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***** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden 11,934 posts (12,684 including aliases). 138 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist. 29 Organized Play characters. 5 aliases.



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Entertaining, but hasn't aged very well

3/5

Played this today with a party of 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3. By the rules for old scenarios, that put us in low tier. Here we start to see things break down a bit...

The fights weren't challenging - not anymore; they may have been for a party of 4 PCs using CRB-only stuff.

That said, it was still an entertaining adventure to play. It's one of those old adventures that have a good premise even if the mechanics have gotten a bit moldy by now. A savvy GM can really milk the flavor of it.

My recommendation would be to play this with a level 1-2 party of 6 PCs. Originally this adventure can be brutal due to the vast numbers of enemies. Using a modern 6-player party that's fine now. Also having L3+ PCs playing down is too much though. I'd advise against playing this at high tier, I think it'll be grinding with a LOT of individually ineffective enemies.

Another thing is knowing a couple of key rules. At least one encounter goes from TPK-potential to quite reasonable just by having the players understand the Ready action rules.


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Pushes the envelope in a good way

5/5

I played this along with Quentin. I'm quite pleased with the scenario. The big new thing here is the heist.

If you didn't know: heists are a sort of pseudo-mechanic from Ultimate Intrigue. They're not really mechanics per se, more a structured approach for the GM to set up an infiltration adventure against a well-secured target. Complete with info gathering and all that.

So what this scenario does very well, is present the players with a daunting target, and in a couple of hours you'll do legwork and be able to come up with some sort of plan of attack. And I can tell you, the target is sufficiently intimidating that at first glance, no way can a 1-5 party take that on.

Apart from that, the fights were interesting tactically, the location was new and flavourful, and there were enough NPCs to RP with. There wasn't anything I particularly disliked, and the scenario successfully innovates something cool for PFS. So I'm giving full marks here.


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Great conclusion to a strong trilogy

5/5

I had the pleasure of running this scenario for Monkhound and others last weekend. I'd ran the previous parts of the series as well for mostly the same crowd, and this is my favourite series so far.

In all three parts, the combat danger is present but not overwhelming, and a low-tier PC playing up can get through if he's careful. All three chapters focus on skills, investigation and social interactions of various sorts, while still having some interesting head-knocking moments. The fairly consistent and reasonable difficulty makes it a great series for introducing new players.

What's more, this series has a pretty tightly connected storyline. Themes are introduced in part I, continued in part II and wrapped up in III. However, each part makes sense separately as well. The focus on investigation in this series makes it more like Indiana Jones, who is basically driven by curiosity but bad guys get in his way, than murderhobo Conan style where whacking bad guys is the goal and you happen to discover loot in the process.

On to this specific scenario. Starting with the briefing, for a change you actually get a good professional start of the mission, with relevant information, NPCs who competently do their part and give you useful goodies.

The prison is the main stage of the scenario. It's got an unusual map, but that layout is very relevant to the challenges and options the PCs face. Even so, it's pretty straightforward to draw. There are a number of built-in ways for the PCs to achieve their goals. But also, the organization of the prison is explained well, so that if the PCs try something else, the GM has material to work with. And employing creative solutions is encouraged.

That's not to say that the prison is a cakewalk; I think it's the hardest part of the scenario. You'll definitely appreciate it if you brought some skill monkey PCs. Quite a few different skills get challenged. The puzzle was well-made, fit well in the scenario, and was straightforward for the players to solve. The other "shiny things" in there - I don't want to spoil them. But they're quite shiny!

After the prison, let's just say that the author took a long look at Kaava Quarry and tried to do something similar and improve on the previous success. In my opinion he succeeded. The GM should read it through carefully though to ensure he understands the mechanics well enough to run it fast and furious.

As for knocking heads - if the players do a good job, the fights are rather easy. But if you've been getting into trouble from the start of the scenario, you could be quite exhausted by the time you get to the final fight. That really shouldn't need to happen though; a moderately competent party should have an easy time. Perhaps too easy. I'm not deducting stars for that because I think the scenario has so many other nice things in it that it can get by with easy fights.


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Grab your fedora and bullwhip

4/5

I'm convinced mr. Oikarinen must have been watching Indiana Jones when he was sketching up this scenario. It's got archeology, ancient artifacts and nazis Hellknights.

The "level" of this scenario picks up a notch from part I of the series. You really should bring a couple of skilled characters here - it is after all an archeological mission, not a "go there and kill/rescue people" mission.

The dig site is quite an interesting dungeon, with a lot of details to explore and a lot of flavour to it. A GM that does some research prior to running can fill in even more. However, there's a risk of going over time if you do that, as the scenario is quite packed.

