Pathfinder Society Scenario #52: The City of Strangers—Part II: The Twofold Demise (PFRPG) PDF

***½( ) (based on 13 ratings)

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

A powerful local gang in Kaer Maga demands that you end the threat of the Shadow Lodge at once as the Lodge's very existence upsets the delicate local balance of power. Refusal means both the expulsion of the Pathfinder Society from Kaer Maga forever and your untimely deaths. The choice is yours.

The Twofold Demise is the second and final scenario in the The City of Strangers campaign arc and is the sequel to Pathfinder Society Scenario #51: The City of Strangers—Part I: The Shadow Gambit.

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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***½( ) (based on 13 ratings)

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***( )( )


Good combats compensate for disappointing story.

***( )( )

(I GMed this at tier 3-4.)

Kaer Maga is a great place. Too bad the adventure surrounding it falls a bit flat. My main problem is the fact that there isn't any story here. The end result is "there's more somewhere else," which isn't a great way to conclude a two-parter.

The investigation at the start doesn't start off well. The locals don't know much and is basically an exercise in futility until a random amount of time has passed. There's a bit of sandbox here, but on the GM side, you don't get much to go on. There's the same people you find in the first bit, but now without a fun bit of dialogue. This part is futile and is better off skipped unless you can find a cool tie-in. The next location is also pretty much story-free, with the exception of a few hints for future scenarios.

The combats were pretty great. The first fight fell a bit flat due to poor build rules and generally underwhelming builds (and exceptionally poor rolls on my part), but the other fights were quite a challenge for the party, including a quite interesting build in the middle. Too bad this season still thinks there's a party of four, so combats were still over in a few rounds, as the enemies simply didn't have the action economy, but it's good to see they still offered quite a challenge.

In the end, Kaer Maga felt like a bit of a waste. This adventure could've taken place anywhere else. It's a shame colourful Kaer Maga was chosen, as it could've added so much to the flavour of the scenario. Still, a decent scenario. It started off quite rough, but I think the challenge compensated for it. No necessarily a recommendation, but I've certainly played worse.


Poor Investigation, Decent Dungeon Crawl

**( )( )( )

This scenario starts out poorly: after defeating the Shadow Lodge in the first part, it turns out there'a second Lodge in town that you also have to defeat. And again, nobody in town has any information whatsoever. The crime lord who sends you doesn't know; divination and gather info don't work; you meet the same colorful NPCs who didn't know anything in the first part, and they still don't know anything. After spending enough time with zero results, you get ambushed in town by the very Lodge you're unable to find. After a remarkably easy combat, you learn where their lair is, and at this point you get into a dungeon crawl to defeat the leader again.

The dungeon is decent enough, no criticism there. The problem is that these two scenarios require a fixed number of checks to trigger the next encounter, but the checks themselves (diplo talking to NPCs) give zero information and aren't related to the overall outcome. It's like those old adventure games where giving a flower to the girl in town makes a potion appear on a faraway island for no discernible reason, and it was annoying then as well. This is really not a constructive way to write an RPG scenario.

Another odd thing is that you get your mission from a local crime lord (instead of the Venture Captains) who demands bloody murder with no other option. The Silver Crusade mission is also an assassination again. Thankfully you don't get penalized for not killing the opposition, but still, for a number of people it would be in character to just say "no" to the crime lord and skip the entire scenario.

Overall this scenario is better than the first, but still not really recommendable. However, there are some good opportunities for roleplaying, and Kaer Maga is worth visiting again.


The awkwardness continues

***( )( )

In my review of part 1 I mentioned how it is essentially investigation-based railroad with a lot of role-play opportunity. The same can be said for part 2.

Once more I found myself GM'ing a scenario that offers a lot of freedom during the information gathering portion. The sheer amount of unique NPC's are a veritable treasure trove and the players loved talking to them. As characters, they loved it, but as players they really disliked the fact that all their clever talks more or less were leading to nothing. Once more the railroad struck again. Perhaps I should have improvised a bit better, but the whole 'roll the same check multiple times even though it doesn't matter' just didn't sit well with them, nor with me for that matter.

Luckily there were also combats. Now, the fight was supposed to be challenging turned out to be a joke. I'm sorry, but a 5 hp cleric at low tier is not going to do much. I'm surprised that she was left standing after 5D6 of damage were rolled and then halved due to successfully rolling a Will Save. That itself was a miracle. That said, the whole 'lodge' section of the story was a nice change of pace with a variety of fun fights. The scorpion was really scary and I do not have to explain why goblins can be hilarious.

Overall I rate it higher than part 1, say a 3.5 instead of a 3, but it still has its awkward moments where it struggles on a mechanical level. Some encounters feel outdated and a group of 6 players should not really struggle. Still it has its moments and it is certainly not tedious or boring. I can only recommend GM's to prepare some things to smooth out the storyline in case the investigation part isn't exactly what your party enjoys doing. Tossing some extra clues to visit certain areas of the city and forcing them to narrow it down might help players enjoy and appreciate the first part of the scenario just that little bit more.


