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RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16. RPG Superstar 6 Season Marathon Voter, 7 Season Marathon Voter, 8 Season Marathon Voter, 9 Season Dedicated Voter. Organized Play Member. 377 posts (393 including aliases). 2 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 15 Organized Play characters.

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More like two back-to-back mini-scenarios!


When I read the reviews and saw comments like "convoluted" and "complicated," I knew that this would be the scenario for me. I'm easily bored by a series of encounters loosely strung together with a weak plotline, so complex is what I look for as a GM. I want RP. I want investigation. And I want them all mixed up in surprising ways. With that in mind, we ask the big question:

Does Out of Anarchy give PCs a successful combat, role-playing, and investigative experience?

Yes... -ish.

The First Scenario: Investigation:

The entire first half of this scenario is given over to investigating the city of Pezzack. Once upon a time, Pezzack rebelled against House Thrune. Imperial Cheliax used Pezzack as an example, and the city has never recovered. Presently, four factions vie for control over the city and its future. It's up to the PCs to explore the city, determine who these factions are, and eventually pick one to support.

Immediately, players are given a huge pile of information about the city. Fourteen locations, many of which feature an important NPC, as well as the four factions. And then even more to do for members of Liberty's Edge and the Dark Archive. The NPC who gives this information is set up as a fast-talking know-it-all, which is helpful, because the GM needs to be in rapid-fire mode as well.

In the midst of this madhouse, the PCs are looking for a specific individual who is living under three different aliases, each connected to one of the factions. Which means that when PCs visit a faction, that NPC may only know one of the aliases. The PCs will only find this person halfway through the scenario, and nothing they do can change this.

GM Notes
**Players will be stunned by so much information.
**Players will confuse the factions, the aliases, and the NPCs.
**You may want to print out the important info as a reference.
**Players will not know how to find Olandil, unless they go to a specific location first.
**The players of combat-monster PCs may fall asleep.

The Second Scenario: Combat:

Once the PCs have finally found Olandil, skewing the fate of Pezzack in the process during a plot of city-wide compulsion, combat finally begins. There are multiple combats, and they come in quick succession.

The first combat is optional and forgettable. To fit this scenario in a convention slot, I would choose to skip it. I didn't, and needed to squish things together later on.

The second combat has a frustrating map with elevation changes, and can be settled through Diplomacy. So explaining how the map works can take much longer than the combat itself. I built the map out of three pieces of cardboard, just so I wouldn't have to constantly explain when and how to jump and climb.

The third combat is against strix, which pits low-level characters against flying creatures. One of the factions asks you to come out and clean up the tower, but it stands as the encounter that just doesn't mix with the rest of the rebellion. As the city is about to fall apart, why am I messing around with two strix? It is a fun encounter, with strix who are happy to taunt the PCs, but the party was ready to leave town. This was clearly a distraction.

The final combat was fun, unique, clever, and mildly different based on which faction the PCs supported during the scenario. But it was steamrolled by 1st level characters, and just didn't have the heft to scare them.

GM Notes
**Skip the optional, unless you've got a party of combat monsters.
**Draw maps in advance, because you certainly won't have time in a slot.
**Be prepared for small faction differences in tactics.
**If the PCs investigate a lot, these encounters will all be rushed.

Roleplaying Opportunities:

Poppo, the main contact at the Academy of Applied Magic, is amazing. Beyond being a professor of applied magic, he's also a gnome. Let your knack for chaos run free, and Poppo is fantastic. The PCs should enjoy this.

Olandil is also a fun NPC, and his rage at being rescued by fresh recruits should certainly be played up. He isn't very useful in combat, and shouldn't be used to outshine the PCs. It's a tough balance to let him and Poppo drive the second part of the scenario without him ordering the PCs around and running the show.

The various faction NPCs have very little background, so feel free to make them whatever you need at the moment. But don’t play them up too much, or PCs will spend too much time with them. Time they really don’t have in the long run. If this were a module, you could use them a lot more.

Villains? All faceless. No meaningful monologues. Imperial Cheliax is the villain here, so the Loyalist faction are the closest you’ll have. One NPC, Gellius, is only interesting as a cowardly guard, but he ultimately doesn’t know much that can influence the scenario.

