Pathfinder Society Scenario #29: The Devil We Know—Part I: Shipyard Rats (PFRPG) PDF

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

When simultaneous kidnappings of Pathfinder and Aspis Consortium agents rock Cassomir's Imperial Naval Shipyards, the Society orders you to join forces with hated Aspis agents to solve the mystery. Can you work together with the enemies of the Society to uncover the source of the kidnappings, or will you perish in the shipyards of Cassomir?

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 Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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An average, combat-focussed scenario

3/5

NO SPOILERS

This review is based off of playing the scenario at Subtier 3-4 and then reading it after. The Devil We Know Part I: Shipyard Rats is the first in a small series of linked PFS scenarios. Overall, I found it a fairly average scenario that definitely leans more in the combat/combat/combat direction, with only a little role-playing or decision-making. It’s not a bad scenario, just limited in what it offers.

SPOILERS

The scenario is premised on a fairly elaborate backstory, most of which the players probably won’t learn. It has to do with a man named Dalirio Teppish, a member of a disgraced Taldan noble family who turned to worshipping Groetus, the God of End Times. Dalirio has set forth several schemes of revenge against Taldor for his family's disgrace, one of which involves a plan to kidnap sailors, dockworkers, admirals, and others in order to cripple the country’s vaunted navy (one of its few respected institutions), thus speeding its collapse. However, a member of the Pathfinder Society named Cestis was attending a secret auction of relics held in the shipyards when it was raided by Dailiro’s agents. Cestis was kidnapped, as was almost everyone else in attendance, including a member of the Aspis Consortium. The lone escapee was the Aspis agent’s assistant, Kafar, who saw where the victims were taken. The PCs are tasked with allying with Themis and freeing the prisoners.

From the start, we get an interesting twist in that the Pathfinder Society is forced to work *with* its natural enemies, the Aspis Consortium. I don’t think this angle is exploited as well as it could be, but it’s always good to change up expectations sometimes.

The first encounter takes place at the Inn of the Unlucky Sailor, the place Themis says the victims were taken. The location is guarded by Dalirio’s fellow cultists, including evil druids and their dire rat or rat swarm buddies (depending on subtier). It’s a solid first encounter, though it would have been more interesting as a “race against time” to save some of the victims from being murdered, or as a “hostage negotiation” scenario. Anyway, once the enemies are defeated, the PCs learn that the Aspis agent and most of the other kidnaping victims are there, but that the Pathfinder Society member, Cestis, has been taken elsewhere, to a ship called the Prancing Prince.

The second encounter is again average. It puts the Ship flip-mat to good use (with a quibble that one of the locations discussed in the scenario, the bilge, isn’t labelled). When the PCs drop down into the cargo hold, they’re ambushed by more cultists: half-orc monks! An odd choice that the players probably will wonder about. Cestis, as this scenario’s MacGuffin, is still not present.

I really liked the third encounter because it plays with the expectation players have of always having a discrete location (and timeframe) set aside for each encounter. As the PCs are dilly-dallying aboard the ship after the battle against the monks (searching for treasure, interrogating other victims, etc.), they’re likely to be surprised by Dalirio’s sometime flame (another cleric of Groetus) and her undead minions. It’s a fun set up because the PCs may be scattered around various decks of the ship, and they get a chance to “repel boarders!” On the dead/captured cleric’s body is a note giving directions to a warehouse in the shipyards. Kidnappers always keep the address where their victims are being kept, don’t you know?

After a laughably easy battle against some CR ½ thugs (at least at Subtiers 1-2 and 3-4), the PCs can bust into the warehouse. There, in a hidden basement, they find the cult’s lair and confront Dalirio and his minions. As the “big bad” of the scenario, he’s kind of a pushover. On the other hand, if the PC have kept up a steady pace and haven’t stopped to rest and heal, they may be a bit worn down by this point. Again, we have a solid but unspectacular encounter.

