Amber Vadalis's page

FullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 7 posts. 14 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 8 Organized Play characters.



Sign in to create or edit a product review.

Add Print Edition $13.99 $5.00

Add PDF $9.99

Non-Mint Unavailable

Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

****( )

This is definitely an adventure for all Harry Potter fans. I know that Paizo probably wants their product to be seen on its own merit but I couldn’t help convert the Breaching Festival into the Triwizard Tournament. I encourage GMs out there to go ahead and take creative license with this module.

When I read this module, it was divided clearly into 3 acts. The author seems to me to have written the middle act first – and then discovered that it was such an incredible piece of work that he split it into two. As such the first and middle acts were creative and diabolically fun. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that he was probably then told that he needed more material – after all, modules are supposed to represent 12 hours of play. So rather than cutting back on the word count and losing the content in the first two acts, he threw together the results from a random encounter roll-off. As such, the third act was a waste of time – fortunately, it only encompasses about 2 pages of the final product and can easily be ignored.

Below – if you’re interested in my cast of characters for converting this module into Hogwarts:

Spoiler:

Cast of characters

Faculty at Hogwarts
Headmaster Toff Arnelos = Headmaster Albus Dumbledore
Dean of Abjuration Julaei Cangi = Professor McGonagall
Dean of Conjuration Messida Vost = Professor Umbridge
Dean of Divination Norva Allesain = Professor Trelawney
Dean of Enchantment Heresta Tarlan = Rita Skeeter
Dean of Evocation Salgar Irevotnin = Professor Snape
Dean of Illusion Rombastle Falgeringer = Professor Flitwick
Dean of Necromancy Orianna Delmore = Bellatrix Lestrange
Dean of Transmutation Elgin Remorri = Argus Filch

Other characters
Jandar Lilswin = Percy Weasley
Seska Imintar = Ginny Weasley
Fatmire = Wormtail aka Peter Pettigrew
Illia Ean = couldn’t figure out a good match for her
Knur = Hagrid
Maganrad = Cedric Diggory
Terentius = Roldophus Lestrange

Below – my thoughts regarding running the module:

Spoiler:

Act 1 – Hogwarts
For the most part this portion of the adventure is setting up the module and I allowed my players to explore the campus and meet the faculty. Also, if they don’t chose to explore the campus on their own, they will be given an opportunity during the first round of the Triwizard Tournament since they each need to get a Golden Snitch (aka keylights). I gave them an opportunity to learn about the “student life” at Hogwarts through talking with Percy and Ginny Weasley. Also, they get to meet the other “contestants” – and I had fun playing Wormtail, Hagrid and Cedric (dead) Diggory.

Act 2 – Deal with the Devil
I know Paizo’s been criticized for over-using demi-planes. However, I felt as though Belzeragna was well-planned and structured. This is probably the “tightest” of all three acts since it demonstrates the author’s mastery of developing a structured dungeon crawl. I especially liked Nagxiv and Valshune’s little debate along with Marijkal’s relationship with Chyvvomn. These little touches help create a cohesive story. However, I think the mobs were a little underpowered for dealing with modern Pathfinder players.

Act 3 – Random Devil Encounters and wrapup
Not much to know – if your players are into Hackfest 2000 then this is a great way to allow them to do battle with various denizens. There is a potential the players will choose to confront Dumbledore – however, I think it would be highly unlikely that his entire faculty and student body would simply stand-by and allow them to do so. As such, I simply used this time to wrap up the adventure.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

Goblin madness!

****( )

What a great start to the Fourth season of Pathfinder! This scenario exemplifies their honed and refined craft of developing a compact yet fun filled adventure. I am very looking forward to the next installments from this season. I felt that this scenario seemed lengthier that the past scenarios? – perhaps they’ve increased their word count? In any case, whether or not they did or did not, it was appropriately comprehensive and detailed for any GM to be able to have plenty of material to draw upon.

