Have ran and played this now, and it was quite fun both times. The 10 minute items were very contrived sometimes, when I ran it I went to extra effort to describe why these tasks took a lot of time... but both when I played this and when I GM'd it by the end of the game the players were making jokes about how everything takes 10 minutes.
When I played and when I GM'd the players engaged with the story, and the handouts worked well... often the players had cracked the solution before they even found them all, and felt smart as the clues came in, but a few things caught them off-guard in a good way
When they realized not every body they found was on their list a number of players were somewhat excited, cause it threw the mystery and the importance of all the clues back into the mix where before they were like "Ok, it's a goblin. We only have 1 goblin on our list" and now all their decisions went "Oh damn, the word DOES have more than 1 goblin...".
I think to get the most out of this the GM has to do a bit of work to improve the reasons things take 10 minutes & rephrase some of the challenges. The 10 minutes feels gamey by the end no matter how you do it, so if you do it poorly it feels even worse. Some activities that took more or less than 10 minutes would've spiced it up a bit I think, even if just a few things took 5 minutes or 20 minutes just to give some variety so that the 10 minutes didn't feel so contrived. This is what lost it 1 star for me. For GM's make sure to consider how you'll word some things like:
A hill? Really? That's the challenge? Even just a quick rewording to say there's hilly terrain in the area makes this make a lot more sense.
Also, determining a body might be a halfling taking 10 minutes, you REALLY need to talk up the injuries to make that work & even then you kinda have to instantly give size category. Find a few obscure things you could call out that may have survived being eaten by a zombie or burned alive to hand to the players as the weird fact they found to confirm it was actually that race (Size of certain bones, thickness of cartilage, width of a fragment of skull for a goblin etc). Have your reasons it wasn't a 3 second look ready to go.
Played this one. I liked the story, I liked the mystery, but like many scenarios the investigation fell a bit flat.
I'm not sure if it was our GM or the scenario, I may revise my review once I run it myself, but the investigation felt like one where we didn't achieve very much and the plot just moved on when it was ready to... the follow-up activity felt contrived and the ending a bit anticlimactic.
I imagine a good GM who put in the effort could string it together more coherently than my play, and judging by other reviews I may need to revise after I run it myself, but at the moment the scenario just felt a bit weak.
Edit: Revising my review - after running this & having rave reviews from players I think my original GM may simply not have given the scenario the effort it needs. So I'll go up to 4 stars, but I'll comment that this is very GM dependent.
Interesting scenario. Good story - my players had great fun with the research.
My players engaged with the story & managed to have some great fun. The enemies were actually fleshed out characters which had enough information on their goals for me to react when the players went off-book in terms of their approach to the problems.
It's definitely a scenario that was harder than most intro scenarios - but I think this will hold it's longevity. I'm hoping we'll hear more continuation of the story hints that are unloaded here.
We had a bit of trouble with the time slot, despite having 5 hours. We did run the optional encounter, but the encounter after it took substantial amounts of time. I'd probably recommend adding 30 mins to the optional encounter suggested run time if you want to finish on time.
GM'd this one today for the first time - was great! I had a really good time running it.
GM's be aware it takes quite a bit of prep time to get it right, probably 3 times as much as I'd do on an average scenario, but I think it's worth the time for how cool it is. Plus reusing it will totally pay off.
I will say though that the difficulty is certainly above average - at least was in what I generated. We had 6 players, many of them quite experienced, and an APL that was just barely low enough to stay in low tier. I was expecting them to breeze through but after a few good roles it came very close to a TPK. They pulled it off in the end though - no deaths.