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***** Pathfinder Society GM.No posts. 13 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 22 Organized Play characters.



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Cool Elements That Never Come Together

1/5

GMed this for a table of six (Metamorph Alchemist 4, Primal Companion Hunter 3, UC Rogue 2, Cleric 2, Barbarian 1, Ranger 1).

Positives and Negatives

+Rahadoum and the Pure Legion make a definitive impression upon divine casting characters entering the city.

-The Legion Point system should be good, but every encounter after entering the city takes place in private locations with people that would/should never report you. Why would a woman you rescue from a burning building immediately report you for using divine magic?

+The villain has an interesting background and ties into a greater threat.

-Unfortunately, the party will never learn any of that unless you force a massive evil monologue at the very end.

-Additionally, her decisions in parts of the scenario are baffling and stupid.

---After entering Azir, the different sections of the scenarios aren't connected well. A random noblewoman just happens to have a ton of items necessary for the auction to be easier, several of which beggar belief. The villain just happens to make a stupid decision that is all risk and no reward, but that's necessary to continue the scenario. And after the auction, the party has no actual leads on where to go, leading to another random gather information rather than any kind of problem solving.

--There's honestly just too many sections in this adventure. Desert rescue, dealing with the line, scavenging for clues, a fight, rescuing people, talking with people before an auction, running an auction, another fight, and then a dungeon afterwards. Our table ran for 5 hours, and that involved me rushing the group through the final dungeon at a breakneck pace.

-The auction, which is supposedly the centerpiece of the scenario, is a complete afterthought. Half of the auction involves no NPC bidding on items. There's no format for how the auction is run. You can wing it, but since it's the main point of the scenario, why should you have to wing it?

-The editing is shoddy, particularly in the section on the auction. The table for the auction items and their bids is multiple pages away from the bidders and what they'll pay for the items. The only descriptions of the items are nestled in the descriptions for each of the bidders.

-The scenario seems to punish you for doing too well. Get all the macguffins for the other bidders at the auction? The auction doesn't happen, you fight a bad guy, and your Dark Archive members fail their mission. Kill the villain early? You just fight something else with her stats as well as another creature for the final fight?

+The disease is incredibly cool and threatening.


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He Has A Mouth, So At Least He Can Scream

5/5

Just finished playing this. I'd prepped to run it at one point, but I haven't actually GMed this yet.

Our party (two Witches, a Sorcerer, a Bloodrager, and a Paladin) had a complete blast with this one. This was a creepy mystery from the get-go, and it didn't disappoint as we progressed. It rewarded good skill checks while still providing some solid combat opportunities as well, though I would concede that going in on 100% MurderHobo Mode will likely end with mission failure and character deaths.

From behind the screen, I'll second the others that recommend that this is a scenario for experienced GMs. There are a number of things to keep track of throughout the course of the adventure, and a few key elements of the scenario aren't so readily apparent to the players that should be (In our case, our GM did an excellent job of subtly conveying that information).

I'd say that this is a must-play for members of the Dark Archive and those who have followed along with the storyline around the Copper Gate.


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Too Much Preaching

2/5

Reading this over before GMing it, my impression was that there was just too much of the GM talking at the PCs in the latter parts of the adventure. That impression generally bore out, though the adventure was still fun enough.

First off, the initial events with the festival are a dream for roleplaying. The situation allows for some fun between the GM and the players, the PCs applying a number of skills into putting on a fun play. This was everybody's favorite part of the scenario, and much fun was had by all even though the skills were somewhat lacking among most of the participants. Unless the party is utterly devoid of performance capabilities, I'd strongly suggest this route over the generic combat.

The dinnertime scenes played out alright with the party, but I felt that most groups will suffer from the Clout mechanic unless they nail the first portion. The scenario presents a number of ways the party can proactively earn Clout, but most parties won't go out of their way to achieve these unless there is some HEAVY encouragement to do so. Thankfully, my group had succeeded enough at the first portion that this wasn't a major problem.

The first combat just comes out of nowhere and adds nothing to the scenario, but it is the most difficult by a fair margin. The party handled it with a mild bit of difficulty and then waltzed through the remaining combats. The second fight was already easy enough, but the conditions of it made it far too easy for the party. The third fight is really totally skippable, and that's basically what the party did.

