Panther

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Starfinder Superscriber. ****** Pathfinder Society GM. Starfinder Society GM. 3,524 posts (5,463 including aliases). 25 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 40 Organized Play characters. 20 aliases.



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Numbers & set ids

2/5

The pawns are fine.

However, there are no numbers on the pawns, and no set IDs on the pawns. The 1e Pathfinder Bestiary Box pawn sets, as well as most of the other pawn sets produced for Pathfinder 1e, had a small setid tag (e.g. "B2" for Bestiary Box 2) and a number. This made it possible to keep track of pawns, figure out what you had, and then refile them after a gameday or convention was over and you came back with a set of pawns.

Not having those means that pawns will ultimately be harder to keep organized. It means for me that I have to write a small set ID and number on each pawn before I can use them.

Please bring back set IDs and numbers on pawns.
I'm very sad that this satement from Vic Wertz two years ago was not followed up upon : https://paizo.com/products/btpy9trh/discuss&page=2?Pathfinder-Pawns-Her oes-Villains-Pawn-Collection#72


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Names and numbers!

2/5

I want to echo the sadness about the lack of numbers and set IDs. (The pawns I have *do* have names on them.)

For *years* the Pathfinder pawns had numbers and a pawn set ID tag on the pawn sets. This made it very convenient to store and keep track of pawns, even as I had more and more sets. I could figure out what pawns I had by looking at a list, and going to the place where I keep them. When done gaming, I could easily and quickly put them back where they went.

PLEASE BRING BACK NUMBERS AND SET IDs!!!!! Why did you stop? They are so helpful.


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One of the better multi-table specials

3/5

This is a neat special. The encounters are varied -- it's not just a meatgrinder, the way some of them are. The story is fun, the locations are atmospheric, the NPCs you interact with are interesting. It's also got a significant and cool callback to the very first Pathfinder scenario. (Indeed, I'd recommend having played that before playing this one, just for story reasons.)

I'd probably give it 5 stars for a multitable special. However, it shares the fundamental (and, perhaps, damning) structural flaws that most (all?) of the Paizo multitable specials share, hence only three stars.

It can be very frustrating to be running a really neat encounter with a fun reveal in it... but then when that reveal is a round and a half off, the lead GM gets on the mic in the room and completely spoils it.

Spoiler:
This happened with the Gulgamodh-release encounter. There was this giant hand sticking out of the rumbling ground, and we're building towards this huge construct coming out to shock all the PCs. Only, before they get to it, the overseer gives the "Gulgamodh stands ready!" announcement. sigh.

Likewise, you'll be in the middle of running multiple encounters at your table, only to have an announcement made to the room that the room has succeeded at that and you should move on. Indeed, even though I like this special more than others I've given the same rating to, it turns out that the structural flaws don't matter as much in a meatgrinder "the room must complete this many combat encounters to capture this section" scenario. There, its just one more combat encounter that you don't finish, whereas here, it's an encounter with a fun story point that gets subverted.

(When I ran this at GenCon a couple of years ago, it wasn't as bad as Solstice Scar; there, I was running 10-11 table of PCs who had only played their characters at GenCon. Enough years had gone by that they were high level, but you know how complicated high level characters can be -- and if you only play them a few times once a year, you don't really know them. This meant that all the players took a decent amount of time on their turns, and the majority of encounters we started were not finished. It was frustrating. It was a cool scenario with interesting NPCs and a neat story, undercut by the way that multitable scenarios work. I know I was not the only table with this experience; that night at GenCon, after Assault on Absalom and Solstice Scar, I overheard GMs in the elevator talking about how they'd learned their lesson and would never be doing a multi-table special again. In later months and years, playing Solstice Scar B and C, I had exactly the same experience as a player. The only reason we survived some encounters is because other tables finished them so we got to skip the encounter. It's gratuitous.)

So: really cool scenario, marred by the fundamental structural flaws of a Paizo multitable special.


