Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–22: Glories of the Past—Part I: Halls of Dwarven Lore (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5–9.

The dwarven sky citadel of Janderhoff in eastern Varisia is one of the least visited settlements in the land, at least by non-dwarves. Nevertheless, the Pathfinder Society has been invited to assist in the excavation of a forgotten ruin within the large underground complex. What the fearless adventurers stand to find within could be the greatest discovery of the Age of Lost Omens, something sure to immortalize all involved in the pages of the Pathfinder Chronicles for ever more. But the ruins under Janderhoff aren't the end of the Pathfinders' journey; rather they illuminate a treacherous path ahead, from the familiar land of Varisia into much more dangerous territory.

Written by Tork Shaw.

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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Disappointing, messy and honestly subpar

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Before I sat down to write this review, I glanced at the other reviews below. They’re honestly pretty spot on. It is nothing short of a dungeon crawl where a bunch of different ideas got their own little rooms. These rooms differ so much from one another, that the only way to make it feel like they’re all connected to each other, is by tossing in an elevator. Ironically this actually makes them feel more random and adding specific types of creatures into the mix doesn’t help at all.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the ideas were nice. I enjoyed the concept of having a trap interact with another trap and I suppose the ‘water level’ was suitably combined with what else you’ll encounter there. It’s just that it doesn’t feel like a nice, complete story. There’s little role-play to be done, for a Dwarven dungeon there’s a distinct lack of Dwarven elements and some of the rooms added absolutely nothing to the adventure. Combine that with certain skill-checks being fairly low for a level 5-9 scenario, and you can basically ignore as much as up to complete floors of this dungeon. My investigator with trapspotting basically had a walk in the park.

Finally there’s the puzzle. Now from what I’ve heard and seen I’d say this is probably one of the worst explained puzzles in the entirety of Pathfinder Society. I think that says enough. If you were forced to actually do this step by step, I can understand that this becomes incredibly tedious and time-consuming. This is absolutely terrible for what actually is the final portion of the scenario. Not only is this a frustrating puzzle, but also a huge disappointment and no way to get people excited for part 2 or 3. Thankfully our GM just us describe how we’d go about solving the puzzle and gave it to us.

Honestly this scenario is a mess. The premise of the scenario had a lot of potential, but it’s execution is quite frankly sub-par. It simply does not deliver. Some checks are too easy, tactics aren’t great and contradict each other, the rooms and the puzzle are poorly described and in my opinion the narrative is laughably bad. Normally I’d stay away from using such description, but I would definitely place this scenario in my top 5 of worst scenarios. The only reason I’m still giving it two stars is because of the two nice ideas I described before. Thankfully I now can continue and play a better part 2 and an even better part 3, or so I’ve been told. I can only hope that to be true.


Elevator, flooding, traps, oh my....

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I never really got how all this fit together. Just kinda like some random rooms thrown together with the elevator gimmick. Played this a few weeks ago and can't even remember it......


Something Janderhoff something

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Only having played this once and not having GM'd it, my experience pretty much completely matched Beckett's experience below (in different games, probably different parts of the world).

The scenario is mostly a dungeon run, and the thing is I usually like that, and for what that is, I guess it's not bad. The bizarro puzzle really threw us off course and the whole table, including the GM, really struggled to try and work out what was going on with all the facts we knew. We stretched every nugget we could've pilfered from that puzzle to get us a little closer to solving the puzzle, and eventually we did, but even then it didn't really make a lot of sense. Usually when this happens, I'm pretty switched on to a GM making mistakes, but my spider sense didn't tingle here - it's just a really, really weird puzzle.

But as I said, the other encounters were reasonably enjoyable for your standard dungeon run. The first set of rooms dragged on a little more than necessary due to what was in there, but authors probably need to get a little creative with those kinds of mechanics, and we didn't let it drag.

Near the end of the scenario:
while we were running low on time, we weren't really sure what else to do down there because it seemed like our mission was completed, but there was one last room we hadn't really looked at. When we got in there, we learned a large amount of "dwarven lore" all at once, and it was hard to even try and take all of it in, because it just wasn't interesting, and wasn't really of much import to our mission. I guess we were sort of asked to keep track of some of this?

