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****** Pathfinder Society GM. Starfinder Society GM. 3,864 posts (7,821 including aliases). 49 reviews. 1 list. No wishlists. 69 Organized Play characters. 36 aliases.



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WAY too hard for an introductory scenario

1/5

Played this. TPK.

We ran into one monster with a rather nasty special ability. I think the writers just expect the wizard to
1) Roll high on intiative
2) Choose to spend an action on a knowledge check
3) Roll high enough to get the required knowledge.

Didn't happen, Amiri went first, caused the monsters special ability to activate, things just went south from there.

It didn't help that the only pregen with in combat healing is Kyra and we didn't bring Kyra. Yes, there are alternate means but the pregens don't have them.

No Kyra, wizard rolled lower than barbarian == TPK

This scenario would be difficult but ok with player built characters at level 5. But with pregens and inexperienced players and inexperienced GMs its just too swingy and difficult

On the "bright" side its come very close to finalizing my opinion of PFS2. Not sure that Paizo considers that a good thing though considering the way my opinion is going.

I think PF2 may be a reasonable game with a decent GM modifying silly things. But with PFS insisting that things be run as written it really isn't.


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Bad enough to ALMOST turn me off 2nd edition

1/5

This scenario is utterly atrocious. One of my players said that the only PFS scenario he has EVER disliked more was the troop one from PFS1 (5-24, Assault on the Wound).

I am writing this from the position of a GM GMing a table of seven level 1 PCs.

So, what is wrong
1) The setup - The pathfinder Society is reeling, trying to recover, so they send Pathfinders out to get a whole bunch of basically worthless historical crap so people can preserve their heritage? Recovering bodies is a better rationale, admittedly, but even that seems like a waste of resources if your're trying to stress how overloaded the PCs are.

2) The majority of the scenario is a basically pointless exercise where the PCs are just rolling dice at often absurd DCs. I mean, it takes 10 minutes to make a heal check to figure out that a body is a 1/2 ling or a gnome? And the DC for that goes up with level for absolutely no in world reason. A FEW of the skill DCs are static (not affected by level) but the vast majority are affected by level "just because". So much for all the promises that PF2 would use static DCs when appropriate. As of 3 scenarios, basically a lie.

3) I don't think the scaling is right. So, DCs go up by 3 from low tier to high tier while the PCs go up by 2 levels. Ignoring rogues, the difference between L1 and L3 is that ONE skill goes from trained to Expert, getting ONE at +4. The rest go up by 2. So, its basically harder at high tier than at low tier to recognize that the body is a 1/2ling

4) The PCs have a huge dilemna. Stay together or split the party. Both options are punished since combat DOES occur while they're searching for relics/clues.

5) There are just TOO many rolls. I was pushing the party REALLY hard but at 20 odd "turns" it just breaks down into rolling dice. As a GM I was frustrated and bored out of my skull for most of it

6) Railroading - So, there is a place where a critical failure leads to false information. As written, this then automatically leads to the players losing 30 minutes. No player choice, they just lose 30 minutes. And how the heck do the PCs make it to the first combat encounter without meeting zombies on the way in?

7) The final combat is absolutely brutal. I knew that going in so "coincidentally" I made sure that everybody had a Hero Point going in. I softballed a little (concentrating on the Animal Companion). Even so, it was close to a TPK. 3 CR2's and some zugs against a group of level 1 PCs is just brutal.

8) The whole "Get to the village" thing seemed VERY artificial as I explained the character options.

Some of this was just VERY bad scenario writing. But some of it seems to be PF2 and the way it works. The DCs just seem that little bit too high, the overemphasis on skills, the deadliness that is PF2 poisons, the deadliness that PF2 combat can be.

I'm still reserving judgement but this scenario went a fair way to convinced me that PF2 isn't for me.


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Absurdly overcomplicated

1/5

I can't really add anything new to the existing reviews, I just wanted to help see how many 1 star reviews this scenario can get. And, quite frankly, I NEEDED to vent after this monstrosity

The whole thing is absurdly over complicated and it makes no sense when you play it and even less sense when you read it later.

Its far too deadly, especially for a tier 1-5 where new players are a very lively possibility.

Making it undead all the time and making those undead tougher with a b%!#~!#@ disease that makes undead far tougher without raising their CR is just more bad writing.

And the railroad tracks are just crazy stupid on this one. Vaguely sane PCs would just acknowledge failure and go home long before the end.

Not to mention the whole "Your in the CAPITAL CITY of a country with what you're told is a VERY good law enforcement force but they need level 1-2 characters to save the day?"