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Atmospheric, fun, entertaining... but schedule 8 hours for it

5/5

There is so much in here. In fact, I think the scenario is designed so that you don't get to all of it. My players managed to fully succeed at the scenario despite not getting to chunks of it. The thing is, all the chunks are cool, and it would be fun to get to them all! There's a lot of roleplaying opportunity, and it would be a shame to cut that short. All of this means that 4 or 5 hours is really not enough to do this scenario justice.

The PCs go to Hell, quite literally, and have to perform an investigation and put together evidence that allows them to... well, get done what they need to get done. There are varied locations, and they are interesting. Hell is written in a way that makes sense for high-level characters approaching it-- it's not a pit of flame where everybody just suffers all the time, but it's a place in the multiverse where the laws are designed to allow the strong to do their thing and you have to be on the lookout for people finding ways to stab you in the back... but you *can* make deals and operate.


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Pretty fun, not terribly challenging, will have slow bits for some players

3/5

When I ran this, I had a good time. There's some interesting roleplaying in there, particularly if you have creative players. The setup is interesting, and there's a cool thing:

Spoiler:
you get minions partway through, which can help with some skill checks

The story is a little bit random. I liked it, but I can see where it would be confusing. There's a big overarching time-limited thing happening, and you're supposed to deal with this, but if you succesfully deal with it too soon, it means that you'll miss out what it turns out the scenario really wants you to do. I would recommend to GMs:

Spoiler:
Make sure that the briefing emphasizes that you want to learn as much about the culture, history, etc. of the place as possible before the evacuation starts, at which point it will be impossible to learn more.

The flaws are that it's easy to have several characters present who almost can't contribute at all to the skill check portion of the scenario. I had one player creatively contribute by making friends with locals and convincing them to do some checks for her, but others had to sit back and attempt checks they weren't that good at.

The combats turned out to be almost trivially easy. This doesn't really bother me that much; the scenario isn't supposed to be a meat grinder, and the combats aren't the core focus. (Indeed, I was playing the low subtier, and my players unanimously requested that I sub in the high subtier last encounter. That made it a little challenging, but they still handled it readily.) Part of this isn't a flaw of the scenario, but a flaw of Pathfinder -- the rules system is so amazingly bloated at this point, that yes, if a character wants to, he can create a Mr. Hyde like monster that gets seven attacks that all do a lot of damage all at once. (At least, others have assured me that that character was legal. All it did was convince me that Pathfinder has become broken.)


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Cool Scenario

5/5

Fun scenario, good story, interesting NPCs. Five stars!

I'm tempted to ding it a star because the maps have a half square right in the middle. WTF???? If you print out maps, this raises questions. If you play online with Roll20, the grid on the maps can't line up with the software grid.


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No numbers :(

2/5

As with the Heroes and Villains set, it's a problem that the pawns have neither numbers, nor a small thing indicating which set they are from. Since this is the first Starfinder set, we could get away without the latter, but for all the same reasons that we gave in the discussion of the Heroes and Villains set, many of us really want to have numbered pawns.

The pawns themselves look good, and will be very useful in running fledgling Starfinder games. However, especially as more pawn sets come up, the lack of numbers is going to be an issue. For that reason, I've lowered the number of stars in my review.


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Very poor choice of subsystem

2/5

I'm torn. The scenario is kind of fun, with some fun NPCs. The first combat has been interesting, GMing this twice and playing this once. The mystery is not all that much of a mystery, but the encounters end up being fun. And, it's a social, don't-kill-everything kind of scenario, which I like.

All else considered, I'd probably give this 4 or 5 stars.

However, then there's the Verbal Duel subsystem. It's a disaster. Mind you, the subsystem itself is kind of interesting and fun. It'd be great for a home game. But, (a) it's too complicated in an absolute sense, and (b) it's WAY too complicated to stick in the middle of a PFS scenario that we're probably trying to squish into four hours. What's more, the scenario stacks more complication on top of that by requiring you to lose, but not too obviously.

