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

2.80/5 (based on 18 ratings)

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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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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

PZOPSS0400E


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2.80/5 (based on 18 ratings)

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High-level scenario, except not

2/5

Several times I've heard RftRK touted as one of the rare scenarios for level 15 or even level 18 characters.

While this is technically true, what it means here is that its highest tier is designed for level 12, and you're allowed to play this as any higher level. That means that if you're 15 or up, everything is a pushover and you can just trounce the opposition without raising a sweat.

That can certainly be fun, but it's probably not what players expect. If you're looking for a level-15 scenario that's a decent challenge for level-15 characters, this ain't it.


Good close of season 4

4/5

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

4/5

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

4/5

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,

1/5

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.


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Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

To clarify, there is only one tier for this special (Tier 1–12+). Tier indicates what level PCs may participate in the event. From there, there are 6 subtiers, which are based on APL and determine what set of statblocks and skill DCs the GM uses. In this special, there are: Subtier 1–2, Subtier 3–4, Subtier 5–6, Subtier 8–9, Subtier 10–11, and Subtier 12+. No character can play in a subtier more than 1 step away from the character's actual level. Thus, a 3rd-level PC can play in Subtier 1–2, Subtier 3–4, and Subtier 5–6 but not Subtier 8–9 or higher. A table's subtier is still determined by APL.


And here I thought we'd be throwing the level 12+ stuff at the level ones! Drat!

Grand Lodge

Has there been any official word on the minimum table size yet?

I know I read the policy on allowing these specials somewhere, but if a local game day meets the minimum table size, will they be allowed to run it? Or it reserved for only conventions through the next year?

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Minimum table size is 4 PCs, maximum is 6. At Gen Con, this will run with 6 PCs per table to accomodate as many players as possible, except perhaps Subtier 12+, as we may not get an even multiple of 6 players.

We have not yet determined how many tables and event must be able to run in order to qualify to run this special at a local game day or convention.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sorry, I meant minimum number of tables, instead of table size. But, you answered my question anyway. Thanks! Hopefully we'll find out in the next month or two.

Dark Archive

How much XP is this going to award? IIRC Blood Under Absalom awarded 1, will this be the same? I have a budding level 12 in the works who has yet to play Eyes of the Ten so I don't want to ruin his chances of doing so...


Dezhem wrote:
How much XP is this going to award? IIRC Blood Under Absalom awarded 1, will this be the same? I have a budding level 12 in the works who has yet to play Eyes of the Ten so I don't want to ruin his chances of doing so...

1

Dark Archive

Excellent. Thanks!

Shadow Lodge

I'll be scheduling this for our October Long Weekend Con (that actually starts in September). Roughly how long will this take to run? Will it need a single or double Con slot (~ 5 hr slot)?

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

We're running it in a 5-hour slot at Gen Con.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Michael Brock wrote:
If no one survives to Round 2, drinks are on me. :-)

Oh Mike... don't think I've forgotten about your little promise.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm developing Round 2 right now, and not everyone will die. I'm tuning down the evil a little bit because Kyle and Tim combined is worse than anything we've ever published in terms of lethality, and I want at least a few survivors to tell the horrific tale...


Mark Moreland wrote:
I'm developing Round 2 right now, and not everyone will die. I'm tuning down the evil a little bit because Kyle and Tim combined is worse than anything we've ever published in terms of lethality, and I want at least a few survivors to tell the horrific tale...

Damn you Mark! I want free beer!

Well at least I can promise that no one will survive the table I run. ;-)

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

You're running the table of GMs that gets chosen at random.


Wait. What if I get chosen? ...crap.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

You won't get chosen.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
You're running the table of GMs that gets chosen at random.

NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

Dragnmoon wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
You're running the table of GMs that gets chosen at random.
NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think this music is appropriate for the situation.


Dragnmoon wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
You're running the table of GMs that gets chosen at random.
NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This! :(

Shadow Lodge

C'mon guys! You don't want to play at my table for part 2? :(

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Care Baird wrote:
C'mon guys! You don't want to play at my table for part 2? :(

Was I not specific enough?...

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

;)


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.

I wonder how old was the one who decided that age! :)


Black Powder Chocobo wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
You're running the table of GMs that gets chosen at random.
NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think this music is appropriate for the situation.

I'd have gone with this.

Shadow Lodge

I'd play at your table Kyle... I've got 10 characters, I don't mind sacrificing one... ;)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Mark Moreland wrote:
I'm developing Round 2 right now, and not everyone will die. I'm tuning down the evil a little bit because Kyle and Tim combined is worse than anything we've ever published in terms of lethality, and I want at least a few survivors to tell the horrific tale...

Bah!

First off, Night Two is never going to be published.
Second, its only as lethal as the monsters in the Bestiary.
and Third...

PYGON has pleaded to learn the art of TPK, that and he also complained Ruby Phoenix was TOO EASY. Night 2 should be the event, you wish you hadn't won your way into.

The slogan for Night 2 should be:
"Welcome To the PFS Saturday Night Special. We Make Gamers Cry."

