Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–21: Way of the Kirin (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7.

On the eastern continent of Tian Xia, the Pathfinder Society remains a small player in the greater political landscape, but Amara Li, head of the Lantern Lodge in the teeming city of Goka, has plans to change that. In order to secure the Pathfinder Society's place as an influential organization on the far side of the world from the Grand Lodge in Absalom, she must orchestrate an alliance with the mysterious Way of the Kirin. But the longtime rival of the Pathfinder Society, the Aspis Consortium, has plans to form an alliance of its own, and if the consortium succeeds, the Pathfinder Society's hopes of cementing their place in the Dragon Empires could be dashed forever.

Written by Dennis Baker.

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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4.20/5 (based on 12 ratings)

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Player review

4/5

If you love tactical fights, this is the scenario for you!

Defending and old manor house that is under waves of attack, using the terrain in your favor (while the enemy tries the same!), the real tactical fight of pathfinder gets to shine.

If you love roleplay, or are more of the 'blunt force approach' type, this scenario will disappoint you

I did have a lot of fun with this. We did not have the 'optimum' party, but we had a lot of diverse characters and used the terrain of the manor to our advantage.


Good fights, and a good story, but the role playing lacks.

4/5

If you were a Lantern Lodge PC you probably knew to play this, obviously that's OBE now, as the Lodge is closed, but still the story is good.

Some nice fights, and opportunity for the PC's to demonstrate their tactical acumen while advancing the storyline, but it's a bit of a "railroad job" as modules go, although I didn't mind that at all when playing it, because it flowed well.




A fond farewell to the Lantern Lodge

5/5

(GM'ed once, for a table of 4 in tier 6-7)

Way of the Kirin is a must-play for any Pathfinder of the Lantern Lodge, and any fan of Season 4. It combines cruel and vicious combat with strong oriental fantasy imagery and creates a high bar for new Tian Xia adventures in PFS organized play.

I have lost my faction, and I don't care. "Rivalry's End" now has a very hard act to follow.

Pros:

-So damned cinematic! The setting! The sense of dread! The writing describing the weather, the igneous rock formations, the grey gravel... I had such a clear and vivid image in my head of where our heroes where travelling to and what they were seeing, which was wonderfully handled. I really have a great picture in my head of the Minatan Archipelago. Just some damn fine setting writing here.

-"Home Alone" meets the finale of "Skyfall". For a few months now PFS players have been asking for some 'team defense' scenarios and this scenario listened. Using your imagination to set traps, barricading windows, firing catapults and rushing out of overrun rooms, this scenario handled team defense excellently. My only beef is that I'd have liked more details on the strength and resistance of the barricades. My players were delighted with all the catapult shenanigans this scenario delivered, and I'm betting Knowledge: Engineering will be a hot pick now.

-Handling of the Lantern Lodge departure. I would have been so, so angry if we had an anticlimactic concluding adventure where Amara just decides to sail off, or if the scenario was set in Varisia. Instead, we get a truly great Tian Xia mission where there's etiquette, oni, katanas, yakuza-style snapping turtle style fighters, all that good oriental action.

Cons:

-It would be nice if the scenario went into more details what horrors befall any character that steps outside the manor. I assume multiple spells, arrows, etc, but I had no firm rules guidance. I would also have appreciated what happens when a Xun strangler binds a PC. Does a Coup De Grace happen? Do they throw them off the cliff? Do they leave the conscripts to finish them? I am happy to run the enemies intelligently, but I don't want a player bawling about it afterwards because the author intended or didn't intend an outcome.

-Being innately pessimistic about the nature of gamers to power-game, I do wish that campaign development had thought a bit more about the possible exploits of the Chronicle boon sheet. It seems a few words here and there could have protected it from exploits, but these steps weren't taken. At least there's a time limit. This complaint does not reflect on the quality of the scenario itself.

-Grapple rules are by far one of my least favoured aspects of the PFRPG rules base. To have characters undone by essentially 'grapple-torpedoes' may seem unfair to many players who ignore this part of the rules as much as they can. However, the inclusion of the dreaded Xun Stranglers had my party thinking intelligently to beat these guys down before they could insta-grapple them in melee. I enjoyed seeing my players fear a foe and adjust their tactics accordingly. So this is a blessing and a curse.

