Lini

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RPG Superstar 8 Season Marathon Voter, 9 Season Marathon Voter. FullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 19 posts (20 including aliases). 215 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 19 Organized Play characters.



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Roleplay meets Philosophy

****( )

In the days leading up to this scenario, I was told or warned that this would be a heavy role-playing scenario. I myself do not mind that kind of scenarios at all, so I happily waited until it was time to play this scenario. Now, I feel obliged to mention that when I played it, I was still recovering from surgery, in pain and thus not mentally completely focused. That might influence my final rating somewhat.

It is indeed true. This is a role-playing scenario foremost. Murderhobo’s will not enjoy this at all. People who like to influence NPC’s with words and actions will have a blast. People who like to debate philosophy and the meaning of life will say this is a must-play scenario. For me it was a little too much information to take in and memorise. I’m not sure if that’s indeed the case, or whether that was because of the aftermath of the surgery I had.

That said, the first part of the scenario was amazing. Partially it’s investigation, part of it is making a good impression. It’s exactly my cup of tea and I loved each part. We had so much fun trying to come up with out-of-the-box solutions, that we ended up absolutely smashing the objective. The second part was more philosophy focused, something that’s not a topic I feel particularly strong about. It was, also, too much for me to remember and to replicate when asked. Mind you, the.. let’s call it ‘entity’ that asked us to do so, was an amazing twist and the visions were amazing.

I loved the idea of the scenario. It’s something different and for some people it’ll be outstanding. Others, who primarily want to fight and kill things, will absolutely dislike this scenario. That will lower the rating as this scenario is simply not enjoyable for everyone. I also worry if the amount of note-taking and information is too much. Given my personal circumstances, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and rate this a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars.


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Just an okay tech-scenario

***( )( )

Tech scenarios are always a big hit-or-miss kind of thing. Not everyone loves tech mixed with fantasy, while other do enjoy it. I myself am part of this second group. As long as it’s not too advanced, I can certainly enjoy it.

The storyline of this scenario is straight forward: go to A for an obstacle course, but obviously turns into something more. I liked the transition, though I felt that storywise it was a bit too forced. I mean, rolling knowledge checks and then learning about bandits when it’s just an obstacle course is too much information from the start.

The fights and tech were amusing, but not overly hard for the 2 alchemists, bard and wand-crazy rogue. Sure, we took some hits, but our strategy and teamwork carried us through and we were laughing the entire time. However, if I were to nitpick, the story wasn’t as great as those of other tech-scenarios and it just didn’t leave the same impression. At times the encounters felt a bit too random and out of nowhere.

My conclusion is that this is a decent scenario, but not overly exciting. It’s also not something everyone will enjoy and as such I can’t really recommend it. I’d rather recommend other tech-scenarios.


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A scenario that's ruined by hazards

**( )( )( )

After a disappointing part 1, we proceeded with part 2. This time around we walked into an orc village, out of the orc village and back into the orc village. Oh and there were fights along the way. That's the most rudimentary summary I can give you as the storyline didn't exactly make sense. Thankfully we were just given some tasks and could just focus on that at the time.

The idea of acquiring a certain creature is a fun one. It's a simple task, but one that just works because of its simplicity. The fights that corresponded with that assignment were rough, but fair. Fighting creatures that are larger than you are is always a scary prospect, but you always end up feeling you actually achieved something. The final fight (we went for the arena-route) was over in one round, so a little disappointing. Then again, we're the real champions of our story anyway and we had some time to buff and get ready. The scenario is worth playing simply because of the first couple of fights.

However, if you do decide to play it, get ready to use a lot of charges of your Cure Light Wounds wand. The events that happen while on your way to capture your prey are potentially very painful. There's a lot of damage that's going to be thrown your way. While you can save for half, the saves are really high. There's nothing the players can do to mitigate (some of) the damage and it just turn into rolling dice and striping off charges of your wand. It adds absolutely nothing to the storyline other than frustration. I can see why other reviews below complain about it and for once I completely agree. A few hazards would have been okay, but this amount was ridiculous and quite frankly a terrible mistake in terms of design.

Those hazards are also the main reason why I rate this scenario so low. The fights are fun, the storyline is okay and the scenario itself is enjoyable for the most part, but the hazards are just over the top in terms of sheer numbers, damage potential and lack of interactiveness. Quantity doesn't equal quality and it has a massive negative impact on the scenario as a whole. It's a shame as it could have deserved more praise. Right now, I just can't recommend this scenario.


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A truly evil bad guy

***( )( )

My interplanar real estate agent Gnome mesmerist ended up playing this scenario after a bunch of other planar adventures. It's nice to continue a certain theme with the same character. This scenario brought her back to the Plane of Air, a place she enjoyed visiting earlier despite her small size. Bringing with her a certain horn and a bag of tricks, she set out to accomplish the task at hand: stopping an evil villain.

Let me emphasize that again: evil villain. This NPC is probably the most foul and evil boss I've yet encountered in PFS. Think of something evil and he's probably done it. He literally is an opponent I'd coup de grace every single time just because of what he's done and threatens to continue to do. The author did an exceptional job at making an actual evil bad guy that shows no signs of remorse and who does not deserve any redemption.

The rest of the scenario is a nice mixture of infiltration and fights. While you could just go about being murderhobo's, the social route is also worth exploring. Because of all the boons my mesmerist has accumulated and all the guaranteed assists, we struggled little to talk our way through some encounters. No one complained though, it's always fun if you don't have to kill or defeat everything in sight.

The fights were potentially scary. Luckily for us we were lucky with out spell-selection and with the bad saves the GM rolled for the boss. The boss is less scary when stuck in an orb and blinded for three rounds straight. We lucked out on that one, as the GM mentioned what the monster would have done had that not been the case. We would not have been amused.

In short it's a great dungeoncrawl with some roleplaying solutions along the way should the party decide to try so. The combats can be nasty if unprepared, but I think it's in a good spot. It's not my favorite scenario this season, but it's fairly decent. If you've already played some of the other elemental scenarios, you should give this one a shot. If not, wait until you've at least played the three-parter.


