Pathfinder Society Scenario #51: The City of Strangers—Part I: The Shadow Gambit (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).

The Pathfinder Society sends you to Kaer Maga, the City of Strangers, where you are ordered to find a local Pathfinder associate who sent a strange letter to Venture-Captain Drandle Dreng in Absalom. When the local associate turns up dead and you find evidence linking his death to a mysterious organization called The Shadow Lodge, it's up to you to track them down and solve the man's murder.

The Shadow Gambit is the first scenario in the two-part The City of Strangers campaign arc. Pathfinder Society Scenario #52: The City of Strangers—Part II: The Twofold Demise is the sequel.

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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3.80/5 (based on 20 ratings)

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Great role-play and personality


While it's not required, reading City of Strangers will be very helpful in fleshing out Kaer Maga and makes for a much richer environment for the players & GM and I'd definitely recommend it. As part one of a two-part series establishing a feel for the city for this adventure makes it easy to maintain player connection to the city for part two. And because many of the faction goals require a bit of investigation within various districts of the city, making the setting memorable was a natural outcome of the players' desire to fulfill their faction quests. This is a great example of how faction goals can be used to guide player action while creating a stronger connection to the campaign setting.

The adventure itself had great pacing between combat and role-playing encounters while allowing everything to flow together logically and smoothly. Combat encounters were well balanced, although somewhat average tactically. The inclusion of some interesting weapon choices helped make them more fun. The real highlight for this adventure was that the PCs were able to meet & interact with several prominent NPCs in the city. Even interacting with minor NPCs that had short but unique personality descriptions became fun and eased the workload of the GM to create them on the fly. Characters that have a high charisma score or well developed personalities will really be given the chance to flex those attributes in this adventure.

Although I'm of the opinion that many Pathfinder Society adventures are somewhat of a rail-road due to time constraints and single-session style, this adventure definitely felt more open ended than others. That open-ended feel worked well with this setting in particular to highlight the uniqueness of the city while requiring the players to interact with the sandbox. Anything that encourages my players to do more than react to combat scenarios makes for a great game.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this adventure and the icing on the cake is that it becomes a great way to introduce an significant, ongoing storyline that stretches beyond itself or its sequel.

Quite Good


Is quite good.

One thing I learnt. wizards do not do well in melee against other wizards in melee.

(Me and the enemy wizard had both used all our spells and were doing 1-2 damage every 2nd or so round. )

the colour sprayed and dominated fighter eventually recovered and we won.

Great Setting, Needs Tougher Fights


Many PFS scenarios make you feel as if you’re on a plotline railroad that only stops for scheduled encounters. Although the same could be argued for The Shadow Gambit, the players won’t notice it. Kaer Maga, the City of Strangers, is a very colorful and fascinating setting. To do this scenario justice, a prepared GM must have a copy of the Pathfinder Chronicles “City of Strangers” by James Sutter. Without it, Kaer Maga is like an unblossomed flower.

As for the scenario itself, the campaign setting flavor is excellent. Kaer Maga is nothing like any other city the Pathfinder Society scenarios have been set in. The combats are the largest let-down with this scenario, being way too easy on the players. Unless there’s a four-player table or playing up, most fights are pushovers. However, the real draw of this scenario is the plot and the exploration of the city. The players will enjoy themselves but there is a feeling like they’re sheltered or isolated from the real dangers of Kaer Maga. The Faction missions are OK and present some opportunity for humor. Sutter’s excellent companion to this scenario earns it an extra star.



Is about the only word to describe this mod. I both played and ran this mod at Origins 2010. The intrigue that feeds into part 2 is great. The story line and the NPCs spectacular. I can't wait for the successive parts to the series; in fact my warrior will not be leveled until this series is done!!

Interesting and fun


I played this scenario at Origins a couple of days ago and it was definitely my favorite of the con. I'm not sure how much detail to go into since it hasn't been released yet and doesn't have a description so I'll try to keep things as vague as possible.

The Shadow Gambit takes place in Kaer Maga in Varisia. It has a good mix of role-playing and some good fights. The first encounter is a bit perfunctory, but that's really the only complaint I have. After that our party spent a good deal of time travelling the city hunting down leads and several different individuals. Both encounters prior to the final one were interesting and rewarded us for using our brains. I heard of one party that went in aggressively and was wiped out, so just fair warning to think before you act.

The final fight in the opera house was fun. It wasn't quite as challenging as it was probably intended to be but I think that was due to the rather unorthodox tactics our group used and the way we took advantage of a couple of scrolls we picked up earlier in the adventure.

I also liked the way we were sort of drip fed hints about the organization behind the nefarious activity and the foreshadowing of things to come in the next chapter (which unfortunately I won't get to play until GenCon). Overall this was a well written scenario. It was well balanced and if you appreciate well thought out role-playing you'll like it.

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Announced! This is for Tier 1-7.

