Pathfinder Society Special: Year of the Shadow Lodge (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Special designed for levels 1-11.

When a famous Pathfinder returns to the Grand Lodge in Absalom with a long sought after Azlanti artifact of power, the Society celebrates the achievement by throwing a massive party in Absalom's arena. When the artifact is stolen during the party, it's up to you and the other bands of Pathfinders present at the celebration to get it back before it can be used to destroy the Grand Lodge—or worse.

Written by Tim Hitchcock.

Note: Year of the Shadow Lodge is designed for play in the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild. It may be run anywhere by anyone, as long as there are 3 tables playing the scenario simultaneously and are in contact with each other. To inquire about access to this scenario, refer to the Organized Play Convention Support Policy.

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Paizo's awkward first attempt at a group special


I wouldn't say this scenario is truly bad - I had fun - but it wasn't really good either. I don't think it makes very good use out of this being a special; there's fights happening in 10x10 square rooms where all the tables are fighting at the same time, and presumably throwing blasts. But you're only dealing with your own encounters. That just strains my suspension of disbelief.

Newer specials do a much better job at this, especially Legacy of the Stonelords, which has its group battles happening in way bigger rooms, with each table handling a part of the room. Such an easy fix.

I guess this scenario was more impressive around S2, when the whole Shadow Lodge story was new and mysterious; nowadays it's hard to figure out what all the fuss is about. Crazy dude attacks the city that nobody's managed to conquer in like 4000 years, level 1-5 party stops him? Wut?

Fun but mostly due to the multiple table gimmick


I had fun playing this on the Lvl 3-4 tier but mostly due to the madness that was going on around me as shouts rang out cross tables for Casters and the large "We all need to do a thing!" parts where our success needed all the tables working together.

Most of the combats were a bit boring to us apart from one which ran the risk of completely wiping us if we hadn't timed out (Info in spoilers). Would have preferred a higher general difficulty rather than a single really hard encounter.

Almost every encounter were the same Goblins us level 3 characters could take out in a single shot. One contained a Cleric which should have been spamming more spells than she did. These got old quick.

But then there was one room which contained a Wraith. With the way PFS is with gold not a single one of us had a magic weapon so only a few of us could deal damage using Arcane Strike and spells. Would have been less of an issue with a Cleric I guess. Compared to every other enemy we faced that thing was monstrous.

fantastic fun


Brutal. Seriously brutal. But amazingly fun. I don't know what else to say about it, except that you'd better bring your "A" game. They don't screw around.

How to Get a Large Group Together


Once a group is established, it starts becoming difficult to bring everyone together for a single game. With everyone in different tiers, this scenario gets everyone to focus on a single objective.

I will be honest, it's embarrassing to get shown up by a bunch of guys in the lower tiers!

Year of Contrived Nonsense


1) Interactive events are fun because you (hopefully) feel like you’re part of something larger. It doesn’t matter if you’re all running “Asmodeus Mirage” all at the same time, it’s going to be fun by virtue that you’re all in the same place at the same time, hopefully helping each other and crossing table boundaries. This happened a lot more compared to “Blood Under Absalom”, but I think it was also partially to do with the organizer and the fact we had 3 tables only. It lead to a better experience.

2) There was less dead time compared to “Blood Under Absalom” (but perhaps this was also due to the small number of tables). The scenario seemed to go fast.

3) The best part of the interactive was the table talk between the tables. Letting each other know our progress, successes, and defeats. It was hilarious. The interactive definitely benefited from less tables. Definitely helps if you have organizers, GMs, and players willing to shout.

For example during one encounter:

- "The high level Pathfinders are now (bravely!) running from the dragon"
- GM tells us how the dragon is (technically) "beatable"
- "The high level Pathfinders have now engaged the Dragon"
- /Cheer
- Dragon breathes on most of the group for 35 damage.
- "The high level Pathfinders have now disengaged from the dragon". LOL.
So it was a good time.

I liked the interactive, but it’s mostly because of the organizer, GMs, and other players. Like I said before, because it’s roleplaying and an interactive, we could have played the worst scenario and it would have been fun. So with that in mind I have the following comments.

1) I just didn’t understand the plot at all. Besides “the evil guy is doing bad things, stop him”.

We never found out what the artifact was or what Charvian was trying to do with it. If Charvian had this powerful artifact, why not just go somewhere quiet, or with less opposition? Teleport away? Why make a huge spectacle of it, why rally all of your enemies into one potent army? That’s just plain stupid, especially for someone with (presumably) more than 16 Int.

2) The introduction made no sense.

How are we supposed to “keep an eye” on the main villain when:
A) We don’t even know who he is or what he looks like, or anything about him.
B) We have no authority to speak to him or even get close to him, let alone arrest him if something is wrong.

Being asked to solve a problem and then unable to do anything but look around like an idiot sucked. I would have preferred that it was removed. If Osprey was going to warn anyone, it would have been someone high enough level to do something about it, or perhaps cancel the entire show or do some covert action against Charvian. Not tell some level 1-5 errand boys to try to outsmart a high level Wizard. Please.

Instead, I would have preferred if we were told some insider knowledge of what we were about to see, it would have given everything a lot more context and meaning.

