Scarecrow Golem

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FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 885 posts (988 including aliases). 30 reviews. 1 list. No wishlists. 16 Organized Play characters. 8 aliases.



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Laying down the Lore

4/5

Perspective: Player and GM

An adventure that sets out to give the PCs and players a good grounding in both Pathfinder Society and Absalom lore - and succeeds.

The first reveal may leave PCs questioning whether they have been setup, even though it is to their advantage. A nice enigmatic start from Drandle. Then there are several clues to follow up on to piece together the solution.

There is quite a lot of investigation information and lore so you may need to pace it right to avoid overwhelming new players in one hit.

A tip: Redo the first two handouts in more readable format. As presented they are long with densely packed scratchy font.

The amount of info and lore you need to absorb is a lot for the GM to work with to make it flow well. Add to that the random elements adding several options and the multiple handouts - and you need to prep more than normal for a low level scenario.


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An unusual means to an end

5/5

Perspective: player and GM.

A great mix of roleplay, combat, difficult decisions, interesting and slightly dark setting. A successful mission also means you get to be the hero in this one. This scenario flows easily and very well with each scene being memorable.

There are a couple of situations where diplomacy gives the PCs an additional option to avoid unpleasantness but is not essential. The mission can be completed 2 or 3 different ways, and there appears to be a downside to whichever approach you take, making your choices that much more interesting. It therefore fits with almost any group makeup.

Note the PCs need to make some decisions at the outset which, though equally fun and disconcerting, has the potential to bog the game down a little. Be prepared for the likely questions and things that need to be looked up.

The GM has the option of adding as much or as little role-playing depth as she wants and it still works.

A well rounded scenario that as a GM prepping to run I keep finding myself wanting to go back once more and get a little bit more out of it. A strong sign of an interesting and fun scenario.

The scenario does naturally follow on from Slave Ships of Absalom, so you may want to play with the same character. Though it doesn't require that you have played that scenario it does contain some spoilers for it.


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Mountains of fun

4/5

Perspective player

Great mountain setting and atmosphere, solid encounters, scary and dangerous monster, fun sledge mechanic (which GM kept smooth and fun and visually interesting), epic final fight and a semi-predictable twist. Nothing too complicated and not much roleplay.

Like all early season scenarios it works best with fewer players.

Certainly a 4+ star.


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Easygoing atmospheric river romp

4/5

Perspective player.

The setting and atmosphere of the River Kingdoms, organisations, river boats and individual encounters are all done well. The plot is however simple and likely predicted early on by most of the table.

If you are looking for challenge or complexity then it isn't for you.

This is one you play for the setting and atmosphere.

Works best as an early or introductory scenario and with only four players (as intended). Avoid playing it with more than 4 players if you can.

A 4 star if you like to soak up the atmosphere and for beginners, a 2 star if you are looking for challenge; giving a 3.5 star for the rounded package.


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A module in a scenario's clothing

5/5

Perspective: GM, five times

Keywords: Deep, Long, Intelligent.

The author has obviously put a lot of effort into the detail of this scenario, such that you feel it should be a much longer module. There are details to cover almost every eventuality including: what happens when PCs break the laws of man, how their actions can influence various outcomes, how to handle several different ways the PCs might go about things, how the encounters change once the alarm is raised, factors affecting how long before the watch arrives, and several other things.

There are 4 to 5 separate role-playing and background establishing scenes if you play out all the investigation scenes in full. This is on top of the combat encounters and other hazards, and at these levels combat encounters can take a long time. In a home game this is likely two full sessions of fun play. The investigation and associated role-play can easily take half of the available time in a fixed time slot. At a game day or convention you will need to streamline the investigation and maintain a sense of urgency and focus for the entire scenario or this will run very long indeed (or more likely get called). It is likely very intense and tiring for the GM.

There are a nice mix of intelligent and dynamic encounters and intelligent defenses with some that could be challenging for an unprepared party.

For GMs there is a _lot_ of detail that you need to be read and understand how the scenario plays out and all the interrelationships. This takes well above average prep time, and several reads to get your head around all of it. The higher subtier with 5+ players can be particularly challenging to run quickly due to the nature of the final encounter.