This scenario introduced a new structure – players were able to start by exploring the City of Magnimar. Fortunately, I had a copy of the Rise of the Runelords so that we were able to use the map of Magnimar along with the description of the various districts. Then they got to experience a chase. Note to DMs – please make sure to read up on chase rules before running this because otherwise chases are just a lousey experience for players. Next they have the opportunity to perform a small investigation before entering the combat intensive portion of the scenario.

Spoiler:

Admittedly, I’m right along with Paizo in my love of Goblins so I found the nasty little Goblin antagonists to be absolutely adorable. Yarak was undoubtedly my favorite and I hope that we have another opportunity to see him again. This was the toughest fight for my players which had a hard time getting up to the second story. Then needless to say, Versevosh was my second favorite. Again I enjoyed the use of terrain in making the combat more complex. Sadly, after those two incredible character, Inoklar was a bit anticlimactic but I suppose it’s not that easy to keep the mobs exciting.

I think the main challenge of this scenario will be for GMs to complete it within the typical 4 hour timespace for PFS events. I had 5 players – half were new, half were experienced and I had a fairly unlimited amount of time to leisurely complete this scenario. It ended up taking about 6 hours in all (and we missed the optional encounter).


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

The Colors of Evil

***( )( )

I recently had the honor of running one of the retirement arc scenarios and although this was an incredibly clever and creative scenario, I did not enjoy it. This is a tragic tale of two successful Decemvirate members who ultimately meet an untimely end at the hands of Evil. I really wavered regarding how best to rate something I did not like because I still did feel as though this was an incredible scenario as far as quality and would definitely jump at another opportunity to run/play it. Another element I favored on this scenario was that this particular scenario was more "mature" than most which I appreciate since the average age of my players are mid-thirties.

Spoiler:

This scenario exemplified the differences between lawful and chaotic evil and how the leaders of these doctrines would chose to interact with and lead humanity. For lawful evil, they used the traditional "deal with a Devil": Xerazcis had a contractual agreement with Rysuss Soth to make him help defeat Eddington Keel. For chaotic evil, they used Chorax's cult which committed all sorts of unnatural acts to achieve the disturbing transformation of Kyalla.

DM complexity - moderate
I consider myself an experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS and probably spent about 4 hours preparing this scenario. Due to the complexity involved in some of the combats, I ended up taking almost 6 hours to run this adventure. Looking back, I could imagine reducing the time of this scenario by perhaps an hour but would probably recommend that a DM allocate 5 hours for it.

Player complexity - high
I ran this scenario for 5 fairly experienced players and they struggled with several elements of the combats. Although my players were familiar with their characters, they were not accustomed to the strategies and tactics of high level mobs. Unfortunately, this is just a consequence of PFS rules - characters level too slowly at lower levels and too quickly at higher levels.

Spoiler:

As most scenarios, the prepared-ness of a DM contributes significantly to the difficulty of a combat. Although there are some minor skirmishes in this scenario, I only considered there to be two major combats: against the lawful evil Devils and the chaotic evil Lich. Both combats discourage traditional melee combatants which forces the PCs to be sufficiently sophisticated to deal with fighting through less conventional means.

As advice to other DMs, keep in mind the Devils are aware of the PCs presence and are able to prepare for their arrival. As Leaders of Hell, most Devils would be accustomed to leading their denizens into strategic combat which requires a balance of deception, patience, fear and terrain mastery. For the combat with the Lich, this was primarily a spellcaster challenge - groups without a strong caster/dispeller would likely fail. Once the Lich's defenses are dispelled, he is easy mop up work for players.


Add Print Edition $13.99 $5.00

Add PDF $9.99

Non-Mint Unavailable

Golarion Olympics

****( )

This module was the cause of my hiatus from review-writing. As all modules, it was a very involved experience for me to prepare this module. I spent probably at least 20 hours over two-three weeks to prepare this. As such, I feel justified for any opinions I have to share here. I thought this module was absolutely lame when I read and prepared it. In my mind, it was just fight after fight after fight. However, when I ran it, I was very pleasantly surprised how well-paced it was and how each "Day" of the Ruby Phoenix Tournament was very complete and satisfying. My players also managed to stay very engaged throughout the entire 12+ hour long escapade. When I prepared this module, I felt as though each fight would be near identical but when it actually played out, I think all my players got a chance to "shine" as each fight was sufficiently different to allow different abilities and skills to be advantageous.

