Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-06: Song of the Sea Witch (PFRPG) PDF

2.90/5 (based on 16 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for Levels 3–7.

When an unlucky historian in Absalom uncovers an infernal book from distant Tian Xia, he unwittingly unleashes a terrible evil into the city—the legions of devils imprisoned within its dusty pages. Only the book's holy counterpart can end the threat, and the Pathfinder Society has been called in to assist. Can the PCs locate and retrieve the key to ending the diabolical invasion of the City at the Center of the World, or will Absalom be drowned in the sea of destruction wrought by the Infernal Incantation?

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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3/5

NO SPOILERS

I played Song of the Sea Witch via virtual tabletop. One of the other players in the group had a super over-powered PC who pretty much single-handedly took care of all the encounters, and there wasn’t much role-playing, so the experience wasn’t the best. Reading the scenario afterwards, it looks like a solid but unspectacular adventure. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not fantastically original and memorable like some of the author’s other work.

SPOILERS!:

Song of the Sea Witch has quite an involved backstory, but to be fair much of it does come into focus later on for the players. The gist of it is that Yargos Gill, a historian last seen in the very first PFS adventure, # 0-01 "The Silent Tide", has returned from Tian Xia with two magical books to study. One of the books is the Infernal Incantatum (which Gill assumes is a book on how to battle and bind devils) and the other is the Celestial Song. But on the return voyage to Absalom, one of Gill’s two apprentices was seduced by an evil cecaelia (octopus-man) into stealing the latter book. Once back in Absalom, Gill performed a ritual with the Infernal Incantatum which he thought would help the side of good, but turned out to simply summon an uncontrollable devil (the scenario emphasises the historian’s bumbling nature, which ties in nicely to his earlier appearance). At around the same time, the “evil” apprentice arrived to try to steal that book as well, and violence and chaos erupted that left Gill unconscious and both apprentices dead.

This is where the scenario starts from the PCs’ perspective, as they receive a briefing from Venture-Captain Amara Li. Li knows that the Infernal Incantatum is actually a prison for devils, and worries that Gill may get in over his head. She asks the PCs to go to his estate to make sure he’s okay. When the PCs arrive, they have to defeat the devil that was accidentally set free (a bearded or Erinyes depending on sub-tier). They’ll learn from Gill what happened, and also figure out that the other book, the Celestial Song, has to be combined with the evil book to stop more denizens of Hell from escaping! I liked the map pack chosen for the encounter.
Gill thinks Venture-Captain Ollysta Zadrian (a paladin) has been delivered the Celestial Song (not realising his traitorous apprentice took it elsewhere), and he gives the PCs directions to where she should be shopping in the markets of Gilltown (no relation to Gill!). The PCs are ambushed by rogue thugs working for the cecaelia in a bid to recover the Infernal Incantatum, because the villain has classic villain plans to use the book to wreak havoc and such. Even with surprise and sneak attack damage, the ambushers have little chance of success.

Once they find Ollysta Zadrian in the markets, she explains she never received the book. But by asking some questions of the gillmen in the market, the PCs will learn that the thugs that attacked them have been using tunnels under Gilltown. The GM can use an optional encounter against hell hounds if time permits, but otherwise it’s on to the last section of the adventure.

The tunnels lead to the cecaelia’s lair, but the lair itself can only be accessed by solving a fun puzzle that involves opening and closing certain gates to get water levels to a particular height (but not too high). Puzzles are actually pretty rare in Paizo adventures, so I always appreciate them when they appear. This one requires a bit of math and teamwork, and seems pretty reasonable in terms of difficulty. The consequences for failure are pretty modest (setting off a trap that’s not likely to kill anyone). I also have to give the map artist props for making a layout that looks like an octopus (even if it doesn’t really make sense on the premise that these are ancient tunnels recently taken over by the cecaelia).

The evil cecaelia, a dude named Na-Kraka, is known as the “Sea Witch” despite only have actual levels in Witch at the higher sub-tier. I guess if he managed to drag a grappled opponent underwater he could be mildly dangerous, but the Pathfinder rules around holding one’s breath are pretty generous. I really don’t imagine most groups having troubles defeating this guy. Once they win, the PCs can retrieve the Celestial Song and combine it with the Infernal Incantatum to stop further devil escapes.

Some of the things I liked about Song of the Sea Witch include the reappearance of Yargos Gill (creating continuity and making recurring use of NPCs is great for storytelling), the use of faction missions (there’s a ton of little goals for different PCs—something I imagine must have been hard to write for), and the selection/creation of encounter maps. But all that being said, as I stated in the opening, there’s not really a lot that jumps out here. It’s a quality scenario, but not a top-tier one.


Easy, but thematic and entertaining

3/5

Just played this scenario this afternoon with a group of Flowing Monk 6, Swashbuckler 6, Hakon pregen 7 and my Slayer 7 (sword and board). The pregen was there to provide a legal table, but mainly kept in the background. It was kind of refreshing to have minimal casting in the party. It was just us knuckleheads getting called in to sort out some mess by doing what we're good at.

Altogether, although it was a pretty easy adventure, I was quite entertained. The trail of clues works pretty well. It felt more like following up on leads than being led around by the nose. The encounters fit together nicely to build information about what's going on.