In summary: Cool setting with a lot of interesting background detail and intelligent encounters, though I suspect most folks won’t get to experience the full scenario due to time pressure causing it to be cut short.

At low subtier you likely need well in excess of 5 hours and at high subtier with 5+ players well in excess of 6 hours to run this in its entirety.

This scenario is superb as a drop in adventure to a home campaign. As a time limited scenario it's too big and complicated.

Run as a leisurely and long home game I give it 5 stars, as long as the GM is prepared to invest the above average prep-time. In a time limited slot you will really struggle to fit this in, even with streamlining, and so I rate it 4 stars for typical PFS play.


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Larger than life

5/5

Perspective: GM three times.

It was obvious from first read through of this scenario that this was going to be a classic. A great background story with some elements that make you do a double take. A simple follow-the-leader plot wrapped inside something bigger - with consequences – that works so well. The outcome depends on roleplaying choices and the GM gets to join in the fun more than usual.

From a GMing point of view it’s not too challenging and you can concentrate on bringing it to life. Though there are a few places you could trip up, so it’s worth a scan of the GM thread.


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Second Steps

3/5

Perspective: GM, twice.

As well as being a solid dungeon, this is a good scenario to use for new players after they have done first steps or for experienced role-players new to Pathfinder. It introduces a lot of things that they need to prepare for in their Pathfinder career, and which may not be as forgiving later on.

There are unusual creatures and encounters as well as twists on the familiar. There are some opportunities for roleplaying and diplomatic solutions as well as combats. Most of all there are lots of effects and conditions to handle which will reward the prepared and intelligent play.

The scenario is a familiar dungeon backdrop, which quickly becomes less than familiar with twists on the norm and many unusual encounters.

This scenario is also second steps for a GM. There are a lot of unusual creatures and a lot of effects in here. This requires well above average preparation for a 1-5 scenario and rule knowledge of all the environmental and other effects it brings to the surface. Not one to run cold.

You are also unlikely to have many appropriate figures. Perhaps resort to paper minis for this one.

Note it is not a particularly challenging scenario for experienced players, so you need to work at that, and you are likely to need the optional encounter in a four hour slot or finish early.


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Dark Mirror

4/5

Perspective player

I liked the format and found the encounters interesting and entertaining. However what we were being asked to do, and what the encounter victory conditions were based on, was to NOT act like Pathfinders normally do. In fact we were making the Aspis Consortium look like the good guys compared to what we were being driven to do.


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A scenario of two halves

3/5

Perspective: player.

Good story and great roleplaying opportunities in the first half and interesting encounters.

However there are a couple of unavoidable and powerful effects, the first one is demoralising and the second one can cause PC, animal companion or familiar deaths just by being there.

I like the story and roleplay, I really dislike the powerful unavoidable effects.

Not happy with the season 4 power boons either from a gamist standpoint, particularly this one, (are we bribing the players now?), but that isn't factored into my rating.


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Straightforward, Compact and Intelligent

4/5

Perspective GM three times

A straightforward and compact adventure with a good setup and background story and intelligent, interesting encounters. One encounter also introduces a potential moral quandry.

There aren't as many creatures to prep given the lower number of encounters, but the intelligent nature of the opponents means the prep is deep with a lot of looking up of powers and abilities.

I ran it with three different table sizes yet it always seemed to take 4.5 hours to run.

Action economy is an issue at a 5 or 6 player table in two of the encounters. Though the last encounter may make up for it. The very low CR side encounter can easily be made quite a challenge by using all the that creatures abilities and cover.


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Hammer Horror Double Feature

5/5

Perspective: GM twice

A deep scenario that has that Hammer horror feel with all the right elements. The action takes place in a remote port with several manor houses, a run down inn and an asylum. In the background a sinister cult operates with impunity. Meaningful moral choices await our heroes.

There is a huge amount of role-play and background available in this one. It includes the details for many people, locations, clues and rumours. You could spend an entire session just on the role-play elements if you had the time. It almost feels like this was a full length module, that has been cut down to scenario length, and which has inherited a lot of the background detail.