The fights varied in difficulty; most my players had no trouble with whatsoever, although the lady on the front cover gave them a run for their money.

Some other reviews mutter darkly about the ending of the scenario. I don't quite agree. Without going into spoilers here, I advise GMs to read my comment about it in the discussion thread. I do believe there should have been more guidance in the scenario for alternate party tactics though.

All in all, my advice is to play this scenario directly after the other one (better story continuity), and enjoy it because:
- Neat dungeon
- Archeology as a cool plot element/challenge
- Interesting fights
- Interesting ongoing story


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Imaginative, but dated

4/5

This is one of those old adventures that have a pretty cool story. It's got a certain fantasy flair to it that's quite different from the vibe of more recent scenarios. It's quite nice, and you also actually get to find out the story from the PC side.

It's also a pretty straightforward adventure, no problems finishing on time.

However, it's also pretty easy. Clearly built on a 4-player assumption, but even then most of the enemies are pretty squishy. We played the low tier with a party of kensai 1 (falcata, didn't really cast spells), sorcerer 1 (blasting/charm), medium 1 (melee), alchemist 2 (bombs) and cleric 3 (support). Nothing proved to be particularly difficult, although in one fight some enemies managed to remain standing for more than two rounds.

My advice: enjoy the scenario, but bring a 4-player level 1 party to keep it interesting. Or, use the scenario as an introductory one for new players. It's easy enough that they'll get through it without casualties, but a good enough story to whet their appetite.


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Let me schedule that for October 31st...

5/5

It's usually the case that horror scenarios work best on low tier, when PCs are still fragile. Well, this adventure goes to show that even for a level 8-9 PC, death can be quick and painful or slow and terrible.

Mr. Hoskins clearly knows both his old-school D&D tricks and Golarion lore, and combines them in a very thematic and challenging dungeon crawl. You won't find any "just mark off wand charges and move on" boredom here. Nor any run of the mill monsters. Everything is distinctive, scary, and fits the theme.

Balance-wise, it was a good job; we had a competent party somewhat wedged between tiers, and the low-level PCs could contribute but were also in considerable danger. The scenario plays by the rules fairly, but it does play smart and mean.

I was impressed by the BBEG, who was able to fight back against a numerically superior party quite well. Hoskins uses terrain and tactics rather than brute high numbers.

Some advice on where to play: we played in a brightly lit noisy convention room. That unfortunate; you really don't want to play this one in a noisy room. There are many important details and if the players can't hear the GM well it could go very badly for them. Also, it doesn't do justice to the adventure's atmosphere.

There are some important rules questions that are clarified in the GM discussion thread which every GM running this should read.

Altogether, this is a really good scenario. Everything fits together, strong theme and story, neat NPCs, very challenging but in a rules-fair way. It moves forward several storylines and there's a choice about "what next" at the end that made us all sit straight up with the epic possibility suggested.

EDIT: as TheDegraded mentioned, you should absolutely play Traitor's Lodge first.


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Entertaining, but should have been much more

3/5

After spending a year gathering Sky Key components, this should be the big payoff. We're turning it on and bringing a slice of the past into our grasp. There's so much riding on this. Does it deliver? I'm not really sure.

First, let's talk about the choice of "slices". I kinda dig them; the first one is a bit of a rematch of Stonelords exploration, which was great. Although I think fewer players will have their imagination fired by Serpentfolk than dwarves did (we have Moria to thank for that), they make for a fresh breath of enemies we haven't faced a lot. What could have been improved is the research agenda; I think a "shopping list" of things we want to investigate would have made this more of an exploration bit and less of a "kill them and then notice their pottery" bit.

The Inevitable Surprise Twist was IMO well chosen, does a nice job of putting on the pressure. It ties in to Golarion lore, although you may have to be a bit of a lorehound as a player to know that. Which means for a lot of people it'll fall a bit flat and these'll just be random enemies.

I didn't like the execution of the second part quite so much. The justification for the sandboxy start of it was a bit too much "I don't know any actual science but this sounds like believable technobabble to me" blah blah. We got to interact with and try to persuade a lot of caricaturesque NPCs to cooperate. This is where the time pressure starts to kick in; OOC you know you can't really afford the time to RP this out, but it doesn't make any sense for your party not to (LG, LG, LG, NG, CG, with average diplomacy score >= 15).

At the final fight we got a choice: face the waves or face the boss. We concluded that tactically, facing the waves made more sense, especially given that many tables had gone for the boss. But who really wants to play second fiddle? I remember facing the waves at lowest tier during Siege of the Diamond City and being bored out of my skull; don't want that again. The "steps of the throne room" fight in Stonelords was a much more elegant way of doing that, it gave the impression of everyone being in it together, while still having a nice way to separate enemies by tier.