By way of conclusion, the PCs will find Cestis, but also hear hints that strange creatures from below the city were buying captives from Dalirio. Presumably, that leads into the next part of the series.
Overall, The Devil We Know Part I: Shipyard Rats strikes me as perfectly average. The encounters are varied enough and there’s an interesting backstory, even if the plot is a typical railroad. It’s also rather forgettable, as I could barely remember much of it a few months after playing it and had to refresh my recollection by reading the scenario! I wouldn’t put this high on the list unless you needed a very straightforward scenario to run that won’t tax anyone's mind.


Heavy on Fights, Light on Balance

3/5

Recently played through this one in a home game, playing through the 3-4 tier as a group with APL 4.

The good: A solid introduction and clear breadcrumbs led us from location to location without too much of a problem. Faction missions (we added them in) were a highlight, with some good RP opportunities. I also enjoyed how it managed to condense what felt like a longer adventure into the essentials that could fit in a scenario time-frame. The party gets to traipse over the city quite a bit before they're done.

The so-so: The thematic elements were all over the place. At the end I couldn't tell if things were supposed to be frightening, or laughable, or if any of the foes were meant to represent a threat larger than the few the party fought. We were informed afterwards by our DM that we missed some background due to not questioning the NPCs, but it neither seemed necessary nor beneficial to do so during the scenario (they seemed like typical madmen).

The bad: The tier we played in just seemed to be a cakewalk. There were a LOT of fights, but most seemed to be nothing but filler, ending in the first or second round even if we had started on the wrong foot. Many enemies seemed like they just didn't pose a realistic chance of facing PCs of the appropriate level. It led to a lot of "the only credible reason these guys would fight us is because they are insane"

The encounters:
After the session I took a peek at the stat blocks for our tier and my suspicions were absolutely confirmed. Most mook encounters were vs. CR 1/2s, usually the same enemies as low tier but with an additional member or two on their team. Compare this to the vastly more dangerous (and more appropriately CR'd) opponents in the other two tiers, and I start to wonder if maybe they were running out of space for additional stat blocks. Particularly trivial were the 4 1st level monks in the ship and the five 1st level fighters not long afterward. Both encounters seem to have no tricks to aid them against a higher level opponent and instead just crumple under the slightest offense. I'd forgive these encounters if either of them added anything to the story of the scenario, but neither seemed to matter in the least. The boss was also hilarious as a 2nd level cleric in tier 3-4 vs. an 8th level one in tier 6-7.


3/5


An RPG Resource Review

4/5

After a detailed backstory that spells out what's really going on for the DM we hear that the party, apparently newly-arrived in Cassomir, are given the task of finding a recently-kidnapped fellow Pathfinder. What makes it a bit interesting is that the one lead is an Aspis Consortium trainee whose boss was also kidnapped at the same time: both agents were attending an auction of artefacts that night, from which all the attendees were taken.

For once, the adventure actually starts with the briefing, rather than having it as a flashback. Once given the characters are sent off to commence their investigations. Cassomir has had a spate of kidnappings recently, mostly of people associated with the the Imperial Naval Shipyards. Nobody knows who's behind it, the imperative at this time is to get the Pathfinder back. The Aspis Consortium junior thinks he knows where some of the kidnap victims were taken (he escaped by jumping into the harbour!) and has agreed to lead the party there.

From there on in, it's basically one brawl after another around the dockyard area. The maps lay things out OK, and for at least a couple are based on Paizo Flipmat product, so if you like largescale maps to lay before the players (or use miniatures in combat) you can get hold of ones which match the ones given here. Apart from questioning vanquished foes (or rescued kidnap victims) there's little in the way of interaction apart from at the point of a sword. The Faction missions interlock quite neatly, and could bring about a bit of party conflict depending on which factions are represented.

Overall it's a reasonable low-level adventure provided you are happy to let your sword do your talking. The backstory is good, but unless the party captures rather than kills the mastermind behind it all and then get him to talk at length, it's unlikely that the players will discover what's going on. However, if you are mining this module for your own campaign, you might wish to expand on it to run a whole sequence of adventures...


