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Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-99: The Solstice Scar—Version A

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

Our Price: $4.99

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A Pathfinder Society Special designed for levels 1-11.

The world-renowned Blakros Museum has outdone itself, gathering an unrivaled collection of relics from the Shining Crusade, a holy coalition that felled the greatest lich to threaten Golarion. When trouble befalls the exhibit mere days before its debut, the Pathfinders intervene, only to discover that one of the relics is key to averting a far greater disaster that has laid in wait for a millennium.

The Solstice Scar is a multi-table interactive adventure in which each group's actions can affect neighboring groups and contribute to the entire room's success. This is an ongoing adventure that will be updated and rereleased incrementally several times each season, collectively telling a longer story while also presenting exciting stand-alone chapters.

Written by Andrew Hoskins.

Note: The Solstice Scar is a limited release scenario. It may be run anywhere by anyone, as long as there are 3 tables playing the scenario simultaneously and are in contact with each other. To inquire about access to this scenario, refer to the Organized Play Convention Support Policy.

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PZOPSS0899AE


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Product Reviews (7)
1 to 5 of 7 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

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

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****( )


Serviceable

***( )( )

I ran this at Tier 7-8 at Gen Con. This felt like three quests and a special got together and had a baby. Echoing the thoughts of many, it did not feel epic enough to warrant a special. Each part was a fine story that would have made a decent scenario if expanded a bit. There didn't seem to be enough time to do the encounters, but I think that was a Gen Con problem rather than a problem with the special. It also may not have helped that for me, it followed Assault on Absalom.


It was different

****( )

I like the idea that this scenario will evolve over the seasons. I'm hoping there is a good mechanic so it doesn't feel like a flash back for 2 of the 3 parts.

I did like running some of the encounters especially those that made party go oh @#$¥.

My gripe is that getting maps that are out of print isn't fun. As much as I run scenarios I'm actually burnt out on drawing maps.the cost of ink to print them is straining my wallet too. I rather just buy the pregen printed maps.


Very Disappointing

*( )( )( )( )

I should start out by saying that I have never given a game 1 star, despite reviewing a couple of games that resulting in my party or my players having a TPK, but I thought it was warranted in this instance.

The Fights:
The biggest flaw of this special is that the fights are repetitive (I played tier 1-2, but I also heard this from people who played higher tiers). The fights in the first section are somewhat diverse and used different creature types, but the second and third sections used the exact same type of creature over and over again; often literally the same monster. Not only was this boring, it caused our PCs who were ineffective at fighting that monster to feel unnecessary. The final fight showed a lot of promise of being climatic … but it can be rendered laughably easy if a very common type of PC is in the party, or if the party just uses some tactical knowhow.

The Skills:
At one point, we had a chance to use skill checks (which is rare in a special) to acquire something we needed, but instead of using our skills to help people in exchange for the stuff, we just used them to impress people into giving us stuff. The worst part is that the game tells you that these items are rather valuable, but there is never an explanation given for why these people would part with it just because we impressed them by possessing a skill set.

At another point, we had to use our skills to convince people to undertake a daring, but risky plan. The problem is that one of the people you must convince is the very person who came up with the plan, and who earlier was willing to risk their people’s lives to get the McGuffin needed to make the plan work. No explanation is given for this NPC’s sudden change of heart and the PCs get bonuses on this check for political correctness (see spoiler below for details) which felt heavy handed.

Spoiler:
Paizo has introduced Transsexual NPCs and an Iconic PC and for the most part they were well received. Transsexual players felt more comfortable and accepted and people who didn’t care or who felt uncomfortable with the subject were not forced to focus on those NPC’s sexual identity. In this special however, the transsexual NPC’s backstory was only made available to us right before we had to convince her to send her people to undertake a dangerous plan and we got bonuses on the check to convince her if we showed we were supportive of her transformation. What could have been an epic moment of heroic speeches quickly became an awkward attempt by a bunch of cisgendered players at remembering the politically correct terminology for her transformation and some of our players (mostly the older ones) felt very uncomfortable with the whole thing. What’s worse, this made the transsexual NPC seem like she was more interested in the acceptance of a bunch of strangers than she was in the safety of her people.

The story:
The story starts out by making fun of Nigel Aldain (which we enjoyed), but then it continues to do so multiple times, long after it stops being funny. For some reason, the pathfinder leaders decide that Nigel asking for help requires hundreds of pathfinders instead of the usual 4 to 6 and at no point even tries to explain why so many people are being sent into a relatively small building (or how they all fit). We then have a set of minor fights and our introduction to the real story, which shows a lot of promise and causes us to have to travel through a relatively un-explored part of the pathfinder world. We are attacked on the way by an army of monsters … but we are never given any explanation for why they were attacking us, which is especially grating because the game that earlier explained that it was well known that there would be serious consequences to anyone who did attack us. We then moved to a new area where we had to fight several minor battles, so that we could fight a major battle and stop a great evil (as often happens in specials) … only to be told that we didn’t really accomplish anything (see spoiler below for details).

