Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-02: A Case of Missing Persons (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 19 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-7.

When several Andoren officials vanished, the Pathfinders of the Almas lodge were quick to lend their aid in investigating the disappearances. It's since become apparent that the officials didn't leave; they were abducted, and the captors' trail leads into revolution-torn Galt. The trail grew cold in Woodsedge, where Venture-Captain Eliza Petulengro has gathered a team of agents to renew the investigation. The PCs must rediscover the trail, and in the process they'll uncover a secret that has long plagued the town.

Contents in A Case of Missing Persons also contributes directly to the ongoing storyline of the Liberty's Edge faction.

Written by Alex Greenshields.

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****½ (based on 19 ratings)

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Two glaring flaws, lots of awesomeness

****( )

I played this back when it came out, and then just last night I was the GM for a group of 5 players.

This is an investigation module. You're going to get a list of "suspects" or perhaps better worded is... "persons of interest." You'll head out to interview many NPCs, do a LOT of talking, and a LOT of skill checks. There is some rough & tumble action here for brute-force dummies, but it's sparse. You really want to bring a PC that can at least attempt to Aid Another on a few skills. Also, this is one of those "pay attention and write down leads and hints" kind of scenarios. If you don't like that stuff, take a pass.

One of the players, at the end of the game night, said it was good that I was running it, as some other GMs might have shortchanged the role play, perhaps just asking for a handful of skill checks and then moving on. In my case, I spoke as if I were the NPCs, and I challenged the players to hit upon the key points that each NPC cared about. I didn't call for skill rolls until they earned it with some good back & forth banter, and I didn't give them the info they wanted unless they backed up their words with great rolls. And OH MY did they ever get good rolls.

All the investigation probably took 2 hours of real-world time. Then they were off to put their information to use. Interestingly, this could have been 3 hours of bloodshed, but these role players found ways to avoid almost all of that. And the scenario works fine with that!

I really enjoyed playing these NPCs. Particularly Fiffernetter. I won't give away who she is, but she's very enjoyable to play as an unlikely cross between Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter series) and Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz). She was great fun. Also, I really enjoyed a "trick" the scenario uses for the NPC interactions (spoiler):

Spoiler:
After the game, the players asked how in the world they were supposed to get some information. They didn't exhaust all their leads (if they had, we would have run very late), but even still, the "trick" was something they never discovered. That is, they can ask an NPC about a topic and learn nothing, then go to another NPC and get a little bit of info, and then take that back to the original NPC and they will spill the beans. Nobody thought to backtrack and try re-interviewing leads. I thought it was clever, but also time-consuming.

Having heaped some praise on this, let's talk about the 2 major issues I have with it. The first is the time limitation. We're trying to run an open-ended investigation game in a 4-hour time slot, but there is enough material here for 6 hours of game play. The last set-piece encounter/thing you do can be approached a dozen different ways, with a brute-force dumbed-down charge, or a nuanced stealthy recon mission followed by deception and more lengthy social interactions. Anything in between those extremes is also likely and the product even covers a lot of possibilities. This alone could take an hour or more, yet we were already at the 4+ hour mark when we got to the endgame. That's ridiculous.

I did see some reviews saying the game runs short. I don't know how that is possible unless you're doing exactly what my player dreads -- you short-change all the investigation work down to just "Roll these 5 skill checks and I'll give you an info dump." If you're doing that, I guess maybe you have to in a tight time slot, but it really seems like it bypasses pages & pages of the author's work.

The 2nd issue? It's discussed in the GM discussion forum for this product. That is, if you follow the rules of the module, you are mandated to have the players fail their mission. I'll briefly summarize it here, but the GM forum is a better place for this:

Spoiler:
The PCs are on a timer. They must rescue someone and get back to their ally in town before sundown. However, it's about 9 hours until sundown, but it takes 10 hours to rescue the captive -- and 10 hours assumes an otherworldly best-case scenario. More likely, you can expect the PCs to put in hours of investigation before they head out to save the person in question. They will arrive back in town many hours after sundown, only to see that their ally was guillotined while they were gone.

My suspicion is that this is not the author trying to be a jerk. I suspect this is the author or the editors being really bad at math. For my part, I refused to auto-fail the players. I gave them the "good" option (the "good" option says that if the players hide their ally or advise their ally on how to hide, then the timer mostly doesn't matter, as it buys them a full extra day). My problem is not with the good option. My problem is that if the players didn't hide their ally, then there is no reason to track the timing or speed of the PCs, as it's impossible to succeed, even as the product implores the GM to track time and see if they can make it. They can't. It's futile.

