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Rejected Scenario #45: The Tauren Imbroglio


Scenario Submission Talk

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Hi Guys,

Below is my rejected scenario ready for your outrageous slurs thinly disguised as constructive criticism. :)

Scenario #45: The Tauren Imbroglio

Introduction

A week ago, Naur Spiritkin hosted two warrior-chiefs of the seaborne Twisted Spine minotaurs. At the crescendo of the fealty feast, they slipped the surprised albino a goblet poisoned with an elixir of feeblemind. As the “minotaurs” reverted to hulking half-orcs, they steered the befuddled minotaur away into the night.

A month previous, Grandmaster Torch discovered a concealed tunnel, a secret exit from the subterranean vaults under Azlanti Keep. His informants revealed the chambers held detailed genealogical records, title deeds, and irreplaceable state treasures, including the Ruby Heart of Spite. The tunnel contained impossible mazes along its length to stymie unwanted incursions, thus necessitating Torch’s abduction of a compliant, forgetful guide whose natural cunning could navigate a three-dimensional labyrinth. Torch’s lackeys were to return Naur to his comfortable bed, healed of the feeblemind and ignorant of the heist.

Ivtam Scheel, an avaricious rival Pathfinder obsessed with the Ruby Heart of Spite, led Torch’s team as they successfully traversed the mazes, evaded the guardian earth elemental and left behind a precautionary trail of invisible twine.

Once within the vaults, an unchecked patch of russet mold overwhelmed three good men in a dank hallway, birthing a new crop of vegepygmies. The salt mephit, Essofhor, desiccated two more before recommencing his dehydration of the humid sea air threatening the archive’s fragile documents. The chamber’s archivist, a disgruntled skeletal champion named Cymanthus, slaughtered four more. The First Guard long ago thwarted Cymanthus’ pursuit of lichdom, imprisoning him here to catalogue Absalom’s eternity.

The group’s panicked remnant, Ivtam, the bespectacled sage Doresmo and Naur, set off a powerful magical trap, which encased them in an inverted prismatic sphere. They now wait huddled inside their blinding prison for the First Guard to execute them.

Summary

Grandmaster Torch approaches the Pathfinders for help once Ivtam misses the rendezvous. He tempts materialistic PCs with the Ruby Heart of Spite, and the opportunity to humble a rival Pathfinder. For atypically altruistic Pathfinders he points out Naur is innocent, in danger and needs rescuing.

The PCs follow the twine to the archive vaults using a potion of see invisibility. The earth elemental guardian interrupts their journey and rams them towards plummeting shafts.

Once inside, the characters free Ivtam, Doresmo, Naur and the Ruby Heart of Spite by individually circumventing each color via a series of switches. These switches reside within alcoves warded by a single layer of the corresponding color. The PCs can devise their own methods of bypassing each layer, but the following are indicative solutions:

- The vegepygmies (who do not speak, but can communicate in other ways), Essofhor and Cymanthus each have immunities which can assist in bypassing layers. Each of the three wants another dead and are willing to drive a murderous bargain.
- Summon monster spells can summon creatures which have immunities or resistances to bypass layers. For example, fire beetles (summon monster I), are immune to the mind-affecting indigo layer.
- The characters may have spells to defeat certain layers, specifically magic missile, gust of wind, daylight and dispel magic. Other characters may have enough hit points to breach the red and orange layers.
- The vault contains magical treasures for those who can overcome the resident creatures. These magic items coincidently provide solutions to vexatious layers, such as a potion of resist energy, potion of delay poison, wand of magic missile, or a scroll of dimensional anchor.

As the characters are leaving, an advance squad of First Guards arrives in hot pursuit.

Encounter #1 – Elemental

An earth elemental ambushes the PCs using earth glide and shoves them down shafts.

Encounter #2 – Prismatic Sphere

Doresmo gives hints into the nature of the sphere and the Pathfinders use their resources to undo the trap.

Encounter #3 – Russet Mold

A gang of vegepygmies grown from Torch’s men who want Essofhor destroyed.

Encounter #4 – Essofhor

The extraplanar anhydrous agent wants the russet mold destroyed.

Encounter #5 – Cymanthus

Cymanthus is a skeletal champion wizard who wants Essofhor destroyed for a century of crass insults. He has a supply of spirits, which PCs can use to destroy the russet mold.

Encounter #6 – First Guards (optional)

A mixed-class group of guards intent on pursuit. The PCs can win this encounter by reaching the maze.

Conclusion

If the characters fail, the First Guard finds and summarily executes Ivtam, Doresmo and Naur.

If the characters succeed, the three escape and the Ruby Heart of Spite is added to the Pathfinder’s treasure vaults much to Ivtam’s chagrin.

