Pathfinder Society Scenario #7: Among the Living (OGL) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 1st to 7th level characters (Tiers: 1–2, 3–4, 6–7).

Famed Pathfinder Bodriggan Wuthers disappeared from his dig site beneath the House of the Immortal Son in Taldor's gilded capital of Oppara. Once a grand temple to Aroden, the Immortal Son is now Oppara's most opulent theater. Sent to locate Wuthers, the Pathfinders must attend an opera with members of the Oppara elite in order to gain access to the secretive theater's dig site. When a cult crashes the performance and the nobility change into hideous walking dead, the Pathfinders are forced to choose between finding Wuthers or saving themselves.

Written by Joshua J. Frost

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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Classic Horror Trope



I ran this scenario at low subtier. Among the Living is one of those scenarios that presents very specific threats in a very specific (and admittedly artificial) context. I think it's a scenario that could be very exciting if players get into the spirit of it, but if they don't, it could seem repetitive and boring. I enjoyed it, however.


If you needed to sum up Among the Living quickly, the phrase "zombie apocalypse at the opera" would be a good start. It all starts in the backstory, when a cult of Zyphus (a fairly obscure god of unexpected tragedy) figures out that the lost Zyphus Stone (a powerful magical artefact) has been buried for the last six millennia underneath an opera house in Taldor's capital city of Oppara. The leader of the evil cult, a cleric named Fel Bustrani, tricked a Pathfinder named Bodriggan Wuthers into helping him excavate the bedrock under the opera house to find the artefact. Once the discovery was made, Fel Bustrani promptly murdered Wuthers and started planning a way to feed souls to Zyphus. By using the Zyphus Stone to turn anyone murdered in its vicinity into zombies that can then spread out and circulate their infection, Fel Bustrani hopes to turn all of Oppara--and perhaps beyond--into a charnel house. And the date set to spark this event is the night a new opera premieres--an event that the PCs will be in attendance for!

The PCs get a quick "flashback" briefing (a method used sometimes in Season Zero that we don't really see anymore) explaining that they've been charged with finding out what happened to Wuthers, the missing Pathfinder. Wuthers had written letters saying he was working on a dig at the opera house, so it's a natural place to start the search. The problem for the Pathfinders is that the opera house, a converted temple to Aroden known as the House of the Immortal Son, is tremendously exclusive. Although Wuthers spent months of cajoling to gain access to enter and permission to dig, there's no time to replicate his strategy. Instead, the PCs are given tickets to the premiere of a new opera and instructed to slip away at some point to search the basements and see if they can discover any clues about Wuthers' fate.

If handled well by the GM and the players, this can be a really fun "fish out of water" experience for many PCs used to blood and fire more than dressing up in elegant formalwear and trying to make small talk with the upper crusts of Taldan nobility. There are even some (very minor) penalties to social checks if the PCs don't splash out the cash to buy proper attire. The scenario doesn't say whether armor or weapons are allowed in, so I'd expect different tables may make different decisions on the question. It would have been good if the scenario presented some capsule NPCs and little vignettes to help with the role-playing.

The action starts near the end of the show in a scripted moment when a horde of zombies flood into the hall and start tearing the crowd into pieces. Strangely, the module gives the GM absolutely no guidance on what to do if the PCs try to slip away earlier in the performance to investigate--which is exactly what they've been instructed to do. Anyway, there's definitely an exciting and cinematic backdrop to this first encounter as the PCs (who may be unarmed and unarmoured) have to fight off several zombies and try to regroup and figure out what's going on.

The next three encounters can happen in any order and at the GM's discretion as to location within the opera house (which, it should be noted, is extremely large and difficult to draw!). The PCs will encounter a group of nobles being attacked by zombies and potentially rescue a fun NPC in the form of the clingy, self-absorbed Magistros Sebastus Hustavan. They'll also have their first encounter with clerics of Zyphus and, from subsequent interrogation or letters found on bodies, get a sense of what the cult's plan is. These three encounters are pretty similar in nature, so it might come across as repetitive but (hopefully) feeds into the "there's so many--what do we do!" panic of zombie movies. I should note that at low tier the battles are against "normal" zombies and clerics, which makes sense within the story, but that at higher tiers the combats can include battles against monster zombies, like zombie bugbears or even a zombie megaraptor! These were apparently smuggled into the opera house by the cult (for . . . reasons?), but they must seem pretty random to PCs who encounter them.

