Pathfinder Module: Dawn of the Scarlet Sun (PFRPG)

3.00/5 (based on 28 ratings)
GameMastery Module D0: Hollow's Last Hope (OGL)

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An adventure for six 5th-level characters.

The coastal city of Magnimar is no stranger to crime, yet recently, a series of murders has sent a chill through the early morning streets. Someone—or something—is stalking and killing worshipers of Sarenrae, the goddess of the sun. The city guard is prepared to ambush the murderer, but they need help—help of the kind that adventurers are so good at providing. What is the sinister truth behind these violent acts?

Dawn of the Scarlet Sun is a Pathfinder RPG adventure for six 5th-level characters—such as the six iconic heroes provided. In addition, this adventure can be integrated into the Shattered Star Pathfinder Adventure Path, and uses the villains featured in the Pathfinder Battles Champions of Evil Encounter Pack.

Written by James Jacobs.

This special 16-page Pathfinder Module was initially made available for Free RPG Day on June 16, 2012.

Note: Due to the special nature of this product, it is NOT part of the Pathfinder Modules Subscription.

Dawn of the Scarlet Sun is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The Chronicle Sheet for this module is a free download (123 KB zip/PDF). Pregenerated characters are available here (1.9 MB zip/PDF).

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3.00/5 (based on 28 ratings)

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Great Story-- Not as hard as people make it out.

4/5

I know people are complaining about the fights on this module, but even with most of the party using pregens, there were more than enough tools to overcome. It was a nifty little scenario and I enjoyed running it.

I had 2 seasoned PFS'ers but mostly newbs at my table and they didn't have any problem. In fact, the fight was pretty epic.

The dominate person should not be a problem and is easily countered, especially if a cleric brings Pro Evil to the table.

Everyone had a wonderful time, and I was happy to run. Honestly, I think PFS mods should be more difficult, and this held the line darn well.


Short, unimpressive, and lethal.

1/5

I am always appreciative of the effort and work it takes to produce a free printed product, so before I write my largely negative review, I wanted to express thanks for that. As always, Paizo products come with great visuals, layout, and ideas.

Let me get right to the heart of reasoning behind my low review, the end fight is just too difficult for most parties and in my estimation will result in a TPK or very frustrating outcome. Additionally, the final boss had feats which dictated the use of archery, but no bows were listed in her equipment, attacks, and was contradicted by her tactics which instructs the use of a melee weapon. This isn't necessarily bad, as she is an extremely difficult foe and misuse of feats actually helps the party in this case. On the whole, it's a mediocre scenario, with a overly-difficult final fight. My suggestion for improvement is for Paizo to always include a "scaling the adventure" side-bar and possibly the inclusion of more clues as to what the end fight will be so PCs can adjust.

As a Free RPG Day product, the purpose of which is to introduce inexperienced players or non-gamers to the hobby and to Pathfinder, this scenario falls very short. The role-playing options are few, the accompanying pre-gen PCs are complicated (for beginning players) or ineffective, and the end fight extremely difficult with a TPK likely. This leaves new players feeling over-whelmed by the rules, unimpressed with the story, and frustrated with their inability to succeed. If used in this way, I advise the DM to enthusiastically promote the use of the pre-gen paladin and make sure to pay close attention to the customization options at the end of each pre-gen. Reducing the difficulty of the end fight is strongly advised, ie, residual divine power of Sarenrae reduces DR for enemies & provides bonuses to saves & attack bonuses for the party.

As a scenario used for Pathfinder Society, it also falls very short. While players have the option to use the pre-gen PCs built using 15 point buy and under-equipped for their level, the scenario is very difficult for most players using their own characters. While there is fun in having the PCs design and carry out an ambush to catch an unknown killer, lack of attention to fleshing out this encounter creates a little extra work for the DM. As mentioned previously the end fight, is brutal. I advise DMs to help players after the first fight by using an NPC to suggest that players research or consult with informed NPCs about what type of creature it was attacking them and emphasize the the symbol one of the previous victims saw and what it means to fight creatures aligned to that symbol. This should go a long way towards helping the players gear up appropriately.

As a scenario used in a home game it also falls short but is probably the best use of the product. The average party level should be a little higher than listed IMHO and the DM should review the final fight to make sure his group is equipped to handle it and flesh out the investigation dropping more clues as to the foe they are likely to encounter. Even if the final fight ends poorly, follow the advise of the author and use the foe as a re-occurring villain.

Overall, the DM needs to do some additional work which is not required with other published adventures to make this scenario a success, but it is free so weigh that into your judgement. While the nature of the product dictates its length, it's not especially the best introduction to Pathfinder RPG or even the best module for experienced Pathfinder Society players. We Be Goblins and Fallen Fortress, also Free RPG Day adventures from Paizo, were much better introductions to Pathfinder RPG and offered a better experience for players.