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

To be honest, I can see one glaring problem right off the bat. The prismatic barrier is simply not an appropriate challenge for Tier 1-7 in any way, shape, or form. You suggest a number of methods to 'creatively' get around the problem, but they suffer from the singular problem that they don't work.

Prismatic barriers, both the Wall and Sphere forms, must be dealt with in order. You can't destroy an inner layer without dealing with the outer layers surrounding them. This means that you can't, as in your example, cast a Dispel Magic to destroy the Violet layer then toss an extremely high HP fighter through the other layers and hope he gets nat 20s on the required saves.

You also can't just hand out the scrolls needed through other encounters and expect that to solve everything, either. First of all, scrolls require a caster level check or UMD check to activate if you aren't high enough in level to cast the spell in question. The DC of the former to use a scroll of Disintegrate is going to be 12, the latter a whopping 31. And there are no retries.

Second, and more damning, is the way gear works in PFS means that by forcing the inclusion of a Disintegrate scroll, you are guaranteeing its' availability at inappropriately low levels in other scenarios, even if it's used here. Yes, one can argue that the PCs probably can't purchase it, and if they have the money for such a ludicrously expensive scroll saved up they deserve to have it, but Disintegrate is one of those spells that can cause unexpected headaches.

It wasn't a bad idea, but it's not really practical for PFS play.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Thanks for the feedback Chris I really appreciate it! You make some good points, but I’ll clarify some things:

Chris Kenney wrote:

To be honest, I can see one glaring problem right off the bat. The prismatic barrier is simply not an appropriate challenge for Tier 1-7 in any way, shape, or form. You suggest a number of methods to 'creatively' get around the problem, but they suffer from the singular problem that they don't work.

Prismatic barriers, both the Wall and Sphere forms, must be dealt with in order. You can't destroy an inner layer without dealing with the outer layers surrounding them. This means that you can't, as in your example, cast a Dispel Magic to destroy the Violet layer then toss an extremely high HP fighter through the other layers and hope he gets nat 20s on the required saves.

I did think of that one - the trap is designed to allow circumventing each layer one at a time:
”The Minotaur Imbroglio” wrote:
… the characters free [some guys] by individually circumventing each color via a series of switches. These switches reside within alcoves warded by a single layer of the corresponding color.
Chris Kenney wrote:
You also can't just hand out the scrolls needed through other encounters and expect that to solve everything, either. First of all, scrolls require a caster level check or UMD check to activate if you aren't high enough in level to cast the spell in question. The DC of the former to use a scroll of Disintegrate is going to be 12, the latter a whopping 31. And there are no retries.

The yellow layer was intended to be solved by negotiating with the vegepygmies who are immune to electrical damage. And poison for that matter (see green layer). Every other spell required is either 3rd level or under which should be OK for Tier 1-7. I get your point that no retries on UMD or spellcraft checks, especially for 1st level characters, may mean an undefeatable dead end.

Chris Kenney wrote:

Second, and more damning, is the way gear works in PFS means that by forcing the inclusion of a Disintegrate scroll, you are guaranteeing its' availability at inappropriately low levels in other scenarios, even if it's used here. Yes, one can argue that the PCs probably can't purchase it, and if they have the money for such a ludicrously expensive scroll saved up they deserve to have it, but Disintegrate is one of those spells that can cause unexpected headaches.

It wasn't a bad idea, but it's not really practical for PFS play.

Osirion ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dementrius,
I don't think one can invert a prismatic sphere. It doesn't mention this ability in the spell description. Besides, only the caster of the sphere can walk in and out, so it really wouldn't need to be inverted to prevent the prisoners from seeing or leaving.

I really liked most of the ideas, but I think the encounters need a little work. While the prismatic sphere concept is an interesting way to trap tomb robbers, it is a very powerful spell, and with the Spellcraft rules, it's a Spellcraft DC 29 to even legally know what it is and how to bypass it (Spell in Effect). Then, you are relying on some big leaps of faith on the part of the party and their ability to "think outside the box". I know that no one in my group would think of half of your solutions, possibly none of them. ie. TPK.

I really enjoy the idea of a salt mephit there to prevent water damage. This is a very interesting use of such a creature.

Overall, I do like this, but I'm not quite sure it screams Pathfinder, since I don't know of any adventures designed to "screw over your fellow Society members and make them look bad". That seems counter intuitive to normal Pathfinder rote.

Also, Chris Kenny makes some excellent points about the need of high level treasure to complete the task. I have a wizard in my game who would fight tooth and nail to not sacrifice a scroll of disintegration, arguing that it should be his to keep and buy later on.

Finally, executing PFS members seems harsh for a mission failure. While not unrealistic given your proposal, it is very dark. PFS doesn't strike me as dark.

Hope this helps.

Bill

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