One aspect of the module that is necessary from a gameplay perspective but comes across as rather forced in terms of story is that Fel Bustrani is able to use the Zyphus Stone to erect an impenetrable force field around the opera house, meaning there is (quite literally) no way for the PCs to escape short of finishing the adventure. I'm not sure why the thought that an ancient magical artefact could turn corpses into zombies is fine to me but that having the same artefact also make force fields is the point where my disbelief has been stretched too far, but there you go.

The big finale takes place in the basement as the PCs confront Fel Bustrani and his minions. It's a tough battle, as the PCs have to cross a greased cavern to attack, Fel Bustrani uses cause fear to send melee-types with low Will saves fleeing, and he has a couple of minions to protect him. I remember it being a near-thing when I ran it, and I was relieved it didn't degenerate into TPK territory. I should also mention that the cultists are armed with heavy picks, and x4 crits can be instant death to low-level PCs if the GM's dice are hot.

After defeating the cult's leader, the PCs will discover that the Pathfinder they were sent to rescue died weeks ago and was one of the zombies destroyed earlier. Not all stories have happy endings, but the PCs can console themselves that they stopped a zombie apocalypse from erupting.

Overall, I liked Among the Living despite its flaws. It cleverly puts a classic horror trope in scenario form and having everything happen at the opera was a fun twist. PCs who specialize in battles against undead (Paladins, for example) will have a field day, while those who are mind-affecting specialists (like Mesmerists) will find extra challenges. Everyone may have to muddle through with improvised (or smuggled in) weapons, adding an extra layer of challenge and necessary creativity to the mix. It's definitely not a deep or meaningful scenario, but it's a fun, memorable way to spend a few hours.


Has potential but falls short

Super Railroady
The clothing suggestion at the beginning has no consequence as there is only 1 NPC unless you allow for roleplay before the Opera.
Combats can be fun but very straight forward and can potentially be avoided.

Old, but still solid


Among the Living was a scenario that was released years ago and I finally managed to play it last weekend. It’s the first part in three-part-series. The second part I enjoyed a lot, the third part is arguably one of the worst scenarios I’ve played to date. I was curious and partially worried in which category this one would fall. Luckily it’s not in the latter one.

The premise is simple and not spectacular, though I do have to admit that the location is a unique one. It’s fitting, in a weird way, and it does make the scenario stand out. Sadly there’s not a lot of roleplay to be had and the combat encounters are a tad repetitive. I would have liked a bit more diversity in that aspect. That said, they did gave our suboptimal party of four (a level 2 oracle, level 2 rogue, level 2 rogue/wizard and level 1 melee-great axe-sorcerer) quite a challenge.

Overall, it’s quite an enjoyable scenario that benefits from its location. Combats can be scary if you’re not optimized, while roleplay is relatively limited. Considering how old the scenario is, it does have some issues, but it honestly has weathered time quite well and still serves as a nice way to lead into Among the Dead. As a closing remark, I have to say that I wish the stone would make a more prominent return in a later scenario, although it could just as well be that I simply missed it so far. I think it’s an interesting artefact that could serve as a great storytelling tool.

Among the Living Review


Just ran a group of friends through this one. They enjoyed it and had a lot of fun. This one requires PCs to purchase formal attire to attend an opera. Putting together a "fashion and apparel" shop to expedite shopping helps a lot. The wardrobe mechanics make for great RP hilarity, and provides good balance to the combat scenes.


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I am running this module in a week. Does anyone have any advice or previously done updates for the monsters in this module? If so, can you post them or tell me where to view them? The module is written in 3.5 rules and the new pathfinder rules do not exactly match up with some of the enemies in the module.

