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Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–23: Rivalry's End (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Whhhaaaaaaaaatttttttt?David Kelk —
Out of all of the scenarios I've played to date, this one makes the least amount of sense. As it is the final curtain call for the Shadow Lodge, it should have had a memorable ending, not one that makes you exclaim, "Whhhaaaaaaaaatttttttt?"
We arrive in the Spider's lair. How do we know? It's spider shaped. There's a trap on the rugs before the double doors. Since none of us can remove magical traps we have two options. On one hand we can destroy the traps and alert the Spider we're coming. On the other hand, we can set the trap off and alert the Spider we're coming. We elect to destroy the trap.
Opening the doors we're hit in the face with a confusion spell. Most of the session is spent dealing with it. We were lucky to have had a lyrakien azata familiar - who was lightning immune - tank the lightning wielding kineticist. Otherwise, there would have been casualties.
Once the confusion was past, we searched for the Spider. We didn't find him or her. We didn't even get to see what the Spider looked like since they began the encounter invisible. Not ones to give up too easily we did the best we could to try and find the Spider. We considered different spells and different ways we could collect information by using skills. After hitting a wall we finally used the lyrakien azata's once a week commune ability. We learn the Spider is leaving by ship. Now the problem is that we don't know what they look like. Apparently someone at the lodge does so we return there to find them.
We know Grandmaster Torch is waiting for us to return. We specifically said we weren't looking for Torch - but instead for this other NPC. So what happens? We run into Torch. The conversation went something like this
Torch: How is the investigation going? Have you found the Spider yet?
In the end the scenario made no sense. It seems like failure was the only option. Did we fail because we couldn't quietly remove the trap at the Spider's door, or for some other reason? Regardless, it just feels like there was nothing we could have done to capture the Spider. Take your 0 pp, 1100 gp and move on.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-08: Among the Gods (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Among the worstDavid Kelk —
This scenario is the most mean spirited one I've encountered since 5-20.
#1: Traps. Apparently, in this scenario traps can only be detected if we are using a scout. Regular perception checks and "we're looking for traps" doesn't work. For whatever reason one person has to go ahead of the rest of the group to "scout" to find traps. We only find this out after setting off a trap of course.
#2: High altitude. One of the party members had the boon from 7-06 that allowed them to function at high altitude without penalty. The GM said that the boon didn't apply because this scenario uses "custom altitude rules" not covered by the boon.
It was interesting how none of the creatures we encountered were suffering from the altitude effects like our party was. There was probably a 3rd custom rule covering that.
This is enough to give the scenario one star. Simply put, playing this scenario was a rotten five hours.
Note: I've read the other reviews for this scenario. None of them mention the custom rules. I'm not sure what to say about that.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–03: The Bronze House Reprisal (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Twinks make it easyDavid Kelk —
Just finished this scenario. Our group had 3 max-minned characters in it who consistently rolled 30-45 on their skill checks. It was obvious that at-least one of them had done the scenario before (or read it before) and wasn't at all shy about using that knowledge.
What was kind of frustrating was that there was one player who just talked and talked and talked and didn't really give room for other players to do anything. It never occurred to him that there were other people there who wanted to play too. It was all about him and him being cool.
It's hard to write an actual review of the scenario because I more or less received an escort through it.
The DM talked about the arbitrary railroading at the end where you get captured and have to spend 5 pp to escape. I'm of the opinion that if you are railroaded unreasonably, ignore it. Don't spend the 5 pp and continue to play your character as if it didn't happen. Just because something is written down doesn't make it right.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–23: The Darkest Abduction (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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So much wrong-fun and laughs in a single scenarioDavid Kelk —
There has been a rash of abductions in the city of Karcau in Ustalav. When it was only the common folk who were being kidnapped, nobody cared. BUT! When a diva from the opera was kidnapped, Venture Captain Basia Kalistoff calls in the Pathfinders.
The mission briefing is pretty boilerplate: Everyone hates Pathfinders here, be good and find the diva.
We start our investigation in the opera house after the performance. We find some clues - but they aren't conclusive and don't give any kind of clue on what to do next. Never fear! The crazy hair cutting lady knows what to do! Go to the swamp, find a shrine and incant an evil ritual to summon shady voodoo people who will help you.
This sounds like a super-bad idea. This woman is obviously nuts. We must have missed a clue or two from our earlier investigation. After investigating a second time we find ... nothing. (Later we learned that one of the clues we did find was actually a red herring.)
We go to the swamp. It's not really clear why we're here so we look for more clues ... and find nothing. Reluctantly we incant the ritual and summon the voodoo people. We barter with them for a bit and eventually we buy some information from them. They say that the popular, rich and famous dude who runs a mortuary business in Karcau kidnapped the diva or knows something about it.
Never one to turn down larceny we break into the dude's building and search it for clues ... and find nothing. We do find out however that this dude is into every kink, fetish, drug, etc... imaginable. Behind closed doors he's one bad dude. Eventually he finds us and more or less says, "I didn't do it. The answers you seek are at your own lodge."