The Ruby Phoenix Tournament is basically the Golarion Olympics. It consists of 5 grueling days of fight, exhibitions and challenges followed by a night of revelry. Each day consisted of roughly one tough fight, one easy fight, one skill challenge and then a role-playing encounter. It integrated some fun elements from different movies and tv-series to weave an asian themed ku-fu championship. In addition, there was an underlying plot of corruption which added a deeper layer of intrigue and revenge.

DM complexity - high
This module utilized almost every single character class all the PFS rulebooks. I consider myself an experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS and still had to spend a significant amount of time preparing and re-reading everything from spells, abilities to combat maneuvers. However, I also found it very fulfilling to have achieved this because running a high level complex module - imo demonstrates a level of proficiency and mastery over the PFS system.

Player complexity - high
This is an 11th level module so needless to say, it's expected that the players be experienced and know their own strengths and weaknesses so as to prepare accordingly for a 5-day tournament. I warned my players in advance to ensure that they equipped themselves appropriately. There were also opportunities for each class to draw into different abilities so that no fight is quite the same as the last one - and no opportunity for the same trick to work twice.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

White Castle

***( )( )

I didn't have as much time as usual to prepare for this scenario so my review might be slightly tainted. Usually, I read the scenario once, sleep on it (thereby being able to align the NPC motivations), read it again, sleep on it (understand logistics and other mechanics in play), go over it with a fine tooth comb (reading all the spells and abilities in detail), sleep on it (develop strategies and tactics), skim it, run it. So in all, I usually spend at least 4 hours over 3 days preparing a new scenario. However, for this one, I only had two hours immediately prior to running it to prepare. In perspective though, I do believe that this is still probably more than most DMs spend preparing a new module so I don't feel too bad. But I do feel that there is the potential I might have missed some of the subtler NPC motivations.

This scenario is basically another crazy cultist scenario reminiscent of the Feast of Ravenmoor (which I've played and read and am waiting for an opportunity to DM - after which, I will write a review of). Except instead of an entire village of cultists, these cultists live within a perfect white elysium. This scenario also introduced "Heresy Points" which created consequences to individual player decisions - I'm not sure if I liked these or not since they were only punitive (and not rewarding). The scenario also possessed a very open format, allowing the players to move throughout the scenario as they chose. It also offers ample opportunity for role-playing and creative combats.

However, despite all these traditionally good elements of a scenario, I felt as though it lacked believability. This scenario is supposed to be placed inside the Hao Jin tapestry. I have no idea how the cultists got drawn to this particular location or how this particular religion could have possibily flourished throughout the centuries. As such, I felt as though this particular scenario was written and then someone was told to "make it fit in the tapestry". Thus, this scenario felt very disjointed which I somewhat expect from a scenario within the Hao Jin tapestry but perhaps it was a little too much for me.

DM complexity - moderate
I'm an experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS and spent about two hours preparing it for Tier 4-5. One of the things I also found nice was that the entire scenario's encounters fit perfectly on one side of a flip-mat. As such, I just drew the exterior prior to running and filled the interior as the players explored it.

