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Goblin Squad Member. FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 1,085 posts (12,288 including aliases). 34 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 25 Organized Play characters. 21 aliases.



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Good scenario, varied "scenes", feels like a sandbox

****( )

This scenario presents itself as a fairly good urban investigation. There's clear places to go and you feel like you have the freedom to do them in any order (you really do). Each locale has its own varied interest to it, feels appropriate and could present interesting strategy/roleplay that you might not have gotten a chance at in another scenario.

When you get outside of Tamran, it feels almost like you're doing a Part II scenario and the players will actually be surprised that they're only at the halfway point. Once again, each encounter feels fresh, somewhat unexpected for where they occur. The scenario provides a surprising sense of depth for being fairly easy to prepare. For providing this depth without being overtly complex, this makes it one of the gems of Season 7 (or any season where you're looking for a scenario like this).


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Best scenario in the front half of Season 7

****( )

I'd give this 4.5 stars if I could. It's got great roleplay, it does a good job introducing material from Occult Adventures (and a lot of other scenarios in Season 7 don't do that). It's a follow-up/flash forward to the earlier Black Waters, which oozed great flavor.

If you're looking at reviews considering running or playing this, just take the plunge, it's a hard one to miss even if your GM is just reading boxed text (and if you have an outstanding GM, it will be an outstanding game).


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Great GM read, can seem muddled to players

***( )( )

Other reviewers are spot on below. I was looking through scenarios and thought "hey I should review some of these that I've seen" and it took me several minutes of remembering this one to wrap my head around it again. It's a good/fascinating read for a GM, a lot takes place in a mindscape, so it's best suited for a group of people who will appreciate it versus a bunch of people perhaps at a con at 8am after playing until 2am who may get frustrated and make statements like "huh, I don't get what's going on? where am I again? what do I see?".

With the right GM and right players, this could be 4 stars. With the wrong GM or one or more pesky players who won't invest, it could end up 1.5 stars.


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Fairly Generic. Fast.

**( )( )( )

Have both played and run this.

Half-orcs send you to square off with giantkin. Fairly generic backdrop. Very predictable. Extremely easy to prep. Runs fast.

It's a good little/quick run with a lot of straight up fights and mechanics. There's some opportunity for roleplay in the intro and about midway through the scenario in a sort of "grey area" which can be fun for 15 mins of RP if you're keeping to a 4-hour game slot.

I'd give it 2 1/2 stars if the rating system allowed for it. There's nothing inherently bad in this scenario, it's just there's nothing spectacular in it either.


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You may love this book, or you may want your money back...

***( )( )

To the hardcore Pathfinder player, there's a lot to like in this book. To a lot of other more casual players, you might find it hard to get $40 worth of gaming from this book.

The main draw to Pathfinder Unchained for a lot of players will be the revision of 4 of the games classes - the barbarian, monk, rogue and summoner. I'm a big fan of what Paizo did with all 4 classes and their revised iterations immediately make them all more interesting to play in my opinion (despite the significant griping many players have about the summoner being less moldable into certain concepts).

However, if you're the kind of tabletop player who wasn't vibing roleplaying a barbarian, monk, rogue or summoner - then this part of the book really doesn't do anything for you if you weren't planning to play those classes. If your wheelhouse is playing clerics, oracles, alchemists, wizards and sorcerers, this book doesn't really have anything for your characters that most other core line books would have (that is, more feats/spells/archetypes). This book would sit on your shelf if you were not planning to play those classes.

Expanding on this, there's a lot of small sections on variant rules. There's a few pages a piece on variant skill systems. There's a few pages on changing how crafting/profession skills work. There's a few pages on a variant multi-classing system (that is more like 5e than 3.5e). There's a section on how to play games without alignment. There's a section on removing iterative attacks. There's a section on wound thresholds. Basically, there's a lot of sections for your GM to read over and possibly tinker with your home game for a campaign or part of a campaign. Which is to say -- there's not a lot a player actually needs to have if the group's main GM can communicate about the rule he wants to try out, and I imagine most GMs will try out one of these alternate systems at a time and could simply do a 1-page handout of the variant.

So, players will have a hard time deriving the value of $40. If you're not playing one of the 4 revised classes, I could see the book being worth $0 to you, and you'd probably rather spend your money on dice, minis, or a couple Player Companion books.

