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H.P. Lovecraft would be proudTheDegraded —
I decided to run this module as part of the Halloween festivities. Over the course of two sessions spanning a total of 7 hours, I guided 5 players through what is probably one of the better modules Paizo has released. While it’s an old one, this module does a great job at creating a Lovecraftian atmosphere, filled with horror and impending doom. It makes me long for more Pathfinder content concerning the old gods, but I can understand copyright issues might throw a spanner in the works. It’s a pity though because this module shows why that mythos is so delightfully dreadful.
The storyline is simple: stop a monster by stopping some other people first. The fact that you can stop those three cultists in any order you like is a nice bonus, but even better is the fact that it also influences the final encounter. Depending on the group this can make a significant difference. I will say though that the three cultists are of varying difficulties. Two of them can really cause issues, while the third one is relatively harmless. Speaking of harmless: some of the encounters simply do not pose a threat either in terms of fighting capabilities.
The fact they do not pose a threat for our heroes doesn’t make their presence pointless however. They are flavourful additions to a scenario that keeps getting more eerie and sinister. They’re small building blocks that can be used to really create an atmosphere you hardly ever encounter in pathfinder. I hindsight I think I could have utilised their presence even better by adding some more descriptions in order to create an even better sense of immersion.
And I think that’s what best about this module: flavour. A group of players that really enjoys roleplaying and horror will enjoy this adventure a lot. The final encounter, and some of the things leading up to it, can make it a really scary fight as well. The players at my table all had scared when they saw what they had to deal with. The only downside to this scenario, I think, is one that others mentioned below as well: a bit more proper investigation would have made really put this module as the best out there. But even without that, I’d say the module is definitely up there and is well worth playing, preferably on a dark and rainy evening.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-02: Sewer Dragons of Absalom (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Kobolds are the best kind of dragonsTheDegraded —
Kobolds, while not as iconic as goblins, are still a great race to base an adventure around. They’re slightly more serious, but still goofy and funny. However, just like the little greenskins, their shenanigans can get a person killed. It has taken me years to finally play this scenario and boy, it did not disappoint. It holds up extremely well compared to the more recent season 10 scenarios.
In fact, I’d actually go so far as saying that some aspects are even better. The pacing of the combats was good and the tricks the kobolds have up their sleeves were a rather refreshing touch. It made the whole thing memorable. Add to that the multiple role-playing opportunities with the NPCs, a really solid storyline and the fact that they’re kobolds, who are underappreciated and not used often enough, and you can see why this scenario gets such high ratings and why it’s loved by so many of us.
Will you be prey, or will you hunt the hunter?TheDegraded —
I ran this scenario a while back on low tier. It’s worth mentioning that I’m a fan of investigation scenarios which have some sandbox elements. Without a doubt this scenario is one of such adventures and I had a blast. The players gets a multitude of clues and have to figure out which to follow first. Every playthrough can thus be different given the timeline in which events transpire. It takes a bit of effort on the GMs account to keep track of, but it’s not that big a deal. It sounds more complicated than it is. The storyline makes sense, the NPCs are all flavourful and fights pack quite a punch on the lower tier.
However, there’s one major issue I have with this scenario. During the scenario there’s a fairly large chance the players will warn certain NPCs of what is going to happen. There’s nothing written however on how the NPCs react to this. It’s mindboggling that there’s no information in the scenario about what the NPCs will do when asked to tag along for safety or to hide in the lodge. Considering there’s a time schedule in the background, I find this rather weird as it basically means that’s it’s entirely up to the GM whether or not they stay put and die, or whether they hide elsewhere and live. Considering the outcome matters, I feel like this is a major oversight.
This scenario showcases how good an investigation adventure can be. Paizo has truly come a long way in that regard and I hope to see similar investigations in the future. I’d love to run this scenario again, so it should come as no surprise I recommend this scenario. I’d have given it 4,5 stars, which I’ll round down to 4 in the hopes that paizo will avoid the flaw listed above next time around.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #27: Our Lady of Silver (OGL) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Great opening scene.. but that's about it.TheDegraded —
A lot of local players hyped this scenario, so when I got round to playing it, I was expecting a lot. I’m sorry to say it didn’t deliver. Don’t get me wrong, the start of the scenario is excellent. The location in combination with what happens shortly after the party gets there works like a charm to set the scene. It’s by far the highlight of the scenario. The rest of the scenario just came across as a bit random. I felt like the GM and another player (who GM’ed numerous times) really had to guide the party in the right direction a bit too much. While I’m sure there’s a decent storyline, I felt like I was missing it a little.
