A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 1st to 7th level characters (Tiers: 1–2, 3–4, and 6–7).
A decade ago, the Decklands family, a house of Chelish nobles, were exiled from Absalom for treason. Their fate made for an interesting story and when a Pathfinder agent in Cheliax studying the family's long history and exile from the City at the Center of the World ends up murdered, the Society sends you to the recently discovered Deckland Vaults in Absalom to see what connection their old home might have to your murdered colleague.
Written by Thurston Hillman
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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Overall this scenario is generally poorly designed and written. It is intended for players running 5 - 7 level characters. DO NOT PLAY IT ANY LOWER. It has been haphazardly hacked poorly to included lower level play by someone without a good understanding of how Pathfinder works in the real world.
The encounters are either bland or poorly designed with critically awful design decisions. First potential trap is a fire blast trap in an enclosed space that can do 2d4 damage with just putting a simple puzzle in wrong. Potential for draining healing reserves right here with a few flubbed rolls. So, even before you step foot into the vault, your health and healing has taken a hit.
For the next ecounter... Lemures for low level players? Really? You want to throw Lemures with DR, immunities, and resistances intact at low level players... And, have all their abilities invalidated and to make players feel absolutely useless and question why are they even playing their chosen characters. You want to throw a creature with DR 5 Good/Silver, Immune Fire, Mind-Affect Spells, Poison, and Resistance Acid 10 Cold 10... To a second level party? If you ever want to drive people to play any other game than Pathfinder or keep them from playing another Pathfinder Society game... Just throw creatures to take the few things a low-level player has and completely render them useless. I question the author's understanding of how the Pathfinder system works.
And some will say, but a means of defeating the creature DR is provided! First, of all, why would mercenaries hired by the bad lady have the means to undo her defense force? Also, there's the process of not only identity the means with a knowledge check, but there's also the specific Knowledge Planes check require to identify the creatures enough to EVEN know to use the means provided.
Then you encounter a 5th hallway of blade traps with a crossbowman with +1 bolts and a hand on the trap reset switch. So, party is having to contend with a trapped hallway, lined up in a row, without a chance to disarm the traps... while someone takes pot shots at them to do 1d10+1 damage. So, a potential party wipe right here, since this is immediately after the fight with the Lemures.
Finally, you encounter a mix of mercenaries and skeletons in a potential three way battle. Skeletons aren't too bad and are actually appropriate, there's potential for getting the disgruntled mercenaries on your side.
For the boss... It's THE worst thing you can throw at party. A Sorceress that can spam Color Spray. If you are a level two party, get ready for a total party wipe in one good hit. For example, despite all the psychic strikes, dazes, and everything else she saved against, that would have turned the order just enough to get her hurt ONE MORE HP to her "surrender" point... She manage one more color spray (which she can do SEVEN TIMES) and knocks the rest of the party out. By all means a TPK. Only by the grace the DM and PFS rules, the party lived... In shame.
Victory conditions are ALL OR NONE. Never mind keeping the vault intact, keeping a good number of mercenaries alive... (including the leader of the group), preventing damage to the documents of interesting, and keeping the bad lady from getting anything of value... ... ... She got away! YOU FAIL EVERYTHING! Primary condition FAIL! Secondary condition? See first. FAIL! Awfully designed and terrible written condition states possible for this scenario. The layout and signature of a very uninspired, novice writer, without an understanding for logical functions of the world.
This is an extremely common theme throughout this scenario... All your hard work and effort being undone by a SINGLE failed roll. Happen to me. Had decent fun until the fighting the boss. All that work undone by a Color Spray with a DC 15 save, which is VERY hard to save against as level two players. And to frustrating end. Completely failure by the rule of the scenario despite all other efforts.
So... Avoid at all costs. Not worth the money. Avoid anything done by this author to be on the safe side, too. This scenario somehow devalues the intangible bits that represent the PDF's data. Would give a 0 stars rating if possible. There is so much that is better out there that this should fade away into history and never be heard from again.
I recently had a chance to play through this scenario in a home game. We had an APL4 party in the 3-4 tier. We also added the faction missions in for fun.
The Infernal Vault is a surprisingly solid scenario, held together by varied encounters, a little bit of puzzling, some well built enemies (with surprisingly competent selection of feats/spells), and interesting faction missions that promote non-smash-and-grab gameplay. Sure its totally and unashamedly linear. The great design along the way makes up for the railroading.
- There are two interesting "think before you act" encounters, and while neither of them are difficult, they give you the satisfaction of having correctly read the situation. The disk puzzle was a bit contrived, and the prestacked disks matching the correct combination was anticlimactic. The trapped hallway with a single enemy as a lure was great though. The enemy's tactics made sense and the players could read into the enemy's actions along with the layout of the environment to draw logical conclusions. This kind of design is way above the typical level of quality in season 1.
- There are multiple encounters (Imps, Skeletons, Dretch) that reward good knowledge checks and being prepared for a variety of DR.
- Half the encounters are in challenging terrain situations, with narrow corridors and elevation changes. Very rewarding for good tactical play.
