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Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-12—Tyranny of Winds, Part 3: Caught in the Eclipse (PFRPG) PDF

***( )( ) (based on 6 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-7.

The Society's investigations have borne fruit, but they've also awakened a terrible foe. To avert disaster, the PCs embark for the lawless frontier harbor of Port Eclipse, where one of the Society's allies disappeared while seeking a powerful weapon. In this shadowy urban landscape, it's up to the PCs to find the lost operative, track down this relic, and bring it to bear against the ancient evil that now threatens them all.

Content in Caught in the Eclipse also contributes directly to the ongoing storyline of the Grand Lodge faction.

Caught in the Eclipse is the final scenario in the three-part "Tyranny of Winds" campaign arc. It is preceded by Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-08: The Sandstorm Prophecy and Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-10: Secrets of the Endless Sky. All three chapters are intended to be played in order.

Written by Jason Evans.

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PZOPSS0812E


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Product Reviews (6)
1 to 5 of 6 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

***( )( ) (based on 6 ratings)

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Good, but not great

***( )( )

This was a fun, enjoyable adventure, with enjoyable twists and thematically appropriate experiences. However, the flying mechanics are a pain in the ass that most PCs will fail. A good GM may choose to handwave some of these checks, to not let the players get bogged down by it.

Out of this trilogy, unfortunately, this conclusion is the weakest of the three. I wouldn't call it bad, by any means, but it's far from perfect.


A good start with a terrible finish

**( )( )( )

This scenario start off well. It offers many opportunities for role playing and has a few unique combatants to tangle with. However as many of the other reviews state, the final conflict is disappointing and disheartening.

PCs have about a 33% chance (best case, including equipment and spell bonuses to assist) to a 4% chance to be able to function normally given the checks provided by the author. It was really a poor way to end the scenario and the story arc as we had great fun up to that point.

We sadly left the table with bitterness at the end (no fault of the GM) due to this. It felt like we were simply set up for failure with no warning, rolling 15 DC and still failing seems poorly designed at this tier.


Way better than the reviews suggest

***( )( )

I played this with a group of 4 in high tier and enjoyed it a lot.

Our GM did a great job to make the setting stand out and (even though he mockingly pointed out a bunch of Star Wars parallels) I thought it was very flavorful, exotic and creative. Yes, the names are a bit weird sometimes, but if you encounter someone with a particularly strange name, how about asking them about it? You might be surprised.

In terms of mechanics, it was very challenging: we played with the 4 player adjustment, which apparently nerfed the encounters very little. The final encounter was epic and we were cutting it very close. My character actually died when too much of a good idea literally blew up in his face but the team still managed to save the day by the skin of their teeth.

In summary: a decent module with some fun flavor bits and very challenging encounters. Think about where you are going and prepare accordingly!


Well, it solves the mystery, but it isn't amazing.

***( )( )

The two reviews prior to this one are correct & incorrect at the same time (just in my opinion). That is, there are some exciting parts, and some bad parts. However, I don't feel that this module is defined by only the good or bad -- 1 star rating or 5 star rating, either way feels too extreme. It's a sum of all parts, and the sum is, well, okay.

First, I agree that the names in this product are garbage. They're great if you think jokey names are funny and enjoyable. For me, they took me right out of the story. I wanted to explore the plane of air with all its unique civilization and interesting otherworldly creatures, and instead we get a generic ice troll named Bitterbite. We may as well not even be on another plane. The module keeps hitting me over the head with reminders that this is just a silly game and I shouldn't expect to experience anything unique or new.

(EDIT: There is a review more recent than my own, in which the author seems to have misunderstood this complaint. The problem is not that the names are weird. The problem is the opposite: they're generic. They're boring, stupid, dull, and lazy. They indicate that the author or powers-that-be did no thinking about how otherworldly this plane should have been. Instead, we get the same cheesy names that we get when we play generic fantasy module #100 on the world of Golarion.)

Second, this trilogy has a pretty major flaw, which I already was worried about in my review of part 2: part 1 tells us to go find Jamila and return the abacus and codex that she stole, and yet those items aren't even mentioned in part 2 (though it mentions some other codex, just to confuse things), and the same is true of part 3, almost. It's easy to miss. There is a handout with a throwaway line about "We've been compensated for our loss" and that's it. Players invested in helping out may miss that, and even if they see it they may be disappointed to realize that they really had no hand in the recovery of items.

One thing I loved & hated: the module starts right out by explaining who Jamila really is and why she did what she did. So chasing her for the 2 prior modules, and trying to solve the mystery of her behavior, is instantly resolved as you start this module. That's good if you really cared about the story and wanted to know. It's bad because... well, just like a movie or book that resolves huge plot points with plain exposition, the disappointment here is that we don't get to see the main characters (our PCs) actually solve anything. We're just told.

That builds on the frustration I expressed in my review of part 2 in this series. That is, I wanted to catch Jamila and uncover why she turned traitor, but part 2 shot us in a completely different direction -- she doesn't even feature in the story! And so here in part 3, I still want to solve that, but it doesn't even need action from us. It's just solved for us, and we're sent on a revised mission instead.

