Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-07: The Heresy of Man—Part II: Where Dark Things Sleep (PFRPG) PDF

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

When a Pathfinder team in the godless nation of Rahadoum disappears, the Pathfinder Society sends the PCs to investigate. Deep beneath the sands of the small village of Wadi al-Hesr, a long imprisoned evil—responsible in part for the destruction of an ancient empire—now stirs and threatens the entire region with a deadly plague. Can the Pathfinders survive a sinister game of cat-and-mouse and escape with their lives?

Where Dark Things Sleep is the second scenario in the The Heresy of Man campaign arc. It is the sequel to Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-06: The Heresy of Man—Part I: The First Heresy and is followed by Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-09: The Heresy of Man—Part III: Beneath Forgotten Sands.

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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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

PZOPSS0207E


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About Right

3/5


Tomb Raiders with a mission

4/5

GMed Low Tier

The adventure is scenic and quite atmospheric so the GM has an opportunity to freak out the PCs with a really well thought out dungeon.
The boss fight, if GMed properly and if PCs do not take care to prep well, can be really dangerous.

A few glitches:
GM has to fill in at the beginning of the story. My players went to ask around the nearby village that's not fleshed out.
Also, backstory is not very apparent so it will also need to be brought out by the GM.


Fun, but needs a very creative GM

3/5

***Note that I do not offer a review of Heresy of Man Part I as I merely played in it and have neither read nor run it. As such I don’t feel qualified to review it. That being said, we had A LOT of fun playing it. ***

Heresy of Man Part II for the player is a rather straight-forward smash and grab dungeon crawl. It does have some great encounters, interesting descriptions, and fun puzzles. As part of the series, it is a fun, and integral episode, but it suffers from the curse of the “bridge” installment.
The major downside is that the Background to the adventure is a tad confusing with all of the names, historic events and the like. Further, if you are searching for more about the background in the Inner Sea Guide, don’t look in the Rahadoum entry (where the adventure is set) look into Thuvia—there you’ll find it, and it will make things a bit more clear.

Thus, the adventure suffers from something that other Society mods suffer from—the lack of player/character knowledge into the Background of the adventure. Without that, the adventure loses some of the intrigue and detail and would make this much less of a dungeon crawl. As a player, I would think this mod was simply a series of random encounters occurring during a rescue mission. The “goal” of the mod is the key to Part III; however, the characters don’t know this, and therefore might leave at the end with a sort of empty feeling.

I would recommend it, but only to the GM with the time and energy to add in some more background for the players to discover and a compelling reason for them to continue beyond room two.


Mostly disappointing

2/5

First the disclaimer, this adventure was my first ever PFS character death and (near) TPK so that certainly colors my opinion.

The railroad tracks on dungeon crawl are obvious and clichéd. The introduction makes it sound like this is a problem solving/ mystery type adventure but then once you solve one fairly mundane puzzle or make a skill check all the discovery is over. For the rest of the adventure there is no question what you were doing next because there was only one way to proceed through a gauntlet of puzzles and contrived feeling challenges.

The story here is largely absent which is quite disappointing since part one was interesting and hinted that the second and third parts of the adventure would be tied in. There are some slim additional ties but in the GMs flavor text but as players we were left wondering why they bothered to call it part II. You can certainly play this without having played part I or even out of order if you change the names of a couple NPCs.

The creatures felt... metagamed. Like they were built to maximize how nasty they were per CR rather than around an interesting concept and it took a fairly high DC check for a characters to figure out their 'gimmick' which in our case wound up killing our party since we were had no clue what the creature was or what it's vulnerabilities were.

The only reason I rated it two stars is because I thought the riddles and puzzle were fairly interesting which is pretty rare for me.


Clever, detailed, and thrilling!

5/5

The regular scuttlebutt has missed the best nuances of this adventure. The attention to detail provided by a keen and experienced author provides context, color, and strategic insight for the GM that create a well rounded experience. The battle tactics of Verdizaam Charad in particular are delightfully wicked.

That said, if you were looking for an scenario that plays itself like a choose your own adventure novel, filled with hollow thrills that fail to create genuine risk, look elsewhere.

In my experience, the best moments of the game are the ones that always push the limits of your party. If the adventure was not written to give the GM the ability to do this, then the adventure will fail to entertain. Simply put, there is no reward without genuine risk.

Good show Vaughan, good show! Keep 'em coming.


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Grand Lodge

hogarth wrote:
I hope that's not true (that he decided to write an extra-tough module because someone accused him of writing easy modules). I hate wild variations in difficulty among PFS scenarios.

