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Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-14: Down the Verdant Path PDFPaizo Inc.
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Embrace the weirdnessTheDegraded —
I have to admit I was rather excited at the prospect of playing this scenario. After all, it’s the first actual Concordance scenario. Normally this means the final result disappoints me a little, but this time the scenario exceeded my expectations by a wide margin. This is a scenario that serves as a great introduction to a new faction.
Now obviously you need some window dressing to really illustrate what a faction is all about. In this case that meant using two NPCs to illustrate the differences. The fact that they use Jamila makes sense and while I understand that some people aren’t her biggest fan, I can’t see a better substitute. That said, it not only accomplishes the goal of showing of what the faction is about, but also sets the tone for the rest of the scenario: role-play.
Roleplay is definitely the keyword of this scenario. You can more or less talk your way through anything in this scenario, which allows for crazy and funny shenanigans. Not only that, but each NPC is uniquely different and, dare I say, weird. Even the scenery varies from place to place and it really adds a lot to the overall experience without being overly complex. This weirdness just works and the boon reflects this in an amazing way.
The author created a delightfully funny and amusing storyline, but you shouldn’t think this scenario is ‘easy’. If you do find yourself having to fight something, you’ll quickly realize the enemies pack quite a punch. They hit hard and fast and I can see why some reviews below mention casualties. Bringing a level 1 character is always scary, but in this case you might want to shy away from doing so. That said, low-tier is still pretty fun and I can say the same about high tier. As such I wholeheartedly recommend this scenario if you enjoy role-play and weirdness.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-23: Graves of Crystalmaw Pass (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Caters to everyone's needsTheDegraded —
Back to the planes my gnomish interplanar real estate agent went. This time she was tasked with making an entire region economically viable and peaceful again, as well as retrieving a pathfinder. This time the environmental challenges really help bring the place alive and demonstrates how different the various planes can be. I prefer these challenges over the ones that we had to deal with in the other planar scenarios of this season.
What I also enjoyed was the fact that you had good mix of encounters. While you can opt to fight everything, there’s also a viable route of solving things by just talking to the NPCs. Given the objectives, we tried a diplomatic approach and talked our way through the first part of the scenario. While it’s not mandatory to do so, you do get rewarded for it.
The rest of the scenario features some fun puzzles, unique places and interesting fights. The fights can be pretty painful and you should expect to take quite some damage, but they’re fair. We had a serious moment of panic when we had to somehow bring a character back to life in a single round, but we managed to pull it off. This just shows that there is certainly some challenge to this scenario.
Long story short: there’s something for everyone to enjoy. A decent puzzle, lots of role-playing opportunity and some really challenging combats in a location that really comes to life with the environmental effects and challenges. It’s a great scenario. My only nitpick is the NPC you have to rescue. She felt a bit out of place and I found it hard to really care about her. Thankfully that last part worked in our advantage when we had to make a choice at the end of the scenario.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #50: Fortune's Blight (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Still challenging for groups of 4 or maybe 5 playersTheDegraded —
I’m surprised how well this scenario has aged if you’re going to play this with a party of four. It’s not an easy excursion as is the case for other season 0 or 1 scenarios. You will actually find yourself challenged by some of the encounters. This is especially the case for the second encounter. Depending on your composition, I can see some casualties for sure. I guess it’s a great reminder to be ready for just about anything.
The storyline isn’t amazing or innovative, but it gets the job done. There’s a nice mixture of opponents and a couple of great opportunities to roleplay. In particular I’d like to mention the first encounter. Our party was warned and so we kept ignoring the NPC and ridiculed the entire situation. We were asking nonsensical questions and bickering amongst ourselves in a friendly fashion, which got everyone at the table laughing like crazy. We managed to discuss and joke in character amongst ourselves for over 15 minutes with the NPC getting more and more desperate. It was one of the best laughs I’ve had in a while, though I suppose you should have been there to really grasp what I’m trying to say here.
Again, this scenario aged well. The combats are still challenging for a party of four, more so that most of the other scenarios of season 0 and 1. The cursed item made sense but wasn’t too much of a hindrance. I think I’d actually recommend it to smaller groups, though with the warning that this scenarios has a nasty bite to it and shouldn’t be underestimated. Things can get scary fast.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #14: The Many Fortunes of Grandmaster Torch (OGL) PDFPaizo Inc.
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A sandbox with a weak ending and subpar storylineTheDegraded —
This adventure can best be described as a sandbox where you have to complete 4 different tasks in whatever order you as a party see fit. Immediately it should be clear that creativity gets rewarded and that there’s no clear path you can take. You have a lot of freedom and that’s something people either love or hate. That alone makes it hard for me to decide whether to recommended it or not.
The four separate assignments are fun and different from one another. I particularly liked the factory one, though I can understand why the faction mission related to that one is no longer legal. However I will have to say that the scenario lacks an obvious ending. The end right now suffices, but doesn’t feel satisfactory. Sure, you’ve done all the tasks, but you don’t feel like you really made a difference. There’s no showdown to wrap things up, no feeling of accomplishment.