This feels like it might once have been a decent module which then got totally cut in production. Its too long, too much happens, it all makes no sense.

Or maybe Paizo just wasn't paying any attention because everybody was way too busy with PF2


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Lots of fun but potentially deadly

5/5

Overall the scenario was a lot of fun and had pretty much everything going for it.

Interesting location, a good story, a mix of encounter types including some roleplaying, some exploration, and a few interesting fights.

For various reasons it is going to play very differently depending upon the group makeup and some GM choices.

I had two issues with it.

1) The fights are potentially VERY difficult, depending upon the mix of characters and character types. When we played it one character came within 2 pts of dying in the surprise round. Character death is a VERY real risk in this scenario

2)

Spoiler:
The players figured out the basic story of what was happening long before reaching the end. I'm not sure if that was intended or not. Certainly, what could conceivably have been intended as a suprise wasn't


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Really quite silly if you think about it. I loved it

5/5

I'm not really sure if this is a good showcase for the Concordance (a lot of scenarios in Season 8 really did a better job of that).

And the complaints that Jamilla really shouldn't be an authority figure are probably apt.

And some of the combats are a little on the difficult side for low tier.

But I don't care. It was SO incredibly enjoyable that its a clear 5 star scenario :-).

At least, its a lot of fun if your tastes include whimsy. Because there is a whole LOT of whimsey in this. If you hate the Fey because they're so random you'll absolutely hate this.

Lots of excellent roleplaying possibilities, huge amounts of flavour, some decent combats, skill challenges that were both apt and not too difficult.


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Good scenario with one glaring flaw

2/5

This was a pretty decent scenario (not great, but a solid 3-4 star scenario) except for one Glaring Flaw.

There was a fair bit of roleplaying, some exploration, some interesting encounters, a new place to go. All good things.

Minor spoiler:

The Chase scene was fun but definitely inferior to a very similar scene done in an earlier scenario

Some of the roleplaying was more or less impossible unless the characters spoke a quite obscure language. Low level characters very rarely have a way of getting past the language barrier (comprehend languages was not enough). It made PERFECT sense that this barrier existed, though, so I'm fine with this. World making sense is about equivalent value to a lost fairly minor roleplaying opportunity.

And then we come to the

Glaring Flaw:

Paizo decided to insert a ticking clock that the characters have absolutely NO way to know about. A badly and confusingly written ticking clock (See GM thread for details). Giving the timing involved it is a coincidence of the highest order that there was any kind of time limit. And the characters knew that. Why on earth would they be expected to act as if there was a time limit absent GM hints at the meta level?


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Very good but too long and too dangerous

3/5

Damned paizo board ate my first review so this may be shorter.

I agree with all the other reviews that this scenario is, at base, very very good. Excellent story, interesting fights, good exploration, even some role playing. 5 Stars.

However, it ran very long. Despite us all having sent the GM our info ahead of time it took over 6 1/2 hours to run.

Despite being a reasonable (not optimal, but a long way from dismal, and we had ALL the necessary bases covered) group firmly in tier our high tier group TPK'ed.

Basically, if you go in with the wrong group (a group barely in tier, especially if 5 characters. Or a group with a couple of severely underperforming characters. Or just a group with the wrong mix of abilities, especially skills) then you WILL fail. Guaranteed.

I disagree with a couple of other reviewers. This was NOT obvious from either the briefing or the scenario description. We were NOT facing a Rune Lord. It was NOT the end of a season. It was a 7-11 like any other 7-11 on the face of it. Oh, a very important one to one faction admittedly.

There is one facet of the scenario that I absolutely loathed. This tempted me to give my review one star. But that wouldn't really be fair as I liked the scenario as a whole.

Totally unacceptable:

If you fail in this scenario (and that is definitely FAR more likely than with most scenarios) there is a very real chance of Permadeath. I don't mind (especially at this level) losing some cash and prestige to body recovery and Raise Dead. But if the group fails AND you fail a saving throw at the wrong time you will be permanently dead. No way out that I know of. This happened to one of the characters (not mine) and it is unacceptable in a scenario this difficult.


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Going to be very random with LOTS of table variation

2/5

I've now both played and run this.

I basically like the scenario. The space battle is quite fun. I liked the fact that it wasn't JUST a space battle.

The basic horrorish approach on the spaceship is good.

I agree with others that it is a poorly disguised railroad with no choices at all.

But the two BBEGS are a little too much. Maybe a lot too much. We played at low tier with 1 L1, 3L2 characters and a L3 Operative (who, not surprisingly, probably did more damage than the rest of us combined).