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Recommended for smaller groups

***( )( )

I played this one yesterday with a party of 6. In hindsight I’d highly recommend playing this scenario with a smaller party simply because the combats haven’t aged well. While one encounter has indeed the potential to be rather dangerous, we ended up finishing every encounter in less than two rounds. As a result, it didn’t feel as scary of challenging as it should have been.

I did like mix of combats and social encounters, which coincidentally also depends on how the party acts. It gives you some room to come up with your own plan and execute it, even though the scenario wasn’t tailored to it. I like that freedom. You have the same kind of freedom when you’re doing the faction-missions. It brings the place alive, which is always a good thing, but it felt a bit too forced or scripted, as if they were added later to the scenario because faction X also has to have something to do.

Upon looking back I’d have to say this was a cakewalk for us and not challenging. We still had fun, but it’s a clear sign that it hasn’t aged well. It’s still enjoyable, but a small party is to be preferred.


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Disappointing, messy and honestly subpar

**( )( )( )

Before I sat down to write this review, I glanced at the other reviews below. They’re honestly pretty spot on. It is nothing short of a dungeon crawl where a bunch of different ideas got their own little rooms. These rooms differ so much from one another, that the only way to make it feel like they’re all connected to each other, is by tossing in an elevator. Ironically this actually makes them feel more random and adding specific types of creatures into the mix doesn’t help at all.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the ideas were nice. I enjoyed the concept of having a trap interact with another trap and I suppose the ‘water level’ was suitably combined with what else you’ll encounter there. It’s just that it doesn’t feel like a nice, complete story. There’s little role-play to be done, for a Dwarven dungeon there’s a distinct lack of Dwarven elements and some of the rooms added absolutely nothing to the adventure. Combine that with certain skill-checks being fairly low for a level 5-9 scenario, and you can basically ignore as much as up to complete floors of this dungeon. My investigator with trapspotting basically had a walk in the park.

Finally there’s the puzzle. Now from what I’ve heard and seen I’d say this is probably one of the worst explained puzzles in the entirety of Pathfinder Society. I think that says enough. If you were forced to actually do this step by step, I can understand that this becomes incredibly tedious and time-consuming. This is absolutely terrible for what actually is the final portion of the scenario. Not only is this a frustrating puzzle, but also a huge disappointment and no way to get people excited for part 2 or 3. Thankfully our GM just us describe how we’d go about solving the puzzle and gave it to us.

Honestly this scenario is a mess. The premise of the scenario had a lot of potential, but it’s execution is quite frankly sub-par. It simply does not deliver. Some checks are too easy, tactics aren’t great and contradict each other, the rooms and the puzzle are poorly described and in my opinion the narrative is laughably bad. Normally I’d stay away from using such description, but I would definitely place this scenario in my top 5 of worst scenarios. The only reason I’m still giving it two stars is because of the two nice ideas I described before. Thankfully I now can continue and play a better part 2 and an even better part 3, or so I’ve been told. I can only hope that to be true.


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How to play nice with Hellknights 101

****( )

I played this scenario last week and I’ve been struggling how to rate this scenario. Let me start by pointing out that players get to interact with one of the most evocative groups in Golarion: the Hellknights. Seeing things from their perspective in an effort to somewhat close the gap between them and the Pathfinder Society is a nice touch. The storyline is pretty story and there are a few surprises that are really well executed. Some of the opponents really will catch you off guard and the encounters are accompanied by nice mechanics to really make you feel like you’re part of a bigger struggle. Your actions matter.

So far so good, but then you’re forced to make a choice and this is why I’m struggling. You basically don’t get to see the entire scenario. You get to do either A, or B. There’s no way to combine them both and it leaves me with a sour taste, especially since in my opinion there’s no real choice to be made. Either you complete your mission, or you stop evil from taking over the world. The difference of magnitude and importance between the two choices is massive. The fact that the choice you make will be reflected on your chronicle sheet is nice, but it doesn’t change the fact that I struggle to see it as a difficult choice and this sentiment was shared by the other players at my table.

To conclude: it’s a solid scenario with some nice surprises and role-playing elements. The mechanics and opponents are nice, making this a fun scenario overall. I’m just not entirely convinced by the execution of that choice and I wonder if I would have liked this scenario more without it. I’m still uncertain about that aspect, but it shouldn’t be a reason for you to not play this scenario. It’s pretty good after all and you get to interact with Hellknights. What could possibly go wrong?


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Let my Voice compel you to visit the museum....

****( )

The Voice in the Void is a scenario that’s considered to be a must-play as it’s fleshes out one of the more famous location on Golarion. As such I’m a little embarrassed to say it took me this long to finally play it. I ended up picking my gnome oracle of the Dark Tapestries and in hindsight I couldn’t have picked a better character for this scenario. It was a perfect fit. If you got a similar character and haven’t played this scenario yet, I highly advise you consider to do so.

As a season 1 scenario, there’s always a chance that time hasn’t been favourable to it. To some extend this is true, but overall I’d say it’s weathered the passing of the years okay enough. Some of the combats can still provide a nice challenge and there’s a nice diversity to it as well. I rather liked the statues and the final combat. The whole idea behind the final boss is one I really like and that is really evocative. While it still works as written, I’d like to see it get updated to current standards and make it just that little bit more memorable in terms of mechanics though.

If I were to pinpoint some things I didn’t like that much, I’d say that the scenario can be over rather quickly. It doesn’t have the same length other scenarios have, which is a shame as it leaves you wanting for more. There’s also little to no opportunity to role-play with NPCs. It’s just a short dungeon-crawl with a wide variety of opponents.

Voice in the Void has its flaws. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable though. The storyline could have been a little more prominent in relation to the encounters and certain parts could use an update, but the scenario aged rather well all things considering. I can see why a fair amount of people say that everyone should play this one. While I wouldn’t go that far myself, I can still see myself recommending this scenario to others.


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Not bad, but also not memorable for a generic adventure

**( )( )( )

In the previous part you were tasked to do some errands. This part is no different, except that you also get some additional particular faction-specific sidequests. This time around though, the emphasis was more on stealthy or deceptive approach, similar to those found in such gems as The Library of the Lion or The Disappeared. While our party wasn’t necessarily made for this, we embraced it regardless. That tasks themselves made sense and I really enjoyed the Azer splinter faction, but I honestly wasn’t impressed. That’s not to say it was bad, but rather that there was little that sets this scenario apart from others or makes it memorable.