A response to Mattastrophic:

If you are that annoyed by 5ft doorways, just draw your own map with 10ft doors. Nobody is going to ban you from running games for that. Besides, aren't the PCs meant to be running around defending the home from multiple incursions? You know the enemy army doesn't just walk through through the front door, right?
I just don't understand your complaints - yes, there is combat, but it is handled in a far more creative manner than 90% of all PFS scenarios out there! Yes, there is a tough optional encounter, but it fits the flavour of the opponents at hand. The defence points are negligible - all they do is lower enemy numbers.
Obviously you are after the roleplay - and this scenario has it! You seem offended by a tea ceremony with armour and weaponry. Iko Tsuneo is in yoroi armour and keeps his katana at arm's reach. There is plenty to roleplay with the gaining of the old warrior's trust. A flexible GM can make this scene shine over the combat if he/she wishes.
I feel this scenario gives every and any prepared GM the tools they need to make it shine, and a 2 star review is just not warranted.


A Reversion to Mediocrity

2/5

The bulk of this review is very spoiler-filled.

You have been warned:
Way of the Kirin contains everything that Pathfinder Society scenarios have done poorly over their five year campaign, all in one package. The scenario is a classic PFS Bait-and-Switch in that a compelling storyline is introduced, and interesting story-driven encounters are promised (it even asks the PCs to bring formal wear!), only to revert to a slugfest after the first encounter, as if the character-driven interactions were a mere appetizer to be consumed as quickly as possible. Any interesting background about the Way of the Kirin or the Golden League is never seen by the players, confined entirely to the third page of the PDF. Oh, and that formal wear? It just acts like a masterwork tool. Expect PCs who are wearing fullplate, or who have gigantic weapons strapped to their back, or who wear their locked gauntlets, while they somehow manage to sit cross-legged to drink tea. It's really on the GM to enforce the social norms invoked by Kirin. Admittedly, it's not as bad as in Season 2's The Immortal Conundrum, which silently requires the PCs to be fully-armed and armored while sitting down to tea, in order to fight the combat that occurs at the table.

The main course suffers from being back-to-back combats within a map that suffers from the "six PCs in five-foot hallways" problem that plagued Seasons 0 and 1. Mechanics are presented to resolve setting up defenses, mechanics which really aren't necessary due to the PCs already having the overwhelming terrain advantage. Much like in Baker's King of the Storval Stairs, the author goes out of his way to give the players opportunities to trivialize the "challenging" fights. Naturally, the final encounter is the easiest one.

As a dessert to be presented if the players are not completely stuffed after gorging on combat, an optional encounter is offered. In true PFS style, the optional encounter is perhaps the toughest one in the scenario, and it features, of course, darkness effects, even at Tier 3-4. That fad faded out long ago.

If the reader is set to GM this, I can offer the following suggestions:

-Remove Defense Points. They favor larger parties, they slow down the session, and they simply are not necessary.
-Treat the lighthouse map as having a scale of one square representing a 10'x10' area instead of a 5'x5' area. This change will treat the cramped-spaces problem.
-Don't run the optional fight. I don't even know why PFS still includes these.
-Fires spread automatically, instead of having a random chance of spreading. I would also suggest increasing the size of fires to compensate for the increased map scale. These changes make fires more relevant to the encounters they appear in.

In short, Season 4 has taken opportunities to present some innovative and quality offerings, such as Blakros Matrimony and The Disappeared. Kirin is not one of them. It instead represents a style of play in which any semblance of plot or storytelling is quickly dispensed with so that the tactical miniatures battles can commence.

-Matt


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Lantern Lodge

[sarcasm]It is good to know that paizo rewards players who spend the time building a back story over the past two years based around a samurai's devotion to the Lantern Lodge by completely removing their faction from play and forcing him to decide between leaving the Inner Sea for good and committing ritual suicide.[/sarcasm]
This will be the last scenario I will be purchasing and I will not be participating further in Pathfinder Society after August 14th. I am very disappointed with Paizo's decision.