A terrible module complete with useless pregens

1/5

I played this yesterday at Free RPG Day with a group of seven consisting of four pregens. The pregens did nothing through the entire module because they were so poorly built. The pregen wizard was able to use his wand of magic missile and that was about it. This made him the most useful of the pregens.

Our party waited for three days before our ambush finally worked. Why did the designer even have a chance for the killers to not show up? It just ended up wasting more time. The first encounter wasn't hard, really. It was just annoying.

I can't believe that it was written with a succubus to fight level five characters. As a gunslinger, I was the only person who could even hit the thing because its AC was too high for anyone to manage. Well, the fighter may have been able to if she hadn't been dominated. Our party ended up retreating because her at-will 12th level vampiric touch was restoring her for about as much as my damage.

The plot was boring too. All we got was that there was a cult that hated Sarenrae because they like demons. Good job, writers. This was the worst module I have ever played and I really wouldn't want to see anyone else subjected to it. It is very likely to cause a TPK unless the group has a paladin and it is absolutely awful to introduce new players to Pathfinder due to its shortness, poor writing, difficulty, and lack of roleplay options.


A frustrating meat grinder with a mediocre story tacked on

2/5

Ran this for Free RPG day with the party consisting of all the pregens this scenario comes with.

First off, I enter all the NPC bad guys into Hero Lab to make things easier on myself. Hero Lab encountered validation errors with most of them as they were depicted, which was a little frustrating, but not a dealbreaker.

The story was alright enough: a murder mystery turns into a hell taking over the world scenario. The sheer gruesomeness of the murders and the trap scenario were interesting enough, but this was tarnished by the gameplay.

Repeating the ambush was not fun, quite frankly, and I ultimately ended up letting letting the party track our high-flying gargoyle with a perception check to keep things moving.

The broken shrine fight used up most of the party's resources, but caused some frustration as the rogue and ranger could not break the DR10 on the gargoyle.

In the catacombs, the party managed to not get deleveled by the wights, thankfully, but it's still not a very cool move with an impending fight against DR10 creatures.

The fight against the Shax cleric was actually pretty alright, the wizard greased the shrine (which was assumed to have candles), which made for a satisfying beginning to an enjoyable fight.

Then the Succubus came into play. The party was not fooled by her ruse, but she did get off her demon, which dropped the paladin, the cleric had used her last channels in the last fight, and the Fighter was Dominated by "the beauty he must prrrrrroteeeeeeect", and killing the wizard. With the standing party members being unable to break the DR, the fight was a slaughter that ended in a very frustrating TPK.

The worst of it was that the pregen ranger and rogue pretty much got the shaft at every turn, as they had no means to break anyone's DR.

Why this was picked for free RPG day I have no clue, as introducing new players to the game with unfun damage reduction fights using ill-equipped and underpowered pregens is not a good way to bring new players in. My players did not enjoy this at all, and as a GM I found this to be frustrating.

In theory, I kinda liked it, but in practice, this is a meat grinder with a mediocre story tacked on.




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Sovereign Court

malebranche wrote:

I just read through this and it sounds interesting, I'm excited to try it out.

The one thing I'm not keen on so far is the propaganda. It feels like the whole purpose of putting the module out was to sell minis. I really hope the mini-pictures gimmick isn't going to find its way into other published products (even if they have a set--please don't taint the new Rise of the Runelords with this!). Really not a fan of the tacky sales attempt.

Got to agree with this.

Also supsect that the attempt to lever a pre-made minis pack (and thus a pre-chosen set of foes) into an adventure probably contributed to the issues some people have found with the module.

"Okay, so the module you write has to have an evil cleric, a succubus, a scarlet gargoyle and three zombies in it."


Ah, the joys of marketing...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

That's a bonus, as far as I'm concerned, I hope paizo don't avoid it in the future.

I like modules which utilize paizo products from other lines and appreciate being told when such tie-ins exist.

Shadow Lodge

malebranche wrote:

I just read through this and it sounds interesting, I'm excited to try it out.

The one thing I'm not keen on so far is the propaganda. It feels like the whole purpose of putting the module out was to sell minis. I really hope the mini-pictures gimmick isn't going to find its way into other published products (even if they have a set--please don't taint the new Rise of the Runelords with this!). Really not a fan of the tacky sales attempt.

It's not exactly new. Several modules and PFS scenarios have made direct use of some of the flip-mats or map packs.

Sovereign Court

Kthulhu wrote:
malebranche wrote:

I just read through this and it sounds interesting, I'm excited to try it out.