This is mostly due to the setting of the scenario, or I should say the lack of it. While the Plane of Fire and it’s denizens do get addressed on the first few pages and while you do encounter fire-themed opponents, this scenario could literally have been anywhere. You can just grab the efreeti and elementals - which I should add were rather unimaginative and relatively boring foes in this case - and toss them in an Osirion temple or Taldor estate, and you’d end up with exactly the same experience.

This is a problem that is shared with most of the elemental scenarios this season and it honestly is quite a substantial one. Paizo should put more effort into making these planes meaningful by having them somehow influence (parts of) the scenario or have some sort of other meaningful impact. Descriptions alone are not enough, regardless of how good and elaborate they are. Some authors thankfully still manage to sneak in a room or mechanic, but in this case there’s no Plane of Fire specific mechanic that makes it feel like you’re indeed on the Plane of Fire. I consider that to be a major disappointment.

Part one suffered from the same issue, but had excellent ethical dilemmas to counterbalance that. This part, while still not bad, provides a relative bland infiltration. As such, I fear I have to say it’s not as good as the previous scenario. While a party can still have fun and tackle this scenario like it’s Mission Impossible, I’d recommend other infiltration missions instead. Again, it’s not bad, but it’s also not memorable. I’d still recommend this series over the Tyranny of the Winds as the storyline is far, far better. Besides, if you’ve played the great prequel to this scenario, you might as well finish it. Just don’t expect miracles.


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A standing ovation is in order

*****

Yesterday I ran this scenario and as I’m writing this I have to admit I somewhat lost my voice. I however do not have any regrets. In fact, weeks ago when only the title was known I knew I wanted to run this scenario. Let’s be honest here for a second: Wrath of the Fleshwarped Queen has a nice ring to it. When I found out the author was also responsible for Dead Man’s Debt, a scenario I really like, I got even more hyped and had high expectations. Once I finally had a copy of this scenario scenario in my hands, I was still surprised. It was absolutely not what I had expected, but it was amazing and honestly way better than I could have ever imagined or hoped for.

While the story does start a bit slow and awkward in my opinion, you’re in for a real treat once you finally enter the dungeon. I don’t know how to describe it other than by saying it’s hilarious, insane, extremely enjoyable and utter mayhem. If you thought gnomes or traditional goblins were crazy, you are misinformed. Don’t worry, by playing this scenario you’ll soon find out why and I’m convinced you’ll end up agreeing with me.

The monsters, rooms and mechanics are all amazing, but what really stood out to me is how well it all blends together. The combination of the location and its meaning and background on the one hand and goblins on other is an unexpected mixture, but almost without any effort it just makes sense. The author even made sure that there are opportunities for the players to find out about the background of these goblins and how they got there, which is a hilarious story and worth sharing.

As always there were a few things that could have been better. There were some minor errors in the statblocks and tactics, such as having a crossbow without any bolts, and a certain priest could have been fleshed out a bit more, but it by no means has a negative impact on the overall quality of the scenario. As I mentioned this scenario is a real treat. Great and hilarious enemies, interesting and at times challenging fights, amazing mechanics in certain rooms, great boons on the chronicle sheet and an excellent story, not to mention goblins and new goblinsongs. Seriously, what is not to like? This scenario is a shining example of what a scenario should be. I really hope to see more scenarios from Brian Duckwitz in the future.

To summarize: this is a must-play scenario, so stop reading these reviews and start planning a session for this scenario!


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I spy with my slightly bulging eye...

***( )( )

My ratfolk investigator has a nervous breakdown whenever halflings are involved, so when the GM grinned evilly and said that I was going to have a great time, I got worried. In hindsight I can say I finally convinced the other players that halflings are scary. Especially the human character in the party is now on my side.

That said, this scenario is completely different from the first part. Not only do you actually have your gear this time, but you’re also going to take your time to explore a certain location instead of just running around in an effort to be the fastest team. In short, this dungeon crawl is a nice change of pace. I particularly liked the unique way of looking at this location. I’ll not spoil that any further.

As others have pointed out in the reviews before me, this scenario however does have some flaws. First is the mismatch between the sense of urgency that is created and the time certain tasks take. As players we know that there are tasks we need to do, but the storyline more or less focuses on stopping an immediate threat. Another issue is the lack of diversity in the encounters. Encountering the same creatures in three different fights is a little tedious, even though it makes sense.

As a result I’m not sure what to make of this scenario, let alone what rating to give it. Certain aspects I really enjoyed, but I have the feeling that the location and creatures weren’t used optimally. I’m left with a feeling of ‘is that all, or did I miss something?’ and that is both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand there’s a sense of disappointment, but on the other it’s clear evidence that you felt immersed and want more. At least, that’s my take on things. I’d give the scenario a 2.5 as a result, but that’s sadly not an option. As I rather liked the unique vision as a way to tell a story, I’ll just round it off upwards.


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A showcase of well-executed ethical dillemas

****( )

Following the completion of the elemental three-parter - see my reviews there – we decided to stick together and start with this two-part series. I personally was hoping for not only a better storyline, but also for the difficulty of the encounters to stay the same. At the same time I was assuming that once again there would be a great diversity of NPCs, each unique and oozing with flavor. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised.

While I can’t really comment on the storyline since I’ve not played part 2 yet, I have to say that the story for this part was solid and well-executed. It was a nice showcase that simple requests, might not be as straightforward as they may appear to be. It’s a suitable reminder that there are always more sides to the story, something that other scenarios often neglect and that we as players tend to overlook as well. The fact that there are also consequences to your actions really made it even better. You truly have to earn your second prestige point, perhaps more so in this scenario than in many others.

Each of the four mini-quests you’re tasked to do are nothing short of being ethical dilemmas with multiple approaches. Simply put: will you do what you’ve been asked to, or will you look for a way to outsmart the efreeti? It’s a great way to showcase the alignment of your character and allows for great role-play. To give an example: while we as players would normally try to prevent a Romeo & Juliet scenario and follow our own hearts, our characters were sadly a bit too lawful to break a contract. It was a tough decision, and inevitably led to a fight, but it really got us immersed into the scenario.

