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Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–13: Fortress of the Nail (PFRPG) PDF

***½( ) (based on 16 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5–9.

The Pathfinder Society sends a team of agents into a Hellknight citadel to free a wrongfully imprisoned ally. Among the law-bound knights, however, they may find that getting out of the prison isn't as easy as getting in.

Written by Amanda Hamon.

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 (16)
1 to 5 of 16 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 16 ratings)

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****( )


Putting the Hell back into Hellknight

****( )

Somewhat worried by the horror stories in earlier reviews, we embarked upon this adventure today. I'm somewhat conflicted in my verdict.

First, this adventure has a big RP component. With evocative people, in a really cool place. Going to exotic places and talking to interesting people is one of the draws of PFS for me. However, it came down to presenting the same evidence to a lot of people; you don't really learn anything new about the case, there's no development. That was disappointing. It needed more plot. That said, the GM thread has some good ideas to improve the RP within the boundaries of the plot.

Second, there's the fights. I'm somewhat disturbed to notice how many people are proposing diverging from the scripted tactics in the GM thread, in ways that will make this a more difficult adventure. And while not all fights are hard, there is THAT BOSS. He has tactics that are suboptimal but he's still lethally powerful. Certainly over-CRed. His tactics give the PCs more of a fighting chance. I urge all GMs to stick close to the script here.

The fight IS winnable, on high tier. We brought a party of paladin/monk/stuff 9, investigator (melee) 9, gunslinger/inquisitor 8, cleric 9 and wizard 9. The power those classes can bring to bear is quite considerable. Casters giving the perfects buffs to strikers hitting really hard and standing up to brutal punishment. We had a group of people who've played together a lot before. That certainly made a difference.

I do like a hard-fought fight, and it seems it takes somewhat outre monsters to present a fight that's not a walkover. But I'm also not a fan of slapping the wrong CR on a monster and then gleefully inserting it into a scenario because it's appropriate now. Our party was a sort of all-star OP fest and that's what we needed to do this. That should not be the standard for scenarios. Don't dial it down all the way, but this was over the top.

Interestingly, the 4-player adjustment (which we didn't get) for this scenario is actually spot-on, which can be rather hit or miss in season 4.

All in all, I do like the scenario. It scratches a certain itch. But it does have significant flaws.


Well constructed scenario with one FATAL flaw

****( )

This scenario has an amazing sense of atmosphere, and begins with a pretty cool social section. The combats it moves into were cool, and the story hangs together well.

Just DON'T PLAY THIS IN THE HIGH TIER. The penultimate combat is labeled as CR 12 (which would be a very tough fight even with 6 players at level 9), but it isn't. At all. I compared the custom monster's stats to the 'average Monster Stats by CR' table, and the monster itself should be CR 14 or 15, and has several advantages from its environment, bringing its CR up by 1. Our group had an APL of 7.5, and was up against a CR 15 or 16 fight.

Our GM had to pull every trick in his book to NOT wipe us out immediately. The damn thing can (and is said to in the tactics)

Monster tactics and abilities:
hit an entire party with 16d6 fire damage with a whopping DC 24 save for half. That can kill all full casters in tier as its first action, and take all of the martials down past half health. It can then take 5 attacks on a full attack, each attack with a +25 attack bonus. Oh, and there's no real outlined way to get information on this bad boy pre-combat, so you're walking in blind. It also has several immunities atypical of its creature type/subtype.

This is not the first time I've noticed this phenomenon. Pretty much whenever Paizo allows an author to create a custom monster, they are wildly overpowered for their listed CR. I think the PFS development team should take a closer look at custom monsters and compare them to the Average Monster Statistics by CR table to ensure that this kind of thing doesn't happen. It nearly ruined an otherwise great time for us.


Wildly variable encounter challenges

***( )( )

First off, I should say that playing this was a legitimate mistake - our party was APL 4 fresh out of The Disappeared and our GM was so eager to follow up that he hadn't noticed that this scenario is 5-9 until we were halfway through getting killed by the final encounter. So this review is written from that perspective.

The initial roleplaying encounters are easy if you have the necessary social and/or subterfuge skills - Diplomacy DCs are low, Sleight of Hand DCs are low, and our party had two rogues, a cleric with Profession (barrister), and my Diplomancer paladin rocking the boon from The Disappeared. This fed into the initial mistake; our GM didn't catch himself because there is no way challenges this easy should be aimed at an APL 7 party.

Then we got to the first combat encounter (presuming you don't screw up meeting with the Hellknight officers; I imagine those could be rather fatal combat encounters if handled badly). I ate two crits in the first round before my Initiative count and dropped to -9 from full. The opponent then slaughtered the party's druid straight to dead in a single round right after that. The cleric got me back up and we managed to beat the guy via use of flanking combined with frantic self-Lay On Hands on my part barely keeping ahead of his damage output. (Greater Mercy is possibly the best feat investment my character has ever made.)

Then we found out where the Paracountess was being held. We were midway through dying horribly to a Nessian warhound when the GM did a double take at the paper in front of him and stopped the adventure, realizing his mistake. I have to say, though, that even had we all been 5th level and legally playing the scenario, I doubt it would have made much difference; even with everything we could throw at it (and nobody in this group was a slouch at character building) I don't think we could have taken it down.

In short, this adventure has challenges that are too wildly variable. The initial skill encounters are so easy that a Charisma-dumper with no Diplomacy ranks at all could conceivably succeed on the strength of the d20, while the second part is an unparalleled meatgrinder that would push even the most combat-optimized party to its limits. I wouldn't be comfortable taking on the final boss in the lower tier without being at the very top of the range, and I shudder to think what the upper tier combat must have looked like. Variety of challenge types is great and highly desirable, but the difficulties of the various challenge components shouldn't be so greatly far apart.


I wouldn't change a thing

*****

Personally, I really enjoy adventures involving the Paracountess. This one is great if you have dealt with her before, and especially if you have done The Disappeared. The adventure plays out in a series of courtrooms, each of which require the party to prove to a Hellknight that the Paracountess should be let free. Even if you do manage to convince them of that, though...well, let's just say that getting her out requires a bit more than just their permission. Combat is extremely well done, and will definitely cause some sweaty brows.


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