A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for Levels 1–5.
In the distant land of Tian Xia, the Pathfinder Society's Lantern Lodge sends a team of agents high into the mountains of the Wall of Heaven to an abandoned Iroran monastery in search of a powerful relic to assist them in ensure victory in the upcoming Ruby Phoenix Tournament. Though the monastery has long laid unused by the faithful of the Master of Masters, it is not completely devoid of danger, and the PCs soon discover that merely retrieving the ancient artifact is but the beginning of a much larger quest.
Written by Jerall Toi, RPG Superstar 2011 runner up.
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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It is an awesome scenario for the players! Very creative combats, a lot of nice little lore bits around. Definitely Amazing for the players.
I would definitely give it 5 Stars by that!
But the prep for the game for the GM is pretty awful. Bad spelling, consistent inconsistency like "Braid of hundred masters" and "braid of thousand masters" or the fact that the scenario and the secondary success condition both talk about "finding out the way to get the braid to work" but you never find that out. You find out how to find it out. You find out that the master, who knew, left, but that is not "finding out how to activate the braid". The text literally is just incorrect. Once you understand that, it's fine, but the prep you have to do for this is not fun at parts.
I can be short about this: it needlessly punishes and frustrates players with enemy placement and terrain disadvantages. Combats themselves aren't really all that interesting, but most combats are laid out in such a way that half of your players can't meaningfully interact.
There's an attempt at some skill challenges on the way, but that's also needlessly punishing. A wrong roll can easily lead to a player death, especially on the low tier. And that final battle... Wow.
In short, all by itself it isn't a bad scenario, there are just a lot of small design choices that suck out some of the fun for me. My others players were more enthused about it, however, so take that however you want.
An all-combat scenario, almost no roleplay or investigation.
However, the author cleverly conbines monsters with environments, makes good challenges, especially the BBEG can be a killing mechine for low level characters.
Many season 3 adventurers in Tian Xia are just lack of cultural topic, sadly this is one of them. RAW, it shall be a door-kicking game without doors, GMs have to do more discribe and interact to add some flavors.
The best part about this scenario is the variation in the encounters. Not only is there a nice plethora of creatures to face, but also the environment is quite varied and impacts gameplay quite well. Just trust me when I say the combination of 'creatures' and 'terrain' makes this a fun scenario. They're all significantly different, which means that you will find yourself utilising different strategies every single time.
Oh and the big bad evil guy is really not a walkover and can dish out a significant amount of pain. You really want to be careful. Our cleric made the mistake of walking off on his own for a single round and instantly dropped down to -2 health. I know evil guys are supposed to do that, but this one is particularly daunting to face.
The downside to this scenario is the lack of interaction with NPC's. Though at least one fight can be solved diplomatically, it's not as obvious as is the case in other scenarios. Roleplaying is not really encouraged as a result, which might feel a bit disappointing for some people. It doesn't mean they should stay away from this scenario though: there's enough hooks to base PC to PC interaction on, but it clearly isn't the focus of this mission.
Final verdict: great encounters and great scenery make for great fights, but it's also combat that's the main focal point of this scenario. If you strictly want to solve things diplomatically, you should reconsider partaking in this one.
It'll be interesting to read to see if a mini-campaign could be developed using the 3-part society scenario plus the tournament module and anything else that someone might be able to add to it. I'll have to get this stuff when it becomes available and see If I can do some sort of Tian-Xia mini-campaign.
For what it's worth, this happens every time something is due to go live; I've noticed it the past few months for PFS Scenarios. I suspect there's something in the code that says if the "on sale" date is the same as the current date, but the object isn't actually for sale yet, then list it as "Unavailable."
While I'm not a normal PFSS purchaser, I had to buy this (and Part 2 next month), both out of a sense of solidarity and genuine curiosity about what I'd written a piece of. After the fact, I have no issues with that; four bucks well spent. This is all kinds of fun stuff, even just reading. Well done, Jerall. I only hope Part III doesn't look shoddy in comparison. ;-)
A little tweak I added that made for some fun roleplay for this adventure:
I had the two guides (actually, I changed it to 1 guide as well) be a bit fearful of the monsters and the encounter with the snow leopard sent him over the edge. That night, while the PCs slept, he tried to sneak away as he was too scared to continue. He did leave his map case behind for the PCs.
The PCs of course heard him and we had an interesting discussion on whether or not to let him leave. Lilly, the big hearted fighter with the even bigger sword, insisted the poor man be allowed to return to his village.
* The text says "The two guides can provide the PCs with simple maps" from Base Camp to Two Brothers. Unfortunately no map of the route is provided to the GM. Certainly with this being a linear adventure, I could probably put something together, but does anyone have a well thought map they could share?
* Any hints on time and distances?
* In convention PFS play, how best to deal with the fact that most PCs at the table will neither be equipped for climbing nor cold temperatures? Should Amara Li provide?
They certainly can, but the final boss can hit really hard, and the economy of actions won't help save a PC if it gets a full attack off against someone who can't take the damage. I think you'll find the other encounters manageable with a large party of 3rd-level PCs, but if their APL is 3, they should be able to choose whether they play up or down without your input.