There’s plenty of opportunities to partake in roleplay with NPCs. People who enjoy that kind of interaction will likely have a blast this scenario. The combats however are outdated, as others mentioned below. I know people say there’s strength in numbers, but this time around the mooks just die too quickly. At times they didn’t pose a challenge at all, which is weird if the party is out of tier and playing up.
Due to time-constraints, we had to call the boss fight rather early (even though we wouldn’t have struggled there at all) and sped up some of the investigation. Come to think of it, I must have missed a fair bit of the storyline because of that so I'll raise my rating by 1. However, right now I have to admit I’m far from impressed by this scenario, other than the opening scene. I honestly don’t see why some of my friends love this scenario so much. For now I’ll just put this scenario down as something I might want to revisit in order to find out, but I am also aware that there are other scenarios that I'd much rather replay instead. I can't in good conscience recommend this scenario.
A solid module that requires some extra preparationTheDegraded —
I wrote a rather lengthy review for this module, but I fear something went wrong and it disappeared. I’ll keep it brief this time: I ran this module in three sessions for the same group of players and I can safely say I do not regret this at all. I enjoyed portraying the different NPCs and enemies. They all have a different, yet familiar twist to them. Given the tight time-schedule I had to somewhat limit the role-play opportunities with the main NPC. Still, they felt engaged enough with her to support her no matter the hardships thrown her way. I can easily see other groups interact with her more often and I do believe that this module really suits players with that mindset.
The variety of NPC’s and challenges made it a lot of fun. Some memes were born or given new life, plenty of laughs were had and at times the players felt sufficiently challenged in some of the combats. Indeed, some of the combats really left a lasting impression and on a couple occasions they were surprised they lived. This is balanced out by the fact that some combats were relatively easy, but it still meant they could never lower their guard.
I liked the storyline, though I did notice that the players struggled a little to put the pieces together. I’m not sure whether that was me or the module, but it’s something for other GMs to take note off. They should also not be scared to introduce the items or monsters that are lovely extras in this module. They seem rather fun and are sure to create a unique experience.
The only points of criticism that I have, are the creatures in part one, the fact some maps are missing and the final battlemap. The creatures, to begin with, are a bit repetitive, which admittedly is a common thing in modules and adventure paths. GMs might want to consider swapping in a few different opponents. The battlemap, finally, is a bit hard to read for players and, more importantly, has squares that are too small for miniatures. Luckily we had some other ways to represent our characters and opponents, but it did ruin the immersion a little bit.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #31: Sniper in the Deep (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Into the deep we goTheDegraded —
Sniper in the Deep is known to be dangerous as well as for the TPK’s that tend to happen. It should be no surprise I was worried and had my doubts about playing this scenario. We ended up with a level 8 psychic, a level 7 monk/gunslinger/unchained rogue, and a level 6 unchained rogue/bard/lion blade. Oh and the lovely Kyra pregen, because you simply can’t go wrong with her.
This meant we faced this scenario on the low tier and, truth be told, it was not as scary as I thought it would be. Through clever use of tactics, as well as disguise and bluff, we managed to deal with the majority of the combats without any issue. Even the last encounter was over relatively quickly. I suppose that being stealthy, the players rolling exceptionally well and the GM extremely poorly had something to do with that.
In short: the combats were fun, but hadn’t aged well. They’re no pushovers, but I can’t really see people struggle with it nowadays. At least, that’s the case for low tier. On high tier there’s an encounter that is rather scary and very dangerous. The fact that there’s underwater combat can be annoying, but there are a bunch of solutions for that as well. Just visit a temple for some buffs, for instance. Sure, it costs a little, but it certainly is worth it.
The storyline isn’t amazing and one of the encounters seems awfully out of place, but I don’t think it really ruins the scenario that much. If the party is prepared for anything, they should be okay and as such I disagree with some of the reviews below. It’s not an amazing scenario and certain things can drag on, but this scenario should not be retired from service. It’s really not that bad; there are worse offenders out there. I still wouldn’t recommend this scenario, but if you do decide to play it, I strongly urge you to consider doing so on the low tier.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–18: The Stranger Within (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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A return to Kaer MagaTheDegraded —
I played this scenario with a party of four on low-tier for 6-players due to the levels of our characters. The best selling point for this scenario has to be Kaer Maga. This city continues to be as vibrant, silly and unique as we’ve all come to love in previous scenarios. I agree with Magabeus (who was the GM and who wrote a review below) that it’s best played after you’ve completed the two City of Strangers scenarios. In other words: the setting is amazing and the NPCs are outstanding, even though the way to do the ‘Andoran’ mission struck me as completely nonsensical.