When you discount the humour in his article (or what passes for humour in Oklahoma), it actually makes sense that a writer would raise the difficulty when he receives feedback that an earlier adventure was too easy.


Scribbling Rambler wrote:
When you discount the humour in his article (or what passes for humour in Oklahoma), it actually makes sense that a writer would raise the difficulty when he receives feedback that an earlier adventure was too easy.

I guess I just found the "humour" to be a turn-off. To me, a module that's much more difficult than usual is just as much of a design flaw as a module that's much easier than usual.

I won't judge the module itself until I play it, but hearing the author crow about how deadly it is makes it less likely for me to seek it out.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Since PFS scenarios are written to a particular formula, there’s not a ton of things an adventure writer can do to increase difficulty over a particular limit. That said, I believe the wildly different groups of PCs going through these scenarios result in the different outcomes in play.

Edit: I haven't read or played this scenario, so I have no idea what kind of purulent swill Mr. Vaughan has splashed across the page. ;)

Dark Archive

GeraintElberion wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
snip

DM, you're the gold standard for reviews. I always read your reviews and have parted with cash on your recommendation many times.

Everyone looking at this thread needs to read Vaughan's KQ article.

*adds GeraintElberion to the crazy list* Yeah which I find hard to wrap my head around. If people haven't figured out. i am not really a fan of my own reviews, I think they are mediocre at best.

Having read the article i have to agree... i think Greg has gone all soft and mushy like a big melty marshmallow. Or some girly girl watching Fried Green Tomato's. :)

Dark Archive

Kyle Baird wrote:
For a bit of irony, I was the one who told Greg at Gen Con that his part of the Everwar Series was the easiest and provided no real challenge to PCs. And if you missed it, I was the GM for both reviews...

Really? you was the GM in question. Now I feel a little bad at my review. :(

Frog God Games

hogarth wrote:
I guess I just found the "humour" to be a turn-off.

You wouldn't be the first.

The Exchange

Dark_Mistress wrote:


*adds GeraintElberion to the crazy list* Yeah which I find hard to wrap my head around. If people haven't figured out. i am not really a fan of my own reviews, I think they are mediocre at best.

Add me to the crazy list. I buy whatever you favorably review. You should start doing reviews on the product reviews you've done. Dark_Mistress reviews Dark_Mistress's review of Four Winds Fantasy's "Player's Aid III: Nature's Ally Summoning Cards"

-ONE STAR-

Dark Archive

Doug Miles wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:


*adds GeraintElberion to the crazy list* Yeah which I find hard to wrap my head around. If people haven't figured out. i am not really a fan of my own reviews, I think they are mediocre at best.

Add me to the crazy list. I buy whatever you favorably review. You should start doing reviews on the product reviews you've done. Dark_Mistress reviews Dark_Mistress's review of Four Winds Fantasy's "Player's Aid III: Nature's Ally Summoning Cards"

-ONE STAR-

*adds to crazy list*

you just make my head hurt. But yes I really don't like my reviews. I think they don't give enough information and are to basised by my own views and likes.

But apparently crazy people like them and apparently most people are crazy. So I guess it all works out in the end.


Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Ok. I just finished playing this scenario a couple of hours ago and it is a very challenging scenario, and it was close to being a TPK. I will admit that at the time, I was a little frustrated, because we had nothing to negate the final boss' advantage. A very luck die roll turned things to our advantage allowing us to avoid what I was afraid would be a TPK.

But now looking back on it, I have to say it was brutally challenging for us for a couple of reasons:

1. We had gotten used to scenarios that often were not this challenging.
2. We were not a balanced table; we had no arcane caster. Unfortunately, this can happen at a Con. Talking to people who had played this with arcane casters, many of them found the final encounter to be much easier.
3. There were a number of ways to defeat the final encounter, we were just unlucky to have none of those resources/options. That is just the bad luck of table mixes at a con. I did pick up some items to help with similar situations in the future.

Looking back at the challenge, I can also now say it was exciting and put some of that old fear and uncertainty back in the game and will future scenarios more exciting, because I have been reminded that my PC can die.

I do have one recommendation for the staff:
If you have a scenario, like this and Azlant Ridge that are potentially more lethal, or if you have a scenario that is more of a role playing scenario; identify this in the blurb. When you have scenarios at these extremes, it may not appeal to all players so identifying it may avoid some frustration.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Phil Tobin wrote:

I do have one recommendation for the staff:

If you have a scenario, like this and Azlant Ridge that are potentially more lethal, or if you have a scenario that is more of a role playing scenario; identify this in the blurb. When you have scenarios at these extremes, it may not appeal to all players so identifying it may avoid some frustration.

