Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-06: The Heresy of Man—Part I: The First Heresy (PFRPG) PDF

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

For more than 2 millennia, the nation of Rahadoum has lived under the Laws of Man that decreed "let no man be beholden to a god." While this has led to relative peace without religious strife, it has left the nation devoid of divine healing and magical methods to provide succor to those ravaged by disease or injury. When a new and mysterious plague begins ravaging the coastal villages of Rahadoum, you are sent by the Pathfinder Society to escort a cleric of Sarenrae into the heart of the plague in order to protect a secret Pathfinder research project. Getting there means smuggling the cleric in as contraband and when the Pure Legion, Rahadoum's defense against religion, get wind of your arrival, you must fight not only to protect the cleric, but to keep yourselves from being executed for violating the First Heresy.

The First Heresy is the first scenario in the The Heresy of Man campaign arc. Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-07: The Heresy of Man—Part II: Where Dark Things Sleep is the sequel.

Written by Greg A. Vaughan and Kevin Wright

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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Still don't know which heresy I committed.

**( )( )( )

(I played this under Magabeus, below.)

First off, I'm not very fond of asking for Profession checks in order to progress, I find people rarely have them so this is just a case of unnecessarily putting people in danger. However, at this tier, most people should have something to remedy this, so it's fine. I'm not docking points, especially since it lead to some fun roleplay, but I am noting it as a complaint.

Now that's out of the way, the scenario is pretty much okay. Not terribly exciting, and in fact most of it is pretty boring. There's a lot of combat in narrow walkways, which makes combat really boring for the people not being able to interact with the enemies, which is most of the party.

As for story, this trilogy is called "Heresy of Man," but I've experienced barely any lore pertaining to Rahadoum or the supposed heresy. Which is a bit of a disappointment. The twist of <spoiler>'s betrayal is interesting, but sadly fails to pay off.

In conclusion: combats are disappointing and the story is barely present. Regardless, it's not absolutely terrible, but there's definitely room for improvement.


Starts promising, but ends poorly

**( )( )( )

As one of the players at Magabeus’ table (read the review below) I echo his sentiments. The first part was amazing. It was easily the highlight of the session. From a mechanical perspective it is simple in design, yet rather effective. Not only that, but it also did a great job at setting the mood. The fact that our actions ended up making the whole ordeal hilarious, was a nice extra bonus.

Sadly the rest of the scenario didn’t age as well as the first part did. Like mentioned below, long five-foot-wide corridors don’t exactly make for riveting combat. Put the tankiest person in front and just shoot from a distance or just wait until combat is over. It’s not a lot of fun, even though the encounters are unique and require different tactics.

The biggest downside, to me, was the final encounter. I can understand it is the final encounter, but it didn’t feel like a proper end. I know this is only the first part of a series, but it still made me wonder if this really was it, or if we had missed something. The end sadly didn’t leave me satisfied. Still, it was enjoyable enough to make me want to see the other two parts.


5 Foot hell that did not age well

**( )( )( )

I GMed this in the standard campaign at low tier for a six person party.

Starting with a 3 score I adjust that for

+1: First act
I liked the first act. Making landfall at night in unknown surroundings should be tricky and it is. The party put 'the world's greatest archer' (an overconfident bard) at the helm of the boat and things started to go from bad to worse in a hilarious way. There was so much mocking going about that at one point the player asked to tone it down a bit.

-1: Five foot hell
I understand that it makes sense that hidden smuggler tunnels are not palace hallways and that 5 foot wide is already exaggerating the actual width these corridors would have. However this is a game and encounters in long straight corridors just aren't fun in my opinion.

-1: Encounter strength and aging
We are in a completely different point with PFS than were we were in season 2. This scenario was build for a 4 player team, without having access to all the options that appeared after that. Since the main actions are about combat it just did not age well. Do I hold that against the writer: not at all. However it is a thing to consider when one decides to run it in this season of PFS.


