Jakaw Razorbeak

Wei Ji the Learner's page

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber. *** Pathfinder Society GM. Starfinder Society GM. 8,171 posts (16,870 including aliases). 13 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 80 Organized Play characters. 39 aliases.

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This Isn't a Parliament of Dreams...



I live about five miles away from an organization that tries to have interfaith conferences on a semi-regular basis. The concept of religions getting together, sharing notes, and comparing their various paths was *directly* in my wheelhouse, almost like the scenario was written for someone with my interests.

As always, this review is conditional pending running the scenario, which I am looking forward to in the future, personal schedule permitting.


When we sat down to play this with two soldiers, an operative, and Navasi we felt at first like we were going to fail the mission miserably even with good role-play.

By half-way through the scenario, it became clear that it wasn't 'what class our characters were' but 'what *faith* (if any) our characters had and how does it relate to other religions.

The novel ways each of the representatives presented their faiths, as much for a war of hearts as for novel ways of looking at deities was impressive.

The idea of approaching the unconventional representatives, and watching their entourage for *how they reacted* to what the representative was saying was the best balance of how to depict 'new directions' versus 'old guard'.

Shadowbringer Nevis was, despite the overtones of being of an 'evil' faith, one of the most interesting takes on an 'evil' deity I've seen, and also the most 'modern' or 'plausible in-setting' shifts of a public representative for a faith.

The hope is that we'll see the Shadowbringer again in the future, because there is more than just physical scars that people have to deal with.

There were no 'clunkers' among the representatives, imo, though personally the missed opportunity to have an Arshean representative who was socially reserved is something that might be touched upon in the future.

Word count is a harsh mistress in such a scenario, and hopefully we'll soon have a Second Interfaith Conference!

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Rough Run, Overtuned


Player Review:

Previous reviewers have mentioned the nice balance of skill challenges and the like for the scenario, and that is a reasonable assessment.

However, when a party of low-tier characters that have been pushed into higher difficulties due to adjustments approaches this scenario, it goes from a 'promising scenario' to 'painful head-ache inducing slog'.

The scenario started off decently enough, but '11' points makes it Hard Mode for L1 characters and strongly suggest that this scenario NOT be played with a L1 character (despite it being a 1-4 scenario).

Sure, the difficulty might increase at L2+, but the characters won't be so fragile that they are falling down nearly every encounter inside the plot location (and that's not with horrible dice rolling).

In addition, there was confusion on a particular puzzle that was EERILY reminiscent of PFS1 #7-02, and like that experience this was migraine-inducing as well.

As always, in the event I GM this scenario, that review will be appended after this section.

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Nice Premise -- Old Problems Arise


This is the play opinion of the scenario. This will be edited should I ever run the scenario to update from the GM perspective.

Much like the other scenarios on this type of setting, the adventure attempts to accomplish what would be more a module length series of events in the compressed timeframe of a scenario.

Even with a solid team, solid tactics, and the low tier, we were pressed to the very edge of consumables and other party resources to the point that it looked exceptionally grim for our table.

This was not helped by a shift from normal combat to Space Combat and then back.

Much like other reviewers, the lack of skill contests was a bit jarring, and the nearly constant grind of combat was off-putting for a team of space explorers.

Unlike some other offerings in Season Two and Three, this scenario runs very long, and it seems it would probably require a disciplinarian GM that did NOT encourage/actively discouraged roleplay to get the scenario done on time.


The Starfinders are given 24 hours they have to work for ZO! on his new adventure. Yet despite this, they aren't given eight hours during that time to recover resources, so it instead becomes 'The Longest Adventuring Day' especially towards the last combats when everything has already been used.

Most other scenarios actively encourage resting (or at least remain silent on it) to allow parties that feel overtaxed to regroup and recharge. Not so for this scenario, and it's painfully telling as time goes on.

Depending on the hazards encountered during the scenario they are either laughably bad or downright dangerous to the point that it becomes nearly impossible to accomplish scenario goals.

At certain points, it almost felt like the tactics and behaviours of the NPCs and the scenario setting were devised to attack certain optimised builds (which thankfully our party was lacking, or it would have been a TPK, more than likely).

If this is true, it's a dangerous and slippery slope to start tailoring fights and encounters to 'this optimized bunch that playtested the thing'. Having seen that sort of mentality in a couple of living campaigns was what led me to stop playing in them, because everything was overtooled for 'the ultimate power combos' and the 'average' player had no hope of competing.