The one thing I'm not keen on so far is the propaganda. It feels like the whole purpose of putting the module out was to sell minis. I really hope the mini-pictures gimmick isn't going to find its way into other published products (even if they have a set--please don't taint the new Rise of the Runelords with this!). Really not a fan of the tacky sales attempt.

It's not exactly new. Several modules and PFS scenarios have made direct use of some of the flip-mats or map packs.

This is usually done with a certain finesse, and the map creation sometimes seems to have gone hand-in-hand with the adventure planning (i.e. Crypt of the Everflame).

The minis pack thing was not so elegant, those little mini-headshots are pretty ugly and basically count as substandard art and these monsters do not play well together. This should probably have been a higher-level adventure with levels on the gargoyle and the zombies as flavoursome mooks. If they wanted to keep it low then the succubus mini could have been used to represent some kind of low-level unique monster spawned from a succubus.

As it is, it seems like the marketing ploy has caused design compromises. That is what I would want Paizo to avoid, as they have with the use of maps.

But, actually, what would probably have saved the module in a lot of peoples' eyes would have been a feature that was fairly common in Paizo's 3.5 days but has dropped off noticably: Designer's Notes. Highlighting the Succubus' sub-optimal tactics, pointing out the player equipment to the GM, indicating that a GM might want to make it easier for a novice group to capture the cleric... These kind of notes would have helped GMs to run the game on the day they got it (which can happen with Free RPG Day books).
As it stands, anyone who reads this thread first will get a real boost when running this module.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Steve Geddes wrote:

That's a bonus, as far as I'm concerned, I hope paizo don't avoid it in the future.

I like modules which utilize paizo products from other lines and appreciate being told when such tie-ins exist.

Agreed. Everyone knows my maps suck, so I look to run scenarios that have maps included.

I also look at it as beneficial for the FLGS too. "You want the Dawn of the Scarlet Sun freebie? Here you go. Don't forget that box of minis has everything you need to run the bad guys, and I have the flip map for the adventure right here. That guy over there is getting ready to run the adventure, think you can stick around and try it out?"

Even though I have a complete Heroes and Monsters set (ah, I remember when I had (more) disposable income fondly) The Guardtower got my money for the minis, and Ravenstone got my money for the maps. (I try to by something when I run an adventure, even if it's only a mini or a set of cards.)


Steve Geddes wrote:

That's a bonus, as far as I'm concerned, I hope paizo don't avoid it in the future.

I like modules which utilize paizo products from other lines and appreciate being told when such tie-ins exist.

Have no problem at all with them wanting to connect their adventures with other lines. You want to make an adventure that ties directly with a minis package, I think that's absolutely fine. I've read through this adventure and looked at the pregens prepped for use in the quest, and I don't find the arguments most have made as legitimate at all. The adventure was difficult surely, but certainly not impossible with the pregens. There were ways to thwart everything the succubus could throw at you, which I think is good adventure writing.

Those little pictures of the minis next to their stat block have got to go though. They're uglier than sin, and they add absolutely nothing to the module. Put the notice at the beginning of the adventure, which I thought was fine, and then leave it alone after that. Definitely hope that the mini portraits were a one-time thing!


Sub-Creator wrote:
Put the notice at the beginning of the adventure, which I thought was fine, and then leave it alone after that. Definitely hope that the mini portraits were a one-time thing!

This. So much this.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Sub-Creator wrote:
Those little pictures of the minis next to their stat block have got to go though. They're uglier than sin, and they add absolutely nothing to the module. Put the notice at the beginning of the adventure, which I thought was fine, and then leave it alone after that. Definitely hope that the mini portraits were a one-time thing!

Aesthetic choices aren't right or wrong, of course, but I dont really see the big deal. Then again, I dont pay much attention to the little portraits next to stat blocks, so I guess I wouldnt notice. Maybe they'll jump out at me more when I get my physical copy.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Steve Geddes wrote:

That's a bonus, as far as I'm concerned, I hope paizo don't avoid it in the future.

I like modules which utilize paizo products from other lines and appreciate being told when such tie-ins exist.

Totally agree. While some (perhaps) jaded folks just see "marketing gimmick", I see really nice product synergy that actually aided my local store, and sold some product.

Kudos!

Note: I didn't have a issue with the mini portraits, but I can see as some could. That's how aesthetic choices work.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

It's a Free RPG Day module. They're ALL marketing gimmicks in addition to decent modules, Paizo's and every single other publisher's. That's what Free RPG Day is, marketing doubling as (or else masquerading as) an outreach to the fans and an attempt to grow the game.

Same deal goes with Free Comic Book Day, free samples at a grocery store, and any other thing where you get the first taste for free and then have to pay for any more of it...