And that’s a shame and the main reason I rate this scenario so low. I really enjoy sandboxes and the opportunities it offers to players. However this time around the freedom you receive is at the expense of the storyline. What starts of great with a fun chase scene in a unique location, soon turns into four minor fetch-quests followed by a very rushed and anticlimactic ending. If you have a group that can really embrace the sandbox aspect, it’s worth running. Otherwise, I’d probably look for something else to play or run instead.
An investigation with colorful NPCs and a delightful dilemmaTheDegraded —
I enjoy investigative missions and this was no different. What makes this investigation stand out to me, is the delightful flavor and above excellent NPC’s. The two I’m referring to really were nicely detailed and offer a nice dilemma for most parties. I loved the moral dilemma involved and I as a player would have really struggled with it, were it not for my character being biased. That happens when you’re a funerary priest of Pharasma I guess. Thankfully some other partymembers (I’m looking at you, tech-crazed gnome alchemist) had a preference as well, so it worked out rather well.
The final portion of the scenario is a bit weird. It really helped that our GM brought 3D-representation of what was going on. It was immensely useful to clarify the situation. It’s a complicated ordeal otherwise, so I recommend GM’s to really take their time preparing this segment. That said, due to the dilemma and role-play opportunities, I can see this scenario run long. It’s not something for relatively short timeslots either. If you take your time and have some skills that can contribute to this investigation, I’m convinced you’ll have an good time.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–03: The Golemworks Incident (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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A high-quality descent into madnessTheDegraded —
I played this scenario and Quentin, read his review below, was the GM. He’s been hyping Larry Wilhelm’s work for a while now and I can see why. This scenario combines rough combats with a creepy atmosphere and, above anything else, the best thematic endboss I’ve encountered to date in PFS. There’s plenty of role-playing options that could lead to hilarious and or scary results.
Normally I’d continue with a wall of text here going over details, but in this case I think it suffices to say that this is the best scenario I’ve played to date. My mind is still blown. I hope yours will soon be too.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–24: Assault on the Wound (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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A failed experimentTheDegraded —
At times Paizo decides to introduce or test mechanics in Pathfinder Society scenarios. This time they tried to do that with mass combat. Thankfully this wasn’t successful, because honestly once was already too many. While it is an interesting mechanic, it doesn’t lend itself for small timeslots. It’s vastly different from the ‘normal’ rules and thus requires a lot of preparation, and there will be a lot of downtime for players between fights/combats as not everyone will be involved. In our case we had people walk away from the table for 30 minutes to over an hour and they didn’t miss a single important thing.
I personally do not care about mass combat at all. It doesn’t interest me in the slightest, but I will still complain about it. I only saw one fight, spend 8 minutes on it, and that was basically all I did for the first two or three hours. Thankfully I didn’t mind that much since I wasn’t feeling great, but we can all agree that’s a lot of time wasted for people that might actually enjoy this sort of combat, or even worse, just want this to get over with.
The ‘normal’ portion of the scenario was more fun, but action economy really favors the players. The final fight can be very cinematic and that’s a nice bonus. It was much needed as we finally got to play our own characters instead of ‘pregens’ of sorts. We were rather lucky throughout that segment of the scenario and caught the evil baddie unaware, making it a relatively easy fight. Still, it was a nice end for the scenario that in all honesty failed to be a scenario, but also a nice conclusion for the overall storyline of the season.
That said, I will recommend players to stay away from this scenario. The majority of it is mass combat which is an acquired taste. It takes a while to explain and longer play out, with players waiting on their turn to do something. This can lead to long periods of time where you as a player have absolutely nothing to do and are forced to just sit there. For a homecampaign, this could work and the rules do make sense. For PFS however, this just doesn't work out.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–09: The Blakros Connection (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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She had a dream....TheDegraded —
The Blakros Connection has somewhat of a reputation around this area and it’s a good one. Everyone here only has fond memories thinking back to this scenario and felt a bit left out for a while. At long last I finally had a chance to play this and I don’t regret doing so. This is especially the case as I had a certain connection to the NPC we were trying to catch due to a previous scenario. It really made her seem more alive, which I really enjoyed. However, some of the nuances are lost on others, which makes me wonder if this is a good thing or not.
The story is solid and there’s a unique way (or system) to gather information. That mechanic is bound to get mixed reactions. You more or less need specific characters to be successful at it in a timely fashion and I can imagine that you’ll either love it or hate it. The party I was with had three such people, so we just steamrolled through that portion. I enjoyed it, but having to do it three times was perhaps a bit too much. Twice would have been enough, though I will say it’s an effective way to tell this kind of story.
The combats and locations were great. I enjoyed the awkward dreamscape and certain enemies really gave us a run for a money. The dreamscape itself and the magical issues elsewhere were a nice touch that added a lot of flavor and suspense. The final encounter could have been really scary, but we had a few nice tricks up our sleeves to deal with this particular kind of enemy. We ended up showboating a little, much to everyone’s hilarity and enjoyment.
