Pathfinder Society Special: Race for the Runecarved Key (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Special designed for levels 1-12+

An ancient Thassilonian artifact has been unearthed in Magnimar and is to be auctioned off by the city government. In order to maintain good relations with those in power in the City of Monuments, the Pathfinder Society must obtain the relic without simply stealing it, although employing any other means necessary. It falls to the PCs to infiltrate the auction, sabotage the other bidders' efforts, and call in favors from those in the Society's debt to ensure the Runecarved Key (and the secrets it unlocks) belongs to the Pathfinders when the adventure draws to a close.

Written by Kyle Baird and Tim Hitchcock.

Note: Race for the Runecarved Key is designed for play in the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild. It may be run anywhere by anyone, as long as there are 4 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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Good close of season 4

****( )

I ran this scenario yesterday for The Degraded at a tier 5-6 table. And I agree with both him and Ascalaphus that this special is fun and is not as bad as some reviewers want you to believe.

Yes, there is some moral shadiness in the beginning of the special, but the table with the Paladin solved that admirably. After that there are several encounters that the players can either choose from or select randomly. At my table the players choose randomly and we had a good mix of role-playing, investigation and combat encounters.

The auction stays weird in my book: it took us GM's a bit to figure out how to do this and we choose to let the GM's portray the NPC's. I think that did not work as well as it could. After that there is a load of fighting. Since we might have spend too much time on the previous acts the fighting did not last very long, which is a good thing. If we had allowed for enough time for all the fighting at the end the RP parts would have been much shorter (and therefore less fun).

The scenario as written is a good closing of season 4, fitting with the theme of the season. It could have explained more regarding the involvement of certain factions.

I have played Year of the Shadow Lodge and GM'ed Legacy of the Stonelords and would rank Race for the Runecarved Key behind Legacy of the Stonelords and before Year of the Shadow Lodge. Paizo has improved their specials over the years!

A more detailed opinion on the acts, contains spoilers:

Act 1 (opening in the cathedral) is nice, but more exposition on the Key would have been nice. The characters are obviously interested why this macguffin is important, so give the GM something more to work with. I liked the sandbox nature of this act

Act 2 (ambush the aspis): I loved the look on my players faces when first the wizard appeared and a round later there suddenly was a charging bulette! (and I picked this tier because I had just the right miniature). At the paladin's table one of the characters made a forgery that stated that the consortium owed the Temple of Abadar a considerable sum.... (the Paladin did not know this)

Act 3 (weed out the opposition): great act, enough choice.

Act 4 (auction, chase and fights): auction is weird and we as GM's should have given more OOC explanation. The cultists in the cathedral are tough while they should have been a speedbump.

The chase was good, especially the advice to the GM's to be flexible with the skills used and that it is better not to tell the players what skill they can use

The assasin is tough, but she should be. We ran out of time because the speedbump took too much time, causing the focus not to be at the epic end fight but at the speedbump. I narrated the opening of the gates and explained that behind them the charging Heidmarch's came to the rescue


Lower your alignment expectations, then go wild

****( )

I too was one of the Dutch players who played this yesterday. I'd read the previous reviews and brought my "moral vacuum" investigator; in fact, our party was morally questionable. (Inquisitor of Gorum, Gorumite barbarian, Urgathoa cleric, Urgathoa investigator, "I can't believe you're lawful" LN bard that thought he followed Sarenrae.)

So, at first I was surprised at the amount of RP included; that's a tall order for a Special due to all the time constraints. In our case we'd planned for this to run in a much longer slot so that actually wasn't a problem. There was enough time to talk to NPCs but not to talk about everything; the adventure gives plausible reasons why you need to move on.

Then we come to the first mission, and we were all a bit surprised at just how ruthless this adventure is set up. Despite the party I just mentioned, we're not used to being quite this murderous, but we were on a "no witnesses" mission.

Afterwards, there were a variety of missions to choose from. We did several and had fun with them; many of them allowed us to pick an approach that suited us. A huge difference from the video-gamey way Blood Under Absalom was written. In many cases, you didn't actually be as evil here as some other reviews suggest.

Then we come to the auction. It was entertainingly acted out between the NPCs, but the mechanics were obscure and we didn't feel like we had any real way to influence the outcome. Besides;

Spoiler:
After someone won the auction; I'm not quite sure who; cultists burst in and steal the Key, you chase them down and take the key; so all the maneuvering before that is voided

The fight that came after was rather weird;

Spoiler:
At our 8-9 tier, it seemed the cultists only had battlefield control spells, but not really anything to do once they had some control over the battlefield. So we got hit with a cloudkill, sleet storm, glitterdust, stinking cloud and web, all in 2 rounds, but after that they didn't really bring anything to do with it.

