The coastal city of Magnimar is no stranger to crime, yet recently, a series of murders has sent a chill through the early morning streets. Someone—or something—is stalking and killing worshipers of Sarenrae, the goddess of the sun. The city guard is prepared to ambush the murderer, but they need help—help of the kind that adventurers are so good at providing. What is the sinister truth behind these violent acts?
Dawn of the Scarlet Sun is a Pathfinder RPG adventure for six 5th-level characters—such as the six iconic heroes provided. In addition, this adventure can be integrated into the Shattered Star Pathfinder Adventure Path, and uses the villains featured in the Pathfinder Battles Champions of Evil Encounter Pack.
Written by James Jacobs.
This special 16-page Pathfinder Module was initially made available for Free RPG Day on June 16, 2012.
Note: Due to the special nature of this product, it is NOT part of the Pathfinder Modules Subscription.
First off, I've loved James Jacobs' work since 3.x days.
Second, I would never have suspected this was his work.
Played and ran it this weekend.
Playing it with 5 veterans, I grabbed the nearest body and ran. 3 dead, 2 escaped. (The second escapee had been forced to leave, much to his delight.)
Running it with 4 elite players, several one hit from death, barely escaping.
1. Use the disposable pregens. (I have to wonder if this was assumed.)
2. Heed the warning it's for six 5th levels. I think a large action economy imbalance is assumed in the last battle.
3. Be ready to improv many NPCs & knowledge checks. The module gives few, though the party will be seeking out many.
4. Don't improve her tactics. (You know who I mean.)
5. If not in PFS, don't run 'as is'. It has potential.
Review (spoiler free and in order of appearance):
1. It starts out well enough with the intro, but the brief investigation is "roll", as in not fleshed out. Most RPing occurred here with NPCs not in mod. Much of the 'story' is here, but also not in mod.
2. There is a mechanic where the players can do everything right and still fail. Odds are small as they get several chances, but the 1st failure could lead them into doing new, wrong things, completing the failure.
Welcome to Pathfinder???
3. There is a fleshed out backstory full of history and intriguing events and characters. Throughout the module, the GM gets a sense of the villains' stories, preparation, and intentions.
The odds of the PCs learning more than hints of any of this is minimal.
The development of the PCs' story arc is also minimal.
(Short story premise turned into module?)
4. First conflict works well, and PCs can excel and succeed, or fail and make up the difference.
5. The one opportunity to roleplay with a villain is wasted by her silence.
6. Irrational jump from minor clue to highly specific knowledge. Such 'easy' knowledge would/should have been a natural jump from standard investigation tactics earlier.
7. Fine setup in next stage, followed by modest opening battle.
8. Great imagery for finale, but awkward map at best. (How many 1/2 squares can furniture take on a map?)
9. She is a beast.
For most parties it will come down to one roll. If prepared, they may get two or three, but the timeline allows no time to prepare specifically. Each of these rolls has a minimal chance of success. (Both times, we had four or so chances.)
Welcome to Pathfinder???
She retrieves a weapon she has several feats for, but is not in her picture, her stat block, nor is it used in her tactics. Oh, and it's inferior. What was going on with that?
If I hadn't rolled natural '3's for her several times, I would've TPKed my party. If I had confirmed my two crit threats with easy rolls, I would have TPKed or PPKed the party. A party which did everything right, and had PCs which handily fought above their level.
Please, do not use nor play this at a convention. Unless with pregens.
If you enjoy running games where everyone has a fun time, a little mix of investigation, challenging combat and a feeling of achievement, don't run this module.
If you enjoy it where you watch PCs flail helplessly against your overpowered boss, and laugh as the flesh is seared off their bones, then this is the module for you!
Joking aside, this is not fun:
I ran this as a Pathfinder Society scenario, for 5 very experienced players (who are also PFS GMs). Three were killed outright by the end fight, two managed to run away. Here are my main gripes:
1) Very limited info at the start requires a lot of prep from the GM to ease players into the adventure and create some tension or interest in what the players are doing.
2) The boss fight is impossible. I don't care what people say about it being fine, it's not. It's stupidly hard.
3) The mechanic wherein the PCs set up an ambush, choose their positions, tactics, set it up and wait and then...Nothing happens unless the dice are happy, completely breaks the pace of the game. It just requires the party to fast forward 24 hours and hope the dice are better this time.
4) That boss fight. Seriously...If you're unprepared it's impossible. If you are prepared it's impossible, unless the boss rolls 1s and the party is rolling 20s. Even then, only MAYBE the party has a chance.
All in all, I'm a GM who loves killing players. I just have a deep resent and loathing for everyone, and even I felt guilty about killing the players so easily.
This module can be pretty short and fun, but it is deadly for the unprepared party... Even the prepared party may have issues. Which from what I've read can be pretty hard.
Not a lot of us carry around cold-iron, silver, or good weapons. In addition, as meta-gamey as people will say, I still think there should at least be some items to help such as weapon blanch or even a cold iron weapon. The Pre-gens included are no match for them, even with more than 6 players, two of which were not pregens.
If you run it, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you do it with experienced players, and those that are ready for it. I do NOT recommend running this for new players.
Converted this module to 4e and scaled it to a Level 4 rating. This adventure has a great story line and can easily be customized to most heroic tier adventure parties, to avoid a high probability of a TPK. Yes, the pregen characters are not of much use to play the encounters, as is! My rating is based on running this adventure as converted above, and having a blast. It is a rare occasion when an adventure is ideal enough to be a perfect match for all playing groups, given the diverse character builds. One character was lost, and another was a close call. Hey, these things happen!
The primary reason to acquire a module (even if it is free) is to save on creation/prep time. This module fails at this.
The story progression is weak. There are no fleshed out NPCs or role-playing encounters (yes I can make stuff up, but once again, the reason for a module is to give at least enough core content that I can run an adequate game). In fact, the ONLY NPC with any role-playing notes in the module is one you can only encounter should you be lucky with your dice!
The story progression mechanisms are poor. The city guard wants to hire you to do a job they are exactly perfect for, but think they are no good at, but require you to do it their way. Yes, I can recreate and make this better, but the module as written is weak sauce.