Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–06: The Green Market (PFRPG) PDF (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Add to Cart
A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5–9.
When an ally of the Society reports that her sister's business is being harassed by the Aspis Consortium in the Varisian city of Korvosa, a team of Pathfinder agents is dispatched to the Green Market to assist. What they find there is more than simple strong-arming and intimidation, however. What mysterious forces bring the popular market its unlikely success, and can the PCs stop the Aspis Consortium from gaining control of what could become a lucrative resource for the rival organization?
Written by Jim Groves.
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.
From here on I am going to make sure scenario maps will fit on a blank flip-mat. It wasn't something I realized would really convenience GMs until after it was written (Mark explained it to me). So I regret the size, but it'll be addressed in the future.
Actually ZomB, now that I read this again I suspect you didn't need a clarification.. you're just noticed the typos
(And much appreciated, sincerely)
Just in case:
The rod is absolutely intended to be a lesser selective metamagic rod, so the baddie can exclude his friends from spell effects while mixing it up with the Pathfinders.
The summary of the Taldor mission should be something like:
Taldor Faction: Taldor Faction PCs who convince three common folk of the benevolence of the nobility earn 1 Prestige Point.
As a side note: there are a lot of faction missions listed in the first part of the adventure. I really want to underscore that those missions can be run throughout the adventure. They're listed in the beginning because that is the earliest they can be introduced, but they can easily be spaced out throughout the adventure. That way you can dole out some of the roleplaying and present different activities throughout the scenario.
Thank you in advance for any review you may choose to give it!
Hey Jim. I just finished a con and somehow I ended up running this adventure three different times with 5 hour sessions in the space of 16 hours. Unfortunately due to the short amount of time before it's release and running I wasn't able to spend as much time prepping it as I would have liked. But the areas I didn't know about the rules I quickly made an adjudication and eventually found out most of my rulings were correct.
To begin with, this was an absolute blast to run. I'll admit by the start of the third session my enthusiasm had taken a significant hit (I was also running on 3.5 hours sleep yesterday), but I was fortunate enough to have a table of roleplayers who were simply a blast to play with. After the first 15 minutes my enthusiasm was renewed and I was back into the swing of running this adventure for them.
To start with the opening box text. I didn't like the "you harken back to a briefing you received from Venture Captain Amara-Li." I don't know if this was done as a tongue in cheek reference to many of the early modules, but I personally have grown a bit tired of that trope (personal pet peeve). I would instead have recommended you do something like "You are gathered into the Heidmarch Lodge for a briefing from Amara-Li who is on her way back to Absalom and can only stay for a quick thirty minutes before she needs to return to her ship." It gives the sense that this mission is actually somewhat important and also that the briefing can't go on for too long (helpful in a convention scenario). That said, there may be meta-plot reasons why that wouldn't be appropriate.
Next onto the faction missions, these were finally a breath of fresh air. With 12 factions I am simply unable to do any prep work for faction missions because I have no way of remembering them. As such, I was discovering each new faction mission as I ran the session and encountered new factions on my table.
The faction missions show a lot of depth and thought put into them. For 3 years I've heard about how wonderful the Cheliax faction missions were in season 0 (a season I missed out on), because I just have not seen that in recent times. Instead I see collect the macguffin faction missions and often that macguffin is an infernal sex toy. The faction mission for this one however actually has motivation behind it relating to the political landscape. THIS is what Cheliax faction missions should be. Here's how it went
We easily spent 20 minutes the PCs roleplaying their conversation with the undersecretary. Alas, they could not meet the DC listed in the module. During this time the Aspis consortium spoke to Zeeva Foxglove and were escorting her away from the marketplace to threaten her somewhere private.
I gave all my PCs 1 perception check to overhear the Aspis threatening Zeeva, one of the PCs got the DC. I then gave 1 PC a second perception check to simply spot her walking past (he failed). The PC who made the initial perception check pointed the group out to his fellow PCs and so I gave the PC who failed his second perception check a third perception check. He failed so he got told "she looks familiar, but you just don't know how you know this person" (he had met Sendeli her sister).
The PCs decided to follow the group and I made a mistake here. I had the Aspis lead her to a nearby alleyway. Realising the rest of the module wouldn't happen, I had to backtrack and say they simply corner her at the edge of the battlemat. This was the third time I had run this module and I'd only had 3.5 hours sleep the night before so my PCs forgave me and we moved on.
The fight broke out between the Aspis and the PCs and so the undersecretary hid among the food stalls. After this fight the leader of Aspis consortium member is unconscious along with one of his goons while the other 2 had been permitted to flee.
Suddenly fight 2 breaks out. During this fight the undersecretary and the crowd flee the marketplace. As the undersecretary is fleeing the PCs call out to him "we're going to hunt you down."
During the fight Kira is chanelling energy and not deselecting the Aspis member and so he wakes up and runs away during the heat of battle. Fortunately the hired thug was out of the channel energy radius.
They question him, he gives up his boss and here is where I had to improvise. I said the thug didn't know where the Aspis member lived. His group of thugs would meet the Aspis member at 9am sharp every morning at the Dancing Pony five streets away. One member had turned up 10 minutes late and had his pay docked.
