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Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–98: Serpents' Ire (PFRPG) PDF

***( )( ) (based on 7 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 8th-level pregenerated characters.

A parasitic faction known as the Korholm Agenda has tried to corrupt the upstanding Aspis Consortium from the inside out, all in the vain pursuit of revenge and profit. Now one of the powerful Aspis Patrons has learned that the Korholm Agenda has siphoned the Consortium's funding to build a base of operations in Nidal. This shall not stand. He has assembled a team of top agents—including both new faces and veterans of the attack on the Grand Lodge a year ago—to infiltrate the operation and shut it down by any means necessary.

In this adventure the players portray agents of the Aspis Consortium using 8th-level pregenerated characters. Content in Serpents' Ire also ties into a special metaplot element from Pathfinder Society Special #6-98: Serpents Rise. Players who have completed that special event are encouraged to bring its Chronicle sheet when playing this adventure.

Written by John Compton.

Note: Serpents' Ire is a limited release scenario. It may be run anywhere, but only by 4- or 5-star GMs. Venture-Officers may only run this scenario if they meet this star rating requirement.

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Product Reviews (7)
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***( )( ) (based on 7 ratings)

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Time to be the bad guys again!

***( )( )

How often do you have a chance to say that last Sunday off dusted off your Aspis badge and went on a mission to ‘secure’ intelligence? Not that often, I’d wager. In my case I grabbed my silver badge and led 3 others on a mission.

The premise of this scenario is simple. Infiltrate a location, find a secret base and gather as much evidence and intelligence as you can. From that perspective it sounds like a typical PFS scenario, but I forgot to mention that you’re also supposed to utterly destroy the place when you’re done and not care about any casualties. That’s just collateral damage after all.

While it may not be the most original approach, it still remains effective and gives you a nice amount of freedom to do as you wish. As a consequence the whole infiltration portion takes up roughly half the scenario and gives you plenty of time and opportunity to showcase your pregen’s skillset and characteristics. You should have no problem getting into character. It does, however, mean that you must enjoy roleplay as that will take up quite some time. If you’re just looking for fights, you will likely not have the best of times.

I should add that the pregens are lovely once more. Due to the face we only had four players, I ended up playing ‘the Leader’, a nice but effective cavalier. It took me some time to figure her out, but I enjoyed playing her once I had done so. Based on what I’ve seen, I’d say the other characters are great too. They all have their own reasons to be there and their own strong points. Even the ‘special’ one that shows up later on is well-designed. Individually they’re solid characters and as a group they also mash pretty decently.

The second half of the scenario is basically a series of fights and skill checks. There’s not a whole lot to say without going into spoilers, but every character gets to have a meaningful impact. The fights were somewhat challenging, yet not overly so. It could be that the four-player adjustment has a significant impact though. That said, the final boss was something we had never faced before, which is always a nice bonus to me.

In retrospection I had a good time. The pregens are nice, the story is solid. If I were to nitpick though, I’d have to say I didn’t like it as much as the previous one. I find that hard to explain, but it was more difficult to instantly get a feeling for your pregen and, from what I gathered, this scenario also requires more time to properly prepare as a GM. At the same time the scenario also runs long, which means you might have to rush through certain segments. The end also felt a little anticlimactic and was no where near as special as the previous part.

That’s not to say you should stay clear from Serpent’s Ire, but rather that’s it’s best played in a longer timeslot and with people you enjoy role-playing with. If you're just looking for combat, this is probably not for you. If given the chance, there are better pregen specials out there.


Hillarously Awesome

*****

I just played this at a local con and had a blast. I will say that it definitely needs a long slot, and some bonus time to get the players to acclimate to the characters (both mechanically and RP-wise).

We had a great time- I played the Enchanter and loved how it worked out. Our GM did a great job of streamlining a part of it to account for too much time spend in the first act (again, wish we could have had a 6-7 hour slot for this one to truly enjoy everything).

I also see a lot of potential for learning more about the "Catastrophe" backstory. WHAT HAPPENED IN Saringallow???? Why do they think the Aspis are werewolves there?? This is a story that needs to be told!


WAY too optimistic and flawed

*( )( )( )( )

Most of my review below will contain considerable spoilers. I'll try and make my main points here before starting with the spoilers.

This review is based on playing it and then reading it afterwards in preparation for running it in a couple of weeks.

I mostly enjoyed myself and if it wasn't for the various things that I point out I'd probably have given this 3 stars.

1) There was absolutely no reason for this being an Aspis Agent pregen only scenario. With a few changes in the mission briefing this could trivially have been a normal 7-11 scenario
2) It was WAY too long. There is next to no chance of getting this finished in a 4 hour slot without some major cutting of corners
3) Parts of it were significantly over complicated for no good reason
4) Preparation for this is going to take much longer than it really should
5) There are many parts where the characters are supposed to do insanely stupid things because of "plot"
6) The pregens suffer the usual problems of Paizo pregens. Too complicated in some areas, too weak in others. And incredibly variable difficulty in getting secondary prestige. Some were darn near impossible, some essentially gimmees.
7) The combats were fairly uneven. Our group found them fairly easy (due to a combination of team work and some luck). Other apparently found them too hard.
8) A massive element of WTF

Lots of Spoilers. Really:

1)So, in the mission we find out that the Society and the Consortium have shared information so as to crush the Korholm Agenda. In other words, this could trivially have been a Society raid. NOTHING would change. Oh, the characters would have to be the usual Murder Hoboes and not the "I am actually evil" characters but that is pretty darn minor.