---

Let's evaluate the combats. Mostly, they were fine. Many of them were a bit easy, with enemies that had trouble hitting so-so AC (24 on 10-11 tier). Choice of enemies was varied while keeping to a theme, which is good. Enemies had some tricks up their sleeves which was also good. On the whole we didn't really need to pull out all the stops; a bit more intensity would've been fine by me.

The big problem was time. We got cut off in the middle of the big fight of part one because we got yanked into part two. It made sense story-wise, but it's a real turn-off. I much prefer the "finish this encounter faster" approach over "the encounter just ends inconclusively as you proceed to a new act". And in part two we almost ran out of time in the final fight as well. Now the time pressure mechanics made perfect sense in the context of the scenario, but we were all exasperated at how little time was budgetted compared to the number of encounters.

I really felt that we were doing ourselves a disservice by actually talking to NPCs instead of just rolling skills and moving on as fast as possible. Because the time pressure was so intense.

Our GM was fairly well-prepared, but also had to spend quite some time paging back and forth. Statblocks spread acrosss multiple pages for all the things you need in a single encounter, complex tracking mechanisms. This could have been ameliorated with layout that focuses on practicality for the GM, rather than aesthetics or minimizing page count.

I think it would save a lot of time if encounters were concentrated in 2-page spreads, where you have all the statblocks needed to run an encounter on a tier, on two pages facing each other. That saves you time looking in appendices, paging back and forth because some statblock is re-used from earlier in the same scenario and so forth.


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A fun dungeon-brawl

3/5

We played up, with a party of swashbuckler 3, elemental ally druid 3, s&b slayer 4 and Hakon 4.

There were some dicy moments when it could've all gone wrong, but given the tier setup, there had better be such moments. We opted for high tier based on the reviews, and were happy with our choice; we did want a tough fight or two.

I agree that while the locale is neat, and artfully described, more should've been done with it.

All in all, this is a good adventure if you just want to spend an afternoon with some nice brawls. When mustering your party, remember that this is written for a four-player party. Don't bring too much, that'll make it too easy and boring.


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Fill in your Cheliax Appreciation Forms here

4/5

Perspective: GM

As I was reading this, my first impression was: this is going to be really easy. The monsters looked easy on PCs to kill and GM to run. As I delved a little deeper into it, I fell in love with the map of the final location. It does so much right that so many other scenarios do wrong. It's easy to draw, it looks nice, it offers quite a bit of tactical possibilities, and it's not ambiguous. No diagonal lines where you wonder if you can stand there or not, or questionable hard corners. Without sacrificing aesthetics, this was one of the most practical maps I've seen. The artist/designer really deserves praise for that.

As I delved a little deeper in my preparation, some little obstacles began to appear. There are quite a few tidbits in this scenario that don't quite make sense. Clues about stuff that aren't explained to the GM either; I think they're probably foreshadowing for part II or III. Some trilogies are riddled with spoilers for the later parts (for the GM); this one really isn't. So I just tried to portray those things as faithfully as I could while parrying follow-up questions from the players.

What this scenario is really about, IMO, is getting the flavor of Cheliax right. It's a fairly straightforward scenario, so there's actually enough time for some RP and exploration while still finishing on time. Also nice, comparing to many recent scenarios. This does require some work from the GM though; the scenario offers a lot of starting points, but it really helps if you do some more reading-up on Cheliax beforehand. As you can read in TheDegraded's review of the game I ran, I think I got it down.

The fights turned out to be a lot of fun, with some hilarious and hilariously easy, and one actually quite deadly. A particular combination of bad guy abilities that is just vicious. I killed a L3 barbarian (who was playing up) almost before he knew what hit him, and had a couple more PCs on the ropes. Looking back, I realize that I overlooked some things that would've made it even deadlier.

I like a lot of things about this scenario, but it has a few wrinkles. I think the discovery at the end is a little unsatisfying and probably needs some attention from the GM to present it so it really hits the right note. While at first the statblocks are all there, a couple of crucial bits are missing. Finally, the GM info about the foreshadowing for later parts was just a bit too terse. I expect that'll work more smoothly when I have all three parts in hand.

If the other parts of this trilogy continue to do all the things right this one did, this is going to be a nice one for repeat performances.


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How to sell Occult Adventures

5/5

I'd already gotten Occult Adventures, but hadn't really read much in it beyond the PFS legal content. After playing this adventure I got a lot more interested in the rest of it. It's not just about mechanics; this scenario also really manages to catch the flavour of an occult adventure.

This scenario has a lot of minigames in it. And yet, they all worked very smoothly, which is quite a feat.