Player complexity - high
I ran this scenario at Tier 4-5 for 4 experienced players who did not play optimized characters with an average party level of 4: they had very challenging time defeating the encounters. I felt this was somewhat indicative of the trend in PFS scenarios to be tougher and designed for 6 optimized characters. However, I also have a tendancy to run very optimized/intelligent mobs so it's possible that the CR was appropriate.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

Redeemable scenario to play just prior to Fury of the Fiend

**( )( )( )

I really wanted to play some Cheliaxian adventures and as such despite the terrible reviews of this scenario, I decided to give the Fingerprints of the Fiend a try. Although the mobs need a bit of revision, I've included my tips in the spoilers and think that modified, this can be a fun scenario to play - at least that's the feedback I got from my players. I also ran the chase (despite my general disdain towards these encounters) and surprisingly, it went fairly smoothly. Considering we then played the Fury of the Fiend a few days later, I'm really glad that I ran this despite the bad reviews because it really helped provide background and insight into Fury of the Fiend. So I'd probably suggest to anyone considering this scenario to also pick up Fury of the Fiend to go along with this one and vice versa.

I ran this scenario at subtier 10-11 and as such am only able to provide tips accordingly but think that a DM running at subtier 7-8 can probably find something relatively easy/suitable to replace. In the grand scheme of things, only really the final encounter needs any "major" modification. So it's not really too much that needs to be changed - but of course, I consider myself a very experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS so this might not be the case for everybody. I probably spent about 12 hours prepping this scenario but think it can be done with the tips below in about 4 hours - depending of course, how much you enjoy prepping as you can always spend more time on it!

Spoiler:

Act 1 - up the pillars with Erinyes: this provided an unusual combat environment. I used a flip-mat as a vertical vs. horizontal surface to represent the cliff-face and drew a single line down the middle to represent the rope - super easy map. It was funny coz the fighter ended up carrying the spellcaster up the cliff-side so when they were attacked by the Erinyes, the fighters were busy climbing which left the spellcasters to fight the Erinyes.

Act 2 - excavation site: I replaced the main boss Zahur Karn with a Bone Devil (same CR 9) and the guards with the pre-generated Fighter level 1 stats (Valeros). For this scenario, I drew a campfire in the center of the map surrounded by 7 large tents and had the PCs approach from one edge of the map - very simple. The strategy was basic battlefield control which worked very well - Zahur would use a combination of stealth/invisibility and drop "igloos" (wall of ice cast in a hemisphere orientation making them large enough to not allow a reflex save) on PCs until there were only one or two untrapped PCs and then he would engage them. The guards were spread out (one behind each tent) to provide distractions for the PCs until Zahur had enough igloos to significantly hinder the PCs.

Act 3 - chase on the rails: before I ran this for my players, I asked them if they wanted to try the "Indiana Jones roller-coaster ride encounter" and they were open to it. Surprisingly, they enjoyed it a lot more than traditional board-game chase scenes. The feedback I got was that since they didn't "see" the DCs of each square of the chase, they felt they had a chance to make a difference rather than just knowing that they'd fail at different points. For the mobs upgrade, I replaced Talia's stats with Dorianna Ouidda (also a Bard 7 and same CR 6 from scenario 2-24 Shadow's last stand part 2) and replaced her elite guards with the pre-generated Fighter level 4 stats (Valeros). Then just switch Ouidda's spells for Talia's spells and you're set - although I gave Talia Eagle's splendor before combat to make her DCs more challenging. I also allowed my PCs to rest after this encounter since I stacked the final two encounters within a minute of each other.

Act 4 - morlocks and stone golem: uninteresting combat where you just pull the mobs from the Bestiary. No changes were necessary for this encounter and they provide a map for it so it's pretty simple to run. I connected the road from this encounter into the next one so that there was a little more "flow".

Act 5 - temple: this is probably the hardest encounter to modify coz I couldn't find an easy replacement for Haliduras Karn (12th level cleric of Asmodeus). Since I read a lot of criticism from other reviews about his silent spell strategy, I ended up rebuilding his spells with quickened spells. I timed this encounter to occur immediately after the last one - Haliduras spends almost a minute casting preparatory spells before engaging the PCs: which is consistent with the scenario. Instead of the ranger/rogues (which would have required quite a bit of effort to rebuild), try using 3 greater shadows which should be effective doorstops against PCs who wish to charge up against Haliduras.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

MUST HAVE scenario

*****

After writing a bunch of season 3 reviews, I felt it was important for me to pay homage to some of the earlier season scenarios which I've experienced. The Hall of Drunken Heroes is my absolute favorite scenario of all to date. Not only did I enjoy reading it and running it, I take this scenario to every convention in case I should have an opportunity to DM it. I consider this a "must have" scenario for any PFS player and at least "highly recommended" to any DM. This is a story of comedy, drinking, friendship, love and danger!

