Solstice Scar Update

Friday, February 23, 2018

At PaizoCon 2017, Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild launched a new form of multi-table interactive special (usually shortened to just “a Special”). In doing so, we changed up two big assumptions from past Specials. First, other Specials traditionally kicked off a new season and included integral plot developments that really incentivized playing that Special as soon as possible. Second, those Specials were each built to be self-contained, to portray snapshot events that never evolved, and needed to be built from the ground up each time. As we explored new ways to provide Specials to more conventions—particularly to those taking place between January and May, by which point many people have already played the big Special that debuted at Gen Con the previous year—we developed Pathfinder Society Special #8–99: The Solstice Scar, a modular Special comprised of numerous 90-minute-long parts that can be swapped out over time to tell an evolving story.

How does “The Solstice Scar” work?

The Solstice Scar consists of three 90-minute chapters, called parts, and each time we swap out an older part and add a newer one, we release a new version of the adventure. At PaizoCon 2017, we released Version A (aka #8–99A), which consisted of Parts 1, 2, and 3. About a month ago we sent out Version B, which consists of Parts 1, 3, and 4. Each new version's repeats that process, removing one older part and adding on a new part. That means that if you play all versions of The Solstice Scar, you'll experience some parts several times while also experiencing new content.

“Season Agnostic”: One of the key design goals was to create a story that could stand on its own. The Solstice Scar does not interact directly with any of the season storylines, instead telling its own epic narrative.

Replay: Playing The Solstice Scar multiple times does suggest that someone can play it multiple times, right? That's right, specifically each version of this Special is considered a separate adventure for the purpose of reporting. That means you can earn credit once as a player and as a GM each time we release a new version. What's more, that also means that the same character can play and earn credit for each version; there's even a boon with a niche cumulative award.

Restrictions: This Special is playable in any venue that can field the minimum 3 tables. That makes it an excellent fit for everything from large conventions to smaller local events.

Retirement: Each version of The Solstice Scar is only playable for a limited time (approximately 6 months). Once a new version of the adventure's released to the public, the previous version is retired from play. There is a possibility that we'll release a combined 6-part version after Part D is out in the wild for a while.

Exclusivity Windows: Each version has approximately a 6-month life cycle. When a new version is first ready, it's available only to spotlight events for a window of about 1–2 months; you won't be able to buy it during this time, and during this period, people can play both that version and the previous version. After that, the new version's available to the public and playable for another 4–5 months. I've provided more exact dates in the Timeline section below.

Access: If your event would benefit from running The Solstice Scar, particularly during the summer exclusivity window for Version C and the January exclusivity window for Version D, contact your Regional Venture Coordinator.

Authors: This modular structure also allows us to bring in several authors over the course of the storyline. Andrew Hoskins wrote Parts 1–4 when we first outlined the story, and Kalervo Oikarinen is concluding the narrative with Parts 5 and 6.

Versions: There are four versions of The Solstice Scar scheduled.

  • Version A (Parts 1, 2, and 3)
  • Version B (Parts 1, 3, and 4)
  • Version C (Parts 3, 4, and 5)
  • Version D (Parts 4, 5, and 6)

Timeline

Here's how the dates break down for The Solstice Scar. The exclusivity window for Version D includes some approximate dates that we'll be locking in over time.

May 28, 2017: Version A launched at PaizoCon, beginning the exclusivity window.

August 4, 2017: Version A featured at Gen Con, after which the exclusivity window ended. The Special became available for any qualifying events.

January 12, 2018: Version B features at numerous conventions worldwide, beginning the exclusivity window. During this time, Version A is still playable at all venues.

February 21, 2018: The exclusivity window for Version B ends. Version A is retired.

May 27, 2018: Version C launches at PaizoCon, beginning its exclusivity window. During this time, Version B is still playable at all venues.

August 6, 2018: Version C features at Gen Con, after which the exclusivity window ends. Version B is retired.

January XXXX, 2019: Version D features at numerous conventions worldwide, beginning the exclusivity window. During this time, Version C is still playable at all venues.

February XXXX, 2019: The exclusivity window for Version D ends. Version C is retired.

Feedback

The Solstice Scar is a neat experiment that's worked out fairly well so far, and we're always open to feedback on how we can adapt the model to continue providing great multi-table experiences. Let us know what you'd like to see and where the Society should go for its next big story.

