Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–23: Rivalry's End (PFRPG) PDF

**½( )( ) (based on 24 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7.

The Pathfinder Society's conflict with the Aspis Consortium in the frontier region of Varisia has come to a head, and the time to secure dominance of the ancient land is now. But despite mounting victories on the Society's part, the Aspis Consortium still has a few tricks up its sleeves, including several powerful agents from the Pathfinders' past who could prove too challenging an obstacle to surmount. Can the PCs end the ongoing struggle for control of the flow of ancient Thassilonian artifacts out of Varisia's ports, or will the Aspis Consortium succeed in keeping the Pathfinder Society ever in its shadow as it profits on the exploitation of the millennia?

Written by Ron Lundeen.

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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**½( )( ) (based on 24 ratings)

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Not as bad as everyone makes out, but not that good either.

***( )( )

Impossible to review without spoilers:

This scenario has had its fair share of gamers hurl abuse at it. 'Why did we lose?', 'How can this happen to us?!', 'Who thought this up!?', 'Wahhhh, I can't reach DC41 sense motive, it's not faiiiiir'
Well, guess what. Losing hurts. Plot-driven losing can hurt even more, especially if you end up leaving the scenario feeling like a useless puppet.

My biggest issue with this scenario is the relative lack of fanfare that heralds the destruction of the Shadow Lodge. It dies a quiet death in a Riddleport Inn, whereas the end of the Lantern Lodge came with a private army tearing down upon a single island. One is cinematic, memorable and exciting, the other is dark, grim and unheroic.

First off, the combats.
The clockwork guardians are very easy to avoid. I haven't experienced them at high tier, but at low tier, a few power attacks, one entangled hero, then they're dealt with.

The Spider. I was annoyed by this fight. If this woman has so many resources at her beck and call, why does she make it so easy for the PCs? I understand she's been caught unawares, but why doesn't she have a bodyguard that is immune to her Confusion effects? Whenever I've experienced or discussed this fight with others, she has pulled off two confusion spells, then fallen. The rest of the fight is the PCs gleefully killing one another. I'd love a Clockwork bodyguard who identifies non-confused opponents and attacks accordingly.

The Final Betrayal. The dramatic reveal in this scene doesn't work for a number of reasons.
1. Torch would be better served by congratulating the PCs, taking Spider and leaving the inn, to do his filthy deeds with no witnesses.
2. Torch would be better served by killing the PCs (witnesses) by placing them in a situation where they are unlikely to escape alive. Sending two of his half-orc guards doesn't quite cut it. Why not set them up to be attacked by the Riddleport families? Why not send them into a Dragon's Den? Why not make them stand on the trap door above the gaping chasm? Why not send them on a pirate boat laden with gunpowder and then have your half orcs fire flame arrows at the ship? SO MUCH COOLER BETRAYALS ARE POSSIBLE.
3. The Spider is the sworn enemy of the Pathfinders and it is not a 'betrayal' when Torch executes her. It's gross, sure, but it is not a betrayal.
4. Torch should not be Torch. It should be a Simulacrum, a Doppelganger, a Contingency Teleport, something like that. I don't think the PCs should even have had a chance to touch him. He has the PCs in his palms for the entirety of this mission.
5. Why is the Shadow Lodge dead? Why can't the good aligned Pathfinders redeem the name?

The one thing I loved about this scenario is the discrepancy in the SL Faction Mission and the Spider's list. My cunning SL players saw the lie and were immediately perplexed by its implications. What do they do next? They decided to trust Torch and got burnt for it. It'd have been nice if their distrust led to an advantage somehow, such as the Pirate Ship of Explosives scenario imagined above.

Yeah. Not terrible, but seems like a wasted opportunity for a very intriguing plot hook.


Unsatisfying.

*( )( )( )( )

This scenario was unsatisfying to me, both as a GM apart from my faction, and as a committed Shadow Lodge member.