The research mechanics originally come from Mummy's Mask, but have been tidied up a bit. Contrary to what another reviewer said, you do get extra credit for rolling really well on the check, it's not just about your Intelligence score/KP die. Although that's a big factor. With my alchemist I totally ruled this aspect of the scenario, but it was nice to see that non-Int-casters also have a real shot at doing well on the research because of the range of skills allowed.

There are two other minigame systems in here which do come from Occult Adventures. Both were easily explained and used, and especially the second one was really sweet. That one also favours the Cha-caster crowd more, evening out the balance in who gets to shine in the scenario. Very nice touch there.

The fights in this module were interesting, using some monsters you don't see often or at all, but who were really good fits for the story. We were playing up barely, but did pretty well on the combats, due to a diverse party playing together well. A lot of unexpectedly good saving throws near the end also helped. I think the 4-player adjustment was well chosen in this scenario.

The best thing about this scenario however is the story. Some scenarios have an awesome story but no way for the GM to convey it to the players. This scenario is all about doing that. It builds off Serpents Rise and really delves into one of those characters. It picks up another story thread from a while ago and now I'm really curious about where that's going to lead to in the future. The implications could be pretty dire.

Re: the name of the scenario; yeah, it really isn't very much about the Blakros. Though there are some funny bits of dialogue for those who've played Museum scenarios before.

Finally, a caution: this one can run pretty long. We didn't hurry, that's true, and maybe we tried a little too hard to get the research perfect (getting results in the low 40s pretty much every time). All in all it took us 7 hours to play. I don't really mind, because it allowed the story to unfold at a natural pace. But I think scenarios like this are an argument for making a few scenarios per season into double-slot scenarios. The difference with a multi-parter being that they don't need to be stand-alone scenarios. For example, I don't think the To Judge A Soul pair worked very well because part I ends on a really annoying note unless you can immediately go forth into part II.


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Spicy dead meat

4/5

When mustering we had a choice of barely playing up or barely playing own, depending on PC choices. Wanting a real fight instead of a cakewalk, we played up. It ended with one PC dead (but recoverable) and another one nearly so, but we literally managed to snatch a complete victory from the jaws of defeat.

I really liked the scenario. Being turned into undead upsets a lot of standard tactics and interacting with undead turns a lot of alignment assumptions upside down. The closest our party came to having a moral center was 8 year old Yoon; the rest of us were not humans and not good. I think the scenario works a bit smoother with a more good-ish party, although any cleric or paladin is going to do a lot of squirming. Actually, the descriptions of life in Geb had us as players squirming quite a lot.

With regards to other reviewers who ask, how can any cleric/paladin of a good faith go along with this mission: simple. You can leave *evil thing* out there where anyone can use it, or put it in the vaults of the Grand Lodge so we can learn how to fight against it. Easy as that. (Just don't go asking what we really do with it.)

Seen from a distance the fights in this one are relatively normal, but being undead makes things a lot different. And the fights have the potential to really go south. I liked the boss, nice boss speech, short and to the point. He put up a good fight too, and then some.

The reason I'm not going 5 stars is because there's a big weakness in the plot, in the middle. When (something happened) we decided follow the instructions of the VC and stay out of trouble, which wasn't really hard. One wizard cast Invisibility Sphere, the other yelled "Dimension Door!" and passed a Bluff check. From that point on we ran off-script because we lost the connection to the next encounter. Fortunately we had a good GM who managed to figure out how to proceed from there, and he patched the plot back together in an elegant way. As it later turned out, the part that we avoided is actually the "fragile" part of the plot that's just as likely to go totally south anyway.


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Nice underlying story, but needs a big rewrite to communicate it to the players

3/5

Perspective: player. I was a bit nervous due to previous reviews, but Monkhound ran it for me and tried hard to overcome them. He succeeded only partially, and by looking at the GM thread afterwards I could piece some more together.

What this story needs, I think, is going over it thoroughly, and asking at each point:
- What foreknowledge is required from the players to appreciate this?
- How will the PCs find out the story here?

For example, this story hinges heavily on phenomena in the Mana Wastes, as well as awareness of some odd game mechanics. That's not something most players will be familiar with. So they'll miss things that should make you go "hmm, that's unusual, shouldn't there be...?" I think getting a "Dummie Guide to the Mana Wastes" from the Venture Captain might help a lot here.

Mechanically, I wasn't too impressed. The fights were either annoying ("everything is difficult terrain") or easy ("It goes down already? Are you sure we're playing high tier?") or both.

The investigation part was so-so. You actually have to put in effort as a player, you're not just led around from clue to clue. Which is good. But there wasn't much you could find out, which is bad. Fortunately you do get sufficient leads to start with. Between this and Trouble in Tamran it seems Paizo is stepping up the difficulty of sleuthing.