I personally had a lot of fun, but that’s partially because of circumstances. We had an optimal party for this and even had someone with a bond a very important NPC. While there are certainly aspects everyone will enjoy, such as the environmental effects, I can see other people struggle with the research portion and possibly feel left out, which honestly is a shame. Based on that, I can’t give it a maximum rating, but I will still recommend everyone to give this scenario a go.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #43: The Pallid Plague (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Pathfinders Without BordersTheDegraded —
I find myself struggling to rate this scenario. As is always the case, there’s things I like and dislike about it. The premise, for starters, is a great one and honestly not something I see often in PFS. Sure, there are diseases that you can stop, but they’re never the primary focal point. This time around, you’re tasked to find the source of the disease and, along the way, find a cure for it. It’s simple, elegant and effective as a narrative.
To continue with the good things: There’s multiple factions involved: lumberjacks, townsfolk, fey and of course the bad guys. This means there’s a variety of encounters and plenty of opportunity to role-play certain parts and to show off your creativity. I don’t have to explain why I like that. In fact, every encounter makes sense and adds to the story. In particular I liked the skill challenge. As long as you provide a convincing reason, every skill can be used and end up contributing to finding a cure.
There is, however, also a downside to the encounters. As others before me have mentioned, they aren’t all that challenging. While they thematically make sense and can spread the disease, they are rather easy to dispatch in just a few seconds. They lack the health, items or skill-set to pose a real threat. I was honestly a little disappointed that the Big Bad Evil didn’t last a single round. It was rather disappointing. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that nowadays characters are vastly stronger than a couple of years ago.
And then there’s the disease itself. Again I agree with others that in order for the narrative to work, it has to be infectious and difficult to cure, but I think it’s bit too easy and monotonous to get infected. A bit more diversity could have underlined the scariness of the plague. At the same time, I can see some groups really struggling to find a cure and possibly survive the ordeal. While the DC is high and the skill challenge is indeed challenging, I think that overall it is doable especially if players are able to think outside the box and be creative with all of the skills at their disposal, even those they have no ranks in.
The Pallid Plague is a great scenario in terms of role-play and storyline, while at the same time provides a difficult skill challenge. The combats however are too easy by current standards and are in dire need of a revision or update. If I were to rate it, I’d give it 3,5 stars. Since that however isn’t possible, I’m going to bump it to 4 stars, because I value role-play potentials and opportunities to showcase creativity over challenging combats. As such, I’ll also only recommend it for like-minded players. If you’re looking for scary opponents to fight, I recommend looking elsewhere.
A (possibly) covert operation in RahadoumTheDegraded —
Together with three others I tackled this scenario last Wednesday on the high tier. We had a pretty awesome combination of characters: a tank, a turret, a bard and an enchantment-focused mesmerist (me). Needless to say we had two highly effective damage-dealers and two characters who could really talk their way through everything, except for the 2’s I rolled on for my mesmerist. Turns out that 26 on bluff isn’t enough if the enemies roll decent on their sense motives. That just shows you that this scenario clearly is not a cakewalk.
This scenario can basically be divided into two parts: investigation and a heist. For the investigation part it’s obvious you can search for information and intel discretely or through sheer force. Or in our case overconfidently asking around and hoping we could talk our way out of any issues. Let’s just say that there were mixed results which really added to the flavour of Rahadoum and the Pure Legion’s presence. I really liked the way the country and its occupants were portrayed and how certain laws had a noticeable impact on the entirety of the scenario. Role-play is very important in this part, but you’re not limited to just a few option you have to pick from. Creativity gets rewarded.
The heist is the highlight of the scenario for me and that’s mostly because you’re presented four potential avenues of approach, all with its different pros and cons. Our party ended up using two of them, basically helping us get a feel for the place before striking hard and fast. Mind you, decisiveness and speed are very important as the heist is time-sensitive, another mechanic that was brilliantly given shape in this scenario. Depending on what you do and when you do it, you can get a different experience.
Given the sense of urgency your characters can feel, I can see how the encounters can be rather difficult. However, in our case, we had a perfect combination of characters and great teamwork. We also had a bit of luck and got rid of what potentially is the biggest hurdle in two rounds due to a lucky Overwhelming Grief. We were probably one of the more obvious heist-crews given the things we did prior to and during the raid, but we raced our way through the compound with a combination of elegance, crowd control and martial prowess.
Needless to say, I love this scenario. There’s a huge amount of role-play and a heist that can be executed in a bunch of different ways. The encounters have the potential to really challenge you and you can’t afford wasting time in order to reach your goal. I highly recommend playing this scenario. One thing I did notice, and which was confirmed by the GM, is that it’s somewhat of a nightmare to prepare and run. The sandbox element and flexibility comes with a price and certain key things are hard to look up in the scenario itself. GMs really have to prepare well, more so than normal. That said, I still think it’s worth it so I won’t lower my final rating. Five stars are truly deserved.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–05: The Elven Entanglement (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Behind enemy trees..TheDegraded —
Some scenarios have a reputation to be very challenging, and so I was happy when I saw I’d being playing this scenario on the high tier alongside a couple of player that I consider to be veterans. On paper, we had a phenomenal setup. Three of our characters had the Riftwarden vanity, so it was obvious from the start this is right up their alley. We ended up with a 6-man-party consisting of a level 11 paladin, level 10 melee/strength investigator, level 11 rogue, level 10 ‘I hate demons’ ranger, a level 11 Riftwarden (yes, the prestige class) and a level 10 (chained) summoner with a ridiculously tanky eidolon.