So far the investigation has made no sense at all. None of our skill checks to find clues have mattered. We've gone from high society at the opera to low society at the swamp, back to high society again with the mortuary business. (The side implication that our lodge is low society wasn't lost on me.) At each stage an NPC told us where to go next - crazy scissors lady, shady voodoo men and way out there fetish dude. We are completely incapable of advancing the plot on our own.
Choo-choo! The rail-road express pulls into its final stop at the Pathfinder lodge. Please watch your step as you exit the train. Somewhere around this time the DM apologizes for all of the railroading in the adventure. "It's just written that way." he said.
Searching through our own lodge we're told things like, "You can tell how long the alcohol has been out by observing the rate of evaporation" and "Glancing into a dish cabinet (That we've never glanced into before) you can tell that dishes are missing." Our keen powers of observation appear to be limited to irrelevant details. The dishes were the final straw. At this point we all burst out laughing at the absurdities of this scenario.
We reached a door with 3 costumes hanging beside it. If this was suppose to be an opera related clue, it drew another round of laughter. We did notice the missing costumes when we were in the opera house. We didn't think much of it though because there are many plausible reasons why - Fans tore the costumes from the actors bodies mid-performance, aliens swooped down from the depths of space and took them away for their own depraved reasons, a larger advanced fiendish costume ate the smaller ones or they could have been out for a wash and a mend.
These costumes hanging in such an obvious place was the source of much laughter and exasperation because our bard had returned to the lodge at-least 3 times to give Venture Captain Kalistoff updates on our progress. Each time he had to GO THROUGH THE DOOR that the COSTUMES WERE HUNG BESIDE. Each time he didn't notice anything amiss. Perhaps he was too distracted by evaporating alcohol to notice the COSTUMES HANGING RIGHT BESIDE THE DOOR HE WENT THROUGH.
As we were making our way through the lodge we kept finding notes with messages on them like, "You've done bad things Pathfinders", "Look in a mirror before accusing others", "You're bad people" and so-on.
Personally, I've been at peace for a long time with the truth that the Pathfinder Society is more or less run like a crime family. The Dons (Decemverate) pass orders to the lieutenants (Venture Captains) who in turn pass them on to the enforcers (Us Pathfinders). We go to exotic locations, steal their stuff and bring it back to the lodge. That's what it means to be a Pathfinder.
If there was some kind of moral message, it didn't connect. The notes were only memorable because of the disappearing ink that somehow knew to disappear after being read.
Finally we reach the end. We open the door to the final room to see a bound and gagged dark stalker-type creature tied to a piano seat with a sword in its hand. There is an unconscious, tied up and gagged dark stalker-type slumped on the floor. Finally there is a tied up and gagged guy with a scarab tattoo who is looking at us and subtly shaking his head. We had the GM read the room description twice to make sure we heard everything right.
(Master's illusion can't be used to change the pose a person takes or make them look like they are attacking. It changes appearances only. The villain believed the power could be used this way and wanted it to look like the person tied to the chair was about to jump off it and attack. Also, chair-tied person was charmed. Charm person specifically says, "never obeys obviously harmful orders" - like jumping off a chair to stab someone! Lets not forget that the villain "regularly scars them - physically and emotionally" and has promised her Kyton allies "free reign to inflict whatever pain they desire on her hostages once her mission is done." Somehow charm person still works??????)
Gagged chair-person starts to shout! "Bla bla bla evil plan bla bla" and then chair-person is suppose to attack - but doesn't. Totally bizarre! According to the module we can make some DC 25 or 35 checks to get some clues that something isn't right. Lets see... a tied up person with a sword who is gagged but can shout very clearly at us. Can I take 10?
At this point I thought Venture Captain Kalistoff was the villain. Nope. The villain has disguised herself as the open door to the room. Yes - the door to the room. The PCs happen to be standing at that door. To make the situation even more surreal, the shouting isn't even coming from the chair-tied person - but the door disguised villain. Somehow its a DC 25 check to figure out that the shouting isn't coming from 25 feet away and almost in front of us - but is instead coming from the immediate left or right side of the door. Did the people of Golarion never learned how to localize the sources of sounds?
The villain's opening gambit of deeper darkness is thwarted by a spell level 3 ioun torch. One dispel magic later the gig is up. Our peace-loving bard had turned into a frustrated killing machine a few hours earlier, so we let him off the villain. He cast a spell and launched a bunch of two-handed swords and polearms at her. Both Kytons received the express train back to their home planes in short order. For his encore the bard cast the same spell on mortuary dude. We applauded mightily as the curtain closed on this scenario.
We received two custom boons on our chronicle. You should get them too:
Alcohol timing: After looking through the extensive and vast ale collection of Basia Kalistoff, you can now determine how long alcohol has been sitting by watching it evaporate.
Deadly persuasion: After accidentally or intentionally killing an opera diva and then having to deal with her, you now take only a -20 on diplomacy and bluff checks with people you have killed. Do I really have to add that trying to persusade a corpse still doesn't work?