I want to give this thing more stars -- it's clear that the author and the development team did a lot of work on this scenario but it also felt very punishing after other scenarios.

Whether that's because of the sudden leap in difficulty in the 5-8 tiers and trying to balance them or a lack of experience in balancing same difficulty is hard to determine without GMing this.

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Year of Cyclops Stuff = Rough Scenario


Sure, it's the 'launch' scenario of a season, and traditionally those have issues as Organized Play attempts to introduce or expose players to new systems or mechanics -- (See: PFS1 6-01 Trial by Machine, 7-01 Between the Lines, 9-01 Cost of Enlightenment, SFS 2-01 Pact Worlds Warriors, PFS2 1-01 The Absalom Initation, etc)

However, I had the fortune (or misfortune) to play this after the grueling adventure of PFS#2-03.

The impression that both these scenarios have given is that Organized Play is not learning from the experiences of many years of publishing scenarios, and attempting to do 'too much stuff' at the start of most seasons -- most of which is ultimately rolled back about halfway into the season as word gets out that it's 'Season of the Technologist Feat' 'Season of the Intrigue Mechanics that don't appear in a book', etc, et al.

This is not and should not be taken as a searing indictment of the writers, who have probably been given certain guidelines they have to write to.


With the above being said, when an 'untrained' skill has a far lower difficulty check number than the 'trained' skill (that people have been investing their time and training in), that's a problem.

I understand that it's important to give folks 'some sort of a chance', but when I'm looking at my L1 character and realizing that it'll be easier to roll an 'untrained' skill than the 'trained' skill, that is demoralizing to say the least. And that's before we get to the nearly impossible nature of such skill challenges at a cold dice or even 'average' dice table.

Right now, between this and #2-03 based on my play experience I'm hesitant to GM anything for PFS2, and that's not a complaint against the GM, nor the writers -- they have to follow rules as much as we do as players.

When/if I do take up that mantle for PFS2, these scenarios will be ones that I will not be comfortable running.

Easy enough to customize, Fun to Run


I picked this scenario up because I had to prep for a convention and the convention support had not come through by my 'must have by this date' prep deadline.

The trick I discovered prepping it was 'showing' the players what they had to do for the tasks at the front of the scenario with carefully designed sheets then coming up with a few alternative suggestions for the skills involved with said tasks at a brief glance, encouraging players to offer other reasonable suggestions. I had fun using the utility NPC to flesh that out. There was also a great opportunity to play up the frictions within the Society as part of an argument, which helped with immersion.

For the intel-gathering section of the scenario, my players 'followed the rails' a bit, and were actually going to dump a lot more resources on a given NPC than was necessary,

The overnight encounter made for a very interesting time as the players had planned carefully and turned what might have been a challenging encounter into a challenge for the GM, but there was much fun had. MUCH.

For the key NPC, the players were reasonably convinced that there was an NPC race 'crime family' in the city, and they had no desire to upset said 'crime family'.

They handled the climax of the scenario with subtlety and panache, exceptionally so given the skills of some of the PCs involved.

I then had a chance to play, and the play experience was a bit different for the first two acts, with a cautionary tale of windows and 'how do they work, even?'.

Scenario is fun, easy enough to adjust slightly to make even more fun, and runs quick even if folks doubledown on the rp.

Shouldn't be run 'cold', but with two weeks of prep time it was *bleepin' golden.

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Amazing Tengu, Easily Disarmed...


I love my swashbuckler, they had plenty of use as well as acting as a proxy for my Silver Crusader and a few other characters.

Unfortunately, the sword-arm snapped off at the shoulder and has since defied any efforts to glue it back on, so the figure is now sadly less than useful.

I want to get another one, but I am worried about durability issues now.

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This adventure very much is an epic conclusion to years of scenarios and play, and ties up so many different dangling plot points and considerations throughout.

It is *long*. Between mustering, figuring out the mechanical crunch, and the other items it can take about 2-3 hours for *players* to be ready to play it under worst-case circumstances.

This does NOT, however, change the dramatic and pivotal nature of the scenario, and for those who have been raising concerns about 'Hard Mode'?

...your ship has arrived and is now boarding.

It is the first scenario where I had a character die *twice* (once brought back by Breath of Life) in the space of less than ten minutes and not due to any tactical errors on their part.

If you are playing this, this is a high-tier scenario that pulls no punches and may seem a bit unfair compared to lower tiers.