The major focus of this scenario is combat. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, that alone is not good enough for me as I really need a solid storyline and role-play as well. The role-play was hardly present except for two encounters, but the storyline was actually there. Or rather, there were a couple of nice sidestories present which all led to potentially scary encounters.
The first encounter was by far the scariest of the bunch. The others did not come nearly as close. I do have to admit that seeing that creature run amok and then missing the bite on my eidolon even though it hit AC36 was rather satisfying. I’m proud of my kitty. She even became a glorious mount of the paladin in the final combat where the two bravely flew and charged.. the quasit flunkies. They never got to see the big bad evil as the rest of the party made really short work of that one. Such is the result of haste, a ranger focused on demonslaying, a riftwarden, a rogue and an investigator. It was an absolutely massacre in our favor and I think we cleaned this up in two or three rounds.
That said, I think I liked the optional encounter the most. The enemies could really pack a punch, but there was a neat sidestory behind them. It gave my socially awkward gnome summoner an actual reason to just walk up to the angry monsters and give them in a hug in the middle of combat. Contrary to previous scenarios where she wanted to hug a lich amongst things, there actually was a good reason to do so and we as a party managed to ‘persuade’ the creatures to break free and help us. It was glorious.
You can’t tell, but I’m sitting here with a smile on my face just thinking back to the events that transpired. While I did miss some role-play, I felt immersed and completely satisfied because of all the unique encounters and environmental challenges. I can only applaud the author for that. Even though we had a relatively easy time with this scenario because of our characters, we could tell this is a very dangerous scenario. Combats can and will be lethal, so it’s best to really prepare for this one, but it’s really worth checking it out.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-05: Call of the Copper Gate PDFPaizo Inc.
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A Lovecraftian scenario best played on high tierTheDegraded —
I had the pleasure of playing this scenario on low tier with a party of 6. I recall we had a level 4 fighter, level 3 monk, two level 4 rogues, a level 4 bard and I myself played a level 3 oracle of the Dark Tapestry. It should come as no surprise that my character was a perfect fit in terms of theme for this Lovecraftian adventure.
One of the first things I want to go over in this review are the encounters. As I mentioned I was playing this on low tier, but I’m also preparing to run it myself for a high tier party. I immediately noticed that high tier is much more challenging and, honestly, more fun. Before commenting on each encounter separately, I’d like to stress out how wonderful it was to have such unique opponents.
The first encounter is likely going to take longer for low tier tables since they have less ways of dealing with the actual problem in that room, or rather, reaching it in a timely fashion. In our case we just spend over an hour getting there without really taking a bunch of damage. There wasn’t a lot happening and while it wasn’t boring, it felt like it took longer that it should have.
The second encounter is, for me, the highlight of the scenario. It’s so delightfully alien with a nice mix of investigation tied to it. I loved it! It's a great take on introducing a unique and interesting NPC. I do wonder about action-economy though. In the end there’s a big difference between 1 versus 4 or 1 versus 6. Thankfully, depending on the interaction with that creature, things might be harder for the players, though I will say that it’s a bit of work to keep track of as a GM. It’s not as much a nightmare as it was for a similar case in 8-04 Wardens of Sulfur Gulch, but I feel like this could have been presented to GMs in a better fashion.
Finally there’s the final combat. Here’s where the high tier is much scarier, and not just in terms of potential damage and shutdown capabilities. On the high tier the spells used actually contribute to the overall atmosphere. It adds something to the scenario other than being just an encounter. The spells the enemy uses on the low tier simply don’t speak to the imagination and actually distract from the overall theme of the scenario. It’s just a case of ‘here, take some generic damage’.
What’s also worth pointing out, is the return of some NPCs of other scenarios. I’ve always wondered what happened to some of them and I was really happy to see them return. My gnome oracle had rescued one of them in a previous scenario and now had a chance to talk to her once more. I really like that Paizo is drawing inspiration from previous scenarios and gives individuals or artefacts a new purpose.
Overall this scenario is a scenario that is best played when it’s dark outside. It’s a Lovecraftian scenario where encounters, investigation and role-play are all combined in a neat little package. If you’re going to play this scenario, and you should, be sure that you have some experience with the Blakros museum. While being a part of the Dark Archives isn’t necessary, it does provide you with a nice boon. Lastly, if you’re going to play it, I recommend doing so on high tier because the creepy atmosphere is more prominent and kept more intact than on low tier, especially during the final encounter.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-09: Beyond the Halflight Path PDFPaizo Inc.
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An evergreen focused solely on tough encountersTheDegraded —
Earlier this week I played this evergreen with my divine casting mesmerist on the high tier. I was really looking forward to it as the author is one of my favourites, if not my favourite. I love what he did with Dead Man's Debt and Wrath of the Fleshwarped Queen. Those scenarios are my go-to scenarios if I have to run something simply because I enjoy them so much. However, I have to say this particular scenario will not make an appearance on that list.