And its really MUCH worse than that. The GM learns lots of interesting back story about the Aspis. The players are unlikely to figure out much of this (I was quite confused when playing). But, of course, the actual Pathfinder Society players will know NOTHING of this. So, any knowledge acquired is now "forbidden knowledge" that your character would NOT know. Usually one can at least arm wave the "heard things around the Society bar" to explain out of character knowledge. Here, no. EVERYTHING you find out NONE OF YOUR CHARACTERS WOULD KNOW. And there is a LOT of things you find out.

2) When I played it it took over 5 hours and still felt rushed with the GM shortening some things (NOT complaining about the GM). There is a mini-game which can take lots of time as players consider a host of options, there is combat, there is some exploration largely meant to be arm waved. There are huge "What the Fxxx moments which take time to process. All this with characters that the players are NOT very experienced with and so they take longer to decide what to do,

3) Piazo loves its new books. I don't. The BBEG is a Psychic with several OA spells (6 if I counted correctly). I'll just quote his summary : "Mutant aranea psychic 5 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 5 180,
Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 30, Pathfinder RPG Occult
Adventures 60)" . That really pretty much sums it up.

The set of books used are "Pathfinder RPG Core
Rulebook, Advanced Class Guide (ACG), Advanced Player’s
Guide (APG), Advanced Race Guide (ARG), Occult Adventures
(OA), Ultimate Combat (UC), Ultimate Equipment (UE),
Ultimate Magic (UM), Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3, Bestiary 4, and
Bestiary 5".

We then had the two mandatory little subsystems (in fairness, these were both fine on their own. Just not when put into an adventure that is already complicated).

4) So, I have to learn what this new class does, what the various monsters do, create several maps, keep track of lots of things, read all the pregens so I know how to adlib, come up with ways to handle an amusing but very difficult to run beastie and how it communicates. All in one scenario. No. Just too much.

5) So, when I ran it I got the strong impression from the GM that I was "breaking it". From my point of view, I took the ONLY logical path. We were wandering around the Warehouse when the 1/2ling NPC showed up and recognized one of our characters. Obviously, to me, letting her go was INSANE. She'd raise the alarm immediately. So I wanted to kill her. I'm an Evil Aspis on a Mission and my Mission pretty much includes killing that NPC. But no, letting her go just raises the enemy alertness level a little bit. That MAKES NO SENSE.

Even worse is the potential replacement character. The other players are expected to just watch while it eats a companion and go "Oh, ok, we'll trust you now"? This is metagaming of the worst possible type. The PLAYERS know what is going on so the characters are supposed to act totally idiotically.

6) I'm only going to discuss Eramay, the Cavalier pregen that I played. Note that this is one of the 4 Pregens that are supposed to be pretty much always played.

So, given that a pregen created specifically and exclusively for this adventure invested a feat into knowledge religion in order to get a massive +15 on that skill one would kinda expect Knowledge Religion to be at least sporadically useful, right?

No, of course not.

Well, ok, at least it will have the skills to participate in the "sneak into the place" part of the adventure, right?

Well, it has a +7 in one of the 3 skills. And the DCs are only 20+. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Partly because they chose a poor archetype of a poorish class the character is no great shakes. Lots of abilities that I'm fortunately experienced enough to realize aren't worth the action economy to ever try and actually use. Admittedly its not that bad in combat as long as the player realizes that you 2 hand the scimitar and power attack a lot. So, a pre-gen that is going to fare a LOT better in the hands of an experienced player.

And different Pre-gens had wildly different difficulties in obtaining their secondary success condition.

7) We found the combats pretty easy. Of course, due to time constraints we skipped the optional. We'd killed the 1/2ling early and so she had no guards with her which made that fight trivial. And there wasn't time to fight the guards with the mage.

The end fight was, due admittedly to a combination of good teamwork and some luck, pretty easy. Fly was cast on me and I was in the bad guys face at the end of round 1. One crit later and the fight was effectively over.

8) The whole laboratory underground and the interaction with the Thelatos felt very, very bizarre. There was a slight bit of foreshadowing in the briefing but only a little. As the GM said, it felt like they were already trying to drum up interest in StarFinder.

It was, at least for me, a massive WTF moment. I mean, LAST year was the year of the Robot :-)


We've lost that "Special" feeling

**( )( )( )

This review is from the perspective of a player at GenCon.

I will admit it may have been our GM, but this scenario fell short of expectations. As far as a followup to last year's "Serpents Rise" it failed to live up to the positive feelings of getting to be "the bad guys" for once. It had more of the feel of a standard pathfinder mission and is not worthy of being called a "Special."

Sorry John, but not one of your better works.


A nice bit of role reversal!

****( )

When running an adventure like this at a convention, I think that having "Experience Required:None (You've never played before - rules will be taught)" listed as the experience required might be disingenuous. These pregens are complicated, and not something to be attempted by new players.

Once you get going, you will love this scenario IF, and this is a BIG IF, you enjoy roleplaying. I mean truly enjoy roleplaying. I don't mean just putting a brogue on your hard drinking dwarf, or making LOTR jokes about the halflings or Gandalf's taking all of the XP for the Balrog. I mean the sort of roleplaying where you can be given an assigned role, with their motivations and truly run with it.

If you can't do that sort of willing suspension and getting out of your own box and getting into the box that the author of the scenario has offered you, then I recommend you find something else to play.

I won't even begin to talk about the scenario plot without spoiling it, because I'd fail. What I will do is state that the motivations and backgrounds of the characters were phenomenal. Even better than the prequel scenario (which I will write up next). The reoccurrence of a character from before was both cool and eerie, as that was the NPC I had played before. I highly recommend that people play the prequel first though, because the continuity will help, and where possible play the same character you did before (3 of the NPCs in this scenario were retreads from the prequel).

Being Aspis agents was a nice departure from the norm. As I said before though, do this one with role-players and a great GM!


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