The scenario want to be an investigation, yet is nothing more than a dungeon crawl spread out across the city. In other words: it is straightforward even for a railroad adventure. Thankfully you can tackle some of the encounters in multiple ways, but it’s not enough of a sandbox to really be classified as an investigation. For me that was a bit of a letdown.
The encounters are fresh and memorable, even though the last one can really take over an hour to finish. The foes either catch you by surprise or have some sort of unique twist to them. I enjoyed them a lot. That said, the flunkies in the last encounter are a bit odd. Why are they even there? And why are they more scary than the actual boss(es)? We definitely struggled, partially due to really bad tactics from us a party, and we could have suffered some casualties. We managed to pull through however, making the final combat memorable but awkward.
Just because of the setting I'll recommend this scenario, but I can't in good conscience say this is one of the better scenarios I've played. It's too much of a railroad for that and I don't consider the storyline to be that solid either.
Snakes and fiendsTheDegraded —
I played this scenario yesterday on the high-tier with 4-player adjustment. Storywise it picks up where we last left of. We had clues of a big threat slowly awakening, but as it turns out the Aspis is involved due to their careless nature. Of course it’s up to us to save the world and, at the same time, make some money on the side and improve relationships with other groups. It makes sense, it’s solid and it works.
The combats are a bit tricky though and can certainly be described as challenging. You need some specialised characters to deal with certain effects and one of the combats roughly halfway through the dungeon can really give players a run for their money. We struggled a fair bit and took quite some hits, but we managed to live through it all. That particular fight was arguably one of the more challenging fights I’ve had in the past few months.
And then you get to the final encounter. The stage is magnificently set. The place oozes atmosphere and both the enemies and your NPC companions really add to the situation. I like the idea behind that fight. It works, but the issue for me was that the combat was far from challenging. What should have been an epic struggle of preventing a really powerful evil from breaking free, felt like a walk in the park almost and didn’t feel quite as epic as it could have been. This is especially the case after that hard fight earlier on. I can understand why the author opted for this sequence of events, but it’s a little awkward.
In the end I have to say I loved the scenario in terms of diversity in encounters. One of them featured something I have never seen before, which is a nice twist. The storyline and the moral decision at the end, as well as the choices the Exchange have to make, are solid and effective. It’s just a shame that the final showdown was significantly easier than I expected and was a tad disappointing. That said, it’s a solid scenario and a good conclusion for this storyline.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-22: Grotto of the Deluged God PDFPaizo Inc.
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A solid scenario for newer playersTheDegraded —
I have GM’ed this scenario twice now and I’ll be doing so again in a few days of me writing this. I think that is a statement in itself: I’m not likely to run a scenario more than once unless I like them or unless specifically requested. In this case it’s fairly simple: I like this scenario. It’s straightforward, offers a sweet diversity of encounters and is fairly easy to prepare as well. The various NPCs are also quite memorable and really bring this scenario alive.
In that sense I completely agree with Keerawa below. It’s a great adventure for new(er) players, but not so much for experienced players. That said, the final encounter can still be challenging for them as well give them a run for their money depending on the composition of the party. I’ve scared quite a few players and I hope to do this yet again in a couple of days.
The scenario also provides a nice introduction to the Concordance faction, with some pretty solid and thematic boons thrown into the mix as well. The only downside, however, is that Grotto of the Deluged God can be completed in roughly 3 hours. I guess that’s what happens if there are more than one way to solve an encounter, but perhaps a few too many encounters can be bypassed. It’s hard to balance such a thing, but I have to say the author did a relatively good job. I will certainly recommend it for newer players and would like to see more from this author.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-99B: The Solstice Scar, Version BPaizo Inc.
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A completely failed experimentTheDegraded —
Version B is a major disappointment. It suffers from exactly the same problems version A has. When I reviewed version A, I wrote that I was not impressed by the special, but that I could also see that the modular approach had potential. I also said that Version A didn’t feel epic enough, that the time-schedule was a mess since (among other things) role-playing encounters take longer than the time permitted for them unless you skip the role-play entirely and go straight to rolling dice. At the end I expressed my wishes for Paizo to pay closer attention to balancing things out when B came around Long story short: they didn’t.
In fact, I’d say it even got worse because of the same modular approach. The fact is that only a third of this scenario is actually new content. I can hear you say that you can switch tiers, but that doesn’t change the story at all and only slightly changes some monsters you face. Skill checks and decisions remain the same. While I myself went to play this version anyway, numerous others decided to shy away from it because it would be so similar. While normally we have roughly 8 tables for a special, now we only had 5. That is a significant difference.