John Compton
Organized Play Lead Developer

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Tags: Conventions Organized Play Pathfinder Society Pathfinder Society Scenarios
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Dark Archive ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tusk the Half-Orc wrote:
My family and I played A at Gen Con last year and had a blast (partly due to our fantastic GM, who had traveled from Australia for the con). We’ve all missed B, but I just got us tickets for C at this year’s Gen Con. If we didn’t play the second part, is there enough new material to be worth it?

2 out of 3 sections should be new. If that's enough new material for you, then yes. I've played and run A, will likely be running B in July, and running C at GenCon, so guess I'll see them all once D comes out...

Sovereign Court **** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

Tusk the Half-Orc wrote:
My family and I played A at Gen Con last year and had a blast (partly due to our fantastic GM, who had traveled from Australia for the con). We’ve all missed B, but I just got us tickets for C at this year’s Gen Con. If we didn’t play the second part, is there enough new material to be worth it?

If you want Part B, we will be running it at Momocon in Atlanta at the end of the month.

The Exchange *

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I like the story so far, I've ran A twice, B once and will run C at GenCon this year. Looking forward to seeing how it all ends!

Liberty's Edge ** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Majuba wrote:
GM Wageslave wrote:
What is the status on C?

It's scheduled to premiere at PaizoCon on Sunday, May 26th at 7pm.

I'm presuming that Part A will be unretired when Part D's exclusivity ends. No?

I don't see that happening. But I have not seen any word about Part A being "unretired".

*****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sort of hope it is, Part A + Part D would make an awesome con event.

Dark Archive *****

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Shifty wrote:
Sort of hope it is, Part A + Part D would make an awesome con event.

I agree as that would return the orc section which was my fave of the bunch.

Dark Archive *

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It was being an HQ Volunteer at GenCon and seeing all the different tables and how they were handling the 'orc section' that renewed my 'GMing itch'.

Liberty's Edge ** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Orc section is part b.

Dark Archive *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gary Bush wrote:
Orc section is part b.

Not in the version B I played.

Scarab Sages *****

jon dehning wrote:
Gary Bush wrote:
Orc section is part b.
Not in the version B I played.

I think he meant its act 2 that was removed for Part B.

**

Playing Part B today, and having to negotiate with the Kellids, knowing exactly what their goals are, the correct answers and the impending combat puts a real damper on the opening of the scenario...

The beauty of replayables like 'Beyond the Halflight Path' is they always have new motivation and purpose. Given we just played version A 6 months ago, it's quite demoralizing to have to redo something exactly.

Please consider roleplayers in your Special design - to devote 8 hours to the flagship scenario and have this negative experience at the start is a real pain. Having said that, Version A was fantastic when played the first time!

**** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Southcoast aka JDDyslexia

Curiosity: any idea on when we can expect more concrete dates for D's release and C's retirement?

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Canada—Manitoba—Brandon aka kevin_video

Joe Bouchard wrote:
Curiosity: any idea on when we can expect more concrete dates for D's release and C's retirement?

I swear I read Part C ended in February/March and D continued on from there.

*****

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

From the Blog:
Access: If your event would benefit from running The Solstice Scar, particularly during the summer exclusivity window for Version C and the January exclusivity window for Version D, contact your Regional Venture Coordinator.

Sovereign Court **** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

Question, the above blog states:

Quote:
After that, the new version's available to the public and playable for another 4–5 months.

This implies it will be available for purchase, but neither A, B, nor C are available for purchase. Am I misinterpreting?

Also, since the exclusivity window ended, should these parts be going to Venture Officers automatically?

Scarab Sages ****

My understanding is that they are still locked behind the approval process. I’ve been unsure whether VOs have access to them, but since you’re asking, I’m guessing that’s a no. I know that’s been an issue with getting GMs online, since the pdf can’t be emailed. Locally if anyone had the scenario, you could hand out printouts for use at the event and collect them afterward. I, similarly, am not sure why something that can be run anywhere and anytime (with enough tables) needs to be stuck behind the approval bottleneck. It just seems like extra work for the RVCs/campaign staff, and it definitely creates uncertainty around scheduling the special.

Paizo Employee ***** Organized Play Manager

Part C is not locked behind an approval process, ie no RVC/OPM permission needed, so they can be scheduled anywhere.

They are not currently part of the VO download, given the availability/retirement method.

Part D is exclusive from release (mid-January) through Feb. From March onward, it is available with no RVC/OPM approval. Part C retires in March.