To be honest, our GM did go a bit light on the scripted tactics; some of them make no sense whatsoever. This is something that comes up in the GM threads; this was Thursty's first scenario and there are some bits in there that result from imperfect rule understanding. Our GM focused on "what the NPCs came here to do" and the encounters made sense and were still easy, but at least they didn't have enemies wasting actions on entirely pointless tactics.

I think it'd be really nice to get a revised version of this scenario that polishes it up a bit to modern-day standards. The story premise and the way the encounters lead into each other is solid. It just needs better tactics and beefed up enemies.


3/5


Doesn't make sense

2/5

Played in tier 6-7, runned in tier 3-4.

It's basically a combat-central railroad module, just avoid tier 3-4, too easy with stupid monsters and the boss' tactic. For tier 6-7, the first and final fight scales much better.

Sadly, with so much backgrounds, almosts useless. The mission is to kill everyone and rob the book! The atmosphere and topic are too vague.


Underwhelming and in desperate need of a revision

2/5

I played this scenario last night and overall I had fun, but that's mostly due to the players and GM. The scenario starts with a nice premise and the plot has certainly potential, yet fails to really deliver on it. It honestly feels like the atmosphere and story is made by the encounters and fights. The places you visit just don't really seem to contribute to the story. Given the plot, that's a shame. The books could have really been used more to set the mood than is the case right now.

I would even go so far as saying that the story is more based on the encounters, than on it having a story behind it. The creatures are great and diverse, especially the first and last one. That diversity is the sole reason I give it a second star. However yet again I'm forced to say that while there is potential, it's poorly executed. Honestly, the first encounter is great, but the fight with the BBEG is a huge, huge disappointment.

At this point I'm considering throwing in some more 'huge' in that sentence, because that really is the case. It was the biggest let-down I've had in PFS to date. The tactics make absolutely no sense whatsoever. It literally is 'it will do X, and then just do nothing other than getting killed while posing no threat at all'. That's just no fun. The only thing that it has going for it, is it's appearance. That's unique and really fascinating, but it will never succeed at anything due to the tactics it has to follow.

Due to that final fight, the scenario ends on a sour note. It's underwhelming and doesn't leave the players satisfied. I wouldn't recommend this scenario at all, unless it is for a revision, but that's something it sadly will never receive. I think the best we as players can do now, is starting a 'hug the sea witch' faction.


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So does this mean the witch is a siren or mermaid?

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Dark_Mistress wrote:
So does this mean the witch is a siren or mermaid?

Dunno...


Oh Mark you tease...


Does this scenario tie in to the metaplot for this season?

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Grandfather, I see a little "sigil of the open road" symbol in the upper-left corner. If the GenCon Special is any indication, the adventures tied to the Ruby Phoenix tournament have the red bird symbol in the corner.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Chris Mortika wrote:
Grandfather, I see a little "sigil of the open road" symbol in the upper-left corner. If the GenCon Special is any indication, the adventures tied to the Ruby Phoenix tournament have the red bird symbol in the corner.

The Pic is only a place holder.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

>>SMEK<<

That's the sound of me hitting my forehead with a ruler.


Just to clarify a bit...

From the manuscript I submitted, this adventure does not directly tie in with the season 3 metaplot. Obviously it does deal with Tian Xia (per the description), and I'm sure if Mark wanted to, he could jigger it in editing to fit in without too many issues. :)


I'm sure this is a great scenario, however it always bothers me when low level PCs are brough in to "save the world" or even to save a city as significant as Absalom. I'd prefer if low level characters save villages or small cities, cities like Absalom deserve the attention of high level PCs, the best.

First of all, it makes no sense because heroes would be available to save Absalom, whether they're part of the PFS or not.

Second, what if they fail? The city is overrun by demons? Absalom is the backdrop to many PFS scenarios, so unless you have other heroes save the city (which should have happenned in the first place) that outcome is impossible.

In "Silent Tide", we saved the city as well. However, as GM I overlooked it because the undead were so weak, they'd probably only beat up some senior citizens. So you're not saving the city as much as saving a few people imo.

Anyway, please don't take my feedback the wrong way, I'm sure this is a great scenario, I just wish the city we were saving was something smaller and more remote than Absalom.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Absalom is the headquarters of the Pathfinder Society and the centerpiece of the Pathfinder Society Organized Play campaign, and will thus play stage to Pathfinder Society scenarios for PCs of all levels. Don't interpret the scenario's blurb as them saving the city from an end of the world situation, however. Sure, there are consequences for failure, but nothing that higher level NPCs couldn't clean up if the PCs fail. Sales text needs to sound exciting, so forgive us if we play up the PCs' impact on the world when trying to get people hyped about playing this or other adventures at conventions and game days ;-)

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
Absalom is the headquarters of the Pathfinder Society and the centerpiece of the Pathfinder Society Organized Play campaign, and will thus play stage to Pathfinder Society scenarios for PCs of all levels. Don't interpret the scenario's blurb as them saving the city from an end of the world situation, however. Sure, there are consequences for failure, but nothing that higher level NPCs couldn't clean up if the PCs fail. Sales text needs to sound exciting, so forgive us if we play up the PCs' impact on the world when trying to get people hyped about playing this or other adventures at conventions and game days ;-)

Save the City they said... Destroy the incoming legion of Devils they said... I'd rather be fishing... ;)

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Ohhhhhhhhh! What is that in the cover! Please tell!

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It's a surprise for all the poor, unfortunate souls who stumble upon it.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well whatever it is I wish I had thought of it! :)

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