***( )( )


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Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Seeing this scenario reminded me of something I've pondered before. The powers that be of Rahadoum do not allow divine healing, but how do they feel about bardic healing? A bard's powers are arcane in nature. You'd think bards would be in demand in the Nation of Man.

I know it's probably been discussed in great length before, just sayin.


Great job getting these out on time!

Frog God Games

Boerngrim wrote:

Seeing this scenario reminded me of something I've pondered before. The powers that be of Rahadoum do not allow divine healing, but how do they feel about bardic healing? A bard's powers are arcane in nature. You'd think bards would be in demand in the Nation of Man.

I know it's probably been discussed in great length before, just sayin.

Bards are cool with the folk of Rahadoum. In fact they're quite popular for that special healing ability that they bring to the table.


Boerngrim wrote:

Seeing this scenario reminded me of something I've pondered before. The powers that be of Rahadoum do not allow divine healing, but how do they feel about bardic healing? A bard's powers are arcane in nature. You'd think bards would be in demand in the Nation of Man.

I know it's probably been discussed in great length before, just sayin.

The NPC guide describes a Rahadoum General, a very taciturn and stoic guy, who is a huge supporter of the arts: good, bad, and ugly, for the very reason of bardic healing. He wants to install a bard with each unit as medic and moral officer.

What I want to know is how witches, another arcane healing caster, would get along. On the pro side, not divine healing. On the con side, power comes from "pact" with other worldly powers and there is probably a historical/cultural prejudice against users of the "evil eye". If it were my game, I'd say there is an only occasionally enforced law against witchery, i.e., as long as it isn't practiced openly or as a religion, then that is okay, especially for "white witches".

Frog God Games

Rahadoum ackowledges the existence of outsiders and Powers, they just outlaw religion. If the witch is just practicing her witchcraft to herself she's probably fine. If she tries to establish a coven and start religious services, she's likely to have troubles. Clerics on the other hand are inherently tools of the gods and are therefore, outlawed for committing First Heresy. Not sure how it would work for druids, but probably something like witches--keep it to yourslef and you're probably fine.


I should probably pay more attention to the campaign setting's idea of an afterlife, but I'll ask here while I am away from material:

Members of society with no connection to a god - what's on tap for after death? I'll go dig around when I can.

Frog God Games

Mazym wrote:

I should probably pay more attention to the campaign setting's idea of an afterlife, but I'll ask here while I am away from material:

Members of society with no connection to a god - what's on tap for after death? I'll go dig around when I can.

If not swayed to a particular deity in Pharasma's Court, then the Graveyard of Souls. (The Great Beyond, p. 33)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Also, if the person in question was a particularly vehement atheist (read: not just "I don't care about Gods" but "Gods are a lie !"), there is a very special fate awaiting him/her. See the "Beyond the Vault of Souls" module.

Frog God Games

Swiftbrook just posted a review of this adventure that brought up a really good point. Apparently in the editing process, an important line was removed in the section on introductory information that is given to the PCs. As a result he and his group missed a major portion of the adventure due to a really good Perception check.

If you run this adventure, please insert the line below to avoid the possibility of having the same issue encountered by Swiftbrook.

@Swiftbrook: I'm sorry to hear that it wasn't a good experience for you and that I hadn't previously noticed the removal of that line of text, because I think it would have probably made a big difference for you (the scenario certainly would've made more sense that way).

Spoiler:
In the section where the PCs are questioning the venture-captain for further information before starting, it should say: (the mising line is in italics)

"What do we do once we’re in the tunnels? A sandy beach lies at the southern end of the cave. There You’ll be met
by Masur the Ill-favored, one of the bey’s servants. He’ll
guide you through the stronghold and provision you with
camels for the overland journey to Wadi al-Hesr.”

Again my apologies for the oversight in the final version that was released.

P.S.