Thanks for the suggestion and feedback, Phil. I'll keep that in mind when writing up future blurbs.

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Dark_Mistress wrote:

you just make my head hurt. But yes I really don't like my reviews. I think they don't give enough information and are to basised by my own views and likes.

But apparently crazy people like them and apparently most people are crazy. So I guess it all works out in the end.

I like to read your reviews as a good preview of the content of a product.

Most people are a little crazy. hehe


Phil Tobin wrote:


I do have one recommendation for the staff:
If you have a scenario, like this and Azlant Ridge that are potentially more lethal, or if you have a scenario that is more of a role playing scenario; identify this in the blurb. When you have scenarios at these extremes, it may not appeal to all players so identifying it may avoid some frustration.

My preference would be to try to avoid adventures at the extremes of difficulty altogether, but this is a reasonable alternative.


Phil Tobin wrote:
Stuff...

Another one of my tables. :-) Glad to see you had fun Phil.

Spoiler:

The lucky die roll came from the party splitting up after the sun cleric was dropped to about -30 hit points. The rogue and paladin raced past the curtain to see if there was anything that would save the party.

Long story short, they encountered the sphinx, solved the riddle while the party's monk was busy dragging around an unconcious horizan walker and dodging invisible claws.

Now indebted to the party, the sphinx agreed to assist the party by using her once per day dispel magic against Verdizaam who was now charging down the hallway at the party. I rolled the check. 18 on the die. Goodbye greater invis. Hello smite evil.

The Exchange

Quick suggestion--maybe the folks who HAVE played this module should go drop a fast review on the product page. I think an insightful review like Phil Tobin's above would be a lot more useful than "ow, I died, one star".

On another note, this is a freaking RPG. If it's easy all the time, why even bother playing? Being close to death (or a splat on the floor), THOSE are the moments you remember playing. Who cares about coming into a room, whacking a skeleton the head twice with a mace, and taking his loots? Ending a boss fight with two unconscious party members, no more healing potions, and everyone with less than half HP, that's the kind of stuff that gets some of our blood flowing. TPKs are just part of the game, and 9 natural 20s on a bite/claw/claw is gonna hurt no matter WHO you are.

One other thing--the famously "best" classic modules are usually notoriously difficult, without danger, there's no excitement.

Dark Archive

Reviewed.

71gamer - and my review is a bit more indepth. :)


Dark_Mistress wrote:

Reviewed.

71gamer - and my review is a bit more indepth. :)

71gamer was asking for people who have actually played the adventure to review it (not to denigrate your reviewing skills, of course).

Dark Archive

hogarth wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:

Reviewed.

71gamer - and my review is a bit more indepth. :)

71gamer was asking for people who have actually played the adventure to review it (not to denigrate your reviewing skills, of course).

Thats ok denigrate away. I think people think way to much of my reviews as is. :)


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Phil Tobin wrote:

I do have one recommendation for the staff:

If you have a scenario, like this and Azlant Ridge that are potentially more lethal, or if you have a scenario that is more of a role playing scenario; identify this in the blurb. When you have scenarios at these extremes, it may not appeal to all players so identifying it may avoid some frustration.

IMO, this is why we have GMs. But I suppose it would help folks who just see it for the first and are running it cold. But you will have the same sorts of problems no matter what you run if you are running it cold.


Elorebaen wrote:
Phil Tobin wrote:

I do have one recommendation for the staff:

If you have a scenario, like this and Azlant Ridge that are potentially more lethal, or if you have a scenario that is more of a role playing scenario; identify this in the blurb. When you have scenarios at these extremes, it may not appeal to all players so identifying it may avoid some frustration.
IMO, this is why we have GMs. But I suppose it would help folks who just see it for the first and are running it cold. But you will have the same sorts of problems no matter what you run if you are running it cold.

My point is that while some players enjoy variety in the types of RPG experiences, some players have a definite preference. If you include a quick statement like "A role playing scenario that..." then those players who don't like those types of scenarios will skip them and they will avoid frustration." Likewise for particularly lethal scenarios. There are some scenarios that may be particularly difficult to run in such a way as to meet the preferences of players at the table.