Shadow Lodge

It's good to know that some players are so hidebound that they can't see this as the culmination of their characters work instead of a betrayal of their faithfulness by the staff.

Thank you for your time, and I wish you luck in your future endeavors.

Liberty's Edge

Quick question about "out of tier"... does this mean below tier as well as over tier, or do we just do the "typical" thing and hold the chronicle until the character hits, in this case, 3rd level?

Just checking... pretty sure i knew the answer already.

Lantern Lodge

"By my glorious mustache, I have sworn an oath of service to Master Amara Li and the Lantern Lodge. To that end will only come by my death, be it by my enemy's blade or my own." -Dr. Corneleus Theophylus Idaho, (former) Samurai of the Lantern Lodge.

Read through the scenario. Sounds pretty intense. Still upset about it, but I'm sure I'll get over it.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm GMing this today for a party completely composed of Lantern Lodge PCs. Kind of awesome.

Amara Li has a posse.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
S. Werner wrote:

A couple of spoilery questions about one of the stat blocks:

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks.

Looking at the calculations, it looks like his CMD is 24 because of

:
the 2nd part of his Style feats (Snapping Turtle Clutch)

Paizo Employee Developer

TriOmegaZero wrote:

I'm GMing this today for a party completely composed of Lantern Lodge PCs. Kind of awesome.

Amara Li has a posse.

I'm eager to hear how this went!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

We had a couple last minute additions (Sczarni and Shadow Lodge) but it was still a good party. Check out wvpolarbear's review as he was one of my players.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

So, I thought I would share a weird thing that happened last night when I ran this. Spoilers

Spoiler:
So, this was playing up, but the players did well enough to only get one strangler in the first wave. The strangler came through the second window (the one that the gnome bard was guarding), grappled the gnome, and during next round started to pin him and was going to attempt to tie him up as the next action. Two of the party (a barbarian and a gunslinger) was running to his rescue when the gnome had a brilliant (but crazy idea). He dropped his inspire courage and stared a fascinate on the brawler. I rolled so horribly...and mentally cringed as the brawler just sat there enthralled by the gnome's soothing voice. I had this BAD image of a kid with a teddy bear.

Needless to say, the gnome was able to tell the group that he has this one covered and go finish the rest of the first wave. And once the group got rid of the conscripts, I just hand waved the dispatching of the strangler.

That I think was the first time I have seen fascinate do so well stopping what could have been a BAD fight.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Waldergrave Valmer wrote:

So, I thought I would share a weird thing that happened last night when I ran this. Spoilers

** spoiler omitted **

Just as a note - your player should have failed:

"Fascinate (Su): At 1st level, a bard can use his performance to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him. Each creature to be fascinated must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear the bard, and capable of paying attention to him. The bard must also be able to see the creatures affected. The Distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents the ability from working. For every three levels a bard has attained beyond 1st, he can target one additional creature with this ability."


I just played this tonight and was pretty frustrated. Its possible my GM left out some critical information that would have helped make sense of this. The first hour was prepping for a siege. Cool concept. Love the premise. Here were the problems in the execution:

:

The mission was framed as an escort mission. We did some shopping. For an escort mission. We arrive at our destination and discover its a Rorkes Drift/Aliens 2 mission. So I hit my first major complaint. The mission giver couldn't have told us we were going to be defending from an assault? We could have bought supplies like greek fire, smoke bombs, or whatever.
Now we have an hour or so to prep defenses. How did we know an assault was coming? The GM never mentioned this but perhaps it was in the mod somewhere.
Complaint #2. The mission giver hired us the DAY BEFORE. If time was so critical, why didn't we leave THAT DAY?
Complaint #3. This was a big one. If you didn't have knowledge:engineering, or craft: traps, or maybe knowledge:survival, you pretty much sat on your thumbs during the prep for the assault. Again, this could have been our GM, but most of my party spent the prep feeling useless. To know what I consider pretty much the Gold Standard for this sort of scenario, try and find a copy of the Tides Of Dread from the Savage Tide adventure path. Same basic scenario (pirate assault coming, prepare a villages defenses), but a LOT more options and ways to be helpful.
Complaint #4. This isn't as big, but always a pet peeve in any adventure. The NPCs are morons/jerks. The mission giver did NOTHING to contribute to her own survival or the one guy we held the tea ceremony with. Also: There's a force coming to assault the house and we're holding a TEA CEREMONY?!
Complaint #5. The assault force arrives. The NPCs immediately leave. Half the table was like "Fine, we go with them." "Thats not your mission." So we are defending an EMPTY house? Apparently so.
Complaint #6. Nothing you did mattered. The house got burned downed ("Four sorcerors begin bombarding the house with fireballs.") and the NPCs are intercepted by the Big Bad.