Final verdict?
This is a great scenario to run if you have plenty of time to prep and players who are interested in a wide-ranging sandbox investigation. Combat is not the highlight here, and so will disappoint some PFS players. With a GM who is prepared with printed handouts representing NPCs and factions, players will have a much better time during the investigation. Overall, lots of fun, would run again. Four stars.

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Stop Reading and Run This Scenario


Running "By Way of Bloodcove" is without a doubt the greatest Pathfinder experience I've had in recent months. It's got fun. It's got mystery. It's got exploration. It's got stealth. It's got memorable combats. But most of all, this scenario has memorable NPCs who are invested in the game as it's happening.

Here's what "By Way of Bloodcove" does right:

The Good:
Let's start by saying what this game isn't. This isn't a linear dungeon crawl, so players have to come to consensus about what they want to do and how they want to do it. But it also makes sure that a single character can't run the out-of-combat show either, by requiring everyone to participate in the Awareness game, which is done MUCH BETTER than it was in "Before the Dawn."

Where do we go first? Who should we side with? What do we sabotage? How do we keep this Wayfinder secret? This scenario DEMANDS that you role-play. Brilliantly.

This game can be run with minimal combat if the PCs are interested in trying stealth to do some sabotage, allowing skill monkeys to have some good fun. Same with plenty of Knowledge and Diplomacy checks. Having multiple skills represented by the party is a requirement in this scenario!

While I understand that the Witchlight Inn will become home base for many groups, I highly encourage GMs to focus on Novaria and make her the super-contact for your group. Mine went back to her time and time again for more information about the town. She was basically their oracle of Bloodcove, and it lead to some amazing role-playing opportunities.

(My group actually sent Ungala tied up and unconscious in the cart back to Novaria while they went to do some sabotage. When they returned to House Cartahegn, Novaria treated them all like they'd given her the best birthday present ever.)

Have fun with this. Make sure PCs are living up to their cover story. Find ways for each of them to succeed and fail so the whole group remains tense. Oh, and make sure they see the hyenas and the Aspis guards and the Hydra(!!!) roaming the streets. That way they can be even more terrified throughout the scenario!

There are a few things done not-so-right:

The Bad:
But not much.

This scenario makes some references to "Before the Dawn Part 1" without fulling explaining them. The Pathfinder Lodge that is under constant surveillance by the Aspis is the biggest example. In "BtD," you're warned not to go there at all. In "BWoB," you're expected to know why, I guess? I found myself doing some explaining, and it helped that we had one character who had been to Bloodcove before. Basically, as a GM, read "Before the Dawn," and you'll have a much better idea of the setting.

Because this is a sandbox adventure, the intro NPCs are a little vague. My players weren't asking everything they could, so when they arrived in Bloodcove, they didn't exactly know what they needed to do. I found myself recapping a few times, making sure they knew the three major objectives and what their current leads were. I would expect most Pathfinder groups to begin all three objectives at once, and it's easy to get lost. They also consistently believed that the three objectives were all wrapped in the same place, which was funny to me, but a little frustrating for them.

Finally, I agree with the wayfinder ruling, but I wish I didn't have to. It feels a little punitive in this case, so I hope that there are responsible Pathfinders at your table. Otherwise, there's going to be a baaaad taste in people's mouths when the game ends prematurely.

I just want to point out that even with "The Bad," a player said this may have been their favorite scenario to play of all time. I mean, I'm still giving it five stars.

The Exchange Bit:
Unfortunately for Exchange characters, the choice you get to make is dependent on whether the party gunslinger doesn't drop Ungala before she gets a chance to surrender. That little bit of role-playing would have been a fun addition to this scenario, and I don't see a lot of parties getting the opportunity to support Ungala.

Are you a GM? Get this game and run it at your local FLGS. Prep it a ton, but be ready to improvise as the PCs sandbox the heck out of Bloodcove. Are you a player? Convince someone to run this game. (Or, you know, download GM 101 and get some hints to running it yourself!)

tl;dr: Shut up and play this game. Five stars.