(Aside: I managed to get through it by simplifying the verbal duel rules. I didn't require everybody to recalculate all of their skills, and I replaced "edges" with generic rerolls that can be used by the whole party. I let them roll their skills as is and use any of the skills listed for a tactic without worrying about assigning each skill to only one tactic. I then didn't tell the players all of the mechanics. I gave them a qualitative sense as to how things were going, but I kept track of the numbers. This helped a fair bit -- we came in and were able to get going without *too* much pain and confusion as players tried to figure out a whole new subsystem that's needlessly complicated. My changes didn't really adjust the feel of the system, because exchanges and the tactics of the verbal duel remained intact. It was just a simplification. It probably gives the players slightly better bonuses for the tactics, but it's worth it for the simplicity.)

Run as is, all the players have to do a whole bunch of gratuitous recalculation of skill bonuses for their character. Sure, sometimes for some characters there's not much, but for some there is. It brings the game to a screeching halt as everybody starts to do arithmetic. And, then, there's everybody trying to wrap their heads around this subsystem.

The choice of using an overly complicated subsystem, and then pile an additional complication on top of it, was a big mistake. It's a big ugly sore thumb in the middle of what otherwise would have been an interesting scenario. As a result, this bumps my review down to two stars.


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Fun off-beat scenario

4/5

I ran this at the low subtier a couple of weeks ago. Seeing it get slammed in the reviews, I thought I would throw in a good review. The scenario is not perfect, but it's a cool scenario, and it's fun.

Are the combats too easy? Yes. One of them was pretty interesting, but the second one was over far too fast. Of course, my players did take a very good approach to it as they were getting close to it, so they deserved to have the combat not be too much of a challenge, but even if they had stumbled in, I suspect it would not have been too much of a problem. However, they really are side-lights to the real scenario, and that they don't take too long is a good thing. (Well, the first combat did take a typical amount of time for a low-tier scenario, but the second one was over very quickly.)

When I ran it, I did not know what player or characters I was going to have at my table. Still, it worked out that I had an interesting and diverse group that were fun to play with. The key is to ham it up a bit. The GM really needs to read ahead and be ready to roleplay various different NPCs in high-contrast mode. If you have players who are interested in that, and who will play along with being yelled at and belittled by a drill sergeant, the scenario can be quite fun. (On the other hand, if you have players who don't want to play along with being dumped on for a time, or players who just want to get past the talky bits and to the combat, they will not enjoy this scenario.)

My players did figure out what was going on and were ready to jump to a conclusion-type thing before the scenario wanted them to, but I found that not very hard to deflect.

Spoiler!:

The commander of the Ungrounded is out-of-plane at the beginning, so there's nobody to appeal to. Once she shows up at the gambling house, there's the possibility of appealing to her then, and the next day or two before the escort mission they might want to try to appeal to her. However, she's still on leave, even if she's back in town. As long as the ungrounded aren't existentially threatened (and they're not), she will NOT listen to personnel issues while she's on her leave. There is a time and place for such things. She's the commander, and believes in the chain of command. A back-door appeal-to-the-top when she's not even on duty simply isn't something she will give the PCs time for.

Overall, I liked the scenario. I think the second combat could be beefed up a little bit, and the suggestion I make in the spoiler could probably be included in the scenario. Some particular groups of players will really not like it. (If your players didn't like The Stolen Heir or Library of the Lion, they won't like this one.) It's a nice change of pace from more typical explore-and-kill scenarios.


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Fun, different scenario

4/5

I actually agree with most of Le Petit Mort wrote below (including most of the criticisms), but I weigh them differently, giving this a four-star rating.