Which brings us to another point - Organized Play. Because the 4 variant classes are all legal for Organized Play (in fact the new Summoner is the mandated replacement for the old APG Summoner), I would've thought the benign Paizo we all know and love might have released the 4 variant classes as a free PDF, or perhaps have implemented a rule that if you are playing an unchained version of the class, you don't actually need to personally own Unchained. Essentially, while you can play the original barbarian, monk or rogue without owning a single book, now if you want to play their more interesting counterparts, you'll need to pony up to own this material (unless the powers/organizers/GMs in your locale ignore the "own it to play it rule"). However, I can see the business decision by Paizo to not release the unchained classes as freely available since the sheer revenue generator by having PFS players need to "upgrade" to the book is likely a critical part of their 2015Q2 revenue.

So, this book is mixed. It's a solid 4 stars for revising 4 classes into arguably more playable forms.

The tweaks to the barbarian are fairly minor (you'll give up some damage and the need to take Raging Vitality at higher levels in exchange for easier math).

The tweaks to the rogue slap on more power - free finesse, free Dex to damage, conditions applied to your enemies and better mastery of skills. I can actually see some GMs disallowing this rogue, it's almost too good.

The tweaks to the monk give it a full BAB and built-in ki and styles. Once again, I can see some GMs thinking the revision are too good as well - the only downside being that it invalidates a lot of archetypes (thankfully, zen archer is one of them).

The tweaks to the summoner likely don't eliminate the perma-ban a lot of home campaigns employ. The class still is breaking the game's action economy and the amount of time a summoner player needs to take their turns (most eidolons will still have a ton of attack rolls to make, and the summoner can still summon replacement monsters as a standard action). Thankfully, they are back to standard level spells and some of the most egregious balance violators (i.e. pounce at 1st level) have been patched up.

All-in-all, there's some interesting stuff here, but I don't think the game delivers on the value of a typical Paizo $40 hardcover to the average Pathfinder player. This is a book you might want your GM to own. And at most tables playing APs or campaigns, you may not even need the book. Monks are pretty solid before this book was released. Barbarians the same. Summoners are still likely in the ban-camp, so for a lot of groups it's $40 to upgrade the rogue class. Likely you can skim the online PRD for the changes that are in this book and come up with how it would be implemented in your group as this won't be a book that you're constantly reaching for to flip through like most other books in the core line (to read up on spells, feats, items, etc).


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Average evergreen...

***( )( )

To date, I've run this for a table of avid roleplayers who also build mechanicaly solid PCs.

First comment is the concern over the handouts in the scenario - they are verbose and in a small script font. I reprinted them in a larger font and instead used an audible illusion for one message. After the scenario, I pulled out the handouts out and set them down together and a few people groaned at seeing them in original form.

The scenario starts with a list of a handful of NPCs to roleplay. I'm always a fan of scenarios where you have a handful of characters to portray. I had wished they would be more connected to the story - it will take a very creative table to get out of the usual mode of solving encounters with skill checks and attack rolls later on to think about going back to these NPCs for help (most things are easy enough these NPCs aren't really needed). One of my players reminded me about the Superstar module design and about having NPCs that aren't related to the story at all, and that these NPCs really aren't tightly connected and thus a bit of dead weight.

As events begin to unfold, there's a highly mundane trap that maybe should have been a hazard. Our table was slightly annoyed by it's inclusion.

As the adventure unfolds, one of my players was left with the question "Did Dreng know we were going to find this?" This became a bit of a concern with my group because they weren't sure if the information they found was real or not, or simply a "test" planted by an eccentic VL. It was good roleplay, but he was questioning why he'd want to work for an old man who was knowingly playing him.

This scenario allows some free form decisions on where to go next, and there's 3 destinations that are all fairly simple to process. There's some maps that you can argue you don't really need to even set down on the table (unless you as a GM are employing a "here I put miniatures on a map, who wants to use a consumable or a short-duration buff spell?" tactic to see if your players are playing that kind of game).

Two of the battles (potentially three) are randomly selected opponents, which is always interesting and is what helps enable the replay. There were some other random elements, like what is on the epitaths of some tombstones, but it's still unclear to me today what randomizing those does for the scenario. I can imagine some GMs getting tripped up by these as they really don't matter to the adventure at all. Our table had a little fun as I completely made up extra details about these names, but I can see some GMs not being fans of this puzzle-red-herring.