Admittedly, the story is quite linear which I would usually count against a scenario. However, I really felt as though the story and premise was so fantastic that I was willing to give 5 stars and diverge from my preference of sandbox/open-ended/unique scenarios. I think my main attraction to this scenario is how every NPC had solid motivations - however, there really were so many subtleties which I probably enjoyed without even realizing it.

DM complexity - average
I spent about 6-8 hours preparing the scenario - probably because I enjoyed it so much. I think could probably have been prepped in about 4 hours since it's a fairly linear story.

Player complexity - average
Nothing you wouldn't expect as far as an encounter for Tier 7-11 - grab your fav drink and get those dice out!

Spoiler:

Temple/Tavern of Cayden Cailean - it should be every DM/PC's goal to make sure that they go down in the history of Pathfinder Chronicles as being responsible for one of the burnings of this Temple. The tavern brawl is an excellent opportunity for the DM to come up with possible "accidents" which occur as the PCs charge around the Tavern. As a DM, I didn't believe that burning down the Temple needs to end the scenario so have fun with it (and make each player roll for setting the tavern on fire for each combat action they take).

Dream/Nightmare sequence - it was wonderful having an undefeatable NPCs. DMs - please make sure to take your time with this fight so that the PCs get the slow sinking feeling of failure and watching their comrades fall. If you run this TPK too quickly, your PCs will catch on that they are fighting in a dream/nightmare sequence.

Ephierone and Graz - what awesome characters. Yes, Ephierone is the typical little succubus in terms of her methods of control but for the demonic pair to be in love? The module doesn't directly elude to this but she does rush to Graz's aid, bring his favorite weapon (and know where it is) and if she dies, he fights to the death (perhaps for revenge)? I generally run this scenario with Ephierone and two Shadow Demons (assuming that one summoned the other and that Ephierone's summoning fails). I would like to believe that eventually someday, I'll be able to allow our star-crossed lovers to escape with a happy ending. However, until then, they shall have to exist only in tragedy.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

Not more chases ...

**( )( )( )

I did not enjoy this scenario because it had a "chase map" in it - knowing now what that means, I would not have played this scenario at all if I had known that advance. In any case, I did not read this scenario and only played it so can only comment based upon it accordingly. However, I do recall enjoying the investigative elements of this story. It was fun interacting with the DM to obtain information from the various NPC's perspectives.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

Map maddess

**( )( )( )

I almost gave this scenario 1 star but I felt it wouldn't be fair to penalize the whole module for the "chase map". However, after experiencing one "chase map", I would have appreciated it someone told me upfront before I played a scenario if there was a "chase map" so that I could avoid it. As such, consider yourself warned about the "chase map" - if you dislike it strongly as I do, this is probably a module to avoid.

In any case, I did not read this scenario and only played it so can only comment based upon it accordingly. Needless to say, since there is a "chase map" in it, I don't intend to ever read or DM it. However, I felt the story was very well designed and the NPCs possessed detailed backgrounds and were sympathetic. I really enjoyed the werewolf story and character motivations. Also, some of the faction missions did have interesting twists.

Spoiler:

Admittedly, if I was going to read a chase map scenario - this would probably be the one. There is a romantic relationship in it and I love it when they include elements like that in the story. It also does have some more mature situations which I think is quite admirable of Paizo to address.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

House of Fun

***( )( )

This was a nice start at developing sandbox style adventures - stories which are more open ended and have elements within the scenario which react to the players. However, it was still fairly linear imo - your choice is basically to either enter from the front door or enter from the back door. I also found the NPCs rather memorable and would love to see them reappear in future adventures.

