Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–12: The Refuge of Time (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7–11.

In the ruins of a fallen empire built on the power of sin lies the key to awakening a great evil from a time long gone. The Pathfinder Society isn't the only organization seeking this potent artifact, however, and the result of failure could mean disaster for the whole of Varisia and beyond.

Written by Steve Miller, RPG Superstar 2012 finalist.

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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Messy dungeon run, with a twist

2/5

Spoiler: you're not going into a refuge, and you're not traveling through time. The title does make sense in the scenario, but keep this little tidbit in mind and you'll be able to leave that bit of disappointment at the door.

The best thing about this 7-11 scenario is that it runs pretty quickly. You're looking at a 4-5 hour game, which is a welcome reprieve from the many 7-11's that run 7-8 hours or more. It's one of season 4's finest hours in that respect. Removing most of the faction missions helps a lot here. There's one faction mission in particular worth doing here, and players will know it just by reading the mission.

Apart from that, the scenario has a lot of problems:

Spoiler:

- The VC briefing is a letter, but suggests the GM should read it out as if the VC is there. Why not a handout? That makes sense, and I ended up making my own. The question answerer can be entirely ignored if your 7-11 players act like they have any experience. A waste of word count.
- The angel encounter has an extremely high diplomacy check to even begin to allow players to make a case, unless they have someone who is amazing at diplomacy AND everyone in the party aids. I ran this at subtier 10-11 and they couldn't make it (wizard, paladin, 2x monk). The worst part is subtier 7-8 uses the same DC. My understanding is a lot of GMs mess up this encounter based on the angel's terms (they're only meant to take off their magic items momentarily, not for the whole encounter) and ignore the diplomacy check. This is bad enough that it deserves errata.
- There's no description of the Shoanti at all (I initially thought there was only 3 people, and Jeor and Wattlee were also Shoanti; this is incorrect; there are 2 named characters on a tour and 3 Shoanti). How are the 3 supposed to react? Are they mute? What do Jeor and Wattlee think of them?
- Emketta's 6-player scaling can be worthless if player's go the right way, making this an exceptionally easy encounter at 10-11, unless you realise her "Phantom Steed" can use air walk. At 7-8, she doesn't have the space she needs in this area to be effective at all, and the pews hinder her further. She will in all likelihood have no reason to use half her feat lines.
- Naroth has some great spells but incredibly stupid tactics for someone who is meant to have great intellect. With 4-player scaling, his minions can do very little to help him. His initial spell listed in his tactics is worthless at subtier 10-11.

There are a few good points as well:

Spoiler:

- That one faction mission is great roleplay and guaranteed hilarity.
- The angel encounter is probably the best in the scenario. It forces a moral quandry with a good creature who is preventing them doing their mission. If only the diplomacy check DC was fixed and there was less confusion among GMs on what players should do, it would be a perfect encounter. As is, it's still a valid battle that can prepare them for the shape of things to come in later scenarios.
- Naroth does have one trick up his sleeve that makes him a force to be reckoned with - if he survives that long and doesn't screw himself too badly with his listed tactics that come before it. Apparently his first during-combat tactic should be directed at "a certain PC" rather than "at a PC", if you read between the lines.

The boon is a nonsensical-rule-breaking mixed bag:

Spoiler:

- There's 1 stone, but Mike has clarified in the forums that everyone must get a chance to activate it. To do this in-game is immersion breaking, but PFS rules on chronicle sheet items work like that, so fair enough.
- The book (and the GM messageboards) doesn't explain this very well, and this is crippling: the stone's power is a curse; if the curse goes, so does the power (permanently). But atonement will get rid of its alignment penalty AND let you keep the power. Read the atonement spell in the Core Rulebook - that's not how it works. Explaining this to players will leave you scratching your head or will leave you confident in ruling it incorrectly.

Steve Miller's provided some fantastic feedback for GMs about several of these problems, many of which are fixable at the GM level. The boon is the biggest problem, as it's ongoing and apparently has no good answer.


Great combat scenario

4/5

If you have a level 7-11 character and you like interesting combat scenarios, this scenario will be a good one for you.

Each one of the fights is both challenging and gives you a fairly unique adversary that you probably haven't encountered before in PFS play. Self-contained, each encounter can be challenging, even for a party that brings one-dimensional PCs (magi alpha-strikers, slumber witches, etc). Because of this, it's a great one to run for the players who derive their enjoyment from challenging combats and have rolled up a PC who shines in those situations.