The mini portraits are just a different way of slipping ads into the module, but nothing Paizo hasn't been doing since the beginning of Paizo, and something the industry hasn't been doing since the beginning of the industry.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
GeraintElberion wrote:

Also supsect that the attempt to lever a pre-made minis pack (and thus a pre-chosen set of foes) into an adventure probably contributed to the issues some people have found with the module.

"Okay, so the module you write has to have an evil cleric, a succubus, a scarlet gargoyle and three zombies in it."

Every product is going to have certain limitations. For example, I imagine Wolfgang received a fairly heavy "pre-chosen" NPC list for AP#4. I'd venture to say that a "pre-chosen list" is what every single writer receives whether explicitly or implicitly. So, I do not think it makes sense to denigrate a product simply because of a "pre-chosen" list. Now, perhaps, one thinks the list doesn't make sense, based on certain principles, but that is a different discussion.

Sovereign Court

Elorebaen wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:

Also supsect that the attempt to lever a pre-made minis pack (and thus a pre-chosen set of foes) into an adventure probably contributed to the issues some people have found with the module.

"Okay, so the module you write has to have an evil cleric, a succubus, a scarlet gargoyle and three zombies in it."

Every product is going to have certain limitations. For example, I imagine Wolfgang received a fairly heavy "pre-chosen" NPC list for AP#4. I'd venture to say that a "pre-chosen list" is what every single writer receives whether explicitly or implicitly. So, I do not think it makes sense to denigrate a product simply because of a "pre-chosen" list. Now, perhaps, one thinks the list doesn't make sense, based on certain principles, but that is a different discussion.

I guess it is the difference between a pre-chosen list selected by an experienced RPG developer like JJ or a pre-chosen list based upon a selection of licensed minis... I suppose the natural contrast would be Compleat Encounters, wherein the minis, map and adventure were planned together.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Elorebaen wrote:
Every product is going to have certain limitations. For example, I imagine Wolfgang received a fairly heavy "pre-chosen" NPC list for AP#4. I'd venture to say that a "pre-chosen list" is what every single writer receives whether explicitly or implicitly. So, I do not think it makes sense to denigrate a product simply because of a "pre-chosen" list. Now, perhaps, one thinks the list doesn't make sense, based on certain principles, but that is a different discussion.

Actually, we do try to allow our authors to make as many choices regarding NPCs and other options in an adventure as we can. In the specific case of AP #4, I believe my only requirement to Wolfgang was that he include a few established NPCs (such as Mokmurian, who HAD to be in there, and such as some of the established PCs in Sandpoint), and a few TYPES of NPCS (there had to be a dragon since we had one on the cover). Beyond that... it was his choice.


I haven't read the adventure yet, but I can see where "mini portraits" could be off putting, BUT it's a FREE product. It's meant to teach and grow the game. We be Goblins, which I ran last year was neat. It's meant for new players, casual players, retired players etc.

I would like to voice that I ADORE product tie ins.
I don't know if its truly "vertical integration", but it makes my life easier. Especially if I'm a Free RPG Day GM who has to manage and coax diverse players who I may not have played with prior.
Maps, mini packs, and tiles are at the top of this list. It also provides a huge benefit to the FLGS. I stopped store buying APs and Campaign Setting books because the digital copies are just so useful. This hurt my FLGS, not much but some. I buy all of my maps at the store, it encourages them to stock them and unlike APs they don't have a shelf life.

I'm a Paizo customer because they make my life as GM easier. They should keep coming up with ways to do so, so they can continue earning all my money. It's gonna be awhile before the Module + Mini Packs logistics get fully worked out, but I have faith that it will one day be a seamless integration.
(And I own so many minis that I don't ever NEED another)

Scarab Sages

When I first saw Pathfinder Society being played at my FLGS, I thought I had found an organized play setup that would prove better then what I had with the old RPGA. Several months and a lot of play later, that has been true.

Until this module. Playing in this module at Free RPG day has been the worst experience I've had with Pathfinder society, and one of the worst RPGs experiences I've had in over 25 years of playing.

Spoiler:
I see that most of the particular problems I've found with this Module have already been post. One I haven't seen is why does a Succubus able to use a Druid spell?

I played at a table run by a Venture Lt. so he did know his stuff. We had a few experienced players and a totally new player as the Wizard. I play the Paladin, and I'm glad that I did. Ultimately we did succeed, but that owed more to the fantastic healing job of our cleric. I wish I had been better prepared with the paladin spells, but I loaned my Core rulebook to another GM who ran a second table of this Module when the first one filled. The succubus was neigh near untouchable for most of the fight. We just managed to kill her about a turn or two before we would have run out of healing and ended up as a TPK. While we weren't the best prepared party, we weren't exactly newbies either.

