Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–03: The Hellknight's Feast (PFRPG) PDF

4.10/5 (based on 22 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario for characters of 5th to 9th level (Tier 5–9).

War between demons and the civilized peoples of the Inner Sea region has broken out in the Worldwound far to the north of Absalom, but despite the regional implications of an Abyssal victory, many nations are ambivalent toward the cause. The Pathfinder Society, at the urging of Silver Crusade leader Ollysta Zadrian, arranges a formal banquet to be hosted by newlyweds Michellia and Damian Blakros, at which the society's agents can attempt to sway the political opinions of Absalom's movers and shakers. Will the Pathfinders succeed in securing the much-needed military support of Absalom and other nations bordering the Inner Sea, or will the crusaders and Pathfinders fighting on the front lines in Mendev find themselves standing alone before the demonic hordes?

Written by Tom Phillips.

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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4.10/5 (based on 22 ratings)

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Great, but a tad long

4/5

This is from a player's perspective.

Overall, this was a really fun scenario. Has a great mix of roleplay (supported with skills to make it matter), investigation, and combat. The last fight can be brutal for unprepared parties, but not (in my opinion) inappropriately so.

My one real criticism would be length. Both the roleplay/skill challenges and also the last fight can go really long. My table took about 7 hours. That can be a real issue. The roleplay/skill part can be sped up if you cut down to brass tacks, but then you've lost the primary meat of what this scenario's about.

I advise against scheduling this in venues with limited time slots. But in places where you have all the time in the world, this is great!


Social Combat! *cue techno music*

5/5

Ok, You're sent to a dinner isn't exactly new for Pathfinder society but what I really liked was the mechanic for talking sense into people using non social skills. This can give the characters/players that normally stay in the corner conversing with the potted plants a chance to contribute to the mission without running the risk of ruining the adventure for the entire group.

The combats are scaled back a bit from season 3.5-4, so if your local munchkins are still set on "Nuke it from orbit!" your bad guys might get curb stomped a little fast.

Some of the NPCs could use a little more differentiation. It was a bit hard to find the different "voice" for the two heads of the trading cartel. Osirion and Qadiran have always been a little close for me .

One thing that the scenario doesn't address is

Spoiler:
People trying to gather information on the party members BEFORE hand... which is the first thing that every semi conscious player I've asked has said they'd do with 24 hours to prepare.


Excellent balance of roleplaying and investigation


I ran this scenario at subtier 5-6 for a group of 4 players (wizard 8, witch 6, cleric 6, rogue 6). Three of my PCs had played in Blakros Matrimony with the same characters, so they were familiar with the influencing subsystem from that scenario. I played in Blakros Matrimony but haven’t run it or read it, so I can’t speak to the particulars of how the influencing subsystems compare, but at a glance they were similar, but I found the setting clearer and the transitions between scenes smoother. In particular, I appreciated having the three word summaries of each NPC’s personality. Also, this has been clarified by other reviews but it bears repeating: you CAN use Bluff and Diplomacy to interact with any and all NPCs. The listed skills are in addition to Bluff and Diplomacy and specific to each NPC.

Three of my players chose to fully engage in the roleplaying, going back and forth two or three times with the NPCs they were trying to influence at each opportunity. The fourth was content to interact minimally and roll the dice. Both styles are fully supported and allow RP inclined players to indulge without forcing RP uninclined players into uncomfortable position. The influencing NPCs does dominate the first portion of the scenario, but there are a few investigation interludes and a combat to break things up.

At one point, I became nervous that my players would be disappointed by the scenario’s end game:

Spoiler:
After the wraith fight in the cellar, the players began speculating which guest was involved in the conspiracy. I was worried that the reveal that none of the prominent guests were behind it and that it was servants that the PCs have minimal opportunities to interact with, and the GM has no guideline for how to handle such interactions, would disappoint my players. As it turned out, they followed the logic of how the end boss was manipulating them based on the scenario’s plot.

The scenario runs long, as often happens with scenarios that involve sandbox exploration, and lots of open-ended roleplaying. Thanks to the wizard succeeding by more than 5 multiple times, my group didn’t have to influence as often and the scenario still went long. Luckily we still had time for the optional encounter, as it felt important to the flow of the scenario.