Even worse is the fact that new part is after the two parts you already know. That basically means you’re a bit and exhausted and then the new and hopefully exciting part starts. If the entire room is behind schedule, this coincidentally means you’ll have to rush through the new content a bit. I trust I don’t have to explain why that is just an extra slap in the face. Now, truth be told I’m a big fan of the kind of creatures you face, so that was a good thing. However everything else stayed the same. Again you get a role-play encounter that takes longer than the writer thinks it does if you actually role-play. Again certain combats take longer. I will, however, say that Paizo did make the final encounter feel epic. This is the only improvement I’ve seen compared to part A. That is the only reason I give it a single star. That may sound harsh, but the truth often hurts.
So what does this mean? Well, I think I only saw a quarter to a third of the new content simply because of the fact that there are time-issues within special itself, as well as the fact that we had to hurry a bit since we were near the end of our timeslot. I think we also spend less than a third of our total playtime on the new content. Paizo, please pay more attention to the whole balancing of things. The fact that only a third of the content was new is simply terrible. Players won’t show up and I’ve heard multiple people say this was just lazy design. The modular approach can work, but clearly not when executed this way. The balance is completely missing. Unless I see or hear improvements, I think Version C will be received and perceived the exact same way. I myself might even opt to skip C personally and just play D since maybe then two-thirds will be new content.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-18: Scourge of the Farheavens PDFPaizo Inc.
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Solid story, but can be completed in (less than) three hoursTheDegraded —
I’ve always been a fan of scenarios that allow for multiple outcomes and that also have the option to avoid certain combats based on interaction. This scenario is one of them. However, it’s also a showcase why writers have to be careful. In our case we skipped all but one encounter and finished the scenario in a mere two-and-a-half hours. Due to personal reasons, I didn’t mind this time, but had it been a different day I honestly would have been disappointed. It felt like something was missing, even though we did everything there’s to do in this scenario and did so without rushing through it.
That’s not to say that the scenario itself was bad or boring. I honestly will disagree with anyone who will say that. The whole concept behind the scenario is nice and the execution works well. The different outcomes make sense and really reflect the choices the party makes. Mechanically there’s nothing wrong with it. It just feels too short if you’re not of the murderhobo-variety.
Speaking of murderhobo’s: the last encounter is a tricky one to rate. The idea behind is, again, really nice. The issue is that some character are far more able to contribute than others. While it’s a lesson to always have some particular items with you, I did notice that a few players at my table were annoyed they couldn’t do anything meaningful and, for the record, they were just your standard characters. Considering this might also be the only combat in the scenario, I can see a whole lot more people being equally frustrates, especially if they're mostly build for combat.
As such, I’d say there’s a lack of balance. Depending on your choices you can really blast through this scenario too quickly, leaving you unsatisfied. If you decide to fight everything, you might find yourself annoyed by the outcome. And if you can’t meaningfully participate in the last (and possibly only) fight, which also happens to be the final encounter, you’ll be frustrated and disappointed. I find it hard to recommend it and I wouldn’t run it unless I know my players are those few who will really enjoy it.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-21: In the Grandmaster’s Name PDFPaizo Inc.
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Creativity gets rewardedTheDegraded —
I’ve said this in reviews before, but simple pathfinder missions don’t exist. This time you’re tasked to meet someone in a tavern. That couldn’t be easier, you’d think, but in the end you find yourself snooping around a mansion, doing a heist, saving a stranger and traversing a labyrinth with some surprises. If that doesn’t get you interested in this scenario, I don’t know what will!
Seriously though, this is indeed reminiscent of mission impossible, like the review below mentioned. There’s a plethora of ways you can gain entry to the mansion, many different guises you can take and as always the option for subterfuge or a flat-out assault. The choice is yours if you want to be nice or not. In my case I ‘accidentally’ made the lives of the servants a living hell because me ‘helping’ made things worse. Players referred to my shenanigans as worthy of being in Home Alone. In the end the servants cried and left the mansion. My character just stood there with a gigantic grin on her face. It was totally worth it.
I agree with Nomadical below. Creative players will get rewarded and role-play should be encouraged. If you don’t and just want to get things over with, I can imagine this scenario can be run in roughly three hours without players missing out on anything. I do think it misses something extra though. The final encounter didn’t really feel like a worthy end to the scenario. Other than that, it was a highly enjoyable scenario that I’m looking forward to run myself!
Pathfinder Society Scenario #16: To Scale the Dragon (OGL) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Funky mechanics are the saving graceTheDegraded —
So the website ate my review again. I'm not willing to be that detailed yet again, so I'll try and make it short.