The final portions of the adventure are basically going to play out either really well or incredibly poorly depending on how the players have A) paid attention and B) interpreted all the theology that came beforehand. In my case, the PCs had paid enough attention that they knew the surface level concepts, but they completely interpreted everything the wrong way for the encounter. It took some GM leniency to not end up with them all dying on the ground, and a few players seemed lost amid the constant philosophical discussions.

Ultimately, this scenario is ambitious to a fault. It strives for a lot more than most common PFS scenarios offer, but it follows its own strange logic too much. The concepts are capable of being grasped, but they're even more likely to be misinterpreted, and while there are relatively open-ended answers to most questions, they still demand a certain understanding of a strange philosophy. There is certainly a good amount of flavor, but I cannot shake my feeling that a large number of groups will really struggle with the content provided.


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Brevoy Ahoy!

5/5

Played this at Gencon in the low-tier. My character was an Aldori Swordlord from the region, so I was eager for this scenario going in.

The Society has interest in a ruin languishing near a Brevic town that is the focal point of a conflict between rival noble families. The primary interest is to get into the ruin and recover anything historical from it before war breaks out over the disputed territory, stopping the war being a secondary concern.

The first section of the adventure involves gathering information in the city, both about the keep as well as the nobles feuding over the town. If you've played Horn of Aroden, a familiar face is even present (older and wiser than he was during that scenario). A couple of our group had played Horn of Aroden, so we had a great time roleplaying this scene as well as with a number of the other contacts. The party is given the option of siding with one of the families or siding with neither, and every option provides a unique bonus. We found the two primary parties unwilling to bend at the time, but some cryptic references to an old accord that stifled conflict in the past led us to visit the ruin before continuing negotiations.

The first combat was straightforward and not too difficult (though both sides spammed crits throughout the battle back and forth).

Upon reaching the keep, there are a number of skill checks to gather historical information from the ruins. As somebody familiar with both Brevic history and the lore of Golarion, I found this section to be very interesting, but I could see the series of information dumps being a bit trivial to more casual players.

We skipped the optional encounter due to time (we roleplayed a lot in town).

The final two combats went fairly quickly, but neither of them were pushovers. The boss was a rather unique enemy that embodied much of the hidden lore of the place.

I found this scenario to be thoroughly entertaining, though I will admit my bias towards the setting greatly enhanced my experience. My one knock on the adventure was that both of the feuding nobles came off as rather unsympathetic, so there really wasn't any incentive to side with one over the other besides the material promises they offered us and the Society at large.


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Galtan Undercover Fun

5/5

Played with Viewlard in the low-tier, though we had multiple between and out-of-tier characters.

A couple of Andoran senators have been abducted, and the trail leads towards revolutionary Galt. With the Almas lodge shunting the responsibility, Eliza Petulengro picks up the slack and brings in her own investigative team of Pathfinders to track down their whereabouts.

Needless to say, this is an investigation heavy scenario, so make sure you have some skill characters along for the ride. You're provided with some information and leads beforehand (a Venture Captain that actually does her own research before sending you out?) but are left to your own devices in terms of how you approach things. You get to witness a number of aspects about Galt throughout, and the oppressive atmosphere is obvious throughout.

I played my half-Galtan Investigator for this, and I was easily swept up in the investigation. The story unfolds in a number of interesting ways, frequently providing you with new clues and information as you proceed. Even though there were multiple non-skilled characters in our group, they seemed to remain interested and frequently involved themselves in the events throughout.

There is only one mandatory combat, and there are apparently two options for it. The fight we encountered was absolutely devastating. I'd be tempted to dock a star simply for the difficulty of that fight, but I had so much fun throughout the rest of the adventure that it more than made up for it. Not sure if the difficulty remains the same for the high tier, but we had multiple characters drop (including me), and this was with a number of us at level 5 and above. There is the potential for at least one more combat, but we avoided it with some careful planning and good skill checks.

All in all, this was one of my favorite scenarios that I played at Gencon, and I look forward to GMing it soon.

Edit: Oh, and be sure to play this with Liberty's Edge faction characters if you can. I won't say any more, but big things are brewing.


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If Someone Threatens to Redact You From History, Take Them Seriously...

