Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–26: The Waking Rune (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7–11.

After a year of searching and risking life and limb, the agents of the Pathfinder Society have discovered the resting place of the Runelord of Sloth, who has been sequestered from the world at large for 10,000 years awaiting the proper time for his return. Thanks to the efforts of the sinister cult of Lissala, that time is now. In a desperate attempt to defeat this ancient evil once and for all, the Decemvirate sends its best agents, armed with relics found throughout ancient Thassilon, to foil the cult's last-ditch efforts to usher in a new era of tyranny and strife. Will the party succeed in preventing Krune's return to Golarion, or will the Pathfinder Society serve simply as a speed-bump in the runelord's path to domination over the entire region?

Written by Tim Hitchcock.

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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Unbalanced

2/5

First, let me start off by saying that my group played normal mode at 7-8. Everyone at the table had a great time, and this conclusion to a season was epic.

That being said, even as a player, I could tell this scenario is incredibly unbalanced and really shouldn't be part of the normal scenario line...this is stuff that should remain in the likes of Bonekeep that outright advertise their deadliness.

Why am I saying this if I had such a great time? That's because my GM was very good and fair in this scenario. If he wanted to, because of the imbalance, he could have simply ended the scenario in a TPK. This is not something we need to condone in PFS. Having inappropriate CRs that "try" to scale like this simply doesn't work as intended, and malicious GMs can have as much of a bloodbath as they want to where the players could do basically nothing about it. And this is on normal mode!

People could say "You play this one for the challenge." But where's the fun if the BBEG, when played to the best of his ability, could TPK the party instantly but instead holds back?

Edit:
Reflecting back on this, there are two things the scenario did right.

Waking Rune:
The trap is one of the best traps I've ever seen. Usually, a trap is "you take damage, you heal up, the end," but this trap there needs to be more of. It has consequences which matter a lot more than just out-of-combat damage.

The rune portion of this scenario was lots of fun. It ties into why I hate the scenario in the end, but the way it was presented was a fun little interlude.


Hard to play, hard to run.

4/5

This is PFS at its most brutal. You are up against impossible odds. You need the right resources to give you a chance. You need teamwork to capitalize on that chance. And you need luck to avoid random chance sending you to quick defeat.

Don't play this unprepared. Know your character. Know your team.

Don't run this unprepared. Know your monsters. Know your spells.

The mission brief sets the scene, direly important. Blindly stepping into the unknown instills fear. Instant crushing force delivers on the dire threat. The scenario is not overly interactive, but the combats have roleplaying underlying the deadly action. GMs should make sure to emphasize this.

Played at RinCon 2013, with a party of 8th to 10th level in the high tier, normal mode. Four character deaths and two companion deaths, with two PCs left standing when it was over. The dwarven barbarian slugged it out toe-to-toe with Krune down to his school powers while the rage prophet cowered from a failed Will save.

This scenario is exactly what it said it would be. Come prepared for battle or stay home.


Far too hard.

2/5

Player perspective, played at 10-11 normal mode.

It might be wise to work out what went wrong with this scenario by comparing it to the much more successful Portal of the Sacred Rune. Still difficult, but there's a fine line between difficult, challenging and fun, and near-impossible.

The lack of roleplay really isn't an issue. You go in expecting a fight from start to finish, and it's actually not even quite as continuous as that, but it does feel like the pressure is on.

Spoiler:
This kind of thing should be rule #1 when a scenario hits development: You just can't have a scenario that has a save or die in the first turn of the first round.

It forces a player who showed up expecting a good time to sit back with their dead character and watch. There's no fun in that. That they are high tier or should have had a better cloak of resistance just isn't a good excuse.

Disabling of the runes was actually quite creative, especially for a high tier scenario. In a scenario that is almost all about fighting through the minions and the boss, this short break with a bit of thinking is a welcome break between fights.

But then you come to Krune. Even after disabling runes, he is far too powerful. The same problem applies with empowered maximised horrid wilting as with the earlier save or die, only here it's hp instead of saves. Potentially TWICE, over the whole party. Near-guaranteed death-o-rama.