Dark Archive

Thea Peters you might want to add a rating to your review. :)

Scarab Sages

I like this set of scenarios a lot. My advice to those running this scenario is simple:

This advice and 10 cents won't buy you a cup of coffee:

Play Wymund in a cunning manner. Use the invisibility and have him summon monster as much as he can. Once he has spent his summons the party may actually have burnt through some of their healing. In this scenario the party will find a lot of healing.

Summon monster does not count as an attack and therefore does not cause the invisibility to drop.

If the party manages to find him, have him evade and go invisibile again if he can. In the higher Tiers, once the party gets him on the ropes don't wait too long to use the scroll of dimension door to have him move to a remote location within the theater and heal up for the final confrontation.

Once he is out of summons and healing, it becomes a straight up fight.

If you don't play him this way. Large parties can easily kill him in 2 rounds. My advice is to make him memorable, play him tough. You will also want to study the map and see the locations he might use for cover or where he could lure a single character to an isolated area for an ambush.

The attitude I give him is simple: He knows this theater better than the party and he would take full advantage of knowing the home turf.

Hope my experience is helpful. Cheers :-)

PS I have made counters for these scenarios and am happy to post them on the SCARAB Gaming Convention Forums if you would like.


Scarab Sages

Additional Info - What if the party splits up.

Be Prepared:

I have had a few parties split up at the initial climb up the Halflight path. They take the incognito thing seriously. It's not a major problem unless they specifically say that they want to be equally dispersed throughout the caravan.
If this happens it means that there would likely be only one of the characters caught in the isolated arm of the path. There are several different ways you can handle it.

    [1]Role-play it instead of roll-playing it. Reward their preparedness with all the gear from the bad guys.
    [2]Run the combat as is. Have the players dice off for which one is isolated and see what happens.
    [3]My preferred method is to have the players dice off and determine which one is caught in the trap and then provide the other players NPCs to play for the encounter. I like to use 1 Dusk Warden (Gahiji), 1 Merchant and the remainder Warrior guards for the merchant.

The cool thing about using the NPCs is that it gives the party some friends in the city right off the bat. You can use them to offer housing, information, assistance locating people, additional muscle if the party is under powered, etc.

Here are the NPCs I use at all levels.

Dusk Warden Gahiji
Male Human Ranger 3
N Medium Human (Garundi)
Init +2; Senses Perception +6
AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 13 (armor +3, Dex +2)
Hp 27 (3d10)
Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +1
Spd 30 ft.
Melee mwk longsword +6 (1d8+2)
Ranged mwk composite longbow (+2 strength) +7 (1d8+2) or mwk longbow (+2 strength) +5/+5 (1d8+2)
Special Attacks: favored enemy (+2 vs humans)
Str 14, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 10
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 17
Feats: Endurance, Rapid Shot, Skill Focus (Survival), Toughness, Track, Weapon Focus (longbow),
Skills: Climb +7, Handle Animal +6, Heal +6, Intimidate +5, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +6, Knowledge (geography) +6, Knowledge (nature) +6, Perception +6, Ride +7, Stealth +8, Survival +9, Swim +7
Languages: Common (Taldan), Osiriani, Kelish
SQ: Wild Empathy +3, Favored Terrain (desert)
Gear: potion cure light wounds (2), masterwork composite longbow (+2 strength), masterwork longsword, masterwork studded leather, quiver with 20 arrows (10 cold iron)

Male Human Aristocrat 3
N Medium Human
Init +1; Senses Perception +8
AC 14, touch 11, flat-footed 13 (armor +3, Dex +1)
Hp 20 (3d8)
Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +3
Spd 30 ft.
Melee mwk rapier +4 (1d6-1) 18-20/x2
Ranged mwk shortbow +4 (1d6) x3
Str 9, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 11
Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 12
Feats: Alertness, Persuasive, Weapon Finesse
Skills: Appraise +6, Bluff +4, Diplomacy +7, Intimidate +6, Knowledge (local) +6, Knowledge (nobility) +6, Linguistics +5, Perception +8, Profession (Merchant) +4, Sense Motive +6, Swim +4
Languages: Common (Taldan), ?, ?
Gear: potion cure light wounds (2), masterwork shortbow, masterwork rapier, masterwork studded leather, quiver with 20 arrows (10 silver)

Male Human Warrior 3
N Medium Human
Init +0; Senses Perception +2
AC 16, touch 10, flat-footed 16 (armor +4, shield +2)
Hp 27 (3d10+3)
Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +0
Spd 30 ft.
Melee mwk scimitar +6 (1d6+1) 18-20/x2
Ranged mwk light crossbow +4 (1d8) 19-20x2
Str 13, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 14
Feats: Quick Draw, Rapid Reload, Weapon Focus (scimitar)
Skills: Climb +4, Handle Animal +3, Intimidate +4, Perception +2, Ride +4, Swim +4
Languages: Common (Taldan), ?, ?
Gear: potion cure light wounds (1), masterwork crossbow, masterwork scimitar, masterwork chain shirt, heavy wooden shield, quiver with 10 bolts

Again, this has only happened to me a few times, but it is good to be prepared.

Hope this helps you to be better prepared.

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