Pathfinder Society Scenario #31: Sniper in the Deep (PFRPG) PDF

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

When rumors stir of a hidden treasure ship in Absalom's Flotsam Graveyard, the Pathfinder Society sends you beneath the Inner Sea to investigate. Mayhem, undersea adventure, and chaos are to be had in this rousing rampage beneath the roiling waters of Absalom's harbor.

Written by David Eitelbach and Hank Woon

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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Into the deep we go


Sniper in the Deep is known to be dangerous as well as for the TPK’s that tend to happen. It should be no surprise I was worried and had my doubts about playing this scenario. We ended up with a level 8 psychic, a level 7 monk/gunslinger/unchained rogue, and a level 6 unchained rogue/bard/lion blade. Oh and the lovely Kyra pregen, because you simply can’t go wrong with her.

This meant we faced this scenario on the low tier and, truth be told, it was not as scary as I thought it would be. Through clever use of tactics, as well as disguise and bluff, we managed to deal with the majority of the combats without any issue. Even the last encounter was over relatively quickly. I suppose that being stealthy, the players rolling exceptionally well and the GM extremely poorly had something to do with that.

In short: the combats were fun, but hadn’t aged well. They’re no pushovers, but I can’t really see people struggle with it nowadays. At least, that’s the case for low tier. On high tier there’s an encounter that is rather scary and very dangerous. The fact that there’s underwater combat can be annoying, but there are a bunch of solutions for that as well. Just visit a temple for some buffs, for instance. Sure, it costs a little, but it certainly is worth it.

The storyline isn’t amazing and one of the encounters seems awfully out of place, but I don’t think it really ruins the scenario that much. If the party is prepared for anything, they should be okay and as such I disagree with some of the reviews below. It’s not an amazing scenario and certain things can drag on, but this scenario should not be retired from service. It’s really not that bad; there are worse offenders out there. I still wouldn’t recommend this scenario, but if you do decide to play it, I strongly urge you to consider doing so on the low tier.

Another Guaranteed TPK


This adventure should be retired from service. Anytime the GM is given the tools to tpk a party and no instructions not too, you have to wonder just what the editors were thinking. Unless the gm softballs the adventure, and the players have cheated and prepared for the abuse, stay away from this one.

A thankless slog in the Flotsam Graveyard


Played in a home game in low tier with an APL 5 party. We added the faction missions back in for flavor. After playing, I reviewed the scenario pdf with my GM glasses on.

Sniper of the Deep serves as a great example of some of the mediocre, awkward scenario design in season 1. Its story is uninteresting, its flow and pacing uneven, it has the potential to stall out without leads for the players to pursue, its difficulty is unusually out of line, and ultimately it culminates without much fanfare.

Its positive aspects are probably its varied encounters and the unusually testing environments. The players really are challenged to be prepared or face the consequences.

Barring the other issues with this scenario, I think this is one of the most badly presented stories in season 1:

At its core, its the old "missing pathfinder + get the macguffin" worn out trope. The scenario only provides the barest bones of motivation for anything happening. The beginning provides no interesting lore or background, no reason to believe that the pathfinder or the macguffin are actually important, or any indication of what may have happened. The VC is specifically designed to tell you nothing. If the party is smart enough to interrogate the antagonists at the Lusty Mermaid, they get very little else to go on: just that Airk is dead and he had some notes to the location of the macguffin.

Even the DM background information provides no interesting motivations for any of the action. Dargo seems to want the macguffin just to sell it (it is solid gold after all), and all the other antagonists seem to be motivated by gold. The titular Sniper may as well be a stash of gold bricks for all it matters.

All this lack of story makes the whole scenario dry and flavorless.

The combats also leave a lot to be desired:

The underwater environment of the second half, as well as the defenses of the swarm and incorporeal encounters, make everything drag on forever. By today's standards, none of the encounters are extremely deadly in low tier, but they do take a lot of rounds to resolve as the players do half damage or less due to the crippling environment. And those rounds lack any dynamic element, as the movement difficulties make every fight a stand-in-place slugfest. As a result, some encounters went on for half a dozen rounds or more. I wasn't the only player that got fatigued (or even bored) by the proceedings.

And finally, the entire scenario is written in a very adversarial way:

There's a clear preoccupation in the writeup on penalizing the players for their mistakes rather than rewarding them for their successes. NPCs are written to be uncommunicative at best, but actively adversarial if players misstep. For example: mentioning Airk or Dargo at the Lusty Mermaid immediately gives a -4 penalty on diplomacy checks, despite it being the first thing a party is likely to do. Even if players are successful on negotiating with or diplomacy-ing Larro, he attacks them anyway. The entire side-branch involving retrieving Airk's body is pointless, providing additional peril to the players while giving them nothing in terms of story, hints on how to proceed, or even loot.
The fights on the ship are in a light fog + the slanted deck is difficult terrain + half the fights are underwater + the enemies mostly ignore these penalties. Players that are smart enough to enter the ship from the outside and underwater are rewarded with the Skum fight and the undead fight combining with each other.

It just sums up into a general feeling that the whole adventure is needlessly grueling. This feeling is inconsistent with the importance of the scenario. I'd understand a grueling scenario if it was an infiltration of Geb, or a back-and-forth campaign at the Worldwound, but these are just some common thugs and thieves trying to get their hands on a hunk of gold. It's just not narratively "worth it".

As a GM, I likely will not want to run this scenario and I will likely recommend players stay away from it. Its a very poor example of what PFS is capable of and generally just isn't much fun.

An RPG Resource Review


Like many of these adventures, it all begins with a missing Pathfinder and the artefact he was hunting when he disappeared. There's the customary background story for the GM, laying out what is really going on and a summary of how the adventure should run, then the briefing from a rather brusk and obnoxious Venture Captain to be read out to the players gets the adventure underway.

Once they've had this rather impatient briefing, it's up to the party how to investigate the matter, although they are told which inn he is staying at, so that makes a good starting point. Things go downhill rapidly and it is almost impossible to avoid a good tavern brawl. Fortunately there's a good floorplan for the inn (and you can use Paizo's GameMastery Flip-Mat: Waterfront Tavern if you want, as the plan here is based on it). Rather oddly, to progress the adventure, it's assumed that the party manage to question people and it's not clear how they find out where they need to go if they do not engage in conversation instead of or at least as well as having the brawl. Although the missing Pathfinder has obligingly left his notes behind, not everything they need to know is in them.

That aside, presuming they do find out where they need to go, there's a sea cave and some underwater exploration ahead. This is all well laid out and exciting, with sharks and other less natural foes to deal with as they complete their quest. The Faction missions are quite convoluted and require Faction members to be on their toes as several of them need them to sieze the moment to do whatever it is that they must accomplish.

Apart from the need to ensure that the party actually discover the information they require, it's an exciting adventure with plenty of action abover and beneath the water.

Not impressive undersea dungeon


Played in high tier.
battle oracle 8
gunslinger 8
wizard 7
grappling monk 5
paladin 8 (GM said it can be too deadly, just put in his character only channel and lay on hands)

Another all-combat module, one of which is very challenging, be with GMs strickly follow the tactics, it's not overwhelming.

Just a kick-butt game, nothing too memorable escept the one combat many commends have mentioned.

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Am I crazy, or didn't there used to be more than one review of this scenario?

(Those aren't mutually exclusive, of course.)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

hogarth wrote:

Am I crazy, or didn't there used to be more than one review of this scenario?

(Those aren't mutually exclusive, of course.)

I just see the one in the database.

It was just my imagination, running away with me...

The Exchange

You're right Hogarth. I remember more reviews as well.

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