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Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–12: The Refuge of Time (PFRPG) PDF

***½( ) (based on 15 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7–11.

In the ruins of a fallen empire built on the power of sin lies the key to awakening a great evil from a time long gone. The Pathfinder Society isn't the only organization seeking this potent artifact, however, and the result of failure could mean disaster for the whole of Varisia and beyond.

Written by Steve Miller, RPG Superstar 2012 finalist.

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.

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Product Reviews (15)
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Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 15 ratings)

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Boons of Time

**( )( )( )

Refuge is a short combat based scenario with the most powerful boon PFS has ever offered.

The start of Refuge is incredible and we were incredibly worried. It was also the best part of the scenario. Having said that, the guardian wasn’t protected enough.

”First Encounter Results”:
It died before it was able to act. We were able to buff, plan, and cherry pick how we approached it. It should have been concealed inside, and we shouldn’t have had the opportunity to buff and plan, especially if the premise was to disarm everyone at the start of the scenario.

It’s kind of a dumb premise when you think about it. If you’re tough enough to kill the 1st encounter, the rest of the scenario will be a joke. And if you’re not tough enough, then the rest of the scenario will be insanely hard. It’s impossible to design the rest of the scenario appropriately like this.

The next two encounters were nothing special. The environment was also nothing special. The last encounter was super lame.

”Last Encounter”:
The caster was super poorly made with a ridiculously bad spell list. I grappled him (with my character that doesn’t even have improved grappling) and it was over. Even if I didn’t, he was still useless. That caster should have been conjuring monsters the entire time and sending a menagerie at us.

”Detailed Rating”:

Length: Super short, especially for a 7-11 (3 hours).
Experience: Player with 5 powerful PCs at subtier 7-8.
Sweet Spot: TBD.
Entertainment: First encounter was super entertaining. Nothing besides that. (6/10)
Story: Almost no story. (2/10)
Roleplay: Almost no roleplay (except for the 1st encounter). (3/10)
Combat/Challenges: I was told this was hard but it was far too easy. (6/10)
Maps: Standard. (4/10)
Boons: Mixed feelings, but in terms of power it doesn’t get much better. (10/10)
Uniqueness: Standard McGuffin scenario, not worthy of 7-11. 1st encounter was unique but could be improved. (3/10)
GM Preparation: TBD.
Secondary Condition: Was good and fair. (8/10)

Overall: The only thing notable about this scenario was the boon. (5/10)


***( )( )


Epic fights, then gain a feat

****( )

Played in tier 7-8 with all veteran players and GM. Almost no roleplay, pure combats, but I love it!

There are four combats, all of them are pretty challenging but not overwhelming. Two power players died, and two almost died... but had a fun time, that's what PFS lacks in later seasons, strong fight in season 4 is must for epic adventures.


Actually... not bad!

****( )

I had a great time playing this with Mitch @ Endgame. Mitch was smart -- he may have heard us talking before the game, and realized we were all pretty much overly-prepared power-gamers who were going to brutalize the combat encounters (even though we were level 9s playing up). So, there was a lot of role play instead.

Spoiler:
We acted out some conversations with the angel, and spent a long time with the prisoners, etc. We even held court at the end, to try & convict the BBEG, because the NPCs wanted him dead but we had a paladin in our midst who wouldn't allow murder. All in all, the non-combat stuff was great fun.

The combat stuff was fun too, but each fight ended in just 2 rounds or so. We used Gloves of Reconnaissance to scout the rooms safely, and then had a complicated set of readied actions that foiled everything -- he even had the phantom steed ignoring the pews and getting a full charge, but our readies (involving teleporting away and reappearing surrounding the charger) foiled it. I was very happy that our GM allowed us to "foil" some of those fights like that, because lesser GMs would freak out and railroad us in various ways.

The only other thing to note is that I disagree with a previous post about the ochre rhomboid ioun stone. There is no complication or problem to "fix" or "errata" with this -- the module tells us that this custom item will work a certain way, and so it will. The end. It's a custom item, so the module author can make it work however he wants. If he wants the ioun stone to be susceptible to an Atonement in a special way, then it can be, because he made it up, from scratch! Of course our paladin refused this item, but the rest of us took it, and did indeed do the Atonement.