I see also that there are some people who absolutely loved this module and more power to them. I know from long experience that there are some people who enjoy experiences that I find painful. However, I also know that I'm not going to be swayed by arguments that I should enjoy such pain anymore then they are likely to sympathize with people who don't.

One suggestion I might make is has Pathfinder considered a system to rate or categorize modules other then strictly on CR? Something like a Taco Sauce rating of Mild, Spicy, Hot, and Fiery?

My rating would definitely be Fiery for this module.


That's funny, but not a bad idea.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

@Parm Xon,

You describe a near TPK and what sounds like a desperate battle against overpowering odds. Now, I haven't played the module so I can't really comment on the specifics of it, but a desperate battle against overpowering odds that NEARLY ends in a TPK, but where the good guys ultimately prevail, sounds like an epic and fun end-game encounter to me.

Point is, it's not necessarily something that requires a recategorization of modules. In almost every module and Pathfinder Society scenario, there's going to some degree of variation in the enjoyment of the action and that comes down to individual group setup more than it necessarily does the Pathfinder Society setup. Of course, sometimes there's going to be some issues with the scenario (such as a villain built way more powerful than a party can expect to survive). From how you described the end encounter, I'd actually enjoy it. :)

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Some people prefer to steamroll every encounter.

Some people prefer a challenge.

You cannot please them all.

Grand Lodge

Parm Xon wrote:
stuff

UMD my friend, UMD.

Grand Lodge

Challenge can definitely be a great thing. But the final encounter can easily stretch on for two hours. At that point, it just becomes a slog and when half of your table can't even properly contribute, people quickly lose interest.

It's a difficult balance. The rest of the module is great, it's just the final encounter that is a bit of a sour note.


Sub-Creator wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

That's a bonus, as far as I'm concerned, I hope paizo don't avoid it in the future.

I like modules which utilize paizo products from other lines and appreciate being told when such tie-ins exist.

Have no problem at all with them wanting to connect their adventures with other lines. You want to make an adventure that ties directly with a minis package, I think that's absolutely fine. I've read through this adventure and looked at the pregens prepped for use in the quest, and I don't find the arguments most have made as legitimate at all. The adventure was difficult surely, but certainly not impossible with the pregens. There were ways to thwart everything the succubus could throw at you, which I think is good adventure writing.

Those little pictures of the minis next to their stat block have got to go though. They're uglier than sin, and they add absolutely nothing to the module. Put the notice at the beginning of the adventure, which I thought was fine, and then leave it alone after that. Definitely hope that the mini portraits were a one-time thing!

I would assume the portrait thing was a gimmick for new players to make sure they knew which mini corresponded with the stat block. I know it seems obvious to you and me, but a new player (particularly a young one) might need and extra reminder.


A couple issues. GM only.

Spoiler:

It should be stressed that - as indicated - "Lex Avai" must indeed manage to procure an actual weapon from her marks to do her death attack. The succubus can't death attack with her natural attacks. Makes you wonder why she hasn't a stupid dagger.

Also a succubus best dependable attack is her 6d6 vampiric touch. Avalexi's flashy flame blade is cool but actually weaker. With her crazy high Cha, she can cast defensively every time...

Grand Lodge

Does this NEED to be played with Pre-Gens for PFS play or can it be played as a standard PFS module?

Liberty's Edge

Helaman wrote:
Does this NEED to be played with Pre-Gens for PFS play or can it be played as a standard PFS module?

Can be used with your own characters. just remember that you can use a character within one level of the Mod you are playing.

Grand Lodge

I read the rules on Game Day modules and its 1xp, 1 PP - This is a pretty hard core adventure for that. I'll consider running it at a later date.


So with all the BAD reviews this is getting based on the BBEG being an impossible fight, it seems I'll have to call up my friend who recently moved to Junction City. Just got to tell him this level 5 module features an impossible fight and I'm sure he'll make the trip to prove it's possible. Heh. He's terrible about making OP characters that I don't even see coming. His ideas always seem so reasonable on paper, then they get in game and... it's aged Limburger!

Lantern Lodge

Avalexi was easily the most difficult challenge that I have ever thrown at a party. It was just as well that they lost (and how) because she has become quite the nefarious reoccurring villain. I have been working her into the story line of the Shattered Star. Shapeshifting, teleporting, and a legendary bluff check have allowed her to infiltrate the party at a very intimate level. She has impersonated npcs from random passers by to other pathfinders all for the purpose of popping out when the party is at their weakest to deliver another paralyzing death attack. It has gotten to the point where the PCs are harboring an obsession with hunting her down.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm in the midst of running this for my Rise of the Runelords campaign and players. The campaign premise has the players as members of the Magnimar Watch (the elite investigative division) and we are currently toward the end of Chapter Two (Skinsaw Murders). I expanded the end of the chapter somewhat to add an element of investigation and the murders that start Dawn of the Scarlet Sun fold well into this. It actually made it really easy -- Kasadei approached them after murder #2 and I let the party do all the work (all of the work normally done by the Watch the precedes the normal PC engagement).