Okay but with many problems

3/5

Have played and runned for all three tiers.

It's a combat-central module, simple and recommeded for new players.

However, as a season 1 scenario, there are so many problems. First, some monster's stats are incorrect, especially the two clerics. Then, the combats don't scale well, the BBEG is much less poweful than the girl cleric in tier 1-2... Tier 3-4 is too underpowered like a cakewalk. Some enemies are too easy for tier 6-7, for instance the guy on the coverpage...

The story background is facinating, but hard to involed for most GMs, very easy to run just keep fighting, and the cooperation with Aspis disappears so quickly, nothing connected with this module.

In conclusion, enjoyable and okay to play, but too many problems of combats and storytelling mechnics, just give an average rate. If want to play or run this, highly suggest tier 1-2, and avoid tier 3-4.


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Dark Archive

Thanks for the review, Aaron. I may be running both parts at an upcoming con and want to make sure the mods are "balanced" towards Cheliax...I MEAN, for PLAYER FUN. That's right.... ^_^

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
joela wrote:
Thanks for the review, Aaron. I may be running both parts at an upcoming con and want to make sure the mods are "balanced" towards Cheliax...I MEAN, for PLAYER FUN. That's right.... ^_^

Joe, this one was fun. I had a great time GMing this at GenCon, Though I did have one TPK, it was mostly due to bad luck on the PC side, Though there is one section that can be bad if the GM rolls well.


This product is a pdf? I saw the printed version at Gencon with the nice maps for inn and ship. Where can I purchase that?

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Anonymous User 111 wrote:
This product is a pdf? I saw the printed version at Gencon with the nice maps for inn and ship. Where can I purchase that?

It is PDF only, If you saw the Adventure printed it was done by the GM, The maps though are a seperate product by Paizo that they make called Flip-Mats, They used 2 of them for this Scenerio.

The 2 used where

GameMastery Flip-Mat: Ship
GameMastery Flip-Mat: Waterfront Tavern


Dragnmoon wrote:
It is PDF only, If you saw the Adventure printed it was done by the GM, The maps though are a seperate product by Paizo that they make called Flip-Mats, They used 2 of them for this Scenerio.

Thank you for the information, Dragnmoon.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Anonymous User 111 wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
It is PDF only, If you saw the Adventure printed it was done by the GM, The maps though are a seperate product by Paizo that they make called Flip-Mats, They used 2 of them for this Scenerio.
Thank you for the information, Dragnmoon.

You know I've been playing these for a while, and I just figured out there was no print versions last week so don't feel bad. Of course I've only been buying pdfs for the last year and just started to buy print again... but still.

Dark Archive

Dragnmoon wrote:
joela wrote:
Thanks for the review, Aaron. I may be running both parts at an upcoming con and want to make sure the mods are "balanced" towards Cheliax...I MEAN, for PLAYER FUN. That's right.... ^_^
Joe, this one was fun. I had a great time GMing this at GenCon, Though I did have one TPK, it was mostly due to bad luck on the PC side, Though there is one section that can be bad if the GM rolls well.

Dragnmoon, ran it and liked it. Reminds me of chapters of a good fantasy novel. However, there's that one encounter CR 3(?) at the shipyard with a certain someone that had the PCs scrambling. I agree; it may be a bit too tough especially with the new class abilities. (I just heard from one gamer it resulted in TPK. Ugh.)

Liberty's Edge

I had a great time with this one as well. The storyline is simple, yet fun and it had plenty of opportunities to add role playing scenarios. Unfortunately my NPCs were suffering from terrible rolls and the CR 3 encounter fell flat on its face.

Dark Archive

alleynbard wrote:
I had a great time with this one as well. The storyline is simple, yet fun and it had plenty of opportunities to add role playing scenarios.

An adjacent table was playing Part I as well. Heard later that one PC had his stunningly beautiful half-orc sorceress(?) use seduction in Act II to snare two of the guards to split up, go on separate parts of the setting, jump up and down, strip, and close their eyes in...anticipation. What they didn't anticipate, though, was the gang up from the other PCs ^_^. (Coup de grace, that is!)