We've talked about packaging all parts in one scenario that would run over 1.5 hours. Good for conventions that want a full morning block, a lunch break, and then a 6-ish hour session. Still tbd on the final details.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Tonya Woldridge wrote:
We've talked about packaging all parts in one scenario that would run over 1.5 hours. Good for conventions that want a full morning block, a lunch break, and then a 6-ish hour session.

Is that supposed to read “1.5 blocks?”

Did you mean four hours followed by another six (10 hours total) or four hours followed by another two (6 hours total)?

Scarab Sages ****

Tonya Woldridge wrote:

Part C is not locked behind an approval process, ie no RVC/OPM permission needed, so they can be scheduled anywhere.

They are not currently part of the VO download, given the availability/retirement method.

Part D is exclusive from release (mid-January) through Feb. From March onward, it is available with no RVC/OPM approval. Part C retires in March.

We've talked about packaging all parts in one scenario that would run over 1.5 hours. Good for conventions that want a full morning block, a lunch break, and then a 6-ish hour session. Still tbd on the final details.

Tonya,

Approval was the wrong choice of words. The scenarios have to be placed in the GMs downloads. The process to request that is very similar to the approval process (email your RVC). That has a turnaround time. If we were able to organize a local game for next weekend, our chances of getting the scenario in the next couple of days so GMs have time to prep it are virtually zero. That has actively caused issues with scheduling the special, particularly online where a paper copy can’t be shared. While it’s advertised as being able to be run anytime by anyone anywhere, provided there are enough tables, the process to actually get the scenario means that is not the reality of the situation. The reality is that you need “approval” in the form of having the scenario added to your downloads. Whether or not that approval is guaranteed doesn’t really matter. It’s the delay the process causes that’s the issue.

Sovereign Court **** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

Tonya Woldridge wrote:

Part C is not locked behind an approval process, ie no RVC/OPM permission needed, so they can be scheduled anywhere.

They are not currently part of the VO download, given the availability/retirement method.

Part D is exclusive from release (mid-January) through Feb. From March onward, it is available with no RVC/OPM approval. Part C retires in March.

We've talked about packaging all parts in one scenario that would run over 1.5 hours. Good for conventions that want a full morning block, a lunch break, and then a 6-ish hour session. Still tbd on the final details.

Excited about the possibility of a complete run.

I just wish we could purchase it or otherwise obtain it somehow, without requiring your intervention.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ferious Thune wrote:
email your RVC

Why email the RVC? It doesn’t require our approval to run and we don’t have access to drop scenarios. It would seem to me it would be more direct to just complete the GM request form for all the GMs and send it to Tonya.

I think the reason it is not auto-dropped or simply made available for purchase is because it is a special even when it’s past the restricted window and therefore treated the same as other specials. The only difference is that it doesn’t require approval per say, just a manual request for it to be dropped into accounts.

It is interesting to note something that most have not thought about in that the entirety of 8-99 is free. The only way to get it is by request for an event and AFAIK, that only occurs with a free add to your account. That means the author/s were paid as well as countless developer, editing, art, layout, etc. hours were spent to produce s product that will, in its current format, never generate any income whatsoever. That may not be germaine to the access issue, but it is something to consider when dealing with specials, particularly 8-99.

Scarab Sages ****

I thought the whole point of the RVC/VO structure was so that we aren’t all emailing Tonya directly? So for me, the process would be email my VL, who would then email the RVC (because we don’t have a VC). EDIT: email the request form, that is.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

For the two restricted specials (1-99, 10-00) you have to obtain permission from the RVC to offer them so we can make sure the organizers in the area are talking to each other and not trying to poach players/GMs from other events. However, at the end of the day, the request still has to be submitted following the event support process because only Paizo staff have access to drop scenarios into download accounts.

My advice would be to contact your RVC and see how they want to handle this situation. Technically speaking, 8-99C does not require approval to run, but your RVC may want to know whenever it is being offered to avoid any conflicts as described above.

Scarab Sages ****

There should be no concern about poaching players anymore than any other scenario, because it’s not supposed to.be restricted. VOs having access to the unrestricted versions of the scenario so that they can distribute printouts like they often do for any other scenario should not be an issue.

We managed to run part B organizing it fairly last minute, only because someone had access to the scenario already from traveling to a con outside the area. We’ve requested part C for our con next month. Hopefully support will arrive in time for GMs to prep it.