Spoiler:
The Undiscovered Traitor boon is included because it highlights what is going on in the next two scenarios in the Heresy of Man trilogy where the PCs will have further opportunities to make the discovery. It's not a slap in the face, just a bit of ominous foreshadowing that hints at a big plot thread running throughout the series. Though I can see how it would seem harsh if only the first scenario was played.


My guess is that Swiftbrook probably had a bad GM. ;-)

Frog God Games

Well, I'm sure he was no "9-20s-roller". ;-)


Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
Well, I'm sure he was no "9-20s-roller". ;-)

Jealous? For what it's worth, before that mess was over, I actually switched dice with one of the players. :D

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think this is the "pick on Greg Vaughan" week. Coming up next: a zero-stars review of Scarwall, with the reviewer accusing GAV of not being able to sleep for 3 weeks after the game.

Dark Archive

Gorbacz wrote:
I think this is the "pick on Greg Vaughan" week. Coming up next: a zero-stars review of Scarwall, with the reviewer accusing GAV of not being able to sleep for 3 weeks after the game.

Every day for me is pick on Greg day. :)

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

The issue Swiftbrook raises in his review is interesting. I believe this is probably an isolated, or at least rare, occurrence, and a result of both luck and a PC with optimized Perception. It's unfortunate when encounters are bypassed, but it can happen in anything but the most linear of adventures and I don't think the scenario is such that the document requires any changes to be playable and enjoyable.

I think that Greg has sound advice on keeping players on the rails, however. The adventure makes several assumptions in terms of how PCs proceed from one encounter to the next in order to more effectively set up the final reveal, so a GM should urge them toward certain areas as much as possible. As it is, however, even adding this line to the scenario won't guarantee that PCs don't bypass this element of the adventure, as it can be noticed with a Perception check regardless of what PCs are told to do (by an NPC or the GM).

Any GMs with feedback on how this played out at your table or suggestions for getting PCs successfully from point A to point B are, as always, welcome.

Frog God Games

I agree with Mark, but in adding that line it will let the players know where they are supposed to be. They can certainly still locate the other option and proceed in that direction without checking out the first, but then it is a conscious choice to ignore the initial instruction or their own fault for missing the instruction completely.

I think they should be allowed to choose the second route if they want, but I also believe that the consequences are just. If you miss the contact because you chose your own route, you miss some of the rewards; if you miss the contact because you honestly didn't know which way to go, I agree with Swiftfoot that it isn't fair or fun.

I'd still include the line so the players have an idea of where to go (whether they choose to do so or not), but as Mark mentioned, a nudge here from the GM would be helpful as well.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

When I ran the scenario, one of the PCs spotted the old tunnel on the way in. When she examined the entrance, I advised her that the passage appeared neglected, its masonry decayed and crumbling. The party rowed on to the landing that showed signs of recent use.

Frog God Games

Sir_Wulf wrote:
When I ran the scenario, one of the PCs spotted the old tunnel on the way in. When she examined the entrance, I advised her that the passage appeared neglected, its masonry decayed and crumbling. The party rowed on to the landing that showed signs of recent use.

That's an excellent example of a good GM nudge.

Grand Lodge

Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
Sir_Wulf wrote:
When I ran the scenario, one of the PCs spotted the old tunnel on the way in. When she examined the entrance, I advised her that the passage appeared neglected, its masonry decayed and crumbling. The party rowed on to the landing that showed signs of recent use.
That's an excellent example of a good GM nudge.

I ran this last night. The group spotted the other passage and began to investigate even after seeing the beach (I did use the added beach language in the description).

After setting off the first encounter, a certain nameless NPC reminded the party they were supposed to be meeting a contact and that this did not seem the right way to be headed.

Nathan
NYC


Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
If you run this adventure, please insert the line below to avoid the possibility of having the same issue encountered by Swiftbrook.

I think that if that language had been read to us, we would have explored the cave first.

Mark Moreland wrote:
The issue Swiftbrook raises in his review is interesting. I believe this is probably an isolated, or at least rare, occurrence, and a result of both luck and a PC with optimized Perception.

