewer map, making this a 4 stars element, rather than the 3 stars I would otherwise give somewhat bland maps.

Primary/Secondary Success Conditions 5/5:
The unusual inversion of the primary/secondary conditions was refreshing. Usually, you expect the primary issue being to either save or kill the Mauler, with the secondary condition being either to save the Mauler's lover or cover up the scandal. This scenario really displays the Decemvirate's priorities in a way that few others do. It was interesting that while the primary goal was clearly stated, the players nearly lost sight of it, in their assumption of 'business as usual'. Bravo!

All in all, this was a wonderful scenario, and I look forward to running it again, as well as looking for Crystal Frasier's other offerings.

Warm little story!


It seems like an investigation scenario, but acutually a roleplay-central one.

Combats are soso, but the storyline is one of my favorite in PFS!! Don't run this cold, a dramatic GM is needed. Also with good local flavor of Ustalav, if your GM has done enouth work with it.

****( )

A Total Letdown...

*( )( )( )( )

I'll start this review by first noting that I’ve played “The Midnight Mauler” once and skimmed over it once as well. I’ve never GMed it yet (and I don’t want to).

That typed, when I played the scenario it was with a party of 5 at Tier 3-4, and after reading the synopsis, I was really excited. I thought this would be more of a detective-style, clue-gathering/diplomacy mission reminiscent of a Sherlock-Holmes mystery. Unfortunately, what I got was a scenario that lacked depth or any real mystery at all. We knew the culprit from the get-go (the Master of Blades told us the guy’s identity in the mission briefing!). Also, as other reviewers have previously mentioned, this scenario had plenty of railroading from place to place, some extremely easy & flavorless combats, and the most anti-climactic chase sequence I’ve ever had the displeasure of participating in (much like some of the other reviewers, when I played, our chase was over in less than one round).

In my opinion, this scenario was also lacking the local flavor that would’ve really brought a cool Bram Stoker-esque country like Ustalav to life, and the way we received one piece of treasure in-particular felt way too forced.


We’d just saved this judge’s life and we were trying to race after her assailant before he got away – but wait! Before we went after him, the judge had to stop and give us a useless sword that couldn’t help us in the ensuing encounters! The judge had just been fighting for her life. She nearly got her throat ripped out. After all that, her first thought was to give us a paperweight? I just found it really hard to suspend my disbelief here.

Keeping all that in mind, the scenario did have a few strong points. There is some room for roleplaying, and surprisingly, one major encounter in the scenario can be resolved in a number of ways.

I’m a big fan of non-violent solutions – so I appreciated it when they gave you the option to talk down the Mauler instead of bashing his brains in. Don’t get me wrong, bashing the villain’s brains in is still a viable option – but it’s not the only option.

Overall, while this scenario does have its strengths, and bearing in mind that a good group and a good GM can make all the difference to an RPG experience, when I played this scenario, I was extremely underwhelmed by it – especially when I went in with such high hopes in the first place. When I looked over the reviews of this scenario, I was shocked to see that it had a 4-4.5 star average user rating, and while I know that everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, I personally wouldn’t recommend this scenario to anyone. I’m sure it’s not the worst PFS scenario out there, but it’s far from the best.

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