For example, there have been a couple of scenarios where the tier 3 - 4 encounters were so ridiculously easy, that it was almost impossible to challenge a group of players that wanted a tactical challenge.

Likewise, if the scenario is a linear dungeon crawl with traps and monsters, it may be impossible to make it appeal to those looking for a role playing experience.

But hey, it is only a suggestion. I personally like both role playing and combat encounters, but I acknowledge that some players have different preferences.

I am looking forward to playing part III, but I will make sure I have a better balanced table.

Shadow Lodge

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I would like to call Paizo’s attention to the way the author is addressing customer complaints. He is dismissive of my assertions as "exaggerated" and diminishing my critique as merely a matter of "taste,” but I think he has been particularly disrespectful, if not downright mean, to JaeWalker, who deserves better. I am referring directly to his first comment on this forum, "heh, heh. I think that review has inspired me to write" and also the subsequent posts where he takes delight in the misfortune of the players who played his module, and to the attitude with which he addressed her directly.

By contrast Kevin Wright’s responses were more to the standard of professionalism one would expect from an author addressing his audience. So too have Mark Moreland’s responses been respectful and as necessary, contrite. I thank them for taking customer complaints seriously, and with a bit of humility.

Shadow Lodge

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
71gamer wrote:
... I think an insightful review like Phil Tobin's above would be a lot more useful than "ow, I died, one star".

I take exception to this. My review was "This module is BROKEN, one star" and then went into great detail about it in the discussion. And it is, in fact, broken, and being fixed and reissued as I understand it.

Grand Lodge

Kwixson, I think that if you go back and look at the thread again with an open mind, you will see that Mr Vaughan responded flippantly to other posts. He actually made longer, more serious replies to both you and JaeWalker. He may not have agreed with your comments, but he did respond to them respectfully when addressing you directly, and really that is all that a reviewer should expect.

I think that a one line review from a player who lost their character in the session, without specifics, is hard to respond to constructively.

Frankly, what I have seen of the first 2 adventures in this series is not to my taste either. I have found that the situation of some of the encounters increases the challenge level to beyond what is indicated by the CR, and perhaps what is appropriate for the tier.

However, I find it more useful to express my dissatisfaction by pointing out the elements I disliked than to try to attribute motivations to a designer whom I may or may not know.

And honestly, it rankles that you feel that the designers/developers should be "contrite".


It's the writer's responsibility to write an adventure that fits into a certain CR range appropriate for the level being marketed. Sometimes they're easy, sometimes they're not. It's not possible to foresee every circumstance if the guidelines are followed.

If difficult adventures or the risk of a TPK never existed, then why play the game?

If all you want to do is rack up a bunch of levels in PF Society by playing in easy adventures that never push you to your gaming limits and never have you gasping for breath when you roll your next dice, then you're in it for the (IMO) wrong reasons.

Or, did I miss the whole point of gaming all these years?

For what it's worth, my gaming group, if they ever meet Greg Vaughan, will buy him lots of drinks for "Hateful Legacy" which made them all sweat and some of them sh*t.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

kwixson,

Let's be fair here. If you present a public review that looks like a knee-jerk complaint with little to no substance, then you should not expect a serious response.

Moreover, while a quick rant on the forum could have been presented, instead a review was presented. Given the nature of reviews and the way people view them, makes me think there was maliciousness involved. I do not think this offers any sort of respect for those involved in the creation of the product. I would suggest looking in the mirror if you want to talk about being disrespectful.

Furthermore, despite the "reviews" from you and Jaewalker, which are basically the equivalent of spitting in the face of the authors, GV offered a serious and respectful response once it became evident that the humor was not reciprocal.

Personally, I think you and Jaewalker should either remove the reviews, or create substantive reviews. Obviously, not every adventure is going to be for everyone, but if you want to make a serious public opinion statement (ie review), then take it seriously.

Anyway, I have no stakes in this matter, though it would be nice if everyone involved received a fair shake.


farewell2kings wrote:
It's the writer's responsibility to write an adventure that fits into a certain CR range appropriate for the level being marketed. Sometimes they're easy, sometimes they're not. It's not possible to foresee every circumstance if the guidelines are followed.

No, but it's certainly possible to see if terrain (for instance) is giving Team Monster an advantage and take that into account when determining the CR. I've played in a couple of modules where the enemies were at a great advantage and the encounter was technically supposed to be a CR 6 or 8 or whatever (wink, wink).

I don't know if that's the case in this adventure, though.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Let's cool it on speculating about people's motives and sniping at each other.