I don't want to spoil things too much but

The first one encountered is definitely WAY tougher than nearly any other creature of its CR I've so far encountered (do not have Alien Archive yet). Its also using some as yet ill defined abilities (I can actually construct a reasonable argument that would make this creature LITERALLY unhittable and therefore automatic run away or die). Depending on how optimally the GM plays the bad guy this combat can be both dangerous AND long. A few bad rolls on the aura effect and it could easily be a TPK.

There are items placed in the scenario to explicitly help against this. Out of the 9 characters (4 when I ran, 5 when I played) exactly 1 character could make use of these items. Which isn't too surprising really.

Given that we are currently dealing with low level characters being run by inexperienced players, it is no surprise that some characters will be LITERALLY be unable to do ANYTHING against this enemy. That both makes the battle harder and is going to very boring for the player.

Another place where there is going to be table variation is whether the PCs are allowed to take a 10 minute rest between the two encounters.

The second encountered isn't that bad. It felt a lot more dangerous than it actually was. The scenario went to great lengths to make sure that what seemed very dangerous actually wasn't all that bad.


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Reminds me of my university days

1/5

The first 1/2 of this module was wonderful. Lots of regional flavour, lots of roleplaying, lots of silliness.

Heading for 5 Stars at this point

Then there is the "You are forced into a random encounter with an overpowered monster" part. Yes, I'm particularly peeved because my character died. But I HATE Railroads that place you on the map in a place where you may well not have even gone. I think at least 3 members of the party had create water and so why would we go to a watering hole? Watering holes are dangerous! (don't say they aren't and then put a monster in there :-)). Then, at this place where you have no reason to be, you throw an overpowered monster at the group that has NOTHING to do with the adventure. Didn't help that we were 4 players and the 4 player adjustment on this is a joke.

Paizo, throw away the young template. NEVER ever ever use it. It is NEVER worth the -1 CR. Use the degenerate template from Tome of Righteous Repose instead. That ACTUALLY does reduce the CR by 1.

So, take away at least 1 star for that.

Then you have the ending. Some fairly pointlessly trivial combat encounters. Followed by a philosophy lecture that never quite attained the "level" of discourse of my undergraduate stoned 3am "dicussions". A PFS game is NOT the place to introduce nihilistic philosophy.

-2 stars

Worse, of course, is the fact that many characters ALREADY have a divine patron and ALREADY have pretty clear answers to the questions. Why the heck would you expect these characters to play that particular game? In character, this is obviously an INSANELY stupid thing to do.

For this to be interesting both the PLAYER and the CHARACTER have to be interested in discussing philosophy around the game table. Without drugs or alcohol :-). An unlikely combination.

-2 stars.

Can't give 0 stars so 1 star it is


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Very good Star Trek like scenario

5/5

I've just finished running the Quests and the first 3 PFS scenarios at a Con. These reviews are partly for the impression that they collectively left on me and so the beginning of the reviews are identical.

Together, these form a wonderful introduction to both Starfinder and the Society. There are lots and lots of background details that just pop out and are very evocative of the setting. Together, they illustrate just how wide a range of possible games can be run using Starfinder and the variety of adventures that we can hopefully expect in Society play.

The end result of running this material is that I am much happier with both the mechanics and setting than I was going in. The game plays better than it appears that it might, all the characters were participating in all the scenarios and none really dominated any particular scenario.

And the setting has become quite interesting. There are LOTS of stories to be told and the system is robust enough to tell most of them :-).

=== Yesteryears specific review

Ok, this was wonderful in so many ways.

It REALLY felt like an episode of Star Trek (the original series). Other than the fact that probably even Kirk wouldn't have slept with the alien babe :-).

The starship combat was very different from the two combats in the quest. Its nice to see that the rules support at least 3 combats with quite different feel even at level 1 with simple ships and only 1 per side.

I Really liked:

1) the fact that the aliens are BUGS that are sapient, pleasant individuals. One lesson in this scenario is to not judge by appearance.
2) That the two subspecies actually live in harmony

3) There is no universal translator. Communicating via the gizmo was more fun

I thought this a good mix of roleplaying and combat.

One small nit - They should have given me the stats (or at the very least the page number) for the translator device. Finding it was a bit of a pain


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Firefly themed scenario was a lot of fun

5/5

I've just finished running the Quests and the first 3 PFS scenarios at a Con. These reviews are partly for the impression that they collectively left on me and so the beginning of the reviews are identical.

Together, these form a wonderful introduction to both Starfinder and the Society. There are lots and lots of background details that just pop out and are very evocative of the setting. Together, they illustrate just how wide a range of possible games can be run using Starfinder and the variety of adventures that we can hopefully expect in Society play.

