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Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-17: Refugees of the Weary Sky (PFRPG) PDF

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7-11.

As the Jistka Imperium decayed from within, its artificers and elementalists struggled to repel invaders from Osirion to the east. To channel their elemental power, the spellcasters constructed the mighty Citadel of the Weary Sky, but so much energy attracted a mighty fiend that crushed the tower. The Pathfinder Society knows that many of the mages escaped, but only recently and with the help of a new ally did it learn where they fled. Now the PCs set off for a forgotten Jistkan sanctuary where otherworldly forces now reign.

Content in Refugees of the Weary Sky also contributes directly to the ongoing storylines of the Grand Lodge and Scarab Sages factions.

Written by Jeffrey Swank.

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Product Reviews (3)

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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If you just stay nicely on the railroad, you'll crash

****( )

It seems to me that the author of this adventure decided that high-tier characters are forever trying to run off the railroad of an adventure, and that it'd be fun to work with that. If you try to just trudge from scene to scene without anticipating shenanigans, things will be bad for you. That's when you'll run into all the sadistic gotchas.

There's some stuff in the adventure that doesn't necessarily make sense; the best summary is this. But just because it offends common sense doesn't mean it's not an entertaining challenge :P


Solid dungeon delve

****( )

The forum monster ate my very long detailed review, and I haven't the will to recreate it. :(

The TLDR is that this scenario is challenging, unique, and cool, but it feels like lots of details were cut for length. Expect to need to build on what's presented to give your players the best experience. The lack of important details (Ocosten's personality, Korj's relationship with him, etc) makes key interactions entirely up to you. Which isn't great for green GMs.

I'd recommend making your own handout for the puzzle and drawing the map in advance. It's a pain to do on the fly.


When it's not sadistic, it's boring.

**( )( )( )

Prefacing this by saying I've both played and run this at high tier, with full tables of veteran players, and a veteran GM.

My biggest problem with the scenario is neatly summed up by the title of this review. The concepts and ideas lurking within the margins are very, very cool. However the scenario chooses to make these moments secondary to one of the most sadistic combats I've seen in years, and a plot line that seems designed to trick the party into screwing themselves over. Even if the party defies common sense, and does what the author wants, they're greeted with what is essentially a glorified info-dump, followed by a single skill check to completely resolve the mission.

Digging into specifics, so spoilers incoming.

The Setup: The party's mission is to solidify the alliance between the Society and the Concordance of Elements (the organization from the completely underwhelming Tyranny of the Winds arc), by exploring an ancient Jistkan outpost that's doing funky things to the elemental planes.

The Atmosphere: This is the one thing the scenario does well; the moment where the party finally reactivates the complex, and begins to understand the true scope of the citadel is excellently done. Elevators have crumbled into disrepair, broken golems lie scattered about, and magical effects abound. This is exactly what I imagined an intact Jistkan ruin would look like.

Full breakdown of encounters and endgame:
The Encounters: I greatly enjoy challenging encounters, and I enjoy challenging players as a GM, but there is such a thing as going too far. It's clear the author twisted and strained the CR system in order to squeeze every last drop of PC blood they could from this scenario.

The first encounter is straightforward, but gives the enemies a decent amount of terrain advantage.

The second encounter (and the one that took nearly 2/3rds of the session for both tables) pits the party against several incredibly tough incorporeal minions (147 HP, 24 AC, 2 attacks for 5d8 damage at 10-11), along with a PC-equivalent ghost spellcaster. All while the party is crammed onto a tiny floating platform, over a 200 ft. pit. Incorporeal creatures already wreck havoc on the CR system due to their massive number of defenses/immunities, giving them utter terrain dominance, spells/abilities tied to making use of the terrain, AND a surprise round with which is mess with the PCs is far, far too much. Were it not for a well-timed Anti-Incorporeal Shell at one table, and 5(!) scrolls of Heal at the other, neither group would have made it past this fight. As a player I was shaking my head in frustration and disbelief, as a GM I was unsure of how it was possible for me to not kill players.

Third encounter with the guardian is a fairly straightforward talk-y encounter, with a welcome twist brought on by the madness and the mural. I just wish this NPC had shown up sooner, to provide context for the previous encounters, and to break up the info-dump that the final bit of the scenario turns into.

Fourth encounter with Korj annoys me greatly. The previous two fights get the PCs in the mindset that a fight is inevitable, which means a perfectly reasonable PC with particularly good init can easily torpedo any attempts at negotiation, and drag the party into another fight with incorporeal enemies. Neither of my tables fought this encounter, but the feats the creature has, combined with its attack, means it can reasonably be expected to kill 1 PC a round. Also, even a fairly reasonable reading of its pseudo-possession ability can mean an unlucky PC may end up perma-dead, due to being shattered.
If you talk to the creature, it's yet another info-dump, with a smattering of good character moments all involving the guardian.

The Payoff: The McGuffin behind the entire scenario can be dealt with via a touch from a humanoid and a single skill check. After that, there's some character bits with the guardian and Korj, and the scenario just kinda ends. Very underwhelming, especially given the pain the party has likely experienced along the way.

The Factions: The Grand Lodge mission is just to succeed at the overall mission; boring, but par for the course for the faction. The Scarab Sage mission is fantastic, and I'm excited to see how it pays off. Between Beacon Below, Ancient's Anguish, and this one, it's clear someone on the PFS team really likes the faction.

Summary:
Setup isn't the worst I've seen, but could be better.
Atmosphere is excellent, and I wish we had gotten more of it.
The Encounters are sadistic to the extreme (don't bring anyone who relies on precision damage!)
The RP is decent, but is all clumped together.
I found the payoff underwhelming, but others may have differing thoughts.
The Grand Lodge mission is bland as bland can be, but the Scarab Sage mission is one of the coolest I've ever seen.

Verdict:
1.75/5 (rounds to 2) - The brutal encounters and lackluster payoff makes this hard to recommend to anyone but fans of Jistka and Scarab Sages, with suitably min-maxed characters. I've certainly played worse scenarios, but not many.


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