3) The whole Shadow Lodge thing still doesn’t make any sense to me. Just because some Pathfinders feel like the Decemvirate are doing a terrible job of running the Pathfinders, doesn’t mean they are “evil” and would drive an army of ____ and ____ into Absalom. Or destroy the “fabric of reality” or Absalom. How is that a better use of resources? That’s just taking it way too far.

And if they want to steal an artifact, then steal it. Don't announce it to an entire stadium of powerful warriors and then attack an entire city...

4) Some encounters didn’t really make sense.


How did we get surrounded by goblins in the arena? LOL. That was the most unbelievable part of the first act. With 40K people in the arena, we get surrounded (and surprised!) by an army of covert goblins. Unbelievable!

How did the SL get an army of goblins and dragons into Absalom without anyone noticing? Why were Pathfinders the only opposition to this? If they weren’t, how many thousands of goblins were in the city (and how would you even control more than a dozen goblins, stopping them from burning, pillaging and chasing dogs around)?

How did the goblins make such effective barricades and traps (to cause an entire collapsed building on someone?) with only a few minutes (I presume) of setup time? There should be more than a single 15’ choke point in a city with dozens of streets running parallel.

I guess the dragon encounters made sense, however it just seems odd that dragons would fly into Absalom without anyone knowing. And the cost to the dragons was incredibly high (almost all of them died), what was in it for them (to do a suicide mission, literally only ‘buying time’ for Charvian)? Dragons are smart! Same thing with the high level clerics, they died just to buy time?

Goblins also wouldn't be as controlled and disciplined as they were, it would be like herding cats. They'd be pillaging and burning houses, not lined up and waiting in “the thin red line” for obviously superior Pathfinder to smash them. Even humans would need a lot of courage and discipline for that. Same thing with the dozens of goblins waiting on top of the Pathfinder Lodge walls waiting for shoot at Pathfinders. These are things that well trained and disciplined soldiers could do, chaotic and insane goblins don't do these things.

Sorry, so much about these encounters just didn’t make any sense to me.

5) The scenario made me wish I made an archer, not a melee combatant. Way too many encounters that could only be defeated by range only. I found this really annoying, especially at my subtier. Sure, I can pull out a bow and do relatively insignificant damage, but you're still going to be a non-factor.

In general with interactives, it’s OK if there are common areas across all subtiers, but I’d really prefer it if different subtiers had different missions. (I know this makes more work, but still). And I would strongly prefer the GMs to tell us (generally) what’s going on with the other subtiers! It’s just too hard to suspend my disbelief when group A finishes combat (in the same area) and can’t help group B finish theirs and have to wait around 10 minutes.

Length: We did it in 4 hours, but it took a very disciplined organizer (with a good timer) to run it that way.
Sweet Spot: I have no idea unless I read it. I’m guessing subtier 10-11 would have things on an appropriately epic scale that would feel pretty good.
Experience: Player at subtier 5-6.
Entertainment: Below average scenario but all interactives have an element of fun (8/10)
Roleplay: Some non-meaningful roleplay at the beginning (2/10)
Combat/Challenges: Except for the last encounter, I didn’t enjoy them particularly, which was made worse because I was melee. (4/10)
Maps: Didn’t seem like maps were used at all in this scenario. I had trouble understanding where I was and where I could go, it was very abstract. (4/10)
Boons: Good one-shot boons without being overpowered. (9/10)
Uniqueness: If this weren’t an interactive, this scenario would rate quite low. (3/10)
Faction Missions: None, thank god. Some scenarios, it’s just not a good idea to have faction missions and I hope Paizo keeps this in mind for other scenarios (n/a)
Overall: Below average scenario that allows some cross-table interaction, can be decent at times.(7/10)

I’m just glad the Shadow Lodge story arc is over with tbh. The Shadow Lodge story arc should have been built on uncovering lies, deception, and intrigue, instead we got pure combat meathead missions, which is exactly the opposite of what should have happenned. So I'm just glad it's over.

1 to 5 of 7 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Can't wait for this!

Grand Lodge

Ooohh oooohhh... I need this! :)

I can hardly wait now!!

Grand Lodge

I played this one at Neoncon this year. It rocked!

Liberty's Edge

Said it was going to ba available Aug 31, but now it says its unavailable. Whats going on....

Give them time to get into the office, settle down with a nice cup of coffee. August 31 isn't over yet. ;)


Heine Stick wrote:
Give them time to get into the office, settle down with a nice cup of coffee. August 31 isn't over yet. ;)

Fixed, after the prerequisite sip of coffee. :D

Liberty's Edge

Liz Courts wrote:
Heine Stick wrote:
Give them time to get into the office, settle down with a nice cup of coffee. August 31 isn't over yet. ;)
Fixed, after the prerequisite sip of coffee. :D

I thought that was just what it was but I wasn't sure. ;)

Scarab Sages

Did I miss something? I thought this had been out ages ago, since I played it last July. Was that a preview?

Snorter wrote:
Did I miss something? I thought this had been out ages ago, since I played it last July. Was that a preview?

It was never available for sale. It was available for special events, when the event coordinator was able to guarantee at least 3 tables of play, by request.

The Concordance

Module Question (GM Only)

Why no dice for the Encounter of Tier 5-6 in ACT I? They have to fight with a Young Black Dragon every time?

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