I've gamed with both Greg Vaughan and Jae Walker, and both of them are utterly charming gamers and great human beings.

It sounds like we missed a few things during the development of this module, and we will be making some changes to address several of the issues mentioned in this thread.

Sometimes an author or editor misses a problem that seems ok on paper and doesn't come out until it hits the table. With scenarios played all over the world in an OP environment, it's like a pressure cooker that rapidly brings problems to the surface.

I'm certain there is a way to address the problems we've discovered with this scenario in a way that maintains the challenge the authors intended. We're all for challenging scenarios (just ask Jae what she thought of some of my old RPGA modules), but at the same time we're not for impossible death traps or unclear presentation of information.

The great thing about Society PDFs (as opposed to printed products) is that we can get back under the hood and make a few adjustments when we discover a problem.

The scenario is currently under review, and we'll be making appropriate changes soon.

Now everyone play nice with each other before I lock you all in a deathtrap dungeon.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Erik Mona wrote:
Now everyone play nice with each other before I lock you all in a deathtrap dungeon.

So how is that "Spire of Nex" adventure coming along anyway? ;-)

Sovereign Court

farewell2kings wrote:

If difficult adventures or the risk of a TPK never existed, then why play the game?

If all you want to do is rack up a bunch of levels in PF Society by playing in easy adventures that never push you to your gaming limits and never have you gasping for breath when you roll your next dice, then you're in it for the (IMO) wrong reasons.

Or, did I miss the whole point of gaming all these years?

Your playstyle is not all playstyles.

Mostly I play for the experience of being wrapped up in a magical world and experiencing it through the experiences of my character. I like levelling-up because it gives me a sense of progress and character development and allows my characters to take me to parts of the world they otherwise could not.

I appreciate that some players want a white-knuckle ride and I'm happy for that to happen. I just don't think it should be presented as: "[T]he whole point of gaming..."

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

NSpicer wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:
Now everyone play nice with each other before I lock you all in a deathtrap dungeon.
So how is that "Spire of Nex" adventure coming along anyway? ;-)

Come to Seattle, and I'll show you.

Muhahahaha.


GeraintElberion wrote:
farewell2kings wrote:

If difficult adventures or the risk of a TPK never existed, then why play the game?

If all you want to do is rack up a bunch of levels in PF Society by playing in easy adventures that never push you to your gaming limits and never have you gasping for breath when you roll your next dice, then you're in it for the (IMO) wrong reasons.

Or, did I miss the whole point of gaming all these years?

Your playstyle is not all playstyles.

Mostly I play for the experience of being wrapped up in a magical world and experiencing it through the experiences of my character. I like levelling-up because it gives me a sense of progress and character development and allows my characters to take me to parts of the world they otherwise could not.

I appreciate that some players want a white-knuckle ride and I'm happy for that to happen. I just don't think it should be presented as: "[T]he whole point of gaming..."

Understood and noted. You and my wife would get along fine. She does not like it when her characters are threatened and doesn't care for the white knuckle ride (she thinks she doesn't, but she sure gets all excited when her party survives a major battle).

What I meant by the 'whole point of gaming' is that I don't think D&D as a low risk to character immersion in a fantasy world with gentle levelling up and carefully constructed low-level challenges is the norm or what module designers write adventures to....I think DMs that choose to run campaigns that way would have to adjust many adventures to suit that style, not just ones written by Greg Vaughan.

I'm not sniping. There's nothing wrong with your preferred gaming style and mine isn't better. Peace!!


OK!

I am regrettably way late on this, but for what it is worth. . .

Greg V.'s popular persona as a PC-killer while fun, is ultimately still just a persona. In actuality he's one of Paizo's most enduring freelancers and something of a household name around here to many of us. He wouldn't be in that position if he didn't spend the prerequisite time routinely worshiping at the altar of game balance. It's possibly to the point where at any given moment somebody somewhere is probably playing in a Greg V. adventure.

I would like to say that I thought the original reviewer deserves props for taking the time to read the adventure before posting the review - reviews based solely on play experience while valuable, are not going to be as meaningful. And props to Kyle (the DM) for filling in the context of what happened at the game table.

You see, Greg thinks he's a killer, but the deep dark secret is that he's a kitten compared to true evil that is the DM's D20 - it stalks us all. (Well there goes my sleep for the night. . .)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Ask a Shoanti wrote:
...he's a kitten compared to true evil that is the DM's D20 - it stalks us all. (Well there goes my sleep for the night. . .)

