Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–08: The Cultist's Kiss (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7–11.

An active cell of the cult of Lissala—ancient goddess of runes and obedience—has been discovered in the Varisian town of Palin's Cove. Seeking a chance to learn about this long-lost faith not from millennia-old relics but from its current practice, a team of Pathfinders travels to the industrial seaside settlement to uncover the secret coven and infiltrate its services in the guise of prospective converts. Will the Pathfinders discover the knowledge they seek, or will the evil cult subvert them with its vile and seductive faith?

Written by Sam Zeitlin.

This scenario is designed for play in Pathfinder Society Organized Play, but can easily be adapted for use with any world. This scenario is compliant with the Open Game License (OGL) and is suitable for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Kiss the Cultists and Make Them Cry!



The Cultist’s Kiss is an interesting, well-written scenario that significantly advances the Season Four (“Year of the Risen Rune”) storyline. I played through it with my half-orc Paladin of Sarenrae, Trokkus, which led to some moral quandaries! (but in a good way) The scenario also adds a wealth of detail about a particular town in the setting that hadn’t receive much lore to date. It’s worth mentioning that, like most Season Four scenarios, this one features some genuinely tough combats. Overall, it provides an excellent experience—just make sure enough time is set aside to run it properly.


Across Varisia, the scattered cults of Lissala (ancient Thassilonian goddess of rune magic) have become more active and visible. It’s clear they’re planning something big, and in The Cultist’s Kiss, we find out what it is: they want to bring back the Runelord of Sloth! One particular cult called the Feasters of the Heart, located in Palin’s Cove (a town near Korvosa), is secretly run by vampires that use domination spells to maintain control of its members.

In the briefing, Venture-Captain Sheila Heidmarch tells the PCs that she sent an experienced agent to spy on the Palin’s Cove cult but that that individual hasn’t reported back for weeks and has to be presumed dead. Importantly, Heidmarch tells the likely murder-hobos in the group that she doesn’t want a bunch of bodies--she wants information, so the mission is to infiltrate, not to just wipe it out. She has a cover story prepared for the PCs so it won’t be obvious who they are in the town. The subsequent journey from Magnimar to Palin’s Cove is handwaved.

The next part of the scenario, where the PCs try to gather information in the town about the cult and how to contact it, is very opened ended—something I always appreciate. Unusual for a scenario like this, the writer provided a full (and excellent) overview of residents and locations within Palin’s Cove, all tied into a really nice map. It’s great when PFS scenarios add to the setting like this, as there’s an enduring contribution to the game even after the scenario has been played. For the information gathering bit, this scenario provides several different rumours and clues (and NPCs to deliver them), rewarding a more in-depth investigation instead of just “everybody make a check, here’s what you get” that many scenarios go with. I especially like that failed checks result in wannabe-cultists starting to hang around the PCs (and they become important later). Another thing I like is that the town has a retired (“put out to pasture”) Pathfinder agent who is secretly a member of the Shadow Lodge!

Chances are, the PCs will eventually find information leading them to the town asylum where they can interview a dhampir patient who has been held there (involuntarily) for pretty much his entire life. He’ll talk if the PCs break him out (which requires getting past some super-creepy-looking totenmaskes), and provide some more information on the cult and its leadership. From either this guy or other leads, the PCs will learn that they need to show up at a particular place outside town at midnight wearing black robes if they want to be inducted into the cult. I love how the scenario features an “Off the Rails” sidebar to help the GM with enabling the various approaches different groups might take (I’ve been writing Dead Suns reviews recently where every sidebar is seemingly about how the GM has to firmly shut down any attempt to get off the rails).

Assuming the PCs stick to the infiltration plan, they’ll find themselves in the town foundry (the cult headquarters) along with several other inductees from among the townsfolk. This part is really interesting, as the leaders of the cult have several tests they put initiates through to test their desire and loyalty. The first one is being branded with a Sihedron--something my paladin wasn’t going to go for! (It’s actually a magical tattoo that is very useful.) Another test was to step into a furnace, with those proclaiming allegiance to Lissala magically protected from the flames and those who don’t taking some burn damage. Fortunately, not every member of the group has to agree to each and every condition. The final test involves selecting the weakest member of the group (NPCs included) and killing them! Here, as the scenario advises, the GM should remind the players that PvP is not allowed and that killing an NPC under these conditions would count as an evil act (still, I imagine some PCs would choose the second option anyway).

