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Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-15: Hrethnar's Throne (PFRPG) PDF

**½( )( ) (based on 7 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5-9.

The mist-shrouded Gloomspires have defied local seafarers and treasure hunters for centuries, but Venture-Captain Calisro Benarry has nearly unlocked the secrets of the spire where the dread pirate Sevenfingers hid his treasure. Great prizes beget jealous rivals, though, and the PCs must be prepared to fend off all others who desire Sevenfingers's riches—rivals both past and present.

Written by Tom Phillips.

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Product Reviews (7)
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Average product rating:

**½( )( ) (based on 7 ratings)

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The Devil's in the Details

***( )( )

Played low tier with an overly-optimized group that plowed through combats. So my sense of the difficulty of encounters was impacted by group construction. I enjoyed the story, and I'm enjoying digging through the Gloomspires, but there was something just "off" on this scenario. You're about to read some major negatives below - this is because those are the things that stuck out as hurting an otherwise solid scenario to me. I really wanted to like this one, and I did, but the negatives were that big of a hit to me.

If you're a player, expect this to be tough. If you're a GM, just don't be a jerk when running it; you don't need to aim for a TPK in certain encounters to make it fun.

(From here on out spoilers abound).

Thematically nearly everything about this adventure should appeal to me. The idea of a boarding action is exciting. I'm a sucker for dungeon exploration. I love interesting use of exptraplanar trips.

And when those things worked, they really worked. But the devil's in the details. In every case the execution was sub-par.

Let's start with the boarding action. This should be a real moment of excitement, but instead it felt forced. But why? Mainly because even though I'm willing to accept the Gloomspires have some strange obscuring mist effects, it bothers me that a) your ship is incapable of seeing theirs, while the converse is not true, and b) that apparently a full grapple and boarding action takes less than 6 seconds (as that's all the time you have to react to what's happening). This encounter is something I think many of us have been waiting for in Pathfinder, but instead it feels like a missed opportunity for ranged combat from the rigging, to the placement of the boarding planks. That's not to talk about the opponent you're up against and how quickly he can decimate your party.

Then there's the "worst-trap-ever". The face "trap" IMHO is poor writing at its best. The placement of the face, and the effect were nothing more than a major F-you to the players at the table. There's no benefit to be gained, and it penalizes exploration and wanting to know more about what's going on with the story. Seriously - this is my biggest pet peeve in all of Pathfinder Society - somebody shows up to a game day, and then is forced to sit more than half the game out. This could have been remedied by a lesser effect than a poorly worded (and more severe) feeblemind. This could have been remedied by a "fix" the next encounter in. This could have been managed by making stats a three, but allowing the player to continue to participate (which would still cause the effect of a bumbling idiot, and still make stat damage later on a real threat). But instead I watched one poor player sit and do nothing for the rest of the game. People do not show up to game days to sit on their behinds while everybody else plays (I'm looking at you harpy encounters).

The rest was good - encounters were in a little to tight of spaces to make them interesting - but the theme, especially the ending was exciting. I just wish that this one could have lived up to its full potential.

I ended the scenario casting confusion, got myself with it too.

**( )( )( )

So I've now played and run this scenario. It's really a fairly straight forward dungeon crawl in an eerie locale.

The first two combats can both be pretty difficult.

The Tactics in the first combat are fairly bad (the alchemist who starts the combat doesn't pre-buff and instead uses them during combat) and the positioning of the enemies is contradictory with itself throughout the description.

Combat 2 - the mummies in both tiers are difficult, with a variety of special abilities that can be nasty, that said Bog Rot is particularly nasty)

The optional encounter in the high tier makes no sense as the enemies at best barely fit in the room.

The fourth encounter is fine, though in one tier it's severely hampered by the spacing of the map (also, it can potentially occur as a more difficult version of itself after the final combat - which is problematic)

The final encounter, not poorly designed but again severely limited by spacing.

The biggest issue I have with the scenario though is you're told to go into a place and loot everything. There's nothing to loot, there's almost no checks for gaining any real meaningful info (outside of the GM adding things), there are a lot of rooms with nothing. It's just a lot of dead space versus the amount of map.

All in all it wasn't a bad scenario, but it left me confused about what I had just seen, and whether or not it was a good scenario, especially after I felt like the opening sequence set me up for a more exciting scenario than the rest provided.

This review may be out of touch, but here goes.

**( )( )( )

I decided that I am going to write this review before reading the previous reviews. So I apologize if I am redundant or have weirdly different opinions.

Here is how the first minutes of the game started, for my level 8 bard (archaeologist):

  • GM: "You're on a boat, at sea. Position your minis below deck."
  • Players: We positioned our minis.
  • GM: "A giant ballista missile smashes a hole in the ship, enemies pour in. First enemy gets 3 attacks on you, dealing a total of 65 points of damage."
  • Me: "I'm dead."

Total play time: 4 minutes. Total actions taken: zero.