I did have to do some preparation to come up with more details on the victims -- and it wasn't readily apparent that all four were clerics of Saranrae rather than just devout worshippers. Not sure if anyone is interested but I've included that here.

Victims:

Murder One: Walid Thabet, half-elf adventurer (half Garundi), multi-classed cleric/rogue. He has Saranrae religious iconography tattooed on his arms and face. Easily mistaken for a “dark elf”. Dressed like a Varisian adventurer – but by the time the PCs find the body it has been pretty thoroughly looted by the local inhabitants. Not well known by the local community, so his name is unlikely to come up.

Murder Two: Zoubeir Mzali, was a grocer and a longtime resident of Underbridge. He was a family man and respected by his community of Kelish immigrants. He is a lay-preacher (2nd level cleric) to the Kelish enclave of Underbridge. He has two wives and multiple children.

Murder Three: Rula Merah, was a cleric from Absalom visiting the local Kelish community, there are some odd signs that she attempted to fire off some spells before she was slain.

Murder Four: Nadir Lumumba, another lay-preacher popular among the local Kelish/Garundi.

Having a copy of Magnimar, City of Monuments has made detailing the murder scenes much easier -- but it also lends itself to a lot of red-herrings and tangents (the cops immediately suspected the local Sczarni).

My only issue right now is that the party pretty quickly came to the conclusion both victims were Saranrae worshippers which in turn led them to the Abandoned Shrine well before the script calls for it. So, I'm having to do some adjustments on the fly (the Scarlet Son is going to attack them while they are poking around the graveyard at the Shrine).

I look forward to seeing how the party handles Avalexi -- I think she will serve as a good warm-up for when they get to tackle Xanesha at the end of the Chapter.

CJ

The Exchange

Finally got a chance to play this mod last weekend as the last PFS game of a con in sacramento.

OUCH

we fled, nearly had a TPK...can't believe this game was made for a Free RPG Day event. TPKs generally don't encourage players to play your game.


Hi all. Wondering how this module is supposed to slot into Shattered Star, as it claims, between books 2 and 3? According to the AP the PCs are 8th level at the end of Curse of the Lady's Light and this module is for 5th level characters. Won't it be a bit too easy by then? Do they mean between books 1 and 2?


Chernobyl wrote:

Finally got a chance to play this mod last weekend as the last PFS game of a con in sacramento.

OUCH

we fled, nearly had a TPK...can't believe this game was made for a Free RPG Day event. TPKs generally don't encourage players to play your game.

More TPKs are good for the hobby, to prevent players feeling so entitled to easy wins.

Liberty's Edge

I'm running this as a side-quest along side Chapter 2 of the Rise of the Runelords.

Initially, my group assumed it was tied to the Skinsaw murders, and were taken back when it wasn't. I included more rp and researching. Detailing that Kasadei was working a case for Judge Ironbriar and that the PC's should get in contact with her.
An attempt to throw them off the trail.

How I'm doing it so far:

The ambush mechanics are wonky, at least they are to me. I let the party set it up and plan how to do it. Then I had the Scarlet Sun and his side-kick do their thing, until they noticed the party members hiding in wait, and then they fled. Not before a couple of crossbow shots hit, one of which ripped a pouch and a key in the shape of Sarenrae fell to the ground.

From there alot of foot work, and investigation allowed them to find the old site. SS was watching when they showed up and attempted to prevent them from going inside.

Nice solid fight against 4 level 6 characters and 2 level 5's. They eventually defeated him, but it was a good tough fight.
After going inside, the wights... ouch, are nasty.
We're beyond the Wights and have just opened the door to the BBEG encounter.
Zalendi is inside. Hiding.
Avalexi is in the cell waiting.
We're going to be without our cleric for the fight. And two party members have had energy drains hit them. So now it's 3 level 6's and 2 level 5's(basically).

I plan on doing the following and see how it pans out.
Z will attack til defeated. If Z can escape, Z will.
"Lex" will be change shape to an attractive Garundi woman who appears to have been beaten/abused. She will play upon the sympathies of the male players, and the first one who "helps" her up or allow them to use her as a lean while walking, she will "kiss" them whispering a plea to protect her and then attempt a death strike on the nearest party member. If things see to fall apart for her quickly, I will have her attempt to retreat and teleport out. Summoning the demon(if I roll it) to be waiting for the party outside the room.
Or something.