First, the scenario itself. The entire first act of the scenario allows for some fantastic roleplaying opportunities, but it's up to the GM to pretty much make everything up. There's just not much in the actual text of the scenario to work with, even though it feels like there should be something.

The difficulty between subtiers is wildly different. At 3-4, this is a borderline cakewalk. At 6-7, I think it would be nearly impossible. I haven't ran it at 6-7, but that's how it looks to me.

Now, as for my affiliation with the Shadow Lodge...

I started playing PFS in November. My first scenarios were extremely, extremely difficult. Near-TPKs. As a result, after playing First Steps 1, I decided to join the Shadow Lodge. The goal of making sure that everybody came home safe and being a bit distrustful of the "masked ponces", as my character calls the Decimvirate, was highly appealing. I didn't play the old Shadow Lodge scenarios, and I didn't even realize that they were an enemy until well into my Pathfinder career. I feel that a lot of others are in the same boat.

In the finale of this scenario...

Spoiler:
Grandmaster Torch apparently betrays the Society? I can't see him doing anything in the storyline that merits the reaction that the game expects from the players. "Roll initiative." Why? He's trying to escape? Alright, that's fine, why should I stop him? He's ordered his guards to fight to the death? Why? Once he's gone, can't we just make some peace of it? None of it makes sense. I assume that things will be clarified in a later scenario, but it doesn't make sense right now, and it should make at least some sense within the session, or players leave disappointed and confused.

Additionally, I was frustrated regarding the time that Shadow Lodge PCs had to complete this scenario. In my region, at least, Shadow Lodge was MUCH more popular than Lantern Lodge. Lantern Lodge, however, had a full 2 months to complete this mission, while Shadow Lodge had about a month. That made it very difficult for us to get in enough playtime to make sure that everybody could do it before they had to switch factions. We had to schedule several additional sessions to level up some lower-level Shadow Lodge PCs, and it all felt very rushed and frustrating. Was it really necessary? Why couldn't both end-of-faction missions have been released in the same month?

Disappointing. I don't see this scenario ever really being ran after August 14.


Ultimately Disappointing

*( )( )( )( )

The scenario is not terrible, per se. It is full of some ridiculousness, and DM Fait. It seems more than once that they went out of their way to make this one involve a lot of things to specifically not let player's stuff work, in the exact way that most good DM advice topics point out as what not to do, (if your players get the ability to teleport, let them use it, don't make every adventure block teleportation because it messes up your little story).

Sadly, this was also the end of a great Faction, but is handled terribly. Worthy of 0 stars terrible, which is enough to have absolutely ruined it if everything else had been perfect. It makes no sense, is completely forced, and really just serves to piss off players, (not their characters, the players). It fails to come up with any solutions to the important things if the players still manage to derail the railroad, or get around it, (raise dead, ok, I saw that coming and I'm still on his side), or to answer various important questions (like what if the players do prevent things from going down, what was the actual info or so, why I am not Shadow Lodge anymore? Um, no, I am not going back to "rejoin" the Society, thanks). All in all, this is the worst type of DMing, leaving the players just feeling like their characters are there to watch things happen, so that some very weak metagame plot thing can happen, but in the end has absolutely no baring at all on that actual metaplot thing.


Very disapointing end for a faction

*( )( )( )( )

As an outsider looking in I cant see how this really provides a satisfactory conclusion for Shadow lodge players. Other factions have had leaders die/ leave and none of them collapse apart but aparantly Torch is the Shadow lodge and cant possibly exist without him. So unlike the lantern lodge which faction had a good proper ending.


...Huh?

**( )( )( )

I played this at subtier 3-4, so keep that in mind. I hear the higher tier is tougher.

Pros:
The combats felt pretty reasonable for the most part. The layout of and progression through the "dungeon" was kind of interesting.