5/5

Played this with Count Viewlard. If memory serves, our party consisted of his mish-mash Archer multiclass, a Bard archer, a Gunslinger, a Cleric, a Rogue, and my Bardbarian Swashbuckler.

First of all as others have noted, there isn't much roleplaying to be had outside of one short portion and PC interactions. While that normally bothers me in other scenarios, this adventure was tense enough throughout that I was thoroughly entertained. The combats are all rather dangerous, and there were many moments when the players were significantly threatened. That said, none of the encounters felt completely unfair, and we were able to gut them out and complete the mission successfully.

I appreciated how the missions throughout the season built toward this adventure, multiple artifacts collected in previous missions being given to the PCs for the duration of the adventure. We didn't have anybody to make use of one artifact, but the other two proved to be incredibly useful throughout.

Long story short: Bring your A-game for this scenario. Brutal combats await, but the challenges are definitely within reason for a balanced party of well-constructed characters.


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So This Is The Follow-up....

2/5

Ran this back-to-back with Part 1 and the same party of six in the low-tier.

The Good:
1. The unique vision of the ruins and accompanying NPC are rather interesting. There's a lot of great flavor to add in with this vision of the past.
2. Very nice boon for those that participate in the ritual.

The Bad:
1. The combats (at least in the low-tier) were all jokes. Several of the encounters just reused the same enemies, and there was little threat from them at any point. The encounter in the room with the giant table is particularly odd considering that the tactics for the two enemy types don't sync up in the slightest.
2. The final fight is tedious and not dangerous in the low-tier. This has the same sort of final boss as another scenario where the low-tier boss was helpless yet hard-to-kill. The combat dragged on for a while, and it would have gone even longer had the party not had a couple potions of Fly at the ready.

The Ugly:
1. There is a serious problem involving the urgency of the invading force versus the exploration angle of the scenario. It took a good bit of massaging to get the party to partake of the exploratory angle of the adventure instead of just rushing off to deal with the immediate threat. The adventure HEAVILY assumes a party will do both at the same time, and the exploration angle entirely falls flat if it isn't handled strictly as written.
2. The 'blessings' the final boss receives throughout the course of the adventure run contrary to the sense of urgency presented in the first encounter. On one hand, it seems a little odd to essentially punish the party for running an adventure as intended, but on the other hand, the final boss is a waste of time without these abilities. My table completely bypassed any interaction in the first encounter after being informed of the present situation, and that stripped the final boss' most dangerous ability from him (though even that isn't particularly dangerous).

The Verdict:

Honestly, there's a lot of cool stuff and potential in this scenario, but it just doesn't feel like it comes together. Perhaps that's a failing on my part as GM, but this ran much less smoothly or interestingly than the frequently-derided Part 1. The two angles of this scenario NEED to be run together for its narrative to function fluidly, and yet it actively seems to discourage this approach. There's no reason the party can't just say they'll do their research later after dealing with the present danger, and if it's run that way, the first half of the adventure would be nothing but uninteresting combats without context while the second half would be little aside from a GM just spouting off box-text about the cool setting.


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The Great Race (And The Rest of the Baggage)

3/5

GMed but have not played. Full party of six in low tier. Can't recall the classes immediately.

Having read over reviews and recommendations beforehand, I made sure to offer a disclaimer to the players at my table. I told them that characters that rely heavily on specific equipment and niche builds would likely have a difficult time in this adventure. While this did not sway the character choices for any of the players, all of them appreciated the warning. I strongly suggest GMs warn players beforehand so there aren't any surprises that could potentially ruin player enjoyment.

For the record, the party bypassed both the bushwhack attempt and the caterpillars entirely.

The Good:
1. The build up to the race is rather nice. Having each of the teams announce themselves and their intentions adds personality to the competitors and encourages some roleplay with the particular individuals. The solo racers also allow GMs to include oddballs into the mix.
2. The Pursuit mechanics are easy to run when the GM has prepared fully for them and can clearly describe the system to players. We never had any issues with running it after a short description of how it worked and a few questions to clarify matters.

The Bad:
1. There is no real reason for the players to stick to the intended path the adventure assumes they will traverse. The party pretty quickly veered south into the plains and ended up skipping most of the encounters and still easily won the race.
2. Several of the encounters can be brutally difficult depending on the results of a few early skill checks; some before and some after the Pursuit section commences. While the party didn't encounter any problems, I was keenly aware of how painfully bad things could become had they not made a few critical checks.

