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RPG Superstar 9 Season Dedicated Voter. FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Venture-Captain, Georgia—Savannah 263 posts (265 including aliases). 41 reviews. 13 lists. 1 wishlist. 39 Organized Play characters.



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All Multitable Specials Should Be Structured This Way

****( )

GM'd this on Tier 1-2. Prepped for all Tiers except 3-4. If I could give this 4.5 stars, I would have.

This was the best multitable special I've ever run. In PFS, the multitables have gotten more bloated and time-crunched every year, so I was afraid the first SFS multitable would be the same. Boy was I wrong! The organic flow of Parts 1-3 allowed each table to go at their own (brisk) pace, without the constant frustration of other tables cutting encounters short for the entire house. There was even a way that if an encounter was resolved while your table was working on it, your table could 'gift' your success to another task. This allowed every table to make meaningful contributions to the overall House successes, despite differing degrees of table optimization. I can only hope PFS takes this structure to heart moving forward. This was the first time in years that I haven't been frustrated with the frantic pace set by other, more optimized tables. Bravo, Paizo! You done good!!

The Good:
The player handout allowed each table to choose the missions the table was best suited to handle, while avoiding missions that the PCs were unlikely to be able to complete.
Incidentally, this meant that the table was able to either seek out starship combat or avoid it completely, according to the table's preference. The paired nature of each mission (Recon in Part 2 and Evac in Part 3) added some nice flow between Parts 2 and 3, allowing the PCs to either continue to work on missions they had begun, or switch to different rescue missions. Completing both of the 'paired' missions also increased player understanding of what was happening, which kept the often-chaotic atmosphere of multitable play to a minimum.

The Meh?:
The table I ran made a clear choice to avoid starship combat, so I can't address those parts of the scenario.
The only other 'meh' moment was during one of the Recon missions- the PCs were exploring several locations in a fully automated megacity. The 'meh' part was that several of the listed locations the {PCs were encouraged to explore contained absolutely *nothing* of value! No information, no clues, no encounters, no loot.
Just... explore this area, make a couple of Perception checks, (correctly) conclude there's nothing of interest here, and move on.
It was very strange, rather dull, and felt like a waste of time- a huge 'no-no' for a multitable, where time is a precious commodity.
But oh well.

The Bad:
As I mentioned above, my table opted out of Starship combat, so I can't address that. The only thing that I can really call a 'Bad' was the chase in one of the missions. I've been running (and playing) PFS chases for years. I GM'ed an SFS scenario earlier in the season that contained a chase on 4 separate occasions. I'm familiar with chases and they don't give me any trouble. Except this one. This might have been the most poorly-worded chase I've ever seen. Even using the (very helpful) handout which can be found in the GM Shared Prep folder for this *specific chase* didn't improve matters. Even with all the players working together to try and make sense of that chase, we got nowhere. GMs, if you possibly can, steer your table away from that one mission! Without that miserable chase, this would have been a 5-star review.


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Another Awesome Issue

*****

As a disclaimer, I contributed to this issue.

Wayfinder is always amazing, and this theme was both amazing and timely. Well worth a look.

Also, Gerbie Corruption is terrifying. Really. Twilight Zone at its best levels of terrifying.


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Creepy and Useful

*****

I was surprised to purchase 2 Maze of Death blind boxes and receive 2 pieces of 'set dressing', which I understand are rather rare. The individual bits of set dressing vary wildly in their usefulness, but this one will see a good bit of use.

The image is accurate, if one-sided. The other side has the same wall and door (obviously) but omits the 2 skulls shown in the picture, effectively giving you 2 doors in one. A very nice touch!

One small issue, not with the mini, but with the product page. It lists the base as 'medium'. Not only is there no base at all in the usual sense (you can see that in the picture), but there is no way this mini can be considered 'medium', despite its inclusion as 1 of the 3 small/medium pieces in the blind box. The mini takes up 2 squares worth of battle map, though due to the flat nature of it, it doesn't take the usual 4 squares of a large figure.