I mean. Really. Once again. 5th Module in Savage Tides. Check it out for how to do this right.


Slaughterwombat wrote:


** spoiler omitted **...

lol. i have the same complaints about the npcs and the house

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Slaughterwombat:
Quote:

The mission giver couldn't have told us we were going to be defending from an assault? We could have bought supplies like greek fire, smoke bombs, or whatever.

Now we have an hour or so to prep defenses. How did we know an assault was coming? The GM never mentioned this but perhaps it was in the mod somewhere.

Amara Li was supposed to tell you that you were going to be security for the meeting. Basically her Secret Service. She did not know there would be a siege. You were just there as a precaution.

Quote:
Complaint #2. The mission giver hired us the DAY BEFORE. If time was so critical, why didn't we leave THAT DAY?

You were hired weeks before. You had to travel to Dtang Ma from Absalom, and only arrived within teleport distance the day before the meeting.

Quote:
Complaint #3. This was a big one. If you didn't have knowledge:engineering, or craft: traps, or maybe knowledge:survival, you pretty much sat on your thumbs during the prep for the assault. Again, this could have been our GM, but most of my party spent the prep feeling useless. To know what I consider pretty much the Gold Standard for this sort of scenario, try and find a copy of the Tides Of Dread from the Savage Tide adventure path. Same basic scenario (pirate assault coming, prepare a villages defenses), but a LOT more options and ways to be helpful.

Craft skills can be used untrained. Not much help, but I didn't even know that for my run of this scenario either. You also did not need to use skills to barricade windows, just effort.

Quote:
Complaint #4. This isn't as big, but always a pet peeve in any adventure. The NPCs are morons/jerks. The mission giver did NOTHING to contribute to her own survival or the one guy we held the tea ceremony with. Also: There's a force coming to assault the house and we're holding a TEA CEREMONY?!

The tea ceremony is a proper custom of their culture when entertaining formal guests. Neither Amara Li or Ito Tsuneo were aware of the impending attack until the party noticed the ships burning.

Now, if you would have liked Amara Li and Ito to have killed all the badguys and left the PCs just watching twiddling their thumbs, that's fine. But scenarios are written with the idea that the PCs are the stars and get to do the heroic things. There can be NPCs doing things in the background, but only what the PCs do matter to the success of the scenario.

Quote:
Complaint #5. The assault force arrives. The NPCs immediately leave. Half the table was like "Fine, we go with them." "Thats not your mission." So we are defending an EMPTY house? Apparently so.

One, it is Ito's childhood home. The Society would lose a lot of face letting it burn down. Two, Ito tells the party he needs time to conduct the ritual to summon aid. If the entire force were to follow you down into the cave, there would likely be no time for the ritual.

Quote:
Complaint #6. Nothing you did mattered. The house got burned downed ("Four sorcerors begin bombarding the house with fireballs.") and the NPCs are intercepted by the Big Bad.

The house did not get burned down by the fireballs. It specifically does little damage while being flashy. It is meant to be a distraction while Mikogu is attacking Amara Li and Ito in the cave.

I encourage you to get a copy of the scenario and compare what you remember of the session to what is written in it. I believe you have some legitimate complaints, but not all of them are with the adventure as written.

Grand Lodge

S. Werner wrote:

A couple of spoilery questions about one of the stat blocks:

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks.

About the CMD:
I know this is old and the original author isn't likely to see or care about this, but this is for anyone like myself who goes through these threads to find errata.

As far as I can tell, the extra +1 to CMD is likely coming from the Snapping Turtle Clutch feat, and the stat block is written as if they've already entered that style.

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