Even though this is an evergreen, I do not see myself playing this again. Don’t get me wrong: the fact that I was unlucky all the enemies we faced were mind-immune has nothing to do with it. I still had enough tricks up my sleeves and I could also still cast meaningful spells. The main reason why I won’t be playing this again is the distinct lack of role-play and story. While the scenario starts with some minor investigation, it basically boils down to roughly three or four diplomacy checks. Considering that’s also the only portion with role-play opportunities with NPCs, I honestly was a bit disappointed.
The rest of the scenario can basically be summarized as a dungeoncrawl with random encounters. In my case I faced some nasty creatures with even nastier tactics. The combats are definitely challenging and you really should be prepared for just about anything. However, the links between them monsters and the overall plot(s) is very thin to say the least. To me it felt more like ‘we need a reason for challenging monsters to be here, so let’s quickly give them a sentence or two before we return to making difficult encounters’. I personally need more than that and upon reading the scenario afterwards I don't think those needs will ever be met.
And so I’m left a bit disappointed. Once again the 3-7 evergreen provides little to no story. I mean, it’s there, but it’s very weak. What isn’t weak though, are the encounters. They can really be nasty and that’s the main reason why one should think about playing this scenario. If you really like difficult combats that will really challenge your character, this is a good scenario. In that case, and only in that case, I’d recommend it. If you’re looking for role-play, investigation and a strong storyline, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. I can of course only speak for myself, but if given the chance, I’ll without a doubt opt to play something else instead. Sadly, that's the opposite of the goal of an evergreen.
Short and easy to prepare; great for new players and GMsTheDegraded —
I’ve ran Heroes for Highdelve twice now. Above anything else I have to say this is a short module that is rather easy to prepare. You can finish the adventure in as little as 90 minutes if you and the players really want to. In that case you’ll skip most of the role-playing and get straight to the fights and subsequent dice rolling. The fights can be scary as there can be quite significant hits, but I personally wouldn’t worry too much about it. The final encounter can be scary for any low-level character though.
While it is certainly doable to tackle the module that way, it is my firm belief that you’re missing out on the greatest strength of this module: role-play potential. Especially at the start there’s a lot of opportunity for both the players and the GM to improvise and really get into character. If the players are willing to showcase what their characters are like based on their descriptions and don’t take things too seriously, they can have a lot of fun exploring the festival. This is especially the case if the GM can improvise well. I myself had a blast of a time responding to and setting up all sorts of shenanigans. Considering some of the players had tears of laughter, I think it’s safe to say we all enjoyed it.
The pregens are solid, but not overly special. They do somewhat foreshadow things, but they’re all useful throughout the module. The only minor complaint that I have concerns Meraina and combat situations.. Both times I’ve GMed the module, Meraina ends up being the ‘I got nothing better to do, so I’ll just walk around and hand out potions’. And that’s a shame. While her spells, scrolls and touch make sense considering her persona, I don’t think there’ll be many moments where players will use them because of a variety of reasons. Especially her touch ability is rather risky to use given her hitpoints. So while the spells available to her make sense, I feel like other options could have had more of an impact and would still have made sense on a thematic level. That said, she’s still a solid and fun pregen though.
The first segment, with all the activities, is therefore the highlight of the module for me. While the rest isn’t bad, it just feels a bit more generic and, dare I say, standard. The words railroad come to mind for the second portion and some of the ‘clues’ early on in the third part were a bit too forced. To conclude I think that this module is an interesting option for timeslots that are roughly between 2 and 3 hours. While veterans can still have fun with the role-play options, I’d say this module is better suited for new players and I would certainly recommend it to them.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-18: The Forbidden Furnace of Forgotten Koor (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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A superb mixture of Disney and PathfinderTheDegraded —
Last night Quentin, see his review below, ran this scenario for me and 4 other players. As you can tell, he thinks highly of this scenario and I can see why. The location would indeed be worthy of featuring in Aladdin and there’s a nice mixture of puzzle solving, role-play and combat. In essence it has all the parts to be a successful scenario that everyone could enjoy.
The puzzles or traps were fun to mess around with. Some were of a rather common variety, but at least one of them was a kind of trap I hadn’t encountered before. Combined with the surrounding area, it makes for a delightful devious trap that just works. However, and as others mentioned before, I could notice the big difference between DCs. Some were automatic successes, the others were even hard for me to reach with a fairly optimized character.
The role-play can be lovely, depending on if the party notices certain things and on the way they act on it. In our case I realized something was wrong and then went all disappointed mother on the creature. Considering the creature could get rid of me in less than a full round, it made for a rather humorous scene and everyone followed suit. I loved it.
The combats are hard for me to judge. Due to circumstances we knew what we were up against and planned accordingly. I can imagine that if you’re not prepared, you’re in for a whole lot more hurt. In our case we took few hits and dealt with our foes in a very efficient way, while still having fun. Even though the combats were not that challenging for us a result, we had a blast of a time, something that isn’t always the case in other scenarios where the combats are walkovers.