The final encounter was extremely difficult, with a wide variety of tricks in the villains’ bag. It made things that much more interesting, particularly because of the number of uncommon monsters used. I would have assumed the scenario requires a very specific party balance to accommodate the mix of skill demands and unusual opponents, but my group was hardly an optimal party and yet they both succeeded handily and had fun doing it.


Interesting Concept, Un-Fun Execution

2/5

What I'll remember most about this one was the ludicrously hard boss:

Spoiler:
A flying, invisible-at-will, vampiric-touch-at-will, mind-controlling, NINJA SUCCUBUS. With minions.

The scenario is divided into a diplomatic session with unusual rules (an interesting idea) and a more traditional battle/exploration. The diplomacy was an attempt to win over a set of VIPs to aid the crusade against the demons, using a limited number of attempts. My high Diplomacy skill was nearly useless because I was told to use Kn:Local instead, which I didn't have, and of all people it was our fighter who actually accomplished anything. I liked the idea of being able to spend turns probing for an advantage on future conversations, but these were handled such that one PC couldn't use another's advantage or really play off one NPC against another despite them having rivalries. It didn't help our enjoyment that the diplomacy session started with a non-interactive introduction to half a dozen unlikeable VIPs.

The battle session then involved a ridiculously hard boss for our six-member party at levels 6-8, even with the GM removing two extra demons to compensate for the odd way this season handles tiers. Result: one PC died, one nearly died, everyone else fled and failed the mission. One of the boss' powers had a DC 25 save to avoid devastating harm, making it a near-automatic GM victory.with one encounter skipped.

So, it seemed like flaws in this adventure's design limited my enjoyment. It also ran over five hours even with the GM removing an encounter.


A highly entertaining scenario, but not a perfect one

4/5

I ran this scenario last week for a great group of players and had a lot of fun. The group really got into their characters during the social challenges, which provided for plenty of laughs. I like that each NPC is given a brief description of his or her personality, but I still occasionally found it challenging to come up with in-character responses to what the PCs had to say.

In response to a previous reviewer's complaint that traditional social skills don't help with passing the influence checks, it's explained right before the NPC profiles that PCs can use (in addition to the specified skill) Bluff or Diplomacy. Thus, my group was able to eventually win over everyone.

The combat encounters were challenging without being overwhelming, but we took issue with some of the listed strategies, namely using Suggestion to make a PC drop his weapon and shield. Aside from not being able to drop a shield, a player made the case that laying down arms in the middle of a fight with demons would be "obviously harmful" and therefore not a valid use of Suggestion.

Overall, I really liked this scenario, even if it was a bit rough around the edges. If your group enjoys roleplaying (beyond just killing things), definitely give it a try.


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Webstore Gninja Minion

Announced for GenCon 2013!

RPG Superstar 2012

Congrats, Tom!

My daughter and I will definitely try to play this one at GenCon. :)

Silver Crusade

Can I play this now?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

taig wrote:

Congrats, Tom!

My daughter and I will definitely try to play this one at GenCon. :)

Lady Ophelia wrote:
Can I play this now?

Oh, the pressure! :-)

Shadow Lodge

Oh now this sounds like fun! :D

Dark Archive

Sounds like a mod for a charisma based pc. I wonder if they will look down on you again if you wear armor at the banquet like the snobs at the Blackrose Matrimony did?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Maybe not the best scenario to play with a goblin?... or... perhaps it's the BEST scenario to play a goblin!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

Raymond Lambert wrote:
Sounds like a mod for a charisma based pc.

Nope! All PCs should be able to contribute during the social interaction scenes.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

Kyle Baird wrote:
Maybe not the best scenario to play with a goblin?... or... perhaps it's the BEST scenario to play a goblin!

Depends on the goblin ... but, sure, goblin Pathfinders would work just fine. But be warned, there are dogs. Several dogs. And possibly a horse or two.

Shadow Lodge

You see Tom, now you HAVE to go to GenCon this year...

