Pathfinder Society Scenario #18: The Trouble with Secrets (OGL) PDF (Retired)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 5th to 9th level characters (Tiers: 5–6 and 8–9).

Decades ago, an Osiriani Pathfinder named Bossell locked his transformed lover in the vaults beneath the Sothis Pathfinder Lodge. He then vowed that no one would ever discover his secret shame. The old and senile Bossell now relies on his assistant Fendel for everything, and the hapless assistant has disapeared into the vaults after reading his master's journal. You've been sent beneath the Lodge to destroy whatever it is that Bossell's lover has become—will you survive his secret or find yourself transformed as well?

Written by Craig Campbell

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.

This scenario was retired from Pathfinder Society Organized Play on May 24, 2010. After May 24, 2010, it will no longer be legal for Pathfinder Society Organized Play and will no longer be available in the Pathfinder Society Organized Play reporting system.

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Some Secrets Should Stay Buried



Because this is a retired scenario, I incorporated it (at low sub-tier) as part of a regular home campaign for four PCs. I changed the opening a bit, but left the core of it essentially unchanged. From that experience, I can see why it was retired--it's very deadly! And although the backstory is really interesting and holds promise, the actual gameplay turns out to be a very generic mini-dungeon delve. As there's no enduring addition to setting lore, The Trouble with Secrets is now just a curiosity as best.


The backstory may be the best part of The Trouble with Secrets. After a Pathfinder named Harkus was slain by a vampire and arose as undead, she retained just enough humanity to seek out a fellow agent (and former lover) named Bossell for aid. Bossell agreed to help find a way to turn Harkus back, but secretly arranged for her to be bound and experimented on (with even a total dissection planned) in a basement under the Sothis Lodge. Furious at the betrayal, Harkus managed to break free of the restraints and savage the research team until Bossell slammed a stone door shut and trapped her inside. Bossell then proceeded to cover up the incident entirely, sealing over the entrance to the basement and doing his best to forget about the whole thing. Now, decades later, Bossell is a senile old man allowed to stay at the Lodge out of respect for his past service. But when his assistant finds an old journal about mysterious experiments in the basement, the idiot decides to go investigate--thus unleashing the still-undead and still-peeved Harkus!

From that premise, there are a lot of great directions the story could go. Unfortunately, the writer chose a pretty poor one. Harkus kills the assistant and secretly ventures into the streets of Sothis to mentally dominate and recruit pit fighters to help guard her basement lair. She then returns to her secret hiding place under the Lodge and . . .well, does nothing, really. Essentially, she's sitting there as the scenario officially begins and the PCs are briefed about trouble and disappearances in a newly-discovered vault under the Lodge. That's how a great backstory filled with pathos and betrayal and vengeance is turned into a traditional "explore old crypt and kill stuff" mission. There are five main chambers to the underground vault and thus, predictably, five encounters.

First up, in the vault's antechamber, is a battle against the dominated pit fighters and the hyenas that (apparently) they train for battle. The pit fighters are fighter/rogues and will try to ambush the PCs, but this is pretty much a cakewalk.

Next up is a statue hall and, giving truth to cliché, two of the statues turn out to be animated objects and attack. Yawn.

The third chamber is where we get the first hint that of what's really going on, as vampire spawn burst in to attack. This does serve as good preparation for the PCs to get their act together before fighting the real thing.

The fourth chamber is actually a pretty well set-up encounter. It involves more pit fighters, but they're using archery and firing through murder holes. The PCs have to figure out how to reach them before they get turned into pin cushions.

Last up is Harkus, the vampire. Man, she is tough! At low sub-tier she has six levels of fighter, wields a greatsword, and has an AC of 27. Her tactics are also smart--dominating a party's strongest member and then attacking any arcane spellcasters in the group. One of the reasons I chose this scenario is that a PC in my group is a Vampire Hunter (the class from the Vampire Hunter D book) and I wanted to give him a chance to shine. But instead, a near-TPK was in store for the group and they had to withdraw.

And that's the scenario. I guess to its credit one could say it plays very quickly, contains a map that's easy to draw, and isn't one that requires enormous prep by the GM. I love the cover art, and there are some opportunities in the adventure for the PCs to learn about the cool backstory. On the whole though, The Trouble with Secrets is best left just like Harkus--buried and forgotten.

An RPG Resource Review


Sometimes experiments go horribly wrong, and this adventure concerns one such, as the party are summoned to the Pathfinder Society Lodge in Sothis, capital city of Osirion, to deal with the aftermath of one such that has left a horribly vile creature trapped under the very Lodge itself.

The introduction explains what really happened (and who was responsible), naturally as the adventure itself opens the briefing the characters get is somewhat less informative. All they are told is that they are going to have to play exterminator in the vaults under the Lodge - oh, and the only person who knew what was going on down there has since fallen prey to dementia, the creature having been trapped there decades ago. Apparently his assistant found something in his papers about it and went down there on his own to take a look, and of course has not come back.

Armed with this limited information, the party will have to explore the vaults and deal with whatever they find there. A clear floorplan is provided along with quite detailed notes of what's there to be found... and what will attack! The party should be kept quite busy. It does appear that untoward experiments were taking place down there, and captives held... not quite the sort of reputation that the Pathfinder Society would like to have... and in the best possible fashion, there's a Big Bad to be found at the very end of the vault, just itching for that climactic level-end 'boss-fight'.

It's a good straightforward delve with plenty of opposition to fight. The Faction missions seem implausible in the main, if it's such a dark secret what's down there (even according to the DM's background notes), how have the Faction leaders got the information to make the requests that they have made? The tasks themselves are fairly easy to accomplish, it's just the making of them that wrecks the realism of the situation. Parties who enjoy a good fight will be in for a treat, but that's it. More could have been made of the situation, how it came about and how it might be resolved.

Well constructed? The Boss, that's about it...


I unfortunately have to disagree with Keasar. I bought this one due to the fact, that it was considered to be extremely lethal. My players enjoy challenges, consider most scenarios to be too easy and I am a sucker for well-crafted enemies.
I'm in a similar situation, but my experience has, unfortunately, been different from his.
This adventure, unfortunately, only features one well-crafted thing, and that is the Boss. The premise is ridiculous, the story consists of plot holes and I had to spend about two hours making sense of the background and rewriting it. Even after that, I was hard-pressed to fight with the suspension of disbelief. The final Boss was cool and a challenge, the rest of the encounters screamed "Fireball Formation". Not as bad as "Eye of the Crocodile King", but quite close.
A for Creature, F for the Rest.

A challenging scenario


This mod has well constructed encounters and opponents that actually provide a challenge. I find 90% of the pathfinders mods as easy and provide no challenge to my group.

The story is linear like all pathfinder mods and has a simplistic story. I am fine with that because the mod was actually challenging. To be honest this is what we expect from Pathfinder mods. The authors are limited to 12k words per mod. You are not going to see very good stories until that is increased.

A for Effort, F for Suck


Ooh, where to begin? A subpar dungeon crawl. Monsters with "neener-neener" tactics and abilities and a final encounter which is simply overwhelming due to the boss creature's à la carte menu of "you die" abilities.

If this were in print it wouldn't be worth the paper it'd be printed on.

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I like the cover, pretty dress.

I like the change in cover style.

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