I think I rolled a 18 or 19 for to spot the tunnel. Yes my character has a good perception score. 5th level Elf Ranger. Perception is what a ranger is suppose to do. It's not a min/max build and I don't have any magic items, feats (like Alertness) or traits that pump up my perception. So 5 ranks (+5), class skill (+3), Elf (+2) and Wisdom (+1) for a total of +11. It's only +3 more than any classes maxed out skill. I wouldn't call that 'optimized', it's in the ballpark of a good score. That said, I also played TDWK 3 & 4 against my favored enemy (+4) in my favored terrain (+2) and rolled 10+ every time. A +17 modifier is different story.

As for the boon, I think there is enough information in the positive boon as to foreshadowing if it is just crossed off. Also, we didn't learn anything in the adventure about either the positive or negative boon. It might be better to have two chronicle sheets, one with the boon for those that get it and one blank for those that don't learn anything about it, like our group. But that just an ideas and is also extra paperwork.

Thanks for listening

-Swiftbrook
Just My Thougths

Dark Archive

I read the adventure, while the added line Greg mentions would be more clear. I found it really clear anyways. As a GM there are obvious ways to nudge the players the correct way. Natertot's example is as a GM how I would have handled it as well and the first thing that came to mind. So in swifts review I think that failing is mostly on the GM honestly.

Now for the second part, yes for some parties I could see that being a very dangerous fight, if they have no way to counter the issue Swift brought up. For the low tier it is more likely of a issue. With the higher tier I don't think it would be much of a problem.

Other than those two parts which are the two Swift brought up in his/her review. I didn't see any problems with the adventure.

Anyways over the weekend I will try and do a full review. Of this and part two.

Dark Archive

And reviewed.

Frog God Games

Thanks, DM! An excellent and thorough review, as always.


Rubbish! Utter rubbish!


Greg A. Vaughn (TPKer) wrote:
Thanks, DM! An excellent and thorough review, as always.
Heresy of Spam wrote:
Rubbish! Utter rubbish!

FYI/FWIW: Greg A. Vaughn = Heresy of Spam

:-P

-Swiftbrook


I have a question about what this adventure portends for the campaign.

Spoiler:
I found the haunt encounter noteworthy. If you fail your Will save and fall asleep, you might just be dead without any other rolls (if a swarm damages you and no other PCs hauls your head up out of the water before the start of your turn, you just die at the start of your turn).

I don't think this is technically unfair, as plenty of failed saves in the game can just kill you outright, at any level. At least this trap has the ability for you to get some healing, or get your head raised above water, or not have the swarm damage you, preventing an automatic start-of-turn death. In fact, our party didn't have anyone die from this trap.

However, it seems that the two Heresy of Man adventures both have traps intended to be lethal (here, the haunt reliant upon drowing rules; there, the much-discussed "seal you in the tomb until you die or kill everything" sliding wall). I noticed that both also have opponents that stack templates on top of levels on top of environmental effects in a way intended to squeeze every possible advantage out of an EL. Pathfinder Society adventures haven't done a lot of this until now.

In short, both of the Heresy of Man adventures seem much more oriented as "PC Killers" than other Pathfinder Society adventures I've played. They are also the most recently-released Pathfinder Society adventures I've played. Does this mean that all Season 2 adventures are "stepping it up a notch" as far as adventure lethality, or is it just isolated to the authors of this series?

Not saying that "stepping it up a notch" is bad or unwelcome, but it would change my play style so I thought I would ask.


Dr. Welby-

As one of the authors of the adventure, I can tell you that there was no plan by either the authors or the editor to step it up a notch.

It was simple: Greg said, "Kevin J., here is the overarching plot and the adventure's level. Now write me some encounters, boy, write!" And I did. Primarily because of my love of the game but partially because he was holding a beat-stick.

On the encounter you referenced, I was just trying to make that particular type of encounter interesting and challenging. I'd never used that particular thing before and wanted it to be more than just a one-shot spell-effect.