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Unexpectedly Lovely

*****

I'm still not 100% on board with the inclusion of 'set dressing' in blind boxes, but this one is extremely well-done.
The water in the fountain is translucent, as expected, but it appears to be moving, with actual currents in the water! A very impressive little detail.

I might have liked to have had water spilling from the upper levels of the fountain to the lower, but that would probably have blurred the detail.

I've never really needed a fountain mini, and I never really expect to. But this was a delightful surprise from a blind box!


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Amazing Start To Season 9! Murderhobos Need Not Apply

*****

I GM-ed this for an... interesting party mix on low tier. The group consisted of a Spiritualist, 2 Paladins (Ranginori and Abadar), an Inquisitor, Gunslinger, a Pregen Witch, and a Pregen Bloodrager. I warned my players in advance that this was a high-RP, high-skill-use scenario, with some combat. I think that helped people decide which PCs to play as well as set expectations.

This was an amazing beginning for Season 9, and I hope the Season continues to be this amazing throughout! That being said, this scenario will not be everyone's cup of tea (as other reviews have made clear.)

The Good:
* The chance for the PCs to engage in a glorified LARP/puppet show was amusing. The PCs got to describe how they perform, and their skills can make this anything from grand theater to painful farce.
In our game, the Paladin of Ranginori ended up playing Sarenrae while everyone else piled into Rovagug. No one had Knowledge: Religion, so the Paladin was trying to vaguely work Sarenrae dogma into her performance while being 'corrected' from inside the puppet- it was hilarious! And yet, they still did well!

* There were several ways the PCs could go about impressing the NPCs, as well as several ways they could gather the needed information. Everyone got a chance to do what they do best and make useful contributions to the group.

* This was a reasonable introduction to the Clout subsystem, and while I'm not sure that it was really necessary, it made sense and didn't detract from the experience.

* Most of the combats could be easily avoided or shortened, which was all to the good since this scenario really wasn't about the combat. To be honest, I suspect that the one totally unavoidable fight (the lizard) was thrown in just to give combat-lovers something to do, but that's ok. (I suspect that some people would find the avoidable nature of the combats a bad thing, but I really appreciated it, as did my players- it let us get on with the RP.)

* I loved how this scenario included actual discussions of religious dogma and deep philosophical principles. It was even better that the chosen subjects (Rodira and the White Feather) weren't ones that have had much if any development by Paizo, so the players weren't penalized for lack of setting knowledge. Everybody was on an even footing when it came to prior knowledge of the topics at hand.
This is a scenario where what you get out of it depends on what you put in, so if a player doesn't understand or enjoy these kinds of discussions, they might lose interest. However, our entire party embraced the opportunity and had a blast with it, debating among themselves and with the NPCs. In fact, after the visions, the Paladin of Ranginori immediately began trying to convert the NPC Roidirans to worshiping the Duke of Thunder instead.

* This is one of the first times that Spiritualists really get a chance to shine, rather than simply having their Phantom fight while the Spiritualist casts. Having a Spiritualist in the party makes the scenario even more enjoyable, whether they take the opportunity offered or not. (I ended up making a Spiritualist to apply this GM credit to, just because this was such an amazing moment in the campaign.)

* The boons on the chronicle sheet were amazing, and I love that PCs can choose one of two item slots for the sash to occupy. I wish there were more items like that.

The Bad:
* Two of the maps were drawn on the #$%^ing diagonal! Bad cartographer! Naughty! I printed these maps out in black & white, then colored them, as they were very large and too expensive to print in color.

* Different developers have worked on Qadira over the years, with the result that changes have been made to fairly basic things, like geography. Players questioned the sudden presence of a jungle in the desert, but it was all in good fun.

* If you really like combat, this isn't the scenario for you. While there are several opportunities for combat, most of them can be easily avoided, and the combats are all fairly tame. I don't consider this a bad thing at all, but players with a murderhobo mindset will probably be disappointed.