The end result of running this material is that I am much happier with both the mechanics and setting than I was going in. The game plays better than it appears that it might, all the characters were participating in all the scenarios and none really dominated any particular scenario.

And the setting has become quite interesting. There are LOTS of stories to be told and the system is robust enough to tell most of them :-).

=== Fugitive specific review

I (obviously) disagree with the other reviewers.

I got considerable enjoyment out of the story (mind you, I've always liked Barsoom. I mean Akiton. Totally not Barsoom). It felt very much like a Firefly episode.

You've got Corporate Goons to talk with or fight with.

You've got somebody to track down. Somebody the locals like.

You've got miners to portray. Miners that are designed to be fun as you make sure to give the players the basic information they need.

I found the final combat about right. Challenging, scary, but ultimately the party of nearly all Pregen PCs played by new players prevailed.

I think that one thing the other reviewers haven't yet fully absorbed is that combat is fundamentally different in Starfinder. You're EXPECTED to take lots of hits, its EXPECTED that characters will go down. Hit points are IMPORTANT, more important than AC.


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A very good introduction to the society

5/5

I've just finished running the Quests and the first 3 PFS scenarios at a Con. These reviews are partly for the impression that they collectively left on me and so the beginning of the reviews are identical.

Together, these form a wonderful introduction to both Starfinder and the Society. There are lots and lots of background details that just pop out and are very evocative of the setting. Together, they illustrate just how wide a range of possible games can be run using Starfinder and the variety of adventures that we can hopefully expect in Society play.

The end result of running this material is that I am much happier with both the mechanics and setting than I was going in. The game plays better than it appears that it might, all the characters were participating in all the scenarios and none really dominated any particular scenario.

And the setting has become quite interesting. There are LOTS of stories to be told and the system is robust enough to tell most of them :-).

=== The Commencement specific review

The commencement was, overall, a good introduction to the society and the setting. I'm not sure why there were only 4 factions covered but, quite frankly, the other one sounds very boring to me :-).

The Race took by far the most time. Do NOT let the players choose to do this first, you want to get it out of the way so that you can gauge time better. Every time that I ran this the players were all having fun building their racer and then the race was definitely exciting (although it perhaps went on a little long).

There is lots of humour in this senario. The CD "side quest" was quite amusing.

And the various Faction Leaders were quite well portrayed. They seemed far more like "people" than many from PFS. Fitch was the favourite. Kudos to the artist, she is so CUTE :-)


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A good introduction to the game and setting

5/5

I've just finished running the Quests and the first 3 PFS scenarios at a Con. These reviews are partly for the impression that they collectively left on me and so the beginning of the reviews are identical.

Together, these form a wonderful introduction to both Starfinder and the Society. There are lots and lots of background details that just pop out and are very evocative of the setting. Together, they illustrate just how wide a range of possible games can be run using Starfinder and the variety of adventures that we can hopefully expect in Society play.

The end result of running this material is that I am much happier with both the mechanics and setting than I was going in. The game plays better than it appears that it might, all the characters were participating in all the scenarios and none really dominated any particular scenario.

And the setting has become quite interesting. There are LOTS of stories to be told and the system is robust enough to tell most of them :-).

=== Into the Unknown specific review

The 5 quests cover the basics of the game. Some interaction, lots of skill checks, some combat. They also give glimpses at some of the more interesting parts of the setting.

The 2 quests that are starship combat will take by far the most time, especially for new players and GMs. But together they give a good overview of combat and are sufficiently one sided that the PCs are very likely to prevail. The two combats feel quite different from each other.

I particularly liked the fact that the Venture Captain has been made into a boss that one would WANT. Competent, pleasant, treats the PCs as valued agents.

The end of the 4th quest was just brilliant. The one line entries for each world were VERY evocative. Every player at the table REALLY wanted to go visit one of the worlds and the world they wanted to go to was different for different players. One of the worlds is visited in Yesteryears Truth.


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A scenario to make Seekers FEEL like seekers

5/5

I played this with a group of 6 characters, all firmly high tier.

I really liked the scenario in general. It embodied what play at this level should feel like. Epic characters on an Epic mission. A very satisfying end to Season 8. It basically just expects characters to take all sorts of precautions and will viciously kill you if you don't. But it is quite manageable if you DO take the precautions.

And there was even some interesting roleplaying in what was basically a dungeon crawl.

Roleplaying Spoiler:
The group had 3 paladins in it. You can imagine the initial reaction when we encountered the prisoner. But he was SO reasonable and SO well written that we actually talked to him and actually made a deal with him. That shows very good writing and, admittedly, GMing

We had a good GM and I imagine that helped a lot. This could be a nightmare with a bad GM (but that is probably true for most high level scenarios).

