Pathfinder Society Scenario #2: The Hydra's Fang Incident (OGL) PDF

3.30/5 (based on 35 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 1st to 5th level characters (Tiers: 1–2, 4–5).

After an Andoren village is razed by the Hydra's Fang, a renegade Chelish slaver-ship, outrage threatens the stability of both nations. You and your fellow Pathfinders are sent to capture the Fang before the Inner Sea is pitched into political frenzy.

Written by Tim Hitchcock

This scenario is designed for play in Pathfinder Society Organized Play, but can easily be adapted for use with any world. This scenario is compliant with the Open Game License (OGL) and is suitable for use with the 3.5 edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game.

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3.30/5 (based on 35 ratings)

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This was a fairly well constructed adventure, a bit confusing at first. Why is our contact dead, why are we fighting again. Why do we always discover the recently slain body of our contact? Buy a Touch of the Sea Potion, 50gp. I will not spoil the whole scenario but stealth should not be over-rated here.

Challenging but fun.


I had a blast with this, even if I almost died multiple times. Water, and falling. Not the most graceful ways to go, but reminds you that even the environment can be your challenge and not monsters.

Death by drowning is not very heroic.


The overall experience is good only if your players are not new or unable to think out of the box. The very first time I ran this I wasn't even planning on GMing. With a half-hour of prep I had the gist down and took six players through a harrowing dockside crawl that ended with half the party dead, one of whom drowned. Not a very heroic death, but it does happen and a good lesson on why you shouldn't wear heavy armor at sea unless you maxed ranks in swim or have spell support.

Even though I enjoyed this, as both player and GM, I don't think it rates a fourth star simply due to the hamfistedness of the final two encounters. The first encounter, properly run, is fine for beating down the party, while the second allows for sharp operators to avoid a fight.

Good if you think in 3 dimensions


Overall my players had a good time, but I had to fill in some gaps that weren't addressed well in the scenario.

The start was a bit strange as PCs came overland from Absalom but I had to make up a VC dialog to explain why they needed to go to Diobel for further instructions. A picture would have gone a long way to explain the maze, shallows, docks and underdocks. Why have two levels of docks if the tall ships can't get in to dock alongside the upper docks? Although it wasn't noted, I figured the floating docks were slightly slippery and unsteady, which ended up requiring acrobatics checks if players wanted to move full speed around each other on the narrow walkway at the start of the combat there. Another obvious miss was not mentioning a typical sailor tactic of "dropping" a rope to let the sails fill with air and lurch the boat to one side. This move sent one PC over the rail and left another stranded behind with the rowboats as the big ship got underway - which was perfect timing as a shark showed up then to occupy the PCs left behind. Lastly, the boat schematics were poor. I re-drew the deck and the hold with a set of squares down the very center, including the masts and two hatch covers. A 5' path to either side being the main means of moving fore and aft. Instead of a big cabin midship, I put short stairways behind the second mast, leading up to a raised helm station, with the captain's quarters underneath at main deck level. Added rope ladders and places to store a couple dingies, and it felt more like a sailing ship. For a couple of the items required for faction missions, it wasn't clear if these were on the captain or in his quarters, which presented a bit of a quandry when he was seriously hurt and abandoned ship - but the wizard dove after him and got to the body before the shark could chew up the remains. In the main hold, we had room for three across, which was perfect after the foward door was unlocked and the monsters charged into the middle of the party. Everyone had flanking bonuses and only one character was knocked out before the others finished the combat. By the end the PCs had little left; even Kyra was out of healing. You can keep a big party busy with this one, but you have to make use of the home field advantage (for the sailors and sea creatures) for a good challenge. Climb, swim and acrobatics checks were harder than the actual fighting.

An Okay Scenario


A decent scenario, that has some interesting situations but like a lot of early Season 0 scenarios it's a bit rough. The encounter descriptions and maps are missing important details, the areas are too small with too many enemies, and the end boss is disappointing with a personality that doesn’t match his backstory. Pathfinder Society characters will also destroy this scenario, even when playing up.

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Sovereign Court

I have a few questions and notices regarding the adventure. I've found some minor editing errors, some of which confuse me. I'll put them under a spoiler tag, since they do contain spoilers.

Is the town razed by Du Moire named Wittleshine or Wittlestone? Both names appear during the scenario.
The thug doesn't seem to have daggers listed in its gear nor attacks. An easy thing to fix oneself, but still a minor editing error.
On page 9, the map of the Underdocks encounter ... how large squares are they? I'm assuming 10 ft., but they could be 20 ft. 5 ft. would be ridiculously small. And why is the pathway blocked by the bunker? This map seriously made me stop for 30 minutes to try to think why it was ever put there.

Other than that, this scenario is brutal! Very well written and so, but I'd consider the Tier 1-2 to be way too difficult at certain points.

I ran this adventure during GenCon and

...I saw what you saw with the bunker and docks, but since the description referred to boats being lowered into the water, I just made the part of the docks that sticks out the guard watch post and assumed that they access the rest of the docks via cargo nets or somesuch...but then, I ad-lib stuff all the time. I don't know if that map issue you saw was intentional or not, is what I'm trying to say.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Hey All.

The small town is Wittleshine.

The map scale is 5ft per square (narrow docks). I wanted to keep them a little dangerous.
more on the docks here

The dock running straight into the the bunker is correct,
however the other dock that seems to just stop... That's actually supposed to go off towards Lubor's Exports.

As far as the final enounter,

thank Nick the lacedon encounter isn't more brutal, I'd actually used 4 in the original text

More stuff I found that was wonky-

DuMoire is supposed to be wearing a Signet Ring, though its not listed in his possessions.