It seems a shame to play this scenario in a single convention slot when there is enough potential role-play content for a double slot or leisurely home game.

The cult is well established, well organised and intelligently led. As you would expect from an evil cult they fight smart and dirty.

In short:
Story: complex, coherent, unpredictable
RP: strong throughout
Combats: thematic, unusual

Rich background and role-play elements complemented by a powerful and sinister cult plus a fun Hammer horror plot and a few nasty surprises. Unusually for a high tier scenario this is not a pure combat fest. Nice one.

Well above average prep required - even for high level scenarios. The challenge for the GM in a convention slot is to keep it moving and find ways to make it fit within the time available.


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To Delve the Dungeon Dark

3/5

Perspective: GM once. Rating 3+.

This is the sort of adventure your character signed up for when they joined the Pathfinder Society; Exploring newly uncovered sites containing ancient treasures and its guardians. It’s done with a cool setup and a consistent strong theme running through it.

If you have played the relatively light and fluffy Delve the Dungeon Deep (or its older relative Master of the Fallen Fortress) this is its alter ego with a dark and disturbing flavor. Definitely a PG13 rating on this one as there are some very, very dark elements to the background.

Straightforward to run, the GMs challenge is to surface the atmosphere in a table appropriate manner. Typical season 4 challenge rating with a nice mix of creatures to deal with, though typically not in the social sense. No notable role-playing elements after the mission gets underway.

There are two encounters where bad luck can end in PC deaths, so it is definitely not for the faint hearted. Several save-or-suck type effects are in play which can cause issues.

Solid and disturbingly thematic dungeon crawl with too many unfun status effects and no roleplay.


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Dark Heart of the Wood

3/5

Perspective: GM twice. Rating 3-.

A simple linear plot. Good RP opportunity at the start with some detailed characters and then a minor side stream of RP.

There are a lot of unusual creatures to learn/play (I counted 10 spread across the two subtiers). Given the number of creatures there are a few issues to iron out so make sure you read the GM thread before running.

The opening fight is very tough at lower tier with 5+ players - with 4 players not so much. The big bad at lower tier is possibly harder than at higher tier as the template applied seemingly increases his key abilities - though minions are easier. Be ready for a really long and possibly PC fatal end fight. Marred by a scripted status effect that can have affected players sitting out the entirety of the big fight.


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Something for Everyone

5/5

Perspective: GM twice. Rating 4.6

There is something for everyone in this scenario. The setting is different, and it provides roleplay and investigation elements as well as hard combats and some unusual creatures - at least for PFS. There is also minor linkage to a previous mission and boon providing both continuity and background. The scenario is much more story and roleplay driven than most. On the the flip side there are so many elements that not all of them will be to everyone’s tastes and it is less formulaic to GM.

Plot: The plot revolves around a potential new ally to the society and the market she owns. It starts out as a routine protection and diplomacy mission before it becomes clear its not that simple and there is a larger mystery to solve.

Roleplay: There is plenty of opportunity for roleplay and many of the faction missions contribute towards this. One of the encounters is also pure roleplay.

Combat: This follows the trend of season 4 with combats being tougher. The way tactics are written also allows the GM to make the most out of the opponents and NPC builds are intelligent. Generally the combats occur in places where you can’t trash the place or kill everything making for more subtle combat. Playing up will be for those who like PFS on hard+ mode.

Encounters: There are four encounters plus an optional. One encounter is pure roleplay, one is half and half, and two are solid combat. The optional is also pure combat (as is typical). There are a very diverse range of opponents and creature types to make it interesting. All tie into the plot, setting or backstory.

Faction Missions: Half of these contribute to roleplay, with some really fun ones, none give away any plot.

GM Notes: There is a double flip mat map to draw of the Green Market where most of the action takes place. This looks hard to draw at first glance but can be made easier by printing out multiple carts, market stalls and greenery - to take away the detail work required. There are also creatures used with templates applied to them, which the GM must apply themselves for a little bit of extra work, or use the free tools that make this painless (such as Combat Manager). The prep required is average to low for the enemies, but above average for the roleplay elements and story weaving. Finally ensure you read the PFS GM thread as there are a couple of things you need to be aware of.

