Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–25: Orders from the Gate (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5–9.

Ongoing unrest in Cheliax has strained the nation’s military resources, so when the Order of the Gate sensed an imminent disaster brewing in the Menador Mountains, it had to seek outside assistance. The Pathfinder Society has answered the call. After all, the same site the Hellknights identified is one of the ancient ruins the Society has long wanted to study. Can the PCs salvage the site’s historic wonders while also honoring their commitment to the Order of the Gate?

Content in “Orders from the Gate” also contributes directly to the ongoing storyline of the Dark Archive faction.

Written by Cole Kronewitter.

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How to play nice with Hellknights 101

****( )

I played this scenario last week and I’ve been struggling how to rate this scenario. Let me start by pointing out that players get to interact with one of the most evocative groups in Golarion: the Hellknights. Seeing things from their perspective in an effort to somewhat close the gap between them and the Pathfinder Society is a nice touch. The storyline is pretty story and there are a few surprises that are really well executed. Some of the opponents really will catch you off guard and the encounters are accompanied by nice mechanics to really make you feel like you’re part of a bigger struggle. Your actions matter.

So far so good, but then you’re forced to make a choice and this is why I’m struggling. You basically don’t get to see the entire scenario. You get to do either A, or B. There’s no way to combine them both and it leaves me with a sour taste, especially since in my opinion there’s no real choice to be made. Either you complete your mission, or you stop evil from taking over the world. The difference of magnitude and importance between the two choices is massive. The fact that the choice you make will be reflected on your chronicle sheet is nice, but it doesn’t change the fact that I struggle to see it as a difficult choice and this sentiment was shared by the other players at my table.

To conclude: it’s a solid scenario with some nice surprises and role-playing elements. The mechanics and opponents are nice, making this a fun scenario overall. I’m just not entirely convinced by the execution of that choice and I wonder if I would have liked this scenario more without it. I’m still uncertain about that aspect, but it shouldn’t be a reason for you to not play this scenario. It’s pretty good after all and you get to interact with Hellknights. What could possibly go wrong?


Interesting spin on a well-tested recipe

****( )

I'd been looking forward to playing this one for a while, and it didn't disappoint. You're going along with the Hellknights and there's a nice opportunity for interaction and flavour there. Obviously you're not going to have a fight with 10 NPCs on your side all rolling attacks against dozens of enemies; when fighting starts you and they each take a separate part of the front. Nothing surprising there. There's some opportunity and even need to cross the streams so it doesn't feel entirely like mere window-dressing either.

The fights, mostly, weren't that hard. Lots of opportunity to rest and recover in between. All of them were interesting though; the choice of location, monsters, and tactics all helped to develop the story. No filler encounters here.

The story here works quite well. It builds off a little bit from Out of Anarchy (very slightly; first time you see a certain enemy). It works both for PCs who do like the Hellknights, and ones that don't. It's nice to see that the Lawful part of Hellknights is really brought forward. I also very much approve of the choice of all the enemies. It all fit together.

The one thing I didn't really like was The Choice. Interesting (moral) choices with consequences are fine, but this one was a choice of "which encounter are you going to do", which means that whatever choice you make, you miss out on playing the other direction. I do like however how the consequences of your choice affect the Chronicle you receive.


**( )( )( )

There are some innovative mechanics in the combat and a pretty cool item on the chronicle sheet, but everything that's fun about this adventure is undermined by the 'choice' that happens at the halfway point.

Spoiler:
Basically the cult that you've been brought in to stop has two operations, one is a summoning ritual and the other is a ransacking of nearby ruins the society was hoping to investigate

Whatever decision your party makes locks you out of the other and the mechanics that make the choices mutually exclusive feel extremely contrived (Oh these locations just happen to be an hour away in opposite directions. Oh taking one path just happens to create shockwaves that would make the other impossible. Oh there just happens to be Plot-School magic that creates a barrier that forces players in or out) If you want an object lesson in bad Railroading look no further than this sort of arbitrary nonsense that doesn't respect the players enough to even give them the illusion of agency.

Furthermore if your party is divided (as mine was) it pretty much guarantees that half of your party won't be having fun. That could potentially become more than half if one party member isn't feeling sporting and decides to leave off on their own effectively cutting off the encounter that most of the party wanted to play. In any event it's very easy for things to become hostile if your party isn't in agreement. Especially once, after you've made your choice, the scenario might ask you to be complicit in a war crime because you didn't already have enough reasons to fight with your party members. I've seriously never come so close to asking the GM for a ruling on PvP than I did with this adventure and I really hope I don't come that close again.

If you plan on running/playing this make sure your party is one that generally sees eye to eye on things (if such a party exists). Don't PUG this at a con if you can help it.


Absolutely fantastic.

*****

I give 0-3 stars in both mechanics and fluff, and add the results together.

Fluff: 3 Stars

Everything from the briefing to the finales gives a real sense of participating in the larger narrative of the Society. The NPCs are well thought out, the investigative and social portions give a sense of atmosphere and intrigue, and I loved that there are truly meaningful choices for the party to make.

Mechanics: 2 Stars

The encounters are solidly done, but occasionally difficult to interpret as a GM. There were also a few typos. That said, I thought the encounters were truly interesting and well put together, had an appropriate level of challenge while still making the players feel Awesome, and tied into the story smoothly. The skill check portions used scenario-specific mechanics, but were outlined clearly and they didn't feel unwieldy.

Basically, there were some minor flaws mechanically, but overall it was solid work in that regard as well.

I would honestly add a bonus star for editing/organization/use of page space. As a GM, I found this shockingly easy to run despite its complexities, as DCs were sensibly located, and mechanics concisely explained.

So, 6 stars, but I'm only allowed to give 5. I hope to see more scenarios from Mr. Kronewitter.


Best of Season 7 I've seen so far

*****

The second fight in the upper tier had our party (investigator, mesmerist, sorceror, paladin, and swashbuckler) legitimately scared, and without introducing any odd new dynamics to do so, just a ruthless and effective enemy strategy.

Placing a moral quandry at the end allows for the possibility of more RP at the table as the party has to make a tough decision.

I'm looking forward to GMing this at some point.


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Community Manager

Announced for June!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Glad my Hellknight Signifer is still in tier! :)

Community Manager

Product description updated!

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Maps in Orders from the Gate:

Flip-Mat: Hill Country

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Regarding a boon and Additional Resources:
We should have the Additional Resources page updated with information about Path of the Hellknight soon. Most material in the book will be legal for play.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Awesome!

Silver Crusade

Is this an adventure for a Cheliaxian loyalist, or is Cheliax yet again the enemy?

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
PRuano wrote:
Is this an adventure for a Cheliaxian loyalist, or is Cheliax yet again the enemy?

This is a fantastic adventure for a Chelish loyalist—especially one who thinks that Hellknights are a wonderful part of this complete campaign setting.

Dark Archive

John Compton wrote:
PRuano wrote:
Is this an adventure for a Cheliaxian loyalist, or is Cheliax yet again the enemy?
This is a fantastic adventure for a Chelish loyalist—especially one who thinks that Hellknights are a wonderful part of this complete campaign setting.

Thks, than its a must for my Isger Warpriest waiting to become a Hellknight (although recent rumours of dissent among the Godclaw order to which this character will pledge are troubling)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've just ran this as a side-trek for Hell's Rebels. An excellent little scenario, full of interesting interactions with one of the most iconic organisations in Golarion. Two thumbs up!

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