So we picked up "The runes represent Sky Citadels in Dongun Hold, Highhelm, Janderhoff, something, something bla-dee-dee-blah.... (everyone scratches their heads trying to get any kind of meaning out of this, wondering why we're here) errr....you take the information back to Sheila Hardmach." and it's at that point we woke up and said YES that sounds like something that makes sense!

I felt like it would take only the most hardcore Golarion lore lovers to have any real appreciation for that ending!

But whatever, the scenario isn't terrible - but don't expect anything amazing in part 1 either.


runs very slow

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SPOILERS FOLLOW (though that should be obvious)

I've this once and played it as well. It really kind of drags on after about the second floor, and it kind of leaves me unsure just who this was meant to cater to? It's fairly combat lite, doesn't have a high level of skill checks,

Spoiler:
predominantly Know Engineering, Perception, & Disable Device
, and doesn't really even offer much at all in the way of RP opportunity. I ran this as a PbP, and played it in a Face-to-Face game, and honestly I think the amount of traps early on just killed it.

The scenario I think, could have done a better job of explaining the relevance of the history, which kind of left us feeling like, "okay, so what" when I played, and needing to do a good bit of research when I ran it, as I couldn't seem to find references to some of the things in Dwarves of Golarion, ISWG, and the like.

The finale was a puzzle, and as far as I can tell, it seems like a largely convoluted and overcomplicated way of basically doing something that no matter what, they will eventually get through (assuming they have at least 2 individuals). It just doesn't work, as by the time people get there, they just don't care and want to get it over with.

There is basically a single map, but some of the directions just don't seem to add up, which confuses things. Originally, I thought I would like the single large map, (didn't realize at first it was actually 1sq = 10ft), but it just doesn't work. Please avoid doing this in the future. It looks nice as a picture, but in use, it's just terrible to use and makes it that much harder to keep track of the various areas.

I found it really annoying that, on the DM side, we get all this extra little info, like how the Undead happened, but there are no skill checks to pass this on to the players, and honestly, I'm not even sure what would apply. Know Religion? Dungeoneering? Alchemy?

I kind of felt that this would have been a lot more interesting if it would have catered a bit more towards dwarven characters, felt "dwarven", but just been more generally challenging, and I kind of suspect that it might have been heavily edited, possibly to fit into a "3 parter" rather than as a stand alone or something. It really hurt that the DM is not really given any dang info on some of the most obvious questions the players will ask, (how long ago, how many people, what exactly is the MMMC. . .).

From the DM side, probably the most interesting thing was to have fun with the little floating ghostly hand, making it act out trying to rush/lead the party where it needs them to go, especially if no one makes the check to find out what it is.


Don't look directly at it

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I've played this once at high tier, and I've GM'd it at high tier, so I'm going to try to address this from both a player and GM's perspective.

Since it'd be impossible to discuss the good and bad of the scenario without spoiling it, read the following at your own risk.

Away we go:

Setting:

Player - We get to explore ancient dwarven ruins, previously occupied by the cult of Droskar? Cool. We have to spend of our time riding an elevator? Um... cool? Another team went in first? Slightly less cool. Droskari lore, and uniquely dwarven things, only show up like twice? Lame.

I guess this is the main problem with the module, unlike the excellent third part of this series, it feels like we're in a generic dungeon. We never get a sense that this place is truly ancient or menacing. The elevator is a cool gimmick, but it wears thin as the scenario stretches on.

GM - There's not much to say here. It's a dungeon. A particularly empty dungeon. Unless you want to put in a lot of work adding interesting sights, and sounds, this is about as boring as you can get.

Fights:

Player -

1. Traps. I understand why they're here, it makes sense, I just hate the things. They slow down movement, and rarely do anything other than burn some CLW wand charges.

2. Why? Why are there Fey in a dwarven ruin? Why are these Fey so annoying? The enemies here are fans of the "let's cast tons of crowd control spells, forcing this fight to go on forever, by preventing half of the PCs from acting" school of thought. It's just annoying, and poor design. Not challenging. More wasted CLW wand charges.