If you are GMing this, please, for the love of all that you hold dear, prep the bejesus out of this one (I am in the middle of prepping it for a convention later this month, having played it) and then like others have said prep it some more... and if you think you've prepped it, prep it again.

Maybe two times just to be sure.

I will add more review after my GMing run.

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Flavorful Space Western With a Flaw...


I really, really, really wanted to give this scenario five stars. The mission was fun, we went off the rails a couple of times, and we had great fun playing throughout.

Why I can't give this five stars:
...I must be the only one that's reviewed this so far that saw an episode of a particular anime that has the plot and chain of this scenario almost to a 't'. I'm not going to reveal the anime, but the MacGuffin that the party was sent to fetch immediately turned my 'detect plot' sensors on, and then I was horribly disappointed to discover that yes, they were accurate and precise. The worse part was that I could see the encounters before the GM even mentioned them, and that impaired the fun of an otherwise amusing table romp through the backdusts of Akiton.

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A tragically flawed product


With an outright moratorium on discussion of the class that was supposed to be the crown jewel of the book in the product discussion forums, I feel compelled to lower the rating I was considering giving until such time as proper addressing of the many flaws with the class can be addressed.

I am hoping that this will be changed for the better and soon.

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Durable and Compact!


One would not expect the pocket soft-cover to be more durable than the hardcover, yet my pocket soft-cover has been through more trials and travels than my hardcover and is in far better shape despite this.

HEAVILY recommend for folks that need a 'hard copy' of text.

PLEASE convert the rest of the line to this format!

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Nice Premise, Poor Implementation


I had a chance to play this at a local convention this past weekend. A lot of comments have been made above, so will not follow them directly.


-Multiple options to address each step of the way, and our GM was on top of it.

-A definite feeling of suspense throughout contributed to a nice level of game tension.


-Scenario is potentially too large for a 4-5 hour slot if the party starts to hit brick walls, which we started having an issue with even having the right skills and party composition.

-Faction Boons were too narrowly written for someone who attempting to synergize the dynamic of the *full* Exchange, and penalizes those who try to do so.

Had a great deal of fun playing this, but upon hearing what was required for either side of the Exchange faction felt once again my character was yet again in the wrong faction The other one was Bid for Alabastrine, another scenario I enjoyed and felt I played 'right', despite playing both aspects within reason and the entire table helping to try and accomplish the missions.

The way the player finds about the faction missions is inspired, but they were too vague to be helpful for what was ultimately required to fulfill either goal.

That really shouldn't happen, imo.

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Takes you There!


A lot of the points have already been hit in previous reviews of this product, so this will be somewhat brief and hopefully to the point.

Each one of these locations feels a little bit 'clunky' at first read, but when reading for content, and weighing the possibilities of each one of these cities as a 'starting point' for a campaign or world setting, the true genius of each of their designs becomes readily apparent.

They work right now really well for home campaigns, even.

I can't wait to see a further expansion of Holomog and the nations around it, or Ducharg and how the hobgoblins keep from completely falling apart beyond the capital, or Arcadia and how this unknown continent has been both years ahead and behind of Avistan.

With the introduction of Iblydos Vudra, and Casmaron as viable settings as well, suddenly the world of Golarion feels both a slight bit smaller and a *lot* larger.

There are a few limitations to such an offering, but they do not detract from the value of this volume, and I would recommend it to anyone seeking to branch out from Tian Xia or the Inner Sea Region!

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Work In Progress


The scenario experience from a play-through at PaizoCon, subject to change as I continue to mentally review this:

There was a *clear* effort and love spent on this scenario, as evidenced by the depth of material and complexity behind the encounters and interactions on a level that exceeded the 'feel' of RiseThe spiritual predecessor.


There was a LOT of REALLY NEAT STUFF in this scenario, including a point where a previous NPC from Rise shows up and there's a collective burst of "OH, CRAP!" from the table.

Also kind of neat was to see a different direction and motivation and a for lack of a better term sanctioned 'death vagrancy'.

Group Synergy Bonus:

When the entire party was together and working as a unit, it was fairly impressive, even with lack of system mastery on the player side. That was refreshing.

Interesting Character Backgrounds:

After it became painfully obvious we were going to fail to complete the mission in the time constraints, we shared our personal briefing notes, and it was fun to see where the characters were coming from.


LONG -- Sadly, because of the above REALLY NEAT STUFF our party did not get to the 'back' half of the scenario until eighty percent of the time slot (5 hours) was complete. At that point, it was an assured party failure and the party components began looking for means to try and at least complete *just their own secondary conditions*.