The second fight at our table was a snoozer at the 1st level subtier, with no danger risk and it was resolved by the midpoint of the 2nd round without any real injuries.

The final fight is a great one in terms of challenge for almost any party. I had already identified it as one that could clobber some 1st level parties and decided that if the party was defeated, I would likely have them simply be robbed and left unconscious (no need to TPK here). Oddly, you randomly roll the purpose of this final encounter. I can see some GMs completely ignoring the flavor here and their players walking away from the table and not realizing why they engaged in this fight. A little more information, perhaps something for the "leader" of this final group to shout out based on their 4 possible variants, would've helped novice GMs add a little more to this fight.

Overall, it's both a fairly simple scenario with some sanbox elements while at the same time having some things that are a bit complicated (and these are mostly things that don't support the main "mission" but are complications in the "set piece" that is the backdrop of wherever people are). It's not a introductary perfect scenario (thus meriting a 5-star rating), and it's not what I consider a "second tier" 1st level scenario (meriting a 4-star rating), so it lands squarley in my "average scenario" camp because it allows for some ad-hoc roleplay, some PC-directed goals if used as more of a sandbox, and it has a single good fight to make your PCs work for their win. I feel like another polishing/editing pass could've easily lifted this into 4-star status.


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Great "dungeon" crawl where your dungeon is a creepy museum...

****( )

In order to net 5 stars from me, a scenario essentially needs to be perfect. In order to be perfect, there has to be some sort of roleplay outlet with NPCs that is interesting. There's pretty much almost no roleplay written in this scenario, except for a brief moment in the introductory sequence with the museum's caretaker. Creative GMs may adlib some dialogue for the "BBEG" at the scenarios end.

That said, this scenario nets 4 stars, which is a "perfect" rating from me for a pure dungeon crawl.

Creative GMs will describe the infestation of the museum with great detail... dripping water, alien fungi, and more. This should help reinforce an experience where the museum has come alive. Pretty much all of the combats are interesting and challenging at the subtier they are presented, and this scenario could lean towards the deadly side of things, even for a fairly optimized group.

Highly recommended for scratching the itch of a creepy dungeon crawl set in a museum.


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Welcome to the Worldwound!

*****

I agree with Pathar's review below - this one is a tightly packed, quality scenario. For a high tier, you'll actually be done in time, and you'll likely have felt engaged in what is going on the entire time.

After playing the bulk of Season 5, I consider this one, "Worldwound Done Right".

After reading the quite good Worldwound Gambit (from Pathfinder Tales), you expect the Worldwound to be this creepy, chaotic morass... with unpredictable weather, potentially insurmountable hordes of demons, eyes, insects, corruption. This scenario manages to pack it all in for your whirlwind trip. You can tell the author maybe had 20 great ideas, but he cherry picked his best 5 to put together your experience.

This is like the first Mummy movie, all the best highlights of the Worldwound... and you'll feel like any repeat trips are actually the Mummy sequels... the ideas that didn't quite make the cut for the first movie.

There's plenty of roleplay to be had, and it's all believable that you're talking to who you are talking to this deep within the Worldwound. At my table, we were all interested in the stories these NPCs had and were all engaged in those dialogues.

Each of the combat encounters is also noteworthy in their own right - none of them are boring or basic monsters. It's a great trip to the Worldwound, perhaps the best trip in print by Paizo.


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Season Two Classic

*****

As mentioned in the description above, you're set loose in Almas on the trail of the notorious Spider, who is likely one of the most mythical enemies in Pathfinder Society play.

Depending on your GM's creativity, there's many ways to skin this one as you comb the city for clues to give you some shred to follow up on and see if you can figure out where the Spider is lairing. I've never seen this "investigation" phase run the same way twice, and a GM that caters to his players on this one can make them feel like they have all the freedom in the world about how they are tackling a sandbox. In one of my runs, the players set up a business storefront, handed out coupons all over Almas, and used that as a means of talking to the people to gather their clues.

Once you start following up on clues, you've got several leads, which seem arbitrary, but then the dots start to get clearly connected for the players. This is a very rewarding part of the scenario. There's plenty of good roleplay throughout the *entire* scenario. Every encounter can be met with some degree of it.

When I played through this, my particularly creative GM gave Senator Augustus Naran a brief cameo on the council chambers floor. It was truly an immersive time for us as we went about Almas.

The finale, in all subtiers, can be interesting. It's challenging, rewarding and the players may leap up and cheer when they finally win. Great scenario.