The combats were interesting and challenging. We didn't lose anybody but it was obvious in a couple that death was a possibility.

First Encounter:

I hate with a fiery passion the Troop mechanics that Paizo have. I've spent a LOT of resources to get my defences as high as they are and suddenly they are irrelevant. A battle with a troop doesn't feel even remotely like a battle with a bunch of enemies would feel like. Slightly altereing the swarm rules was a major mistake.

That said, the Troop rules were really the only way to handle that first encounter. When we were told that we saw hundreds of Elementals ahead of us I'd assumed it was going to be some skill challenge thingy. Actually fighting them was more interesting. But I still HATE the Troop rules :-)

One Epic Moment:
I found it quite fitting and amusing that at one point an artifact (minor one sure, but still an artifact) is almost casually destroyed as essentially background. More than one Campaign has had destroying an artifact as the whole purpose, and here it just happens. Wonderful moment

Oh, and on a purely mercenary note, I love the potentially available boons. Especially the one that can be applied to other characters. Wonderful.


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Paizo, What the heck are you thinking?

1/5

I ran this tonight for a group of 4 characters, level 1,2,3,3. So, while definitely low tier, about as powerful as a low tier group can get

One player had a quote that summed up the primary issue with this scenario very well
"I personally want to kick them in the dick for this"

The biggest issue with this scenario is that the setup will affect different characters to a massively different extent. The above quote came from a gunslinger who found themselves almost completely useless for the entire scenario. The player had spent 2 prestige for a tiny gun but failed their (Trained) sleight of hand check (and their reroll). So the player had pretty much done EVERYTHING in their power to enable their character to actually get to PLAY!

There are a whole host of characters who are going to be almost completely useless, even if they manage to get their hands on the equipment cache (a long way from guaranteed). And there are going to be lots of players who are quite legitimately frustrated that they basically don't get to play tonight.

My secondary issue is that some of these combats are absolutely BRUTAL considering the disadvantage that the characters will be at. My 4 players managed to pull it out but they wouldn't without the 2 third levels. There is no way that a group of level 1s with maybe a level 2 will be able to survive this without some significant luck.

My third issue is that Paizo once again decides to showcase a brand new subsystem by CHANGING THE SYSTEM and NOT RUNNING IT AS WRITTEN.
Why, Paizo? I'm guessing that you actually LIKE the new system as it is, so why not JUST USE IT? And if you want to use the Chase rules, why not actually run a chase and not a Race where the rules kinda sorta make sense but not completely. Just RUN YOUR RULES as written in the simplest most straight forward way. You really don't have to twist them. Unless, of course, they don't work well as written?

This is now the second Season 8 low level scenario where I think I'll refuse to run it for new players. In fact, a new player showed up about 15 minutes into the game and I chose to NOT suggest that they sit down (he realized he was late and didn't ask to play). That really says a HUGE amount. A 5 star GM is going to refuse to run this scenario for new players because it is too broken.


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Even worse than I thought (was: absurdly over complicated)

1/5

I really like Ultimate Intrigue for intrigue based games.

PFS is NOT an intrigue based game and its an awful fit.

Putting in an extremely complicated and poorly explained subsystem in was a mistake. Changing that subsystem substantially changed the mistake to a disaster.

Compounding that disaster by having the story make no sense and rely on plot contrivances of the highest (lowest?) order makes things worse.

I really wish I could assign stars less than 0 to this.

I really, really, really hope no new player ever plays this. It would almost guarantee that they'd never return.

Edit:
So finally played this tonight. I actually had a fairly good time DESPITE the absurd mechanics but the debate mechanics were at least as bad as I thought they'd be. And given how awful I thought they'd be that is pretty damn bad :-(.

I'd prepared to run this before so I understood the mechanics going in so it was fairly simple to game the rules so at to minimize our rolls. But the whole thing was a completely absurd exercise in gaming rules to achieve a desired outcome DESPITE the rules trying to force us to succeed.

Note to players : Just grab the skill where you have 1 rank (ideally in a non class skill) and ALWAYS use that regardless of anything. Totally silly, very effective.

As others have pointed out, there isn't enough information to actually role play much of this, people didn't really feel like it after having spent some time figuring out how to game the rules. It was a mostly silly exercise in rolling dice and spouting silly nonsense.

As long as the players try to lose and don't have too many bards in the group (you certainly wouldn't want to bring social characters to a social scenario, would you?) they'll almost certainly lose. The whole time spent is almost certainly a total waste of time


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First Part is absurd for low level characters

1/5

The following is a review of only the first third of the module. But I needed to vent.