The scenario is pretty cool. No, there aren't necessarily plot twists, but that's OK. The plot is still interesting as it is. And, if *every* plot had a plot twist, then it leads to the kind of inevitable impossible-to-avoid metagaming that Le Petit Mort bemoans in the combat encounter. ("This guy seems to want to help us and like us? He's totally going to stab us in the back later!") It's nice if sometimes -- more often than sometimes, even -- things are as they appear in the briefing. Of course, making a plot interesting and engaging without surprise twists is hard, but worth it.

It's awesome to have an almost entirely social encounter that has almost no combat. A nice change.

Characters who are completely focused on combat are likely to be a bit bored in this scenario. However, when I ran it, the "spiky dwarf" (fighter with no social skills) did manage to contribute in the social part of the scenario, and we had some fun fish-out-of-water roleplaying as the servants tried to convince him to dress appropriately. However, the Soverign Court characters who like to hang out with mucky-mucks were really happy to have this scenario, a nice break from the usual mucking-about-in-the-sewers-fighting-monsters sorts of things that gets their noble outfits dirty.

The layout was troublesome, though, and is the only reason I don't give this five stars. Yeah, the combat was fairly standard, but that's OK. It's really a bit of a side encounter on the way to getting to the meat of the story. But it was spread out, and formatted as if it were two encounters even though it's only one. (It even says in the text that it's intended to be one encounter... so why not format it that way??) This lead at least once to me looking at the wrong subtier stat block as I was jumping back and forth between two different places for the single encounter.

Also, yes, there were a lot of potential circumstance modifiers that showed up in different places in each social stat block and in the description of each party. This also required some paging and a lot of keeping track.

It is essential that a GM prep this well ahead of time. You need to understand the Influence system and know it, and know what's coming. If you do this with a single read-through, you will make a hash out of it as you figure out how things are supposed to go.


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Awesome scenario

5/5

I've now run this once and GMed it about a million times. (Well, six times.) This is a great scenario, and it has a couple of very interesting NPCs that are fun for the GM to play.

The scenario is much more fun to run if you have a group of players at least some of whom are interested in the roleplaying and negotiation. In those cases, it can easily run long; 2 out of my 5 slots at PaizoCon were pushing to be finished on time, and the other 3 all ran at least 4.5 hours.

I recommend printing out a color picture of the two key NPCs to clip to a GM screen or show to the players. In at least one case, I had a couple of players go gaga over the cover NPC....

It was also fun hearing the PFS Season 8 description partway through PaizoCon and realizing that this is probably one of the key lead-in scenarios.


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This scenario is underrated

4/5

A lot of people seem to have dumped on this one because of puzzle-hate. Yeah, the players are likely to seriously over-think the puzzle, but really it's not that bad. However, it's essential, as Andrew Hoskins notes, that you understand it yourself before running it, and that you also understand the various other interesting mechanics going on once the clock ticks T minus six seconds.

One hint I'd give the players for free -- not even really a hint -- is that the Fey slash numbering system is slightly different than the tally system we use. That is, I tell them that the fey use a vertical line for 1, but each time that line is crossed it counts as 2. This clears up some gratuitous additional complication, although honestly the puzzle is still tractable without it.

I enjoy the wackiness of the combats that occur in Uringen, and when I ran it the players had fun with it as well. It helps to have players willing to experiment.


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A really neat scenario, that's hard to figure out how to run at the end

3/5

There are a lot of things I really like about this scenario. This is the sort of thing I'd like to see more of. It's one that rewards more creative roleplaying -- in fact, it will downright punish a direct murderhobo approach. (But it's fair, because the initial briefing makes it very clear that a direct murderhobo response would be a bad idea. Even still, when I ran it, I found myself early on reminding players (in the form of asking them if they remember what they were told in the briefing) that that was in the briefing. The "kill your prisoners if you have the slightest excuse" form of playing your character seems to be pretty deeply ingrained in the PFS.)

I also like the fact that the second part (parts B-C together) of the scenario allows for multiple approaches-- my players took a variation on one, and it still worked, although the result was that for about 1/2 hour or more, three players were playing while the other four were just waiting.

