I have to applaud Katherine Cross for her ambition with this scenario. It's rare for an RPG to invite philosophical speculation. The best we usually get is paladin-torturing moral dilemmas, and she's given us postmodern epistemology. I think. Unfortunately, I can't work out a coherent reading of her critique. Neither can I figure out what it is that either cult, or their goddess, believes. This wouldn't be a problem, except that the core of the scenario consists in asking the players to engage with those beliefs. This is particularly problematic in the case of the White Feathers. The players are asked to reflect on the contrast between the two cults, but we aren't given enough to go on. Perhaps there's more in the Qadira sourcebook? It needed to be in the scenario.
The confusion is not helped by the scenario's prose, which is florid to the point of incomprehensibility. It's difficult to parse, and sounds awful read aloud. And, please, if you're going to bring out obscure vocabulary, make sure that you're using it correctly. "Melismatic," for example, does not mean what you think it means.
The combats felt like an afterthought, chucked in as a sop to players who live to roll dice and kill things. I get it, it's a roleplaying scenario, and that's ok, but at least strive to make the combats interesting.
Nevertheless, I like where this scenario was going. I look forward to seeing more by this author, with clearer ideas and cleaner prose.
So much to love about this scenario: the setting is invitingly weird, the NPCs are memorable, lots of nifty roleplay. From a roleplay standpoint, I particularly enjoyed having the PCs take on the roles of historical characters. The wayang kulit at the end is a great touch.
Unfortunately, the scenario is marred by the inclusion of the verbal duel rules. I have to wonder what the motivation was for using them here. I'm not saying the mechanic is bad--it might work well in a different context--but this is definitely not the place for it. It's a very heavyweight solution to a lightweight problem. It bogs down the game. Worse, it perversely penalizes characters who should be good at the challenge, making them less likely to succeed.
Mechanics aside, the scenario doesn't really provide the details necessary to run the associated encounter: The PCs are required to reenact (improvisationally) a historical argument. Unfortunately, we are given very little idea as to what the original argument was even about. It's not impossible to come up with a plausible guess, but it would have been nice to have it spelled out.
Played this one today with a party of very silly Pathfinders, which felt like the perfect approach to the scenario. There was a lot of scope to find creative, satisfying, and, yes, silly solutions to the various morally-dubious tasks we faced. I love the wide variety of NPCs we got a chance to chat with, and the opportunity for hijinks in the final section was priceless. Nobody crashes a party like the Pathfinder Society!