The PCs asked this thug's permission to impersonate him. He said yes, as long as the Aspis member didn't survive so there was no retaliation on the thug or his family. They asked for more information on the Aspis Consortium's dealings so I ad libbed a bit about how the City Watch is hopelessly corrupt, they would do protection rackets, loan sharking. That sort of thing.
The PCs go disguised as the thug they captured. The alchemist uses ALL of his spells for the day as disguise self. I give them a bluff check vs sense motive with a +8 bonus to the thug's sense motive because they were close friends. The Aspis member got a sense motive of +4 because he was an associate. The player beat the sense motive check both times and so their plan unfurled perfectly.
The Aspis consortium were convinced that Cheliax was involved because the PCs consisted of 1 Chelish nobleman with two of his servants+Kira. They need to get Cheliax to move off the Green Market and take their shambling mounds and constructs with them. As such the Aspis Consortium has arranged a meeting at 11am with the Undersecretary.
The PCs got their second chance at defeating the Aspis Consortium (and thus winning half the module) and also got another chance at the Undersecretary. I was going to give the PCs a rather big bonus to their intimidate check but they beat the DC without it.
The Szcarni faction mission I got to roleplay handing this out in two different sessions. Because the players were leaving from Magnimar I didn't hand out this faction mission. I gave them one full day before they needed to leave to make any preparations they wanted (had they wanted more I'd of course have found ways for that, but they were surprised to have the one day prep time and were unsure how to use it). During their activities in this day the faction leader met them in person and we roleplayed them getting the faction mission over a meal/drinks. They needed to write down the pertinent information and rely on their notes. This surprised people, but they seemed to enjoy it (I know I did).
Finally I truly enjoyed the Silver Crusade faction mission. In one session the PCs didn't make the DC in their first attempt. I personally don't like "you get one attempt at this and then it is impossible to do" faction missions. So I allowed them a second chance at the end of the module.
In another session again the PC didn't make the DC at first. So another party member tried it and they did beat the DC. Now because of this faction mission I was able to react in an extremely interesting manner.
First of all both times I had a blast roleplaying the Shaman saying "you're certainly quite knowledgable and you show promise. Come to me again some time in the future after you have grown and matured in your understanding of your faith and perhaps then we can discuss the matter."
In the other session when a second PC (non Silver Crusade PC) beat the DC I was able to respond with "I will quite happily tell you of the information you seek. But as I said, it is not for those who have a less mature understanding of their faith. I will discuss this with you and you alone." The other PCs had to leave and only then did I give the second PC all of the information. They had to make notes and then returned to the Silver Crusade PC and convey the information they had learned.
Finally I loved this mission because it tied in with the apparent meta-plot of season 4 and it just gave a CRAPLOAD of flavour. I have never seen a faction mission chocked with so much flavour before. Kudos to you Jim Grove. Kudos.
Furthermore the plot itself was extremely freeform. I loved the amount of freedom it offered the PCs in completing this mission. In theory it could have gone on for in game days, if not weeks. That was an extremely nice change to have.
Roleplaying the main NPC was a blast and I loved how she played off the different players at my table. She was a DMPC, but not a single player complained about her and everyone loved her. It really allowed me to get involved in the roleplaying for this module. As someone whose style of play is typically roleplay heavy, combat light this module was exactly what I want.
That said, these fights were brutal. I've been growing and complacent with PFS scenarios. Overall season 4 has amped up the brutality. The first time I ran this there was a PC in the final combat who spent the entire fight 1 round from dead. She was going from 1 round from dead to "breathing and on 3 HP" back down to 1 round from dead, etc, etc. They loved it. Everyone was fighting for their lives. And the listed tactics were very, very effective. In one session...
I was able to wall of fire the cleric and isolate her from the rest of the party. When I created the wall of fire I placed it behind all the party and facing away from them and facing towards the cleric.
I had one PC say "clearly John isn't trying to kill us with this fight because that was the least optimal choice he could have made" but I did what I felt the listed tactics told me to. It was that session where the PC was constantly in threat of being dead and at the end the cleric player said "what really contributed to the lethality of this fight was that wall of fire. It hampered my ability to support my party for 1 round, after which they were really brutalised and in a bad way." That cleric spent the rest of the fight keeping everyone alive.
In the second session we had a party of 3 (plus Kira the pregen). This party used three dimensional combat (the first session didn't because no-one made their "Knowledge (planes) check" to know the no gravity rule on the Ethereal Plane. Also I was becoming more familiar with the rules of the mod by this point ;)
In this I had a tiefling alchemist, aasimar paladin and human witch. They played down due to being APL of level 6. The tiefling solo'd the fire elemental. The tiefling negated a crapload of damage thanks to his fire resistance. HOWEVER midway through the fight he got on the defensive and started 5 foot stepping back and healing himself. Despite his fire resistance, I was giving him a challenge and making him sweat.