Cons:
Infiltrating the secret lair was a matter of doing single, prescribed action with no check or roleplaying, followed by a single skill check (again without roleplaying). Huh.

Within said secret lair, there was no need to be quiet. You can slam your metal weapons against robots without fear of getting caught by anyone. Huh.

The biggest thing, though, is the ending. Now, I admit I don't really know the backstory of the Shadow Lodge. But still, when I was asked to roll initiative for the final encounter, I had no idea why I was rolling initiative.

What started the fight:
A good guy killed a bad guy. OH NOES.

I won initiative, and delayed because I had no idea why I would take any particular actions. Even on a metagame level, all I had to go on was "There are things on the map that are not PCs - I'm probably supposed to kill them." But since I don't like being a Murder-Hobo, I delayed. My eventual motive for re-entering the initiative order was that the mooks attacked.

I finished the scenario not really knowing what just happened.


11 to 15 of 24 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | next > last >>
Webstore Gninja Minion

Announced for June!

Grand Lodge

Is this the one I've been waiting for?

Paizo Employee Developer

You don't wait for all of them?

Sovereign Court

Life's too fast to sit around and wait for anything!

...:
Except for Blakros Matrimony, but that came out late and was totally worth the time.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Agh, I'll have to GM this one, my Shadow Lodge character just hit Eight...

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Curious if Grandmaster Torch will be as kind as Amara Li...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Thankfully, I only have two Shadow Lodge characters, and they are both in the range. :)


Did the date on this change or am i just extra full of crazy?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I do think this was to be released the last Wednesday of June, originally.

Paizo Employee Developer

June scenarios are being released a week after the last Wednesday of the month in order to debut at PaizoCon. At the same time, July scenarios are releasing 4 weeks early to debut at the same time. This was always the plan, even if the website didn't know that plan because it's a computer and not clued in to the awesome stuff we have planned for PaizoCon.

Paizo Employee Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Man, they let that guy write another scenario? Sheesh!

Grand Lodge

Still seems like a pretty tight schedule to get it in... and my Shadow Lodge character is at 6th... and holding. Have a choice... play him at slow progression for a level (so that I can do the final two levels of Thornkeep with him AND this one), or use another character for Thornkeep...

Oh, the humanity!!!

Liberty's Edge

Ron Lundeen wrote:
Man, they let that guy write another scenario? Sheesh!

I know! His scenarios sucked as hard as the event horizon of a black hole! Except when they didn't, which was always. LOL

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Without spoilers, are there any scenarios in particular that I should play before this one, to get the full story impact?

Liberty's Edge

It needs to have an obligatory Torch in Bathhouse scene!

I am hoping that Torch sells out to the Aspis

Liberty's Edge

When is the deadline for this one to get the retirement boon? I.E.: when must I GM this one for my players and I to get the retirement boon; sorry, just wanted to clarify my question.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

August 14th, same as Way of the Kirin.

Shadow Lodge

We're going to be so short on time to get to play this to get the pre-August 14th boon; even shorter if you want to play and GM it. Only 6 weekends to play with.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

What happened to the release date? When I announced my July schedule last week, this was listed as coming out on Wednesday, so my GMs would have five days to prep. Now they only get the weekend.

Why do you guys keep mucking up what is already a difficult job to do? )-:

Paizo Employee Developer

This scenario has always been intended to be released in tandem with its debut at PaizoCon. If you need your GMs to have early access to it, you may consider contacting Mike to have the scenario added to their downloads, as it is done and in PaizoCon GMs' hands so they can prep.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I am going to say something odd, but here goes: I like the fact that my GMs are willing to pay for their scenarios. It makes them care more about the game they are running, and it pays you for your product. I also dislike bothering any of you to give me a handout when I know you are busy.

I'd rather it were simply available when I'm told it will be. Especially one like this, which is highly anticipated and has a time-frame for playing.

Shadow Lodge

Need to read the mod and evaluate my play of it with what was actually written.