The last encounter is just crazy for a group of 1-2nd level characters.

Spoiler:
1 or two Fiendish Fly Swarms? So, functionally immune to by far the most common anti swarm remedy carried by low level characters (alchemist fire), relying instead on the far less useful acid flasks that, I admit, WERE provided to the characters.

Characters partly built to handle swarms (alchemists, blasty wizards) are also partly or completely nerfed by the fire resistance.

But hitting swarm AC is pretty difficult. Bleed is a NASTY effect unless you have a channeler around.

And all this while on a timer so retreating is only an option if you don't care about saving the apprentices.

Giving the swarms the Fiendish template is, IMO, an egregious blunder for a low tier module. Without that the encounter would have been difficult but fine.

Admittedly some of this was due to a party with low damage (so we couldn't kill the fly quickly enough)

I enjoyed the rest of it. The investigation was fine (nothing special but fine). The other fights were fine (party composition made one fight a hilarious slap fight).


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fun if you get into the spirit of the thing

4/5

Played this at low tier and enjoyed myself.

The trick is to embrace the tropes from every military basic trainibg movie you've seen. Of course you get a lot of crap thrown at you, you're in the army now!!

We had a group averaging a bit over level 2 so the combats were pretty trivial but that is ok (they'd have been challenging for level 1 charscters).

A good combination of roleplaying. Skill use was rewarded but the DCs were, generally, reasonable (some definite exceptions with absurd DCs)

Lots of exotic locale type flavour. Lots of humour as long as the players can laugh at themselves.

The usual problems with Paizo ignoring its own rules with the result that the difficulty will vary greatly depending on how well the GM hints tgat actions that cannot work by RAW might actually succeed.

A goog scenario to have played with my Arcane Trickster wannabe skill monkey.


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Killer quests are not a good recruiting tool

1/5

Paizo, I really don't care what your silly CR system says, a L3 Druid is really NOT a fair encounter for a group of L1 pregens.

With a group of 5 experienced players playing decent pregens we just lost 4 out of 5 characters in the first encounter. In an encounter that was virtually unavoidable.

Sure, there was a little bit of poor luck. But there was also something near cheating by the GM trying to stop a TPK :-).

I'm an experienced player with a new character so I don't care. But if I was a new player this would be my only Pathfinder encounter ever


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WAY too optimistic and flawed

1/5

Most of my review below will contain considerable spoilers. I'll try and make my main points here before starting with the spoilers.

This review is based on playing it and then reading it afterwards in preparation for running it in a couple of weeks.

I mostly enjoyed myself and if it wasn't for the various things that I point out I'd probably have given this 3 stars.

1) There was absolutely no reason for this being an Aspis Agent pregen only scenario. With a few changes in the mission briefing this could trivially have been a normal 7-11 scenario
2) It was WAY too long. There is next to no chance of getting this finished in a 4 hour slot without some major cutting of corners
3) Parts of it were significantly over complicated for no good reason
4) Preparation for this is going to take much longer than it really should
5) There are many parts where the characters are supposed to do insanely stupid things because of "plot"
6) The pregens suffer the usual problems of Paizo pregens. Too complicated in some areas, too weak in others. And incredibly variable difficulty in getting secondary prestige. Some were darn near impossible, some essentially gimmees.
7) The combats were fairly uneven. Our group found them fairly easy (due to a combination of team work and some luck). Other apparently found them too hard.
8) A massive element of WTF

Lots of Spoilers. Really:

1)So, in the mission we find out that the Society and the Consortium have shared information so as to crush the Korholm Agenda. In other words, this could trivially have been a Society raid. NOTHING would change. Oh, the characters would have to be the usual Murder Hoboes and not the "I am actually evil" characters but that is pretty darn minor.

And its really MUCH worse than that. The GM learns lots of interesting back story about the Aspis. The players are unlikely to figure out much of this (I was quite confused when playing). But, of course, the actual Pathfinder Society players will know NOTHING of this. So, any knowledge acquired is now "forbidden knowledge" that your character would NOT know. Usually one can at least arm wave the "heard things around the Society bar" to explain out of character knowledge. Here, no. EVERYTHING you find out NONE OF YOUR CHARACTERS WOULD KNOW. And there is a LOT of things you find out.