I prefer villains try to live and fight smart as opposed to head on fight til I die or you do mentality. Plus, another reoccurring baddie.... bring it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have similar plans. Hope, it works out for my group.

Ruyan.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

There's a lot of concern about the pregens (and honestly, the pregens are their normal mediocre selves) but they CAN acquit themselves well. One MAJOR problem arises when you look at the options they're given at the start. While meant to make people feel like they are customizing their characters, the options are pretty much a trap, with only one being really decent. Also, it's important to realize what the pregens bring to the table, so I'll cover that a bit as well to make GMing this module a bit easier.

Choices and tactics matter...:

I'm just going to concern myself with the last fight, as that's the one which is truly brutal.

Ezren: His customization here is best used for the Scroll of Resist Energy (giving an effective DR of 10 to someone against the succubus' flame blade). While the other two scrolls don't suck outright, they're not nearly as beneficial as basically giving someone the ability to ignore being hammered.

As far as what Ezren will do for you? Top of the list is charm person. Managing to subdue Zadendi means being able to force her to spill the beans regarding Avalexi. This will give the party massive amounts of information to prepare from.

He also has Knowledge: Planes. He just needs to roll a *5* or better (free action) to be able to determine something regarding Avalexi's defenses or abilities. (If he compels Zadendi to help, this can be done before facing her with a bonus—up to basically knowing everything about succubi, as checks can be retried as much as you like under such circumstances—for using an appropriate library, or even just upon beginning combat for a quick rundown.) Minimally you reward successful Knowledge checks with an additional piece of information per additional 5 points of success. ON AVERAGE Ezren will recall two things about her. (As a GM I'd go with vulnerabilities first—cold iron and good—and then hit up her powers of domination and charm monster. What you reveal is up to you, of course, but skills should matter in Pathfinder, so giving trivial information seems petty to me.)

In combat he's capable of using his wand of magic missiles to good effect (she can resist them, but he's only needing to roll a 13 for his CL check, which is pretty damned decent, and 3d4+3 is going to average 10.5 damage a round) as well as casting protection from evil (remember, this forces another save on dominate/charm) and invisibility, both useful to his allies. Dispel magic (as a counterspell or after the fact) is also clearly not awful, depending on what's being tossed around.

Ezren is a very solid pregen in this module. His contributions may be less "direct" than simply blowing stuff up, but never underestimate the power of just KNOWING things in Pathfinder. I consider him to be integral to the group if you're running all pregens.

Harsk: The most useless of pregens at the best of times (except maybe at level 1), Harsk's customizations are crap as well.

Harsk has 30gp. This is arguably his single best resource. 10 cold iron bolts cost just 2 gold. A cold iron battleaxe (sadly not masterwork, so bringing him down to +6 to hit) is only 20gp. If Ezren can get a good read on what the party is up against before they approach, Harsk can go from being pretty much completely useless to only being mostly useless!

Harsk is BEST when he's simply threatening the succubus, allowing someone to flank off of him. Harsk's best use in battle outside of tossing mediocre damage (cold iron bolts hit on a 17+ for 5.5 average and even flanking he's just as bad off if not worse with a melee weapon, at +9 or +8 depending on if he's using his typical masterwork or a cold iron axe that might actually do damage) is giving a combatant resist energy (again, fire) and wielding his wand of cure moderate wounds aggressively.

My advice? Pick Harsk last. (Sorry dude. Whoever designed you hated you, that much is clear.)

Kyra: Quicken Spell means being able to fire off two spells per round—this is no joke, particularly since it basically means she can get the party ready to maul the succubus even if Ezren has *not* come through with preparatory Knowledge. Turn Undead is not awful, but not very useful in terms of the final fight. Maximize Spell LOOKS like your second best option, allowing a pair of 24 point searing light blasts, until you realize that this means both a touch attack against AC 15 and CL check against SR, meaning two consecutive rolls of 13 or better, so about a 16% chance. That's Harsk levels of badosity. (TL;DR: Quicken Spell. It's what's for dinner.)

Her Sense Motive is a good skill if the party is unaware of who "Lex" is. It can save the day. Literally. (First off, because Sense Motive opposes Bluff directly during the time that "Lex" is trying to get out of the cage, and secondly that Kyra is going to be targeted by Death Touch if she's in the party, and Sense Motive is the defense against the setup. If Kyra does well on her Sense Motive checks the fight with Avalexi can start on fairly even terms.

