Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-EX: The Cyphermage Dilemma (PFRPG) PDF

2.80/5 (based on 4 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-5 ( (Tier 1–5; Subtiers 1–2 and 4–5).

In the shadow of the cyclopean Cyphergate that spans Riddleport's harbor, the PCs find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot of deception that one could only find in Varisia's infamous pirate port.

"The Cyphermage Dilemma" is an exclusive adventure to be run only by 4-star Pathfinder Society GMs, Venture-Captain and Venture-Lieutenant campaign volunteers, and Paizo staff for its first year.

Written by Patrick Renie.

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.

Note: This scenario has been updated from its exclusive version for public release. Purchasers have access to both the exclusive version released as Pathfinder Society Scenario #3–EX and Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–15, but as of February 28, 2013, only the latter is legal for Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Except for minor editorial changes, both versions of the scenario are the same; only the legal version of the scenario contains a Chronicle sheet.

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2.80/5 (based on 4 ratings)

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Cyphaverage

3/5

Cyphermage is a basic straightforward investigation/combat mission. Does that make it bad? No, but it also doesn’t make it good.

There was very little roleplaying, no problem solving or decision making was needed from the players (it was a bit of a railroad), and it contained no puzzles. It reminded me a little bit of “The Devil We Know 2: Cassomir’s Locker” in terms of what you can expect.

On a positive note the scenario wasn’t so difficult that I couldn’t enjoy myself. It’s actually nice to destroy the opposition sometimes. We had a very non-optimal party and we did fine. This scenario will be seen as too easy by some people.

”About a difficult skill check”:
Some people had problems with a difficult Climb check. I however though it was fine.

First of all, it’s a realistic DC for what you’re trying to do, maybe even too easy, RAW. Climbing up the side of a ship (or even a wet sailboat), isn’t that easy.
Second, the players should be able to adapt by using some creative problem solving skills and standard equipment (grappling hook). It’s not that hard.
Third, the combat encounter on top was easy, try taking off your armor to make it challenging as intended.
Lastly, you have ranged weapons for a reason.

I see no reason for complaints.

I can see why some reviewers were upset, the scenario lacks flavor and isn't interesting enough to run multiple times. This isn't a bad scenario, but it also wasn't worthy of being the exclusive this year. A scenario like Golemworks (with a high level of detail and complexity)would have been a better choice.

Detailed Ratings:

Length: Medium. We finished in 3.5 hours (skipped the optional encounter).
Experience: Player with 4 laughably non-optimal PCs at subtier 4-5.
Sweet Spot: TBD.
Entertainment: I was entertained, but perhaps the GM covered the weaknesses or mistakes in the scenario. (7/10)
Story: Average. (5/10)
Roleplay: No roleplay. (2/10)
Combat/Challenges: Non-interesting/unique challenges. I however liked that the encounters weren’t extremely difficult as a change of pace. The optional encounter was lame. (4/10)
Maps: Good use of flip maps again. (7/10)
Boons: Some good minor boons. (7/10)
Uniqueness: Meh. (2/10)
Faction Missions: I liked the flavor of it and furthered the story. (8/10)

Overall: Cyphermage is a simple, easy and relaxing scenario. (5/10)


A Disappointing "Reward"

1/5

I've forgotten to write this review for some time. I plan on coming back and filling this in with more detail at a later date.

I've run this scenario 5 times and played it twice.

This scenario is a huge disappointment for players expecting something as entertaining as the last exclusive, The Midnight Mauler. This scenario:

1) Lacks a compelling story. The whole premise is pedistrian at best.
2) Lack of challenging/dynamic encounters. The best encounter is the first encounter and even that relies on the GM to bring it to life.
3) Provides minimal GM support for role play in a scenario that screams for role play opportunities (see City of Strangers 1/2). GMs could spend an hour exploring Riddleport, but the scenario itself includes next to nothing to help with this.
4) Includes arbitrary rules counter to standard PFRPG rules. (DC 20 climb check to climb 5 feet, I'm looking at you)
5) 4 PCs are expected to pilot a ship? Look how small that Topaz Titan is! The final map with rabid dogs not jumping out of a shallow pit? Why is the guy at the dogs travelling with a rabid dog? Fire bombing alchemist on a boat? A solo magus BBEG. Again. RAWR.