Spoiler:

I really liked how depending on whether you chose to enter from the front door or the back door somewhat defines your game experience:
- front door - you're treated like a guest, you get to meet with Po and his wife for tea and then are considered "contestants"
- back door - you're treated like a thug, you run into the dogs on the grounds and the Aspis Consortium agents who are also no better than thugs
I also loved the "Diplomat" who you rescue - he was definitely a fun character to play as an NPC (who I played as absolutely obnoxious) and helped provide context to the story.

DM complexity - moderate
I'm an experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS and spent about 4 hours preparing this.

Player complexity - moderate
There are a variety of different types of fights in this module which really do not build upon each other. As such, the players need to be familiar with dealing with one or multiple combatants as well as how to fight mobs which deal/suceptible to different types of damage.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

Not reaping the rewards we hoped for

***( )( )

After reviewing a couple of scenarios from third season, I think this a great example of what I consider to be average-ie from PFS. There were some elements I considered very strong and some elements which I think needed some tweeking. Red Harvest is an adventure which on the surface presents the players with a "choice" to determine their storyline but I felt this was a superficial and inconsequential "choice". I think the main challenge my players faced when making this choice was that they were not invested in their decision because there were no real consequences.

DM complexity - moderate
I'm an experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS and spent about 2 hours preparing this after playing it.

Player complexity - easy
I like the fact that this module focused more on the role-playing elements of the game - information gathering and diplomacy rather than just being a series of fights.

Spoiler:

Strengths - I liked the fact that the players are immediately drawn into the Nagini by having to obtain the book from the Princess. This forces them to begin conducting an investigation to understand the townsfolk and the opposing factions. I also like that "just stealing" the book and trying to ignore the "choice" is severely punished by having the entire town moving against the players as being a very effective doorstop.
Weaknesses - Unfortunately once our players have learned of the situation, there doesn't really seem to be much of a choice because it will be determined (more likely than not) by your character's alignment (lawful vs. chaotic). As most parties tend to have a combination of lawful AND chaotic characters, it becomes very difficult for them to make an overall choice. This is where my groups stopped working together and become uninvested with the rest of the story.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

Horrible Haunts

**( )( )( )

After providing a few positive reviews for scenarios, I decided that it was time to chose one which I wouldn't. Unfortunately, I flipped through the 3rd season mods which I had played, GMed and read carefully and this was the one I liked the least. However, it was still a fun experience so I'm by no means discouraging anyone from experiencing it.

DM complexity - moderate
I'm an experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS and spent about 2 hours preparing this after playing it.

Player complexity - moderate
In line with the rest of 3rd season, the modules have ramped up requiring players to better balance the stats of their characters.

My favorite element of this module was the mechanics - both of the haunts and the combats. I am also a fan of the module for trying to emulate an "Asian Haunted House". My least favorite element of this module was the story.

Spoiler:

Or lack of story. The primary motivation for our nemesis is eternal youth - which being an asian female, I can understand but it is not sufficient imo to be the source of true evil. The wonderful part of having haunts is being able to tell a story and unfortunately, there were not interesting elements to this story to tell. Each of the haunts only reveal another evil act which our nemesis chose to commit. I think the story could have been much richer if there was a sequence to the evil acts - that she began perhaps accidentally and then become darker and more deliberate. That is what a story should be - something which talks about the change or progression of a character. It doesn't have to be a sympathetic story but the haunts just appeared to be a series of unjointed experiences rather than pieces of a story.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

Rats Return Rocking!

*****

Wow ... after running Rats part 1 at a convention within 4 hours it was quite a change as I ran Rats part 2 as a home game which took 8 hours at Tier 10-11. Admitedly, we took breaks for food and drinks and chit-chat but I think this might be a tricky scenario to complete within 4 hours. I think it can be completed within 4 hours but the DM has to keep the party very focused and execute the mobs' strategy quickly.

