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Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-01: The Cost of Enlightenment (PFRPG) PDF

***½( ) (based on 19 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-5.

The Qadiran city of Qaharid is famous for its turquoise mines and fine pottery, yet it is also the center of worship for the monks of the White Feather. Most recently, the cult of Roidira has identified Qaharid as a pilgrimage city, and the once innocuous cultists have begun exhibiting truly strange behaviors. Society contacts recognize these actions as a sign that the Roidirans have uncovered some extraordinary secret in the wilderness nearby, and it fall to the PCs to speak with witnesses and track down the cult's discovery.

Written by Katherine Cross.

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Product Reviews (19)
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***½( ) (based on 19 ratings)

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Roleplay meets Philosophy

****( )

In the days leading up to this scenario, I was told or warned that this would be a heavy role-playing scenario. I myself do not mind that kind of scenarios at all, so I happily waited until it was time to play this scenario. Now, I feel obliged to mention that when I played it, I was still recovering from surgery, in pain and thus not mentally completely focused. That might influence my final rating somewhat.

It is indeed true. This is a role-playing scenario foremost. Murderhobo’s will not enjoy this at all. People who like to influence NPC’s with words and actions will have a blast. People who like to debate philosophy and the meaning of life will say this is a must-play scenario. For me it was a little too much information to take in and memorise. I’m not sure if that’s indeed the case, or whether that was because of the aftermath of the surgery I had.

That said, the first part of the scenario was amazing. Partially it’s investigation, part of it is making a good impression. It’s exactly my cup of tea and I loved each part. We had so much fun trying to come up with out-of-the-box solutions, that we ended up absolutely smashing the objective. The second part was more philosophy focused, something that’s not a topic I feel particularly strong about. It was, also, too much for me to remember and to replicate when asked. Mind you, the.. let’s call it ‘entity’ that asked us to do so, was an amazing twist and the visions were amazing.

I loved the idea of the scenario. It’s something different and for some people it’ll be outstanding. Others, who primarily want to fight and kill things, will absolutely dislike this scenario. That will lower the rating as this scenario is simply not enjoyable for everyone. I also worry if the amount of note-taking and information is too much. Given my personal circumstances, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and rate this a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars.

Amazing Start To Season 9! Murderhobos Need Not Apply


I GM-ed this for an... interesting party mix on low tier. The group consisted of a Spiritualist, 2 Paladins (Ranginori and Abadar), an Inquisitor, Gunslinger, a Pregen Witch, and a Pregen Bloodrager. I warned my players in advance that this was a high-RP, high-skill-use scenario, with some combat. I think that helped people decide which PCs to play as well as set expectations.

This was an amazing beginning for Season 9, and I hope the Season continues to be this amazing throughout! That being said, this scenario will not be everyone's cup of tea (as other reviews have made clear.)

The Good:
* The chance for the PCs to engage in a glorified LARP/puppet show was amusing. The PCs got to describe how they perform, and their skills can make this anything from grand theater to painful farce.
In our game, the Paladin of Ranginori ended up playing Sarenrae while everyone else piled into Rovagug. No one had Knowledge: Religion, so the Paladin was trying to vaguely work Sarenrae dogma into her performance while being 'corrected' from inside the puppet- it was hilarious! And yet, they still did well!

* There were several ways the PCs could go about impressing the NPCs, as well as several ways they could gather the needed information. Everyone got a chance to do what they do best and make useful contributions to the group.

* This was a reasonable introduction to the Clout subsystem, and while I'm not sure that it was really necessary, it made sense and didn't detract from the experience.

* Most of the combats could be easily avoided or shortened, which was all to the good since this scenario really wasn't about the combat. To be honest, I suspect that the one totally unavoidable fight (the lizard) was thrown in just to give combat-lovers something to do, but that's ok. (I suspect that some people would find the avoidable nature of the combats a bad thing, but I really appreciated it, as did my players- it let us get on with the RP.)

* I loved how this scenario included actual discussions of religious dogma and deep philosophical principles. It was even better that the chosen subjects (Rodira and the White Feather) weren't ones that have had much if any development by Paizo, so the players weren't penalized for lack of setting knowledge. Everybody was on an even footing when it came to prior knowledge of the topics at hand.
This is a scenario where what you get out of it depends on what you put in, so if a player doesn't understand or enjoy these kinds of discussions, they might lose interest. However, our entire party embraced the opportunity and had a blast with it, debating among themselves and with the NPCs. In fact, after the visions, the Paladin of Ranginori immediately began trying to convert the NPC Roidirans to worshiping the Duke of Thunder instead.