All-in-all it was fun scenario and I would highly recommend playing it with not-too-serious and like-minded players. There’s a potential for a lot of immersion in this scenario and can really brighten up everyone’s day.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-22: The Rats of Round Mountain—Part II: Pagoda of the Rat (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Interesting combat encounters, but really lacks loreTheDegraded —
My level 7 Ratfolk investigator continued her attempt at becoming friends with her longlost relatives in the Round Mountain. Considering we had just bested a particularly nasty creature in the first part on high tier, I was a still a bit worried. After all, it was high tier once more and I expected some more nasty surprises.
I was right, to some extent. Once more we had the whole ‘deeper darkness’-combat surprise, which we instantly got rid of. I have to say that our main meatshield did take around 150 damage. Suffice to say ratfolk can hurt, especially when there are some casters backing them up. It had the potential of being a very rough combat, but we managed quickly neutralize half of the problems.
Following that, we ended up finding the BBE. THat's right, we stumbled upon her lair within two hours of playing. Since we still had some buffs active, the undying empress was quickly spotted and taken care of. I honestly felt a tad disappointed, but I suppose that’s what happens when you have a level 11 paladin with five attacks and a level 10 dragon disciple with five attacks standing on top of her in round two. I believe she managed to cast only two spells, both ineffective. Considering I was level 7 and played high tier, I shouldn’t complain that much.
The rest of the pagoda had some interesting encounters, as well as combats, but I honestly expected more. It feels like we didn’t really learn much more about the ratfolk society there. It is a bit generic and, dare I say, bland and unimaginative. I, at no point, felt like I was in a ratfolk stronghold. Newer scenarios, such as Dead Man’s Debt and To Seal the Shadow do a much better job and bringing those places to live.
The focus in this scenario is on combat and it does provide some challenges. The first fight is particularly scary if you don’t have the right tools, but the boss seems to be very hit or miss. Either she’ll murder you, or just gets dealt with without her leaving any real impression. I was disappointed since for me it was the second of the two option. I wanted this scenario to be memorable for my ratfolk, but it didn’t really deliver, which is a shame after a really great first part. I can't say I can really recommend it, though if you played the first part, you might as well keep going in order to get a lovely boon!
Mandatory for Scarab Sages and fans of lore.TheDegraded —
I ran this scenario yesterday for a group of five players. I specifically recommended them to bring a character that belongs to the Scarab Sages and three were able to do so. After the session they all said that it was indeed a good recommendation as it really helps you understand the faction a fair bit more afterwards. I would personally go so far as to say that the lore is mandatory for anyone with a Scarab Sages character. It really gives an interesting perspective on things. The lore leads up to a sequel, namely 9-07: Salvation of the Sages. I highly recommend playing this one before that because of a plethora of good reasons.
As for this scenario, I’d have to say it’s a solid investigation scenario with some fights and plenty of role-play opportunities. It literally has it all. Throughout multiple parts PC’s have to gather clues, which requires a wide variety of skill checks and, at times for the Scarab Sages, creative thinking. Slowly the players will uncover the existence of something that’s particularly evil as well as a big threat. They even toss in some familiar faces to really force players to think about the consequences of their actions. It’s an excellent plot if you’d ask me. The combat encounters are fun as well, with some being more challenging than others.
All-in-all this is a great scenario. It’s a great mixture of exploration, investigation, roleplay and combat. The lore is superb and it’s surprisingly easy to prepare as well. All a GM need is just a piece of paper to note the amount of discoveries a party has gathered. I’ll happily run GM this multiple times, though as is normal for an investigation, it can run a bit longer than your typical timeslot. Then again, it’s certainly worth it.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-20: The Rats of Round Mountain—Part I: The Sundered Path (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Simply outstanding and memorableTheDegraded —
At long last my only Ratfolk character was in range of this two-parter. Even though she’s just a level 7, I decided to tag along on a high tier adventure. To everyone else who is contemplating doing the same thing, I urge you to reconsider. I’m not saying this because it’s lethal, but more because you might end up feeling useless. The AC of some of the enemies you’ll face will be nigh impossible to hit, for instance. Luckily as an investigator I had some good knowledge and other skills, so I could still contribute. A level 8 Swashbuckler in my party, however, didn’t have that opportunity.
But that’s also the only thing I can say about this scenario that’s negative. The encounters, challenges and lore is amazing. There’s something for everyone. There’s some talking that has to be done, some skill-checks and the fights can certainly be brutal. The last fight in particular is scary. Of course the BBEG has to be a challenge, but this was only barely fair. We struggled a lot, but in the end we managed to best the foe without suffering any casualties. In hindsight, we might have opted for the other way out, but we ended up acting in character and just going for the kill.
I feel like we really achieved something as a result. I hope the next part will be more of the same.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–25: Glories of the Past—Part III: The Secrets Stones Keep (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Easily the best part of the seriesTheDegraded —
The third part of this series of quests completely overshadows the previous two parts. And that is a good thing. There aren’t any major issues with this part. In fact, the mix between roleplay, combat and puzzle-solving was rather balanced and at the same time there’s enough attention for lore-seekers. There’s something to enjoy for everyone, which is a sign of a well-written scenario. In particular I liked the puzzle-challenges. It’s always nice to come up with out-of-the-box solutions and get really creative. A special shout-out should be given to the Osirion faction mission. I highly advise you to play that one out. My ratfolk investigator with her Blood Reservoir of Physical Prowess had a lot of fun during that intermezzo.