As is with most season 0 scenarios, this one hasn't aged well. The combats are rather easy and there's barely any role-play. While one fight can be painful for a single person, I highly doubt that players will have trouble surviving it. There is, however, a saving grace in the form of a unique travel-mechanic. It is admittedly flawed in the sense that it relies a bit much on the usage a single skill and that it leaves a lot of wiggle-room, it's still a bunch of fun as it allows for creativity.
For GMs that means that you might have to improvise a lot. I can't stress that a lot. Personally it's the kind of style I like the most: if players want to be creative and silly, I'll react with the same amount of silliness and creativity as it creates a lot of immersion and investment. The mechanic really lends itself surprisingly well to it and gives enough tools to paint a cinematic scene you likely won't find anywhere else in PFS. This does mean, however, that both the players and the GM will have to accept that the mechanics aren't watertight and to just have fun with it even if it's not their cup of tea. As we all know, not every player is willing or able to do so for a plethora of reasons, so I expect that some might really like this scenario and some will flat-out hate it.
In short: if you embrace that travel-mechanic and are willing to be creative with it, you'll have fun. If you're looking for challenging fights and in-depth role-play, you best look elsewhere.
An outstanding scenario, even though Paizo did mess upTheDegraded —
I'm going to start by being salty: I'm still incredibly annoyed that the sequel to a level 3-7 and a 5-9 is a level 1-5, especially considering the fact that those two scenarios really shaped the identity of my summoner. I even stopped played my summoner so she would be in range for the next part. Sadly that was not to be. While the great John Compton himself came with some reasons as to why this happened, I'm far from impressed by them as it completely ignores the fact that some characters have been invested in Valais and her quest. To make matters worse: this discrepancy in levels is also not the first time Paizo did something like this. I sincerely hope they learn from this. This is not a good way to tell a longer story or treat a story arc.
Right, so now that I got that off of my chest, I can now actually review and rate this scenario. Simply put: we get to go to Heaven, a plane we've never been able to visit before in Pathfinder Society. That alone is a major selling point. The way it also addresses 'evil' PCs is also fitting and not too prominent. Combined with unique NPCs this makes the plane really come alive.
The scenario itself has a lot skillchecks and role-playing. The emphasis is thus not on combat and that's exactly the kind of scenario I enjoy the most. There's plenty of opportunity for every character to shine, while also promoting cooperation. I honestly don't have any complains, except for maybe one or two. You see, this scenario introduces a lot of different facets. That's both a good and a bad thing; a true double-edged sword if you will. You get a good impression what Heaven is like, but also does not go into detail. It's like you're being left with just a mere glimpse. I'd have loved a bit more detail, but at the same time it really left me personally wanting to revisit this place again.
While it's annoying, frustrating and unfortunate that I had to help Valais with her 'issue' with a different character, I still had a great time and will recommend this scenario to others. However, I will highly advice people to play Traitor's Lodge and Thralls of the Shattered God with a level 5 first and then play this one with that same level 5. It's more enjoyable that way, trust me on that one.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–23: Abducted in Aether (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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A great start, but a weird endingTheDegraded —
Quentin, see his review below, ended up running this scenario once more for me and some friends. I agree with him on almost everything. The location and the NPCs you encounter in this scenario is simply outstanding. There's a lot of creativity involved and my interplanar real estate agent had a lot of fun talking to various vendors and figuring out who are suited for joining the Exchange and who weren't. It was almost a little sidequest.
I will also agree with others when it comes to this scenario feeling disjointed. It really is a bit messy and the shift from 'part 1' to 'part 2' felt completely out of place and illogical. I honestly don't understand the decision-making behind it and it completely ruined my immersion in the story. I immediately noticed that the enthusiasm I had for this scenario slowly vanished. Going from a really cool place to something utterly boring and standard just doesn't work for me and to be blunt I consider it a designflaw.
I suppose the focus in the second part was on the combat and not on the bigger picture. It's a shame, I guess, but that doesn't mean the author failed. There's a bunch of mechanics at the same time which can potentially turn the fight into a very dangerous one. That's fine, but to me it feels like it had to compensate for the setting. That said, our party however didn't struggle at all, though I have to admit we were party with amazing crowd control, buffs and damage output. Our level 9 hunter did 203 damage in a single round and only had one arrow crit. I think that paints the picture and does a good job pointing out that it felt a bit lacklustre.
As such I'm a bit on the fence. It started really great, easily 5 stars, but then part 2 happened and the scenario just completely failed to keep me interested and grab my attention. I'm not sure if that's to blame on me or on the scenario, but it's a fact I sadly can't ignore. Had it been possible, I'd have given it 3,5 stars. For now I just can't shake the feeling it could have (easily) been better.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-07: Salvation of the Sages PDFPaizo Inc.