There's a little bit of roleplay to be had. The Taldan faction mission should always be run as it's brilliant roleplay. The first encounter also comes with amazing roleplay if run correctly (work on your Tyrael from Diablo persona). Thus, while being mostly a combat carousel it still manages to give some interesting roleplay for groups that have such preferences.

It's a fairly easy prep with just a single map and the mechanics for encounter are fairly straightforward. It could run fast (<4 hours) depending on how much your table detours and follows the RP breadcrumbs.


Cakewalk of Time

2/5

A good concept, and it's always fun to see a sequence of adventure paths telling a continuing story that builds into the season finale, but this module is balanced as though the party is going to give up all their magic items... and only has 4 people in it. The problem is that the party has no *reason* to do so - fighting the (summoned) angel isn't an evil act, and one CR 13 does not make an effective barrier or deterrent when confronted with 6 level 10 PCs who know what they're doing. Without the massive no-items handicap the rest of the module falls apart.


issues

2/5

ok some issues i have with this one.

Spoiler:
First, there are 2 combat encounters that have no scaling rules for them (party of 4), even tho they are the same CR or within 1 as encounters that do have scaling rules.

Second, why are parties that negotiate with the angel penalized so heavily?

Doing this scenario with no magical gear is a death sentence, especially for martial characters.

Other then that I think the scenario is a great story.


Refuge of Awesomeness

4/5

I have played this scenario at tier 10-11.I have read it and ran it at a convention. We ran out of time, but that was less of the scenarios fault and more of people not wanting to compromise on issues.

I would rate this at a 4.5

This was written by Steve Miller, who I met at Gen Con 2012. He was one of the judges I remembered the most with his use of outside material.

Spoilers abound

Spoiler:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> ;>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>&g t;>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>& gt;>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Pros

Role Play: So, you have to deal with an angel, which is challenging, especially for morally gray people who covet there spell slots from their magic items. It was good fun and baffling to the players that an Angel was even there. This is something that needs to be done, but rarely happen and it was one of the most risky but rewarding parts of the scenario. As a "gate keeper" he is a fore of disequilibrium, which is highlighted and contrasted with the fact that they are going to a shrine of Lissila. Well played.

Encounters: All the encounters were interesting, challenging and engaging. High level wizards are no joke, the knight was a suprising house, I thought people would just blow through him, however, he almost tpk them. The Boo is a threat but I really wish it was drain instead of damage. I want to thank everyone right now for the more monster centric I have ever seen in the society. I am quite pleased

Traps: I liked the wheel of Fortune, even if the player who got a boon from it was upset.

Prize: I don't know what Paizo is doing, but Admiral Ackbar would have something to say about this, and people are biting hook line and sinker. A fantastic boon.

Faction Missions: Weird to Hilarious, Taldor can have a great RP experience, Osirion, like always has the wackiest. As a member of the Silver Crusade my faction mission was pretty sweet.

Meh:

Setting: Varisia, as if you couldn't of guessed in a season 4 scenario. Wyvern Mountains. Nothing really special.

Mission: Simplistic, which isn't bad, but the encounters is what makes this scenario shine

Con:

Mooks: There are way too many of them in the finale fight with six people, I would suggest maybe only 3 and bumping them to level 9. Make them cavaliers, inquisitors or something other than standard fighters. I wish to see more Inquisitors, Cavaliers, Summoners , and Magus.

Spell selection: So I liked a lot of his spell selection, however, a quickened Glitterdust is far more powerful than a quickened acid arrow. I would have appreciated black tentacles and I am sadden by the fact that most of the season 4 stuff has stayed away from it.

In conclusion, Steve Miller has done great service to Paizo, by making a memorable and tough scenario which is on my top five favorites. I look forward to the next scenario he comes out with.


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Contributor

Announced!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Woo Hoo!


It's Miller time!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Congrats!


Congrats.

The topic seems a bit heavy, though! Just how great an evil and how long ago?


Cheapy wrote:

Congrats.

The topic seems a bit heavy, though! Just how great an evil and how long ago?