It's not all doom and gloom however. The scenario does some things I rather like:
- Happens in an exotic location and tells a story that could only happen there.
- Potential for an interesting backwater town investigation.
- Has unusual enemies, with unusual motivations and story.
- Moral choices (especially if you're Scarab Sages, due to faction card).
- The chance to earn exotic boons.

I'm going to give this three stars because I think this scenario can be good, but with the caveat that it requires significant extra prep and some polishing by the GM.


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A rare jewell of ambitious scenario writing

5/5

I'd been looking forward to running this scenario for a long time, and last weekend I finally got to. It more than met my expectations. I'm also running Iron Gods as a home game, so I'm pretty well set up with resources to run this. For me it's like a trailer for "later in this AP..."

Content-wise, the city of Chesed is described with enough detail to run, but if you've read the Numeria sourcebook there's a lot more you can add. The RP encounters are clearly described, the mechanics given to the GM, and then you get a lot of free rein to fill them in. I liked that a lot. The mechanical structure is very straightforward but it doesn't feel dumbed down or artificial. My players were all quite experienced and had characters that had both good social stats (which you'll need) and actually something to talk about (which the scenario rewards handsomely).

As to the "action" part: I had a 5-player party that just got into the 4-player high tier. I'm very impressed with how well-balanced the 4-player adjustments have been done; they leave the cool main features of the encounter intact while adjusting appropriately for a different action economy.

I did like the high tier best; that's where you get the "real" version of some enemies & gear. Enemies were statted up well; dangerous but not unfairly deadly, and capable of taking some punishment. I do hate running enemies that can't in any way hurt the PCs or have no real defences against the PCs; I enjoy enemies that go down after a real fight. This scenario does that very well.

This scenario is also first for me in that I saw Trap Sense save a character from sudden thermonuclear annihilation. My players also underestimated another encounter that looked like "oh, just a lot of mooks". All the challenges in this scenario are serious but beatable.

We had to rush the final encounter a bit and I overlooked one ability that would've made it a lot more dangerous. Even so the final boss didn't really disappoint; he's still quite different from most things you can run into. But my players had saved up some maximum firepower for the end so they got through nicely.

When it came time to distribute chronicles there were a lot of impressed faces. This might be one of the fullest sheets I've ever seen. A significant chunk of that is faction stuff, but then the faction missions here were kind of nice. Very smoothly integrated in the main narrative.

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There are a couple of warnings I should give. This is not an easy scenario to run; while the editing is excellent, the enemies are quite simply, complex beasts. You need to look up the subtypes and templates and make sure you really understand them. It's also very worth it to thoroughly read the setting bits. So that's a significant chunk of preparation.

Minis and maps on the other hand were very straightforward. With the Iron Gods mini-pack you're pretty much set. It uses two flip-mats, and you might need one additional wilderness map if the players botch an earlier part of the scenario. Of the listed maps, the Tech Dungeon is an odd thing that you don't really use anywhere else, but here it works perfectly.

The adventure is also likely to run long. I had a 6-hour slot including a modest lunch break and we had to hurry towards the end. The RP part can take quite some time if you have good talking points. The action part can go slowly if the PCs are (justifiably!) cautious.

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On the whole, the adventure is ambitious and requires serious work to run, but rewards it very well, with nice RP, setting flavour, challenging opponents, cool loot and all that.


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Putting the Hell back into Hellknight

4/5

Somewhat worried by the horror stories in earlier reviews, we embarked upon this adventure today. I'm somewhat conflicted in my verdict.

First, this adventure has a big RP component. With evocative people, in a really cool place. Going to exotic places and talking to interesting people is one of the draws of PFS for me. However, it came down to presenting the same evidence to a lot of people; you don't really learn anything new about the case, there's no development. That was disappointing. It needed more plot. That said, the GM thread has some good ideas to improve the RP within the boundaries of the plot.

Second, there's the fights. I'm somewhat disturbed to notice how many people are proposing diverging from the scripted tactics in the GM thread, in ways that will make this a more difficult adventure. And while not all fights are hard, there is THAT BOSS. He has tactics that are suboptimal but he's still lethally powerful. Certainly over-CRed. His tactics give the PCs more of a fighting chance. I urge all GMs to stick close to the script here.

The fight IS winnable, on high tier. We brought a party of paladin/monk/stuff 9, investigator (melee) 9, gunslinger/inquisitor 8, cleric 9 and wizard 9. The power those classes can bring to bear is quite considerable. Casters giving the perfects buffs to strikers hitting really hard and standing up to brutal punishment. We had a group of people who've played together a lot before. That certainly made a difference.