* This is one of the first times that Spiritualists really get a chance to shine, rather than simply having their Phantom fight while the Spiritualist casts. Having a Spiritualist in the party makes the scenario even more enjoyable, whether they take the opportunity offered or not. (I ended up making a Spiritualist to apply this GM credit to, just because this was such an amazing moment in the campaign.)

* The boons on the chronicle sheet were amazing, and I love that PCs can choose one of two item slots for the sash to occupy. I wish there were more items like that.

The Bad:
* Two of the maps were drawn on the #$%^ing diagonal! Bad cartographer! Naughty! I printed these maps out in black & white, then colored them, as they were very large and too expensive to print in color.

* Different developers have worked on Qadira over the years, with the result that changes have been made to fairly basic things, like geography. Players questioned the sudden presence of a jungle in the desert, but it was all in good fun.

* If you really like combat, this isn't the scenario for you. While there are several opportunities for combat, most of them can be easily avoided, and the combats are all fairly tame. I don't consider this a bad thing at all, but players with a murderhobo mindset will probably be disappointed.

* While there's nothing problematic on the surface of this scenario, it is NOT family friendly. Most children will not understand the themes being discussed, and awkward conversations could easily result. As a GM, I would not have been comfortable having a child at the table, unless it had a parent present to step in as needed.

A suggestion for GMs prepping this:
Consider printing the visions out separately, then handing a vision card to each player as their PC drinks. This way, there's a better RP opportunity since the other players get to hear the visions for the first times as each PC explains their vision to the priestess in the conclusion. Simply reading the visions aloud to the players makes them more likely to skip the RP and just say "Yeah, we tell her what we saw".

All the players enjoyed this scenario, and several said that it was one of their favorite scenarios, and the best time they'd had in a long time.

Season 9 is off to a great start!!!

I hope this is not typical of Season 9

**( )( )( )

I ... did not enjoy this as a player.
I played at a local CON with people I know. (and like).

We got (in my opinion) one of the best judges available to run it for us, someone several of us look forward to playing with each CON.

We played early in the CON (2nd slot on Friday) so we were fresh and hungry for a good game.

It started well, with the Investigation only feeling a little contrived ("why is it we, as Pathfinders, are looking into a local religious group? Perhaps there is a tie in later we'll learn..."). I'll give it a bonus star just for the setting and set up...

We had a well balanced team of PCs (Combat, Rogue Skills, Face, Healing, Magic... all covered, often with depth). So it's not that we couldn't handle the challenges presented...

But about the middle (perhaps closer to the last quarter maybe?) of the scenario it seemed to reveal itself to be (have been) a Lecture on Philosophy and Religion rather than an Adventure... and not really a well presented lecture. Several of us stated that we felt like we had wondered into a class demonstration (or lecture) on Contemporary Religions ... Lots of "boxed text" read to us by the judge (not his usual style of running, so this must be the scenario - we really felt the story-line tracks on this one).

It is kind of hard to play your PC when the Story Line is lecturing you... even when your PC is very devout in an in-game religion (we had a Paladin, two Clerics, and my Bard with Deific Obedience... that I can remember off the top of my head)... And the Author wants to portray "a different way" - but perhaps I am just not understanding what the Author was trying to say. We did get in some good In-Character conversations - mostly between ourselves (having clerics of Asmodeus and Cayden Cailean, a Paladin and PCs who were very into the world setting was interesting...).

But even as a "Lecture" I think the this one falls short, as mostly we were scratching our heads at the end of the scenario trying to figure out what the heck we were supposed to have learned from it. If that was what it was trying to do...

Over all? Not a lot of fun to me... (though one of the players did say he enjoyed it.)

When it was over? IMHO - Kind of felt like I had just lost 5 hours of gaming... and not really enjoyed it.

Absolutely amazing, if this is your kind of thing.


(I played this.)

First of all, this scenario is very polarising. It all depends on how both the party and the GM approach this. I can totally agree with the "bad" reviews, as it simply might not be your cup of tea. In this case, it definitely was mine, but your mileage may vary. Heavily.

