I ran this scenario (and my first PFS game) tonight. Both my players and I enjoyed it. The story is well written and interesting. I enjoyed the mix of combat and challenges. There are a few chances for roleplaying in the adventure, but it doesn't seem to be the focus. A few of the map descriptions were a bit confusing, but not so much that it detracted from the game. It took a fair bit of prep time, but it was worth it.
We played the 4-5 tier. Most of the combat encounters went off without much of a hitch. Oddly the fight against the elementals went quite a few rounds as the players dice hadn't seemed to have warmed up yet. The sorcerer got off a few licks from his hiding space before being smoked out with a smokestick and cut down in one hit by a raging barbarian (after getting off a fireball). They had problems with the magaav when they failed to find the secret door to the bridge and attempted to climb up through the hole from down below. One character flew up to be nearly mauled to death while the others struggled to climb up a rope he dropped. They almost came to blows with the dwarf when the half-orc barbarian took the lead, but the rest of the party calmed both of them down which prepared them for the last encounter. Having turned off the steam vents and not engaged in the ritual (no Chelaxian along), they caught the priestess totally unaware. She went down in 2 rounds with a crit from the barbarian.
This was the very first Pathfinder society scenario I've played in. I say that up front as a disclosure before I review it.
I was not enamoured by my time spent in Zyphus's hideout. I realize what the purpose of the hideout was but it just didn't click with me. It felt like I was wandering through a dungeon with randomly generated encounters and traps. Yes, there is a loose thread tying it all together, but I thought that the story lacked due to being quickly shuffled from one thing to another.
All that being said, there was a bright point. The NPC that tags along with you was brilliant. I'm not sure how much of this quirky character was good writing versus our GM's roleplaying but I thought this guy was hilarious.
I guess whether you like this scenario or not depends upon what type of game you prefer. If you're a fan of old school roleplaying you'll probably like it. It just wasn't for me.
I really wanted to give this scenario five stars. The writing is excellent and the setting is interesting. The fights were creative and there were several points where you have to do a bit of thinking. We had a great group of people playing. However, there seems to be one glaring flaw to this adventure. We went in without two very critical classes.
Toward the end of the adventure there are several key skill checks (trained only) that we had no training in. It's certainly not an impossibility that classes other than the two I mentioned would take the skills needed, but they tend to be thought of as key to those classes. We managed to make it to the last encounter regardless, but by this point both we the players and the DM were starting to get frustrated. The circumstances surrounding the last fight pushed us over the edge.
I don't want to give away what happens during the last fight but it takes place in an interesting environment. We and the final protagonist were at something of a stalemate. The group spent a good thirty minutes trying to figure out how to overcome our "disadvantage" in the last encounter. The GM even discussed our options with his fellow GM's at the con and told us we had only one option for success due to his interpretation of the rules, the way the scenario was written, and the abilities and items available to us. After putting our heads together we finally puzzled it out that we had to leave and go back to town to buy the one item that would give us the ability to overcome our foes advantage. We also had to bring in a hireling from the local town to solve the final puzzle (due to a lack of skill on our part). We won in the end but it was a frustrating finale to an otherwise fun adventure.
If you have the right party makeup this will be a fun, albeit challenging, adventure. If not, it's quite possible you will either die a terrible death in the final encounter or not be able to complete the scenario (unless your GM is willing to bend the rules for you).
I played this scenario at Origins a couple of days ago and it was definitely my favorite of the con. I'm not sure how much detail to go into since it hasn't been released yet and doesn't have a description so I'll try to keep things as vague as possible.
The Shadow Gambit takes place in Kaer Maga in Varisia. It has a good mix of role-playing and some good fights. The first encounter is a bit perfunctory, but that's really the only complaint I have. After that our party spent a good deal of time travelling the city hunting down leads and several different individuals. Both encounters prior to the final one were interesting and rewarded us for using our brains. I heard of one party that went in aggressively and was wiped out, so just fair warning to think before you act.
The final fight in the opera house was fun. It wasn't quite as challenging as it was probably intended to be but I think that was due to the rather unorthodox tactics our group used and the way we took advantage of a couple of scrolls we picked up earlier in the adventure.
I also liked the way we were sort of drip fed hints about the organization behind the nefarious activity and the foreshadowing of things to come in the next chapter (which unfortunately I won't get to play until GenCon). Overall this was a well written scenario. It was well balanced and if you appreciate well thought out role-playing you'll like it.