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

***½( ) (based on 13 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 (13)
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Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 13 ratings)

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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.

Excellent Mix


I loved the mix of challenging combat and role-play in this scenario. If tactics aren't followed then the penultimate fight can be especially lethal, particularly in the upper subtier.

Good, challenging scenario

****( )

This scenario is the tried and tested formula of "start with some interesting roleplay" (you're trying to convince hellknights in a hellknight citadel to do what you want) and then following it up with a handful of unique, challenging encounters.

In that sense, it scratches the itch of both types of gamers (those who like to have interesting roleplay, those who like to have interesting combat).

Another reviewer mentions a CR12 fight for a level 7 party. The CR12 fight is the fight for a level 8-9 party (thus you could see how a table of six level 9s would be somewhat challenged by a CR12 fight). A level 7 party playing up would face a 4-player adjust in the final fight and it would not be CR12. That said, the fight should be challenging for most tables -- if run right -- and in a good way.

This one gets high marks for me since it has great RP encounters with hellknights and some great, unique fights.

Party Level 7, Enemy CR 12

**( )( )( )

As noted above, that's the simplest way to sum up this mod. Our party level was 7, and the final 'boss' was CR 12. Naturally, we got slaughtered.

It's a shame, because the majority of the scenario before that was interesting and fun. Lots of social skills, lots of RP, a nice little plot twist to investigate, a moderately challenging fight... good stuff that's often lacking in PFS scenarios.

But then came the final enemy. CR 12. High DR. Attacks from surprise with multiple hard-hitting attacks and combat maneuvers, and it literally cannot miss ever (+25 to all attacks). Our archer gets five shots a round and couldn't hit him (and couldn't have hurt him if he did). And you can't even run away. It was a major letdown, as the futility of even trying was evident from Round 1. The GM said he would never run this story again, and I can't blame him. If I wanted to throw away a character on a pointless, no-win scenario, I'd play Bonekeep.

What bugs me about slaughterhouse encounters is that there's no cleverness or creativity involved; there's no way to win aside from sheer power. You don't get to figure out the bad guy's weakness, or come up with an ingenious strategy. Smart tactics don't work; roleplay is irrelevant; teamwork won't save you; even luck doesn't turn the tide. All that matters is sheer power, and the bad guys simply have more, so you die. Period. Where's the fun in that?

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