To start with, the scenery was great. There are fun setpieces, great lore and worldbuilding, interesting NPCs to talk to, and great things to talk about. This is definitely a more "intellectual" scenario. You could theoretically murderhobo through it, but you'd lose out on the experience. You're asked to think about philosophy pretty heavily. If that's your thing, this scenario is great. If it isn't, it's terrible.

This scenario feels like a riddle, or like actual literature. While most of the time box text is just scene setting, in this case the majority of it needs to be unwrapped, evaluated, and otherwise thought about. This is definitely not a light-hearted romp. There have been scenarios that experimented with more esoteric themes before, but this one dials it up to eleven. It really makes you think. The author definitely used a lot of purple prose, but that could be interpreted in two different ways, depending on your outlook. You can either see it as needlessly complicated, which is definitely a valid argument (I mean, "voluminous hair full of secrets," what?), but you could also see it as a mystery to unravel, similar to what your characters are doing in-game. I must admit the box text lost me here and there, but I didn't find it that obtrusive.

And then there's the theology/philosophy. I really liked how I was intellectually challenged and we needed to think about our actions and the information we were given. Again, there have been scenarios that tried to do this, but never to this extent. The information was sometimes a little vague, but not frustratingly so. Both cults felt like they had a point. And then the scenario takes a turn I never expected. I was at the edge of my seat and actually heavily emotionally invested in what was going on, despite the fact that I'm usually pretty detached from my characters. This was an actual life-shattering moment for both me and my character, and definitely something that'll influence my character's actions and outlook. And that's when you know you have a good scenario. After finishing it, I felt like I was baptised, like a reborn man. I normally hate that kind of spiritual stuff, but it just worked.

Finally, our GM warned us beforehand that combats would be kinda lacklustre. And overall, I'd agree with him. But there's one encounter that's seriously dangerous in high tier. Admittedly, we didn't have an ideal party for this, but we were all amazed at how powerful that thing was. It's pretty tricked out.

Again, all the negative reviews have a point. If you don't have much affinity for these kinds of scenarios, you won't enjoy yourself very much. It's got a lot of flowery/purple prose, is certainly preachy, and definitely not for everyone. But if you're willing to engage with the material, you'll have a blast. I'm eager to play it once more just so I could experience it again.

A New Favorite


I don't normally feel compelled to write reviews but after seeing such a negative consensus and having had such a wonderful time with in I felt the need to chime in.

This adventure is presented in three parts and, despite not having any disclaimer that FACTION PLOT HERE, I felt that it had strong and interesting hooks for PCs of all the factions except perhaps Grand Lodge.

How they relate:
Liberty's Edge (cultists to save from themselves), Sovereign Court (getting the chance to play politics), Exchange (an honest to goodness opportunity to play around in a marketplace in Qadira), and most especially Silver Crusade (a proper attempt to evangelize and deal with people of a strange, offputting faith - a chance for players to really grapple with the concepts of pluralism vs the pitfalls of extremism which is really gripping stuff) and Dark Archive (an honest to god chance to discuss the nature of lore and knowledge itself with a GOD, hecks yes)

My favorite parts were the beginning part with the festival and the dinner that followed. I have seen complaints that partys might not know to interact with the THINGS YOU CAN DO TO EARN FAVOR but the only PCs who are going to need that are the ones who either COMPLETELY botch the festival and the ones who choose to go through the merchant (and those who botch the festival might choose to go through the merchant anyway if you give a little hint that theres a subsystem in play).

My players also really enjoyed getting a chance to deliver an end of mission briefing complete with their characters views and spins on events and coming to a consensus on what the high priestess should do with that information. One said that for the first time in many missions it felt important WHICH character came to the table in a positive way and not just in a 'gosh darn, I wish I had played this with the proper character for that boon at the end' way.

I also feel like if you think this scenario is being judgey and preachy that perhaps you feel a little insecure in some of your own beliefs? i thought the philosophical questions were interesting and if even one player at the table is willing to earnestly engage that end sequence is a real treat.

Not a huge fan of how all or nothing the end decision is in terms of rewards BUT you were explicitly sent on this mission to gather all the information possible which it feels like many of the other review writers may have forgotten or lost sight of.

Boon Spoilers:
Fettering the phantom from this scenario to my spiritualist is a HUGE character moment for him that I had honestly not expected in any way. More of this PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

Very much looking forward to more from this author, my favorite low level scenario since Night March of Kalkamedes.

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***½( ) (based on 19 ratings)

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