Liberty's Edge

joela wrote:
alleynbard wrote:
I had a great time with this one as well. The storyline is simple, yet fun and it had plenty of opportunities to add role playing scenarios.
An adjacent table was playing Part I as well. Heard later that one PC had his stunningly beautiful half-orc sorceress(?) use seduction in Act II to snare two of the guards to split up, go on separate parts of the setting, jump up and down, strip, and close their eyes in...anticipation. What they didn't anticipate, though, was the gang up from the other PCs ^_^. (Coup de grace, that is!)

That is brilliant! I love some of things clever players can come up with. Good stuff.

Dark Archive

alleynbard wrote:
joela wrote:
alleynbard wrote:
I had a great time with this one as well. The storyline is simple, yet fun and it had plenty of opportunities to add role playing scenarios.
An adjacent table was playing Part I as well. Heard later that one PC had his stunningly beautiful half-orc sorceress(?) use seduction in Act II to snare two of the guards to split up, go on separate parts of the setting, jump up and down, strip, and close their eyes in...anticipation. What they didn't anticipate, though, was the gang up from the other PCs ^_^. (Coup de grace, that is!)
That is brilliant! I love some of things clever players can come up with. Good stuff.

Ditto. Killing stuff's easy, while using rping and clever ideas: priceless ^_^

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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We have updated the PDF of Pathfinder Society Scenario #29: The Devil We Know—Part I: Shipyard Rats. We've corrected the stat block for the cleric in all Tiers of Act 3. Luscilia now has the correct DC for channel negative energy, and now possesses the correct feat to control her minion.

Those of you who have access to the PDF may download the updated version for free at http://paizo.com/paizo/account/assets. (If the file shows that it has already been personalized, you'll need to repersonalize it before you can download the new version.)

Dark Archive

I just played through this mod, and I had a lot of fun with it. The Cheliax missions I especially had a good time with. One of them had to be done secretly, and it was actually a bit of a challenge to achieve it. The combat was also challenging, at least on the low tier. We never had anyone in danger of dying, but that was largely due to Cause Fear and Hold Person, which were the MVP spells of the night.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Remember to vote for Pathfinder Society Scenario #29: The Devil We Know, Part 1 - Shipyard Rats for Best Electronic Book!

And don't forget to vote for Mark Green for 2011 ENnies Judge!

-Mark
My judge profile

Silver Crusade

I was reviewing this module for an upcoming session, when I realized

Spoiler:
The druids who control the rats have to make handle animal checks to have them attack, and have extra benefits for it because they're druids, but can fail. Am I wrong in thinking this? Somehow before now I'd overlooked this fact.

Liberty's Edge

I recently played this module. The premise was sound but the DM was not as prepared as he could have been. In fact he seemed to be missing stats for several of encounters. It was difficult to finish in the four hour time slot allotted to it. I'm hoping the DM is more prepared for the 2nd part.

Grand Lodge

Vic Wertz wrote:

We have updated the PDF of Pathfinder Society Scenario #29: The Devil We Know—Part I: Shipyard Rats. We've corrected the stat block for the cleric in all Tiers of Act 3. Luscilia now has the correct DC for channel negative energy, and now possesses the correct feat to control her minion.

Those of you who have access to the PDF may download the updated version for free at http://paizo.com/paizo/account/assets. (If the file shows that it has already been personalized, you'll need to repersonalize it before you can download the new version.)

I know we've moved on in seasons, but I've just gotten to take a look at running this series of scenarios, and I've noticed a few problems that require some creativity on the part of the GM and should be addressed in case of another revision:

Spoiler:
In Act 1, the tier 6-7 encounter is missing its animal companion, & the Act 5 druids say to refer back to these stats... even though they don't exist - my solution: use tier 1-2 companion stats.