The Midnight Mauler set expectations high. Offering this scenario as a reward for 4 and 5 star GMs is insulting. Having to run this scenario to keep our 5th star is borderline abuse.


A fun and challenging scenario

4/5

GMed the scenario in lower tier (1-2), sofar only one run.

The scenario offers more than whats on the pages. If the GM gets familiar with Riddleport, the players will get a really nice setting flavor.
The plot works ok but the players may have questions not covered in the scenario so good prep is really important.
Encounters are not necesarily fights so more diplomatically/bluff inclined players can really do well if they try alternate tactics.
End encounter is really challenging because of the context and rewards smart players.

The first run ended with one death and the n00b at the table saving the rest from TPK. Players had fun and I'll be happy to run it again and see how other groups do.


I Expected Better

3/5

I’ve run this scenario 3 times and it’s making a slow recovery from the 1-Star first impression it made. The adventure takes place in Riddleport, a nearly lawless pirate town. The surroundings are very colorful but can be lost on players unless the GM does some research first. I recommend the GM read either the Second Darkness Chapter 1 Adventure Path section on Riddleport or the associated Player Companion as part of the prep work, your players will thank you. Also consider purchasing Pirates of the Inner Sea as the scenario features some equipment from that resource. The scenario spends a fair amount of time on the water, which favors high-mobility (and buoyant) PCs. If you have a social PC you can also have a good time. Non-lawful PCs also fair better in Riddleport. The scenario gets high marks for Campaign Flavor for using Riddleport as a backdrop, and for enabling creative approaches from players. The Faction missions are a let-down, more of the usual find-the-obvious-stuff-and-bring-it-back. My two gripes are with the background and the combat encounters. The background/plot is implausible and takes a toll on the player’s immersion into the situation. The combat encounters are recycled opponents & contrived roles. There was a lot of potential for exploiting the Bestiary 2 and Bestiary 3 here but instead I feel let down. I’m giving the scenario a grudging 3-Star review, only because so far all my players have enjoyed themselves and haven’t felt cheated. However, this is an Exclusive scenario and there’s nothing here that set it apart from any other scenario available for purchase. It took more effort than it should have to fix this scenario, and as an Exclusive release I really expected more.


Web Product Manager

Announced! Cover image is a mockup.

Grand Lodge

Excellent.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

What does -EX mean? All the others I see are numbers, like 3-17.


gbonehead wrote:
What does -EX mean? All the others I see are numbers, like 3-17.

Exclusive. It's the 4 star GM/Venture-Captain exclusive scenario for the season. For the first year you have to track down one of the above to be able to play it, or be one of the above to receive it.

EDIT: Also, Venture-Lieutenants and Paizo staff would be included in that list.


The -EX modules are the special ones that are limited in who can run them for the first year they're available. From the product description above:

"The Cyphermage Dilemma" is an exclusive adventure to be run only by 4-star Pathfinder Society GMs, Venture-Captain and Venture-Lieutenant campaign volunteers, and Paizo staff for its first year.

edit: ninjaed

The Exchange

For those who will GM this scenario, I suggest you do some research on Riddleport if you are not already familiar. Paizo's produced a good amount of material on this city, including sections of the Second Darkness Player's Companion and in the first chapter of the Second Darkness Adventure Path, Shadow in the Sky. Using the maps, pictures and personalities from these supplements can bring Riddleport to life and make an impression on the players so they know they aren't just doing another generic mission.

The Exchange

When will this scenario be available to qualified GMs? I assumed it would be released with the other scenarios last night.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Doug Miles wrote:
When will this scenario be available to qualified GMs? I assumed it would be released with the other scenarios last night.