Old, but still solidTheDegraded —
Among the Living was a scenario that was released years ago and I finally managed to play it last weekend. It’s the first part in three-part-series. The second part I enjoyed a lot, the third part is arguably one of the worst scenarios I’ve played to date. I was curious and partially worried in which category this one would fall. Luckily it’s not in the latter one.
The premise is simple and not spectacular, though I do have to admit that the location is a unique one. It’s fitting, in a weird way, and it does make the scenario stand out. Sadly there’s not a lot of roleplay to be had and the combat encounters are a tad repetitive. I would have liked a bit more diversity in that aspect. That said, they did gave our suboptimal party of four (a level 2 oracle, level 2 rogue, level 2 rogue/wizard and level 1 melee-great axe-sorcerer) quite a challenge.
Overall, it’s quite an enjoyable scenario that benefits from its location. Combats can be scary if you’re not optimized, while roleplay is relatively limited. Considering how old the scenario is, it does have some issues, but it honestly has weathered time quite well and still serves as a nice way to lead into Among the Dead. As a closing remark, I have to say that I wish the stone would make a more prominent return in a later scenario, although it could just as well be that I simply missed it so far. I think it’s an interesting artefact that could serve as a great storytelling tool.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–28: Ageless Ambitions (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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The combat encounters pack quite a punchTheDegraded —
I ended up playing this scenario on the high tier with a group of 4, while I myself was level 4 and the only caster. Thankfully my mesmerist has a fair amount of shutdown potential, so I thought it would be okay. Turns out, I was partially right. What I could see, I could shut down. The enemy that I couldn’t see, killed me. I’m glad our paladin was successful with his breath of life scroll.
I think that’s also an adequate summary of the encounters. They pack quite a punch and can really dish out a ton of damage. You shouldn’t underestimate the potential this scenario has when it comes to killing characters. That said, it’s still a fair scenario. The fights are challenging, but not overly harsh. Had I been level 9, I wouldn’t have been instantly dead for instance. I would have still taken a nap while bleeding out, but that’s what happens if you’re squishy and get surprised during the final encounter.
The storyline is okay. It’s not terribly exciting or unique, and it almost feels like three different ideas where just tossed together to form one scenario. In the greater scheme of things it makes sense, but doesn’t really make for good storytelling. I also wish the small description of the scenario would have mentioned some other NPCs. That way I would have brought a different character who had previously met the princess.
The Sovereign Court indeed faces a tough challenge to get their boon. I succeeded, partially because I was lucky that I was a face character, partially because there was another party-member with high modifiers on certain skill checks. Given the particular strength of the boon, I do agree it’s something that players have to earn and that it shouldn’t be an easy task. However, I think the DCs are a bit too high, especially due to the circumstances that make it a bit harder.
Ageless Ambitions can be a rough and more specifically painful scenario. At the same time, you need to be able to succeed at some skill checks. It’s a nice mix of things and both sides of this coin are challenging. In the end I will recommend the scenario mostly for those who like challenging combats. The role-playing opportunities are there, but not extraordinary, which for me is a tad disappointing. Regardless, if you’re going to play this scenario, be sure to come prepared.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-99A: The Solstice Scar, Version APaizo Inc.
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A modular approach with room for improvementTheDegraded —
The idea of a special that is modular in the sense that it gets updated over the course of time is an interesting approach to tell an overarching epic story. You can, however, still tell that Paizo is new to this. The three parts were exactly that: three completely different parts. They felt more like quests that simply required more time, than as parts of a single story. I, as a GM, struggled to really make it feel like one cohesive story. This is a complaint I have with normal quests as well and I still consider it one of the things Paizo can really improve on.
When I look at the parts separately though, I think they were fun and diverse. The first part, namely the museum with the museum had a fun ‘difficult’ challenge and some rather interesting and diverse opponents. Everyone could contribute. It probably was my favourite part of the three. Then again, the museum is always a nice place to visit and this time was no different.
The second part was a bit awkward. While I like the fact you have to influence multiple leaders, I feel like the time to really role-play that out was far too limited. It honestly punishes players who really try to role-play more than it rewards them. The different combat encounters and objectives made sense and allows the GM to really cater towards the party.
The third part had a good role-playing portion with the influence system. It was probably the highlight of the special for me. The combats however on tier 3-4 were really disappointing. The maps are gigantic and you get zombies that are staggered and have to make their way to the PC’s. That takes ages and just a waste of time. This is just a big disappointment and issue considering this is a special and thus has a really harsh schedule in terms of time per encounter. In the final encounter, you suddenly have to field skeletons with 4 hit points each. I’m sorry, but that’s not even worth calling fodder. A single cleric will just laugh. This made the final fight extremely disappointing and anticlimactic.