I don't know what the tactics said about Limited Wish/Wish, but there is enough debate in the forums to suggest that whatever guidelines was provided wasn't enough. This is an outright dangerous spell to put in the hands of the GMs if you want your player base to have fun, at the very least not without some very, very strict rules about its use.

I was absolutely not going to play on hard mode, but after having played it, what I was expecting for hard mode was experienced in normal mode. I know he's a Runelord, but it still needs to be toned down, guys.


A true Conclusion

5/5

Waking Rune is an epic finale to Season 4. Anyone who pay attention to blog posts should be unsurprised by what is coming, and I was personally thrilled by the scenario. Not for the faint of heart, and with little opportunity for role play, this is fight in which your actions feel epic, and PCs feel challenged. Can you stop the Waking Rune?


Worst scenario I've ever played

1/5

I played in this one a little while back with my 11th level paladin/hellknight. We were given the introduction, time to buy, then sent immediately into combat. There was no roleplay at all in this scenario. At tier 7-8, the only reason the first fight wasn't a TPK was because they had someone to absorb the damage. There is no level 7 or 8 character that could survive that first fight for more than one round, if they were taking the damage

The rest of the scenario went no better, and the fact that the end fight has a creature that is 10 CR above the party is simply stupid. There is no way a party can win this module. There is no fun. Only play this one if your entire party is min-maxxed 100% AND everyone can afford resurrections.

The entire thing felt painful and infuriating. I've never been in a module that actually made me angry, but this one did. Would give it a 0 star if I could, and I plead that no one ever plays this scenario. It's not worth the time, and it's not worth the frustration. Completely unbeatable.


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Announced for July!


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Whoa, cool!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Finally I will destroy the enemies of my mistress, Alaznist and soon I shall raise a new Thassilon in my image!!! MUAHAHAHAHA


Alaznist is a she, so technically she's a mistress. Just sayin'.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Aw, man. And I was hoping not to have to work. You damned Pathfinders are going to make this hard on me, aren't you?

Liberty's Edge

Well, I think this'll do nicely as my crowning moment of glory. I hope you have your affairs in order, Krune. You've certainly had enough time to prepare them.

Grand Lodge

I really want to have the last boss of this be Krune returned (though obviously weakened to a Tier-appropriate challenge). C'mon, Paizo! Let us take down a Runelord!

Dark Archive

Tryanny, hmmm. Maybe we can work out a good deal when Krune comes back.

Grand Lodge

Is the date right? I thought the final two scenarios were going to be available in time for PaizoCon.


You are correct. Mark has stated that these scenarios will release sometime to the public during or at PaizoCon. I bet that information just hasn't made it to IT quite yet. :)

Liberty's Edge

I can't wait. My highest-level PC is doing slow progression from 11 to 12 specifically so she can finish out the Cult of Lissala arc. The Waking Rune will be her final mission as a regular pathfinder, a fittingly impressive end to a long and glorious career.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Can I wish for the opposite. A vastly out of Tier Krune?

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh, if only I could have a Double-Hackbut, for just this one mission.

Krune: "Mwa-ha-ha!"
Me: "Welcome to the 48th century."
Krune: "Huh?"
Me: *Blam goes the cannon.*

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

The cover indicates this is for Tier 5 - 9, but the description lists 7 - 11. I'm guessing the description is correct.

Paizo Employee Developer

This is a known error, and it will be corrected early next week. The proper tier of the scenario is 7-11.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Okay, wait a minute. A band of six 11th level heroes is going to be expected to possibly challenge a 20th level Conjurer with levels in mythic tiers? Is this a joke or will the heroes themselves have levels in Mythic Tiers. Cause if they're not Mythic then to be perfectly blunt: there's epic and then there's SUICIDE.


Berselius wrote:
Okay, wait a minute. A band of six 11th level heroes is going to be expected to possibly challenge a 20th level Conjurer with levels in mythic tiers? Is this a joke or will the heroes themselves have levels in Mythic Tiers. Cause if they're not Mythic then to be perfectly blunt: there's epic and then there's SUICIDE.