But enough complaining. This adventure does many things right. The main thing, and GMs would do well to remind players of this throughout the module: in the plane of air, gravity is subjective. Anyone at any time can decide that gravity is pulling them into the air in a particular direction. It's scary and dangerous if you don't have a good wisdom score (since wisdom DCs are how you do it) but if you have even 1 character in the group with a great wisdom score, it can be very useful and fun.

The best moment? Standing on a ship, middle of a confrontation, and suddenly a player declares, "Wait. I don't have to stand on this ship, do I? I can just... float away, right?" And then he did. Our GM was a little sad, because a bigger map was needed to show characters "falling" away at hundreds of feet per round. But other than that, it was great.

What else is good? The final fight. It's going to be a swingy fight where some players complain it's too hard and others complain it's a cakewalk (yep, one of those kinds of fights). Expect table variation. However, the map is visually intriguing, and the concept of:

Spoiler:
a mid-air fight with movement in all 3 dimensions is very exciting. Personally, I own the combat tiers that Paizo used to sell and the elevation indicators that Paizo still sells, and so when I run this I will put that all to good use. We are going to have minis up in the air, hovering all over the place.

I enjoyed playing that final fight, and I expect I will enjoy running it, too.

Overall, my fears about this trilogy were confirmed: it's serviceable, it's competent (well, mostly), but it never made it to any higher level of quality. If you want to run a trilogy in PFS, this will do, but it won't be the best choice or even close. If you wanted to run a single module from this trilogy, it will be OK, but it will never compare to any of the truly memorable/wonderful modules we've seen in the past. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate this a 6 or 7.

Now, some tips for GMs:

Spoiler:
Three notes about the final encounter:


  • 1. Chalissier is just a modified air elemental. However, if you run him just like an air elemental, this fight is going to suck. He is also an arcanist. You need to grab the Advanced Class Guide and learn about how the arcane reservoir works. His spells are not even normal due to how he can modify them with the reservoir. For example, in subtier 3-4, his Magic Missle spell should shoot 3 missiles, not 2. If you don't know how to boost spells like that, re-read the arcane reservoir rules.
  • 2. Something many GMs don't realize or forget: Flyby Attack provokes AOO. It is not like Spring Attack, which says no AOO is allowed while the attacker rushes by the target. Flyby Attack doesn't protect the attacker. So it's a good option on round #1 while everyone is flat-footed and cannot get AOO anyway, but after that it's stupid. It just gives everyone free attacks on your elementals. Try their other abilities.
  • 3. The fight has a glaring flaw: it states that the lightning elementals use their huge disarm bonus to remove the weapons from the PCs, but it says nothing about what happens to a "dropped" item floating in the plane of air. Is it subject to the gravity of the original wielder? So if the owner of the item drops it, it flies off? Does it have no gravity and hover? Does it fly in a random direction? The easy way around this is the disarm rule which states: "If you successfully disarm your opponent without using a weapon, you may automatically pick up the item dropped." EDIT: The GM forum solved this. Unattended objects simply float motionless unless moved.

PS: This module has 2 big failure points, or bottlenecks where it's possible that the PCs just fail with no solution. You may need to help them with some foreshadowing. First, without anyone having any way to speak Auran, it's possible that they simply never get far enough to even hire a translator. They need at least a meager Comprehend Languages scroll, or a Share Language scroll, just to get started. Second point of failure: the final fight will be brutal if the PCs are low wisdom and never bought potions of Fly. That final fight desperately needs mobile PCs. Without that, they can be bombed/strafed from afar by highly mobile air creatures. Your fighter types stuck on a plank in the sky will feel utterly useless. Light hints might be appreciated by your players.

EDIT, for Le Petite Mort: You didn't like the final "cool" magic item? Brace yourself; it's even worse than you imagined:

Spoiler:
This 20000 GP item has a badly worded weakness. Here is the wording: "if the Horn of the Hurricane is used magically more than once in a given day, there is a 20% cumulative chance with each extra use that it explodes and deals 10d6 points of electricity damage to the person who is sounding it." The 20% cumulative chance is completely ambiguous. Is it per day? Is it the lifetime of the object? Is it per owner? The quoted sentence begins with text about the "given day," so in context it may only mean that you track extra uses for that given day, and then the explosion chance resets. If it doesn't reset, then the item is extremely prone to destruction and should likely only be considered an item to sell, as it would be very unreliable.

In a home game, the GM could make a ruling that helps the players to see the value in having the item. In PFS, players cannot rely upon one GM's ruling to be abided by another GM. So the item that one GM ruled in such a way as to make it worthwhile could be completely undone by the next GM to run a scenario for you.