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So.. that's what boons are for.TheDegraded —
After months of preparation, four of us decided to tackle this scenario. Let’s say that our party was far from optimal. We had a level 9 ranger, a level 9 psychic (me), a level 10 occultist and a level 11 chained summoner without eidolon. You can imagine that playing on tier 10-11 with this setup was quite daunting. Before you ask: yes, two of us died at various stages throughout the scenario. I had to sacrifice myself during the first combat to save the ranger from being shredded to pieces, but thankfully I had a boon ready for this event. The second death, this time the ranger, I managed to undo due to a successful breath of life and caster level check. I guess that’s what boons are for.
Were those the only scary moments? Quite frankly: no. We were on the brink of death multiple times. A certain spell on the higher levels is extremely dangerous for a level 9 character and we both only barely made it. Luckily I had enough Scarab Sages boons to gain just enough of a bonus to survive the spell, while the ranger ended up using two boons to also manage to cling on to life. The other two player characters were either in a permanent state of daze or in single-digit hit points. And yet we still managed to pull through with great teamwork, summons and being great skill-monkeys.
So the combats are, evidently, really challenging, but the story is above excellent and the setting is outstanding. You really get a sense of creepiness, danger and mystery while playing this scenario. You get tossed into a dungeon that will challenge your wits, while staying true to the theme of the scenario. The NPCs present will have a major impact as well and, upon reading back the scenario, can really add to the atmosphere of the scenario as well.
It is, however, a scenario that is not easily prepared at all. There are tons of moving pieces the GM has to take into account and, without a doubt, this scenario will run long. Our GM had to downplay some of the atmospheric elements as we were running out of time even though our timeslot was a few hours longer than normal. If he hadn’t done so, the creepiness would have increased tenfold during the final combat, and the role-play with the sages would have been more immersive.
This scenario is supposed to be the epic conclusion of the storyline of entire faction, a faction some of us love to bits. It overwhelmingly exceeds at that. Yes, it’s scary and yes, you can easily bite the dust and die. Yes, some of the checks are really nasty and unforgiving and yes, this might be the most challenging scenario some of us have ever played, but it is also worth it. Upon completing this scenario, you’ll really feel like you’ve accomplished something and made an entire faction proud, as evidenced by the boon on the chronicle sheet.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #37: The Beggar's Pearl (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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A challenging BBEG at tier 1-2TheDegraded —
Two healers, a barbarian and a ranged paladin enter, they all leave. Somehow still alive, but laughing at what just happened. That’s the summary of how our session went down on the low tier. We had a ridiculous amount of healing, but we needed it. Admittedly, that’s also because the barbarian (follower of Groetus) decided that “the end was nigh” and jumped down a 100 ft. pit and took slightly above average damage. It was completely in character. Don’t worry though, we managed to save him from completely bleeding out.
The other memorable moment is when we spend 16 rounds trying to hit the BBEG and were unsuccessful. A part of it is just really bad luck when rolling the dice, but also because of her AC and tricks. The rare times we struck true, the damage wouldn’t stick. In short: that particular enemy is really tough to deal with on tier 1-2. I can easily envision a lot of groups struggling there. It’s a challenge for sure.
I had fun though. It was moderately creepy dungeon with some interesting scenery and challenges. What annoys me though, is the title of this scenario. The name refers to a minor trinket that you use early on, but is not relevant for the majority of the scenario. Furthermore the map is unnecessarily big. Sure, it’s better than 5 ft. corridor hell, but this is the other end of the spectrum.
So yes, there are some flaws, but this is certainly flavorful and really challenging on the low levels. The BBEG is one of the more difficult bosses I’ve faced, though thankfully not the most dangerous. I quite like the scenario, though a few things could have been better.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-03: The Ghenett Manor Gauntlet (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Home Alone done the Pathfinder wayTheDegraded —
It’s not often that the owner of a valuable item challenges you to break in and steal it from him. Or rather, invites the Pathinder Society to do so. It's not as if we got the best reputation when it comes to those things. Regardless, you’re literally invited to go to a booby-trapped mansion, deal with its challenges including guards, fierce competitors, traps and tricks in order to acquire something other agents completely failed at earlier. It’s like Home Alone, but with the thieves being the good guys.
There’s fighting, puzzling, social interaction in this somewhat sandbox scenario, so every character should have his or her moment in the spotlight. I will, however, say that you need someone who can deal with traps. That shouldn’t be a surprise or a spoiler if you’ve read the description of the scenario or, I don’t know, the reference to Home Alone.