Again, this adventure was an excellent balance of story and combat which places the power back into the hands of the DM. What do I mean by that? - I had that question from a reader. I mean that the mobs are sufficiently nasty that the DM really needs to be responsible for customizing how dangerous the mobs are. If you read the encounter specific spoilers, I elaborate on how this can be achieved.

Also, I received a question why Rats part 1 only received 4 stars and not 5 stars so I imagine I'll receive another question since I gave Rats part 2 received 5 stars. I really liked Rats part 2 because of how it could be played "sandbox" style. It also provides for a unique experience for the players depending up whether they have played Rats part 1 before Rats part 2. IMO, being open ended and unique earns a module 5-stars vs. 4-stars which I would award to a module which I felt is solidly better than average.

Spoiler:

In my particular case, my players had played Rats part 1 immediately prior to Rats part 2. As such, the scenario does not require them to complete their faction missions. However, I suggested that my players do so because I felt they would be able to better experience the story. They agreed and this may have contributed towards how "long" the scenario ran.

In any case, if my players had chosen NOT to complete their faction mission, they could have easily flown up to the top of the tower, encountered Krella who would be friendly to them and helped them defeat Durriya. I would have probably enabled Durriya to notify her Inquisitors and they would have arrived in 2 minutes as a second encounter for the party. If that occurred, I'm pretty sure the scenario could be completed within 4 hours.

DM complexity - very high
I'm an experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS and spent over 8 hours preparing this module at Tier 10-11. Furthermore, there are lot of conditional modifiers to keep track - I usually keep a note sheet at hand to track everything which occurs and I ran out of space on it.

Player complexity - moderate
I ran this game at Tier 10-11 for 6 players: one at 10th level; 4 at 9th level and one at 7th. I would consider two of the characters having "optimized" builds but this did not imbalance things especially since they were the front-line fighters and this ended up saving them when they performed unwise character actions. I also made the PCs complete the entire scenario without resting so spells and resources were very limited.

My favorite element of this scenario was the complexity of the plot. There were many twists and turns which could have occurred. As such, I felt I was definately kept "on my toes" as a DM.

Spoiler:

Inquisitors on floor 1 - This is probably the most deadly encounter when the Inquisitors are combined with Shenru. I knew in advance that my players would not fight the Pagoda Guards and this meant that Shenru would join up with the Inquisitors which meant TPK - something which I refuse to accept as a DM because I believe that ends a story and as a DM, my job is to tell a story. As such, I decided in advance that the Inquisitors would be similar to the Tower Guards in Rats part 1 and deal non-lethal if they saw someone was getting ready to fall. Since I wasn't planning on TPK, I had to plan for what to do if the entire party was incapacitated and captured. If that happened, I decided that the Inquisitors would notify Krella of their capture and not tell Durriya (since she was meeting with the Aspis Consortium agents). As such, Krella would rescue the party and lead them to Durriya.

When I actually ran this encounter, it went very badly for the PCs as I expected. The PCs rolled very poorly for perception and initiative which gave the Inquistors plenty of time to almost drop their two front line fighters. Each Inquisitor when fully buffed dealt about 30 points for each hit - so within the surprise round and 1st round of combat, the party took over 200hps. The fight occurred in room A2 as described in the module and I had the Inquisitors positioned in the adjacent rooms (Shenru with 2 Inquisitors on the west door by the Storage Room; 3 Inquistors in the east door by the Armory). As such, the party was pretty much cornered - funny since they earned the Cornered Fury boon at the end.

Xorn and Crystal on floor 2 - after the first battle, this was a relatively "easy" fight.

Destrachens on floor 6 - after the first battle, this was a relatively "easy" fight too. However, nobody in my party had Silence memorized and so they ended up being completely out of memorized healing spells after this fight due to the amount of damage they had to take from the Destrachens. As such, after this fight, they were very relieved to meet Krella (who provided some healing to them).