The Verdict:
I had a lot of fun running this scenario, and thankfully, the party was capable of thriving through the course of the adventure. The first combat encounter presented some issues, but the final encounter ended up being handled relatively easily. The roleplay element of the scenario was a lot of fun to handle, and the Pursuit mechanic went smoothly and was enjoyed by the party.

That said, I'm aware of the danger this scenario presents, both for an inexperienced party and for an under-prepared GM. This thing can go to hell real quick if things aren't approached correctly from either side of the table. A disclaimer beforehand might be critical to the success of numerous tables depending on the players and classes.

While my players and I greatly enjoyed this scenario, the variability and danger inherent in stripping away equipment is hard to overlook. Whenever I get the opportunity to play this, I'm very curious to see if things go nearly as well. Even knowing what's coming ahead of time, there is a definite concern in the back of my mind that we may end up getting wiped. I'd give a higher rating for the particular table that I ran, but being aware of all of the issues and dangers in this scenario prevents me from giving above a three-star rating.


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The (Not-So) Great Debate

2/5

Featuring an interesting concept and setting, I figured that we'd be engaging in a lot of fish-out-of-water fun amid the miniscule Wayangs, but that promise largely went unfulfilled.

The Good: There are some small doses of flavor throughout the scenario that added life to Wayang culture and gave us a chance to partake in it. The first combat was entertaining (and in our case, fairly threatening) as each of us attempted to play out our parts during the battle.

The Bad: The Debate rules. Oh boy. Everybody has been harping on them, but I'll add to the dogpile. A complex sub-system like this only grinds the game to a halt, and in the end, you're supposed to lose, making all the effort to learn the system feel hollow. We took about 20-30 minutes to get everybody up to speed on the system, and then it was over in maybe 5 minutes. It also seemed like the writers didn't prompt the GM with many examples of what sort of things to debate, so we were often left in a void of roleplaying. The one bright spot of the debate was an excellent Red Herring by one of the players: "You say we should help seal the evil, but I think we need a massive seal, a huge seal, and the evil is gonna pay for it!"

The final battle... happened. A guy jumped out, got Hideous Laughtered, his shadow pup went down, another shadow monster popped out, and some ritualizing put it back where it came from. Just never had a great grasp on why or how it was occurring.

Conclusion: There are some neat pieces and ideas floating around in this scenario, but too often, I felt like I didn't have much of an idea of what we were doing or why. The debate was fun enough once we got our heads wrapped around the subsystem, but took waaaay more time than was worth it to learn.


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Good Times in Galt

5/5

Played once and GMed twice.

The Pathfinders travel to Galt and seek the forgiveness of a former agent that had been left to twist in the wind during the revolution and hopefully gain enough trust to entice her to return to aiding the Society. In the midst of their endeavor, a spooky murder mystery begins to unfold.

First off, the town is given a good bit of flavor and personality. The scenario includes several small details about the town that aren't entirely necessary for the plot but enrich the roleplaying opportunities for the players. The spurned agent you're attempting to coax forgiveness from has legit beef with the Society, so it makes the players think on their toes while trying to convince her to let go of the past. The mystery is fairly by-the-book for the setting, but it's the steps along the way that keep it fun. There are opportunities present for every kind of character to shine, and several NPCs to use as foils for the player characters to strut their stuff.

While the combats aren't particularly difficult, they aren't complete pushovers for most groups, though optimized parties will make quick work of the enemies. I ran for a group of mostly newbies and a more seasoned party, and the combats kept them on their toes (though the seasoned group used some ill-advised tactics in the final fight in order to achieve that).

I'd recommend this as a lower level (read: 1-2) scenario for players, and I think it's a perfect adventure for those new to PFS. It has a little bit of everything and isn't so difficult that it will leave newcomers frustrated. Flavor trumps combat difficulty in my book, and at low levels, I'm not really going to ding a scenario for being a little bit of a pushover.


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Rollin' with the Hellknights

5/5

GMed this scenario for Poison Dusk.

Plot: You're sent to accompany a group of Hellknights to clear out some chaotic force that seems to be blossoming in the mountains, but you're also tagging along in order to check out an ancient temple in Cheliax that the Society hasn't been able to access prior. Journey along with your "merry" band of Hellknights, tackle some unique obstacles, and make a tough decision towards the end.