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Worthy of the Top Ten List

*****

The scenario begins right out of the gate with an "encounter" that isn't your typical "run up to monsters, swing to do damage, next" but instead favors very creative roleplay. Every time I've played/GM'd this scenario, the players have dug deep and found new creative things their characters have never done before. Starts with a 5/5 experience right out of the gate with a creative-minded GM.

Next, you enter the more traditional stretch of the scenario, but because of where you are, and what feels like is happening in the background - it's intense. You feel the pressure of time and you feel responsibility for the people you are with. You understand what you are doing and why you are doing it, and it has more meaning that loot a tomb or kill the orc cheiftain.

Finally, you are at the scene in the movie where you catch your breath... and then suddenly, surprise, you're back on your heels again. This is a great fight if run properly with all it's fiddly bits by a prepared GM.

Finally, the finale. Oh, the finale. This rates right up there with top BBEG fights ever, at the subtier it happens at. Yes, there is a decent chance at dying and it's a worthy final scene to a great scenario.

If you like being on your toes, this is a great run.


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Trying to review as an average of likely experiences...

**( )( )( )

Compared to other reason scenarios released at the end of Season 5, this one is certainly better than those, so I'm trying to decide if I'm grading scenarios on a curve now, where scenarios like Assault and Scars set the bottom of the curve...

This a fairly hefty amount of prep work for a GM. It weighed in at about 55 pages for me with all the stat blocks printed out.

The basics are you will be picking 3-4 of the factions from the available 7 and running the missions for those factions.

The scenario begins among a backdrop of a 4-day festival, and there are six "important" NPCs that can be interacted with among several events over those 4 days. I honestly didn't find any of those NPCs that compelling to roleplay for more than 30-60 seconds, and they don't really factor much into anything else in the scenario. If you're trying to make a 4-hour game store slot, I'd invest no more than a few minutes describing the multi-day events as a backdrop and skipping using these NPCs at all.

You will want to select 3 missions at a minimum. If you only have time to run 2, the table won't be able to get full prestige. The scenario is permissive to allow you to run 4, 5 or even all 7 if you have the time for it.

The Taldor mission gets decent marks for me, since it's a sandbox that gives multiple creative methods for a party to tackle. It's a tough one, and I did have a Taldor faction Paladin of Shelyn at my table. I wish there was a little more guidance on why this sabotage was critical beyond serving Lady Gloriana's whims. I can see the change from Taldor to Sovereign Court being a rough transition, as Sovereign Court is secret like "Fight Club" and not really a place for over-the-top-I-was-born-to-be-royal nobles to cavort. Many groups won't do any combat. If you like creative roleplay, this is a 4/5. If you don't, this is a 1/5 and Sovereign Court seems "off".

The Cheliax/Dark Achive mission is also decent. I enjoyed roleplaying Zarta putting on some thick rimmed glasses and tying her hair up in a bun, but still being her usual Zartaness. It's a very basic dungeon crawl with a single fight. The newly presented monster here gets high marks for creativity, and run for the 6-person 6-7 subtier is a tough fight for those hungry for a tough one. Zarta rocks, the fight has a good vibe but is short. I'd give it a 3/5 or 4/5 if you like interesting but tough fights.

The Exchange mission is a bit bumpy. It has all kinds of issues with internal consistency which are obvious right away. Like why would Guaril not simply tell the PCs where to meet versus giving them something to puzzle out? The whole relationship with Aaqir and Guaril is a bit clunky as well and felt contrived to both me as the GM and the players. The fight mechanics are solid though, and the GM is given flexibility to tune the encounter difficulty. If a GM wants to press "hard mode" (there's no written hard mode, but a GM has tools to challenge optimized groups), he can provide one of the most difficult 6-7 subtier fights I've seen written in a while. The fight mechanics get a 5/5, the general Exchange presentation a 1/5.

The Silver Crusade mission is very strange. It feels like it was a rejected draft for an Andoran mission. I'm not a fan of this one at all, it's clunky and hard to run. The fight is guaranteed. It feels like the development for it was rushed. Honestly, I'd simply prefer if it didn't exist in the scenario since it takes away from running a better mission and does ZILCH to advance or make Silver Crusade any more interesting.