When it comes to immersion, I once again must comment on the NPCs. There truly were some gems in this scenario. The mephit was amazing and hands down one of the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. Meeting a water naga on the Plane of Fire was also a very nice touch. The writer did an amazing job surprising and providing us with unique characters to interact with.

Yet that was not the highlight of the scenario for me. That honor goes to the final assignment: ruining a gala, unless you solve that instance it the ‘nice’ way. While we were mostly all lawful, we couldn’t resist creating chaos. The fact that it’s completely up to you as a player how you want to disrupt it, means there’s a ocean of possibilities, each of them potentially hilarious. I won’t tell you what we did, but it’s been a while since I last laughed this much. It was amazing.

In short I’d say that this definitely is one of the better scenarios this season in terms of decision-making and role-playing. You have to think seriously about the choices you’re about to make, but at the same time it’s light-hearted in the sense that you can go nuts and sabotage a party. It’s a nice mixture and combined with the NPCs has a lot of potential for any party or player. The only downside, and the reason why this scenario is not getting 5 stars, is that the only link to the Plane of Fire are the NPCs and a few sentences of flavor text. Had there been a more prominent link, such as a few more descriptions and mechanics, it would have been an excellent scenario. Regardless, I still highly recommend this scenario and I hope the next part is equally good.


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A bland ending for a dissapointing series

**( )( )( )

It took us some time, but our group finally got round to conclude this series. Before I continue, I feel obliged to once more point out that the whole series doesn’t feel like a three-parter in the slightest. It is painfully obvious that the three authors all received an individual assignment and that there was very little coordination between them in order to ensure they were all parts of a single storyline. They do not form a cohesive whole and while that typically can be said for most multi-parters, I feel it’s a more prominent issue in this series as thing that could tie them together are just waved away.

This scenario basically has the PC’s go to a unique location, gather information, perform a daring rescue and secure an item. The NPCs are, with the exception of a certain troll and her name, once more the highlight of the scenario. I particularly liked the mapmaker and the task she set herself on. I notice a clear trend this season to make NPCs stand out more and have them be more unique. I’m not sure if that’s part of the assignment the writer received, but he did a decent job.

I think decent is also the keyword in that sentence. If having decent characters is the highlight, you can guess what the rest was like. Now, I don’t want you to guess wrongly, so I’ll just say that the biggest issue with the scenario is that it’s bland and boring. Roughly 60 percent of this scenario could have been anywhere and I really missed the ‘Plane of Air’ aspects. When those aspects did show up, they were either meaningless like the first encounter, or provide mechanics that are basically things most players don’t want to use. Even worse is the fact that it shows how poorly the parts were tuned to each other. In part 1 it’s Will saves, now it’s Wisdom checks. So while the mechanic is fun, it has now become so hard, that it’s just easier to have the majority of the party just stand still, making it a standard and less dynamic final encounter that doesn’t stand out. Then again, the same can be said for all of the encounters in this scenario.

As you can tell, I’m not the biggest fan of this scenario and this series as a whole, which is something that whoever coordinated this is to blame for. The writer tried his best introducing fun NPCs and mostly succeeded, but he failed to really showcase the Plane of Air itself. Sure, there were tidbits, but a fairly large portion could have just been anywhere. Some extra environmental effects that make sense and aren’t overly harsh would have helped a bit. Now I’m left with a feeling that I’ve not really visited the Plane of Air. In the end, I just can’t recommend this part or this series in general, which is a shame since the events that take place are important to understand the storyline of this entire season.


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The willingness to adept is the key to win

****( )

I find myself disagreeing with some of the things said in the reviews below. As someone else mentioned: this scenario is about adapting to circumstances. Instead of complaining about the situation, find a way to make yourself useful again. In my case I knew I couldn’t do much in combat, but I could definitely help navigate and craft things for others. A gunslinger might not have access to his gun, but that doesn’t mean he suddenly is useless. You’re still proficient with multiple other weapons, so if you can find or make them, you are back to being a threat again. You need a holy symbol? Spend some time making one. Adapting and teamwork are the key to this scenario. Complaining won’t get you anywhere.

For the record: we played high-tier with a cleric, warpriest, ranger, investigator, swashbuckler and wizard. Only the warpriest dropped below 0 hp once and we only crafted one rapier. We managed to not only finish the race in 5 rounds, but also to win it just because of sheer teamwork.

Granted, when I played it, I (as the investigator) was able to secure us an advantage by successfully getting us information about a cache of goodies. That is a big thing and can help you proceed with the first combat, which in my opinion was much scarier than the caterpillars. Then again, having half of the party be small is an issue due to the opponents you face anyway. In fact, small creatures should be worried in combats as most of the foes have some kind of extra threat towards them. Then again, it’s the jungle and you’re food anyway. I do agree with others on this one: the fights can be scary indeed and you can die if you’ve not careful and have not adapted.

The one thing I didn’t like though, is the fact way you get advantages during the case. While it is true that a lot of skills can be used, it will still boil down to constantly using the skill you have the highest bonus with. There’s no incentive to use different skills in different surroundings. The element of making a decision just gets removed, which is a shame. For instance knowing that perception is less useful in the jungle compared to planes, with knowledge nature being the other way around, would give the players a reason to choose which skill to use instead of turning to a default option. It’s a small change, but thematically more fun.

As such I find myself disagreeing with some of the ratings this scenario has received. It really isn’t as bad as it seems to be. Yes, you suffer an early setback, but if you overcome that obstacle you get a bigger sense of accomplishment than in most other scenarios. I will not however recommend this scenario as it really is one of those ‘either you hate it, or you love it’. You need a full group of players who are willing to improvise and not complain. Otherwise that negativity will ruin the scenario for you. If you have a group that likes this sort of challenge, you’re going to have a difficult, but great time.


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Long, dangerous and exciting

****( )

Risen from the Sands is one of those adventures more experienced players warn relative newcomers about. After having played this module, I can see why. I should mention that I played it with a rather balanced 6-man party, including a character who could give ‘bane’ to a bunch of weapons. Needless to say, undead-bane helped a lot.