While it was certainly enjoyable, and at times challenging, I did feel like some things were a bit too random and out of place. Let me put it this way: I feel like there were a lot of interesting ideas and concepts that are all great fun on the individual level, but don’t really mesh well together to feel like a ‘complete package’. It lacked that little something that really made it all come together. Still, it’s a fun scenario and I can recommend it to basically everyone.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–11: Ancients' Anguish (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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A real gem..TheDegraded —
As part of my preparation for the final Scarab Sages scenario (Salvation of the Sages), I finally got round to playing this scenario. It more less picks up where Beacon Below ended and I can only see it as a somewhat unofficial part 2 as you really don’t want to play these scenarios out of order. Indeed, some of the NPCs reappear and it’s nice to see how choices you’ve once made influence newer scenarios.
This scenario, as was the case with Beacon Below, is primarily an investigation with some combats and role-play on the side. While there are some options for good role-play, I feel like they aren’t as fleshed out as could be. Honestly, I think that’s a good thing as the scenario might run too long otherwise.
I rather enjoyed the investigation. The level of detail really brought the place alive in a relatively subtle way. The library and the chase scene were fun and really promoted teamwork as well, and that’s something I occasionally miss in other scenarios. They’re also a great test because the combats can be rather mean and tough to deal with. While we were by no means weak or not optimized, we did struggle a few times simply due to the sheer number of enemies. It made victory all the sweeter though.
I also consider this a very important scenario story wise for the faction of the Scarab Sages. It is not often you find such a “valuable source of information”, although it really made my follower of Pharasma struggle with her own ideals. I can only assume that the decision of what to do with this source of information will return later on and I’m honestly really looking forward to it.
Signs of good things to comeTheDegraded —
Just like Ascalaphus, I GM’ed this scenario at low tier and just like him, I enjoyed the straightforward plan and mechanics that were involved. It took a bit of preparation and note-taking during the session, but it wasn’t too bad. The cheatsheets on pfsprep really help as well and I really recommend them. They’re easy to use and incredibly helpful, so be sure to check them out.
The combats and skillchecks were okay. There’s plenty of opportunities to roleplay and players will be forced to make multiple important decisions that will influence how the rest of the scenario plays out. I like that. It’s like being forced to pick road A or B, without really realizing it has a major impact. It’s subtle, yet effective. I'd definitely like seeing these kind of choices more often.
There were, however, a few things that did bug me as a GM. There’s an opportunity to talk to some interesting opponents, but you require a language that is really rare. I like the fact there’s that option, but it just felt weird to me as it’s just not going to work. Some alternatives could have been interesting, though with an extra difficulty perhaps. The optional encounter, depending on the way the story unfolds, might also make little to no sense to the players and there’s a chance it doesn’t get explained if the players don’t have the appropriate skills. That would personally haunt me and would leave me annoyed were that to happen to me. That said, I'm really nitpicking here.
In short: this scenario did a great job starting/continuing a storyline and I’m curious to see where it’ll lead to. Given the fact that the players were having a blast of the time (and at some point were laughing uncontrollably), I think that it caters to everyone’s needs. It’s a bit straightforward, but also offers some freedom to the players on how to tackle certain situations. Choices you make throughout the scenario really matter and indeed influence the potential outcome of other parts. It’s simply a solid scenario.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-16: Fallen Family, Broken Name PDFPaizo Inc.
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A good series of questsTheDegraded —
I played this scenario last week. Quentin, see his review below, was also at my table. I more or less echo his thoughts and opinion. This time around the quests were better at telling a story and I felt like the combats were a bit more challenging. Normally it’s a case of just straight up walk to a target and hit it, but in this case that’s not always an option. You have to employ different tactics and I do feel like the opponents were more dangerous in terms of damage output.
I agree with Quentin in the sense that this is my favorite series of quests. Veterans will enjoy this one and newcomers should feel challenged. However if those newcomers are completely new, I think it’s better to run some of the other quests instead. That said I did enjoy the overall story, setting and diversity and would love to see more of this, albeit that the ‘one fight per quest’ thing might be something Paizo could look at for possible improvements.
A highly recommended adventure in TaldorTheDegraded —
Above anything else, this scenario really pays attention to the setting it takes place in. Taldor has never felt so alive before. There’s a major difference between the nobility, upper-class and lower-class citizens. All three of them you’ll have to talk to and each acts and reacts differently. The role-play in this scenario really gets influenced by this and the party’s face might suddenly find himself not being the best person to talk to an NPC. Others will have to step up, which can lead to hilarious situations.
Speaking of hilarious, the (potential) combats really were memorable. Not only do they take the surroundings into account, but some of the foes themselves are bizarre and unique. Let’s be honest, the constructs players might face are absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it and I can’t wait to pit a group of players against them.