I didn’t have quite enough space in my review to explain my statements.

I think the entire premise was rather forced and inappropriate for first level characters.

The adventure synopsis paints Captain Darsielle Du Moire as the scourge of the Inner Sea and the bane of the Chelish and Andoran navies. He has sunken half a dozen pirate ships! Yet, for most parties he is a 4th level aristocrat surrounded by 1st level warrior flunkies. I think this would have been a much better adventure tiered to challenge 4th or 5th level characters with appropriately dangerous foes.

Not all of the encounters seemed entirely rational.

Why is the encounter with the Consortium officials in the Underdocks geared to be a combat encounter? These are the duly appointed custodians of law and order in Diobel. Yes the Consortium is made up of criminals, even if these guards are conveniently evil; they still represent the law of the city. Is it rational to assume a party of 1st level adventurers is going to attack what amounts to the City Watch? And are these the ONLY watchmen under the city? Add to this that anyone of the Qadiran faction is pretty much forced to attack them in order to steal their log book. I don’t think this encounter was thought through.

At first I had some serious problems with the sahuagin encounter. It seemed very much like it was thrown in to simply add another combat. Certainly the explanation given in the module text does not do a very good job of explaining it, or providing any rationale for why it would be occurring. I think there are ways to make it work – but they do require making inferences and conjectures that have no basis on the actual text. As written it could be an near insta-kill for a number of parties and anyone dropped into the bay in full armor.

A Possible Solution:
One solution might be that in order to get to where the Hydra's Fang lays at anchor any small boat has to pass through a narrow and shallow "passage" between some large derelict vessels. The sahuagin are lying in wait in the passage waiting for any small boat headed toward the Fang. They know that any boat moving through the passage is going to the Fang as it is the only vessel at anchor in this particular anchorage (the anchorage is somewhat secluded and Darcy bribed the harbor pilot to use it). The sahuagin can easily discern that the row boat headed toward the Fang is being crewed by novice seamen (too much splashing, unsteady oar strokes, bad navigation, etc.). Hence they know that they have a pretty good chance of swamping the boat and dropping the boaters into the shallow waters of the passage. Also, given the orientation of the passage and the Hydra's Fang, any lookouts posted aboard the Fang are unlikely to see the sahuagin's assault.

The party I ran through this module had no trouble dispatching the vicious pirates at each turn. I’m not sure how the dastardly 1st level warriors managed to sink so many pirate ships but they weren’t much of a match for even a lightly optimized adventuring party.

The Hydra’s Fang didn’t work for me.

Almost nothing about the Hydra’s Fang makes sense. Given that Paizo has put out some very well received nautical adventures I was thoroughly underwhelmed. I would encourage the author to do a little more research about sailing vessels, what it takes to crew them, and how they are put together – I’m still not sure what the big box in the center of the boat is.

I have done quite a bit of research on medieval and Renaissance-era sailing vessels. I probably had a lot more time and energy to devote to this than the author, and came up with an alternative deck plan for the ship.

There is also a discussion going on here with major spoilers.


Liberty's Edge Contributor

Hey Gavin,

Glad you liked reading the adventure.

You should check the spoiler threads be for running it, as there are a couple of wierd issues that you might want to address. Check my maps comments in particular, as they came out a little wonky in the final piece.

Dark Archive

Not for 1st level characters!!

Spoiler alert!!!:

This was the second Pathfinder Society module I played through, and for 4, 1st level characters, it was a real pain. The module made sense, and I got the time intensive element, but it was, overall, deadly.

For Tier 1, ouch. The GM let me have a look at the module afterwards and, wow.

Encounter 1's EL wasn't listed, but it could have easily been a EL 2.

Encounter 2 wasn't bad. It felt balanced.

Encounter 3 felt like it was designed to kill the PCs. I'm curious as to how many players didn't tie off gear, take off armor, and died when the boat flipped...

Encounter 4, again, doesn't list an EL. Nor does the trap have a CR. So, I'll assume the trap's CR is equal to the 1d3 medium sharks it summons. (An EL 2 or 3 itself, we'll be nice and call it CR 1). Add two more brigands (CR 1/2 x2) and the CR 3 end guy? I'm going to say EL 4, maybe 5.

Encounter 5 was a solid EL 3. However, by the time we reached it, resources were completely exhausted and it was far more difficult. A party without a cleric would die here.

All in all, the run of the module for 1st level characters is very difficult.

I would not run this for level 1 characters. Moreover, as it is the second Pathfinder Society module, it strikes me as being intended for 1st level characters when released, which seems inappropriate.

The writing, story line, and feel was amazing. I loved the feel of it. But the encounters. Ouch.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Jason Sonia wrote:

Not for 1st level characters!!

** spoiler omitted **

It took them a little while to get a feel for balanced scenarios. Silent Tide was the best of the first four scenarios, and while each of the other GenCon 08 offerings were good, they each have at least one encounter that is deadly or are relatively low in the peril department.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

Played this tonight and had a blast, with some lucky diplomacy managing to bypass a few fights and party archers and two-handers managing the fights we couldn't avoid. A pity my brother had a worse time of it at Origins last year!

Was there a reason why Tier 4-5 chest has only 1 copper piece in it vs Tier 1-2 having 1600 Gold?

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Hm, no idea. There's a mention of a coin in one of the faction missions. Maybe there was a change of plans in editing but something got left in by mistake? I guess for PFS it doesn't matter, but if you're using the adventure as part of a regular campaign, it's a pretty big deal.

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