* While there's nothing problematic on the surface of this scenario, it is NOT family friendly. Most children will not understand the themes being discussed, and awkward conversations could easily result. As a GM, I would not have been comfortable having a child at the table, unless it had a parent present to step in as needed.

A suggestion for GMs prepping this:
Consider printing the visions out separately, then handing a vision card to each player as their PC drinks. This way, there's a better RP opportunity since the other players get to hear the visions for the first times as each PC explains their vision to the priestess in the conclusion. Simply reading the visions aloud to the players makes them more likely to skip the RP and just say "Yeah, we tell her what we saw".

All the players enjoyed this scenario, and several said that it was one of their favorite scenarios, and the best time they'd had in a long time.

Season 9 is off to a great start!!!


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Profoundly awesome

*****

Played this low-tier at GenCon 2017 with a skilled, experienced GM (which makes all the difference!)

The Good
*The combats were tough but interesting, and went fairly quickly- no slogfests here!
*The RP opportunities were excellent, without becoming a time sink.
*The threats seemed very real, with immanent danger of PC death- or worse! This was threat with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. I don't enjoy brutality for brutality's sake, and there was none of that here. Bravo!
*This scenario offered actual moral considerations for the PCs, and not just of the 'good vs evil' variety. My Cleric actually had to take time to think very carefully about what her Deity would expect from her at several key points- something that doesn't happen often in PFS.

The Bad
*This was (understandably) tied closely into Season 8, so if your Seeker dates from anytime earlier in the campaign, your PC will not have had much if any prior contact with the metaplot, which would be disappointing. Happily, I didn't have that issue, having completed Eyes less than a month before. Playing Season 8 material with other PCs still allows the player to enjoy the metaplot, on a one-level-removed basis.
*Time. As I said, we had an experienced GM with good time management skills, so we were able to have a good experience in a tightly timed convention time slot. This scenario could have easily run 6 hours or longer. In another environment where time limits are more flexible, I wouldn't rate this as a 'bad' thing- but it's something to keep in mind.

All in all, this was one of the best PFS experiences I have ever had! Please make more!


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Good quality

*****

I ordered all of the pins, and they're all wonderful. These are relatively heavy, so I'm glad that some of them actually have 2 posts instead of only one. The pin backs are strong, and I've never even come close to losing one!


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Good quality

*****

I ordered all of the pins, and they're all wonderful. These are relatively heavy, so I'm glad that some of them actually have 2 posts instead of only one. The pin backs are strong, and I've never even come close to losing one!


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Good quality

*****

I ordered all of the pins, and they're all wonderful. These are relatively heavy, so I'm glad that some of them actually have 2 posts instead of only one. The pin backs are strong, and I've never even come close to losing one!

Note: The pin I received's colors are all fine, with no damage.


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Good quality

*****

I ordered all of the pins, and they're all wonderful. These are relatively heavy, so I'm glad that some of them actually have 2 posts instead of only one. The pin backs are strong, and I've never even come close to losing one!


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Good quality

*****

I ordered all of the pins, and they're all wonderful. These are relatively heavy, so I'm glad that some of them actually have 2 posts instead of only one. The pin backs are strong, and I've never even come close to losing one!


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Good quality

*****

I ordered all of the pins, and they're all wonderful. These are relatively heavy, so I'm glad that some of them actually have 2 posts instead of only one. The pin backs are strong, and I've never even come close to losing one!


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Good quality

*****

I ordered all of the pins, and they're all wonderful. These are relatively heavy, so I'm glad that some of them actually have 2 posts instead of only one. The pin backs are strong, and I've never even come close to losing one!


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Glub?

*****

Glub!


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Short & Sweet, with good hints

*****

I can't wait to start running this!

The Good:
*This players guide does a good job of setting expectations for both players and GMs.
*It presents the major hurdle to player buy-in

Spoiler:
the fugue state the PCs begin the AP in.
right away, and does a lot to reassure players concerned about it.
*It makes useful suggestions about races, classes, archetypes, etc which are most appropriate, as well as giving ample warning against inappropriate choices.
*This guide offers just enough information to get the players hooked without over-sharing.