So, the role-play opportunities are outstanding, combat is memorable, how about the storyline? Well, the storyline also works out incredibly well. The investigation that you’ll embark on makes sense and actually matters in the greater scheme of things. I can’t really find a thing to complain about. It’s just a really good scenario. Every facet of the game is done well and even the chronicle sheet is good. I can do nothing more but highly recommend this scenario.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #8: Slave Pits of Absalom (OGL) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Release the slaves!TheDegraded —
I frequently hear people saying that season 0 and 1 scenarios are too easy. All too often they say that player characters have gotten much stronger. While that’s true, they also fail to realise that these scenarios were also meant for groups consisting of four players. This scenario is a great example of a scenario that might be too easy for a group of 6, but rather challenging for a group of 4. The big bad evil can pack quite a punch and I can see him being a terrifying foe in tier 1-2, especially for a bunch of level 1’s.
The storyline, admittedly, is pretty straightforward. Go to A, go to B, go to C. However, while it is linear, you still have a variety of options on how to act at a certain location. You can attempt to brute force your way to victory, or you can be more diplomatic. Either way works and there isn’t a best solution either. There’s plenty of opportunity to be creative. Combined with some fun faction missions and NPCs, and you’re bound to have some interesting role-play as well.
I do think that this scenario could have been better on certain aspects. Even though the PCs visit interesting locations, I don’t feel like the writer really fleshed them out. The window dressing is a bit lackluster and shallow in that regard and the whole thing could have been a bit more cinematic. It lacks that extra touch to be really immersive. Furthermore a bit more diversity in the encounters would have been fun as well.
That said, I enjoyed this scenario. It’s simple, straightforward and excellent for Liberty’s Edge characters. I plan on running this myself, though restricting the party size to 4 or 5 just so it remains challenging and doesn't become too easy.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-02: A Case of Missing Persons (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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The plot thickensTheDegraded —
This scenario is an important one for those involved with the Liberty’s Edge faction and not just because the blurb above says so. Instead of freeing the odd slave, this scenario focuses on the ongoing and overarching goals of the faction and its leadership. As such it’s a mandatory scenario almost.
Thankfully it’s also a good scenario. It’s an investigation with multiple turns and unexpected surprises. You’ll have to gather a variety of clues, which is something that can be done in multiple ways. The combats that may or may not happen also provide some fun challenges you’ll not see coming. Or in the case of one foe will definitely see coming, but in a hilarious way.
This scenario is a fun investigation with unexpected twists. Meanwhile the encounters are solid. I can’t find a reason why people wouldn’t enjoy this. The only downside to this scenario is that it ends as a mystery. With that I mean that it ends up foreshadowing another possible adventure or scenario. You are left with more questions than answers and while this makes you want to play the next part as well, you remain with a feeling that you didn’t entirely complete your task, which in my case slightly bothers me.
That said, it’s minor nitpick and I’m still really looking forward to discovering where this will lead us.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-00: Assault on Absalom (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Solid and GM-friendlyTheDegraded —
Let me start by saying that compared to previous specials this one was much easier to prepare as a GM. There were no obnoxious mechanics we had to keep track. The fact that things were kept relatively simple is a vast improvement. As it is combined with a compelling story and being less strict on the time-management, you end up with a solid special.
The first portion of the special puts the various factions in a spotlight and puts the emphasize on a different aspects of the roleplaying game we all enjoy. Be it puzzles, roleplay or fighting, there’s something for everyone to do and enjoy, especially since there were some nice throwbacks to previous scenarios. It just works.
The second half starts of great. You get to face (mini-)bosses depending on your tier and there’s a scene that would fit in most anime-series. To some extend it’s silly, but it works due to its sheer simplicity. People were sitting on the edge of their seats and had a great time. Similar surprises should definitely return, although in different forms as to keep things fresh.
The final encounters of the special are, however, disappointing on the lower tiers. While the high tiers face off against the big bad evil, the lower tiers have to do some minor tasks and even though they’re important, they hardly feel epic. In fact, I’d rather use the words underwhelming and repetitive. As is the case in other specials the variety of enemies people face on the lower levels is really limited and that’s a shame.
While my tier 1-2 table had fun and felt properly challenged, they didn’t really feel like they made much of impact in the greater scheme of things. They just had to face more or less the same enemies over and over again towards the epic conclusion and that didn’t really give them a sense of achievement. Sure, they know they were part of the bigger success, but going from fighting mini-bosses an hour or so earlier to having to get rid of mooks and flunkies as part of the final battle just feels like a letdown.
I really hope that Paizo will improve on that, as there’s honestly little to improve on otherwise. This special is easily one of the better ones I’ve seen.