I'm glad your party handled it well, and I hope you all enjoyed it. Danger does add some spice, doesn't it?

KJW


Barbarossa wrote:

I'm glad your party handled it well, and I hope you all enjoyed it. Danger does add some spice, doesn't it?

KJW

True, and we also benefited from having a good judge that was well-prepared.


Oh man, good GMs are worth their weight in platinum, aren't they? We've probably all had good and bad experiences with the folks running the game; good GMs can make even a mediocre adventure into a fantastic thrill-ride of escapism. Bad GMs can ruin even the best adventure. The people who pour their time and creativity, good humor and discernment into a gaming session just can't be beat.


WelbyBumpus wrote:
we also benefited from having a good judge that was well-prepared.

Nonsense. ;-)

Dark Archive

Well it has been updated and seems to fix all the small problems the adventure had before.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

We have updated the Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-06: The Heresy of Man—Part I: The First Heresy (PFRPG) PDF. The changes are as follows:


  • Middle initial "J." removed from all instances of Kevin Wright's name.
  • Adventure intro read-aloud text and question responses now emphasize the PCs' need to meet an NPC on the beach in the sea caves.
  • The Perception DC to notice the hidden sea cave in area 2a has been raised.
  • Section 2g now includes an additional paragraph to get PCs back on track should they skip the other wing of the dungeon.
  • The creatures section of area 2m has been reworded to ensure that there are enemies present regardless of the PCs' prior actions.
  • The "Undiscovered Traitor" boon has been removed from the Chronicle sheet.
  • A scenario reporting sheet has been added to the document.

Silver Crusade

The next to last combat poses an interesting dilema. I don't want to give too much away in case someone hasn't played it yet, but there is an ability that is at will with the creature that makes him basically broken. This is because the result of the ability hampers the PC's horribly and some of these people are coming to the convention where i am running this game from a long way away. I could very easily do a total TPK. What would some of you more experienced GMs do, play it totally by the book, or fudge a little


SKROG2 wrote:
The next to last combat poses an interesting dilema. I don't want to give too much away in case someone hasn't played it yet, but there is an ability that is at will with the creature that makes him basically broken. This is because the result of the ability hampers the PC's horribly and some of these people are coming to the convention where i am running this game from a long way away. I could very easily do a total TPK. What would some of you more experienced GMs do, play it totally by the book, or fudge a little

Check out the Pathfinder Society subforum for a thread specifically about this scenario.

What you need to do is revise how you're handling daylight vs. deeper darkness. Unless the guy in question readies to cast DD as a counterspell or actually touches the same object the PCs cast daylight on, the effective result is normal lighting conditions (where torches and stuff work fine) no matter how many times he casts it.

If the PCs don't have daylight this is a very deadly encounter.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

That encounter can be very challenging, but there are several ways that a party can deal with it. Take a look at the PFS thread on the topic and when you run the scenario, encourage your players' creativity. They'll likely surprise you!

Silver Crusade

Thanks for all the helpful advice, the subforums really helped me figure this out. Now I hope the party I am running for has a cleric with daylight or cont flame memorized, lol, if not this may be a horrible encounter for them. Now I have another dilema I would like to ask more experienced GMs......This is being run at a convention where there are people coming from miles away, some a couple of hundred. There is a real chance that unless they have a cleric with these counter spells, or a barbarian with the scent ability, that I could very easily kill the entire party. WE are running all three modules at our convention, so I am wondering if it looks like there is going to be a TPK what would you guys do in that situation.


SKROG2 wrote:
Thanks for all the helpful advice, the subforums really helped me figure this out. Now I hope the party I am running for has a cleric with daylight or cont flame memorized, lol, if not this may be a horrible encounter for them. Now I have another dilema I would like to ask more experienced GMs......This is being run at a convention where there are people coming from miles away, some a couple of hundred. There is a real chance that unless they have a cleric with these counter spells, or a barbarian with the scent ability, that I could very easily kill the entire party. WE are running all three modules at our convention, so I am wondering if it looks like there is going to be a TPK what would you guys do in that situation.

