This was the very first Pathfinder Society scenario I ever played. It's nothing special, just a standard overland trek with a few "encounters" along the way, and a more-exciting-than-intended meeting with some contacts at the end. But it was a nice little intro for new players that didn't risk sending them running away from the game, so it did its job.
Having GMed it several times since that initial experience, I was sorry to see this one retired. I'd love it if they just removed the scene with Grandmaster Torch, had someone else give the players the map, and brought the scenario back for active play.
This was actually the first PFS scenario I ever GMed, and I've run it 3 more times since then. It's one of my "go to" adventures to keep with me and run on short notice, because it's fun and easy to run.
I love the opening mission briefing and first two "encounters". There's a sense of mystery there, and the fact that the PCs are being ordered to intentionally lose a fight (which ends up being harder than it sounds!) is an interesting twist that I've never seen anywhere else. It's definitely a fun and flavorful beginning to the adventure.
After that, things get a little more routine, though exactly how things go in each encounter is up to the players. While they have to meet each set of NPCs in order, they can talk their way out of certain combats, handle them one at a time, or accidentally combine combat encounters, depending on how careful, talkative, and/or bloodthirsty they are.
Unless the party accidentally combines encounters, the combats in this adventure aren't particularly tough, though not a total cake-walk for an average party. Hard core power gamers will crush these combats, unless the bad guys get a lucky crit. As I hinted at earlier, the first combat might just be the toughest, because the PCs have been ordered to "lose" the fight, against somewhat incompotent opposition!
This is a fun adventure overall. Highly recommended.
PS. I'm truly shocked at the last review before mine calling this "basically just combat from start to end with a brief opportunity for roleplay at the finale". I could understand if that was a player's review from someone whose party treated the adventure that way, but there are opportunities to role play in every single encounter, including the one (and only!) encounter that actually requires a combat solution. The optional encounter is the only one that's mandatory combat with no RP.
I have to say that I'm pretty shocked by all the negative reviews of this scenario. Most of them seem to come from people who played the scenario with GMs who didn't explain scenario details properly.
Players are supposed to know that they're under a strict time limit right from the start. And while it may seem ridiculous to take several minutes to move through a room, the GM should be explaining that the party is nearly packed shoulder to shoulder with nobles and other high society people in fancy dress, so casually strolling through as if you belong is going to be a slow and tedious process. And the adventure even specifically says that the GM should be sure to tell the players how long everything takes, to let them know how long they're taking, and there's a built in mechanism for warning them of how much time they have left.
I also saw one complaint about how you can get stuck if you don't search a specific item in one room. While the adventure does say "A DC 15 Perception check while examining the ____", it would be a pretty big jerk GM move to not have that covered as part of searching the whole room. And at DC 15, even a level 1 group should have someone who can spot that while taking 10.
I played this scenario when it was new, then GMed it four times since then, because I enjoyed it so much. I've never had a group fail the main mission. I've had some close calls on the time limit, but I've also had a group finish with more than 15 minutes to spare. I've seen a group of all level 1s with three barbarians have trouble with the skill checks, but they didn't fail quite enough to get into trouble, and they trivialized the combats. I've also seen skill heavy groups have no problem sneaking/bluffing their way through the party, and then have a little trouble in combat, but they were eventually able to win the fights. A well balanced party will have the greatest chance of success, as it should be.
As my review title says, this is my favorite PFS scenario. I love seeing the creative solutions players come up with to various things (just how does a druid sneak her baby elephant companion through a fancy party?), the skill challenges that are more than just die rolling, and the looks on the players' faces when we reach the point where I'm able to say those four magic words:
"The chair attacks you."
Best response ever: "Good thing my ranger has favored enemy: furniture."
And this scenario has the one and only truly memorable Silver Crusade faction mission I've ever seen. When I played it, I was playing my chaotic good gnome prankster bard in the Silver Crusade. When I read that faction mission, I practically fell out of my chair laughing, both in and out of character.
All in all, I think this is a really fun, creative adventure, though it does require extra work from the GM. While there are some minor pieces of constructive criticism in these reviews that I can agree with, most of the major complaints seem to come down to GM problems, not the adventure itself.
Just played this one the other day and had a great time. We played at tier 3-4 with a group of 6, none above level 5.
Most of the adventure is pretty standard dungeon crawl stuff, but with a couple of interesting twists thrown in along the way.
But what makes the adventure really special is the final battle. And I do mean "battle", not "fight". This is the largest, most complex battlefield I've seen in a PFS adventure, and it kept our group of 6 busy for about 8 or 9 rounds of combat, which is probably the longest fight I've seen in PFS with such a large group.
But it wasn't a matter of just hacking away at one big monster until it went down like some tough final fights in PFS. The number and variety of opponents, along with the interesting terrain features, made it a ton of fun. Every member of our highly varied team found some role to play in the overall battle at all times.
All in all, I really liked this adventure and highly recommend it.
Edit: I realized that I haven't updated this review since initially playing the adventure. I've since GMed this thing 3 times, and I still love it. The last battle is a lot of fun with every group, and some of the twists in the dungeon crawl along the way are fun to RP. Highly recommended scenario.