The Bad(?)
*Any way you slice it, this AP will intrude on the Golden Box of player agency. Players and GM will have to work together much more closely to tell a good story.
*Some of the Campaign Traits are unusually powerful, and may even diminish, rather than heighten the PC's feelings of dread and paranoia.
*While Horror Adventures gets a few well-deserved references to new mechanics, this guide should have come right out and assumed the use of HA's expended fear rules, as well as the sanity mechanics. A brief discussion of the expanded levels of fear from a player's perspective would have been appreciated as well. If nothing else, a link to those mechanics in the PRD would have helped.

The Interesting:
*It has been noted that the 'hook' that begins the first book makes PC motivations vague and party cohesion much more difficult. After all, since PCs can come from anywhere and have been doing anything before the Bad Thing happened, there's nothing to tie them together as a group, right? While that can be true, I view this as a feature rather than a bug. Yes, RPGs are intended to be 'team' activities, but in this case, the implication that your partymates may not be completely trustworthy adds to the dramatic tension rather than detracting from it. Even as the 'hook' is resolved and PCs learn more about what's going on, the idea that "this problem is bigger than our potential interpersonal issues" gives the PCs reason to stick together, even though their various origin stories may suggest otherwise.

*This being a horror campaign, a reference to the Walking Dead seems applicable:

not really a spoiler:
you may not *like* everyone in your group, you may not *trust* everyone in your group. But they're still part of your group. Until they aren't?


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Awesome Mini, Awful Assembly

***( )( )

This sculpt and painting on this dragon are clearly 5-Star amazing. Great pose, great colors, great details. I love the runes on her belly! If this was the end of the review, it would be a 5-star review.

Nowhere on the packaging or product page (that I've been able to find) does it say 'some assembly required'. It should. Considering the difficulty I've had with other mini assembly projects, I would have reconsidered buying it. There are also no assembly instructions included. (Yes, which piece goes where is obvious, but is glue recommended? Required? What kind? Does it need to be pinned? Trimmed? No warning coupled with no instructions cost it a star.

But then it's so #$%$#&# DIFFICULT to assemble! I've paused after approximately 45 minutes of trying to assemble it without breaking it. Definitely costs another star.

Like I said, beautiful mini. Horrible execution. I Will not be buying any more large minis if I can't see for myself that they come pre-assembled.


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Not your usual baddie

****( )

She's just 'generic' enough to see a lot of use, while being just interesting enough to have players sit up and take notice. Minis that aren't obvious martial-types or casters lend an air of mystery to the situation- without being able to immediately identify her role in the situation, the PCs must proceed with caution.

Her paint job is good, her pose intriguing. She's sensuous without being slutty.


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A wonderful change of pace!

****( )

This came so very very close to being a 5-star review. If I could give it 4.5 stars, I would.

I've now played this high tier, and GM'd it low tier.

The Good:

*This scenario reminds me a little of Bid For Alabstrine and Library of the Lion (which I very much enjoyed).
*It requires a different mindset from both players and characters, and depends on unusual skills as well as non-combat encounters.
*The extended time period involved (PCs may will be at this for at least a week, and potentially much longer) gives unusual opportunity for roleplay and the development of inter-party bonds.
*This was one of the first times that one of my PCs really felt like a real Pathfinder, rather than a graverobbing murderhobo.
*While GM-ing- I got to yell a lot. I like yelling.

When I played this, I was warned to bring a PC who could use skills and do things other than combat, and I took that into account. I offered the same warning when I GM'd it.

The Bad:

*I fully support requiring unusual skills; but in this case, most of the skill checks required 1 of 2 skills. The problem? Both of those skills are 'Trained Only' (Knowledge: Planes and Profession: Soldier). In the 1-2 subtier, the likelihood that many (or any!) PCs will have dropped precious precious skill ranks into either is rather low. When I played, we got lucky. I had Prof: Soldier, and several of us had Know: Planes. When I GM'ed it, no one had Soldier, and only 2 PCs had Know: Planes, leaving the others floundering. It would have been better if, instead of 2 trained skills at identical DCs, the PCs had the options of making a trained skill check at a comparatively low DC, or an untrained check at a higher DC.