2) When I played it it took over 5 hours and still felt rushed with the GM shortening some things (NOT complaining about the GM). There is a mini-game which can take lots of time as players consider a host of options, there is combat, there is some exploration largely meant to be arm waved. There are huge "What the Fxxx moments which take time to process. All this with characters that the players are NOT very experienced with and so they take longer to decide what to do,

3) Piazo loves its new books. I don't. The BBEG is a Psychic with several OA spells (6 if I counted correctly). I'll just quote his summary : "Mutant aranea psychic 5 (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 5 180,
Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 30, Pathfinder RPG Occult
Adventures 60)" . That really pretty much sums it up.

The set of books used are "Pathfinder RPG Core
Rulebook, Advanced Class Guide (ACG), Advanced Player’s
Guide (APG), Advanced Race Guide (ARG), Occult Adventures
(OA), Ultimate Combat (UC), Ultimate Equipment (UE),
Ultimate Magic (UM), Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3, Bestiary 4, and
Bestiary 5".

We then had the two mandatory little subsystems (in fairness, these were both fine on their own. Just not when put into an adventure that is already complicated).

4) So, I have to learn what this new class does, what the various monsters do, create several maps, keep track of lots of things, read all the pregens so I know how to adlib, come up with ways to handle an amusing but very difficult to run beastie and how it communicates. All in one scenario. No. Just too much.

5) So, when I ran it I got the strong impression from the GM that I was "breaking it". From my point of view, I took the ONLY logical path. We were wandering around the Warehouse when the 1/2ling NPC showed up and recognized one of our characters. Obviously, to me, letting her go was INSANE. She'd raise the alarm immediately. So I wanted to kill her. I'm an Evil Aspis on a Mission and my Mission pretty much includes killing that NPC. But no, letting her go just raises the enemy alertness level a little bit. That MAKES NO SENSE.

Even worse is the potential replacement character. The other players are expected to just watch while it eats a companion and go "Oh, ok, we'll trust you now"? This is metagaming of the worst possible type. The PLAYERS know what is going on so the characters are supposed to act totally idiotically.

6) I'm only going to discuss Eramay, the Cavalier pregen that I played. Note that this is one of the 4 Pregens that are supposed to be pretty much always played.

So, given that a pregen created specifically and exclusively for this adventure invested a feat into knowledge religion in order to get a massive +15 on that skill one would kinda expect Knowledge Religion to be at least sporadically useful, right?

No, of course not.

Well, ok, at least it will have the skills to participate in the "sneak into the place" part of the adventure, right?

Well, it has a +7 in one of the 3 skills. And the DCs are only 20+. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Partly because they chose a poor archetype of a poorish class the character is no great shakes. Lots of abilities that I'm fortunately experienced enough to realize aren't worth the action economy to ever try and actually use. Admittedly its not that bad in combat as long as the player realizes that you 2 hand the scimitar and power attack a lot. So, a pre-gen that is going to fare a LOT better in the hands of an experienced player.

And different Pre-gens had wildly different difficulties in obtaining their secondary success condition.

7) We found the combats pretty easy. Of course, due to time constraints we skipped the optional. We'd killed the 1/2ling early and so she had no guards with her which made that fight trivial. And there wasn't time to fight the guards with the mage.

The end fight was, due admittedly to a combination of good teamwork and some luck, pretty easy. Fly was cast on me and I was in the bad guys face at the end of round 1. One crit later and the fight was effectively over.

8) The whole laboratory underground and the interaction with the Thelatos felt very, very bizarre. There was a slight bit of foreshadowing in the briefing but only a little. As the GM said, it felt like they were already trying to drum up interest in StarFinder.

It was, at least for me, a massive WTF moment. I mean, LAST year was the year of the Robot :-)


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Overcomplicated and good evidence that Ultiimate Intrigue is NOT good for PFS

3/5

There are many aspects to this scenario that I like but it really is overcomplicated.

Even with the GM thread and the pfsprep site it took several hours to prepare and I was still searching for particular information while actually running the scenario. There is a LOT that the GM has to do and keep track of while running this. I am not at all surprised that there seems to have been much greater than usual table variation with this one.

I was chatting to some other GMs before a different game and 2 of them (both 4 or 5 star GMs) said they don't plan to ever run it due to the complexity.

I think that the new mechanics focus too heavily on knowledge checks. The most valuable character at this social scenario was probably the wizard.

I also found some of the mechanics forced a quite mechanical approach at times. Discoveries, especially, just became a quick exercise in dice rolling.

Even with the Influence checks there were difficulties, even after they knew what skill to roll. They talked fairly naturally, and were surprised when I had to take what they were telling me and basically go : That is diplomacy you're rolling, right? Not the Knowledge Planes that you know is the best skill? Heavy handed questions like that got them to adjust what they were saying. But asking a player with 0 knowledge planes to improvise a speech involving knowledge planes that the other guy would approve of didn't work well with all players.