Durriya and the Diplomats - this COULD have been the most deadly fight for the party. I say that cautiously because I think it could have gone very differently if the party had not played Rats part 1 prior to this game. If they had not played Rats part 1, then the Inquisitors on floor 1 wouldn't have been as deadly since Shemu isn't with them. Also, if they hadn't played Rats part 1, then Krella would probably not help the party. In any case, this has a potential to rival the Inquisitors/Shenru on floor 1 for the toughest encounter.

I did not provide for surprise in this encounter since Durriya had an enhanced detect thoughts ability and Krella was with them. However, the Diplomats were very effective against the party (mostly human). I think my most interesting moment was when the two front line fighters decided to charge Durriya only to discover she was an illusion. Then realize that Durriya was on the far side of the room. It then gave the rest of the party a challenge to try to figure out how to defeat her.


Our Price: $3.99

Add to Cart

Rats Rock!

****( )

I just got back from running this at a convention and really enjoyed Rats part 1. It's an excellent balance of story and combat which places the power back into the hands of the DM. I'm looking forward to running Rats part 2 this weekend for my home group - so please keep an eye out for that review too!

DM complexity - high
I'm an experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS and spent over 8 hours preparing this module and still had to look things up during it.

Player complexity - moderate
I ran this game at Tier 10-11 for what I consider to be a typical convention table. There were 6 players: one at 10th level; 4 at 9th level and one at 8th. I would consider two of the characters having "optimized" builds but this did not imbalance things.

My favorite element of this scenario was the story.

Spoiler:
Imagine a society which has been separated from their roots and has to evolve and prosper alone. I gave the Ratfolk a lot of thought and developed a short speech for them when the PCs arrive to the Tower - go away or we attack! I also threw in some legal banter about "stand your ground" and "castle doctrine" to bring context to their hostile attitude which provided for depth considering current issues. I also equated the "letter" issued by the Tower Guard as a visa - thinking about the responsibilities of Dept of Homeland Security. One of the best moments was when my players (knowing they would run into Ratfolk) presented a gift of cheddar cheese! They got a 44 for their diplomacy check (I gave them a +2 circumstance bonus for the clever/appropriate gift). And they had Quadira faction present so they promised to increase (cheese) trade.

Another interesting element was that not all of the faction missions were achievable and imo worked a little against one another.

Spoiler:
For example, if you have the Andoran faction present, this would discourage the use of violence against the Ratfolk. If they succeed, it makes it more difficult for Lantern Lodge and Taldor to achieve their faction missions, which involves coming up with a good reason to the Tower Guard why they want to "look around".

Finally, I felt the combats were well balanced.

Spoiler:

Dark stalkers - I was really worried about this combat when I prepped it. However, my players took them down with ease! Just to show that sometimes the things that you're most afraid of aren't that scary at all. It took a lot of teamwork though and everybody had to contribute to do so.

Gug - since this was an optional encounter, I didn't feel the need to "deal out the hurt" on this one.

Dragon - I taunted my players by placing the huge black dragon in front of me during the whole game. They were truly horrified when they realized that they actually had to fight it! I think the scenario explicitly expressed Xiangnuer's intention was to get tribute. As such, it presented a most unique opportunity for a DM - a fate worse than death for PC ... losing your most valuable magic item. Thus, when Xiangnuer demanded tribute and the party began bargaining with her, I had her appraise all of their obvious magic items' value. And when they refused to provide her with tribute - I had her cast True Strike and declare that she was going to take it ... well, you'd never imagine how fast those fighter-class types can run (especially carrying their beloved two handed weapons)!

My final thought is regarding the timing - partly due to the other reviews which also discuss their issues with it - but I finished this module within 4 hours.

Spoiler:

I find it useful to "schedule" my sessions by allocating a certain amount of time to each encounter:
45 minutes - intro and Ratfolk encounter
30 minutes - Dark Stalker fight
5 minute break
15 minutes - swarm/cave-in trap
30 minutes - Gug fight
10 minute break
1.5 hours - Dragon encounter
15 minutes - wrap up