The chase was over quickly because we could trivially overcome the obstacles and the GM was being sensible about them; but that's what you get with level 7-8 characters with haste and flight available. Fruitcarts aren't going to stop them. Then we came to the final fight and that was quite interesting too.

---

All in all it was fun, but with some flaws. What is missing most is a bit of exposition on why this key is so important. We're being told to set aside all morality to get it; why is it worth that? A halfway decent explanation would go a long way towards compensating for the forced "evilness" of this adventure.


An enjoyable and role-play-heavy Special

****( )

The Dutch Pathfinders ended up playing this special this Sunday with 7 tables. It always surprises me to see so many people show up and Explore, Cooperate and Report. Oh and have fun. That too is important. For me this was my third special. I had previously played Blood under Absalom and the Legacy of the Stonelords. For the purpose of comparison, I will quickly recap my opinion on those two. Blood Under Absalom was just a meatgrinder and that I don't consider fun in the slightest. The Legacy of the Stonelords, on the other hand, offered a wide variety of everything and this made every character feel useful.

That's fun and all, I can hear you say, but I'm not here to read your opinion about that. So how does this special compare to those two? Compared to Blood Under Absalom, this special is far, far better, but I'd say it's a bit weaker than the Legacy of the Stonelords. The thing is that this special, like others have pointed out before, requires your party to do some things that certain alignments would simply not do. And while a lot of skills can be useful, it's really centred around diplomacy and a bunch of talking to solve things.

Now I personally enjoy that – I was happy to play my mesmerist as she's build for these sort of things – but it is not to everyone's liking. If you're not into talking a lot and prefer to outwit your opponents in terms of martial prowess and tactics, this is maybe not for you. The few 'you have to fight these' encounters are pretty challenging though and can easily cause some casualties if you're not careful.

That said, the variety of encounters and 'quests', really was a pleasant surprise to me. At the end of the day, I felt like every small thing we did, had a significant impact on the development of the auction. Speaking about the auction: that was the weakest part. While it was a nice touch, the mechanics didn't feel easy enough to wrap my head around and it doesn't really help if there are 7 tables and 7 'NPC's' shouting at the same time. It's just too messy for my taste.

All things considering I can only say that at the end of the day, a lot of facets came together into a nice story and that I personally had a great time. Objectively, I rate this as a solid 4 stars since there are some aspects that are a tad problematic for certain players and groups.


Walk away,

*( )( )( )( )

I wouldn't recommend running this, or even organizing it.

This special is BAD, after Gencon I decided not to participate in any more specials because of this scenario.

Mike Brock told GM's before the event not to go easy on players, I can't figure out why. I think I had an average party, and could of killed them really easily with even the lower tier creatures.

I dont really have anything positive to say about any part of the special. Almost every part would get hammered.

So I will start with the positive things. At gencon the GM's got some flipmats and I think a chase deck.


Look at your character sheet. . .

***( )( )

If anywhere on there it says Paladin or even Lawful Good, take that character sheet and walk away from this scenario.

Its a decent scenario but it exists on the far shadier side of the Society and the law. This scenario, if successful will cost a Paladin 3 pp, you'll gain 2 pp for the mission and spend 5 pp for an atonement at the end, no way around it with anyone who has a decent understanding of the paladin code.

With all that said, this scenario would be an absolute blast with pretty much any other neutral, chaotic or semi-good character. Well built scenario, good combat, good "inquisitive-ness".


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Paizo Employee Web Product Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Announced! Cover image is a mockup.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Sounds like a lot of morally questionable actions are going to be going down, sounds like fun now what will andoran or silver crusade do though?

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

4 people marked this as a favorite.
doc the grey wrote:
now what will andoran or silver crusade do though?

Their jobs.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
doc the grey wrote:
Sounds like a lot of morally questionable actions are going to be going down, sounds like fun now what will andoran or silver crusade do though?

Whinge about what the right thing to do is, while everyone else makes off with the loot.

Silver Crusade

How many tables are required to run this at a convention?

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

That hasn't been decided yet. We'll likely know mid-summer when this comes up in the development cycle.

The Exchange

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Baird *AND* Hitchcock?!

Geez! I see Paizo wants to start season 4 fresh with no living PCs...

This is one way to do that.

-Pain

Shadow Lodge

You know Pain, I was thinking the same thing... Kinda glad I'm not going to GenCon this year now... :)

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
That hasn't been decided yet. We'll likely know mid-summer when this comes up in the development cycle.

I would really love it if it was only 3 tables min. Some of our smaller cons/game days would like that so we could actually run it.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow... this is awesome! Brutally awesome!

