Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-02: Bones of Biting Ants

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-7.

The sole survivor of an ill-fated Society expedition into the Mwangi expanse barely managed to return home years ago, bringing little to show but an unpleasant affliction and haunting memories, neither of which they could shake. While the agent had planned to retire from the Society for good, they now seek assistance in finding closure, seeking a cure, and recovering the relics the team had to abandon. What sounds at first like a simple recovery mission becomes far more complicated, for the same threats that spelled disaster for the first mission are as dangerous today.

Written by Sean McGowan.

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****( ) (based on 5 ratings)

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This needed a content warning

****( )

Very nice but time consuming prep work on this one. What really got me, was: I have PTSD and Anxiety and role playing Stuinvolk followed the rabbit down the dark hole. Just reading it had me overly empathizing and shaking as I tried to consider how to bring this to my players. I chose to have a friend role play Stuinvolk, and truly bring the character to life, which helped the party feel like he wasn't just an annoying aspect of the GM, and helped them to empathize with him. It is worth playing, but please be aware that this can be an emotional roller coaster.

A scenario to feel Good about


I wrote a giant review and the website ate it. Bottom line: the story is compelling, filled with the original goals of the Shadow Lodge and empathy, along with the understanding that not all wounds are physical. The mid-scenario encounter is just as deadly as everyone else says, as it's a unique critter (at least, in high subtier) that is effectively a Dire Tiger with upgrades, but no CR adjustment.

Good use of Occult mechanics, good RP opportunities interspersed, and, most importantly, a compelling objective for the Good-aligned PCs.

Wonderfull Story - Questionable Encounter Design

****( )

I mostly agree with the first two reviews, the story was really great and the influence mechanics were quite fun, but I did not quite like the Encounterdesign (for High-Tier) and here is why:

Encounter A3:
If combat should breat out and the PCs didnt advance, which is reasonable, the Warriors have a hard time dealing with Archers and Medium-/Long-Range Casters since they can't delay those PCs. Other than that, it's a fun encounter.

Encounter A5/A7:
A night Ambush with a +30 to stealth (+22 in A7) and a Pounce (yes it does work with a partial charge) dealing 2d8+4d6+45 Dmg targeted against an NPC (if not disguised) with 46 HP does not seem fair to me. Some Level 7 Characters do not have enough
HP to survive this damage either. In my opinion this encounter can end this scenario in one surprise-round (even if you rule out, that they can't be surprised it can easily win the Initiative and One-Shot most of the participating Characters...

Encounter B2:
Army Ant Swarms are one the tougher swarms to deal with, having two advanced AAS and a Caster, who can controll half of the party with a high DC controll Spell in Round 2 and possibly hiding underground with burrow-speed is too much risk for a TPK.
Our Blaster Sorcer (10d6+10 Fireball DC20) lost initiative against one of the swarms which resulted in a big chaos. The group survived this one with sheer luck.

Encounter C1/C2:
Those CR1 Monster are stronger than the base CR2 Creature and possibly as strong as CR3 creatures. This is why you have to be carefull with Templates, especially stacking multiple Templates...

I am sorry for my writing, my English is not the best.

A very american scenario

****( )

I played tis at Gencon and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would largely agree with the first review and would say that by the end I had grown so irritated by the primary NPC that I switched to appearing to give a damn rather than actually trying to help, despite it being at a significantly lower modifier to succeed.

Having prepped the scenario to run next week it reads as a very american piece of writing, with lots of discussion of therapy. I almost expected him to come with an emotional support animal. Run well I think this can be quite a powerful scenario, run poorly I can see it being quite insensitive for people who have gone through genuine traumas.

While I played it at a con I probably wouldn't recommend running it in a con slot.

Wonderful but time-consuming

****( )

This is the first scenario out of the 50 or so that I've run that I've genuinely felt like writing a review for. There is a ton of good in this campaign. I just ran it with 7 players, and it ran long, but we all had fun!

1. Subject matter:
This scenario deals with the mental stress and social-emotional issues that come from the horrific situations a Pathfinder may find themselves in. If your players are really good role-players, they will enjoy putting themselves into the position of taking care of one of their own on a journey of healing trauma.

2. The Influence System:
This scenario uses the influence system -- which can get a little clunky at times in some scenarios, but the author does a great job at pointing out precipitating conditions for the NPC's trauma and the appropriate time to perform influence checks. I found it to be a great mechanic.

3. Combat Challenges:
The mid-scenario combat is very challenging-- even 7 players had a difficult time with it. But I liked how the encounter was less about the players showing off, and more about them working together to help the NPC reclaim his mojo. Such a good twist!

The final encounter was a little bit of a letdown at low tier after the challenge of the mid-scenario combat. But again-- the scenario makes it more about helping the NPC (You're facing this creature because it will help the NPC), rather than about showing off fancy combat moves and tactics.

4. Length:
Because of the amount of roleplaying and exploration, this scenario definitely can run long. We did it in 4.5 hours, but that was by skipping the optional encounter, and also using GM hints on dealing with the mid-scenario encounter. There is a way where the PCs can get themselves in an infinite loop of monster as written. The NPC has an epiphany in part B of that encounter that is to help the PCs, but if they don't take the hint, then it could potentially go on and on and on. If you're running with a time constraint, I would say the Optional encounter is so completely optional that it's not worth considering prepping.

Great job!

Is it just me or does this sound a lot like the backstory of

Grandmaster Torch

Grand Lodge

Nah. It's gotta be...

Nieford Sharrowsmith


Shadow Lodge

Sounds a lot like Torch to me.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Poison or disease maybe?

Liberty's Edge

Speculation Answer:
Nieford Sharrowsmith is dead. His body is found in #6-16.

My VO and I speculate that this might have something to do with a completely different scenario.
Content Speculation:
#7-98: Serpents' Ire. There seems to be something in the title and location parallel to Rataji's story arc.

Any word on maps?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Just learned I'll be running this at GenCon. Maps/Map Packs used?

Grand Lodge

Disciple of the Void wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

My VO and I speculate that this might have something to do with a completely different scenario.
** spoiler omitted **

Ah-ha! Very interesting. Anxious to play this one.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

We're finalizing some pieces in the development process today and early next week. We should have a map update soon.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't know about tie ins to other scenarios, but the name seems like a pretty direct tie in to The King of Biting Ants the mythic enemy of Old Man Jatembe. If so I have to play this with my Magaambyan Wizard.


Serpents Ire:
Found what you were talking about in Rataji's vision. Totally all ties in with The King of Biting Ants. Now I'm even more excited to play this!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Maps/Map Packs?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

Maps in Bones of Biting Ants:

  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Cavernous Lair
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Hill Country
  • Pathfinder Map Pack: Campsites
  • Two different custom half-page maps
  • Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber


    Liberty's Edge

    Is "Campsites" from the Gamemastery Map Pack series?

    Just looking so I can order it properly for GenCon.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

    Disciple of the Void wrote:

    Is "Campsites" from the Gamemastery Map Pack series?

    Just looking so I can order it properly for GenCon.

    It should actually refer to Pathfinder Map-Pack: Camps and Shelters. Apologies for the confusion!

    Grand Lodge

    I was kind of sad to find out it wasn't Lugizar Trantos from Mists of Mwangi. That would've made so much sense!

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