The Andoran mission could be alright. At first read-through, it seems like there's no combat to be had, until you look at the NPC's inventory. Then, it has the chance to be a fairly interesting fight. There will be a lot of table variation in this one, running how that NPC and the scene play out and how GMs deal with Perception/Stealth and certain spells. I honestly might've preferred if this one was more clearly presented. As it exists though, a GM could compress it to a short (30 minute) mission, or it could sprawl over 90 minutes. Wrapping up with Maldris is clunky though. He essentially says folks in Andoran are standing in the way of real democracy, and he can't operate in an environment like that because he might have to report up to someone who doesn't share his values. I find this to be like an American saying "Man, I take issue with the fact only rich folks are getting elected... in order to fight this off, I'm moving to Fiji." What the?!? The faction explanation gets fat 0/5 for me, but the mission itself is a 3/5 because it's somewhat interesting.

The Scarab Sages one I only had a chance to skim, as I knew I wouldn't be running it. It felt "bolted on", as its an Osirion style tomb inside Absalom. And instead of getting to see Tahonikepsu, you get to talk to Amenopheus, who isn't even your new big boss. I think I would've preferred seeing this actually set outside of Absalom and getting time with the time dragon, in a completely different scenario. The combat looks like it would be alright, but it's also a bit clunky. Maybe 2/5 or 3/5 depending on group taste.

The Grand Lodge one looks excellent, it was another one I only skimmed. I like the reference to Bonekeep and the fact that the Grand Lodge almost has a "Shadow Lodge vibe" that it is developing, cleaning up the messes caused by the Society. The combat looks like it could be interesting as well, with an interesting NPC to play with. This one is likely a 4/5.

Table variation will lead to wildly different reviews on this one, so I'm going to try to give it a blended review that should represent how I see this across many runs that give all factions equal representation.

The best 3 missions are 3/5 or 4/5 experiences, call it a 3.5/5 blended.

There's the average missions, call them 2/5 or 3/5 experiences, or a 2.5/5 blended.

Then there's the ones that defy reasoning, "because reasons". These are 0/5 or 1/5 experiences, or a 1/5 blended.

Averaging it all out, I'm left with a 2/5 or 3/5 star experience. Because it can vary wildly, I'm inclined to round down instead of round up. A scenario which consistently delivers a certain experience would get the benefit of rounding up. Because this one is so variable, I'd likely round it down.

However, compared to other recent scenarios, this one is better. I wish I could give it a half-star review, because I'd rate it 2.5.

I agree with an earlier reviewer, I'd rather have had a scenario where Hitchcock could've written to his heart's content and not had to juggle a bunch of awkward factions that fit like square pegs in round holes.


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One of my favorites in Season 4

****( )

The comparisons to CSI: Magnimar aren't too far off the mark for how the scenario begins. You've been called out by a guard, there's been a murder, you have a classic NPC at the scene as a witness to talk to. Your GM should milk roleplaying this NPC as much as possible, because she is absolutely classic.

There's more NPCs later sprinkled throughout the scenario. There's literally the opportunity for roleplay all throughout this scenario, which gives it great pacing moving from lows to highs back to lows and highs again.

The combat encounters are all well designed and interesting. There's no mundane fights in this one, each and every fight will be memorable and challenging for its own merits.

I've both played and run this scenario, and when I ran it at the 6-7 subtier, the players were on the ropes, with multiple PCs at the brink of death. Folks were standing and biting their nails. There were cheers. A good time was had by all (I hope).


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Top Three List, All Time

*****

This scenario belongs in the scenario Hall of Fame.

I'd take the time to write a detailed review, but just stop reading here and if you have the opportunity to play Kalkamedes with a good GM, go and do so. :)


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Table was bored

**( )( )( )

The high star reviews on this scenario pique my curiosity as our experience wasn't anywhere close to being a high-star review. I've only played the scenario at the 3-4 subtier and not had a chance to peek at the GM side, but with half our table falling asleep during the game, I've found little motivation to volunteer to run this scenario.

We begin with Jorsal, who tends to be roleplayed very flat. He's not Kreighton Shane. He's no Zarta. Generic crusader.

We then get an apathetic crusader in Sir Ilivan. For us, he was portrayed a little too much like Alliser Thorne from ASoI&F, which I believe is a bit how he is written, so he's not exactly the most dynamic guy for a group of PCs to want to chat up. He does appear to be central to the scenario as he tags along with you. Imagine spending a week north of The Wall with Alliser Thorne. :)

Anyway, we get a first encounter. It was okay. It went quickly. My wife played alongside me and she got two rounds of initiative in. I believe she cast bless and fired a single arrow. To be honest, I forgot even what my character did. Maybe shot some arrows, too?