As a result, party cohesion went out the window and while not PvP it was a very uncomfortable and distasteful RP experience. The loss of both prestige was annoying, but there was no cure for it as written and run.

CHARACTER COMPLEXITY -- It is difficult to grab a pregen under optimal circumstances, and these circumstances were near sub-optimal.

Even with the helpful 'cheat sheets' that someone devised, it still took us the better part of an hour to get even a rough idea of what our characters were about.

A future recommendation to mitigate this is to make the characters available in whole to the players well before the scenario, so those who HAVEN'T played a given class combo have a chance to work out the mechanics rather than within the already straining constraints of time noted above.

SET UP TO FAIL -- Given the first comment in the above CON section, I was playing Rataji, an admittedly poor choice on my part as I am not familiar with prepared casters.

Given background, though, it felt like (especially after we engaged quasi-passive-aggressive PvP mode) like this was a scenario designed to kill the characters for their perceived failures, leaving me to wonder at least if perhaps that was an unspoken design intent. Pretty sure that wasn't the case, but it was hard to tell.

Perhaps if the 'personal briefings' were tightened up a little bit, that might mitigate some of that feeling?

AMBIGUOUS NPC -- There's a helpful NPC (for a limited definition of 'helpful') that has a communication barrier.

Unfortunately, our GM utilized the method in a way that left us confused and distracted rather than focused on the scenario, and he admitted that he probably would have used a different method if he'd seen how badly it was throwing us off our track.

BRIEFING NPC -- This could have easily have been chopped and replaced with a printed letter and an info-dump (and some block-text) to expedite the 'front half' of the scenario.

It might make things a bit more complex, but it'd stop the 'asking of dumb time-wasting questions' and 'players not making knowledge checks' for information they kind of need to know about the scenario. I realize it's counter-intuitive, but these ARE L8 characters.

If it could be safely assumed they got the briefing in Rise just fine, then it should be safely assumed that the method could work here, as well.

'POINTS' -- While this is a handy GM tool, it is a very quantitative measure for a qualitative rp environment. If this could be altered to 'general goals' rather than 'must have this hard number', it might help with the 'unit cohesion' issue mentioned above.

We didn't know about the points until wrap-up, but it was clear that when our characters did or did not perform actions notes were being made about that.

In Summary
For my play experience, this scenario desperately needs a tag on it along the lines of 'FOR EXPERIENCED PLAYERS ONLY' and 'Potentially Lengthy Scenario' to prevent it trying to be crammed into a four-hour slot.

Our GM had a hard time fitting it into a *five-hour* time slot. Given the way it ran, I can't imagine it fitting into four currently.

It shows a lot of promise.

It also needs some work to clean up to a level where it can be run in a large room with hundreds of fellow gamers talking at conversational levels or louder.

I want to give it a higher rating because of the clear work that was put INTO it, but I can't in honesty give it more given the experience I had playing it.

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Expensive Beginner Scenario


This was the first scenario I've judged for PFS. The following are some observations...

The roughest part of this scenario is attempting to prep it.

None of the maps were available for sale in physical flip-mat format. Not talking .pdfs here, talking actual physical maps. As I have a hard time drawing maps, having a means of getting maps created that doesn't burn up my printer OR cost in the neighborhood of 70$ to get the .pdfs and then printed at a local store would be exceptionally appreciated by novice GMs seeking to emphasize play experience over 'players watching GM draw maps' experience.

The final encounter map is apparently a custom map that should be printed out as well, to give players a proper feel for the terrain and difficulties.

This is why the rating is only three stars.

The tie-ins to Aroden, Absalom, a little bit about the history of the Society and motivations is kind of neat, and the mission is a good way of keeping players 'on track'. Having a note in there about 'turning down the volume' on a key NPC if they are a bit annoying to players is also kind of important to note, as it was a little bit hard to find that NPC's 'voice'.

Overall, until the map situation is rectified better than 'downloadable .pdfs only', I can't give it more than three stars, though.

EDIT 2018APR23

Looking back at about two years of organized play and FINALLY the release of the Darklands map in a Classic format helps mitigate some of the cost concerns that I had quite some time ago about this scenario.

Given that it was prior to the realization that evergreens should have non-unique maps in them, to make it easier on newer GMs, I'm hoping the lesson was learned and carried forwards, and am upgrading review based on that concern to five stars. I've run it a few times now, played it a few times more than that, and each time has been an interesting adventure that left the tables feeling accomplished.