The DM rolls twenty D20's...

1d20 ⇒ 19
1d20 ⇒ 20
1d20 ⇒ 14
1d20 ⇒ 15
1d20 ⇒ 11
1d20 ⇒ 13
1d20 ⇒ 19
1d20 ⇒ 3
1d20 ⇒ 20
1d20 ⇒ 13
1d20 ⇒ 19
1d20 ⇒ 5
1d20 ⇒ 9
1d20 ⇒ 17
1d20 ⇒ 3
1d20 ⇒ 4
1d20 ⇒ 13
1d20 ⇒ 20
1d20 ⇒ 15
1d20 ⇒ 17

Not bad. Three natural 20's. And three 19's. Six possible crits with any weapon that has a 19-20 crit. range.

I'd say there's plenty of reasons to fear the DM's D20.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Ask a Shoanti wrote:

OK!

You see, Greg thinks he's a killer, but the deep dark secret is that he's a kitten compared to true evil that is the DM's D20 - it stalks us all. (Well there goes my sleep for the night. . .)

Agreed! I've said it many time before...

"The writer didn't kill your character, it was your GM."
Writers aren't rolling dice or hiding behind a screen, they're sleepless in front of a monitor at 4am with bleeding eyeballs, trying to weigh the balance of an encounter to avoid people complaining about whether it was too hard or too easy.


Tim Hitchcock wrote:
Ask a Shoanti wrote:

OK!

You see, Greg thinks he's a killer, but the deep dark secret is that he's a kitten compared to true evil that is the DM's D20 - it stalks us all. (Well there goes my sleep for the night. . .)

Agreed! I've said it many time before...

"The writer didn't kill your character, it was your GM."
Writers aren't rolling dice or hiding behind a screen, they're sleepless in front of a monitor at 4am with bleeding eyeballs, trying to weigh the balance of an encounter to avoid people complaining about whether it was too hard or too easy.

Not every GM hides behind a screen! ;-)

And no, it wasn't the GM that killed your character, it was those evil monsters, traps, and NPCs. I'm innocent officer.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

We have updated the Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-07: The Heresy of Man—Part II: Where Dark Things Sleep (PFRPG) PDF. The changes are as follows:


  • Middle initial "J." removed from all instances of Kevin Wright's name.
  • The descriptive text of Act 1 now includes information on noticing and disabling the tomb's seal.
  • The development section of Act 2 now includes text informing the PCs of the seal on the tomb, allowing them a Perception check to notice it. Additionally, Verdizaam now provides a statement in verse instead of a riddle, which had caused some games to grind to a halt as the PCs attempted to decipher it.
  • The DCs for reading Ancient Osiriani in Act 3 have changed.

Shadow Lodge

Tim Hitchcock wrote:

Agreed! I've said it many time before...

"The writer didn't kill your character, it was your GM."
Writers aren't rolling dice or hiding behind a screen, they're sleepless in front of a monitor at 4am with bleeding eyeballs, trying to weigh the balance of an encounter to avoid people complaining about whether it was too hard or too easy.

I suspect most GMs feel in PFS they don't have the flexibility they have in their home games. My GM certainly didn't set out for a TPK when he ran this adventure, in fact he hesitated to run it because it's reputation as a party killer. Also, much like Kyle my GM rolls out in the open as do I when I GM.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
0gre wrote:


I suspect most GMs feel in PFS they don't have the flexibility they have in their home games. My GM certainly didn't set out for a TPK when he ran this adventure, in fact he hesitated to run it because it's reputation as a party killer. Also, much like Kyle my GM rolls out in the open as do I when I GM.

Ogre before your gave you review did you actually read the Scenario? some of those complaints may have been GM or GM having a bad day related?

*Note I have not read it myself yet so I am just asking.


"Sometimes an author or editor misses a problem that seems ok on paper and doesn't come out until it hits the table."

Aren't these scenarios playtested before release? Am I hopelessly naive?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mazym wrote:

"Sometimes an author or editor misses a problem that seems ok on paper and doesn't come out until it hits the table."

Aren't these scenarios playtested before release? Am I hopelessly naive?

Playtesting adventures is the responsibility of the author—that's not something that we do in-house (unless it's an adventure written by someone in-house, of course).

The part of the process that most folks would refer to as "playtesting" is, in the cycle of a product going through the stages of being prepared for print, called "development." Development, in theory, happens AFTER playtesting.


Quote:

Playtesting adventures is the responsibility of the author—that's not something that we do in-house (unless it's an adventure written by someone in-house, of course).