Despite the 2 flaws, I had an incredible time with this product. I had a lot of fun, lots of memorable characters, and a great story as well. It's just a great time. I'd give it 5 stars, then dock 1 star for the flaws, and we're left with a 4-star product. Thank you Paizo for a great game.


The plot thickens

****( )

This scenario is an important one for those involved with the Liberty’s Edge faction and not just because the blurb above says so. Instead of freeing the odd slave, this scenario focuses on the ongoing and overarching goals of the faction and its leadership. As such it’s a mandatory scenario almost.

Thankfully it’s also a good scenario. It’s an investigation with multiple turns and unexpected surprises. You’ll have to gather a variety of clues, which is something that can be done in multiple ways. The combats that may or may not happen also provide some fun challenges you’ll not see coming. Or in the case of one foe will definitely see coming, but in a hilarious way.

This scenario is a fun investigation with unexpected twists. Meanwhile the encounters are solid. I can’t find a reason why people wouldn’t enjoy this. The only downside to this scenario is that it ends as a mystery. With that I mean that it ends up foreshadowing another possible adventure or scenario. You are left with more questions than answers and while this makes you want to play the next part as well, you remain with a feeling that you didn’t entirely complete your task, which in my case slightly bothers me.

That said, it’s minor nitpick and I’m still really looking forward to discovering where this will lead us.


*****


Excellent mix of role playing, investigation, combat and creativity

****( )

I played this and then ran it, I found it fun in both instances.

There is plenty of content for role players, and plenty of options to allow a creative party to sold a particular problem. When I played it we used tactic A, and when I ran it the players took an entirely different tack.

I would be happy to run this again.


Investigation and roleplaying heavy! Very enjoyable if you like that!

*****

Both played and GMed this.

I personally love heavy RP scenarios where the characters can shine and use their talents to push the story along.

It's on the easier side to GM IMO... I'm newer to GMing and it was extremely easy to keep up with and move the players along. It seemed like the writers knew it may get confusing, because they added in a big section for quick reference the GM can use.


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Sovereign Court

The usual request for a list of maps?

Shadow Lodge

Amazing. A natural fit for my Liberty's Edge order of the Torrent signifier. Now to just keep her within tier.

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

Maps Appearing in Pathfinder Society Scenario #9–02: A Case of Missing Persons:

  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Forest
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Prison

  • I played this scenario at GenCon and I'd be careful with this one. a Group of level 3's that could take 40 damage in one hit from a rend in addition to the two claws damage is scary.


    Would playing this in the midst of a campaign made up mostly of Season 5 adventures be a problem?

    I am thinking more about the faction developments that have already happened by the start of this one and by the end

    Also I don't think I can realistically can't run Hellknights Feast after this (which would be the plan due to tier structures) because of the status of reoccurring characters...

    I am only considering this because I have just run Stolen Heir and my players might like the familiarity moment of Andoran/Galt/Almant.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Lanathar wrote:

    Would playing this in the midst of a campaign made up mostly of Season 5 adventures be a problem?

    I am thinking more about the faction developments that have already happened by the start of this one and by the end

    Also I don't think I can realistically can't run Hellknights Feast after this (which would be the plan due to tier structures) because of the status of reoccurring characters...

    I am only considering this because I have just run Stolen Heir and my players might like the familiarity moment of Andoran/Galt/Almant.

    There are several good scenarios that lead up to the events in this adventure, namely the...

    Spoiler:

    ...revelations about Colson Maldris.

    Pathfinder Society Scenario #6: Black Waters:

    The tie-in here is largely due to the Andoran faction mission, which identifies some shady stuff Colson Maldris was pulling to mine for intelligence.

    Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–16: Fabric of Reality:

    The Andoran faction mission in this adventure is rather infamous for the motives of Colson Maldris. After this adventure, the calls to oust Maldris began in earnest.

    Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–04: The Stolen Heir:

    This adventure lays some really good groundwork for #9–02, including the morally gray choices that the faction sometimes needs to make.

    Pathfinder Society Special #5–99: The Paths We Choose:

    You'll want the Andoran faction mission in this one. This introduces a VIP that Colson Maldris has identified as an aristocratic sympathizer who needs to be removed.

    Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–05: School of Spirits:

    This is a superb follow-up to Black Waters, bringing back a major NPC from that adventure, providing more revelations about the Maldris family, and giving the PCs a great opportunity to choose what to do with that information. Maldris features prominently.

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