Overall a two-layered story woven into a cohesive and logical whole with a diverse range of encounters that work well. A 5 star scenario with solid prep and likely to be a 4 star with minimal prep or for those who don’t like some of the elements. Another solid scenario from Jim.


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Off the wall goodness

5/5

Perspective: GM 3 times. Rating 4.7

Roleplay, investigation, no pushover, fun setting, and dark and twisted in a fun way. It just works. My favorite season 4 scenario so far for the background and madness of it.

Story/plot: complex, coherent, insane
Roleplay: moderate throughout
Combat: thematic, unexpected, challenging

Watch the clock at the higher tier as the combats are tough and can take longer at that level. Of the three groups I ran through this:

A) a combat heavy party of 6 with helpful items went through the higher tier in 3.5 hours (APL 8.2)

B) a balanced party of 6 with 3 new to PFS players (level 7 pregens) took a full 5 hours to go through the lower tier (APL 6.7).

C) a balanced party of 5 whose APL (7.6) rounded to higher tier took 6 hours with 2 hairs-breadth misses from PC deaths.

A fun and challenging scenario to GM to its best. Doing it without significant prep not recommended.


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Great story and opening encounter

4/5

Perspective: GM once

From a story and background perspective this is a fun scenario and helps create a believable and detailed setting. The opening encounter is a strong and a unique role-playing opportunity. The remainder take place in a lair that actually makes sense. Though no real further opportunity for roleplaying.

The encounter challenge level seemed low for a group that was playing up. I believe this was mainly down to the NPCs listed tactics.

In summary: fun to read and easy to run. A great opening RP encounter and believable lair. Best played with only 4 players.

A strong 4 star. Recommended.


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Details bring it to life

5/5

Perspective: GM once

From the title and the introduction you are expecting a pure combat scenario. Once it gets started you start to think of it as an infiltration and exploration scenario. Without you really noticing many small background details, some with a fun twist, accumulate to make the story three dimensional and the scenario come to life. Add in a tiny splash of unusual roleplay for flavor. It then delivers a powerful ending with an epic final battle in an unusual setting for control of the gate.

In summary: Solid story and background details, memorable epic combat, tiny splash of in-built roleplay, twist of fun.

Note as a GM you really need to have the map for the final battle well prepared to make its setting work.

The tiny amount of in-built roleplay would normally be enough to drop this to a 4 star rating, but its strength in the other elements more than makes up for it. The story, the fun details and the setting positively encourage the players to roleplay themselves.

I played it with a strong 6 player group that could likely have played up out of tier, so they were not strongly challenged combat wise. Yet I had perhaps the best player feedback on the scenario from any of the 50 PFS tables I have run. I will run this again.


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A lesson in building challenging encounters

3/5

Perspective: Player

If you like challenging encounters then you will love this. There are several very different and very challenging encounters in here. Even the optional encounter is brutal (and claimed several PCs lives at Paizocon UK).

However if you want story and role-play you will be disappointed. The first encounter is on story and and involves some role-play. The rest are a series of challenging encounters which have no obvious link to the story though are possible in the setting. Think of all the horrors you might find in the setting described in the scenario introduction and you have underestimated...

If you are a combat junky this will be 5 stars for you.


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One for the tacticians

3/5

Perspective GM 4 times.

A combat heavy, roleplay light scenario in an interesting setting.

It is well constructed and season 3 appropriate both in setting and style. The overall encounters have story consistency, though with set tactics which makes all but one combat encounter weaker than their CR infers.

The encounters can very easily run into one another leading to a marathon combat fest, lasting for a record breaking number of rounds in one of my 4 games. The scenario also tends to play short with experienced players. The fastest of my 4 games took a few minutes over three hours. The only one that ran over 4 hours was with 5 new players at the table.

Faction missions tie into the plot and there are no obvious clunkers.

The scenario has a major spoiler for the Ruby Phoenix Tournament module, such that if you are going to play that module then don’t run or read this scenario until afterwards.

Overall an OK dungeon style action adventure with good use of terrain, and a couple of twists, though no major RP, which is memorable mainly for the setting and possibly for longest combat ever. Maybe a 4-star adventure for combat junkies and a 3-star for everyone else.