In addition, this item is probably limited in this way so as to make it a useful one-use item in the upcoming modules, without overpowering everything. However, the author and the staff in charge of the upcoming releases might not be aware that the Make Whole spell will repair a completely destroyed item for cheap. So for example, if I wanted to utterly wreak havoc in the big combat-heavy team module that always closes a season, I could buy this item and 4 or 5 scrolls of Make Whole. I could blow the horn like crazy, over and over again, blowing past every combat encounter. When the horn explodes, I could cast Make Whole, and then blow it again. (And while the blast effect bypasses the energy resistance of air creatures, the PCs are most likely not air creatures. This means they can put up energy resistance, ignore or mostly ignore the explosion damage, and keep blasting away at air creatures.)


Lazy and creatively bankrupt design.

*( )( )( )( )

I do reviews with a 0-3 star system for fluff, and another 0-3 for crunch. Each section has a good/bad/ugly section. I'm giving this scenario 0 stars for fluff and 1 for crunch.

Fluff (good)

I can't think of anything. There is nothing good about the fluff aspects of this scenario.

Fluff (bad)

The complete absence of any creativity was galling. To discuss this in more specific terms, I will require spoiler tags.

Scenario Overview:
The mission might be the most basic, phoned-in mission design I've ever seen. You take a ship to your mission, and are briefly interrogated by border patrol. Then you go to an incredibly mundane tavern with a dwarven barman to get you some starting information. Then you do a 'gather information' section with some sparsely described NPCs. Then you go to a warehouse run by baddies to rescue an NPC, then you fight the BBEG for the MacGuffin. It felt so incredibly 'paint-by-numbers' that I had difficulty reading the barely 12 pages of actual scenario without getting bored and doing something else. Also, virtually none of the information about why things are happening have stated methods of dissemination to players. Box-text descriptions were sparse and comprised of bland, cliche ridden prose when it is present at all. With few exceptions, the NPCs were barely described and pretty uninteresting as well.

Fluff (ugly)

Ugliness:
This is going to be a lot of little things that irked me. The one saving grace of the scenario in terms of containing creative thought was the design of the initial airship and captain. Unfortunately, neither were designed by the author, so I award no points. They were both designed by a different author in a previous scenario. The bartender's name is (I'm not kidding) Thunder Skyforge. I know this is a minor complaint, but that is the dumbest name I think I've ever seen. There is a surprising amount of gp expenditure and rigamarole to get an Auran translator if you don't have one in the party. The aforementioned bad-guy warehouse makes no sense: it is essentially a frozen meat locker, owned by fire-genies, on the plane of air. It is barely explained to the GM why this place exists at all (none of that info has a stated method of dissemination), it is never explained why the rescued NPC is still there rather than having been shipped off, and the imprisoned NPC should be dead from being kept in ice for multiple days, as her race has fire resistance rather than cold. Also, I don't understand why there are ice trolls on the plane of air that only speak Auran. Where did these guys come from? The final location is entered with a passphrase that thematically connects to the Concordance...who are in no way affiliated with the ownership of the final encounter location. I was about to put the design of the McGuffin into the good category of this section (as it is pretty neat) before I realized that it is a barely altered Horn of Blasting from 3.5. Again, no points for copying.

Crunch - 1 star

Good: The CR of the encounters was roughly appropriate for the APL. Skill check DCs weren't challenging, but weren't egregiously off the mark either. The scenario finished in 3 hours, which is a better time-frame than I'm accustomed to with this season.

Bad: I'm gonna need more spoilers.

Mechanical Failings:
Let's begin at the beginning. The first encounter is a combat that can be bypassed by doing nothing at all. If you simply stand still and don't think about lying to the wyrds, there's no combat and you get rewarded. The combat is quite easy if it is engaged with. The bland tavern owned by Thunder Skyrim-reference up until the baddie-warehouse is just a section of gp hits from bribes/gambles/service costs and some very low DC social checks. The NPCS interacted with in that section have no locations with descriptions, and barely any personality beyond what the GM invents. The second (out of three total) combats is trivially bypassed with 2 Bluff checks, meaning there is only one non-optional combat encounter. I find that bothersome, though I understand others prefer combat-lite scenarios. The final encounter, what should be the crowning glory of a trilogy, is objectionably lazy. It is almost identical to the final encounter of the previous scenario in this trilogy. It is, quite literally, the same arcanist (this author really likes to copy-paste from others) as last time for the BBEG, but this time he has a template. The template doesn't really make him more challenging, but he has one now. The arena (like last time) is an aerial fight with bits of floating terrain that can be landed upon. The BBEG, like last time, has no listed spells/day limit. His minions are lightning elementals, which is perhaps the most obvious and uninspired choice imaginable for this situation. The tactics and spells were also chosen poorly.

Ugly
The section describing relative gravity (another neat custom mechanic that this author copied from elsewhere) is at the very beginning of the scenario, but only relevant at the very end.

Overview: The scenario is mechanically mediocre (though adequate) and has all the flavor of a raw potato. At least the length is about right.

I also find it a little suspicious that the other review of this scenario (at the time of writing) is from another RPGSuperstar Season 9 Final 4 contestant, whose other two reviews are also five stars, and also of works from Season 9 final 4 contestants. Seems weird.


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