The strong focus on specific skills sonetimes detracted from the roleplaying that can happen in more free form social encounters

But the players had a good time. And I strongly approve of the social interaction and the attempt to let people without diplomacy also contribute.

I hope that there are further scenarios using rules similar to this. But perhaps they could be a lesser part of the scenario, and not quite so scripted?

Edit: I ran it a second time and saw much the same things happening. The players get so involved in the mechanical aspects of maximimizing their influence that the roleplaying got severely truncated. I hate to use rollplaying vs roleplaying but it seems to fit what happened.

Despite the attempt to widen the set of useful skills one player at the second table was essentially useless. At tier 4-5 trying to make the Sense Motive DCs with just his raw wisdom was almost useless.

And the most valuable character was, once again, the wizard. Given that wizards who care are already good at diplomacy (Student of Philosophy) having the knowledge skills be so incredibly valuable just seems like a bit of overkill to me.

In particular, I think that the Discovery skills should have been far more varied. Three skills, all fairly rare for many characters.

Yesterday I played in Hellknights Feast (which has a precursor of the social interaction rules) and I found it better than this. More free form, more roleplaying, and the interaction was part of and not the entire adventure.

I should note that in both runs the players seemed to enjoy it more than I did.


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Too much of a grueling slog for a tier 1-5

2/5

This is based on playing at high tier.

I liked a lot of the story but it just seemed far too grueling a slog and far too random for a low tier adventure. Lots and lots of saving throws and rolls which seem to leave a very high chance of any low Fort save character being diseased.

My unchained rogue was almost completely useless in this scenario. A dex based character so he gets no benefit from the McGuffins (all the wpn choices are utterly useless for a wpn finesse based character). A melee based character so nearly useless against the various opponents that one couldn't close with.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that my experiment to see if an unchained rogue is a viable character is coming to an end with the clear answer of "nope. Still sucks rocks. Just a little less"


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Very good scenario with an atrocious ending

2/5

The scenario as a whole is excellent and I would have happily given it 5 stars. There is a good mixture of intrigue, role-playing, skills, interesting combats.

Once again, we are in the Year of the Skill Monkey. But, since I like to play skill monkeys, that is a GOOD thing :-).

There is atmosphere galore and an interesting set of intermixed puzzles.

The ending, however, dropped my rating from 5 stars to 2 stars.

Do NOT read the Spoiler if you're playing this. It will ruin things

DO NOT READ if playing:
So, the entire mission of the Pathfinders is to build good relations with Cheliax. But in the final encounter there is no way to succeed except to murder hobo your way through. No diplomacy option is allowed. The characters are presented with a choice of really bad options and are supposed to realize that the best solution is to kill the lawful authorities who are quite legally arresting them.

We chose to flee which seemed like the lesser evil. Surrendering seemed a really bad idea, diplomacy wasn't an option, killing legal authorities seemed really bad.

I guess we overthought things. Clearly, one should just murder hobo anybody who looks at you askance. Killing the authorities is obviously the correct answer. Too bad if you're a Chelaxian (one character), a paladin (another character) or somebody else who wouldn't do that.

We lost close to half our loot and our secondary success condition due to not being murder hobos.

Shame on you Paizo


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Far too much prep and far too many errors

1/5

If you are not an expert on Occult Adventures expect lots of lots of prep time on this. Far more than its worth.

And then you run into the issues that, once again, Paizo just doesn't follow its own rules. The stat blocks are wrong, an entire encounter relies on a creature doing something that it cannot legally do, etc.

I enjoyed playing it but I am NOT enjoying prepping it. If there was time, I'd back out of running it.


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Too many effects that you can't do anything about

1/5

Based on playing the module.

At its core it isn't a bad module. Some interesting mysteries, some interesting fights. Very little role playing, you're basically just going in to kill things.

However, the author used WAY too much of "make saving throws or start to suck. A lot" effects with no reasonable ways of avoiding the situations and no in character ways of even knowing that you were affected.

Poison effect:
The memory loss poison, at least the way that we interpreted it, is just a killer. Its kinda amusing a little at first but quickly gets really silly. Interpreted as written, a character is essentially worse than useless for 8 hours (worse than useless since they SHOULD be burning through consumables and spells)

mind affecting affect:
The last session was certainly fun for the player of the character who was confused all session. NOT. Fortunately we were playing on a VTT so he just went home but this is NOT goood dungeon design

Despite being a character down and playing in Core more we'd have succeeded except for some really bad luck. But those negative effects add up a lot.

Hmm. Writing this convinced my to lower my rating to 1 star. A person not getting to play for a session is really, really bad design


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