Liberty's Edge

Frank Williams 892 wrote:
I am running this module in a week. Does anyone have any advice or previously done updates for the monsters in this module? If so, can you post them or tell me where to view them? The module is written in 3.5 rules and the new pathfinder rules do not exactly match up with some of the enemies in the module.

I ran it a week or so back without any modification and it worked fine.

Grand Lodge

I ran it 2-3 weeks ago and I ran it with minimal changes. All I did was figure out the CMD and CMB on the fly. Very free flowing mod. #49 Among the Dead deals with its fall out.

If you have the time you can really make this really scary. Due to some bad rolls it was almost a TPK, but due to a member of the party getting creative, saved all of the party. (and I didn't have to bend the rules!)

I guess here are more specific questions I had...

they contain minor spoilers so people who have not played this mod should not read them.

Should the ogre zombie use a weapon or slam attack? Obviously the weapon is WAY more dangerous than the slam.


I am trying to create the ogre, bugbear, minotaur, and grey render zombies using the pathfinder rules. Do you feel these monsters transfer to fair, fun, and balanced fights using the pathfinder rules?

Don't convert them. Run them as their 3.5 equivalents calculating CMB/CMD on the fly if needed. You can find the 3.5 stats here.


The ogre zombie would likely use his greatclub.

Shadow Lodge

PFS Character 'inspired' by this scenario and since Josh wrote the scenario, a parting tribute to him.

We played this recently with a 6 person party with two pregen's played by inexperienced players. This slowed down the play quite a bit in the early going. I personally did not like the way this adventure railroaded us in the early going.


Plot Spoiler:

We were told that without proper clothing we could not attend - we would literally be thrown out. Brand new characters like our Pregen's did not have enough money to even buy the lowest attire! Our GM was kind enough to permit rental when one of us thought of that option (although at a steep 1/3 normal purchase price) and he also allowed us to take all of our gear under oversized clothing. A bit unrealistic but not irrational given the railroading.

I personally liked the module despite the railroading. The adventure aspect of it was a bit predictable but it flowed naturally and without too much goofy nonesense.

One thing that bugged me about the railroad was:

Plot Spoiler:

The fact that we could not save anyone except for the specifically called out NPC. Also the lack of money and items on the dead made no sense.

Another area that can be a problem in society play is that at a low tier you can end up in trouble in a module like this:


The DR of Zombie's seems minor but when you have no control over a party and what they bring to the table it can suck. We started with six characters but the pregen character's players had to leave early. The real problem came when we realized that the remaining characters were geared for anything but Zombies. The brawler's primary attacks were unarmed (bludgeoning), the crossbowman (piercing), the cleric (bludgeoning). Luckily the fighter had an Axe (Slashing) and the brawler had a short sword (slashing) and a dagger (slashing). However due to the way the terrain was laid out there was a lot of difficulty bringing concentrated firepower to bear on the problem and the evil clerics healing the zombies and making more was not good given our situation.

On top of the difficulty that some of the encounters could pose for a 4 person group, the terrain at times made for some challenges as well:


The difficult terrain in the subterranian space was a major problem. Not being able to 5' to reposition in combat without an AoO was a huge issue. My fighter with a 23 AC fighting defensively took AoO x4 crit and went down just trying to stay out of flanked position. The tunnel sections limiting movement and bottlenecks caused which allowed for missile weapons to be shot at us didn't help either.

GM Question:
One question - our GM was unable to find the Death Touch ability defined anywhere - does anyone know what it was supposed to do? He winged it and I think it was fine but it would be nice to know.

GM Question - Answer:

I found out what the Death Touch was:

It's a D&D 3.5 Death Domain ability:
Death Domain
Granted Power
You may use a death touch once per day. Your death touch is a supernatural ability that produces a death effect. You must succeed on a melee touch attack against a living creature (using the rules for touch spells). When you touch, roll 1d6 per cleric level you possess. If the total at least equals the creature’s current hit points, it dies (no save).

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