Spoiler:
After going through all of this effort to stop the great evil, you discover that the entire thing will have to be done again next year. Yep, that is right, this special is going to be replayable every year (with minor changes each year), but I guarantee that I won’t be replaying it.

Overall:
This special should not have been a special. It didn’t feel big and epic like most of the specials and left us feeling like our characters had not accomplished anything. What’s worse, if it had been flushed out and had had a normal amount of fights, it might have made a decent regular game, but as a special it was very disappointing.


Not Our Story

**( )( )( )

Reviewing a living scenario is incredibly tricky, since any mechanical/encounter comments may be made completely irrelevant by the next edit of the document. After running it at 10-11, I can say there's a lot to like about Solstice Scar, and there's a lot I do like about it. However, the issues I have with it run right to the core of the scenario, and are things that I doubt can be fixed by the addition of a new act, or some encounter tweaks.

Fully discussing my complaints will require some spoilers, which will be marked as such.

The Good:
Compared to previous multi-table specials, the majority of this one is a breeze to run. Largely in part due to the excellent organization, and the how the bestiaries are broken down by both section and tier in the appendices. I've run every multi-table special bar one, and this was the second easiest prep I've had. No easy feat considering the scale of the encounters.

The inclusion of one major roleplay encounter per act was a godsend for my table, who all loved the opportunity to do something other than fight.

The encounter variety was greatly appreciated. Everyone got a chance to shine in their own ways. The Monk with anti-hardness abilities loved Part 1, the AoE blaster/controller Wizard loved the low-save enemies in part 2, and the Paladin/Anti-Undead Cleric loved Part 3. Too often specials are focused on one type of enemy, which can leave characters out in the cold; this one made every skill set uniquely valuable.

The challenge was a little on the easy side at the highest tier, which is to be expected for a special; but several encounters (particularly in Act 3) had the party on the edge of their seats. Although, they were a bit unhappy with how anti-climactic the final encounter was. A boss fight would not have gone amiss.

The Bad:
Three of the flipmats used (Museum, Hill Country, Bigger Forest), including the one for the final encounter, are fairly uncommon, and are all painful to hand-draw. Museum can be solved by breaking it down into the relevant sections, however there's no easy solution for the other two. Especially the map for the final encounter which has no geometric shapes, and is too large for a normal flipmat.

The latter two social encounters both really needed a handout. I ended up making one for my table, simply because it's next to impossible to convey all the written information in a noisy convention hall when you're on a tight deadline.

The story lacked connective tissue. This special takes place over the course of several weeks-months, with large sections of time glossed over by box text. Leading to a fairly disorienting experience for both the players and the GMs.

Why did a relic of Vildeis from the Shinning Crusade somehow end up being needed for a ritual way up in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords? The connection is unwieldy and left the lore junkies scratching their heads.

The Story:
This is where my biggest complaint with Solstice Scar comes from. It's not our story. It is the story of Medda, the perfect chosen one NPC, and her quest to retrieve her ancestral McGuffin and save the world, because she's the only one who can. The story goes to great lengths to give myriads of details about her past, how capable she is, how much she's respected, and how she'd never actually hurt anyone. (The scenario accomplishes the last one by ratcheting Nigel Aldain's incompetence up to cartoonish heights.) But it never once tells the PCs what the Society is doing there, why the Masters and the Decemvriate felt this was a good use of their time, and why they're sending thousands of agents, when it seems that 4-6 would do.

The Society is only an incidental party in it's own special. Had Aldain called anybody else, they would never had gotten involved. In addition, there's no promise of knowledge, or treasure, or... anything to be gained from sending thousands of the best equipped and most dangerous people in the world on a multi-week trek through northern Avistan. Why does the Society expend a ridiculous amount of time and resources on this quest? Because Medda asks them to. The scenario contains no justification for it, other than it's a nice thing to do. Might I also mention that it's not Ollystra or another one of the "moral" leaders of the Society that pledges their support to this venture after talking to the NPC for 30 seconds, it's Ambrus Valsin. The prickly, crotchety, and ever-pragmatic Ambrus Valsin is willing to risk the lives of hundreds of his agents, and spend millions of gold, because someone he's never met before asked him to.

Contrast this with literally every other special, where the Society has a concrete reason be involved, and something spectacular to gain from the endeavor. We went to the World Wound to find Jormurdun. We went back in time to preserve history. We went to space to find god. We walked across Avistan because... I don't know how to finish that sentence.

Which is, ultimately, why this special rates so low. The mechanical content is pretty good, but its wrapper is anything but "special", and I don't see how any amount of new acts or act restructuring can change that, short of removing Acts 1 and 2, and going directly from 3.

2/5


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