I do like a hard-fought fight, and it seems it takes somewhat outre monsters to present a fight that's not a walkover. But I'm also not a fan of slapping the wrong CR on a monster and then gleefully inserting it into a scenario because it's appropriate now. Our party was a sort of all-star OP fest and that's what we needed to do this. That should not be the standard for scenarios. Don't dial it down all the way, but this was over the top.

Interestingly, the 4-player adjustment (which we didn't get) for this scenario is actually spot-on, which can be rather hit or miss in season 4.

All in all, I do like the scenario. It scratches a certain itch. But it does have significant flaws.


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Fun as player, surprisingly easy on the GM

5/5

I played this together with Magabeus, and we did have a rather easy time with this. I dunno about it being "too perfect"; the whole point of my Investigator is that he's easily able to slip into social gatherings, appear harmless, and then do what needs to be done (including wholesale slaughter of demon infiltrators). Then again, I played The Immortal Conundrum (dinner party) with my Wernher von Braun style alchemist, and that was a lot of fun too..

As a player, this was fun. When I GMed it, I was really pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing. All the info is there; for every room, suggestions on obvious ways of handling it, complete with DCs. All the information is in the scenario, in the place where you'd expect it to be. In my experience with relatively "interesting" scenarios like this, that's unusual for PFS editing.

You need a couple of statblocks from a bestiary, but you don't have to modify them. The puzzle is nontrivial but not impossible, and for once there are no actual errors in it. I do have some comments for the GM, which I'll put in the GM thread.

The combats aren't the strongest part of the scenario, although they're likely to be somewhat challenging, and perhaps a welcome change for players with unsubtle PCs.

A side effect of scenarios focused on time pressure is that it can also speed up the OOC gameplay. We finished this earlier than we usually do. I have some more comments on the time pressure element in the GM thread.

All in all I think this is a very well-crafted scenario. It challenges PCs on non-combat things, but does so in a very fair way. Even PCs who are mostly built for combat can get through this scenario, although you'll have to be much more creative than if you're a master of stealth and disguise. (Duh.) What really helps is that the scenario gives good guidance to the GM on how to adjudicate "other solutions" that players come up with; even if the players do everything different from what the scenario presumes, the GM should still have enough handholds to run that in a fair way.


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Tough and epic slog

4/5

I played this adventure as the conclusion to the trilogy, and I think it's best enjoyed that way. It gives you real investment in finally beating your nemesis.

We played with a party of 4: Barbarian 6, Alchemist 4/Barbarian 1, Zen Archer 5 and Inquisitor 5. We soon started to feel the burn of not having an actual level 5 cleric as two PCs got hit by a very nasty curse during a random encounter.

The random encounters here are the special Josh Frost nasty sauce. Several of them can easily cause a TPK. We managed to run from the scariest of them. I don't think monsters early in the adventure should stand a better than even chance of causing a TPK, particularly if they're random encounters, not a storied villain. I'm docking a star for that.

The random encounters do serve a purpose in the module though: they make it clear that you're deep into territory where you weren't meant to go. The Isle of Terror is not safe territory for an APL 5 party and there's nobody to rescue you if you fail. There's no restocking CLW wands so you might want to bring a few to spare; we burnt through about three wands and half a CMW wand, and all the potions we looted. We really felt like we were operating without a safety net here; depending on how you die, Raise Dead might not cut it.

The module is very good about sticking to theme in its monsters. All the monster were clearly picked out to add something to the flavour (and body count). Some encounters were easy, but all the bosses were tough. That works well to make them stand out. That thing you see on the cover of the book is really cool hot. You don't often face dragons but this one is scary, it can kill PCs with a standard action if you make a bad move. Or kill you twice over with a good full attack routine. And it's not the only scary thing you face that day.

The module is mostly about the scary combats, in an absolutely epic setting. I know my character will never look at gold the same way again. But he really feels like a badass hero now.


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Very cool BBEG

5/5

This scenario really pushes the envelope in coming up with BBEGs that you will remember. BBEG's got a great backstory that you gradually find out about even as you start to realize you're walking into a very very nasty encounter.

I notice that this scenario only gets rave reviews, which is unusual for a scenario with a final encounter that's this deadly. I heartily agree though; the encounter is hard but winnable. But you really need to be on top of your tactics, have backup plans and have ways to deal with the nasty stuff that your enemies will throw at you. Even on the low tier, you need to deal with nasty stuff that you usually don't run into until a few levels later.

Each of the encounters takes place in a cool location. You run into a lot of interesting enemies. The investigation part of this scenario is a bit easy, I think that sensible people are pretty much guaranteed to get that part right. There's not a lot of RP either. The scenario uses its time budget mostly for building atmosphere (very well done) and to do the BBEG.

In summary: play this scenario if you like very dangerous and challenging combats with a good story around it.