The Exchange

Dennis Baker wrote:
Wow... this is awesome! Brutally awesome!

Ogre, I love you and all...but I think you're confusing "Brutally awesome" with "butt-puckeringly scary and something to avoid at all costs".

-Pain

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The phrases are interchangeable based on which side of the GM screen you are on.


Product Availability wrote:
Will be available for purchase approximately Wed, Aug 7, 2013.

That's a pretty long wait. I assume that should be 2012 instead :)

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Nope. It will be available only to event organizers who want to offer it at conventions or large game days for the entirety of Season 4. When we launch Season 5 at Gen Con 2013, we'll make this one available to the general public.

Grand Lodge

No one has noted that 12+ in the levels? Nice and shiny!

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Michael Brock wrote:
No one has noted that 12+ in the levels? Nice and shiny!

We already knew... You gave that info out a long time ago.

Mike, memory problems at your old Age?

Mark, maybe you should keep a closer eye on him, you don't know what he might forget next!

;)

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Not my problem. I have too much else to worry about to start making sure Mike keeps his shoes tied.

Grand Lodge

Dragnmoon wrote:


We already knew... You gave that info out a long time ago.

Mike, memory problems at your old Age?

;)

Oh, I know I mentioned it before. But, no one said anything so I wanted to reinforce it. By the way, I'm not old. The Core Rulebook, page 169, advises old for a human is 53. I've got a decade to go.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

4 people marked this as a favorite.

We all figured you'd abused haste a bit too much in the AD&D years.

Grand Lodge

Dennis Baker wrote:
We all figured you'd abused haste a bit too much in the AD&D years.

But it helped get my AC down to -4 and increase my Thac0

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Class Deck, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Michael Brock wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:


We already knew... You gave that info out a long time ago.

Mike, memory problems at your old Age?

;)

Oh, I know I mentioned it before. But, no one said anything so I wanted to reinforce it. By the way, I'm not old. The Core Rulebook, page 169, advises old for a human is 53. I've got a decade to go.

Just make sure you stay off my lawn when you visit the bay area!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Michael Brock wrote:
Dennis Baker wrote:
We all figured you'd abused haste a bit too much in the AD&D years.
But it helped get my AC down to -4 and increase my Thac0

Ah the good old days! When we lied about kissin' girls behind the bleachers and exactly how many 18's we really did roll. Along with psionics.

I got 8 years to go. I better hurry up and make 12th level so I can build a castle to retire in.

If I hadn't said, look forward to meeting you at GenCon Mike!

**********************

Kyle! Double congrats!

Grand Lodge

JohnF wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:


We already knew... You gave that info out a long time ago.

Mike, memory problems at your old Age?

;)

Oh, I know I mentioned it before. But, no one said anything so I wanted to reinforce it. By the way, I'm not old. The Core Rulebook, page 169, advises old for a human is 53. I've got a decade to go.

Just make sure you stay off my lawn when you visit the bay area!

You must be rich. Only rich people can afford a lawn in the Bay area. I guess drinks are on you at Kubla Con!

Grand Lodge

Jim Groves wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Dennis Baker wrote:
We all figured you'd abused haste a bit too much in the AD&D years.
But it helped get my AC down to -4 and increase my Thac0

Ah the good old days! When we lied about kissin' girls behind the bleachers and exactly how many 18's we really did roll. Along with psionics.

I got 8 years to go. I better hurry up and make 12th level so I can build a castle to retire in.

If I hadn't said, look forward to meeting you at GenCon Mike!

**********************

Kyle! Double congrats!

I *really* rolled all those sixes like four times. I promise. Oh, and I really did roll 00 on my strength check. I *really* promise. And can we just say I have the levels in all the classes (fighter, thief, and Druid) so I can be a bard? Oh wait, I went back too far.......

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Class Deck, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Michael Brock wrote:
JohnF wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:


We already knew... You gave that info out a long time ago.

Mike, memory problems at your old Age?

;)

Oh, I know I mentioned it before. But, no one said anything so I wanted to reinforce it. By the way, I'm not old. The Core Rulebook, page 169, advises old for a human is 53. I've got a decade to go.

Just make sure you stay off my lawn when you visit the bay area!

You must be rich. Only rich people can afford a lawn in the Bay area. I guess drinks are on you at Kubla Con!

Sorry - all my disposable income seems to be going on rulebooks, adventure paths, flip-mats, miniatures, scenarios, ...

Anyway, Azmyth's already said the first round is on him.


Michael Brock wrote:
No one has noted that 12+ in the levels? Nice and shiny!

Shiny? I was thinking bloody! I wonder if there will be anyone left alive to play part 2..