I have a couple of problems with it, though. I may be a little bit sour on it because the game of it I ran went long, and it went long at the end of a gameday where we were going to get kicked out of the room, so we ended up having to rush the end. Still, I think there are problems at the end with how it's written.

I would strongly recommend that any GM running this only run it with four players. You don't really need more than that to get through it, and more than that would probably become cumbersome. There's a lot of searching, investigation, and conversation in this. The result is often that a small number of players end up dominating that section, either because their characters are best suited for it, or because they're the sort of players who just take the lead on this kind of thing. (I've long found over many years of gaming that this kind of thing is better for player involvement with 3-4 players than with 6 or 7. My table had 7, and it was just too many for this scenario.)

The biggest problem with the scenario is that the last section -- which is really cool in concept and in what can be accomplished -- doesn't give the GM enough guidance on exactly how to run it. For combats, we all know how to run it. (Well, sort of, once you take out that everybody remembers lots of the little rules slightly differently....) But for this kind of thing, there's not really an established standard, and the scenario doesn't do enough in telling the GMs how to actually go about doing it. More in a spoiler.

Spoiler:

The biggest thing I didn't understand, and that I probably didn't do right, is just exactly how much to tell the players. The way it's laid out, there are three stages to the negotiation with Sloan, and only some questions are really appropriate in each stage. If you don't explicitly spell this out -- and even if you do, or try to -- players will of course jump forward with questions that are only appropriate in later stages. How do you handle this? I'm not sure the three stages thing, despite how cool it seems, really is a good idea, because getting players to go along with it is tough. I suspect you need to spell out the mechanics a whole lot more, but that has a lot of the hazards of introducing a whole new mechanical system in a PFS scenario. (Not enough time, some players pick up mechanics faster than others, some players will come in naturally skeptical and will be annoyed by the new mechanics, etc.... (I saw this in "Assault on the Wound", where there wargame section I thought was cool, but I had to get the players through it. Their left over annoyance from that (and, frankly, from the behavior of a couple of players at the table that annoyed everybody else) led them to open rebellion when I started telling them about the Troop mechanic.)

In my game, we were rushed towards the end, so I probably should have thrown out the entire last section and run it as a more direct social interaction with a handful of bluff and diplomacy checks, but because the secondary success condition is based the mechanics of the final stage of the last section, I couldn't really do that. Argh!

In particular, look a the first section. The text tells us that the PC's get exactly three checks, and tell us what those checks are. However, at the end, it also says, "Once the PCs have... or run out of ideas for unsettling Sloan". Since it explicitly describes the players coming up with ideas, I took that to mean that they get to figure out their apppach. So, I told the players, "OK, this is the part of the 'social combat' where the lions are circling, trying to show off how badass they are, without actually using their claws. All you're trying to do is unsettle him, not actually get down to brass tacks about accusing him of things you know or getting him to tell things you know." However, still players were confronting him with clues (not supposed to happen until Part 2), and weren't sure what to do.

In retrospect, I think I should have said, "You can do three things here. Put him off balance by showing him the Writ, needle and insult him, and try non-violently to get his guards to back down. Here are the checks you use." Given that the scenario tells you EXACTLY which checks get the players a +2 in the next section, that's probably the only really fair way to do it; the clause about players coming up with ideas is an ill-considered thing that leads GMs to run it the wrong way. This way of doing it makes me a little sad, though, because it takes what should be a more fun roleplaying interaction and reduces it to a set of checks that you roll. Still, though, for a PFS scenario, I should probably have been much more railroady about the social interaction, and it would have gone better.

(For example: in the first section, for the third goal, it says "...the PCs must convince his guards to back down without attacking them, requiring a DC 18 Intimidate check." [emphasis mine]. My players used a charm hex to make the guards less aggressive, and I gave them credit for that. The "must" and "requires" writing of this sentence indicates that there is only one mechanical way through this, just like at trap or resisting an aura in combat. I think I did the right thing, but the writing is bad if I did.)

