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Organized Play Member. 2 posts (8 including aliases). 53 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 14 Organized Play characters. 1 alias.



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A nice fun time

5/5

Agree with previous review: a nice bounty with good rp that feels less like "here are some skill checks now go kill this thing" and more like a mini-adventure.


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Interesting premise but needs more focus

3/5

The scenario has several good things at a glance:
Ustalav location
Dealing with angry mob
A mystery

But after playing (High tier), those all seem like red herrings.
The location is the same tired map from 1-01. The mob is barely present and introduces npcs only to throw them away. And the mystery turns out to be rather shallow and not well explained.

Add to this multiple npcs that keep mentioning other npcs that are often not relevant to the task at hand. Someone mentioned a choice, but I did not see any choice at all. It all felt rather linear. Overall, it didn't feel like anything meaningful was accomplished. The combat was fine at our CP except for last one that had one big problem GM had to adjudicate ((details below)).

Mechanical details (gm spoilers!):

Now, the mechanics. The skill checks were fine for our group.

The combat on the ground floor was ok as the group quickly switched to "correct" damage type and used weak saves against them ((bludgeoning for oozes and using reflex save spells.)). The incant could be a problem if there was more than one. Putting multiple engulfing creatures can easily separate the party so I can see how this can be a problem.

The second floor combat was not memorable. Not sure if GM simply forgot to use harpy song ability or chose not to. The harpies themselves felt very random and out of place.

Now, the basement encounter.
If it was just the constructs it would be tolerable but as it happens nearly the entire room is "within 20ft" of electric enclosure that counters spells and spell effects next to it. Which means heal spells getting countered with over 50% chance of success plus damage to caster. ((95% if spell below level 4)). This mechanic resulted in a near tpk situation before GM decided that 20ft has to represent a line of effect and cannot act through walls, which then put most of the room outside the effect. Add to that the construct that had high precision and high damage plus AoO.
I wish this mechanic was clarified better because I imagine not all gms will be as lenient.

After all, unfortunately, the scenario felt like busy work and not particularly memorable.


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High tier review

4/5

Played in high tier so I did not run into the Barbazu problem below.

In HT the scenario felt like a nice repeatable, with a good mixture of RP and combat. The option to rest between each task is nice too. It brings back research system which is still not fun hence one star off.

I have yet to read it so not sure how much variety there is but it can't be worse than the infamous 1-23 which had no variety at all.


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Review in progress...

2/5

Playing this pbp so that makes writing the entire review a bit hard as after weeks spent on the intro and skill checks it all becomes a bit hazy.

My impressions of first part: real lack of direction. It's "go to this place roll a bunch of skill checks with no explanation", repeat ad nauseum. Every attempt to dig deeper ends up with "out of scope of the scenario". It doesn't help that the main npc comes off as obnoxious and at some point was just directly insulting party members (not sure if that's intended or a gm flavor). Overall so far, while not technically difficult, the scenario just feels plain shallow and unpleasant.

To be continued...


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Conflicting goals

3/5

I'd like to comment on the most controversial part of the scenario - mechanically conflicting goals (GA vs VS). I think it sets a very bad precedent and I hope this is not a sign of things to pass.

Setting goals that require a choice is great. Setting such goals that affect things mechanically is not. The conflicting goals resulted in decision paralysis, created an artificial player conflict, and even borderline player animosity. The mechanical side of the conflict moved it from RP territory and into the irl.

In a campaign where slogan is "cooperate", giving inherently uncooperative goals and forcing a group of strangers to find a quick compromise while punishing them mechanically for it is a bad idea. I hope this will be avoided in the future, and hence I can't give this more than 3 stars.

P.S.: Not a single hint that players need horses? Given that hexploration comes up once a year, it's very easy to miss that it's a mandatory purchase. At the very least the lodge could have provided horses instead of looking at crazy PCs who plan to walk through the desert and not saying a word.


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Flavorful and satisfying

5/5

One of the best scenarios in my book.

Has a great cast of npcs, rewarding interactions, interesting skill challenges. Each linnorm feels different and their actions make sense.

The combat was fun for players (maybe not so much for GM) but imo this is perfectly fine.

I think this is supposed to be a lighthearted and entertaining scenario, so extreme combat would feel out of place.

I liked that npcs played part in the final scene.
And, without spoilers, the chronicle reward for this is absolutely fantastic.


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Best book so far

5/5

I think what makes this book great is its focus on the town of Willowside. It uses Chapter 1 to set up the town and introduce the denizens. Chapter 2 to set the mystery underneath. And Chapter 3 is the culmination of the setup with a very satisfying resolution.

Good npc variety, plenty of player choice, good rp.

The book is so good it can even be used as a standalone adventure. Highly recommend.


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A bit uneven but thematic

4/5

Overall, a very thematic and appropriate conclusion of the season. Visiting Shadow Absalom is like the market scene in Hellboy 2. Everything is unusual and fascinating.