Liberty's Edge

Spoiler:

Part of the scenario requires a list of 36 names and then a list of 8 names to match the busts (and the mirrors).

Here's a good online Fantasy name generator:

http://rinkworks.com/namegen/

There's even a Japanese name generator on that site for help with the Lantern Lodge faction mission.

For some added fun, enter the following 10 names into an anagram generator and insert the results into the list of 36 names--one every 8th name:

Ron Lundeen
James Jacobs
F Wesley Schneider
James Sutter
Logan Bonner
John Compton
Adam Daigle
Rob McCreary
Mark Moreland
Patrick Renie

http://www.wordsmith.org/anagram/

Liberty's Edge

casiel wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Here's a list of names that I am using as handouts when I run "Rivalry's End"...

The Ten: (37 names)

Spoiler:

(every 8th name is an identity of one of the Decemvirate)
Roight Riletroth
Durod Blyustust
Dunner Lone
Honurn Briprad
Belah Triaughbel
Aces Jamjobs
Elmrana Didard
Deifcers Shewnley
Nynrak Llaydia
Osem Joosest
Master Jutes
Neach Rhalyeet
Rothkin Scharler
Chesold Choolest
Essardu Imyerbur
Bornean Long
Quabwor Deabves
Rilyh Jouzrak
Jom Coptohnn
Nalvese Nuywor
Imche Miafcha
Serldra Mevesper
Kintan Weillcha
Alga Diadem
Miser Rerilage
Ashond Ceraright
Carry Comber
Wopol Deghine
Inagdan Boentia
Ingut Shiuskdyn
Aleacki Sweswor
Kraal Dormmen
Daos Densaygha
Aldvor Tanrakrak
Carter Pinkie
Stesul Vakelend
Lyeem Peremche

The Eight (busts/mirrors):

Spoiler:

Koig Vesburler (Absalom, 12pm)
Suzukami Yoshito (Goka, 3am)
Noet Whiniss (Egorian, 9am)
Irn Dansaycha (Magnimar,6am)
Kem Toubtin (Sothis, 2pm)
Kinl Schesar (Katheer, 5pm)
Leiq Rodanser (Oppara, 8pm)
Rylt Omendrod (Almas, 12am)

Liberty's Edge

Cool handouts there, I love it.

Paizo Employee Developer

Your list of Decemvirate identities is missing several that have already been revealed in other scenarios, namely the Eyes of the Ten series. Otherwise, a very handy tool for GMs.


casiel wrote:
casiel wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Here's a list of names that I am using as handouts when I run "Rivalry's End"...

The Ten: (37 names)
** spoiler omitted **

Ace Jamjobs

The Eight (busts/mirrors):
** spoiler omitted **

LOL!

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Is anyone else extremely disappointed with this scenario? Reading through it, and it just seems very much wtf?!?!? Now do not get me wrong, the scenario itself is good, and this isn't at all a slight towards Ron. I'm talking about the outcome.

Spoiler:

This is what they came up with on how to get rid of the Shadow Lodge, not to mention how to portray Torch, who has gone out of his was to create a network of agents within the pathfinders dedicated primarily to looking out for their own when the jerks of the society fail to do so. Basically anyone with a rank above agent. Secondly, the Shadow Lodge was basically the one way that, out of character, one could play PFS without being uncomfortably a Society slave.

Secondly, why would anyone loyal to the Shadow Lodge give a crap about what the Society wants them to do, even if, if they believe Torch is guilty, (as opposed to finding a new leader and Charlie Mikeing (continue mission)? Instead we are going to just follow some of the most annoying and hated personalities within the Society, Sheila Heidmarch, Drandle Dreng, and Ambrus Valsin? Uhuh? Wait, what?

Webstore Gninja Minion

Added spoiler tag to the above post!

Shadow Lodge

My apologies, it all seemed like common knowledge material, and I intentionally avoided specifics.

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