Kafar is said to require a "remove poison" spell to recover, even though that spell does not exist. The equivalent would be Neutralize Poison but it is a level 4 spell that no in-tier character would have. Normally not a problem, but Cheliax needs to secure Kafar's safe release - my solution: require the 10hp of healing for all tiers, but either allow a Heal Check to replace the spell or require a Delay Poison spell as it is a level 2 spell accessible to characters 3-7

Sovereign Court

Saturday Morning a friend and I went and played a Season 1 game called "Scenario #29: The Devil We Know—Part I: Shipyard Rats" run by a trooper of a GM named Steve who was going on 4 hrs sleep.

The first two encounters do a great job lulling you into a false sense of security and the second encounter was a bit tougher but nothing the team couldn't handle.

However the last encounter was DEADLY, if we had not had an extremely generous GM and huge amount of luck (in killing a powerful NPC in the second encounter), it would have been a TPK if we had not ran for the hills, kited the slower opponent and had a huge amount of luck with people being equipped just right.

I am not sure what the writer was thinking as most players at the 1-2 tier level are new or not powerful enough to handle this kind of monster or even to know to run.

Everyone survived thanks to some creative healing by myself and selfless sacrifices by several of my fellow players willing to go down for a bit so the monster could be kited by the cleric and defeated by the heavies. Although running was an option we had several players down and since pathfinders are supposed to be good ... no one would leave a man behind in good conscience specially since we are supposed to be there for another pathfinder.

I give the game a 3.5 out of 5 it was well written and interesting but a bit too deadly for the tier 1-2.


GM Master "D" wrote:

The first two encounters do a great job lulling you into a false sense of security and the second encounter was a bit tougher but nothing the team couldn't handle.

However the last encounter was DEADLY, if we had not had an extremely generous GM and huge amount of luck (in killing a powerful NPC in the second encounter), it would have been a TPK if we had not ran for the hills, kited the slower opponent and had a huge amount of luck with people being equipped just right.

I am not sure what the writer was thinking as most players at the 1-2 tier level are new or not powerful enough to handle this kind of monster or even to know to run.

Interesting...our level 1 party got massacred by

Spoiler:
the cleric's channel energy

but didn't have any problem with the last encounter. I admit that
Spoiler:
ghouls (the last guy is some kind of ghoul, isn't he?)

can result in very swingy encounters, depending on how lucky you are with saves.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

So I started building the encounters for Tier1-2 in Hero Lab and I'm finding problems with missing skill points for human NPCs, the Nature's Cataclysm Fighters have a feat (Combat Expertise) they do not qualify for (Int is less than 13), HP of all enemies with PC classes look to be low (guessing they're not getting full HP on 1st Level), and that's just looking at the first half of the scenario. While none of these issues unbalances or breaks the encounters I'm trying to understand where these errors are coming from and if they are in fact errors or if I'm missing something. Anyone else discovered or addressed this?


The scenario came out at the very beginning of the PFRPG, and there are a number of bugs in it (like clerics wearing heavy armor without proficiency, e.g.). I think there's a thread in the Pathfinder Society GM section discussing it.

EDIT: Try here -- Feedback for #29 Shipyard Rats


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
hogarth wrote:

The scenario came out at the very beginning of the PFRPG, and there are a number of bugs in it (like clerics wearing heavy armor without proficiency, e.g.). I think there's a thread in the Pathfinder Society GM section discussing it.

EDIT: Try here -- Feedback for #29 Shipyard Rats

THANKS for pointing me in the right direction. I did a search earlier for the Scenario, but didn't get that link. It's much appreciated. Sounds like I'll have to edit it as I deem appropriate as Paizo is not likely to have the time to edit a Season 1 Scenario. I wonder if they've ever considered reaching out to the community to revise old material with errors.


Gullyble Dwarf - Lvl 7 DM wrote:
I wonder if they've ever considered reaching out to the community to revise old material with errors.

This has been discussed in various threads, too. (Maybe it's worth putting in the FAQ.) The official response is that community help wouldn't save nearly as much effort as you might think, so they might as well focus on making new scenarios instead.

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