Sorry Doug, it says it's only available for 4-star GMs, VC's and VL's. 5-star GMs must be excluded.

Contributor

Doug Miles wrote:
When will this scenario be available to qualified GMs? I assumed it would be released with the other scenarios last night.

Per the product description:

Product Description wrote:
Will be available for purchase approximately Wed, Feb 27, 2013.

You've got another year until it's available for general consumption, but I'm not sure when it will be available for qualified GMs.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Getting three scenarios done this month along with some other high-priority stuff in the pipeline meant this scenario has been delayed a few days. If someone qualifies to run it prior to public release next year (4- or 5-star GM, venture-captain, venture-lieutenant, Paizo staff) who is scheduled to run it in the next few days, please email me or send me a private message and I'll do what I can to get it to you. I expect it to be in qualified GMs' downloads within the next few days, but perhaps not before the weekend.


Thanks Mark! You're the best! ;-)

The Exchange

Kyle Baird wrote:
Thanks Mark! You're the best! ;-)

+1 (without the wink)

Grand Lodge

Now available to 4/5 star GM's and Venture Officers near you!


TwilightKnight wrote:
Now available to 4/5 star GM's and Venture Officers near you!

Sylvan? SYLVAN?!

The Exchange

GM Discussion:
So at the low tier the alchemist on the wooden ship is throwing firebombs (at the high tier he can opt to throw frost bombs). Are we supposed to ignore this hazard, or can it be expected that sometimes the ship is going to burn up? It seems silly that a portion of the scenario details the difficulty of climbing aboard the ship (which can be dealt with through the Climb skill as written), while the potential for fire damage to the vessel is very real--yet remains a grey area.

I am disappointed that again we have a scenario filled with humanoid opponents. Where are the monsters? Why couldn't the author have included an encounter with a devilfish, a reefclaw or a bunyip?

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Re: Doug,

Spoiler:
A continually burning flame, like ignited oil or burning tar, would be a threat to the ship itself, but a quick explosion isn't going to be sufficient for igniting the wood. A straw boat, maybe, but not one made of timber.

As for the opponent spread, I had urged Patrick to do something other than humanoids, which was why he included the hounds in area D2, but yes, a bunyip would have been a fun addition. Perhaps, if we have more time for additional development before this becomes available to everyone we can readjust things to include one, but for now it is what it is.


Act 2, Room D2, sub-tier 4-5 should be quantity (2) to meet the listed CR 5.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I just earned my fourth star.

Undine chorus: "Yay."

How do I trigger this scenario to show up in my downloads? (Or do I need to go hunting to find it someplace non-routine?)

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Congrats, Chris! Email Mike Brock and he'll get you set up as soon as he gets back from the series of conventions he's attending this weekend and next week.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Chris Mortika wrote:
Undine chorus: "Yay."

Makes me think of Fluttershy's "yay".

Speaking of "yay", congrats on the fourth star and thanks for agreeing to come run this at FFG this weekend!


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I guessed what it meant quickly, but right now if you look, it says available Feb 27. Many will say that was a couple months ago and not think 9 months in future. A year hint might be worth it. And why do we have to wait so long? Not that I am killing off what I already have in my backlog at a couple games/month.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Kata. the ..... wrote:
And why do we have to wait so long? Not that I am killing off what I already have in my backlog at a couple games/month.

Pathfinder Society exclusives are, well, exclusive for their first year of release. If you want to play this before next February, your local venture-captain, venture-lieutenant, or 4- or 5-star GM can run it for you.

The Exchange

Final Encounter Question and Spoiler:
I recently played the Cyphermage Dilemma and was told the final encounter could only end one way and that was with the Cyphermage we were sent to rescue dying and thus we all failed the mission. The Cyphermage was bound and helpless and the DM had initiative and thus coup de grace him before we could get even into the room.