The part of the process that most folks would refer to as "playtesting" is, in the cycle of a product going through the stages of being prepared for print, called "development." Development, in theory, happens AFTER playtesting.

OK. I guess I'm confused. Assuming I'm like most folks, playtesting means running actual groups of PCs through the draft scenario to make sure there are not glaring problems and to get a sense of people's opinion of how it flows, etc. Like user testing in-development software. And then after it's declared ready, running through it again with what is hoped to be the final copy / ready to ship material, to catch copy editing or printing errors.

Is "development" just the second part? Something else?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mazym wrote:

OK. I guess I'm confused. Assuming I'm like most folks, playtesting means running actual groups of PCs through the draft scenario to make sure there are not glaring problems and to get a sense of people's opinion of how it flows, etc. Like user testing in-development software. And then after it's declared ready, running through it again with what is hoped to be the final copy / ready to ship material, to catch copy editing or printing errors.

Is "development" just the second part? Something else?

That IS what Playtesting means. Playing the game to see how things rattle out. That's the author's job.

We periodically do public playtests of portions of our rulebooks, and also sometimes playtest new rules we're building for Adventure Paths (such as Kingmaker's mass combat rules or the kingdom building rules) that are significantly new or complex.

But adventures?

I wrote "Souls for Smuggler's Shiv," the adventure that starts out the Serpent's Skull adventure path. I playtested it with a group of my friends, and it took us about 5 6 hour sessions to play through. That's 30 hours of play.

Between an AP installment, modules, and PFS scenarios, we produce an average of twice that amount of adventure material in a month. That means 60 hours of play. All not on work hours. If we were to do playtesting in house of our adventures, we'd be essentially adding about 60 hours of responsibility per month to five different staff members—which isn't an option, and which is why we have to rely upon the authors to do the playtesting.

Now, the development of an adventure is a part of the process that not a lot of people understand. Folks know about the writing and the editing, because there are analogues of those steps for other books. RPG adventures aren't like other books, though. They're a LOT more closely related to plays or movie scripts.

Taking a movie analogy, the different people who work together to make a movie would equate to the following roles in RPG creation:

Producer = Publisher
Director = Developer
Writer = Writer
Editor = Editor
All the folks who invent and build the tools you need for everyone above to make the movie (from sets to costumes to cameras) = Rules Designer
Special Effects = Graphic Designer
Cinematographer = Art Director
Movie Projector = Game Master
Actors = Game Master and Players
Movie Screen = Your Game Table

And so on.

So, an adventure's developer is the "director" of the show. It's basically his job to take the thing that the writer has produced and make it into something that everyone else can interact with. It's also his job to make changes to the script as new (hopefully better) ideas come along, or as budget changes or concerns cause problems. He's the one who has to add or remove content to make the adventure the right length. He's also the one who has to make sure that the writer didn't leave anything out, and that the adventure "works." In a way, part of the developer's job is to playtest the entire adventure in his head, just as a movie director has to have a vision of how the final movie will look in his head when he's running around on stage getting the lights and the effects and the sound and the actors and the cameras and all that in the right place.

Playtests in this analogy are akin to rehersals. They happen BEFORE the director does the final adjustments to the script and actually makes everything that the public ends up seeing happen. They're not always necessary, especially if you have a crew that's REALLY good at their jobs, but they usually help.


Quote:
...we have to rely upon the authors to do the playtesting.

OK. In software, we did this with outside beta-testers, but I understand your situation is very different. Thanks.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Mazym wrote:
Quote:
...we have to rely upon the authors to do the playtesting.
OK. In software, we did this with outside beta-testers, but I understand your situation is very different. Thanks.

The author can do that if they like.

Shadow Lodge

Dragnmoon wrote:
0gre wrote:


I suspect most GMs feel in PFS they don't have the flexibility they have in their home games. My GM certainly didn't set out for a TPK when he ran this adventure, in fact he hesitated to run it because it's reputation as a party killer. Also, much like Kyle my GM rolls out in the open as do I when I GM.

Ogre before your gave you review did you actually read the Scenario? some of those complaints may have been GM or GM having a bad day related?

*Note I have not read it myself yet so I am just asking.

Is there something in particular you think I might have been unfair about? I was trying to put a fairly spoiler free review up and one that removed the issues that relate to GM issues (or player incompetence).


Dragnmoon wrote:

some of those complaints may have been GM or GM having a bad day related?