Combats: While the party absolutely rolled over every encounter for the reasons Poison Dusk laid out, I feel that the combats are likely to end up as relatively difficult for most parties without being overwhelmingly terrifying. My one gripe is that the final encounter for the route my players chose seems to assume that they'd charge into melee; unfortunately the tactics were not ready for a range/caster heavy party to simply bombard them from a distance the entire time.

What I Liked: The scenario gives the GM a lot of opportunities and meaty tidbits to build up the tension and escalating threat as the party journeys deeper into the mountains. There's also plenty of potential for roleplaying with your Hellknight companions that can make for some unique interactions. And while the big decision towards the end of the scenario is a little forced to keep groups from trying both, it caused a good bit of soul-searching and character introspection among the players before a decision was made, particularly after a certain Hellknight chastised their waffling.

What I Disliked: Not a whole lot really. The tough choice towards the end of the scenario is a little ham-fisted, but I won't be docking any stars. One encounter looked like it could easily cost players their secondary success condition due to a rather short time limit and spread out group of enemies.

Verdict: I rather enjoyed running this scenario and look forward to playing it in the near future.


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Frustrating

1/5

Played this first and then GMed it.

During my play experience, our group pretty quickly got overwhelmed with the huge amount of exposition along with the bajillion names and places that we had to keep track of, grinding things to a halt while everybody tried to keep accurate records of everything that was being told to us. What sounds like an interesting investigation quickly turned into a frustrating experience as every place we visited resulted in basically no new relevant information other than repeated mentions about one of the Jacks performing later in the week. Upon getting there, he simply shouted out that he was the Printsmith, a revelation which we gleaned was supposed to be important but had no context as to who or what that was. Then we found ourselves attacked by the faction whom we had been working most closely with, aborted supporting them to help the Thistles, had to beat up some strix for some reason, and then try to get out one last time. The few fights were trounced with ease, and we escaped, vexed that we had just wasted a considerable amount of our time.

Upon prepping for running this scenario, there were a large number of weird mistakes, plotholes, and editing errors throughout the scenario. Putting that aside, I did everything to prep for the adventure, play up the quirky characters, and keep straight all of the random information ... and my table had pretty much the same reaction to events as our group had. Frustration mounted to the point where they just wanted to murderhobo the remainder of the scenario because they hoped it would end it faster.

While some fun was had roleplaying with a number of characters, most of it served little to no purpose as the scenario is pretty firmly affixed to railroad tracks. It's presented as an investigative sandbox, but so many places of interest are off-limits, and the ones that aren't don't really result in anything new being learned. The faction influence seems incredibly arbitrary, and in our playthrough, the final attackers were from the faction we had practically no contact with, leaving us scratching our heads why they seemed to hate us so much to launch the assault instead of other factions we had maligned.

All in all, this was just a mess. I love open investigative scenarios and don't mind somewhat complicated tracking mechanics, but they need to serve an end that is relevant to what the players are actually doing. Scars of the Third Crusade is how you do this scenario right, and it's a shame that this failed to deliver as Pezzack makes for an incredibly interesting setting.


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Mystery on Rails

3/5

GMed this for Tier 10-11. I love the flavor of Karcau, and there are plenty of awesome places that are a blast to describe with all sorts of interesting sights, sounds, and smells for the party to experience.

That said, the players at my table thought the investigation aspect of the scenario was incredibly frustrating, and I'm inclined to agree. The PCs searched about in vain for clues, and they weren't failing skill checks in that pursuit; rather, there were essentially no clues to find. The only real leads throughout the entire scenario come from very dubious sources and are almost entirely red herrings. One of those red herrings even requires that they pay a not-insignificant amount of gold, take a negative boon, or just murder-hobo the people. The players were at wits end when that proved to be a dead end as well, and they likely would have been livid except that they had stolen the money back from the swampers after the fact.

After having played and GMed a number of fun investigation-based scenarios in PFS, I felt that this one was incredibly underwhelming. I'd give this a lower score, but I'm a sucker for Ustalav, and the descriptions of the various scenes were excellent. A certain basement was particularly enjoyable to describe as the party explored it.