3. Yes. This fight is awesome. The elevator starts flooding, which added a fantastic sense of urgency to the combat. My Gunslinger had to draw his sword for the first time since 1st level. The flooding made the non-construct enemies a legitimate threat, and the constructs were great. I enjoyed this fight so much I've thrown similar fights into home games I've run.

4. Common undead with class levels, one of whom can't even move? Really? That's it? Also, I just killed a ghoul disguised as a vampire, disguised as a human? What.

5. The puzzle is okay. Not good, not bad, just okay.

GM -

1. I still dislike traps. The ridiculous amount on the first level forces players to spend an insane amount of time searching every other level for traps. Complete waste of time. Not much else to say.

2. The justification for why these guys are here is pretty flimsy and the fight is just as boring for a GM as it is for the players. Taking an majority of the party out of the fight is not good game design, it just pisses people off.

3. No complaints here. This fight is entertaining to run, just because the player's dread at the sight of the rising water is hilarious.

4. This fight is beyond moronic. Apparently, we're meant to believe that a liberation domain cleric was trapped under rubble for days. I repeat LIBERATION DOMAIN. IE, the domain which gives you two different types of Freedom of Movement, as well as the spell itself. We're also meant to believe that these Pathfinders murdered each other, while the Wizard couldn't be arsed to stop them from fighting.

The fight itself is meh. If the cleric's crowd control goes off then this could be a difficult fight, if the players make their will saves, then it's a rogue, and a fighter vs. an entire party. Cue Curb-stomp.

Once again, Confusion is an awful spell. Taking agency away from the players is not good design.

5. The puzzle is poorly explained, to the point where it's nearly impossible to figure out how it works. However it doesn't really matter, because by this point most players will be fine just skipping the puzzle and being done.

Other -
Player - This is where I'd discuss other factors, like roleplaying, or theme, but there aren't any. None. It's just a straight dungeon crawl.

GM - It's been mention before, but the maps are terrible. 10 foot scale and circular rooms, and diagonals? Why do you hate us, map designing person?

Overall -
Player - Probably the worst scenario I've ever played, if not, then it's a close second. The setting is boring, the first floor is terrible without a rogue, the first fight drags on, and the last fight is stupid, but the second fight is pretty cool, if it works as intended. 1/5

GM - Bad. No roleplaying. Lots of traps. Un-fun encounters. Moronic narrative. The only saving grace is the organization is passable, but that's like complimenting a Mario game, because Mario jumps when you press "A". 0/5

Total - 0.5
Avoid it.
This scenario seems like it was designed by someone who understands the game mechanics, but not the game. The enemies are well built, and their abilities synergize with each other, but not in a way that's fun for, or fair to, the players. When the two of the three fights rely on taking agency away from the party, then you've got a scenario which no players, and only the most sadistic of GMs can enjoy.


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Announced for May!

Liberty's Edge

Hmmm. Some foreshadowing of Season 5 perhaps?

Grand Lodge

Hooray dwarves!!!

Paizo Employee Digital Products Assistant

This product has been pushed out to tomorrow, Thursday, 5/30/13.

Scarab Sages

More dwarven stuff at last. Perhaps finaly that boon from The Beggar's Pearl back in season 1 will actualy be useful in one of the three upcoming dwarven scenarios.

Us dwarfs have been waiting a long time for stuff like this :).

Paizo Employee Digital Products Assistant

Now available!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Hmm... Seems like the Chronicle Sheet is off.

Spoiler:
The Sheet has Tier 8-9 listed twice for Items found.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Looking forward to your first PFS Scenario Tork Shaw.

Goblinworks Game Designer

Dragnmoon wrote:
Looking forward to your first PFS Scenario Tork Shaw.

Haha, me too :)

Bit of a baptism of fire what with everything going on, but hopefully I hit the spot! I was pleased with it anyway, and I really enjoyed writing it.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I am prepping this scenario for my local PFS. Can someone explain the part in the spoiler to me?

Spoiler:
How exactly is the lock at the end meant to work? I understand the moving up and down of columns. Do you assume all colums are down in the beginning? Also, do the PC's become stuck in the pit once they failed three times? These are unclear to me. Thanks.

