Pathfinder Society Scenario #22: Fingerprints of the Fiend (OGL) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 7th to 11th level characters (Tiers: 7–8 and 10–11).

When a retired Pathfinder's nephew goes missing after allegedly discovered the fabled city of Rachikan of the ancient Jistka Imperium, he turns to the Society for help. Now you've been sent to the coast of devil-tainted Cheliax to uncover the missing nephew's whereabouts and to, quite possibly, uncover one of the most sought-after legendary cities on Golarion. But you have to move quick! The Aspis Consortium is rumored to be racing to the site ahead of you and their involvement could spell disaster for the Pathfinder Society.

Written by Larry Wilhelm

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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Quite Deadly for a Year 0


This adventure features a lot of good PFS flavor and a fun mine cart chase. However, lack of guidance from the author can lead some GMs to run all of the encounters as being one long chase scene without a chance to heal in between, which makes this adventure very deadly. The first encounter can also be very swingy depending on how the party and GM hand it as it features a particularly broken creature with a particularly broken situation. Player should be well prepared if they want to survive this one. I have run this once, played it once and watched another table play it once. In all three tables there was at least one death and 2 tables failed the mission.

Explore, report, cooperate, and be prepared.


No other scenario has taught me the lessons of being prepared as this one did.

In the deadliest encounter in this scenario, our whole 6-person party forgot crucial equipment that would have changed the course of the encounter and instead we only managed to reach and absolutely grueling and unlikely stalemate.

Most reviewers have adequately described this scenario. It has to be said that my rating is based on some great GMing once again, and for GMs with less skill, there could be some fairly serious stumbling blocks along the way.

On the too-easy encounter:
I think there's a specific reason this is too easy (I may be wrong; I haven't read the scenario) but it seems like the goal here isn't just to kill or subdue the bad guy. That encounter is more about creating a diversion. Again, this may have been creative GMing, but even if it was, it was an excellent tool that GMs should speed through. Have players make quick decisions on their turns where possible here.

Later the scenario picks back up in difficulty again, and you could find yourself either in a fairly standard battle or the middle of an apocalypse from a source, or sources, that you'd least expect.

Overall, despite the deathtrap experience I had, I had a good time playing this and I think it was largely due to carefully crafted GMing overcoming the scenario's downfalls, and a little bit of luck from the dice.

There are a lot of variables in this scenario in terms of both difficulty and atmosphere. For any GMs, I'd strongly advise a lot of preparation for this scenario to ensure an enjoyable game - more than usual.

One last mention - it's an excellent precursor to playing Fury of the Fiend soon afterwards, which is where the real meat of this series lies (until Fate of the Fiend is released, at least).

Season 0 played later


As we are drawing near to retirement our group tries quite a few tier 7-11and it made me pick up Fingerprints of the Fiend, mostly because I like series and wanted to bring back the party to Fury of the Fiend, maybe even to a third part. Society play are often "go there do that" never to return, and one of the things preached in role-play games over the years are familiarity - always let the players experience the same locate twice so they can see the world around them is alive. The Inn have maybe been taken over by the daughter or something similar, with that in mind I selected the "of the Fiend" series.
This being a season 0 scenario means there could/would be some adjustment to make it interesting for a party to fit the current rules, but being ready for that I did not hesitate.

The party I play with are highly optimized so combat should not be an issue in general but focusing on the environment and flavor of the text would be a must. And with this part Fingerprints did not let us down. Overall the scenario is made very descriptive, with settings that could unfold in many ways.

Spoiler : The Cliff:

For flavor of the whole location I had the party arrive in a small boat as the captain described the location as heavily pirate infested. This made the party be on the lookout from the start. Entering the small sand bank when a few supplies had been left and a rope dangling from a top of the pillars made the party ready for an ambush or at least for something to come. I did not use flip map for this encounter of multiple reasons. First is put a flip map down alerts the party just like Roll initiative does. I simply went with an old rope have been left... but they unfortunately did not fall for that.

Plan with the encounter was let the party climb the rope and approximately half way the Erinyes would arrive, swooping down bows in hand. The Erinyes have a minor illusion spell which I would use to burn the rope further above. This would panic the party as they look down upon a 100ft drop or so. But as it is in Pathfinder Society access to magical items are way too easy so almost all had some form of flight and the rest was helped via Dimension door from the travel domain'ed cleric. Trap missed but super nice setting for it. One of the players mentioned a rope ladder instead would have been more believable.
Erinyes in midair were interesting however not overpowered for our group (mind you highly optimized) and they went down fairly easy.

Overall I loved this start to the adventure - it was different from what we have experienced in the past and did have a nice challenge to it. Likewise it did NOT tell too much about what was to come.