As I made ready to leave, one player hinted he might have First Aid Gloves or some other un-death magic. I waited, and was able to come back, and the game continued. (Thank you, fellow player!) However, the game didn't relent. In order to survive as other members started falling down, I had to go invisible and do minor support actions, as my "good" options would have endangered me and I could not withstand even a single round exposed.

OK, back to general info. Pretty quickly I decided for myself that I was going to treat this module like a Bonekeep module. That is, the author made it deliberately hard (in the high tier, at least) and is hoping for a body count, so to counter that, it was time to burn through absurd amounts of expensive buffs. Riffle scroll of Communal Energy Resistance? You bet, who cares that it's 700 GP -- I need the 20 ER. Mage Armor, on the off-chance that we encounter ghosts? Yes please. Other boosts? Yes, what do I have? Let's use them all.

The next encounter dropped us into an equally bad situation, but my character had Spider Climb and so remained on the walls, as one round of melee would have insta-killed him. We made it through but I think 1 or 2 characters suffered severe long-term damage that I don't think we ever resolved.

The penultimate encounter: we thought it was the grand finale (as it was huge and 3 PCs were a single hit away from death), but then the BBEG pulled punches and we did something that really bugged me.

We made a bargain with the guardian. We agreed to get rid of an enemy in the next area, and in exchange we promised that we would not let a special prisoner go free. We all agreed, as freeing a criminal prisoner was not anything that we felt Pathfinder Society needed from us. We went down, had a fight, and the prisoner explained that everything we needed could only be had if we freed him. It became clear and obvious that freeing him was a success condition. So the only way to "win" was to break the promise we had just made. As a neutral bard who just wanted to flee the OP dungeon, my character went along with it. However, as a player, it left a sour taste in my mouth. I play paladins. I would have considered my word a bond to the point that I would have refused to free the person, costing the rest of the table prestige awards.

I really enjoy that kind of conflict in a home game where there is time to explore options and maybe turn the simple quest into a huge multi-game event to right the wrongs, but in a PFS game where you have only 4 hours and your actions cannot be explored any deeper than "cross that boon off your chronicle sheet because you screwed it up for everyone else," it seems pretty bad, man.

Also, we're freeing a known criminal. Or if not criminal, at least mutinous scum. Is this really how Pathfinder Society "explores, reports, and cooperates" with the world? If I were running this, I would have Pathfinder Society suffering backlash for being the group that released a hundreds-year-old pirate onto the world. Granted, he is supposedly stuck on an island, but I don't see that always being true, and that bodes ill for Pathfinder Society.

In other words, it feels like a dumb decision that we were pressed to make.

In the end, while I suspect that many players had an OK time with this module, I really struggled to enjoy what was happening. I feel that the encounters were very Dalsine-Affair-ish (in the sense that the fights were swingy and imbalanced, potentially with multiple places for a TPK). I feel that the enemies were so completely tuned to go toe-to-toe with the party's barbarians and melee brutes that support classes just get sidelined or obliterated. So, as it stands I won't steer my friends toward this module.

Just Okay

***( )( )

I ran a group through this scenario in the low tier.

This scenario definitely has some good points. The start is unique and the setting is interesting and pretty unique. The combats also run to the difficult side but not overwhelmingly which is a plus.

That being said there are some definite negatives as well. The scenario is a painfully railroaded dungeon crawl at its core with basically no agency for the players. The only real choice is whether the players decide to punish themselves by actually exploring the more interesting set pieces. Spoiler details of negatives below.


The Nyarlathotep trap is a huge negative for me. There are no long term consequences if you fall for it, but it forces many characters hit essentially sit out the scenario, especially a spell caster. Making people sit in the corner and not play for no real reason is just contrary to how I feel a game should be constructed.

Additionally the guidance on the encounter with the prison guard manages to be both overly vague and overly specific on different things such that it was a bit of a pain to run.

Overall it is a fine scenario. Nothing to write home about other than the setting but a group will likely walk away not feeling upset for having played it.

Competent, but undistinguished

***( )( )

Played this at high subtier with a party of Barb7, Barb9, Geokineticist7, Sorc8, Bard9.

The GM did a good job of moving us past the slow spots, although that is a drawback. The fights turned out uneven, as we took a surprising amount of damage at the start. We were also concerned at some saving throws in the middle of the scenario (thank you Saving Finale!). Whether due to successful roleplaying, good rolls, or just winning initiative, the final fight was a bit anticlimactic. Another table, also playing high tier with a different mix, had a much more difficult time, due in no small part to missing some saves.

I'm a bit disappointed that there wasn't a stronger tie-in with Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts. Although I had played Labyrinth with the same character, it provided no noticeable advantage. Even more, it didn't give much if anything in the way of more flavor or better understanding of the overall plot.

This is not a bad scenario by any means, but despite some interesting and unusual monsters, it just wasn't engaging in the way that a really good one is.

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