Align weapon doth not suck. Marisiel and Valeros can benefit *greatly* from having a good weapon. (Kyra can technically give them BOTH a good-aligned weapon in one round if she's got Quicken Spell...) Harsk can get aligned bolts as well, if necessary. Bull's Strength is a superb buff for Seelah or Merisiel and, like align weapon, it has the advantage of a long enough duration (5 minutes) that it can be used outside of the immediate pressure of combat if Kyra senses that there's going to be trouble (or the party is forewarned)—as with Ezren protection from evil is great stuff and dispel magic is an option.

Kyra's attacks are pretty awful, so she's best in support. Fortunately she does that extremely well. She's a must-have pick for a group of pregens.

Merisiel: Vital Shot will work with her Rapier. (Ideally Merisiel will be flanking and stabbing with her rapier, and any 18-20 roll being turned into a crit is welcome...particularly if she was the recipient of a bull's strength cast in which case she'll be adding an average of 6.5 damage) Thrown cold-iron daggers automatically hitting a couple of times—including if Merisiel is not visible via Stealth or invisibility thus being eligible for sneak attack—is also very welcome...making her the least-trappy character. Huzzah!

Note that Merisiel HAS a cold iron dagger. This is excellent! Note also that she has enough money to buy herself a BUNCH MORE. (They cost 4gp each.) If Ezren comes through with advanced knowledge of Avalexi's weaknesses this is a no-brainer buy.

Merisiel is literally trying to get off a steady flank and drive home precision damage with a weapon that penetrates. (Ideally, again, a good-aligned rapier.) If Merisiel has both align weapon and bull's strength a flanking attack gives her a hit on a 15+ and averages 16.5 points per round. That's very nice. To protect her, she needs to rely on Spring Attack. Getting out of the way of the succubus's retaliatory strikes is imperative.

When buffed (good weapon at least) Merisiel is very effective. I'd consider her a good top-4 pick. She does require a bit of attention from the other players to allow her to move about and execute her flanks.

Seelah: Here's a HUGE trap. Biggest one in the customizations. You have cold iron arrows, and can replace them with +1 arrows. Seems good. More damage. Better to hit. USELESS AGAINST THE BBEG. On top of that, it eliminates your ability to take the cold iron longsword +1, which on the surface doesn't seem all that interesting (even though it's 2000gp more expensive by the books) but saves her from needing to bless weapon against the succubus. Or you can grab potions, which are often tempting...but just don't. This is just an ugly bunch of choices with awful, excellent, and bad choices within the module being pretty much the other way around in most scenarios.

So, yeah...SMITE EVIL. That's +3 to hit (and AC) and +10 damage against an evil outsider. Divine bond adding +1 to the weapon is nice, or she can go for broke with keen property (threatening on a 17+)...if she's playing flanking partner (with Merisiel or Valeros) things get ugly with her hitting on a 13/14+ (+1/keen) and doing wrecking-ball levels of damage. Her average with smite evil and +1 from divine bond is 14.5 (19.5 on the first hit)...if she crits with smite evil and keen (not SUPER common, OK, but far from a real long shot) her average damage is (I kid you not) 27 (37 if she crits out of the gate)...bull's strength, you say, Kyra? *shudder*

Ah, and she can cast spells. Like bless weapon, which can give her a good weapon if she chose poorly and both burned all her smite evil uses and didn't take the cold iron longsword +1. She can also give that good weapon to her allies, as she has two castings...

As usual, Seelah is a strong choice. She's pretty much a must-have, and easily outshines Valeros in terms of front-line fighting given what she brings to the table.

Valeros: The second-best set of choices available to the pregens. Battle Fervor is great to potentially lay out more damage, and Boon Companion can be a (friend's) life-saver. There's no real wrong answer here, thankfully.

As noted, he needs a good weapon. He can better use a pair of them though. Alternatively he could swap his longsword to both hands. This affects his chance to hit and his damage. Valeros has good damage, but he suffers from a lower chance to connect with his blows than Seelah when he's wielding both weapons. In terms of spell economy and ensuring he can do the most damage, it makes sense for him to switch to two-handing his longsword. A little math to account for doing this:

+5/+0 Base Attack Bonus
+1/+2 Weapon Focus/Specialization
+3/+5 Strength
+1/+1 Weapon Training
+1/+1 Magic Longsword

So Valeros is sitting at +11/+9, OR +9/+13 if he uses Power Attack. (He loses one point of AC.) He scores on a 15+ without resorting to Power Attack, so that's good. Add in a flank and it might even be worth switching to Power Attack. On average he's doing 13.5 damage on a hit, or 17.5 if he uses Power Attack. If you took Battle Fervor he can get in two attacks like this during two rounds of combat.

He's not Seelah, but he's absolutely going to put out some damage.

***

In closing, it's not that the pregens are complete trash (well, ok, Harsk...) it's that you really do need to make good choices and not flub too many rolls. If you fail to do this, it's going to get painful...

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