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Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–26: The Waking Rune (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7–11.

After a year of searching and risking life and limb, the agents of the Pathfinder Society have discovered the resting place of the Runelord of Sloth, who has been sequestered from the world at large for 10,000 years awaiting the proper time for his return. Thanks to the efforts of the sinister cult of Lissala, that time is now. In a desperate attempt to defeat this ancient evil once and for all, the Decemvirate sends its best agents, armed with relics found throughout ancient Thassilon, to foil the cult's last-ditch efforts to usher in a new era of tyranny and strife. Will the party succeed in preventing Krune's return to Golarion, or will the Pathfinder Society serve simply as a speed-bump in the runelord's path to domination over the entire region?

Written by Tim Hitchcock.

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 (20)
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Average product rating:

***( )( ) (based on 20 ratings)

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does what it says on the tin

*****

Took me eight hours to run this and I could have stretched it out longer but someone had to go to work. It was awesome.


Unbalanced

**( )( )( )

First, let me start off by saying that my group played normal mode at 7-8. Everyone at the table had a great time, and this conclusion to a season was epic.

That being said, even as a player, I could tell this scenario is incredibly unbalanced and really shouldn't be part of the normal scenario line...this is stuff that should remain in the likes of Bonekeep that outright advertise their deadliness.

Why am I saying this if I had such a great time? That's because my GM was very good and fair in this scenario. If he wanted to, because of the imbalance, he could have simply ended the scenario in a TPK. This is not something we need to condone in PFS. Having inappropriate CRs that "try" to scale like this simply doesn't work as intended, and malicious GMs can have as much of a bloodbath as they want to where the players could do basically nothing about it. And this is on normal mode!

People could say "You play this one for the challenge." But where's the fun if the BBEG, when played to the best of his ability, could TPK the party instantly but instead holds back?

Edit:
Reflecting back on this, there are two things the scenario did right.

Waking Rune:
The trap is one of the best traps I've ever seen. Usually, a trap is "you take damage, you heal up, the end," but this trap there needs to be more of. It has consequences which matter a lot more than just out-of-combat damage.

The rune portion of this scenario was lots of fun. It ties into why I hate the scenario in the end, but the way it was presented was a fun little interlude.


Hard to play, hard to run.

****( )

This is PFS at its most brutal. You are up against impossible odds. You need the right resources to give you a chance. You need teamwork to capitalize on that chance. And you need luck to avoid random chance sending you to quick defeat.

Don't play this unprepared. Know your character. Know your team.

Don't run this unprepared. Know your monsters. Know your spells.

The mission brief sets the scene, direly important. Blindly stepping into the unknown instills fear. Instant crushing force delivers on the dire threat. The scenario is not overly interactive, but the combats have roleplaying underlying the deadly action. GMs should make sure to emphasize this.

Played at RinCon 2013, with a party of 8th to 10th level in the high tier, normal mode. Four character deaths and two companion deaths, with two PCs left standing when it was over. The dwarven barbarian slugged it out toe-to-toe with Krune down to his school powers while the rage prophet cowered from a failed Will save.

This scenario is exactly what it said it would be. Come prepared for battle or stay home.


Far too hard.

**( )( )( )

Player perspective, played at 10-11 normal mode.

It might be wise to work out what went wrong with this scenario by comparing it to the much more successful Portal of the Sacred Rune. Still difficult, but there's a fine line between difficult, challenging and fun, and near-impossible.

The lack of roleplay really isn't an issue. You go in expecting a fight from start to finish, and it's actually not even quite as continuous as that, but it does feel like the pressure is on.

Spoiler:
This kind of thing should be rule #1 when a scenario hits development: You just can't have a scenario that has a save or die in the first turn of the first round.

It forces a player who showed up expecting a good time to sit back with their dead character and watch. There's no fun in that. That they are high tier or should have had a better cloak of resistance just isn't a good excuse.

Disabling of the runes was actually quite creative, especially for a high tier scenario. In a scenario that is almost all about fighting through the minions and the boss, this short break with a bit of thinking is a welcome break between fights.

But then you come to Krune. Even after disabling runes, he is far too powerful. The same problem applies with empowered maximised horrid wilting as with the earlier save or die, only here it's hp instead of saves. Potentially TWICE, over the whole party. Near-guaranteed death-o-rama.

I don't know what the tactics said about Limited Wish/Wish, but there is enough debate in the forums to suggest that whatever guidelines was provided wasn't enough. This is an outright dangerous spell to put in the hands of the GMs if you want your player base to have fun, at the very least not without some very, very strict rules about its use.

I was absolutely not going to play on hard mode, but after having played it, what I was expecting for hard mode was experienced in normal mode. I know he's a Runelord, but it still needs to be toned down, guys.


A true Conclusion

*****

Waking Rune is an epic finale to Season 4. Anyone who pay attention to blog posts should be unsurprised by what is coming, and I was personally thrilled by the scenario. Not for the faint of heart, and with little opportunity for role play, this is fight in which your actions feel epic, and PCs feel challenged. Can you stop the Waking Rune?


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