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3-Dimensional Role-play

5/5

Point of view: GM twice

A fun and well-crafted 3-dimensional scenario with opportunities for role-play. This is not a combat fest. This is an investigative scenario based on the streets of Absalom, and solving encounters by killing things wont get you very far.

The story hangs together well, being both logical and believable. The NPCs have an interesting and believable dynamic. It also ties in nicely with Absalom background and it makes use of a fun piece of background that should have players smiling. GMs will likely want to refer to the Field Guide and to other sources to help bring the scenario background to life.

There is an underlying hint of mischief or twists that surfaces throughout. Only 2 of the encounters are what I would call “traditional” encounters, though they are not by any means a pushover. The other encounters all have twists that make them different and fun to GM and play. Even Grandmaster Torch gets a cameo role in an amusing location and with a script that makes him more 3-dimensional.

For GMs there are only minor issues with some of the detail that can be worked around with fore-warning. See the GMs thread. The background and role-play elements of the scenario also mean a little more prep time for GMs, though it is creative prep.

This scenario could easily run long with role-play and investigation. As there is nothing you want to miss out it is a challenge to run in short slots, though it can be done with adequate prep. I have comfortably run it in a 3.5 hour session without the optional encounter.

I can see home groups having fun running this over 2 sessions with the role-play turned up to 11.

This is a scenario that you can have fun with both as a GM and as a player.


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Fun to play and easy to run

5/5

Point of view: Player and GMd 3 times.

Probably my favorite scenario from season 1 both as a player and as a GM.

The atmospheric isolated setting and environment worked well. The faction missions are fun. There are intriguing mysteries that keep them guessing and some decent role-playing opportunities.

As a GM it is easy and fun to run.

Basically a scenario where everything just came together.


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Highly Memorable but many rough edges means extra prep to do well

3/5

Point of view: GM 6 times.

The basic premise is good, and there are highly memorable moments for players and GM. However there are weak parts and several faction missions are not well thought out.

As a GM this is a difficult scenario to run (by low level scenario standards) and requires significant prep to do well.

The first encounter is difficult to make any sort of challenge for the party at both the lower sub-tiers, though there is a potential PC killing scary single moment.

Then there is a pacing issue while the main event is happening that is tricky to get right.

And the faction missions are all over the place. You need to come up with edge cases to justify some of them.

Overall this is "one that got away" as far as it being a well rounded scenario goes. Could have been epic...

With a heavily prepped GM this is potentially a 4 star player experience.


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Pirate town fun for GM and Players

5/5

Point of view: GM 5 times.

An adventure in an unfriendly town which forces players to role-play as well as combat. A nice mechanic that simulates how much "heat" they are attracting works well and contributes to the atmosphere.

Some investigation and negotiation as well as measured violence required to pull together several different threads (in any order) to successfully complete the mission. A couple of bar scenes should leave most players feeling right at home ;-)

Not difficult to prep or run and gives a sandbox feel with atmosphere. A good beginner GM scenario.

Not one for you if you just want to cause mayhem. Other than that a nicely rounded scenario.


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Strong initial role-play sandbox, 2nd half needs extra prep

4/5

Point of view: GM twice

The story is good and the setup is good. The first half is a 5 star scenario with multiple ways to perform the initial investigation giving it a slight sandbox feel and strong role-playing elements.

However the second half needs extra GM prep to make it coherent. One of the creatures is also inappropriate for many subtier 1-2 parties so GMs will have their work cut out to make that a proportional challenge. The first time I ran that encounter there were PCs standing around unable to contribute and the second time it took ages and slowly ground the party down so it could have gone either way (three PCs on zero HP at one point).

I expect player experience of this scenario to vary from a 3 to 5 star experience depending on party subtier, party makeup and the amount of prep the GM has done.

As noted elsewhere GMs should read the authors comments and the GM thread before running.


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Promising, but lacked something

3/5

An OK wilderness adventure, and a good back story, with some so-so mechanics along for the ride.

The final encounter maguffin could easily be decided by initiative roll.

Just felt like it was a potential great mod, with a little more effort.


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