Spoiler : Excavation site:

A bunch of guard with lousy perception skills made our party almost walk up to them before some of the slaves cried out. This was made to be a walk over and it served that. The party called out the poor soon to be dead Aspis folk, and without too much party in good old pathfinder fashion, the guards was killed off.
How to place them in the camp site is pretty much up to the GM except for the large wooden structure. Those made me think of different ways after I had played the scenario. Some ideas for flavor could be: They come at night (or dusk) providing a rare chance for rogues to use their stealth. The guard’s placement could be around the camp maybe even standing guard in front of a tent where Zahur Karn would rest.
I had them all patrolling around the wooden structure and lucky me we did not have a fireball wielding player otherwise everyone had been dead to begin with (they almost were anyway but that’s beside the point)
Spent some time planning how the camp should look maybe make small paper tents on the flip map and make it look very important.
My experienced was the party of experienced pathfinder players kept count of the encounter (Encounter 1 Erinyes Check, Encounter 2 Guards Check)
But the real encounter is inside the wooden building, with guards having heard the battle and being ready. Yes they too are no match but again the surprise for the player walking into the building that "encounter 2" was just beginning was priceless.

This part worked well because of the surprise otherwise it’s just another dull "I remove the guards" encounter. But as mentioned it does not have to be like that. The GM has free hands in the descriptions to make it a cool looking battle scene.

Spoiler : The Railroad:

First off the idea is great, implementation not so much. The rules seem to work fine however moving up to 100ft per round is nothing really. Likewise the nonlethal damage really makes no difference at level 10-11. A standard character moves around 30+ running make them catch up with the wagon in an instants. One could argue they cannot run on the tracks, but this is where I hit a problem. With multiple monks in the party one being large they simply ran down the tracks without effort. Likewise there is no description of the tracks. I made it a mine shaft where the tracks ran round and round. Do not do that. The party will jump downward to save time, likewise what happens if the cart trips over where do the party/npc end up, on the tracks?
A more detailed description of the idea of the tracks and a much higher speed would be useful. We did however have a mage that even though he had flying and movement way greater than the mining cart chose to take the ride - for the fun of it, and loved it.
Then the people in the cart. They are only there for fun. They pose no threat for the party what so ever. This include the bard who has such as lousy DC she can't hit a dead pigeon. This party needs some work to make the ride more than just a "wow we did that effect" So be prepared to do some work if you want to get anything out of this.

Spoiler : The City:

Morlocks, Stone Golem and a ruined city. Standard standard standard. However I made it much more than that. Descriptions are the key here especially if you want to focus on the Jistka Empire. I made small lanterns spread light into the ruined city providing enough dark places for the morlocks to hide and ambush. No doubt right out of the book they cannot harm anybody but that's okay. I made them climb up and down the walls of the houses, like dark shades that moved in and out of the light source. Then the rubble started to move and stand up. Sadly we had a character that felt extremely trigger happy and armed him with adamantium arrows before I even finished the description. The golem is a challenge and a fun one too (golem are in general okay - due to their heavy immunity). And a real fight broke out in the middle of the ruins while the morlock moved around trying to make leap attacks. Good old hack'n'slash encounter with no real twist.

Spoiler : Factory/Temple :

The proud somewhat foolish cleric steps out in front of the party and taunts them. This removes the element of surprise and he is left to his own initiative. Sadly this means he might be challenged. As it happened he fired off a silence at the party to begin with after the mage had dispose of all the wolves. Then came the archer and removed more than 80% of his health. And before he could act again he was a goner.
My idea was simply silence, wall of fire, channel negative energy (6d6 can be quite painful) and throw whatever spells he has left. A player told me, that the Cleric should have moved back into the building thereby getting out of ranged attacks. Tactics should be silence around the entrance and step just inside waiting for the foolish melee characters to enter, then face them with slay living and negative channeling. Upon entering the Aspis rogue/rangers should fall in behind and use their skills in flanking.
However that just did not happen for us and it ended up being somewhat an anticlimax.

Overall we all seemed to like the scenario, it had a good feel to it, but it also needed some work. What I did not like were the faction missions. They were just boring. And I did not really feel they related much to the Jistka feeling. My idea with the faction missions would be to make them flavor based. Why would the ruby prince ever consider the jistka important granted a codex about golemworks is interesting but it would be much more interesting to have to locate some stone tablets as a side quest rather than just picking up the quest a kill? Faction Quests should get the players to "move around" in the scenario getting the experience and feel of the place.

I of course have also read the other reviews and they speak about lack of maps and too much preparation. While these things are true one should keep in mind that this is a season 0 scenario used for me in season 3. Players are MUCH stronger now, have more possibilities and know the rules much better. This of course will reflect on the feel of the game. Rating for me would be : Flavor 5 stars, Faction 1star, combat ranging from 1 (end-boss) to 3 (Erinyes), work load expected so no biggy 3 stars for what comes with the pages, Maps for encounter Erinyes + mine cart sadly none 1 star, but into the ruin I printed them out and used them at a 1" square size : 3 stars for the factory 4 for the city. Put all that together leaves me with around 3 stars!