So why 4 stars? Well, a few things that made it less than spectacular for me.

1. The adventure is very frontloaded with rp and skill checks, but in the end devolves into just a series of encounters. That makes it feel uneven imo.

2. The optional objective is not very clear and, unless the pcs poke every single npc about it, very easy to miss. Feels a bit unfair to lose TB and faction rep over an obscure objective.

3. The final encounter seems too dependent on crit fails/success. It also lacks any optional mechanics to make it more memorable unlike the end of Season 2.

Overall, it's definitely a solid scenario but there's room for improvement.


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Very cute

5/5

A fun little romp with heavy emphasis on rp.
The encounters and skill checks were not too challenging which is perfectly fine since I don't think this is supposed to be a "dark souls" style of adventure.

It would be nice of this was repayable but it's not.
I hope we get more lighthearted lvl1-4 scenarios like that in Season 4. Not every scenario has to be a Tomb between worlds grinder.


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Short but fun

5/5

I enjoyed this scenario a lot. It is on the short side compared to Season 3 into, but since they both serve to introduce players to society I'll do a comparative review:

Pros: No tedious sorting through mail (and there's a reference to it, nice touch), introduction of two flavorful npcs, choices that affect the items on the chronicle sheet (items are back on the chronicle, hurray), good combat variety, wide array of skill checks to choose from.

Cons: The narrative is fairly simple (no mystery to investigate), confined to one map, limited rp opportunities (only one npc presents an rp challenge).

Overall, I think it achieves what a repeatable should be: short, to the point, and fun to replay.


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Combat gets a bit repetitive but a good nostalgia trip

4/5

I must say I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.

Pros: diving into Whispering tyrant lands, flavorful atmosphere, sense of danger and suspense.

Cons: The maps don't feel used to their best potential, Enemies and encounters get repetitive.

Highlight: you get two missions from HH and RO and it made our group actively seek out to complete these goals instead of just following the narrative. I hope there's more optional sidequests like this.


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Unbalanced hazard that does not belong in pfs

3/5

First of all, I really liked the ambiance of this scenario. There's a lot of mystery and things need to be figured out without relying on skill checks, which is fun.

The encounters were reasonable although ymmv (played in high tier). The last encounter mechanic made the enemies seem tougher than they were which was very flavorful.

It's not heavy on npcs you can talk to, but the one you can is flavorful.

Now, the hazard was not fun at all. ((Spoilers))

Spoiler:

First of all it starts with immobilizing the party and escape DC required rolling extremely high. Some party members plain had no chance to escape at all.

Next, it deals AoE damage so entire party gets hit every round. But the icing on the cake is that it requires two specific skills to disable that have to be expert or higher. Given that typical specialization is 2 skills for each PC at this level, there's a good chance none in the party has them at all.

But surely the dcs are low for those two skills? Well, surprise: they are set at level 10 for one and level 12 for the other skill. And you need multiple successes. It took our party 6 rounds with constant AoE healing to get out of that and even gm said it was not fun at all since all GM needs to do is roll the same AoE every round.

I don't know if that's one particular hazard or a problem with pf2 hazard design in general but I wish the designers kept in mind the random nature of pfs and at least gave the option to use something common like physical attacks instead

In general, can we please stop using hazards above APL level? If you look at the hazard design table, their stats are already severely elevated. Even an APL hazard presents a challenge to the party by using extreme DC either to detect, to save against, or to disable. Using hazards above APL is just not fun for anyone.


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Action packed conclusion of the arc

5/5

Played this in high tier.
Interesting premise, fun skill challenge, diverse encounters (last one was a complete surprise).
My only note is that Muesello seems to not be fleshed out at all. Perhaps those who met him in pf1 can relate more but for me it was hard. His motivations for doing what he did are not well explained and in the end the situation remains mostly unresolved.
In fact, the character could be removed completely and it wouldn't change a thing. So while mechanically it's a strong scenario, narratively it falls short compared to the rest of season 3.


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Fun adventure with good RP

5/5

Played this at Paizocon.
The story was fun, good RP opportunities, challenging but fair combat.
Most importantly, the story is tailored to pregens so playing them makes the story more meaningful.


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Runs a bit long but worth it

5/5

Good balance of RP and combat.
Fun minigame.
Interesting branching story.
Satisfying final battle.
Only problem is having a lvl12 character to play. :)


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One of the worst encounter designs in pfs

1/5

Played in high tier at 24cp.

I'm not sure why but this scenario has a lot issues with its encounters. It throws level 8-9 enemies at the party on a regular basis (for a party of level 7s). Still, we managed to pull through the first half.

And then we get to the final encounter. The boss rolls high initiative, moves closer, and... the entire party is paralyzed for many turns on a regular fail with no save to get out whatsoever. The mooks and the boss move in, use their area attacks and finish off survivors. Fun. Zero foreshadowing about this ability either.

It's hard to care about metaplot when your character is dead.