The basic idea of exploring an ancient tomb or pyramid isn’t exactly new in Pathfinder. Indeed, there are many scenarios and the occasional adventure path completely dedicated to such a thing. Yet few go into this much detail when it comes to a pyramid. Compared to other similar dungeons, this one is not only larger, but also more detailed and devious. Furthermore every room is a challenge in itself, be it combat or logical thinking.

The author did an amazing job making the whole module a challenge. There were some interesting twists and the combats are at the times pretty rough. The undead-bane really was useful on the rapid shot gunslinger though, and in general our tactics were rather solid. Had the Decemvirate seen this batch of recruits, they’d have been impressed. Well, except for the fact only one of us spoke Ancient Osiriani.

I rather liked this module, but it indeed can be very lethal. The first combat in particular requires you to be prepared or you’ll certainly suffer and maybe TPK. The final fight is scary, though it helped our saves were spot on. It did take us a few rounds, but we took the evil guy down as well as his pet with suffering any casualties. Our wands of CLW however did take quite a hit and without some helpful intervention, one of us would have succumbed to an evil item.

I highly recommend this module even though it has your character balance between life and death on more than one occasion. The only issue I have is that it runs really long. I guess that's what happens when there are many rooms with each and every single one of them offering a nice challenge. There are no filler rooms which is often the case in a scenario, so you’ll be on your toes the entire time. Just be sure to come prepared and maybe wait a little until you’ve got some experience. This is not friendly for new players and is very challenging, but it's a blast regardless.


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Better than part 1, yet still flawed

***( )( )

Even though part 1 was disappointing, we as a group decided to stick with the series and play part 2. We figured it couldn’t get worse and, hooray, it wasn’t . However, that doesn’t mean it was great either. Just like it’s prequel, this part has flaws, albeit less. I shall address the two biggest flaws first, and then comment on why I still liked the scenario regardless.

Flaw number one would be the fact that the storyline is completely missing between part 1 and 2. Sure, certain elements are the same, but it really feels more as if we’re dealing with two separate scenarios rather than a trilogy of sorts. I honestly think it would have been better if the whole ‘part x’ had been removed from the name and if they had removed all the weak connections between the parts.

Flaw number two is the fact once again certain combats are unavoidable. It’s as if the writer is convinced that combat is the only outcome, which honestly makes absolutely no sense. Just like in part one our party is forced to fight in a situation that could very well be solved in a peaceful manner. I’m incredibly disappointed by this. It’s like being a murderhobo is the only good way to play this scenario. In the end we just solved it with a glitterdust and then talked it over, saying we were willing to talk to the leader in order to understand their point of view. A short summary would be that forced fights need to make sense. These didn’t.

Having mentioned those major flaws, and ignoring some small ones such as ‘why do we have to climb on the plane of air when we have flying carpets’, let’s continue with the fun parts. The start of the scenario has you go to a social meeting where you have to mingle and gain information from a couple of individuals. It’s similar to Bid for Alabastrine, yet less complicated. This is basically a role-playing exercise that not everyone enjoys. I personally, however, like them a lot. It was by far my favorite part of the scenario, not in the least because of the unique and diverse NPCs. It made the social aspect of this adventure a blast, though the DC’s maybe could have been a bit higher.

While I did comment that I didn’t like the fights and their mandatory nature, I would like to mention that the combats were challenging. They packed quite a punch and I imagine that if we hadn’t been able to soak it up and do the same amount of burstdamage ourselves, a few of us would have been knocked out or worse. The fights, however, were fair.

To conclude: compared to part 1 this was a significant improvement, yet still flawed. The roleplay and the NPCs was great, but the storyline is a disaster. I hope part 3 can tie it all together, but I honestly don’t expect that to be the case.


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A sandbox-like investigation

****( )

Investigations are probably my favorite kind of scenario, so when I saw this one was about to came out I instantly instantly knew I was going to run it. I was not disappointed. When you read the whole thing, you instantly get thrown into the deep end, which is fitting considering the location the scenario takes place at.

As a disclaimer I have to admit that I struggle to give this scenario a good rating or review. Treacherous Waves introduces a bunch of flavorful NPCs and locations, which are all worth visiting as they can all contribute to solving the mystery. I quite like that, because as a result, there's multiple paths the players can take to find out what happened and who is responsible. It allows for a lot of flexibility, something that other investigations typically lack. There's multiple roads to Rome, so to say. I'd even go so far as to say you could also consider it somewhat of an evergreen considering every time you run it, you can find different angles to pursue and get to the same conclusion.

However this flexibility is also the downside. There's a metric ton of information spread out over 15 pages or so that you more or less have to memorize. A GM will to prepare this investigation really well in order to provide the players with the right information at the right time. When I ran it, I provided all the information the PC's asked for, which is roughly half of what is available, yet had some issues locating them.

The information in the scenario is just a bit too much and, possibly, overwhelming for the players. It can also easily have them chase after some red herrings, which again is fitting for this particular location. At the same time my players asked some fairly obvious and logical questions, yet the scenario had no answer ready for them. Compared to other scenarios, and investigations in particular, I had to improvise way more. In hindsight it honestly was too much of a sandbox for an investigation, yet still fun.

I should also comment about the underwater combat and the chase scene. Underwater combat rules can be quite frustrating, so be sure to have a handout ready for those players that are unfamiliar with it. As for the chase scene: some people will hate it, others will love it. I'm leaning towards the latter, but with the side note that it's a bit too sudden. You've never really met the culprit, and all of a sudden you see him and have to chase him. It felt a bit odd and out of the blue, and while fun, I'm not convinced it really added to the overall scenario.

In the end, I did like the scenario. It however is probably a bit too much of a sandbox and can take more time than a time-slot allows. Still, the NPCs and locations are worth it and story-wise it is rather well-written. Even though there are some things that could have been better, I'm inclined to recommend this scenario to others. However due to those issues mentioned above, I struggle to give this scenario more than 3,5 stars. Given the fact that it has a lot of potential to immerse the players in the hands of a well-prepared GM, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and conclude this review by giving Treacherous Waves 4 stars.