We had to do the final fight with the idea that we all failed the mission and yet we were able to get around this by all opting to contribute to a raise dead. I'd like to know if this DM was correct in their statement that there wasn't any way to complete the mission without having to resort to the raise dead.

Liberty's Edge

Hazzard wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

That doesn't sound right to me. Mike Brock was my GM for this, so I'd say it's likely he understood it correctly.

Spoiler:
To succeed the main mission, you must kill/capture the main baddie OR rescue the Cyphermage; whichever one you did, you then got the corresponding boon on the chronicle. Mike stated that it was possible to do both, but very unlikely.

In our case, we weren't surprised by the enemies, but were tricked into letting the main baddie go, in return for the safe return of the Cyphermage. She took the Cyphermage with her anyway, before pushing him overboard when her boat came under attack. We rescued the Cyphermage, but the enemy escaped. That still counted as a passed mission, albeit with a boon crossed off.

The Exchange

Paz wrote:
Hazzard wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

That doesn't sound right to me. Mike Brock was my GM for this, so I'd say it's likely he understood it correctly.

** spoiler omitted **

Thank you. Without being able to read the scenario til it becomes available I'll have to rely on others answers and interpretations. I can see that every game situation could/would be different, yet to be told there was no way to complete the scenario any other way was a bit...

..disconcerting.

Shadow Lodge

High movement rates, stealth, Grapple, Disarm, Trip, my group was able to get the perfect stroke ... kill the baddie and rescue the cyphermage

Grand Lodge

Hazzard wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

As I think I was the GM who ran it:

Spoiler:
I find the box text doesn't clearly spell out the alternative success condition, and I was left with no way to explain it in-character. In successive runs of it I heavily paraphrased the VC briefing to make it more clear.

A sidebar explaining that "if X dies, NPC Y will pay for the raise dead, but the party loses boon Z" might have been useful, as said boon is not worth the cost of a raise dead, even split 6 ways."

Overall, I was disappointed by the scenario, and I'm undecided about offering it at Owlcon 2013, for a variety of reasons.


I did both at the low teir with good ole cause fear.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Coup de grace is a full-round action, and can't be readied. The magus can hold her action and start the coup de grace at the beginning of combat, but everybody would have a chance to react.

It would be better for her to use spell combat on the helpless scholar, since two blows should kill anybody. Regretably, she has no touch spells, so she can't use her class's signature cool ability.

Silver Crusade

I recently played this adventure as a 1st level magus, and at the end I was able to get the BBEG's spellbook. Unfortunately, my GM has horrible hand writing, so I don't know what the last spell that he wrote down was. The spells I got that I know are burning hands, corrosive touch and magic missile. Would someone who has access to the module be able to post the 1st level spell list so that I could figure out what my GM wrote down?

Or, failing that, what it looks like he wrote was "Senibor". Is there a spell on that list that is similar to this? (the "e" in the spell might be a "c", and the "r" might be a "v", it looks like this: "/". It's impossible to tell.)

Thanks.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

isdestroyer wrote:

I recently played this adventure as a 1st level magus, and at the end I was able to get the BBEG's spellbook. Unfortunately, my GM has horrible hand writing, so I don't know what the last spell that he wrote down was. The spells I got that I know are burning hands, corrosive touch and magic missile. Would someone who has access to the module be able to post the 1st level spell list so that I could figure out what my GM wrote down?

Or, failing that, what it looks like he wrote was "Senibor". Is there a spell on that list that is similar to this? (the "e" in the spell might be a "c", and the "r" might be a "v", it looks like this: "/". It's impossible to tell.)

Thanks.

Spellbook:

It actually looks like there might be an error here. In both tiers, it lists her spellbook as an item but it doesn't list any spells beyond what she has prepared. Anyway...

Here are her 1-2 spells:
1st - burning hands, corrosive touch, magic missle

And her 4-5 spells:
2nd - acid arrow, bull's strength, frigid touch
1st - burning hands, color spray, corrosive touch, magic missle, ray of enfeeblement

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