Goblinworks Game Designer

Hrm. By the looks of it I think this took a bit of an edit from my original so this is purely what I intended for this device -

Spoiler:
you may want to wait for an official PFS ruling... It looks like the passageway locations have been mislabelled in the text: the SOUTH EAST passageway in fact leads "across a short bridge over a deep trench before terminating in a small recess just large enough to accommodate a fully armored dwarf", while the NORTH WEST passageway "winds gradually to the south and is littered with but not blocked by rubble", leading back to the other chambers.

If players fall into the pit beneath the vault lock they can use the trench to return to the circular room (F3a) as per the description (with the directions fixxored).

"The trench extends 30 feet into a vaulted open space beneath the SOUTHERN room, and its walls are fairly smooth, requiring a successful DC 25 Climb check to scale."
The southern room in this case is the vault lock.

Likewise the whole trap description has had a wee bit of an edit too, but yes the original intention is that ALL the columns but that in the single entrance square are down. Only 1 column can be raised at any time, so as soon as a lever is activated to raise an adjacent column the currently raised one drops.

"...causing one to rise to create a new open space and the previously raised column to fall, closing off a previously open space. This movement happens quickly, but an attentive individual can easily step into a new space before a column drops into the vacated space."

Does that help?

Paizo Employee Digital Products Assistant

RAdeMorris wrote:

Hmm... Seems like the Chronicle Sheet is off.

** spoiler omitted **

This has been corrected and will be reflected if you redownload the scenario.

Dark Archive

That helps tremendously. There was no mentiom of how to get out after the fall. Thank you for clarifying this.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Tork Shaw wrote:
Hrm. By the looks of it I think this took a bit of an edit from my original so this is purely what I intended for this device -
Spoiler:
you may want to wait for an official PFS ruling... It looks like the passageway locations have been mislabelled in the text: the SOUTH EAST passageway in fact leads "across a short bridge over a deep trench before terminating in a small recess just large enough to accommodate a fully armored dwarf", while the NORTH WEST passageway "winds gradually to the south and is littered with but not blocked by rubble", leading back to the other chambers.

Actually the intermediate directions in the scenario are correct. They might have changed the Compass North point on you after turn in.

North is not straight up and down, but right and left. Right being North, left being South.

Spoiler:
Therefore as the scenario states the vault lock is northeast across a short bridge over a deep trench and the way back is southwest

Also can someone spoiler tag Tork's post?

Goblinworks Game Designer

Dragnmoon wrote:

Actually the intermediate directions in the scenario are correct. They might have changed the Compass North point on you after turn in.

North is not straight up and down, but right and left. Right being North, left being South.

** spoiler omitted **

Also can someone spoiler tag Tork's post?

My apologies, you are absolutely correct. The compass directions are correct.

Grand Lodge Contributor

I've been part of Tork's gaming group for several years and he ran this module for us on Saturday.

We're all experienced players but none of us generally plays in PFS and we had new characters for the occasion. Due to our unfamiliarity with PFS modules, having only four PCs, drinking too much, roleplaying too hard, and a litany of terrible dice rolls we had quite a lot of trouble with the encounters and ultimately a TPK. We didn't even make it as far as the puzzle the other reviewers are raving about.

All that aside, I really enjoyed the adventure, particularly since I haven't actually played in years (I'm the GM). It was frustrating, ridiculous, energetic, confusing, and ultimately a lot of fun. That's Tork.


Can anyone tell me if this book contains a map of the town of Janderhoff itself? I'm searching everywhere for one and I can't find one. I would really like to have my all Dwarven group based in Janderhoff, but don't want to make the whole town from scratch.

Paizo Employee Developer

Amanda Jeffcoat wrote:
Can anyone tell me if this book contains a map of the town of Janderhoff itself? I'm searching everywhere for one and I can't find one. I would really like to have my all Dwarven group based in Janderhoff, but don't want to make the whole town from scratch.

It does not contain a city map of Janderhoff. The closest thing we have to such would be the map of Highhelm that appears in Castles of the Inner Sea.


Thank you Mark.

The Exchange

The description of the puzzle maze makes no sense in context of the map provided. I'm frankly disappointed and confused. I know i'm a bit late to the review party here but this alone is enough to give it a huge hit to stars. Im trying to prep this for a con and frankly it's absurd that something that is such utter nonsense made it into a scenario.

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