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Creepy, cruel, dangerous and lethal

****( )

I have to admit I was pretty worried about playing this scenario based on what I’ve heard and seen. Supposedly it’s a very lethal scenario with a big chance to get no experience or prestige. Combine that with the low rating, at this moment in time 2 and a half stars, and I was wondering if I should play it safe or not by avoiding this scenario completely. As you can guess from this review, I decided to play it anyway.

I found myself in a group with some highly optimized characters, notably frontliners. I was okay with that since my jetpack-gnome-bomber had a meatshield to hide behind. Tanks with 34+ AC are pretty handy to have. Let me tell you right now that we squishies really needed that frontline as the first fight in particular can be really painful. There’s a really big chance that there will be casualties and the later encounters aren’t exactly cakewalks either. We were just lucky with our composition and optimized characters that we (somehow) managed to stomp our way through it all, including portions where some of just ignored the enemies present. It actually made it way less creepy or scary than it should (and would) have been, which is actually a shame in hindsight.

That said I enjoyed returning to the Gloomspires. While I have some issues with the ‘you go in, but we can’t get you out so you’re on your own’ briefing from the Venture-captain, I consider the rest of the scenario to be pretty well-written. Diverse encounters that throw you for a loop, interesting yet lethal opponents and scary locations all come together nicely to create a fun, yet seriously dangerous scenario. You have to come really prepared or you’ll likely suffer.

It’s better than the previous part (7-19: Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts) in my opinion and about as equally good as 6-06: Hall of the Flesh Eaters. All the writers are doing a good job of creating a scary setting and dangerous encounters. The atmosphere and immersion are always there and I hope the next installment will be of the same quality. I will say though that I do hope the encounters are a little bit toned down as this was maybe a bit over the top for anything but highly optimized characters in certain situations. I’m on the fence about recommending it. It’s a good scenario, but definitely lethal and not to be underestimated.


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Memorable in every aspect

*****

I didn't exactly know what to expect from Way of the Kirin based on the small description. If I had to guess before starting the session, I would have said this would be a social scenario where you would help Amara Li talk to people and leave a good impression. At the same time, you'd have to root out the Aspis and in true Pathfinder spirit persuade them to go away.

To some extend this is true. There certainly is some diplomacy to be done, but it is definitely not the main focus of the scenario. Instead Way of the Kirin is one of those rare scenarios where you end up finding yourself at a location and forced to create defensive matters. Once you've set up, you obviously have to defend yourself against waves of enemies and basically try to stay alive to tell the tale.

As is normal for such a scenario, it's nice to have a mixture of skill monkeys and heavy hitters. As such I was happy I brought an investigator to the table. Together with another skill monkey, we managed to figure out what kind of 'special' defenses we could set up and we happily did so. We were all able to work together and set up a nice defence just in time for a tea ceremony, of all things. Even the nagaji cleric with an intelligence of 5 managed to brew up some alchemical goodies, albeit it with some pointers. Everyone was able to participate in organising the defence, which is always a good thing.

The highlight for me personally this scenario, was finding a bronze bathtub. I know that sounds strange, but it is true. I didn't think much of it at the time as I was busy setting up defences by building a catapult, but surely it would come in handy as a barricade of sorts, right? We weathered a few waves of foes, when some nasty ranged opponents caught us completely off guard. Thankfully we had some minor cover of a certain bronze bathtub, or so we thought . Sadly that's also when the bathtub betrayed us. Not only did it fail to provide enough cover as the enemies somehow kept hitting us over and over again (the GM's dice were hot), but it also blocked the path of our heavy hitters. Bad bathtub, bad!

After surviving that wave of enemies, we received word that we were needed elsewhere. We were about to leave when some casters started distracting us. My investigator, a bit annoyed by the bathtub, asked if she could just launch the thing as a parting gift and because of the 'rule of cool'. The GM allowed it and we all started laughing when I subsequently rolled a natural 20 on my to hit, which I then easily confirmed as well. Turns out bathtubs make terrible cover, but excellent ammunition.

As you can tell by the example given above, I had a blast playing this scenario. While my combat participation was limited, I helped setting things up for others to finish. As such everyone had his or her moment to shine and this scenario is a perfect example that every kind of character is useful in his or her own unique way. The combats themselves can be rather brutal, hectic and challenging. It might not be as lethal as some other season 4 scenarios, but it should not be underestimated. In the end this scenario just works and checks off every box: combat, roleplay and investigation. To the author I say well done, to everyone else I simply recommend playing this scenario if you haven't already.


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An investigation that's not to everyone's liking

***( )( )

I’ve always enjoyed role-playing and investigation more than a series of encounters or a dungeon crawl. I find it to be a better way to actually showcase a character. Dungeon crawls have a tendency to be numbers over character, which is a shame in my opinion. As such I was happy to play this investigative scenario with like-minded players.

This scenario basically boils down to the party having to investigate some murders by visit 8 locations and seeing if a bunch of rumors are true or not, while trying to not agitate the local townsfolk and important NPC’s. Different locations require different skills, so the party will have to be smart about splitting up.

Does that sound complicated? Yes and no. For the players it’s honestly not so bad. The rumors and locations you can go to are straightforward. For the GM, however, it’s a lot of things to keep track off. I can’t stress enough why this should not be run cold. You have to prepare this, or the entire table will have a bad session. Important pieces of information are scattered all across the scenario, forcing you to constantly flip back and forth.

This is also one of those scenarios murder hobos should skip and avoid. Not only can a whole bunch of encounters be resolved peacefully, it is also somewhat mandatory. Personally I have no issues with that at all, but I know others will struggle with having to role-play anything other than a murdering menace.

I would still recommend this scenario to those that prefer role-play over fighting. They’ll have a good time provided the GM is well-prepared. As mentioned, it’s a shame that the information is so spread out and that there are a lot of things to keep track of for a GM. This awkward formatting can result into a loss of immersion. Furthermore there’s a distinct lack of information about the murderer’s victims, which all things considering is really odd. There’s also a minor chance the (false) rumors will derail the investigation a bit too much.