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Particularly good after Masks of the Living God

4/5

I had the good fortune to play this adventure with a PC who'd also played Masks of the Living God. This scenario is set some time after that, and features several of the same NPCs and locations, so that it really does feel like coming home. It's not a mega advantage, but it created more investment in the outcome for my character. That added bonus is worth a star.

Apart from that, it's an okay but not spectacular adventure. The investigation is fairly smart in that you can find clues but you still have to think about it and figuring it all out isn't guaranteed, but the adventure won't necessarily fail catastrophically if you can't do "the puzzle" either. That's a pretty fine line to tread and this scenario does that well.

The plot itself isn't all that original, and what irritated me, is that we only found out about it towards the end; all the NPCs you meet before that were in the "only talks if tortured" category, which we didn't want to. So at the end you get this sort of backup plot exposition. I'd have preferred a more piecemeal exposition over the course of the adventure.

The combats were (at high tier) mostly easy. Mostly; one fight has TPK potential, so stay on your toes.

The BBEG is built pretty cleverly; my GM remarked that he liked how well he was able to adapt to the PCs.

Overall it's a nice simple adventure, made much more interesting by its good tie-in to Masks.


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Leading the dinner-party genre to new heights of awesome and savagery

5/5

It's clear that this scenario is the result of Paizo gaining experience in writing these "social occasion with inevitable surprise attack" stories. Lessons learned from Immortal Conundrum, Among the Living and Blakros Matrimony. In particular, this scenario gracefully dances around frustrations about being allowed to carry weaponry;

Missing Briefing spoilers:
Because the Society is trying to show off and impress these people, you are encouraged to show up in full kit. Clean full kit of course. And (with the events of Matrimony in mind) you're also there to provide extraordinary security, "should it be necessary".

Also, because you can influence NPCs both with traditional social skills but also with other skills relating to their fields of interest, most PCs will get a chance to contribute in a meaningful way to that.

I played this adventure with my investigator, who's been around quite a bit, and already had connections to some of the people present. And he's a Blakros. So my stats for this were through the roof. The paladin was effective as well of course. (And if you look at the cover of the scenario, you can guess having a paladin along might be nice...) The rogue/warpriest/alchemist gaggle in our party had a bit harder time influencing NPCs, but they did good groundwork ferreting out information about them, which then allowed us to more effectively diplomacize them. As a weird team we were quite effective at this.

What I also liked is that by now you're considered serious adventurers; you're not wannabes anymore, you've probably beaten some demons before so you're actually a credible person here.

Also very nice is that the NPCs here have sufficient depth and talking points that there is actually quite a bit to talk about; if you figure out who and what you are you can come up with much more compelling arguments than "look closely at this D20". This much conversational material is much harder to find in other scenarios, I think.

And then there's the investigation part of things. The investigation is actually challenging; you have to think and work to find clues and get an idea of what is going on. Depending on how well you do at that you can prevent some of the damage the bad guys are hoping to do.

As for the combat: just because this is a social scenario doesn't mean the combats are just some stuff added in. These are pretty vicious monsters; I'd say the combats are slightly above average and the final fight is significantly above-average in danger. Our saving grace was that because I fought the main boss alone (it already dropped a PC) it wasn't using its pretty horrific stuff on the other PCs or we'd have been toast. That and a lucky hit/iterative crit round where my investigator longspeared for 120 damage; didn't even give the boss a chance to switch from trying to kill me to hoping to escape.

The take away message: this is a scenario that will challenge you socially, with investigation, and with serious combat.

It also runs WAY long; we had no big digressions or breaks but it was still 8 hours. Totally worth it.


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What it feels like for a Serpent

5/5

This was an absolute blast to play. The premise is great: you may have just played/GMed Siege of Serpents and now you get to ensure in the villain flashback that that's what happened. It's not your fault the rest of the Consortium couldn't finish the job properly.

Clearly, this scenario should be played after Siege of Serpents. Also, what another reviewer said, you really need The Leader (wizard) as one of the pregens chosen. That said, from across the table it looked like a really solid pregen. The divine caster is also good to have. I think the martial pregens are slightly more interchangeable; they're all fine but none of them indispensable.

The rest of the pregens are also well done. Each of them is competent at his/her job. Nobody feels like the Lump that is blocking the rest of the team from a successful stealth mission. Conversely, no single pregen can do everything, so everyone gets some spotlight time. While some of the pregens are evil, not all of them, and there are no strong incentives to sabotage the rest of the team. All the hate and bitterness is focused outwards. I think that's a good design to pull off an "evil" adventure without hurt feelings.

The PCs are all effective at their job, but also relatively balanced with each other. Good use of pregens, that. There's also been some thought put into the question of how to keep the adventure moving if a PC dies, which is entirely possible. The Pathfinder opposition may be NPCs, but some of them are quite dangerous.