And I don't even want to mention traps with ridiculous DCs that our master in thievery couldn't disable. Don't have a master thief in a random party? Oh well, have more high DC saves and nasty status effects.

The entire scenario feels like it belongs in an AP, not in a random party pfs play. At least in AP the GM could change things around. In pfs, you better have those resurrection AcP saved.


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Definitely on the short side

4/5

Apparently this is a sequel to 2-04 and takes place in the same region. While flavorful, it's quite short unfortunately.
We were finished in roughly 2.5hrs, with no rushing at all.

The scenario itself is a good mix of skill checks and combat, with a few RP opportunities as well. The skills seem to favor intelligent types, but our strong and silent types had a few chances to shine as well.

Overall, it's a nice little repeatable and I'm sure it will take its place next to Lions for those who favor quick runs.


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The research system could be done better

4/5

So, straight to the topic:

The party will either love or hate the research system.
If the party misses the 2 needed skills (and chances they miss at least one), the research will take forever and they will miss a lion's share of the story.
If they do come with the right skills, a successful research may easily ruin whatever the suspense and mystery the GM is trying to build.
I ended up just going with whatever topics the room called for and revealing the next bit of info on one successful check, but only if it didn't spoil the parts they didn't explore yet.
After all, a classic horror pattern is "face unknown->learn about it". Doing it the opposite way turns gameplay into a cleanup duty rather than an investigation.

The "secret" condition is a bit tricky. On one hand, revealing it to players outright removes a lot of danger and turns it into just another number. On the other hand, keeping it secret forever makes final encounter and most hazards way worse than they should be.

Balancing these two things is up to GM, but I think this could be handled better.

Overall, good adventure with a good mystery setup and reasonably balanced encounters. I would suggest using optional Automatic bonus progression rule to avoid the party running back and forth to buy/sell stuff and killing any sense of urgency.

Of course, be sure your players are comfortable with certain topics or at least know how to use X cards.


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Worst of the 3 so far

3/5

This book is all over the place from GM PoV.

Encounter levels are inconsistent and can easily tpk a party who accidentally wonders in. The map for chapter 1 has no encounters on it, but the encounters later in the chapter have no maps.

The story is all over the place too. Three different villains, all barely connected.

There are some positives. The encounters that are there are interesting, and the maps provide interesting playfield as well.

The entire book feels very raw, like it didn't get enough time to polish. As GM, expect to add extra work to make this dough into something edible.


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Too many similar skill checks

4/5

Fun premise, fun "puzzles", but the solutions relied so heavily on the same skill check that only 2 people in our party were able to do much, the rest were relegated to spectators for the most part.

It would be good to have a wider variety of skill checks, and also perhaps the return of the influence encounters, which allow for a slightly deeper dive into the character personality than a simple "you succeeded at diplomacy check, done".

The final encounter was entertaining but a little too easy. Of course, there are narrative reasons for it, but still.


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Pregens not quite equipped for the task

4/5

While I enjoyed the scenario mechanics, setup and plot, I have a few gripes with how the pregens are setup. First, very limited combat healing (harm cleric has a few heals but not nearly enough). Second, for bad guys, surprising lack of lockpicking skills (only one has them). And finally, our GM used an alternative version of BBEG and there's almost nothing we could do to prevent them from escaping because of one particular spell, which resulted in a very unsatisfying finale.

Imo, when I play with pregens, I expect them to be tailored to the scenario, rather than be told "here's an additional challenge: succeed without proper tools".

Imo, as GM I would make sure to tweak the pregens so that players can focus on the scenario rather than try to find workarounds to fill the party skill gaps.


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Feels like 2nd part of a trilogy

3/5

I'm sorry to say but the scenario just feels like a setup for a sequel with no payoff. You discover things but they all end up "outside of scope". There are some interesting things that I'd like to explore or learn about but again "outside of scope".

It doesn't help that the enemies mostly feel like variations on the same topic, except one encounter where things get interesting.

Kudos to our GM for trying their best to make this as engaging as possible, but given that the sequel is not even in the plans afaik, it's hard to recommend this as a standalone.

On the plus side, the encounters are well balanced, and the meta-narrative is intriguing.


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Very RP heavy if you like it, needs more encounters

4/5

As title says, this scenario is very heavy on RP.
If your GM likes it, this can run very long.
If not, it quickly boils down to a series of skill checks.
It was the latter when I played it so we were done in less than 3hrs.

It was still fun, but I personally would prefer if it gave GM an optional encounter similar to how it was done at the end of 2-11.


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Great sequel to book 1

5/5

It had everything - mystery, exploration, suspense. And it's very well written and organized imo.


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A bit combat heavy but engaging

4/5

While I am not a huge fan of RP heavy scenarios, this one is similar to 3-06 in that it is too combat heavy. There's a sense of urgency that is supposed to explain it but imo it's a little unjustified. Still, there's a chance for some RP, there's a great skill challenge/chase, and the encounters are creative (especially the last one).
Looking forward to resolving the mystery in the next part!


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