Overall I’m not impressed with this special. I agree with others that it wasn’t epic enough. Certain portions were too easy, others too rushed. I will, however, say that the modular approach is a good thing and I can see it work. Finally, I’d like to point out that the biggest improvement was that it was relatively easy to prepare and that there were no unnecessarily difficult mechanics in the background to keep track of as was the case in a different special.
I’d like to advise Paizo to pay closer attention to balancing things out when version B comes out. Role-playing sections require more time than was given now and some fights need less time or actually challenging opponents that aren’t a waste of time. I also would like to see more table-interaction that’s obvious for the players and not just for the GMs. For a first attempt at a modular special, this wasn’t bad. There is, however, still room for improvement.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-20: Torrent's Last Will (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Exciting and brutal: can you survive the perils of the seas?TheDegraded —
The Plane of Water is an interesting place to venture to. The abundance of water will have an impact on combat, but it also offers unique environmental effects and locations in general. This scenario makes good use of the location. The mechanics have an impact on combat, but also helps players prepare for this.
You are basically tasked to go to a giant shell and do the standard pathfinder routine of explore, document and loot while being respectful. That last portion is very important and you will require not only some specific skills, but also some spells to make the most of the situation. We were lucky we had the right combination of skills, spells and classes present when we made our way through this exciting scenario. Exciting is an understatement. The variety of challenges and encounters was really well-balanced and everyone felt like they were contributing in a major way.
And then there’s the final encounter. Now that was a very scary and challenging fight. I was warned beforehand that a TPK was possible and I can see why. That baddie doesn’t pull punches, is hard to hit and packs a huge punch. Our main damage-dealer, a bloodrager, got a single hit in before he got taken down. Our alchemist, who already struggled because we were underwater, ended up needing a Raise Dead. Meanwhile the rest of us struggled to defeat this fiend. Let’s just say that a cleric, utility sorcerer and summoner aren’t the best at doing a bunch of damage. Luckily my eidolon with very high AC was able to distract the thing and chip away at its health slowly.
I’ve not felt this challenged in a scenario in a long time. The storyline was great and I really liked how the skill-checks within this unique dungeon felt meaningful and fun. I actually feel like we really made an impact. Combat was brutal at times and I definitely can see players struggle and die. I highly recommend this scenario and I can assure you that it can be done. You can overcome the perils of the seas. Question is, are you brave enough to try?
Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-26: The Mantis's Prey (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Mandatory lore, but disappointing combatsTheDegraded —
I was one of the players in the party Quentin mentioned in his review below. I was playing an enchantment-focused mesmerist and as such responsible for a big portion of the crowd-control. Let me put it this way: for a mesmerist the combats are incredibly easy and trivial. Unless they roll a 20, your spell will stick and if you have some heavy hitters, combats will be over in (less than) one round. You’d expect more from assassins really. You can basically skip almost all the combat encounters as they are just a waste of time. There was only one combat that could have been scary, but that individual (who isn’t the boss) was dealt with in a rapid fashion after she couldn’t see us that well.
In other words, the combats are a significant weak point of this scenario and that’s a legit shame. The puzzles were a lot of fun and the location was great. Like Quentin I hope that we get to visit this place again given its history. I also liked the identifying challenge at the start of the session and Grandmaster Torch is indeed something special. Would it surprise you if I said that it was my character that played the follow-up scenario and hates his guts? Thankfully she’s a decent liar and actually tried to not show it too much. Whether she was successful is something else, but I had a blast role-playing that out.
This scenario does a good job explaining the whole shadow lodge situation and offers interesting puzzles as well as some role-playing opportunities. Based on the lore, it’s a must-play to understand the overarching story. Everything is still solid in this day and age, except for the combats that are quite frankly disappointing and require an update of sorts. So while I would suggest other should play it, I'd also recommend you to warn murderhobo’s that this scenario isn’t something that will suit them.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-16: House of Harmonious Wisdom (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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A great diversity in questsTheDegraded —
The House of Harmonious Wisdom is not your average scenario. As mentioned in the blurb, it’s 5 quests that each take roughly an hour. In that aspect it’s similar to the Silverhex Chronicles, Phantom Phenomena or Honor’s Echo. However I felt like the storyline was better developed and was more a complete package, though arguably it is still something that could be improved upon even further.
I typically like quests. They’re short and never dull. In this case I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity presented in these quests. Each one was noticeably different from the rest. There was a puzzle, some role-play, a chase and a particularly interesting fight with unique mechanics. Although the end felt a bit too forced, and made me wonder why one NPC in particular was even there, I had a great time.
I honestly think this scenario is best played over multiple days instead of in one setting. That’s not to say that playing the quests back to back is a bad thing. I just feel like it will be more memorable that way and that it would make the conclusion feel less out of the blue.
For an experiment, I’d say this worked rather well, but I’m not entirely sold if it’s something that should get repeated. Right now the transition from the middle three quests to the final one is still a bit too blunt and harsh, but still better than in other similar questlines. Compared to the more traditional quest-format, I'd say this is a vast improvement, both in terms of variety and storyline. As such I highly recommend it.