- Other half of the encounters include some diplomacy element to them, or at least allow for diplomatic solutions. This is pretty out of the ordinary for season 1.
- Faction missions all seemed to include some kind of nonlethal element, letting all players get into the right frame of mind for an adventure with multiple valid tactics.
- Enemies have much more solid builds than is typical in season 1. Celeena in particular is very solid, with choices on par with an average player character build (but with reduced wealth). She made for a pretty dangerous final encounter, though her relatively mediocre damage output and the tight quarters mean that she can't absolutely dominate.
- The concept of the scenario was rather unexciting. While the individual elements were thematically good and logical (Chelaxian family has devils and traps guarding their wealth), the overall goal of the scenario was pretty dull. Mysterious plans to Absalom have been left around and the bad lady wants to get them. Feels like so many other scenarios.
- Very linear. Every room has one door in and one out and exactly one encounter. It doesn't even attempt to obscure the linearity of it all.
Overall, our group really enjoyed it. The writer clearly put a lot of care into making a solid adventure under the constraints of PFS, both from a thematic and gameplay standpoint.
I played this scenario a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still figuring out what to think of the scenario. Let me start by saying that by no means this is a bad scenario. Above anything else this scenario requires players to think strategically. You can not simply walk in and fight every single time as it can easily backfire and cause fatalities.
As a result, the fights are challenging at times. The keywords here being 'at times'. Some are just walks in the park, others are potentially deadly. And I have to admit, that the 'BBEG' is fairly easy compared to the rest. The scenario as result ends on a bit of an anticlimactic note, which is a bit of a shame.
My main issue with the scenario is that the plot just feels lacking. The overarching idea is good, but the encounters just feels out of place at times. The players receive little to no reason as to why some of the opponents are there. They simply are there, and that's it. I personally need to have some sort of link between the storyline and the encounter, and it just isn't there this scenario and that makes it a little bit frustrating.
The scenario is a good dungeoncrawler, but lacks a little in the storyline department. In the end it's not enough to make me want to discourage people from playing this scenario, but I also feel like there are other scenarios where the link between encounters and story is simply better. The Infernal Vault remains enjoyable, but it feels a little unfinished.
Played once in Tier 6-7, the only shinging point is the BBEG fight, she is well built conbines with the terrain, but with weakness, PCs have to do some tactics.
What is not good, no roleplay, and the map is bad designed like many old scenarios... all three tiers are okay, but I think tier 3-4 scales best, althouh the tier 6-7 boss fight can be brutal for some groups.
By the way, no boons but a reward of 3862gp in tier 6-7!
The scenario was okay - some puzzling (which I totally overthought, coming up with a way more complicated explanation for he same solution), traps that make you nervous and some cute fights.
However, it wasn't really anything special. The bad guy was just "someone", there was no big story behind this that I could see. It could happen anytime, anywhere. And none of the puzzles or monsters were special enough to really make this one stand out for that reason.
I'm on the fence about the narrow corridors. I suspect that was just the author going "it's only people walking through here, why should it be any wider?". However, if you actually plan fights in there, you get horribly cramped fights in those 5ft corridors, in which only half (at best) of the party gets to participate.
At some point, it turns from "tactical challenge" to "author absent-mindedness means half the party gets to sit on its hands". I think this adventure was just barely on the good side of that.
In summary: this is a good adventure if you want to spend an amusing afternoon spanking baddies and get your XP, but that's about it. Also, for a beginning GM it's a good buildup to more difficult to run scenarios.
I really enjoyed running this scenario as an introductory scenario for 5 newbies - straight forward mission in general, but plenty of twists in the faction missions (I agree with the reviewer that there is some potential for difficulty on that front, but then, they should be *earned*).
The 'dungeon' itself is straight forward but interesting in design. I did get slightly confused as to which stairs were up and which were down.
Two slight errors I noticed, one of which might be worth correcting the PDF:
The first encounter (Tier 1-2 at least), damage dealt is one too high.
Also, the Oil of Bless Weapon (also only Tier 1-2) on the Chronicle sheet should be listed at 50 gp, not 100 gp. (This was a carryover from 3.5 - price changed for Paladin/Ranger potions since minimum caster level changed). Corrected in 2nd or 3rd printing of Core Rulebook.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
A DM ran this for us this evening- table was a level 2 fighter, a level 1 fighter, a level 1 rogue, a level 1 cleric, and a level 1 witch. TPK. I see the reviews and comments are positive, so I'm assuming this wasn't a typical situation. It was a bit of a pity for me personally since I don't get very many opportunities to play PFS, and this was the first time I've played in about a year. That said, I can only completely speak for myself, but I think most of us at the table still enjoyed ourselves despite the deaths. The judge did a good job. Up to this point the module was interesting, and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see it to its conclusion.
Spoiler tag for the deadly part.
Deaths due to the (I presume) sorcerer with multiple color sprays and burning hands spells, who had a surprise round and was largely inaccessible because her minion blocked the door.
Just played this as my first Non-Pregen character. Absolutely loved the time spent, even though we were four level ones and you tend to burn through the Clerics spells very quickly. Every moment was tough and we finally died/surrendered at the end. Very great job though.