Redeemable scenario to play just prior to Fury of the Fiend


I really wanted to play some Cheliaxian adventures and as such despite the terrible reviews of this scenario, I decided to give the Fingerprints of the Fiend a try. Although the mobs need a bit of revision, I've included my tips in the spoilers and think that modified, this can be a fun scenario to play - at least that's the feedback I got from my players. I also ran the chase (despite my general disdain towards these encounters) and surprisingly, it went fairly smoothly. Considering we then played the Fury of the Fiend a few days later, I'm really glad that I ran this despite the bad reviews because it really helped provide background and insight into Fury of the Fiend. So I'd probably suggest to anyone considering this scenario to also pick up Fury of the Fiend to go along with this one and vice versa.

I ran this scenario at subtier 10-11 and as such am only able to provide tips accordingly but think that a DM running at subtier 7-8 can probably find something relatively easy/suitable to replace. In the grand scheme of things, only really the final encounter needs any "major" modification. So it's not really too much that needs to be changed - but of course, I consider myself a very experienced DM in 3.0, 3.5 and PFS so this might not be the case for everybody. I probably spent about 12 hours prepping this scenario but think it can be done with the tips below in about 4 hours - depending of course, how much you enjoy prepping as you can always spend more time on it!


Act 1 - up the pillars with Erinyes: this provided an unusual combat environment. I used a flip-mat as a vertical vs. horizontal surface to represent the cliff-face and drew a single line down the middle to represent the rope - super easy map. It was funny coz the fighter ended up carrying the spellcaster up the cliff-side so when they were attacked by the Erinyes, the fighters were busy climbing which left the spellcasters to fight the Erinyes.

Act 2 - excavation site: I replaced the main boss Zahur Karn with a Bone Devil (same CR 9) and the guards with the pre-generated Fighter level 1 stats (Valeros). For this scenario, I drew a campfire in the center of the map surrounded by 7 large tents and had the PCs approach from one edge of the map - very simple. The strategy was basic battlefield control which worked very well - Zahur would use a combination of stealth/invisibility and drop "igloos" (wall of ice cast in a hemisphere orientation making them large enough to not allow a reflex save) on PCs until there were only one or two untrapped PCs and then he would engage them. The guards were spread out (one behind each tent) to provide distractions for the PCs until Zahur had enough igloos to significantly hinder the PCs.

Act 3 - chase on the rails: before I ran this for my players, I asked them if they wanted to try the "Indiana Jones roller-coaster ride encounter" and they were open to it. Surprisingly, they enjoyed it a lot more than traditional board-game chase scenes. The feedback I got was that since they didn't "see" the DCs of each square of the chase, they felt they had a chance to make a difference rather than just knowing that they'd fail at different points. For the mobs upgrade, I replaced Talia's stats with Dorianna Ouidda (also a Bard 7 and same CR 6 from scenario 2-24 Shadow's last stand part 2) and replaced her elite guards with the pre-generated Fighter level 4 stats (Valeros). Then just switch Ouidda's spells for Talia's spells and you're set - although I gave Talia Eagle's splendor before combat to make her DCs more challenging. I also allowed my PCs to rest after this encounter since I stacked the final two encounters within a minute of each other.

Act 4 - morlocks and stone golem: uninteresting combat where you just pull the mobs from the Bestiary. No changes were necessary for this encounter and they provide a map for it so it's pretty simple to run. I connected the road from this encounter into the next one so that there was a little more "flow".

Act 5 - temple: this is probably the hardest encounter to modify coz I couldn't find an easy replacement for Haliduras Karn (12th level cleric of Asmodeus). Since I read a lot of criticism from other reviews about his silent spell strategy, I ended up rebuilding his spells with quickened spells. I timed this encounter to occur immediately after the last one - Haliduras spends almost a minute casting preparatory spells before engaging the PCs: which is consistent with the scenario. Instead of the ranger/rogues (which would have required quite a bit of effort to rebuild), try using 3 greater shadows which should be effective doorstops against PCs who wish to charge up against Haliduras.

Hmmm needs GM support


So this mode like allot of seaon 0 needs a little support. This I think is a good thing, I really like the opportunity to create a couple maps.

The first encounter is perhaps the most challenging. This is a great thing. Regardless of tier, this could be deadly. +

Second encounter is underpowered but that is a terrible thing.

Third, and the chase scene, I think this is where GM creativity can help a little. When I gmd this encounter I limited players to a single action, describing that the other cart regularly went around a blind part. +

The main thing I would of liked would of been a more elaborate description of the setting the adventure took place in.

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Dark Archive

In Cheliax no less !

Congrats Larry.

Congrats Larry! Must be a great feeling. = )

Sovereign Court

Good one Larcifer

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks guys!

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