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Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-EX: The Cyphermage Dilemma (PFRPG) PDF

***( )( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-5 ( (Tier 1–5; Subtiers 1–2 and 4–5).

In the shadow of the cyclopean Cyphergate that spans Riddleport's harbor, the PCs find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot of deception that one could only find in Varisia's infamous pirate port.

"The Cyphermage Dilemma" is an exclusive adventure to be run only by 4-star Pathfinder Society GMs, Venture-Captain and Venture-Lieutenant campaign volunteers, and Paizo staff for its first year.

Written by Patrick Renie.

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 #3–EX and Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–15, but as of February 28, 2013, only the latter is legal for Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Except for minor editorial changes, both versions of the scenario are the same; only the legal version of the scenario contains a Chronicle sheet.

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PZOPSS03EXE


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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

***( )( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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Cyphaverage

***( )( )

Cyphermage is a basic straightforward investigation/combat mission. Does that make it bad? No, but it also doesn’t make it good.

There was very little roleplaying, no problem solving or decision making was needed from the players (it was a bit of a railroad), and it contained no puzzles. It reminded me a little bit of “The Devil We Know 2: Cassomir’s Locker” in terms of what you can expect.

On a positive note the scenario wasn’t so difficult that I couldn’t enjoy myself. It’s actually nice to destroy the opposition sometimes. We had a very non-optimal party and we did fine. This scenario will be seen as too easy by some people.

”About a difficult skill check”:
Some people had problems with a difficult Climb check. I however though it was fine.

First of all, it’s a realistic DC for what you’re trying to do, maybe even too easy, RAW. Climbing up the side of a ship (or even a wet sailboat), isn’t that easy.
Second, the players should be able to adapt by using some creative problem solving skills and standard equipment (grappling hook). It’s not that hard.
Third, the combat encounter on top was easy, try taking off your armor to make it challenging as intended.
Lastly, you have ranged weapons for a reason.

I see no reason for complaints.

I can see why some reviewers were upset, the scenario lacks flavor and isn't interesting enough to run multiple times. This isn't a bad scenario, but it also wasn't worthy of being the exclusive this year. A scenario like Golemworks (with a high level of detail and complexity)would have been a better choice.

Detailed Ratings:

Length: Medium. We finished in 3.5 hours (skipped the optional encounter).
Experience: Player with 4 laughably non-optimal PCs at subtier 4-5.
Sweet Spot: TBD.
Entertainment: I was entertained, but perhaps the GM covered the weaknesses or mistakes in the scenario. (7/10)
Story: Average. (5/10)
Roleplay: No roleplay. (2/10)
Combat/Challenges: Non-interesting/unique challenges. I however liked that the encounters weren’t extremely difficult as a change of pace. The optional encounter was lame. (4/10)
Maps: Good use of flip maps again. (7/10)
Boons: Some good minor boons. (7/10)
Uniqueness: Meh. (2/10)
Faction Missions: I liked the flavor of it and furthered the story. (8/10)

Overall: Cyphermage is a simple, easy and relaxing scenario. (5/10)


A Disappointing "Reward"

*( )( )( )( )

I've forgotten to write this review for some time. I plan on coming back and filling this in with more detail at a later date.

I've run this scenario 5 times and played it twice.

This scenario is a huge disappointment for players expecting something as entertaining as the last exclusive, The Midnight Mauler. This scenario:

1) Lacks a compelling story. The whole premise is pedistrian at best.
2) Lack of challenging/dynamic encounters. The best encounter is the first encounter and even that relies on the GM to bring it to life.
3) Provides minimal GM support for role play in a scenario that screams for role play opportunities (see City of Strangers 1/2). GMs could spend an hour exploring Riddleport, but the scenario itself includes next to nothing to help with this.
4) Includes arbitrary rules counter to standard PFRPG rules. (DC 20 climb check to climb 5 feet, I'm looking at you)
5) 4 PCs are expected to pilot a ship? Look how small that Topaz Titan is! The final map with rabid dogs not jumping out of a shallow pit? Why is the guy at the dogs travelling with a rabid dog? Fire bombing alchemist on a boat? A solo magus BBEG. Again. RAWR.

The Midnight Mauler set expectations high. Offering this scenario as a reward for 4 and 5 star GMs is insulting. Having to run this scenario to keep our 5th star is borderline abuse.


A fun and challenging scenario

****( )

GMed the scenario in lower tier (1-2), sofar only one run.

The scenario offers more than whats on the pages. If the GM gets familiar with Riddleport, the players will get a really nice setting flavor.
The plot works ok but the players may have questions not covered in the scenario so good prep is really important.
Encounters are not necesarily fights so more diplomatically/bluff inclined players can really do well if they try alternate tactics.
End encounter is really challenging because of the context and rewards smart players.

The first run ended with one death and the n00b at the table saving the rest from TPK. Players had fun and I'll be happy to run it again and see how other groups do.


I Expected Better

***( )( )

I’ve run this scenario 3 times and it’s making a slow recovery from the 1-Star first impression it made. The adventure takes place in Riddleport, a nearly lawless pirate town. The surroundings are very colorful but can be lost on players unless the GM does some research first. I recommend the GM read either the Second Darkness Chapter 1 Adventure Path section on Riddleport or the associated Player Companion as part of the prep work, your players will thank you. Also consider purchasing Pirates of the Inner Sea as the scenario features some equipment from that resource. The scenario spends a fair amount of time on the water, which favors high-mobility (and buoyant) PCs. If you have a social PC you can also have a good time. Non-lawful PCs also fair better in Riddleport. The scenario gets high marks for Campaign Flavor for using Riddleport as a backdrop, and for enabling creative approaches from players. The Faction missions are a let-down, more of the usual find-the-obvious-stuff-and-bring-it-back. My two gripes are with the background and the combat encounters. The background/plot is implausible and takes a toll on the player’s immersion into the situation. The combat encounters are recycled opponents & contrived roles. There was a lot of potential for exploiting the Bestiary 2 and Bestiary 3 here but instead I feel let down. I’m giving the scenario a grudging 3-Star review, only because so far all my players have enjoyed themselves and haven’t felt cheated. However, this is an Exclusive scenario and there’s nothing here that set it apart from any other scenario available for purchase. It took more effort than it should have to fix this scenario, and as an Exclusive release I really expected more.



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