Because of these minor things, I can’t give this scenario 4 or 5 stars. I would have given it 3,5 stars, but that’s not possible. Considering this scenario is not something everyone will enjoy, I’ll round it down to 3 and simply say that role-players should definitely give this one a go, especially if they're small group.


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Visiting the Blakros Museum never gets old

****( )

The first ever scenario featuring the Blakros Museum is according to many players a scenario one has to play. Yet somehow this iconic and trendsetting scenario managed to elude me for years. That is, it managed to do so until yesterday when I finally found four other players and a willing GM. In roughly four-and-a-half hours our level 1 characters explored the mysterious location. Why one would send two barbarians, a slayer, a hunter and an oracle to this place is beyond me though. Barbarians aren’t known for being subtle after all.

First of all I should point out the mist-mechanic. It’s hilarious for melee characters, not so much for casters. Luckily my oracle managed to save against the mist and only a single barbarian and the slayer failed. They didn’t mind that much, though I must confess that we did attempt to keep them in check with Handle Animal. It’s honestly a very simple, yet very effective way to make this scenario special and memorable. It has a distinct impact on roleplaying a character. I liked it a lot, even though my character was ‘safe’.

Then again, everyone who has ever been to the Blakros Museum knows that safe is not exactly a word that fits this location. Something is always wrong and the mist is just a single thing. The encounters within this scenario are diverse. They differ from room to room, thus making sure it’s not repetitive. Some are also more scary than others and require different tactics, but I would say that they’re not as scary now as when the scenario first came out. Overall they’re certainly no cakewalk, but they’re also not overly threatening or lethal. Sure, there can be some (very) nasty surprises if the dice do not cooperate with the players, but they’re certainly fair.

As for the rest, the story and theme are simple, yet effective. Combined with the encounters and some minor effort from the GM to create a jungle-vibe, I’d say this scenario aged fairly well. It’s a straightforward, simple dungeoncrawl that focuses on combat. There’s little roleplaying with NPCS, but hopefully your ape-like companions will suffice. I can see why others recommend this scenario; I do so too.


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An investigative sandbox done well

****( )

When a local GM offered to run this scenario for me, I instantly said yes. The lure of knowledge about Numeria’s otherworldly secrets is simply too much for my techno-crazed gnome alchemist to resist. As it turns out, two melee-druids, a bloodrager and a swashbuckler couldn’t help themselves either and into the high tier we went.

It’s worth pointing out that we basically had all the skillchecks covered well. A few party members were great with social skills, while the others did a mighty fine job with knowledges and perception. To get the most out of this scenario, it’s worth recommending to bring this diversity as it helps you in many ways, both expected and unexpected.

The setting and concept behind the scenario is great. The city of Nantambu is a joy. Having to make sure that a certain book is protected and that the lodge remains a secret makes sense, especially as you don’t want innocent people to die. What’s even better though, is that you as a group get to decide how to go about things. You can opt for brute force, intrigue and stealth or even a more social approach. It’s a investigative sandbox, just the way I like it!

Given our party, I doubt it’s a surprise we typically went for the brute force option unless innocent bystanders were present. As you can imagine we brought a whole bunch of damage, but that doesn’t mean the fights were not challenging and that there were no role-playing opportunities. Trust me, there’s plenty of role-playing to be done and the fights all offer a nasty surprise that would catch us off guard. Due to circumstances and great skill checks, we even managed to keep the lodge hidden, but we made sure the security had been vastly improved.

In short this is a more than solid scenario. The plot is great, the setting is excellent and the NPC's and opponents are well designed. I can only imagine what would happen should you fail to keep the place hidden, especially if you went the extra mile and added extra security measures. I think that this scenario is even better if you ‘fail’ to a certain extend. If I were to nitpick though, and I will, I’d say that the scenario might be a bit lengthy if you really want to explore every nook and cranny. That’s a shame since this scenario actually deserves this thorough approach. As such I will recommend this scenario, but only if you got a long timeslot for it.


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Disappointing and with many shortcomings

**( )( )( )

Due to circumstances I was unable to play this triptych earlier. It basically meant that Tyranny of Winds ended up being a sequence of scenarios I was looking rather forward to, especially given the planar vibe this season has. When I finally got a chance to play the first part last Sunday, I instantly signed up. Little did I know I’d end up being rather disappointed. I apologize in advance, but I’m going to be brutally honest in the rest of the review below.

The premise is okay. Someone stole something, so you have to track that person down. Now if you’ve played Through Maelstrom Rift, you’ll be a bit surprised if you find out who the thief is. However, that’s of later concern I suppose. First you have to make haste and chase the culprit. So far so good. But then you also get a side mission of ‘study and take note of interesting things along the way’. I’m sorry, but that instantly raised a red flag for me: how is taking rubbings, for example, supposed to help you to gain ground on that thief? It does not make any sense. Then again, I remained optimistic. Perhaps the two would come together.

Sadly, that’s not the case. Instead something happens and you are (mistakenly) seen as prophets by one of two factions. Which faction depends on a choice you made earlier. That’s an interesting twist, perhaps, but the scenario then fails to mention what you’re supposed to be the prophets of. That itself is rather awkward and does the storyline no good. That faction then tells you they can help you track down the thief, but only after you do a couple of tests for them to proof you’re the prophets. The scenario expects you to do so as well, which is in conflict with the notion of having to swiftly track down the thief. As a player you know you have to do this, while in character that’s rather debatable. Luckily you can justify it due to the side mission you’ve received, but it doesn't really sit well.

The series of trials are decent at best, with some clearly better than others. The first one is an interesting take on a certain skill, but is nothing more than just rolling dice. The second test features an interesting, albeit easy fight that features a pretty fun environmental effect. The third room is by far the best feature of this scenario. I’m not going to spoil too much, but we had a lot of problems having the animal companion (an axebeak no less) traverse this room. The fourth trial was, in our case, just a small role-play encounter which we completely managed to destroy with a diplomacy result of 46. That said, I think the whole concept of what is going on in that room is really interesting and I do hope to encounter that individual again in a later scenario.