Don't worry--Krune is canonically the weakest Runelord. Only the Runelords stronger than Karzoug, who was middle-of-the-pack, are Mythic. Since Krune is weaker than Karzoug, he isn't even level 20. Maybe something like level 17.

Paizo Employee Developer

We have never published Krune's statistics until this adventure. Remember, Karzoug (wizard 20) is right in the middle of the seven runelords in terms of power. Krune was the weakest. Even considering all that, yes, the Pathfinders are in for a tough fight. Then again, they've been building toward this for a year, so perhaps they'll have collected some tools along the way to aid them in the big battle.


If Karzoug was in the middle and Krune was at the lowest end where did Sorshen stand in the ranking of most powerful Runelord?


Berselius wrote:
If Karzoug was in the middle and Krune was at the lowest end where did Sorshen stand in the ranking of most powerful Runelord?

IIRC, she's 2nd in power behind the Runelord of Pride (I can't remember his name though).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Xanderghul.

The Runelord power-structure (in order of "weakest" to strongest) is:

Krune, Belimarius, Zutha, Karzoug, Alaznist, Sorshen, Xanderghul.

Grand Lodge

And where did Emperor Xin stand compared to them? I can't seem to find that, though I'm certain I've read it somewhere.

Paizo Employee Developer

He was stronger than all of them, but he couldn't take all seven of them when they overthrew him. Note that several of the runelords are but one in a long line who held their respective positions, so it wasn't the seven in power at Thassilon's fall who wrested control from Xin.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
He was stronger than all of them, but he couldn't take all seven of them when they overthrew him. Note that several of the runelords are but one in a long line who held their respective positions, so it wasn't the seven in power at Thassilon's fall who wrested control from Xin.

Yeah, I was just looking this up the other day for Shattered Star. Xin held power from -6530 to -6420 AR. Earthfall was -5293.

So Thassilon lasted over 1,000 years after the fall of Xin and Xin only ruled it for a comparatively short stretch. Sorshen and Xanderghul (who came with Xin from Azlant and were members of the original 7) must have discovered routes to immortality (perhaps the Immortality level 20 arcane discovery). I suppose that in their Xinless millennium of rule, Sorshen and Xanderghul may have grown in strength, so it makes it tough to rate Xin's strength because we can't necessarily use the current versions of them as benchmarks (and we don't know the other five Runelords at the time at all).

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I gotta say, the canon wonk in me loves posts like that, Rogue Eidolon.


Mark Moreland wrote:
I gotta say, the canon wonk in me loves posts like that, Rogue Eidolon.

Canon wonks unite--today Thassilon and then Starday the trivia contest!

Silver Crusade

I'm actually glad to see that worshipers or Lissala are still alive and running around. I wonder if she is granting them spells still since she was supposedly "dead" or "missing"


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Lissala is only 'missing'. Although considering even her herald doesn't know where she is/how to find her, whether any of her 'priests' are actually clerics is one of those 'answer unclear, ask again later' sorts of things...


Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Lissala is only 'missing'. Although considering even her herald doesn't know where she is/how to find her, whether any of her 'priests' are actually clerics is one of those 'answer unclear, ask again later' sorts of things...

At least from a PFS perspective, we've seen clerics of Lissala with spellcasting abilities in several scenarios.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Lissala is only 'missing'. Although considering even her herald doesn't know where she is/how to find her, whether any of her 'priests' are actually clerics is one of those 'answer unclear, ask again later' sorts of things...
At least from a PFS perspective, we've seen clerics of Lissala with spellcasting abilities in several scenarios.

Please note, I said priests who were clerics, not spellcasters. Krune is/was Lissala's High Priest & assuming what James Jacobs has said about all the Runelords being single-classed Specialist Wizards being accurate, he's only going to be a Wizard (Conjurer).

Now if what you are saying is that the NPC Priests of Lissala that the PC's have been running into do have Cleric levels...
Well, that potentially answers that question.


Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Lissala is only 'missing'. Although considering even her herald doesn't know where she is/how to find her, whether any of her 'priests' are actually clerics is one of those 'answer unclear, ask again later' sorts of things...
At least from a PFS perspective, we've seen clerics of Lissala with spellcasting abilities in several scenarios.

Please note, I said priests who were clerics, not spellcasters. Krune is/was Lissala's High Priest & assuming what James Jacobs has said about all the Runelords being single-classed Specialist Wizards being accurate, he's only going to be a Wizard (Conjurer).

Now if what you are saying is that the NPC Priests of Lissala that the PC's have been running into do have Cleric levels...
Well, that potentially answers that question.

Yes, sorry for the confusion, I was being precise in just that way with my wording above when I said clerics, not priests.


Don't know where else to speak of this, but Krune's statblock is messed up.

Spoiler:
He's missing one cantrip (he should have 5).

Instead of giving him two prepared versions of one conjuration like a Thassilonian Wizard should, Krune instead gets one spell too many in both 7th and 8th level spells having 6 and 5 individual spells respectively.

For "a harder challenge" a recommendation is swapping "one" of Krune's Quickened Summon Monster V's for Summon Monster IX, which is impossible.

How should I change the errors?

Shadow Lodge

Another Statblock Issue:
I also noticed that his initiative is only a +4, while he should have a +4 from dex and another +4 from his runes for a +8.

That said, this looks fantastic. I'm really looking forward to running it.

Scarab Sages

Lawful GM wrote:

Don't know where else to speak of this, but Krune's statblock is messed up.

***SPOILER OMITTED***

How should I change the errors?

For 7th and 8th level spells... I'd drop spell turning (he has a ring of it) and add another Summon Monster VII. For 8th, drop either the empowered or the quickened and add another of those.

For the 9th level issue... either swap them both or swap out foresight. Or cheat and sneak him an additional 1 Int so he gets a bonus 9th level spell and put it there.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

"After ten thousand years, I'm free! It's time to conquer Golarion!"

..."Shiela! Krune has escaped! Recruit a team of Pathfinders with attitude!"

Seriously, this makes me wish my local game store had more high-level people in it; my highest-tiered PFS character is level 9, and I haven't played as her in over a year. ...But all those new players need help and keep talking over each other!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am seriously looking forward to the challenge on hard mode for this one. Bragging rights at taking out a Runelord with the kid gloves off? Now that's big game hunting.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmm. Well, seeing that I am currently GMing the "penultimate" chapter of Rise of the Runelords ... I am very curious about this PFS scenario (and I have never played any whatsoever). What other scenarios are "required" play for this "final"? (If possible list the order 1st, 2nd, etc).

Having Karzoug's stat block in RotR, and getting hints for Zutha (although not his statblock) in "Continuing the Campaign" notes in Shattered Star ... having game stats for another Runelord (even the "least" among them) is actually appealing ... and I'm really very curious about this PFS scenario (and again what others are "required" for a nice satisfying story/game-arc).

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/assistance.

Dean


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The_Minstrel_Wyrm wrote:

Hmm. Well, seeing that I am currently GMing the "penultimate" chapter of Rise of the Runelords ... I am very curious about this PFS scenario (and I have never played any whatsoever). What other scenarios are "required" play for this "final"? (If possible list the order 1st, 2nd, etc).

Having Karzoug's stat block in RotR, and getting hints for Zutha (although not his statblock) in "Continuing the Campaign" notes in Shattered Star ... having game stats for another Runelord (even the "least" among them) is actually appealing ... and I'm really very curious about this PFS scenario (and again what others are "required" for a nice satisfying story/game-arc).

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/assistance.

Dean

Actually I must thank a recent reviewer for this PFS scenario, it has answered my questions, and I think very soon I'll be purchasing this scenario and (4) others "noted" by that reviewer as "required" play to get the most out of this final.

Just need a "spare" $20 to spend on PFS scenario PDFs. :)

So, a special "thank you" to Himokl! :)

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Literally the worst module to date. Barring a full on cheese monkey party this scenario is intended to tpk. Vastly out of tier for 7th level parties.