As it was, it was frustrating as the PCs were trying to figure out what they were really supposed to be doing here, especially since we were short on time. I strongly advise any GMs out there to really be explicit with their players and enumerate what they can do in each section, even though it means a lot of annoying "GM now telling the players the rules that they will only use for the next several minutes" and it somewhat stiltifies the social interactions. It makes it much more possible to have this last section run the way the author envisions, and in a way that lets you really know if the players satisfied the secondary success conditions.

Part 3 of Section D is a little weird, too. Sloan gives up some clues on things that we have absolutely no information to follow-up on (e.g. the spy in Druma), but players naturally are going to try to follow up on them. I was left as GM telling them, effectively, that "further questions on this are beyond the scope of this scenario". It's a little bait-and-switchy.

So, in summary, a lot of the scenario is really cool, and I really like this sort of thing in roleplaying games. There are serious problems with the last part of this scenario. It's the sort of encounter that most of the time in Pathfinder would be run in a much more free-form and fluid way, with a lot of improvising on the part of the GM and the players. It doesn't expcitly tell us not to run it that way, so no surprise I, at least, and I suspect other GMs come in reading the box text and asking the players what they say or do next. The scenario should really tell GMs to fully lay out the mechanics for the players. And, then, I'm not sure I like this extremely-structured, extremely-railroaded way of running a social discussion.

Put my mixed feelings together, and that's why this gets three stars.


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5/5

I may have played this with Spaarky, as I also played it (yesterday) with the author as GM....

This is a fun scenario, and is among my favorite sort of scenario. It's flexible, in that there are a number of different approaches that work well for a fair amount of the story. It's also rich with lore, ties in with more than one PFS metaplot, and has at least three memorable NPCs (one of whom is especially so). (I guess you should ask me again in a month or two to tell you who the "memorable" NPCs are, to find out if they're really as memorable as I think they are!)


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Meat Grinder

3/5

3.5 stars, rounded to 3, but I'm on the fence.

I played this at PaizoCon 2014 in mid tier (level 6 character at the time, I believe). I had a good time, and liked the mechanics of the intergroup interaction; that worked reasonably well. I brought the wrong character, though. This one is a meat grinder, and you need to have a character who can survive combat after combat. Yes, you need some other skills, but your entire party needs to be able to survive a basic dungeon crawl.

Then story around it was interesting, and John Compton makes a great Kreighton Shane. I'm not sure it all entirely made sense, but then, in character it wasn't supposed to. ("Wait! Where did those come from!" is an entirely reasonable reaction.) There was some good Pathfinder Society bits in here, of exploring and discovering forgotten lore, but it was a bit brushed under the rug in the meat grinder.


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5/5

Read KestlerGunner's review below. I fully agree with it. I love this scenario, but see how it could fall completely flat with either the wrong GM or the wrong players.

I played this once as a PbP, and the GM pulled it off. It was a great and memorable scenario, and I really cared about the NPCs I was supposed to really care about.

I GMed this once, and it went pretty well. I don't know that I'm a great GM, but the players were the right kinds of players, and during the "big choice" towards the end

For GMs and those who've played it:

Whether to go on the rescue mission, or to listen to the depression of Sir Ilvan and give up

there was some legitimate debate amongst the PCs as they didn't think it was obvious which was the right decision to make. I love that kind of thing.

This one is atmospheric, the combats are interesting, and the story is great. It's a wonderful taste of what it would be like to be the Pathfinders cautiously venturing into the morass that is the crusade at the Worldwound. But, it's essential to have a GM who is able to play the NPCs, and it's essential to have players who are at least open to caring about NPCs as people (as opposed to viewing there characters as the equivalent of gamepieces in a board game achieving an objective).


