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Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–22: Bid for Alabastrine (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Excellent Intrigue scenarioTicktockman1 —
There's been a lot of discussion on this scenario on the boards, so I feel it's important for me to review it here. To me, this is an excellent social intrigue scenario. It makes good use of the new Influence mechanic from Ultimate Intrigue, which has been evolving since Season 4.
The users who've expressed having a bad experience seem to have done so for one of a few reasons. Either the GM wasn't properly prepared to run the new mechanic, the GM missed something important in the scenario (like the 4-player adjustment), or it just isn't a style of scenario that those particular players enjoy. On each topic:
It is a complicated scenario from a GM perspective. It is beneficial for the GM to spend time prepping it, especially if they have little experience with the Intrigue mechanic from previous scenarios. There are lots of potential bonuses and penalties throughout, as well as several phases of the social interaction, and if the GM doesn't properly understand it all, it's easy for the players to get lost, too. Now, some GMs may look at this and think it's too complicated. To me, it's more complex than the average tier 1-5, but when I compare it to prepping a 5-9 or a 7-11 with a lot of unique monster abilities or NPC builds, I don't think it really takes any more time than that.
Similarly, it's easy for the GM to miss things that can greatly alter the player's experience. Giving a table of 4 the 4-player adjustment is very important. Tracking successes correctly is very important. And explaining the mechanic and the process to the players is very important.
As for the players perspective, if the GM does make mistakes, it's easy for the players to feel like the scenario is not fairly constructed or that the deck is stacked against them. That should not be the case. This scenario awards some benefits for more obscure skills and abilities, but it does not require them to succeed. The average group should not have a problem, as long as they pay attention to how the scenario works.
Also, I understand that a primarily social scenario (with somewhat tacked on combat) is not going to appeal to everyone, in the same way that a brutal combat filled scenario that requires a heavy mastery of the rules to beat isn't going to appeal to everyone. I would stop short of saying this is the social/roleplaying equivalent of Bonekeep, but it is a roleplaying heavy scenario if done right.
As a GM, I love the depth of the information provided, and I found it very easy to create threads that spanned the whole scenario. Based on feedback from the table of 3 players and a pregen that I ran, they enjoyed it as well. And they completed their primary and secondary goals with no problems.
I do have a few complaints...
About the combat...:
The difficulty (or lack thereof) or the combat doesn't bother me. It's a social scenario, so there's no real reason for the combat to be overwhelming. A couple of the past Influence mechanic scenarios have included a brutal combat finale, and that is sometimes difficult for people who bring their social characters.
What bothers me more about the combat in the scenario is that it is not linked to the rest of the scenario in any appreciable way. It is, for all intents and purposes, a random encounter on the way to the scenario. My suggestion for the future would be that any combat in a scenario such as this be more closely linked to the story of the scenario. For example, here, the combat could have involved saving someone or something of value to one of the bidders, resulting in a small bonus for having done so during the bidding/influence rounds.
About those obscure skills...:
There is one set of rolls that is limited to a single skill, which is trained only, and not that common. I don't have a problem with this, as most of the information gained is not crucial to success. But in one instance, making the roll provides a piece of information that results in a circumstance bonus during the later interactions. The problem is that the piece of information gained is something that the PCs contact tells them freely before the event. Without making the roll, though, there's no bonus for knowing the information. It seems like an oversight to me, but it doesn't cause a minor potential problem.
About that Faction Mission...:
The specifics of what a member of the Exchange needs to do are a little complicated. It requires some guidance through the process by the GM, I think, in order for the player to have a chance to be successful. I like that, like the rest of the scenario, it is not just a single roll to succeed, but the reality is we've been made to be used to faction missions that are like that, so some players will struggle with the idea that they need to do more. Providing the right subtle nudges in the right direction can make a huge difference.
Other than those two small things, this scenario was amazingly fun to GM. I wish that I'd had the opportunity to play it before running it, both so that I could have had the experience, and because I think having played through it once would help with understanding the mechanics and the complexity of the story. But I would gladly run this one again, and likely multiple times, without it getting boring.
Final thoughts: If you're looking for a social scenario where a single skill will let you dominate, this is likely not that. Though, a single skill and good planning can result in success, characters with varied skills can be rewarded with a much easier path through the scenario.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–19: Test of Tar Kuata (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Fun scenario with interesting combatsTicktockman1 —
I've both played and run this scenario, and I enjoyed both. It has a good mix of roleplaying at the start and a dungeon crawl for the second half. The monks are fun, though it takes a little work as a GM to make them stand out from one another.
I want to compliment the NPC design in this one. There are several feats and mechanics employed that make the fights more interesting, and the NPCs more effective. The author did an excellent job in that regard.
My main suggestion for improvement would be
that having some details or example encounters the PCs could have while exploring the village and monastery on first arrival would help. The monks are observing the PCs as they do this, but it's left entirely to the GM to come up with the encounters. How the PCs behave is important, so having a couple of encounters where the PCs could respond in positive or negative ways would be great.
Overall a well done scenario that's just out of my top tier of favorites.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-16: The Flesh Collector (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Great Scenario for Roleplayers and Combat!Ticktockman1 —
I've both played an run this scenario in the last month, and I have to say, I was really surprised by how good it is. The lack of reviews and the lack of a GM thread made me think it must not be that good, but it's a really enjoyable scenario. As others have mentioned, the story is something that the PCs learn through playing the scenario, not through the GM explaining things after the fact. Figuring out the story also helps prepare the PCs for the final fight. It's great when the knowledge the PCs acquire is actually useful both to the story and to dealing with the enemies.
Don't listen to the complaints about the fights in the early reviews of the scenario. The fights that are labeled too easy are easier for a reason. The ones that are labeled too deadly are... potentially deadly, but I think the power level of the average PC has gone up in the last 4 years, and what were once extremely difficult fights are not just challenging. Both when I played it and when I ran it, a PC was in danger of death more than once, but no one was actually killed, and that was with several character playing up into 10-11. For a CORE campaign or a group of 4, this could prove to be a very challenging scenario at 10-11, but I think an in-tier group would still be able to handle the fights.
Also, just a small compliment to Martin Long... the stock dialogue written for the BBEG is some of the most flavorful I can remember from an earlier season scenario. There's lots of good stuff there to work with.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–05: The Elven Entanglement (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Excellent, though dangerous scenarioTicktockman1 —
I finally got around to playing this over the weekend, as the last session of Coast Con. I'd heard talk about the danger of the first encounter. We were a party of 6 between tiers playing 10-11 with the 4-player adjustment. While the scenario is very dangerous, and there was a moment when two characters were unconscious and looked like they might not last another round, I think most of the negative experiences have been from situations where the GM misunderstood or misread tactics, monster abilities, or both. I highly encourage anyone planning to run this to read the GM discussion thread.
For me, the combats were challenging, but extremely fun. There were opportunities for fun role play as well, though I'd lost my voice by that part of the con and couldn't participate much in those sections, despite playing my social focused ninja. This was my first experience with Tanglebriar. It was also my first Season 5 7-11 scenario, and it did not disappoint. I hope the early confusion and negative reviews are forgotten over time, as I think this is an excellent scenario.