Pathfinder Society Scenario #56: The Jester's Fraud (PFRPG) PDF

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

Life in Taldor is fraught with peril, especially for the crumbling noble houses of the Taldan countryside. One such house, the Bourtze Family, has fallen on hard times and they've informed the Pathfinder Society that, in exchange for a small sum of money, they'd be willing to part with a treasure trove of lore about Qadira's Grand Campaign, the 300-year invasion of Taldor. On your arrival, things quickly turn for the worse and instead of evaluating the worth of a few scraps of historical paper, you must instead retrieve one of the most dangerous artifacts in the empire.

Written by James F. MacKenzie

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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Recommended for smaller groups


I played this one yesterday with a party of 6. In hindsight I’d highly recommend playing this scenario with a smaller party simply because the combats haven’t aged well. While one encounter has indeed the potential to be rather dangerous, we ended up finishing every encounter in less than two rounds. As a result, it didn’t feel as scary of challenging as it should have been.

I did like mix of combats and social encounters, which coincidentally also depends on how the party acts. It gives you some room to come up with your own plan and execute it, even though the scenario wasn’t tailored to it. I like that freedom. You have the same kind of freedom when you’re doing the faction-missions. It brings the place alive, which is always a good thing, but it felt a bit too forced or scripted, as if they were added later to the scenario because faction X also has to have something to do.

Upon looking back I’d have to say this was a cakewalk for us and not challenging. We still had fun, but it’s a clear sign that it hasn’t aged well. It’s still enjoyable, but a small party is to be preferred.

No-good rogues in backwater Taldor


I played this in a home game with an APL5 party playing low tier. We threw the faction missions back in for fun.

The Jester's Fraud is surprisingly excellent. Coming off of the back of a bunch of very linear and restricted scenarios in season one, we really enjoyed being able to stretch our wings in this more sandboxy environment. Chatting with NPCs, pursuing faction missions, and holding party strategy meetings to determine our plan of action was really fun, but also really time consuming. Our approach to PFS scenarios generally requires us to take 4-6 hours per scenario, but this one took much closer to 9 or 10. Since it was a home game we did not have a strict time limit (our DM didn't need to prod us along) but I can imagine that would have a hard time fitting in a fixed time-slot.

Some spoilers for the story and encounters are below.

The Good:
The auction at the end of the scenario was a delight, with different factions balanced against each other and plenty of ways for the PCs to gain the item they seek. After some back and forth we settled on ambushing the auction's winner after they left the town, which apparently allowed us to skip a lot of potential combat encounters including one against the titular Jester himself. The terrain and situation is rich enough to allow for tons of different strategies.

Finding the name of Bourtze's heir turned into a mini-adventure of its own as we uncovered secret affairs and intimidated household servants.

The Taldor flavor is strong here, with warring houses and enough intrigue to serve as a solid (and relevant) backdrop. The plot is also solid with only a couple of loose ends and plenty of actors with their own fleshed out parts.

The scenario supports a partially nonlethal approach if desired. Only one combat encounter is truly mandatory.

The entire thing is very RP friendly with tons of non-hostile (or potentially non-hostile) NPCs to interact with.

The Bad:
The combat encounters are a bit all over the place. Multiple encounters with CR1 bandits are too easy by this point, but low tier also has some pretty deadly ones like the first against the hags and the third against the slug. The hags generally get the ambush, have tools to deal with dangerous PCs (grab and fog cloud) and have solid defenses. The average damage of a hag that lands all three of its natural attacks is also really high: 48! This is enough to knock most level 5 PCs down from full to unconscious in one go and their reach in such an enclosed environment means that spellcasters can easily be at risk. We only survived by blowing tons of resources and still did it by the skin of our teeth (and perhaps with some DM favor).

The leads coming out of Evondemor are pretty loose. Picking up the trail with survival is almost impossible (DC40) and there's little reason to believe any of the townsfolk would know where the thief is going (The written scenario offers this as the only other option for finding the trail... but its night and all the guards other than Bourtze himself were killed so who would have spotted him?). After struggling for a bit we proceeded via DM mercy, and this continued as we followed the trail after encounter 2. This was pretty unsatisfying.

For lack of a better term, the scenario isn't "tight". By opening up the possibilities it also opens up parties to decision paralysis and feeling lost. We largely enjoyed this aspect, but I can see other parties having a problem.