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An OK if not bang-up ending

4/5

This one was good overall. Not as good as the previous scenario in the series, but far better than Cassomir's Locker. To really make it work, in the last combat the GM has to play up the descriptive nature of the other things going on in the room in addition to the small part of the combat that the players are actually involved in in order to make it seem an epic struggle. If the GM has set things up right, and particularly if the GM has played up the Andoran faction missions, the ending can make a whole lot of sense given some interactions that the party has had in the previous two scenarios. On the other hand, the last fight can easily come off as seeming anticlimatic. ("That's it? This longstanding conspiracy involving disgraced noble houses of Taldor, cultists of an insane god, people going missing, and so forth, we just do a quick little fight like this and it's all over?") The GM would be well advised to emphasize how much else is going on the room in addition to what the PCs are doing. Also, if the GM can read this one before running the earlier scenarios in the series, he can lay down foreshadowing that will make this one more satisfying when it actually hits.

I was a bit disappointed by one room:

Spoiler:
The "rotating room" that mirrors the rotating room from Rules of the Swift looks just like the previous room, but is clearly not the previous room since it doesn't connect to the same things! This was a fumble from my point of view. Hestia Themis should be sending the Pathfinders back to the place that they found previously (or, if it's a new group, that "other Pathfinders found"), they shouldn't just fine a room that makes them think, hey, this looks kind of like a room we saw last time around.)

The denouement ties back in to the first scenario of the series. Hints are that that, rather than the actual overall plot and overall adversary of the series, is what this is really about, as that's the title of the series (which really only makes sense for the first scenario). To my knowledge, no further scenarios after this one have followed up on these two particular NPCs and this plot thread, but if so, I'd love to know about it, so I could play and/or GM those subsequent scenarios.


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The best of "Devil We Know"

5/5

I'm a fan of the "Devil We Know" series as a whole, but this one is definitely my favorite instalment. There's a memorable NPC who's fun to play (assuming you have players who are willing to play along and have a good time with it). The puzzle aspect of the scenario is fun, and not too terribly challenging, meaning that players get to think and puzzle a bit, but also that they're unlikely to sit and remain stumped until you drop lots of hints. The combats are varied and interesting as well, and there's a setup for the last part of the series.


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The least interesting of "Devil We Know"

3/5

Far and away the least interesting of the "Devil We Know" series. There are some interesting bits in here, and the primary setting is an important part of the development of the backstory, but honestly I think it would have been better done incorporating that into one of the other scenarios and leaving DwK as a three-parter.

It's not bad, it's just that this scenario is kind of "there" and not especially interesting.


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Fun, memorable, potentially hazardous with impulsive players

4/5

I've both played and run this scenario. This is a fun and memorable scenario. It's got some good atmospheric bits, some fights that matter, some twists, and characters you want to help but that aren't too nice.

The one drawback is that some players may "break" the scenario by doing something very foolish at the end that could lead to a TPK, at least at low tier with low-level characters. Players who either assume that anything they come up against is something they should attack, or who play characters who refuse to let any NPC make demands of them without losing patience and attacking those NPCs, may find themselves in trouble. Groups interested in thinking about how their characters might actually approach the situation rather than approaching the world as mindless murderhoboes or as "insult me once and you die" types could find this quite a fun scenario.


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Too deadly at low tier

2/5

I ran this at low tier. There were three reasons I didn't have a TPK. One, there was a level-4 character along. Two, I softballed the tactics a bit. Three, one of the players didn't realize that UMD was a trained-only skill, so technically violated the rules keeping the level-4 character alive with a Cure Light Wounds wand. (I only realized after the game was over that the character didn't have UMD trained; as a Sorcerer, she could have, and her Charisma was good enough that the bonus was OK. I should probably have noticed during the game that the bonus wasn't high enough; oh well.)

The setup to the scenario and the story is potentially interesting, although it does take some finesse on the part of the GM to pull it off. But one encounter in the middle at low-tier is an almost guaranteed TPK. I'd recommend against this scenario because of that.