After that there’s the obligatory final encounter. The other of the two factions shows up and you basically are forced to pick a side. You’ve not even met that party before and yet you must choose with whom you want to align. I’m sorry to have to say this, but that is absolutely terrible game design. When played as written, there’s no option to talk this out or to get them to stand down. There’s no further background you can use to base a decision on. There’s no tangible explanation why they even fight over whether or not a city should remain hidden other than ‘there’s a hidden power’. In short, you have nothing to go on except for the fact that you have a guide who has, at least so far, not betrayed you. I as a player and as a character would have flat-out refused to pick a side and I’m incredibly disappointed how this scenario ends.

The initial premise of catching a thief is okay, but apparently you’re forced to spend a bunch of time doing something else to proof you’re something that doesn’t even get explained. It’s like being told to make haste, but first you can take a trip around the world, visit relatives, spend some time on the beach and take care of some other chores. I’m exaggerating, but it’s the feeling I’m left with. In short: the premise does not deliver. The final encounter is in my honest opinion the worst I’ve seen in a long time in terms of context. Overall I’d say there are just many things that are lacking or disappointing in this scenario, though I somewhat doubt if it’s the author’s fault. It’s more as if the final editing removed a whole lot of (in hindsight mandatory) details.

That said I’ll try to remain optimistic though: I can see two things that are the saving grace of this scenario. First there’s the third test which can (and probably will) be hilarious. By itself that raises the numbers of stars I give this scenario by one. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there the fact that the other two parts of this triptych might actually be worth suffering through this one.


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Time to be the bad guys again!

***( )( )

How often do you have a chance to say that last Sunday off dusted off your Aspis badge and went on a mission to ‘secure’ intelligence? Not that often, I’d wager. In my case I grabbed my silver badge and led 3 others on a mission.

The premise of this scenario is simple. Infiltrate a location, find a secret base and gather as much evidence and intelligence as you can. From that perspective it sounds like a typical PFS scenario, but I forgot to mention that you’re also supposed to utterly destroy the place when you’re done and not care about any casualties. That’s just collateral damage after all.

While it may not be the most original approach, it still remains effective and gives you a nice amount of freedom to do as you wish. As a consequence the whole infiltration portion takes up roughly half the scenario and gives you plenty of time and opportunity to showcase your pregen’s skillset and characteristics. You should have no problem getting into character. It does, however, mean that you must enjoy roleplay as that will take up quite some time. If you’re just looking for fights, you will likely not have the best of times.

I should add that the pregens are lovely once more. Due to the face we only had four players, I ended up playing ‘the Leader’, a nice but effective cavalier. It took me some time to figure her out, but I enjoyed playing her once I had done so. Based on what I’ve seen, I’d say the other characters are great too. They all have their own reasons to be there and their own strong points. Even the ‘special’ one that shows up later on is well-designed. Individually they’re solid characters and as a group they also mash pretty decently.

The second half of the scenario is basically a series of fights and skill checks. There’s not a whole lot to say without going into spoilers, but every character gets to have a meaningful impact. The fights were somewhat challenging, yet not overly so. It could be that the four-player adjustment has a significant impact though. That said, the final boss was something we had never faced before, which is always a nice bonus to me.

In retrospection I had a good time. The pregens are nice, the story is solid. If I were to nitpick though, I’d have to say I didn’t like it as much as the previous one. I find that hard to explain, but it was more difficult to instantly get a feeling for your pregen and, from what I gathered, this scenario also requires more time to properly prepare as a GM. At the same time the scenario also runs long, which means you might have to rush through certain segments. The end also felt a little anticlimactic and was no where near as special as the previous part.

That’s not to say you should stay clear from Serpent’s Ire, but rather that’s it’s best played in a longer timeslot and with people you enjoy role-playing with. If you're just looking for combat, this is probably not for you. If given the chance, there are better pregen specials out there.


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Excellent low-level module

*****

Past weekend I had the pleasure of playing the entire module with the same group of players and characters. We basically had three Halfling skalds being a band, a summoner with a demonic eidolon (the drummer), a half orc slayer as the bodyguard and a ratfolk investigator as the manager of this band. In short, a colourful group.

We basically started the first part (A Foul Breed) by looking for our missing ‘fans’ and by buying everything in a bakery. The halflings were hungry after all. We quickly got introduced to an interesting town with a whole bunch of diverse characters and discovered a nefarious plot. It honestly was a fun plot that was suitably creepy and mysterious. The only downside to this, and the other parts, was that the template more or less makes certain character builds (or even certain classes) relatively useless. The investigation was fun and the fights were a little challenging, though that was mostly because we had some very poor dice rolls. I quite liked this part, though at times I felt a little lost. We gathered plenty of clues, but we weren’t always sure what to do next.

The next part, What Lurks in the Woods, is probably my least favourite part of the three. We went into the wilderness and encountered plenty of ‘special’ goblins and other creatures. The ‘ruler’ in particular was a lot of fun and the band had a spontaneous gig to take care off. The fights were all fun, but a little repetitive at times (they’re still goblins). My biggest issue though is that the presence of goblins feels a tad random. Of course they’re a common pest in Isger, but they felt a little out of place when it comes to the overarching storyline of the module. That said, it was still enjoyable, though that can’t be a surprise. It’s always fun when goblins are involved.

The third part, The Festering Blot, was my favourite portion. I’m a little biased, I must admit. I was playing an investigator and this was investigation heavy. Looking for clues in an abandoned mansion always speaks to one’s mind and this module really delivered on that front. My ratfolk had a lot of fun checking the books in the library and even slammed a door in the face of an enemy while stating that he should come back later as she was trying to read. Seriously though, the encounters were all great and different, and the big bad boss fight delivered (partially because of the terrain). Escaping the place was also one of the better executed ‘chase’-scenes I’ve seen in a while, probably because you revisited certain rooms.

Overall this module has a great storyline. Each of the three parts offers an exciting adventure for both new and experienced players. The setting is great and the encounters are at times challenging. Our party setup was probably a bit over the top when it came to damage potential and output, and we had most of the skills covered with pretty high bonuses. However, and this is important to point out, certain classes and builds will struggle to have an impact during combat. I won’t spoil too much, but I will say that focusing on fire damage is a bad idea. It’s better to just create a different character instead, because you’ll certainly want to play this module.


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