Shield Guardian

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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16. ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson 1,602 posts (1,643 including aliases). 4 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 13 Organized Play characters. 2 aliases.



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Make Sure your Players are ready for the Quiz at the End...

3/5

The Cost of Enlightenment has some aspects that really stand out and does a good job developing one of Qadira's religious sects, but has some pacing and flavor issues.

This scenario is not one to run in a noisy environment. It has a lot of background information to be digested if the players are going to find the finale interesting, rather than frustrating.

Also, I would recommend that GMs review as much information as they can about Qadiran culture prior to running it. The scenario features a few "Qadiran" details (such as the primacy of Sarenrae's worship), but many other details are generic and could have been drawn from from any of the nations bordering the Inner Sea (The scenario features western-style street names, a generic medieval-style tavern, and describes more of the domestic arrangements of Sarenrae's high priestess than it does the sect's religious rites). GMs who add their own "Arabian Nights" cultural details can make the scenario's setting stand out much more.

(P.S.: One of the other reviewers recommended making cards of each of the visions and handing those to the players, so they can relate their characters' visions to the others. I would like to strongly second that recommendation.)


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At Long Last, Something Very Different

5/5

The Disappeared is not your typical dungeon crawl or even your typical roleplaying scenario. It's a "caper" adventure reminiscent of Mission: Impossible. It demands attention and creativity from both the players and the GM. Starting out as an infiltration, this adventure's combat scenes are not the main attraction: They merely punctuate the scenario's roleplaying and skill challenges.

A bunch of combat-optimized lunkheads WILL FAIL. A crew that doesn't find ways to support each other and gets widely separated can definitely lose party members. A crew that isn't prepared to fight (without drawing undue attention) may find themselves in a tight spot.

Although the adventure provides plenty of direction regarding the effectiveness of different schemes that the Pathfinders may try, GMs have to be open-minded about alternate approaches. Creative players will always find approaches that weren't anticipated, so GMs had best be able to think on their feet.

A word of advice: If your party is entirely made up of lunkheads, GMs may want to give them more leeway than they would allow a more capable group. When the barbarians invade the grand gala, turn the adventure from "Mission: Impossible" to "The Three Stooges". If the situation becomes too absurd, the guards' commander may mistakenly conclude the whole situation is some sort of a prank or trick...


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Adventure and a Shot of Whiskey!

5/5

Tim Hitchcock has brewed up another excellent adventure with Decline of Glory, a challenging scenario set near a downtrodden Taldan village and its distillery. I was one of the first people to run this adventure when it premiered at PaizoCon 2009, and my players had a blast!

The Pathfinders’ initial goal seems fairly straightforward: They want authorization to build a new Pathfinder chapter house in Taldor's rural countryside. Unfortunately, the area has gone downhill recently, as a changing watercourse transformed the region's rich bottom land into vile, fungus-draped swamps. Calling the area "wine country" would be a grave error: "Muddy, whiskey-besotted squalor" suits the place better.

Decline of Glory features several well-drawn, three-dimensional NPCs. Although their pasts are only briefly sketched in, the details provided by the author give an attentive gamemaster a solid impression of the character’s opinions, emotions, and problems. From a former knight fleeing his past to a soldier cloaking personal ambitions behind loyalty to his crown, these supporting characters really came alive for me.

The PCs' task gives them several scenes of heroic action, spiced with chances for interesting role-play. While the order of many events is predetermined, there are plenty of opportunities for creative play. I’ll never forget the inspired roleplaying it brought out in my players at the ‘con, as the party tried to bluff an important NPC into cooperating. Everything builds to a satisfying crescendo in the final act, when the PCs’ face grim odds in a scene reminiscent of classic horror films.

I enthusiastically recommend this scenario, and can’t wait to see what Tim Hitchcock does next!


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Packed With "Lost Ark" Style Adventure!

5/5

Another solid adventure for the Society’s roguish scholars, The Third Riddle has the strongest “Indiana Jones” vibe of any I’ve seen so far. It can be approached as a “puzzle dungeon”, but those who prefer more a “direct” approach have plenty of opportunities for battle.

My players enjoyed trying to outthink the challenges of the Ravenous Sphinx, bantering with the NPCs, quoting from raiders of the Lost Ark, and trying to “beat” the puzzle aspects of the scenario. The combats were interesting and well-balanced: Their unusual terrain inspired my players to try a variety of odd stunts, leaping from catwalks and climbing on shelves.

Spoiler:
The scenario jumps right into the action, with a detailed wagon chase scene. The scene includes a table of potential mishaps for characters who fail to control their wagons: Instead of letting the dice decide what happens, I found it more exciting to preselect the most interesting mishaps.

The Third Riddle does reward substantial GM preparation. Some of the information inside is laid out in a way reminiscent of the WotC “delve” format, with rooms described on one page and the inhabitants or traps described on a different page. Because the scenario is so short, I didn’t find the layout to be a problem when I ran the scenario.

The Gamemastery Map Pack: Caravans would definitely come in handy for one encounter. (Since I hadn’t purchased the map pack yet, I enlarged and photocopied the illustrations given for the expedition’s wagons, using them to depict the caravan.)

This scenario's material could have been effectively expanded to twice the size. A GM using it for a home game could easily make this part of a larger arc, taking seeds mentioned in the adventure and building its plotline into several adventure sessions. The “Third Riddle” of the title could trigger a massive political and magical conflict if additional rumors surfaced about Nethys’ lethal secret.