An opera to die forDavid Kelk —
Four normal, non-twink characters with an average party level of 2.75 (rounded to 3) go to the opera to find a dig site.
"It's the opera" the bloodrager says, "I won't need my gear."
After fighting the first group of zombies we try to exit the opera house so we can get the bloodrager's gear. "Overwhelming abjuration magic" prevents us from leaving. The walls and doors are invulnerable to attack and conveniently enough there are no windows.
Both the module writer and DM don't seem to care that people might actually go to the opera without their combat gear. It's the OPERA - not the combat arena. People sing and dance. They don't murder each other in gory combat every time. Regardless, we are forced to continue.
The battles with the zombies and Zyphus cultists get repetitive. Zyphus's clerics are especially annoying. They have heavy picks that do x4 damage on a crit. Fighting them is all about luck. They also have potions of cure moderate wounds that drag the fights out.
We encounter this selfish nobleman who demands that we drop everything and rescue him. The encounter went something like this:
Noble: I demand that you escort me out of here now.
In retrospect this was probably a roleplaying encounter. It's a pretty poor one though. Who wants to save - or even talk to - a selfish noble who threatens you in the middle of the zombie apocalypse? We leave him there.
We eventually find the dig site and it's large undead guardian. This guardian one-hits three party members into unconsciousness. Two of its attacks hit for 18ish damage. The third crits for over 40.
A cleric appears out of nowhere and hits the 4th party member for 20ish points of negative energy damage. This player didn't even get a perception check to try and detect the cleric.
The adventure ends here. One party member escapes while the other 3 are turned into undead by the cleric. Making the characters undead guarantees their deaths are permanent. Raise dead doesn't work on anyone made undead. The more expensive resurrection has to be used. There is no way that 2nd and 3rd level PCs can afford resurrection.
Net result: 3 permanently dead PCs and one fled.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–11: The Slave Master's Mirror (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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1st hit, 1st round, 1st combatDavid Kelk —
The first hit of the first round of combat of the first battle crit my 30 hp arcanist with 14 con for 53 damage. (For some reason the fighter shifted position on his turn, leaving both arcanists exposed to attacks.) 53 damage in one attack at tier 4-5 is too much.
The scenario forces some of the party members to be slaves. This sucks because as a slave your choices and role-play options are limited. You sit there bored for an hour or so while the non-slaves have all the fun.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–17: Fate of the Fiend (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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The slime! The terrible fearsome slime!David Kelk —
To clarify: Outshyn is correct. The weapons weren't destroyed in one hit and weren't destroyed forever. I have no complaints with the DM of the scenario. The DM did a fine job. The problem is with the scenario itself.
I played this at Gencon and was literally stunned at what happened.
After getting the mission briefing we entered Rachikan for some reason that I can't recall. Right away we encountered bulettes covered in slime. We fought them. *Whomp* my samurai's +1 acid thundering katana was destroyed. It had 11 hp and took around 15 points of damage that ignored hardness. We're adventurers and are suppose to be brave right? The reflex saving throw to protect out weapons couldn't be that outrageous, could it?
*Snap* *snap* the magic katana and wakizashi wielded by my friend's samurai were both destroyed. *Snap* my masterwork cold iron katana was destroyed. The other people at the table either lost weapons or didn't attack. Arrows melted in the slime covering the bulette, doing no damage what so ever and so-on.
In two rounds, about 40,000 gold worth of magic weapons were destroyed by these awesome bulettes. We didn't have any mages so all of our attacks were weapon based. From what I understood at the time, we hadn't even done 1 point of damage to them. The DM insisted he was running the scenario as written. So being brave - but not foolish - we agreed to run away. Our good weapons were gone and we didn't want to continue the adventure with no weapons or crummy back-up weapons.
Well, we tried to run away, but the DM wouldn't let us. We moved away a few squares then the DM put us back in melee combat with the bulettes because some other morlocks showed up. He said that the scenario required it. The DM rolled some dice then moved us on the map again. (Because the scenario said so?) These new morlocks beat up the bulettes and the other bad morlocks (that we didn't detect) rather easily and then talked to us. I didn't bother to ask why the morlocks weren't affected by the bulette slime. The scenario probably said they were immune.
The morlocks asked us for help I think. This is the part where I was in the stunned daze I described at the beginning. The slime. The terrible, terrifying slime. If the morlocks could beat up the bulettes and bad morlocks with no casualties, why do they need our help?
We went with them. For every encounter that followed all we wanted to know was if the monsters had slime on them. We followed the morlocks around and tried really hard to remember why we were here. Something about golems right? Golems covered in slime? We fear slime. There were some hell knights. Don't remember what happened to them. After that were demons hiding behind pillars. Did they have slime on them? Maybe they were morlocks. We were too traumatized to care. At that point we just wanted this awful session to end.
It did end eventually. Beyond the sketchy details of the previous paragraph I don't remember anything else about this scenario.
Anyway, this scenario is probably fine if you deal with the slime correctly. If you don't, then you're in for a really rotten time.