Rereading this now, I would have rejected this myself. The summary is unfinished (doh!), there should be at least one tiered combat, and it's probably too free-form for use as a PFS scenario. However, I am interested in feedback. Could this concept be made into a viable scenario (or at least a stronger submission)? Could "status quo"/non-tiered encounters work in PFS? Given the way experience works in PFS, its artificial argument against taking the better part of valor is removed.
This submission started from a couple of ideas I was kicking around to address some of the criticisms of the existing scenarios. Cramming them all into a scenario submission was perhaps not the best plan, but...
Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks!
Forge of the Dark Smith
Lumberjacks working in western Darkmoon Wood have noticed a new light coming from The Crags. Smoke and a fiery glow have begun to pour from a large cave in the middle of the cliff face. A dwarven venture-captain would like The Crags explored. She is particularly interested in the cause of the new activity and any connections to the ruined dwarven monastery to Droskar nearby. She makes it clear that violence is not required on this scouting mission.
The encounters in this scenario are set, not tailored to the level of the characters. If the Pathfinders try to resolve every encounter with combat, they will likely reap what they sow. Use of this style is a deliberate attempt to promote roleplaying, critical thinking, and teamwork.
While the cave is clearly visible, a path is not. Players may attempt to fly to it or climb to it from above or below. The cliff face is dotted with caves, openings to a network of tunnels, which can be used as a place to hide or an alternate path to the Forge cave. The route they take determines which encounters the Pathfinders face.
The dwarves have been living beneath the mountain for some time, and are
- Cliff Top:
Harpies – The Pathfinders spot the harpies cavorting around the cliff edge at a distance greater than the range of their captivating song. The cruel creatures are in plain sight, arguing over a fresh kill. The Pathfinders can escape if they stealthily move away, but if they move closer or tarry too long, the flight of harpies will attack. The harpies first try using their song to lure their prey off a cliff (which allows a second saving throw), then attack with their clubs and claws. Once two small or larger prey are slain, the harpies attempt to withdraw to their nest to enjoy their meal. Once two harpies are slain, the rest flee.
Gargoyles – The local wing of gargoyles numbers roughly the same as the flight of harpies, but they fear the harpies' song. Consequently, they hunt cautiously in this area, using their stealth to lie in wait for prey to approach. The Pathfinders encounter a single gargoyle in hiding (who most likely spots them first). When outnumbered, the gargoyle flies back to their lair to bring the rest of the flight. The party can escape if they are quick and stealthy.
- Cliff Base:
Bear – A very territorial brown bear snores loudly in a cozy cave. If intruders approach noisily, he will attack until the intruders are dead or flee at least 100' from his lair.
Duergar – A small team of duergar are in the area, spying on the Forge. Their clan covets its power, and they have been sent to learn much the same information as the Pathfinders. If attacked, they will flee unless cornered. They would be willing to work with the Pathfinders, if they can be convinced through bluff or diplomacy that the party would share information with them.
The dwarves using the Forge have placed traps in the tunnels to keep intruders out and to kill dangerous animals.
Dwarves from deep within Droskar's Crag mountain have found an ancient temple to Droskar, the Dark Smith. While they do not revere Droskar, a wizard among them has discovered that the Forge within the temple has magical properties. The dwarves are unfriendly to outsiders, fearing they come to steal their treasure or despoil the culture and history of their ancestors. The Pathfinders can use diplomacy to gain their trust, or they can use stealth to spy on the dwarves.
The venture-captain rewards the Pathfinders monetarily for determining the cause of the glowing cave (the Forge being used), the connection with the monastery (yes, it is a temple to Droskar), and for their discretion. These rewards promote completion of the main Pathfinder mission, which in other scenarios can seem inconsequential. The last award prevents the players from feeling penalized for resolving encounters by means other than killing whatever they meet.
Thanks for sharing your submission, Bob. I think I see where you're coming from as far as criticisms of existing scenarios.
I can't say I'd be a fan of non-tiered encounters in PFS. There aren't enough words in the scenario to add redundant encounters, and I prefer scenarios that have a definite opening, rising action, and climax. Open-ended exploration is better suited to home games (Dungeonaday being my favorite currently).
That said, I like the idea of giving a skilled and thoughtful party multiple ways to overcome each challenge. I tried to do something similar with 2/3 of the encounters in my submission. I figured at least a couple of the encounters should require confrontation, otherwise players who thrive on combat would end up hating the session.
You're right that the summary needs more information to be complete. Flight is an unlikely choice for tier 1-7 parties. Harpies are also quite dangerous for low-level groups. I'd like to see a stronger connection to the Pathfinder society. What are the properties of the magical Forge, and why are the dwarves keeping it a secret?
|Mike Welham Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012|
I like the encounter mix in your scenario. You've got a couple of ways to solve some of the encounters, which is refreshing.
Like Derek, I didn't see a strong Pathfinder Society connection in your scenario. Also, maybe I misread this, but "which in other scenarios can seem inconsequential" seems to be calling out other scenarios which Josh has approved.
Your overall approach is excellent, and I think with a stronger connection to the Pathfinder Society will help you in future submissions. I hope you keep submitting and I wish you luck!