Then, there's some more roleplay as the party arrives somewhere. A keep or a fort? Nothing particularly noteworthy, but you get sent out in the field again.

Then we get our second and final encounter (yep, just two encounters). I don't recall our party taking any damage in this fight, so it wasn't particularly interesting either. It went pretty quick, I want to say it was maybe 3 rounds, but the first round was just closing into range. Once again, I believe my wife was snoozing as she cast bless, closed, and shot an arrow before it was over.

In all honesty, it was pretty close to a 1-star review experience for us in how mind-numbing it was. The only reason I didn't go that low was some bias from higher reviews, and imagining that it should/could be better than some of Season 5's real low points (Horn, Scars and Assault).


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Clunky

*( )( )( )( )

This scenario feels like one written to be a mini-game that isn't actually intended for Pathfinder the roleplaying game. GMs end up with clunky tables instead of a sandbox in which to host a murder mystery, which is perhaps the best raw material you would hope for in an adventure.

Where parties might employ creativity in how they would actually approach a murder mystery and actually think like real detectives, they are somewhat denied the ability to go where they want to go and dig up obvious clues that should be at certain locales. The inclusion of a lot of false clues can also derail the game much more than necessary and GMs will be improvising despite being encouraged by the scenario to do the opposite in order to save it and get it back on track.

It's also very confusing as many GMs will encourage the party to split up (what?) since its mechanically disadvantageous to stick together (what?).

If a GM were to abandon some of the clunky mechanics and take the time to make some "revisions", this could be a 4-star experience.

Sadly, as it stands it's probably in my "bottom 5 scenarios" bucket as written.


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On My Top Ten List

*****

I recently had the pleasure to play this scenario and it quickly grabbed a spot on my All Time Top Ten Scenarios List.

You're absolutely out of your comfort zone from the start as you make your way into Geb, and a lot of people will also be thrown off by the mechanics. There's great opportunity for roleplay at the start (always a plus) and amazing unique encounters (another plus).

This adventure has something for every player type and atmosphere oozing from its pores.


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Amazing scenario

*****

Amazing atmosphere. Classic feel. Great opportunity to roleplay. Memorable encounters. I cannot recommend this scenario enough.

You begin right away knowing why your PCs are headed to the small village of Stom's Claim as you ride in at sunset.

Then, you get a glimpse of something amiss in the town.

Now, you're dealing with what's going on in the town and there's plenty to be had for the characters that enjoy creative roleplay. You feel like you're part of a scene in Walking Dead or some other movie where a small town has a big problem.

Finish this all off with some more interesting roleplay and unique mechanics in a final fight, which is a doozy, and you have yourself an absolutely classic scenario.

With the right engaged, creative and prepared GM, you'll be engaged in what is happening from start to finish.


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Average 5-9 Scenario

***( )( )

I personally found this to be a somewhat average 5-9 scenario, which is one of the best tiers to balance interesting story, roleplay and combat.

Some of the best scenarios are 5-9s so I measure this and all other 5-9s against those. How does this scenario compare to Hellknight's Feast? You Only Deice Twice? Rebel's Ransom.

I personally didn't find it anywhere as good relatively speaking (to those scenarios I consider 4-5 stars), thus as a player this falls squarely as a 3-star scenario in my book.

There's some token roleplay, but it's with Jorsal, who is arguable one of the least dynamic NPCs available for a character to interact with. Then, you're really in the thick of things. There's some traps, a somewhat interesting fight and the final fight.

The final fight is one of my gripes, because it presents a monster which really isn't a monster for the PCs to be the heroes and face, but rather as a hazard. Depending on your group, you will either play second fiddle and take on the lesser monsters, or you'll potentially stay in character and fight the big bad monster. Except the big bad monster isn't even that big of a deal to defeat (it did not last a single round of combined attacks from our group once we attacked it in the 8-9 subtier). I'm not a fan of scenarios where the PCs are given a situation where the expectation is that they are secondary to the fight that is occurring, and that's the way this scenario can and will end for some groups.