Grand Lodge

Have you ever seen pools of blood under a street light? If no one survives to Round 2, drinks are on me. :-)


Michael Brock wrote:
Have you ever seen pools of blood under a street light? If no one survives to Round 2, drinks are on me. :-)

done and done.

Grand Lodge

Michael Brock wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:


We already knew... You gave that info out a long time ago.

Mike, memory problems at your old Age?

;)

Oh, I know I mentioned it before. But, no one said anything so I wanted to reinforce it. By the way, I'm not old. The Core Rulebook, page 169, advises old for a human is 53. I've got a decade to go.

Speaking as someone who turned forty in Deceber, that table needs a serious errata.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

When I pointed that out to my wife (who is a year older than me), I didn't get a very nice look back. She then requested to know who wrote that chart up. I haven't told her, and for the safety of ******** ***********, I hope she doesn't find out because the next company party could get ugly ;-)

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Class Deck, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Michael Brock wrote:
When I pointed that out to my wife (who is a year older than me), I didn't get a very nice look back.

Wait until she finds out you've been posting information about her age on a public forum. . . .

Grand Lodge

6 people marked this as a favorite.

She already saw it this morning. I will be stopping by Pike Market to pick up flowers later today.

Scarab Sages

14 people marked this as a favorite.

You already got me flowers from Pike Place last week. I think you might be up to jewelry, my dear. :-)

And he failed to mention that we are the same age until mid June.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

bahahahahaha!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Go Mrs. B!

Mike, Mother's Day is the 13th, big guy. If jewelry it is, then do a combination move and do a two-for-one!

Scarab Sages

Jim Groves wrote:

Go Mrs. B!

Mike, Mother's Day is the 13th, big guy. If jewelry it is, then do a combination move and do a two-for-one!

Oh noooo!! He doesn't get out that easy! No combo gifts...and no gifts with electrical cords.

Shadow Lodge

Not even a tanning bed?

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

I suggest a serenade of your favorite goblin song; nothing says true love like a diddy with fire and baby jam that comes from the heart.

Grand Lodge

She's not going to be at Gen Con to protect any of you. Just fair warning.

Grand Lodge

Jim Groves wrote:

Go Mrs. B!

And that is Mrs. PFS.

Scarab Sages

Black Powder Chocobo wrote:
I suggest a serenade of your favorite goblin song; nothing says true love like a diddy with fire and baby jam that comes from the heart.

LOL, that has some potential! Besides, there is a certain goblin item that I would love, and Mike knows it.

Scarab Sages

Michael Brock wrote:
She's not going to be at Gen Con to protect any of you. Just fair warning.

But I will be at PaizoCon...just fair warning.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Michael Brock wrote:
She's not going to be at Gen Con to protect any of you. Just fair warning.

(all safe for work)

Uh oh.

Good thing I'm only going to PaizoCon.

Michael Brock wrote:
And that is Mrs. PFS.

Yessir.

I guess if you have to get the flowers, then I have to get the six pack.

:|

Silver Crusade

How do the tiers break down for the Special? We've got some slightly disparate levels in our group, all have tickets for the Special, and we'd like to try and end up at the same table.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Jon Seraph wrote:

How do the tiers break down for the Special? We've got some slightly disparate levels in our group, all have tickets for the Special, and we'd like to try and end up at the same table.

Usually the specials are tiers 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9, and 10-11. This year there's also a 12+ tier.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I really hope the tiers don't break down that way. I will be 2nd level by the time of the event Friday night (at GenCon), but my friend will be 3rd. We were hoping/planning on playing at the same table.


The tiers will be that way, however, you should be fine. It can accommodate a mix of levels as long as no one is more than 1 subtier away from their "natural" subtier after the table APL is calculated.

We will likely be seating "groups of 6" first at Gen Con. For smaller groups, just muster with the most likely subtier. At 2/3 you should muster with the 3-4. You should, however, be open to playing 1-2 if that's how the tables end up breaking down.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Actually, just calculating, I should be 3rd level by Friday night, as I am only 1 Exp. away from 2nd level. And my friend just cracked 3rd level in our last PFS session. So by Friday, I am guessing we will be 3 and 4, respectively (assuming neither of us dies). So by that time, we should be in the same tier, anyways.

Thanks.

The Exchange

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Just remember that you cannot go more than one "sub-tier" away from your level. So a level 2 should not be playing in a Sub-tier 4-5 game, but would be fine in a sub-tier 3-4 game.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Are we referring to just ‘special’ events on these tier rules? We’ll be ok for the special event, as I should be in the same tier (3-4), but the first event we will be a couple levels apart from one another (1 and 3).

Also, the events had a large range of levels listed. It varied from 1-5, 5-9 or even above. We signed up for the 1-5 timeslots.

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