The paladin drunk a potion of fly because without gravity every action has an equal and opposite reaction (people walking didn't suffer from this and people with magical flying also didn't suffer from this. I don't know if that's RAW, but it seemed like a fair ruling to me). He solo'd the ghost and was only dealing half damage to the ghost (RAW ghosts appear to keep their incorporeal status in the Ethereal Plane in this edition. I understand it was different in 3.5e). He smote the ghost and was surprised when I said the ghost was not evil. Every single round he was swift action healing himself to stop himself from falling unconscious. Alas I only realised too late that the optimal tactic was to use searing light. Had I known it could have been a TPK. I got 1 searing light though which was fun.
The witch finally was forced to spend a good portion of the combat flying off the battlegrid to heal herself. Now thanks to the Oracle curse, my ghost couldn't see her and so she was safe from attack. She then cast bestow curse (I believe this is the spell) onto her familiar. Then she flew into range and as a standard action tossed her familiar at the ghost. Because there was no gravity I had the witch make a ranged attack roll of DC 10 to get the correct square. She beat the DC and so then I had my attack of opportunity on the familiar, the PC rolled her melee touch attack through the familiar and got it off. But what to do with the familiar? Well there is no gravity. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The ghost had a stabbing weapon so I ruled the familiar bounced off the ghost and headed straight back to the witch. So the familiar essentially got a pounce. That really set the tone for this combat.
With this, I then rolled poorly on my "50% chance of doing nothing" and they won the fight.
That said, I really enjoyed roleplaying the monsters in the second fight as well
My first table played up and so they got the Quickwood and 2 Shambling Mounds. They made knowledge nature checks. When I saw "Quickwood Bestiary 2" I rolled my eyes going "oh great. Another splatbook monster. Here we go with some bizarro monster.
I then read out the flavour to my players of both creatures. I had seasoned 3.5e veterans as well as new players and both alike were surprised and shocked when I read out that both creatures crave human and elven flesh in particular. That right there set the mood for this fight.
I had a blast roleplaying the shambling mound. It taunted the PCs and was generally just creepy. I did "rend" on a poor villager with a Shambling Mound and simply ate the villager and then said "Hmmmm. That was delicious" in a deep voice and all my players screamed out "WHAT!?" They didn't seem to know Shambling Mounds could talk.
Finally the Quickwood was a blast because of the root attacks. I had 60 ft reach. Now RAW I should probably have been taking AoOs anytime someone moved. But I made a flavourful ruling which might get me in trouble. I ruled that the roots were underground and as such everyone had cover from them. Then when Quickwoods turn came up I had a PC that was flying above the ground. I ruled that the tentacles travelled underground to the square she was flying above and then broke through the ground in a spray of dust and reached up into the air to attack her. When her turn came around again she was now able to get targeted by Attacks of Opportunity because the roots were still in the square below her. As a consequence she was able to attack those roots.
She flew away so I had the roots attack a different PC. This PC I was able to pull along the ground. I described how the marketplace stones were getting breaches as the root pulled the PC towards the Quickwood.
All in all a very flavourful and memorable combat.
The lower tiers had 1 shambling mound (again, creeped them out) plus a scarecrow. I loved roleplaying these creatures getting formed/coming to life and it freaked my players right out.
That said I did skip the optional fight all 3 times I ran this mod. As I said, I emphasise roleplaying over combat and I felt the sessions were better for that extra time being spent on conveying the flavour and allowing the PCs to roleplay with each other than having that extra combat.
Finally as to the mistake with the map, I turned up to the CON and hand drew my map before the first session (something that a couple of GMs commented on favourably as most of the people were simply printing off maps). I drew the top half of the map as that's where most of the action was and it did not impact the fights at all. Width wise I had a bit of trouble with the office on the rightmost portion of the map, but that was the only noticeable quirk in the map. I liked how, given it was such a big map and such a complex map, I got a lot of mileage from it as every single fight occurs on this one map. Of course, there was one exception. It was the tavern fight that the Cheliax members had.
I wouldn't stress the size too much. Live and learn after all ;)
If my enthusiasm isn't obvious, I really enjoyed running this mod. Running this mod 3 times in 1 day was the highlight of my Con. I've already had one player ask me to run this for them at some point in the future (and I've said yes).
So well done. A++++ module. Would run more modules from this author again ;)
I am delighted you had a good time. I really enjoyed reading this.
I think having the PCs work together to achieve some of the Faction missions is fine. I purposefully stopped putting obstacles in the way of players being able to do that, based on feedback from the community. Ultimately I don't think the factions should be helping each other, but at the same time I also think it is choice of the players and not me. They should decide if they want to indirectly help another faction by helping another player—and I'm fine with that. It does promote teamwork and a good feeling around the table.
John Lynch 106 wrote:
I had one PC say "clearly John isn't trying to kill us with this fight because that was the least optimal choice he could have made" but I did what I felt the listed tactics told me to.
Awww. You gotta love those armchair quarterbacks. More and more I am getting away from any complicated tactics for this reason.
Again, thank you for your time in writing this report out. Please, if you are so inclined—post a review. Good or bad. Your comments reach a much broader number of people that way.