I save my 5-star reviews for "perfect" scenarios, and my 4-star reviews for ones that were near perfect, thus Weapon falls squarely at 3-stars since it's a bit rough, and ends in a kind of wonky, confusing way (can I melee that monster? That NPC there is meleeing it? No... that monster isn't really there for you to fight... But, why wouldn't I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with that crusader... )


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Blech!

*( )( )( )( )

This scenario will likely net polarizing reviews.

You've just arrived at the game store. Did you want to play your character - your actual character you brought in a folder?

Too bad! Instead, here's a hand out and you're learning mass combat rules and playing an army instead of your character!

What? You don't like tactical combat on hexes with mediocre armies that are pitted against even more mediocre armies where you're essentially guaranteed a victory? You signed up for the wrong game day.

Now, there's gamers among us who are like "sure, I don't mind playing a few hours at mass combat to try it out" and with a beer and some friends we can pass the night away talking about rules and geeking out. In a convention setting, this is potentially not too bad if you're playing 4-5 other games and this is a footnote among the experience.

But, if you have limited, precious time and you wanted to get 4-5 hours of a tabletop roleplaying game in for the month? You'll feel like you just had 4-5 hours stolen away from you and will need to wait another month to see an actual scenario you can play your character in.

The bulk of this scenario is a briefing, learning mass combat, and then playing mass combat. Not counting the intro, maps, or stat blocks, there is roughly just 2 pages of actual scenario in which you'll be playing your character.


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Mixed bag for new players

***( )( )

I've now directly participated in four tables of The Confirmation.

My first time through, I was GMing and I thought "wow this is great, easily a 4-5 star introduction scenario". It does a good job of creating an air of "this is where the Society began" from the briefing and including one of the most entertaining Society NPCs that a GM can portray.

GMs then have shiny tools in terms of rolling random encounters. One run through will have one encounter, while other runs will have a different encounter. As a GM on my first time through, I thought "wow, this is amazing! It likely won't be the same on a repeat run!".

It's only after having ran and played it a few times that I have now unfortunately had several times where the particulars of this scenario essentially eliminated several people from being active participants. In the last 2 times I've seen The Confirmation run, I've witnessed 2 of the 6 players not even get a chance to roll a single attack roll (on melee combat PCs) and potentially be somewhat disappointed in Pathfinder as a result.

The first combat can go quickly with a barbarian and a magus quickly striking down the limited enemies (I've seen this twice) while four players barely or don't act.

A later combat in tight quarters can leave several PCs just waiting while the two all-stars clog the corridor (and leaving them little chance to contribute with arrows).

The final combat requires quite some distance to be covered (which certain PCs seem to do well), and I've seen multiple times now that it's been effectively solo'ed or duo'ed before any of the other PCs feel like they even did anything (sadly including even casting Bless). When that fight concludes (which can be epic with the right party and hot GM dice), several players ask "wait, it's over already? I didn't really do anything..."

So, it can be mixed. I've seen certain more "Core" parties have a good time because they all get to actively participate. I've seen other parties with some of the PFS "scene stealers" fully have their scene stealing powers not just highlighted, but strengthened by the enemy selection and the way the environment is laid out for them, which means there's often players who wonder why they were even brought along.

For this, because I've seen enough disappointed players now, this is simply an average scenario in my book, and I think that could've been addressed by simply having more enemies in the fights or by selecting a different map. Several of the fights also lack much opportunity for a GM to roleplay (i.e. a villainous monologue), so for some particularly dry GMs, this can be a very dry run where you feel like you are just killing every animal/monster you come across.

I feel like at this stage in PFS scenario authoring, writers should plan for the party to potentially roll a critical hit and end the fight literally before anyone can do anything and always ensure the climatic finale has a way for the party to take a little damage (to make a pre-gen cleric feel good) or the second/third/fourth "melee types" to have targets of their own to square off with. Twice I've seen this end by a barbarian or eidolon critically hitting the end boss for 40 damage.


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Fast, challenging

***( )( )

This scenario can be run very fast - in as little as two hours, even with a fair amount of inter-party roleplay.

There aren't very many NPCs to interact with, just a long hike up to the top of a tall mountain and several encounters along the journey. You might get a little RP out of the "BBEG" at the end, but that's about it for GM-PC interaction.

A couple of the fights are mechanically interesting, with a couple monsters/enemies/spells you don't get to see all that often. The first fight has an opportunity to be deadly if run by certain GMs against parties lacking a certain type of preparedness in the 3-4 subtier.

The last encounter at the 6-7 subtier could be deadly depending on the dice.