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Fun high-stakes scenario

4/5

This is a nice "OMG we have to save the world, no time to get real help" scenario that can have low-level characters saving Absalom from disaster. There's a run around, and some interesting combats. Most modern characters won't have too much trouble with the combats, so if you're a player who is disappointed if the combats don't put you in serious danger, you may be disappointed by this scenario. At least one combat has an interesting twist.

The biggest negative is that the last map does not make a lot of senses. It's hard to figure out how to fully connect the drawn map to what's described, it's not clear where the enemies start, and it's not clear how the whole place fits together. The description assumes that there are some sorts of windows are arrow slits present that will be used tactically by the enemies there, but the maps don't make that clear, so the GM needs to make that stuff up.

Still, a fun and potentially exciting low-level PFS scenario.


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Interesting with a bit of a drag in the middle

3/5

I have mixed feelings about this one.

It's an interesting scenario, with a good setup, and a couple of very interesting set pieces. The combats are fun. However, in the middle, there's a bit of a slog that can very easily come across as a slog. I suspect that the two times I've run this, I just wasn't ready in the right way, and should have done some extra prep beyond what was given in the scenario to keep the slog from being a slog but making it more interesting. I might also "cheat" a bit on the middle part

spoiler for GMs:

Instead of rolling for the random encounters when they happen, choosing them; or, at the very least, avoid having repeats. Alternatively, allow for a couple of repeats, but write up some fluff for myself that makes them different atmospherically.

If you have players who are going to metagame and think overmuch about the mechanics during the "slog", they will start whining that there's no way around some of the things that they get thrown into, and the scenario will become a bit of a downer. (That's what happened one time I ran this.) It will take some serious GM finesse to keep them from getting irritated and complaining about the writing during this.

However, the penultimate and final encounter

Spoiler for GMs or those who have played it:

The trap with the locked doors and the room filling with water, and the final showdown with the big bad

are both quite interesting. The penultimate encounter was a nailbiter that we barely got through when I played it, and remains a memorable FPS moment for me.

I'd give this one 3.5 stars; rounding down to 3 in this case because of the players who've come away with a negative impression because of the slog. I might round this up to four stars if I run it again, coming in better prepared as Damanta suggests below, and hoping for a group of players who are game for atmosphere and anticipation of peril.


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Roleplaying and intrigue

5/5

I may be biased towards this one because I have run it three times. It's an investigative scenario. It's possible for it to feel railroady, as there is a clear direction to go, and most groups will do things in mostly the same order, but there is some freedom to investigate and look around to try to uncover what's going on. There are some surprises, although many people who either see them coming or think they saw them coming (because we have all heard many kidnapping stories over the years, and there are only so many plot twists you can do with them after a while), although I have seen some groups speculating that what's really going on isn't what's really going on. There are a few NPCs in this one that are fun to play as well.

The combats are fairly lightweight in this one. Indeed, depending on your group's approach, it's almost possible to get through it with but one (not very hard) combat, roleplaying your way through the other encounters. To my mind, this is a plus, but if you're the sort who likes a meat grinder with hardcore combat from beginning to end, you're probably not going to find this scenario to your tastes.


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Fun and nonlinear

5/5

A player perspective here; I haven't read or GMed this. (It would be a neat trick to GM it without reading it, eh?)

This was a fun one. There was a lot of roleplaying in it, and it was nonlinear in that we were given a bunch of various options for things we could do, and it was left to us how to accomplish it. Also, we were able to avoid a couple of combats through good roleplaying and/or a clever approach to the situation. (I'm not sure how much this was the GM leaning on the "creative solutions" rule in the PFS Guide and how much was written into the scenario as is, but it worked quite well in the game I played in.) Our actions earlier in the scenario made a pretty huge different to how things played out in the end.

One note: this one did run a bit long. Part of that was because we did have some fun with the roleplaying, which of course to many of us is a big point of the game, so it's all good. However, a couple of die rolls different, and this one (in an online VTT game) would have easily lasted 5 hours, perhaps a bit more.