Come one heros... chime in. Tell Mark not to work so hard to make things easy on you.
Tell him, you want to be champion. Tell him not to water down they deadly. Tell him you only want one Pathfinder survive round two (which of course will be you, and you alone)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Care Baird wrote:
C'mon guys! You don't want to play at my table for part 2? :(

Its a pretty good bet that Kyle's table will at least have a little booze to easy the pain of all those poor dead character sheets.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Tim Hitchcock wrote:

Come one heros... chime in. Tell Mark not to work so hard to make things easy on you.

Tell him, you want to be champion. Tell him not to water down they deadly. Tell him you only want one Pathfinder survive round two (which of course will be you, and you alone)

While I appreciate the sentiment, Tim, the patient's still open on the table, and at this point getting all the sponges out before sewing it up is more efficient than adding the instant death back in.

And who said we're never going to publish it? We just said it was never going to be offered again for Pathfinder Society credit. Who knows what we'll do with this down the road...

Dark Archive

Is the date available for this incorrect? August 6 of 2013? Or is that intentional? We were hoping to run this at the store I GM for this Saturday. Or, do we have to wait until after GenCon?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
tro1984 wrote:
Is the date available for this incorrect? August 6 of 2013? Or is that intentional? We were hoping to run this at the store I GM for this Saturday. Or, do we have to wait until after GenCon?

The Specials are not available to the public until a year after their debut at GenCon IIRC

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

If a store or convention can meet the minimum table requirement (4, in this case), you can run it during the special's first year by contacting Campaign Coordinator Mike Brock at mike.brock@paizo.com and he'll get a copy of the adventure to your GMs. It will go on sale for everyone to purchase when we launch the 2013 special.

It's not available to be run anywhere until after Gen Con.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Too late Mark, I already ran it for my wife and our three dogs. :-)

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Kyle, you're fired.

Shadow Lodge

You killed your wife and three dogs! You really are a monster!

I mean, you do use "ran it for" and "killed" interchangeably, don't you?


Mark Moreland wrote:
Kyle, you're fired.

Twice in one year?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Eric Clingenpeel wrote:

You killed your wife and three dogs! You really are a monster!

I mean, you do use "ran it for" and "killed" interchangeably, don't you?

Obviously you've never met my wife.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Kyle Baird wrote:
Too late Mark, I already ran it for my wife and our three dogs. :-)

What is the DC for the "Roll dice" trick?

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

Kajehase wrote:
Black Powder Chocobo wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
You're running the table of GMs that gets chosen at random.
NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think this music is appropriate for the situation.
I'd have gone with this.

Well, in the end, everyone will need this played.


Black Powder Chocobo wrote:
Well, in the end, everyone will need this played.

I approve this message.

Shadow Lodge

Eight days from now I'll be feasting on the tears of nearly 500 dead PCs!


Added final cover image!

Liberty's Edge

Tim Hitchcock wrote:

PYGON has pleaded to learn the art of TPK, that and he also complained Ruby Phoenix was TOO EASY. Night 2 should be the event, you wish you hadn't won your way into.

The slogan for Night 2 should be:
"Welcome To the PFS Saturday Night Special. We Make Gamers Cry."

GAH! Don't tell them that! They know where to find me!

Dark Archive

Pygon wrote:
Tim Hitchcock wrote:

PYGON has pleaded to learn the art of TPK, that and he also complained Ruby Phoenix was TOO EASY. Night 2 should be the event, you wish you hadn't won your way into.

The slogan for Night 2 should be:
"Welcome To the PFS Saturday Night Special. We Make Gamers Cry."

GAH! Don't tell them that! They know where to find me!

But now we know who to thank!

Thanks Pygon! People have way too many PFS characters. :D

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Black Powder Chocobo wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
You're running the table of GMs that gets chosen at random.
NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think this music is appropriate for the situation.

I think the first half of this would be more appropriate. Followed by the second half at the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYSbxRiUgOo


Is there a new release date?


Elijah Snow wrote:
Is there a new release date?

No. It is august 2013... The specials are released for sale a year after they debut at GenCon. It lets smaller cons run it too over the corse of the year as a draw.

Shadow Lodge

Just to Confirm

4 tables is Minimum ?


Wraith235 wrote:

Just to Confirm

4 tables is Minimum ?

Yep.

Mark Moreland wrote:

If a store or convention can meet the minimum table requirement (4, in this case), you can run it during the special's first year by contacting Campaign Coordinator Mike Brock at mike.brock@paizo.com and he'll get a copy of the adventure to your GMs. It will go on sale for everyone to purchase when we launch the 2013 special.

It's not available to be run anywhere until after Gen Con.

Liberty's Edge

Lots of fun, I just finished playing it today and all 6 tables had a blast.

Spoiler:
My table won although I'm curious as to how points are determined.

Dark Archive

I spent much of this nightmarish hell-storm prone, nauseated, covered in a mixture of my own stomach acid and the grease spell of multiple enemy spellcasters, then coated in a layer of chilling ice after being targeted with a sleet storm spell. All I could do was groan piteously and be paralyzed by the overpowering weight of my armor as dread creatures stalked the halls and slew my companions.

I lay there, helpless to react.
Carmina Burana is an appropriate thematic choice for music.
:(

Liberty's Edge

This product comes out in August of 2013 how is it being discussed and reviewed?

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