The scenario takes place over multiple days, so keep in mind that individual encounters should be more difficult as the party will be resting in between them.

If you have a party that is just looking for a couple interesting combats and light RP, and you have a short slot you want to ensure you end early for, this is a decent selection.

It's not required to run Among the Living/Among the Dead before this, but you do get a fun "OH THAT GUY" moment at the end for players paying attention.


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I liked this one!

****( )

I GM'd this one, and I know for at least one of the players, this rates as one of the best scenarios in that character's six level career.

Specifically, he was playing a "for the highest bidder mercenary" type (think Jayne from Firefly), and working his way through the markets and getting to roleplay that character to its fullest potential allowed him to shine through in ways no other scenario had until that point.

I applied some creative embellishments to the encounters that made them much more RP oriented. Specifically, in an early encounter with a gang, this one PC ended up vying with the leader to take control of the gang. After being successful, he donned a "yellow sash" and began to spread his name and his new gang identity about town. Later, he confronted a number of guards in a factory who recognized the gang and more interesting roleplay transpired.

This could easily be a 1-star or 2-star scenario with another party who doesn't have well-paired concepts and an opportunity to roleplay them out. The combat encounters will be trivial as they are using dated 3.5e mechanics and things with far too few HP for most PF parties. I'd say you could have a lot of fun if you have a couple "grey" neutral-aligned PCs who want to play up their characters and have a romp in an urban scenario. Save playing this one for the right PCs if you can and you'll potentially have a pretty good time of it...


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Short but fun

****( )

This scenario can run in 2 hours, even with half that time being allocated to roleplay.

I am giving this scenario a little bit of a boost with a 4-star review. As a season 0, it still features 3.5e stat blocks so being run in a PFRPG context, I'd say it only merits a 3-star review for the mechanics. If this scenario ever got updated to PF rules, it would be a great, simple run.

There's some great NPCs to play, from a Galtan venture captain to a Vudrani slaver. The infamous slave pits of Absalom are an evocative locale, and the final setup for the end of the scenario is nice. I recommend printing out the map with the slave galley as opposed to just grabbing the standard ship maps, since it makes it feel so much more "slavey", especially when the party descends into the lower levels and sees all the benches for slaves to row at.

At both subtiers, the fights still manage to be somewhat interesting, especially as a party has decent odds to combine two fights into one depending on how they perceive events.

The good news is this scenario doesn't "drag" - it's a very brisk walk through recovering a missing noble. Again, the combat crunch is a bit lackluster and would be excellent with a rule update. I give high praise to Lou for writing this one, and hopefully the PFS staff will give him a chance to dust this off and re-release it some day.


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Great combat scenario

****( )

If you have a level 7-11 character and you like interesting combat scenarios, this scenario will be a good one for you.

Each one of the fights is both challenging and gives you a fairly unique adversary that you probably haven't encountered before in PFS play. Self-contained, each encounter can be challenging, even for a party that brings one-dimensional PCs (magi alpha-strikers, slumber witches, etc). Because of this, it's a great one to run for the players who derive their enjoyment from challenging combats and have rolled up a PC who shines in those situations.

There's a little bit of roleplay to be had. The Taldan faction mission should always be run as it's brilliant roleplay. The first encounter also comes with amazing roleplay if run correctly (work on your Tyrael from Diablo persona). Thus, while being mostly a combat carousel it still manages to give some interesting roleplay for groups that have such preferences.

It's a fairly easy prep with just a single map and the mechanics for encounter are fairly straightforward. It could run fast (<4 hours) depending on how much your table detours and follows the RP breadcrumbs.


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Good, challenging scenario

****( )

This scenario is the tried and tested formula of "start with some interesting roleplay" (you're trying to convince hellknights in a hellknight citadel to do what you want) and then following it up with a handful of unique, challenging encounters.

In that sense, it scratches the itch of both types of gamers (those who like to have interesting roleplay, those who like to have interesting combat).

Another reviewer mentions a CR12 fight for a level 7 party. The CR12 fight is the fight for a level 8-9 party (thus you could see how a table of six level 9s would be somewhat challenged by a CR12 fight). A level 7 party playing up would face a 4-player adjust in the final fight and it would not be CR12. That said, the fight should be challenging for most tables -- if run right -- and in a good way.

This one gets high marks for me since it has great RP encounters with hellknights and some great, unique fights.


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