Grand Lodge

I concur with the above, This is the worst scenario I have played yet. I have only 51 scenarios left to play before season 5 comes, so I would say that's saying something. This scenario is left way too much up to the GM. So he bogged us down for 6 hours of play and then said, since we couldn't kill the boss, then we fail. However, he used the tactics so that after 2.5 hours of fighting the main boss, we had not gotten 1 full attack against him with any of the 6 members of the party. I can't say more without giving it away, but this was not the fun time I was really hoping for.

Scarab Sages

I played this two days ago. Worst experience ever. 0 role play. We didn't survive the first encounter, so we got chronicle sheets with zeros all over them. I felt like I got a traffic ticket.

I have decided to leave society play for a while as a result of this 'adventure'. It was stressful and a hopeless battle. I spend my free time trying to have a good time, yet I just got more stressed out and frustrated.

If you are going to play this, experienced players only with cheezy min maxed characters will likely win the day....I really have no idea though because we got beat like we stole something and I have no idea what is in the rest of the adventure.


It looks like there is a mistake on the chronicle for High Tier gold on the slow path. It says it is 3916 gold but should be 3941 gold.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Played 10-11 with 6 characters ranging from 8th to 10th. (Maybe an 11th.) 10th level barbarian finished the fight with four deaths and one rage prophet cowering due to a failed Will save.


Wow, I guess this scenario gives a great example of how different scenarios can go very differently from group to group.

The party I was a part of annihilated the scenario on normal tier 10-11 without taking a single point of damage. Seriously, the GM wasn't holding back on us. We just planned well enough and had enough luck that we never actually got damage to our hit points. Our levels ranged from 9 to 11. After that, we asked the GM to run the final fight for us 'unofficially' with the runelord on hard mode, at full power, and acting first. We still won with no deaths (though my character nearly died).

Sooo... I hope that Paizo simply marks some scenarios this 'difficult' so that people who want to play these things can do so while others who don't want to risk it can avoid them.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Pgs. 17-18 - Runelord Dominion issue

Missing thing...:
This section mentions various items that a Pathfinder may have collected over the season that could be turned against them. One of them is the Sihedron brand (basic) tattoo.

Does anybody know what this is or where to find it?? I've looked in every scenario and can't locate it anywhere. Sihedron brand (endurance) is in S4-08, and Sihedron brand (service) is in S4-20, but no Sihedron brand (basic).

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That item was given out in Part 2 of Race for the Runecarved Key. (in addition to the other item that isn't located anywhere else)

Grand Lodge

Spoiler:
I just went through Pathfinder Society Special: Race for the Runecarved Key (PFRPG) and search didn't find the words "brand" or "Sihedron". You say it's in part 2? Is there a second adventure?

Also, what other item is missing? Of the list here, aside from the other Sihedron brands I already mentioned, sigil wafers are detailed in S04-10 and the ocher rhomboid ioun stone is detailed in S04-12.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

In lieu of an official version listed anywhere, here's my homebrew version of the item...:

SIHEDRON BRAND (BASIC)
Aura minor divination; CL 1st
Slot none; Price 3,200 gp

DESCRIPTION
This image of the Sihedron rune appears to pulse on the surface of the skin, as if it were breathing.
A character marked with this tattoo gains a +4 profane bonus on Knowledge checks on topics related to Thassilon and Thassilonian magic.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Inscribe Magic Tattoo, heightened awareness; Cost 1,600 gp

Grand Lodge

Amazingly Google was no help in locating it, but I found stuff using Paizo's search function. Part 2 was never released to the public (infuriated.jpeg), but Michael Brock was kind enough to provide the fluff to everyone via a forum post back in 2014 (but not the monster and trap stats).

Link found here.

By the look of the text...:

...the section detailing the brand matches my homebrew version, but the caster level, price & cost, and construction requirements are still anyone's guess.

Slight correction to my version: change "lesser divination" to "faint divination". Also remove "profane" from the bonus; it appears to be untyped.

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