*The mission briefing was very clear as to what was expected of the PCs: join the army, prove that you can be good soldiers, and prove what strong allies the Pathfinder Society can be. The problem is that doing what they're told means that they may not draw the kind of suspicious, paranoid conclusions when presented with challenges that the scenario expects. When I played it, the party decided to investigate the Captain, and gathered a bunch of evidence against her. When I GM'd it, the PCs simply accepted the Captain's abuse. (2 of players were current or former enlisted military, which may have colored their perception of the events- far from being angry that the Captain was out to get them, they chalked it up to "Yep, that's how Basic Training works". Because of that, they never made any effort to gather any kind of evidence against the Captain!

I'm fine with misdirection and layers of intrigue, and I think that PCs should fail from time to time. But in this case, it seems like they were set up to fail- not by Captain Othis, but by the expectations of the development staff. In short, the Master of Spells told them to 'go be good soldiers', but the writer apparently expected them to actually 'go be suspicious pathfinders' instead. If the PCs actually do what they are told, and accept Othis's abuse in the name of proving their worth, they are rendered fundamentally incapable of gathering the success points needed to earn any reward at all.

The Meh:

Although we're told that this is about the Plane of Earth, there really isn't anything especially 'extraplanar' about it. If not for all the Oreads, Shaitans, and elemental critters around, this scenario could have been set in the Darklands just as easily as the Plane of Earth. Not a big deal, but a giant cavern in the bowels of Golarion is pretty much identical to a giant cavern on the Elemental Plane of Earth. In fact, after playing it, I wondered if maybe the scenario wasn't written with the Darklands in mind, then adapted to fit the elemental themes of Season 8. That isn't a mark against the scenario itself- it's a lot of fun! It just doesn't present the elemental theme the adventure blurb implies.

I look forward to further scenarios by Jenny Jarzabski!


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Simple, less detail = more versatile

*****

As others have said, its simple, lacking much detail.

But I say that's a feature, not a bug. It's in attack mode, and the lack of detail allows it to stand in for all sorts of other simple, semi-shapeless things. Like giant leeches. Or snakes. Or other kinds of oozes.

Maybe it would be more exciting in a translucent plastic, but I wouldn't be able to use it nearly so often.

I <3 this mini, simplicity and all!


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Highly enjoyable!

*****

I've never played this, but have GM'ed it. The party consisted of 4 PCs, lvls 4-5. 2 martial-types, a knowledgeable sneaky type, and an arcane caster. 2 experienced players, 2 moderately experienced players.

A detailed breakdown:

Story: 5/5:
Mauler contained adult themes and handled them with style and sensitivity. There was a gothic appeal suitable to Ustalav, without overplaying it.

RP: 5/5:
Several flavorful NPCs made this enjoyable while encouraging PCs to RP in (perhaps) unexpected ways. The PCs talking poetry with an arrogant noble after outraging his so-superior butler was amusing on so many levels.

Combat: 5/5:
The combats were varied, played to several different combat styles, and encouraged creative thinking. The sewer terrain made that combat interesting, the plants encouraged PC creativity, and the potential for non-violent resolution of the boss fight was a solid twist.

Special Mechanics: 5/5:
There are two things worth noting here: the obvious inclusion of the chase, and the (perhaps) not so obvious issue of the wolfsbane's ongoing poison effects.

1. The chase. 3 of my players loved this, had a blast, and were able to resolve it fairly quickly. The 4th player's PC was an arcane caster who had heavily specialized in things which did not lend themselves well to the chase, and whose spell selection was not helpful either in aiding him in the chase, or affecting the Mauler from within the chase setting. As a result, this player was quite vocal about his distaste for the chase mechanics (this was his first exposure to them). Everyone else enjoyed the chase, including the other player who had not previously encountered the chase mechanics.