As a sidenote, I would point out for GMs that the version of Atonement that people should be using for this is the cheap version. There is an expensive version with costly material components that costs around 3000 GP, but right in the spell listing it has a specific call-out for magical alignment shifts (which this is), and the spell flags that as not needing to be the expensive version. If you are a GM who is charging players 3000 GP or 8 prestige to fix this, you really need to read the spell because you're ripping off those players!


Messy dungeon run, with a twist

**( )( )( )

Spoiler: you're not going into a refuge, and you're not traveling through time. The title does make sense in the scenario, but keep this little tidbit in mind and you'll be able to leave that bit of disappointment at the door.

The best thing about this 7-11 scenario is that it runs pretty quickly. You're looking at a 4-5 hour game, which is a welcome reprieve from the many 7-11's that run 7-8 hours or more. It's one of season 4's finest hours in that respect. Removing most of the faction missions helps a lot here. There's one faction mission in particular worth doing here, and players will know it just by reading the mission.

Apart from that, the scenario has a lot of problems:

Spoiler:

- The VC briefing is a letter, but suggests the GM should read it out as if the VC is there. Why not a handout? That makes sense, and I ended up making my own. The question answerer can be entirely ignored if your 7-11 players act like they have any experience. A waste of word count.
- The angel encounter has an extremely high diplomacy check to even begin to allow players to make a case, unless they have someone who is amazing at diplomacy AND everyone in the party aids. I ran this at subtier 10-11 and they couldn't make it (wizard, paladin, 2x monk). The worst part is subtier 7-8 uses the same DC. My understanding is a lot of GMs mess up this encounter based on the angel's terms (they're only meant to take off their magic items momentarily, not for the whole encounter) and ignore the diplomacy check. This is bad enough that it deserves errata.
- There's no description of the Shoanti at all (I initially thought there was only 3 people, and Jeor and Wattlee were also Shoanti; this is incorrect; there are 2 named characters on a tour and 3 Shoanti). How are the 3 supposed to react? Are they mute? What do Jeor and Wattlee think of them?
- Emketta's 6-player scaling can be worthless if player's go the right way, making this an exceptionally easy encounter at 10-11, unless you realise her "Phantom Steed" can use air walk. At 7-8, she doesn't have the space she needs in this area to be effective at all, and the pews hinder her further. She will in all likelihood have no reason to use half her feat lines.
- Naroth has some great spells but incredibly stupid tactics for someone who is meant to have great intellect. With 4-player scaling, his minions can do very little to help him. His initial spell listed in his tactics is worthless at subtier 10-11.

There are a few good points as well:

Spoiler:

- That one faction mission is great roleplay and guaranteed hilarity.
- The angel encounter is probably the best in the scenario. It forces a moral quandry with a good creature who is preventing them doing their mission. If only the diplomacy check DC was fixed and there was less confusion among GMs on what players should do, it would be a perfect encounter. As is, it's still a valid battle that can prepare them for the shape of things to come in later scenarios.
- Naroth does have one trick up his sleeve that makes him a force to be reckoned with - if he survives that long and doesn't screw himself too badly with his listed tactics that come before it. Apparently his first during-combat tactic should be directed at "a certain PC" rather than "at a PC", if you read between the lines.

The boon is a nonsensical-rule-breaking mixed bag:

Spoiler:

- There's 1 stone, but Mike has clarified in the forums that everyone must get a chance to activate it. To do this in-game is immersion breaking, but PFS rules on chronicle sheet items work like that, so fair enough.
- The book (and the GM messageboards) doesn't explain this very well, and this is crippling: the stone's power is a curse; if the curse goes, so does the power (permanently). But atonement will get rid of its alignment penalty AND let you keep the power. Read the atonement spell in the Core Rulebook - that's not how it works. Explaining this to players will leave you scratching your head or will leave you confident in ruling it incorrectly.

Steve Miller's provided some fantastic feedback for GMs about several of these problems, many of which are fixable at the GM level. The boon is the biggest problem, as it's ongoing and apparently has no good answer.


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