An example of where this became an issue online was when the event was scheduled, players all signed up and ready to go, GMs who already had the scenario ready to go, and on the morning of the event one of the GMs had internet issues. A backup GM had to be found last minute, and the pool of possible GMs was much smaller, because online can’t email the pdf out. So it had to be a GM who already had the scenario and was available at the time it was scheduled on short notice. Thankfully someone was found, but for a couple of hours it looked like the entire event was going to be canceled on what was basically the last day that it could be practically run before it was retired. That’s not a good situation.

Tonya’s not always going to be able to accommodate short notice requests, nor should she have to. That is the point. Locking the scenario behind manual intervention from Paizo is counter to the spirit of making it available to run anywhere. I’m not saying it should be made a free download. But at least allowing VOs access to the older parts (edit: the current unrestricted part) would greatly improve the flexibility in scheduling it. As is, i don’t see how anyone can commit to a date to run it not knowing if they’ll have the scenario in time for GMs to prep it, unless they’re scheduling it months out. Which is harder to get players to confirm for.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

I can only guess you had a bad experience with this in the past. There are always challenges to overcome, some routine, some unexpected, but generally speaking 8-99 has not been anymore or less challenging to schedule for us than any other material. I understand the desire for 8-99 to be open and available, but Paizo has taken a position against that. My best advice is to discuss it with your RVC to determine the best course of action for your needs. It should be as simple as submitting a GM support request form in advance of your event. Whether you send it to the RVC (who will forward it to Tonya) or directly to her is matter of regional preference, but either way, you should get access to the material for everyone who needs it with time to prepare.

Scarab Sages ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It is what it is at this point. There's limited time remaining where it will even matter. I do hope that Paizo take this aspect into account in the future, as I firmly believe that the special would have been run many, many more times had the unnecessary bottleneck of manual intervention not been there. Every attempt that I have seen online and in person to run this outside of a convention has been a scramble to find people who already have the scenarios. It's not a big enough thing that a small area can plan for far enough in advance to get the special in time to run it. If it's available to run outside of conventions, it should not be locked behind a single person's availability to distribute the scenario. That is impractical and counter to making the scenario accessible, and I can't imagine why Tonya would even want to have to deal with it directly.

I've said it elsewhere, and I know others have, too. Outside of a convention, where you have a good idea how many people might attend and can isolate a special in a particular slot, it is extremely difficult for a local lodge to schedule anything more that a few weeks in advance with any certainty of how many people will show up. I would not even attempt to schedule something that requires 3 tables in my area without having the scenario in hand first. Once we did have part B, when it was open, we were able to schedule it two weeks later (just in time before it retired). A random three table game day is never going to be a priority for people with as busy of schedules as the PFS Campaign staff have.

Can we request it without a date attached? Can I submit something that says "these are our tentative GMs. We'll schedule the date once the scenario shows up?" The current process doesn't appear to allow for that, but if there's going to be a manual step involved, that's really the only way that it's going to ever work in a broad way.

Your region may be running efficiently and not seeing delays in things like scenario support. My experience online and across my region for the last year has been that scenario support can't be counted on to arrive in time to be useful, even for conventions. We've rarely had things arrive more than a week before the convention, usually they are around 2 days before the con, and there have been instances where boons and gift certificates arrived, but scenarios never did. I'm aware of at least one convention that didn't even bother to request scenario support, because it had not been there in a useful manner at other recent cons. I have not volunteered for the last two online cons, because of this and the "complete chronicle" issue, so I don't know if there was a better experience for TPKon and the upcoming Aethercon. I'm hopeful that Tonya's reevaluation of her travel schedule and commitments that was mentioned in relation to a different issue will improve things overall. I don't think I will ever understand introducing more unnecessary tasks such as this. This and other issues are absolutely affecting the player base and resulting in less activity overall, not just in relation to this special. The focus appears to be on correcting everything for Pathfinder 2, which is great. I'm doubtful we'll have any significant number of players left in our area by then. Our core is down to a point where one or two players missing a week means we may have to cancel. The ones who do show are longtime players who are somewhat disenfranchised by the move to PF2. The next closest city is doing better, but we still only pulled off part B by combining the player bases and asking people to travel an hour+ for the game.

I apologize if this email comes across as overly frustrated. There have just been a lot of frustrating issues. I'm not even a VO, and I feel like keeping PFS going has become a job. If I don't show up for a game, the whole group might have to cancel. I still have fun, and I think the scenarios have been excellent. I play more online than in person, though, because of the slowdown locally. And I honestly don't know what's going to happen in the area when we get closer to 2.0's release. I'm not even sure we're going to be able to maintain what we've got until then. Added headaches in the form of unnecessary processes don't help.

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