*Note I have not read it myself yet so I am just asking.

Both of the 1-star reviews were from players at the same table. My table. I was not having a bad day. As for being "me" related, yes, of course it's at least partially related to GM style.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
0gre wrote:


Is there something in particular you think I might have been unfair about? I was trying to put a fairly spoiler free review up and one that removed the issues that relate to GM issues (or player incompetence).

as an Example, you said

0gre wrote:
The story here is largely absent

That could be because the GM did not bring out the story, It may be there, but if you did not read it you would not know.

0gre wrote:
The creatures felt... metagamed.

was that the way it was written, or is that the way the GM ran it?

0gre wrote:
The railroad tracks on dungeon crawl are obvious and clichéd

this one you can properly get from just playing it, but even that can be brought on by the GM, and maybe not the Scenario.

Basically, my question is, is your review based on playing only? or did you base it on Playing and also reading the Scenario?

Though you can get a lot of it from playing, and everything you said may be correct, I just have a tendency to put more into ones that have done both. So that is why I am asking.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Kyle Baird wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:

some of those complaints may have been GM or GM having a bad day related?

*Note I have not read it myself yet so I am just asking.

Both of the 1-star reviews were from players at the same table. My table. I was not having a bad day. As for being "me" related, yes, of course it's at least partially related to GM style.

I was asking Ogre, Already know about the other 2. Was Ogre in your game?

Edit: I am noticing a difference in opinion by those who have read this one and those who have not, and I want to see if Ogre is still following that pattern.


Dragnmoon wrote:


Edit: I am noticing a difference in opinion by those who have read this one and those who have not, and I want to see if Ogre is still following that pattern.

I would put it another way -- there's a difference between those who have played this module and those who have just read it.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
hogarth wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:


Edit: I am noticing a difference in opinion by those who have read this one and those who have not, and I want to see if Ogre is still following that pattern.

I would put it another way -- there's a difference between those who have played this module and those who have just read it.

actually I can't tell if the 5 star review played or not, but He/she definitely read it, and may have GMed it or played it. But you may be right.

Edit: I still think it is an interesting pattern.

Shadow Lodge

Dragnmoon wrote:
0gre wrote:
The story here is largely absent
That could be because the GM did not bring out the story, It may be there, but if you did not read it you would not know.

Well running with the same GM every week I think I can safely say this was not the issue. While I had issues with the first in this series they were not with the story or plot which felt pretty decent to me.

If the author writes a huge rich story in the flavor bits how is this communicated to the players? Perhaps in the texts which our characters were unable to decipher due to the lack of proficiency in Osirion? If a story doesn't come out in the normal flow of the adventure then it might as well be omitted.

Heavy Heresy of Man I and II spoilers:

For example, in the first adventure in this series you were escorting a cleric into a land where clerics are forbidden, there is a betrayal, you are fighting against government agents, and you know all these things because they are evident in the things you see and do in the adventure and they impact the way the scenario plays out.

There is a series of skill checks as you are smuggled into the castle in the dark. Then adventurers work their way through a series of (obvious) smugglers caves. Their contact is missing and the players have to find him and then discover they have been betrayed so they have to use an alternate (more dangerous) route. Then the adventurers finally fight government agents which are trying to kill the cleric the characters are escorting. This all happens, you see this and experience the plot through the characters actions.

In the second scenario the players go to find some missing pathfinders and the trail leads to some catacombs. At that point the plot more or less ends as the characters work there way rat-in-maze style through the tomb. The riddles, puzzles, etc, none of it has any real affect on what is going on in the story arc. Heck the bad-guy even has 2 short monologs and neither of them hint at what's going on in the greater story.

The story should come out and be part of the adventure, not be a side show buried under skill checks.

Quote:
0gre wrote:
The creatures felt... metagamed.
was that the way it was written, or is that the way the GM ran it?

I know what the creature were and if you'd like to discuss it more we can but essentially the class/ creature combinations felt like they were selected specifically to make them more deadly for their CR rather than because it made sense in the story. Along the lines of having a dragon with monk levels (though not that bad).

Quote:
0gre wrote:
The railroad tracks on dungeon crawl are obvious and clichéd
this one you can properly get from just playing it, but even that can be brought on by the GM, and maybe not the Scenario.

Again, I can dig into spoilers but IMO this is the biggest and most blatant issue.

Quote:
Basically, my question is, is your review based on playing only? or did you base it on Playing and also reading the Scenario?

I played the scenario and discussed it in depth with the GM after playing it.

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