That's the second time you've referenced more experienced GM's. Did I not qualify?

All three parts of this series have a real chance of TPK'ing if the party isn't well prepared or well balanced. Here's some advice from someone who's run them all several times in convention settings no less...

1) Warn the party that this series is difficult. If they're just hitting 5th or 6th level, there's a good chance they haven't played tier 5-9 scenarios before. Warn them of the difference.
2) Encourage the party to play within their "real" tier. If they have the option of playing up or down, ask them to seriously consider not playing up.
3) Encourage them to purchase extra expendables. It's worth spending a few PA or extra gold on some nice wands, potions, and scrolls. Everyone should have a "get out of jail" item like a potion of gaseous form.
4) After all this, don't hold back. Pulling punches does them no good and sets them up for bigger disappointment later. They're "big kids" now at these levels. If they can't deal with common 2nd and 3rd level spells (depending on which part they're playing in), these may serve as a chance to learn
5) Roll out in the open. Don't let there be any question that you're fudging dice, especially if there's a real chance for a PC death.
6) Stick with the designed tactics as best as possible. Obviously if the PC's throw a major curve ball you'll need to adapt, but by sticking with the scenario as written, the players, yourself, and the organized campaign will be better served by your experience running/playing these scenarios.
7) Don't be a jerk. :-) PC Death is never funny* and should be treated seriously.

*unless it's Dragnmoon, BobBob, CatBunnyGnome, Pain, or me.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

SKROG2 wrote:
There is a real chance that unless they have a cleric with these counter spells, or a barbarian with the scent ability, that I could very easily kill the entire party. We are running all three modules at our convention, so I am wondering if it looks like there is going to be a TPK what would you guys do in that situation?

Make sure that they understand going in that these scenarios can be brutal. I wouldn't worry about wiping out the party: There are other ways for a group to survive.

Spoiler:
For instance, in the encounter that has you concerned, one might summon monsters with helpful abilities, wildshape into something appropriate, dispel magic (and not give the villain the chance to cast deeper darkness again), or somehow get a blanket or cloak over the object radiating the darkness.

I've played this one once and run it twice. Each battle was tense, but I haven't had a TPK yet. None of the groups had daylight, so I know that scene can be beaten through creative means.

If worse comes to worse, the survivors can always flee, flying, boating, or climbing the cliffs to escape the area.


I played this at Games Expo UK came close to being killed in that encounter..thankfully we had an Eidolon with scent and a summoned dire bat that basically hemmed in the bad guy and forced him to stand and fight..throw in a summoned earth elemental and voila..

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Kyle Baird wrote:

7) Don't be a jerk. :-) PC Death is never funny* and should be treated seriously.

*unless it's Dragnmoon, BobBob, CatBunnyGnome, Pain, or me.

I agree with this, this is the only time death is funny..;)

Though I am not sure Pain would take it well ;)

Silver Crusade

Lol I was including all of you as far as experienced Gms go, I am looking forward to running this and seeing how they deal with this encounter. This will be my 6th gm running of organized play events but hopefully I will be able to get more involved down the line. Thanks for all of the advice it will make the scenario run much smoother. I'll check in and let you guys know how it went. By the way, I almost died in this encounter as well, but my half orc barbarian had the scent ability so that helped out tremendously, that and having a high fortitude save lol

Later guys and gals and thanks

Chris Blaylock aka Big Mook akd Mookie

Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Silver Crusade

The Con was a great sucess, the party had a paladin with detect evil, a melee barbarian, and a melee rogue.......they handled it pretty easy.....as with everything they made their miss chance rolls, so it was pretty much over rather quickly, the barbarian was usiing a great sword and the paladin used smite evil. All in all they showed great teamwork so I was impressed and they seemed to enjoy it. Once again, thank you guys so much for all the advice, the mod went really smooth.

Big Mook

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