What’s most likely to happen is that at some point during these trials, the PCs will have had enough and combat will break out. The exact order and composition of the foes will change depending on what’s happened, but the long and short of it is . . . vampires! Regular vampire spawn, vampire rogues (like the missing PFS agent, who has been turned), vampire clerics, vampire sorcerers, etc. (all the cult leaders are well-detailed with pictures and backgrounds) If the PCs happen to have prepared for undead, they’ll certainly have an advantage here, otherwise they could be in for a tough battle. I remember things getting pretty dicey before we pulled out a victory. After the carnage, the PCs can investigate the headquarters thoroughly, and that’s when they’ll discover what the whole season has been leading to: the return of a Runelord!

One thing I did find a bit odd is that the mission is styled as an infiltration one, but there aren’t really any consequences for the PCs being terrible at it. A group of all-bards who are masterful at Disguise and Bluff would have pretty much the same experience as a group of all-fighters skilled at Swim or Climb. Indeed, the scenario assumes the cult leaders may very well know that some of their initiates are “secretly” Pathfinder agents, but the plot plays out the same. So it’s a bit of false advertising, which is too bad since sneaky characters often don’t get a chance to really shine in PFS. That’s my only real criticism. Apart from that, as I discussed above, there’s a lot to really like about The Cultist’s Kiss, and I certainly recommend it.

Dark Theme


Cultist is a horror scenario with investigation, roleplay, and combat.

The environment and dark mood that was created in Palin’s Cove was fantastic. As well, the NPCs and slightly disturbing storyline were also great. Some tough decisions, some moral decisions, I loved it!

”Detailed Rating”:

Length: Medium (4 hours).
Experience: Player at subtier 7-8 with 6 good PCs.
Sweet Spot: TBD.
Entertainment: If you like disturbing gothic horror, you will like this. (10/10)
Story: Maybe the other contacts could have been fleshed out a little more. (9/10)
Roleplay: Great NPCs. (10/10)
Combat/Challenges: A little easy for us but suitable. (8/10)
Maps: Good but nothing special. (6/10)
Boons: Overpowered. (1/10)
Uniqueness: Something different. (9/10)
GM Preparation: TBD.

Overall: A must play in PFS (9/10).

Didn't earn a single prestige point and only one fifth of the gold. Still great.


(I played this.)

The investigation part of this scenario is great. If you have a GM who isn't afraid to ham it up, you can meet some great characters. My GM tends to portray his NPCs as dumb and annoying, which is exactly what's needed here. I was surprised at the detail of the NPCs and their backstories, the author really tried to portray some memorable characters, and he succeeded.

The combat is pretty nasty. We managed to pull three encounters at the same time, but I don't really see how we could've avoided this, given their tactics. We could've been better prepared, but in the end we needed a tactical retreat; there was no way we could withstand what we were facing in the latter half of the adventure. Still, points for being unique and very cool, did not expect it to turn out like this.

The infiltration part was fantastic. No spoilers, but everyone at our table was amazed at how events unfolded, definitely didn't see that coming.

In short, this is a great (albeit brutal) scenario. Definitely recommend playing this, but we warned that character deaths are definitely possible.


Wonderful scenario for only the first half


I love the starting phase, gaining clues, visiting a mad guy, and a sudden fight.

I also love infiltrating into vampiric cult, but no more story except killing your ex-coworker??

Delve into the cult, kill evil guys, than save the world... I really dislike anything like that. Good combats indeed, but not a full story. And the investigation part is good for RP, but I don't see real usefulness or gain any advantage...

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Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Just announced!

Shadow Lodge

Scheduled to run it first week in November, which maps does it use?

Paizo Employee Developer

New map of Palin's Cove, new map of a new location, and Flip-Mat: Prison

Shadow Lodge


Digital Products Assistant

Final cover is up and the PDF will be available tonight!

Good job Sam, will drop in a review this weekend.

I enjoyed this a lot Sam! Wow, well done!

Silver Crusade

Shattered Star GMs really need to check out this scenario. I'm not sure if it's an easy plug-in with the second half of that AP still coming, but there's a lot to mine here.

Sovereign Court

Is there a reason that Charitos - a pathfinder - doesn't have a wayfinder? Or is it not something every pathfinder carries?

Grand Lodge

Pg. 7 - Palin's Cove stat block

Minor gripe, but the Base Value of Palin's Cove should be 1,400 gp, not 1,430. According to the Gamemastery Guide, when multiple settlement qualities and disadvantages affect the base value or purchase limit, you don't add them one at a time, but rather add the total percentage increased or decreased among all qualities and disadvantages before calculating. For this stat block, the author increased 1,000 gp base by 30% (Prosperous) to get 1,300, THEN increased that number by another 10% (strategic location) to get 1,430. Instead he should have just determined 40% increase of 1,000, or 1,400.

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