It should also be kept in mind that while decently-built, these pregens are far from the optimized-to-the-gills PCs we normally see running around. I think they're slightly behind the ACG pregens but ahead of the CRB pregens. And with a much more coordinated set of abilities as a team. I think that again is a decent design choice: it limits the amount of information to digest before you start playing, but leaves you with someone you can still take seriously.

The boss fight in particular was impressive: this is what it feels like to be on the receiving end of an arrogant controlling caster with a suite of spells and tactics to really make you miserable. Just like our PCs do to the Aspis every other time. It's a welcome change from all the sad mad cultists just waiting in a dank basement for the pathfinders to come and kill them; this one intends to make a stand and win.


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Entertaining, but with some problems

3/5

Played this with a three-player crew + Zadim at high tier. We were an easygoing group; we know that in order to have a murder mystery there has to be a murder, so we didn't try to break the scenario by trying to make the murder impossible to carry out or something like that. Likewise, we were prepared to tolerate a certain amount of nonsensical plotting necessary to keep everything on the rails. I think such a relaxed frame of mind, and a small group of players, helps make this a fun scenario.

We had a good time. Especially the fight against the monster on the cover was hilarious, with a PC dropping all his inexpensive weapons to try to distract it while he ran to hide behind me (monk). Absolutely classic.

However, as murder mystery, it leaves something to be desired. There were so many red herrings, some big logic holes and so few actual clues that by the end we hadn't really managed to narrow things down; everyone had sort of a motive but also sort of an alibi. We talked to everyone and looked everywhere and didn't find anything that looked conclusive. It was starting to look like we'd have to resort to trying to brute-force things with layered Zone of Truth spells (see if you can pass six Will saves..) or something like that. And then the killer suddenly decides "we were getting too close" and reveals him/herself with a hopeless-odds attack.


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Nice idea, *bad* execution

2/5

I want to give this scenario a positive review. I like the story; it's not super deep but it makes sense and it's evocative. The encounters have good ideas behind them as well; they all make sense.

Moreover, this scenario features one of the earliest experiments by Paizo with what we nowadays call a skill challenge, and it's fairly well done. There's a chance for everyone to contribute, but at the same time it does reward skilled characters.

However, the scenario has two major problems.

The encounters may make sense, the stats of the enemies just aren't up to the task. They're just too weak to make the combats satisfyingly challenging.

The bigger problem is the disease. Now obviously for this scenario to work, the chance of infecting anyone has to be fairly high. But that's been done with DCs so high that you'll have a hard time getting cured going by the regular rules. It's quite possible that days after the combats are over and all the bad guys shredded, you're still in bed, possibly dying even. If the GM is running the disease as written, you will need someone who can cast lesser restoration over and over again. I really think someone didn't run the math on this part of the adventure before publishing it.

Apart from that, there's some typical early-PFS annoyances: not getting full treasure unless you steal from civilians, and the GM has to improvise a way for you to find out the story behind the adventure because there's no built-in delivery mechanism.


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So fast paced that it feels too short

4/5

The scenario has about the normal number of encounters. However, one can be seen as a puzzle to avoid the combat.

And then there's the Chase. This adventure has the distinction of being the first chase that not only went off as intended but actually had the players cheering all the way because it was so well-executed. This is due to a radical change to the chase rules since the early days of chases in season 3 or so. This one has fully functional rules.

I should also add that the GM ran it excellently (Monkhound); a good chase requires 3 things I believe:
- Rules that help instead of hinder
- Good execution by the GM (keeping up the tempo)
- Buy-in from the players

We had all of them and this adventure is a good reason to start believing in Chases as a force for fun again.

But, because a well-run chase runs fast, that also means the scenario actually went a bit too fast for my taste. We had the normal number of encounters, including one tricky fight, but it felt like something was missing.


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Simple but enjoyable

3/5

Mood and setting were okay although there could be more depth than that. The story was a bit too simple.

Some encounters (particularly with the cover monster) were cute, but on the whole it wasn't anything really special.

In short, there was nothing actively wrong with the adventure but it doesn't have enough perks either.


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Read up on altitude rules before you play this

3/5

Really. The altitude rules are not a secret, they're right there in the core book. You're told in the briefing you're going up a mountain. Put things together, and think on what impact it'll have on your party. It'll save you some grief.

Apart from that, I thought this was an okay adventure but with some flaws. The encounters were challenging and varied, with enemies you don't run into often or at all. There isn't much story though, and the final guy looks like a total random insert into the story. It'd be a total surprise except for the title of the scenario, but otherwise its a complete coincidence that he also happens to be at the place where we're going.


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