2. Tracking the ongoing effect of wolfsbane poison. This may not always come up, but it took the PCs several rounds to realize that the Mauler may die from the poison and do something about it. This ordinarily might not be a big deal, but it becomes important.

Maps: 4/5:
There was nothing wrong with the maps. They were all assembled from flip maps or map packs, which is fine. But I like to see unique maps when possible. I was amused by the unusual shape of the sewer map, making this a 4 stars element, rather than the 3 stars I would otherwise give somewhat bland maps.

Primary/Secondary Success Conditions 5/5:
The unusual inversion of the primary/secondary conditions was refreshing. Usually, you expect the primary issue being to either save or kill the Mauler, with the secondary condition being either to save the Mauler's lover or cover up the scandal. This scenario really displays the Decemvirate's priorities in a way that few others do. It was interesting that while the primary goal was clearly stated, the players nearly lost sight of it, in their assumption of 'business as usual'. Bravo!

All in all, this was a wonderful scenario, and I look forward to running it again, as well as looking for Crystal Frasier's other offerings.


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Glad I bought it

*****

This is a beautiful set of minis, all first rate!

The only way this could get any better would be if there was a way to somehow let Lini actually ride Droogani. (I always like that as an option when an Iconic has a riding companion or particularly important mount.)

Even without that, a very high-quality set!


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A solid set

*****

These new minis are a worthy inclusion to the Iconics line.

I'm a little disappointed in Alahazra's bendy staff, but as she looks amazing, it isn't enough to ding a star.


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BADGER!

*****

All the minis in this set vary from good to fabulous. Kyra looks GREAT.

And Biter the Badger is awesome. The set would be worth it just for those two. Everything else is gravy. Yummy yummy gravy.


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Really enjoyable, with a couple of issues

***( )( )

I've GM'd this, but not played it.

If I could give this 3.5 stars, I would. It would have been a 4 star, except for a couple of things.

The Good:

*The use of fey creatures was a treat, especially making an entire scenario around them. We don't see nearly enough use of the fey.
*This scenario features a nice blend of investigation, skill use, and combat, so there's something for everyone.
*If (big 'if') the players can figure out the puzzle for themselves without help, it's a nice sense of accomplishment.
*The use of an erratic clocktower is a nifty alternative to the usual wizard towers, tombs, and ruins.

The Awkward:

*This scenario runs LONG. In fact, my table ran out of time and had to cut the final encounter short with a little player ingenuity and creative GM-ing.
*The Puzzle. Now, I'm not one of those people who hates puzzles, or who hates this scenario simply because it contains a puzzle. The puzzle is actually *really* interesting, and my players were able to solve it with limited assistance. But, some players just aren't 'wired' for the kind of problem-solving skills this puzzle called for, and there really wasn't any way around the puzzle.

Suggestions to improve future puzzle experiences:

*The puzzle would have been easier for the GM to understand (and thus able help the players understand) if an actual diagram or flowchart of how the puzzle should be navigated were included, in addition to the text-based solution.
*Any time a scenario contains a puzzle, it should also contain some way of dealing with the puzzle other than solving it. It would be reasonable to have the 'easy way' result in a diminished reward or something, but a puzzle that MUST be solved to continue the adventure is a bottleneck- something adventure designers are usually advised to avoid. In this case, the added clues to be written on the back of the handout helped, but it was still a bottleneck.


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A nice balance to Part 1

****( )

GM'd, not played.

The Good:

*The NPCs are fabulous. The GM should really get into their performance here.
*The incidental magic item. The bags with Silence cast on them were really useful, and the PCs bargained for the use of some during the scenario, functioning as (single-use) gun silencers as well as temporary disruptive PC 'time outs'. I would have loved to see the bags on the chronicle sheet!
*The Prison is well laid out, and the Troll was enjoyably tough!

The Bad:

*Depending on the party makeup, the investigation can drag a bit.
*It could be easy to offensively overplay some of the more memorable NPCs.
*If the party mix doesn't include a tank, the Troll can be a big problem.


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