Overall, we had a lot of fun! I hope we'll see more scenarios like this one as we continue through season 1.


Roleplaying but a bit outdated


Run in high tier.

Good mix with combats and socials, one PC died in a critacal of 20d6+48, but I can't say it's hard.

Good roleplay moments(I love little pony), but the BBEG fight is a bit of disappointed, the only tactic is keep casting confusion, if your PC success on their save, can be a cakewalk.

Good season 1 module, but a bit outdated.


Played this at low tier. Party was Wizard, Rogue/Ranger/Cleric, Bloodrager, Swashbuckler and Cleric.

I really liked this scenario for the feel, theme and for the sheer ability to role play your way through probably 80% of the encounters. That makes it so much more fun.

One encounter (at low tier) just seemed rather far too strong for characters of the correct levels but the rest was just about right.

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Liberty's Edge

I have a question and am not familiar enough with these 'boards' to know where to post, as my comment actually covers more than just this one scenario.

Question: Why do scenarios, modules often 'railroad' the party into specific things with NO alternatives?

1. To infiltrate the temple, you have to go rough up an innocent baker and wreck his shop (the people we are trying to infiltrate are with us, watching,and we 'lose the scenario/[no prestige]' "if we do not do as they say".

What about the Paladin in this action? What if my character doesn't WANT to abuse an innocent? Why is a scenario telling me to do that (or I'm not successful), when PFS says my characters 'can't be evil', 'can't coup de grace', etc etc.? This is one-sided! And unfair.

2. One was an opera house. GM told us point blank, "you have to have expensive outfit, or you won't be let in. you have to have no weapons or armor/ If you even TRY to bribe the guards/sneak in/ etc etc etc. (any alternative we came up with)--- you will NOT I REPEAT NOT succeed, you won't get in, this game [scenario] effectively ends".

So then we get in with fancy clothes and no weapons and armor to have the doors slam shut and get ganged up on by hordes of zombie undead and nearly everyone dies. Dropping like flies. Only had 1 wand of curing smuggled in [we were all 1st level or so]; that person went around healing back those who droppped while the others ran around perimeter in circles leading zombies in a chase to give that guy time to reach the dying ones... That SUCKED! And we were told that was only way to get in. Period.

3. RE THIS SCENARIO: "Jester's Fraud"- You have a cursed item that only a 13th level character can combat, that kills permanently, immediately. NO SAVES!!!! Only can be stopped by the LOWEST spell level of 7th; meaning a 13th level Wizard. um- this is Tier 5-9.

Why do you guys do this? I disagree STRONGLY. Very wrong.

Liberty's Edge

Movie plot spoiler:
This is answered in general comments; the necklace was found at a battle site-> so nobody 'told' us about "some necklace that chokes people'. this seemed just a monetarily punitive action to screw with a character/drain money from that character- for the raised dead, restoration--- since at that level there is NO way a player can combat the item... [sorry- in someone's reply post @ general discussion thread:

you cannot cut a cursed magic item with adamantine, I dont believe.....

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

I have to ask ...

... did you have to put the necklace on?

Liberty's Edge

Lord Fyre wrote:

I have to ask ...

** spoiler omitted **

Answer to did you have to....?.....:
Ah. Well, no. And that is good point. But during any scenario, don't you always drink the 'potion of cure light wounds' at some time?... The DC's for stuff on this were like in the 40's. I had Perception 22, 'naturally'- and BARELY made the roll to follow tracks to where we found this stuff. But my guy is a freak; no one else could come NEAR the 50+ DC needed to find out exactly what this necklace was: I was told (with a 28 result) 'You think it's either wound closure or proof against poison. So since we took nearly an hour and a half on just the FIRST fight, getting our butts handed to us, I figured- hey, why not use this in case it gets nasty again. But then the only way to combat those 'results' (ugly death) is the point I made- on a 5-9 tier scenario, they have an item that only a 13th level caster could POSSIBLY remedy, recover from, whatever. In other words- it is a guaranteed death of someone, PERIOD. Or, if you choose to look at it: a punitive 'more than a quarter of the character's accumulated wealth at 8th level [TOTAL wealth of ALL scenarios ever played!!!!]'- "penalty" to let your character continue to live. NO OTHER RECOURSE. That, to me, was a little harsh I think.
Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Did you listen to the Tribune when he told you 'those items are CURSED'? Or when the Venture Captain warned you that anything given to the society would likely be dangerous?

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