Fallen empire, power of sin, great evil, Varisia. How many options are there, really? :)

Grand Lodge Contributor

Any clues whereabouts in Varisia this takes place. I'd like to slot it into my current campaign and would like to plan ahead :p

Dark Archive

Location guess

Spoiler:
Based on an earlier scenario I would say it is likely on Rivenrake island at Hollow Mountain

Digital Products Assistant

Now available! In the spirit of the all things awesome, we've moved up the release date of this month's scenarios. Happy Holidays! :)


You don't want to succeed at this adventure, really. Let the cultists do their thing. Wouldn't it be nicer just to sit at home over the long holiday off from work and just watch TV or play XBox or something? You really want to move about and have fun? Really? All to stop some cultists from their ... totally not evil plans?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This season, give the gift of rest.

rest:
No, SLOTH!

Grand Lodge Contributor

The conclusion of this adventure suggests that there is at least one more adventure following the other Lissala adventures this season, but I don't see anything like that in the remaining relases for season 4. When are we likely to see the conclusion of this 'arc of Sloth' of adventures?

Paizo Employee Developer

The following two parts of this metaplot series have not yet been announced. One will be released in the spring and the other in July, as the conclusion to the Year of the Risen Rune.

Grand Lodge Contributor

Aha! OK! Woohoo! Thanks!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I'm curious about what Emketta would do if one of the PCs happened to openly worship Lissala. One example, openly displaying an unholy symbol of Lissala..

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chris Ballard wrote:
I'm curious about what Emketta would do if one of the PCs happened to openly worship Lissala. One example, openly displaying an unholy symbol of Lissala..

I recommend

Spoiler:
Bluff vs Sense Motive if they just have the unholy symbol and no faith to back it up. If they are a true follower, let them pass. That PC can try to take on the following encounter solo.
Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chris Ballard wrote:
I'm curious about what Emketta would do if one of the PCs happened to openly worship Lissala. One example, openly displaying an unholy symbol of Lissala..

That actually triggered some of the more interesting roleplay of the evening when I ran this. I had Emketta interrogate the bard who was displaying the Sihedron brand from [Redacted] about Lissala and the tenets of her faith. Fortunately, the character was fairly knowledgeable about the lore (he'd taken 20 at the start of the scenario on the Knowledge: Religion check) and was able to bluff his way past.

Of course, then he flubbed his bluff check against the BBEG (rolled a 2), whom promptly shouted out "They're spies, kill them!" to Emketta and made it a very interesting fight.

Liberty's Edge

Update.

I ran the scenario again this past weekend.

This party, also a seven-player one, successfully bluffed their way past Emketta, again.

They then tried the same trick with the BBEG, again.

They then proceeded to pull both encounters and lost party members to a celestial tyrannosaurus, again.

Grand Lodge

DrSwordopolis wrote:
They then proceeded to pull both encounters and lost party members to a celestial tyrannosaurus, again.

Naroth is Evil he would summon a fiendish tyrannosaurus not a celestial one.

Also Summon Monster VII is in his spell book, but not on his prepared spell list for the day. I might be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that you're supposed to play the module as written so the spells he has prepared are what he would bring into combat.

Someone feel free to correct me on that actually being a society requirement though.

Grand Lodge

MassivePauldrons wrote:
DrSwordopolis wrote:
They then proceeded to pull both encounters and lost party members to a celestial tyrannosaurus, again.

Naroth is Evil he would summon a fiendish tyrannosaurus not a celestial one.

Also Summon Monster VII is in his spell book, but not on his prepared spell list for the day. I might be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that you're supposed to play the module as written so the spells he has prepared are what he would bring into combat.

Someone feel free to correct me on that actually being a society requirement though.

He has a bonded object, and casting Summon Monster 4 in a 10-11 scenario would be supremely stupid when he has 20 INT and is capable of casting Summon Monster 7.

The only truly broken thing about his module (and I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it) is that my level 8 character earned ~4000 for doing the module, and ~15000 for taking the stone and selling it after a party member used Remove Curse.

Silver Crusade

Can we say Runelord?

Paizo Employee Developer

The speaking of such a word is not forbidden, so sure.

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
FragerZ wrote:
The only truly broken thing about his module (and I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it) is that my level 8 character earned ~4000 for doing the module, and ~15000 for taking the stone and selling it after a party member used Remove Curse.

You cannot sell the ioun stone in this manner. It has a 0 gp resale value if it was gained without a gp cost to the PC.

Grand Lodge

Thanks for correcting me - I had looked for some sort of rule that would tell me I couldn't, but I had trouble finding it.

Grand Lodge

The magic item on page 14 has construction requirements like regular magic items, but doesn't list any kind of spell that needs to be cast as part of its crafting.

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