A nice balance to Part 1

****( )

GM'd, not played.

The Good:

*The NPCs are fabulous. The GM should really get into their performance here.
*The incidental magic item. The bags with Silence cast on them were really useful, and the PCs bargained for the use of some during the scenario, functioning as (single-use) gun silencers as well as temporary disruptive PC 'time outs'. I would have loved to see the bags on the chronicle sheet!
*The Prison is well laid out, and the Troll was enjoyably tough!

The Bad:

*Depending on the party makeup, the investigation can drag a bit.
*It could be easy to offensively overplay some of the more memorable NPCs.
*If the party mix doesn't include a tank, the Troll can be a big problem.


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Announced! This is for Tier 1-7.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

On page 24, did the Taldor Faction Mission get left out? The handout makes the mission very clear, but unless I'm seeing things weird on my PDF, it looks like Taldor is missing.

This looks like a really fun scenario. I just ran the first part for my home group tonight, and I think I'm gonna have a ball with this one once I get back from GenCon.


Taldor is on the bottom of page 26.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Yeah, the handout is there, I was just talking about the text that lays out what the players get the PA points for leading into the handouts.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm afraid that just means Taldor players receive no Prestige for this scenario.

Darn. ;)

Scarab Sages

I like this set of scenarios a lot. I have run them many times. They are very challenging and you can spend a great deal of time role-playing and it has some interesting bad guys. This is a dangerous and difficult scenario and I have had parties struggle to complete it, so take the modifications below with a grain of salt and decide for yourself if they are right for your group.

Scenario gothchas that you will want to clarify or at least be aware of and possibly spend some extra time on:

Problem #1 – Todor Spell Book

This scenario has a great opportunity to help an up and coming wizard and falls short. The evoker Todor Mozes has no spell book, not on his person nor back at the HQ. It says he is crazy, so maybe he forgot it somewhere, but that seems unlikely. That shortfall needs correction, for two reasons:

1. Todor has an arcane bond: wand, and according to the text it has not been triggered for the day. It is important to know what is in his spell book to know what options are available to help in the battle.

2. Finding the spell book gives party wizards an opportunity to learn spells for their spell book. Even if only one spell, it is important to throw the players simple, minor rewards when the opportunity presents itself.

Here are the open slots and my corrections to this problem. Feel free to make your own solution or just leave it the way it is.

What if he is captured: If captured and questioned about the spell book’s absence on his person he would reveal its location to his captors in exchange for his freedom.

Where is it and what is in it: Todor left his spell book back at the HQ (prison room #7 which is where the Shadow Lodge members have been staying) and it has the following spells in it (Modify as you deem necessary):

Tier 1-2:
0-Level

All
1st-Level
(open slot) Cause Fear
(open slot) Disguise Self
Magic Missile
(open slot) Shield
Shocking Grasp

Tier 3-4
0-Level

All
1st-Level
(open slot) Cause Fear
(open slot) Protection from Good
(open slot) Disguise Self
(open slot) Floating Disk
Magic Missile
(open slot) Shield
Shocking Grasp

Tier 6-7
0-Level

All
1st-Level
(open slot) Cause Fear
(open slot) Protection from Good
(open slot) Disguise Self
(open slot) Floating Disk
Magic Missile
(open slot) Shield
Shocking Grasp

2nd-Level
Flaming Sphere
(open slot) Gust of Wind
(open slot) Protection from Arrows
Scorching Ray

3rd-Level
Fireball
Lightning Bolt

Why not put mage armor in the book? Apparently he may not have it as he cast it from scroll before the fight. You could make the assumption that he does have it but loaded up with attack spells for the day knowing that he was going into combat. However, if that were the case I would simply have him cast that spell from the wand and not use up the scroll. Seems like a reasonable assumption if you like.

If he didn’t have mage armor, why would he have shield. He might not, it is reasonable to judge that since he doesn’t have one that he doesn’t have the other. However, I would argue that every Evoker knows the benefit of shield and would have it in their spell book. If he has shield wouldn’t he use it pre-combat? Yes he would and I have him cast it from the wand either before combat or during the surprise round.

Why not invisibility? Again, he is loaded with potions for this so it seems reasonable to assume that he may not have it.

Problem #2 – Prison Perception
The base DC for hearing combat is -10. So you will need to decide how you want to handle combat in areas 1-3. In area 3 the baddies in area 7 (Tier 1-2: +5 Perception; Tier 3-4: +7 Perception; Tier 6-7: +10 Perception) are very likely to hear any combat in this area. That being the case you are going to have to decide what would Guarin do if he detects the sounds of combat coming from the hallway or the courtyard.

When I run this scenario, it gets very nasty and deadly real quick at this point. If Guarin is alerted to enemy presence within the prison he sends Kanna to alert Kormiggon and return as quickly as possible, takes two to three rounds roughly. Once alerted Kormiggon releases the golbins from the cell block and waits behind his desk as the Tactics dictate.

Hope my experience with this scenario is helpful to you. Cheers :-)

Scarab Sages

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 GAMING CONVENTION

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