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

TPK Games wrote:
You see Tom, now you HAVE to go to GenCon this year...

I wish! With a son due this October, expenses are a bit too tight right now to justify such a trip. Possibly next year though! :-)


Tom Phillips wrote:
I wish! With a son due this October...

Congrats! Best job there is. :)


My Gencon GM for this ran it about as suboptimally as possible, but I could tell there was a really great adventure here, covering a number of possibilities and playstyles. It's one I hope I get to run for the local crowd.

-Ben.

Silver Crusade

Hi there! So, there is an issue with the PDF: It reads "The Waking Rune" on the heading scenarios. Other than that, he adventure looks amazing!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

This was fun to write. And major kudos to John Compton for polishing it up and making me look good ... and to Qunicy Boyd for his brilliant art and Sean Macdonald for his wonderful cartography.

terraleon: I'm sorry for your game experience. I hope you have a great time when/if you get to run it for your local group. Post a review if you can!

Balkin, Zahir: Thanks for the very kind reviews. :-)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

And thank you, Mike Welham for the kind review!

I hereby officially and formally forgive you for beating me in the final round of the 2012 RPG Superstar contest. :-)

Dark Archive

Ran this (and all the other season 5 mods) this weekend at Animefest and must say I enjoyed this one the best by far. The social part took my players a few minutes to get into but once I explained how the mechanic worked to them immediately took to it like a fish to water.

The Dinner scene alone had the women at my table rolling and the men groaning as soon as I described it as doing a seating chart for a wedding reception but that made it work.

I'll spoiler this part but

Spoiler:
This was a BRUTAL mod and TPK'd my whole table at high tier with the 4 player adjustment. The advanced wraith eating 8 points of con a round with the 5 minute paralysis from the Mohrg terrified them and killed all my arcane casters. The succubus brought back nightmares of dawn of the scarlet sun when she one shot the cleric and then methodically went down the line 1 round killing every other party member. Invisibility + 5 attacks a round + 3D6 SA + 6D6 Vampiric touch is BRUTAL).

Had a blast with this, just the right amount of social with quick intense battles makes this an absolute joy to run. Prep is significant but the more you do the better it is.
4.5 Stars (the map is the only drawback, the rooms are too small for the number of bodies present in each scene. Claustrophobic close and makes the fights hard on the PC's.)

Liberty's Edge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012

Tom Phillips wrote:

And thank you, Mike Welham for the kind review!

I hereby officially and formally forgive you for beating me in the final round of the 2012 RPG Superstar contest. :-)

Hooray! Mission accomplished!

I had a great deal of fun running this scenario, and everyone at each of my tables had a lot of fun too. After one session, one of my players told me he never hated an NPC more than he did one of the NPCs I played.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

My funniest moment running this scenario:
One of my home players, Cathy, gets a lot of flak for never spending her gold. It's good-hearted, mind you. Before this session began, she uncharacteristically announced considering buying X (spoiler omitted). We all encouraged her to buy X, particularly because the role composition in our region lacks players good at X. She hummed and hawed and chose not to after all.

The adventure starts, we get to interacting with the NPCs, and she has a convincing argument with solid roleplaying, earning a +2 to her role. She stumbles onto the NPC's advantage, getting an additional +4. An ally aids, granting her another +2. She rolls her influence check and is short of the DC by 2. As it happens, this NPC has a special influence note: Any PC with X gets an additional +2 bonus to influence checks against this NPC. Cathy`s decision not to buy X was directly responsible for her character failing to influence an NPC on her first try.

X=

Spoiler:
Medium armour

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

In regards to the latest review on this scenario, it seems that someone's GM missed this line:

Spoiler:
Each PC can attempt a Bluff check (to pretend to be friendly), a Diplomacy check (to be genuine), or a skill check mentioned in the NPC’s social stat block.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

That was very nice to run. Loved it, my players loved it as well (I think).

I had taken the time to setup the ground floor with some 3D dungeon: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5804/23215001796_d6540a7c00_b.jpg

Without limiting my player's time it ran 8 hours, but we didn't mind. I could have cut some stuff off, but... it would have been an injustice.

Sovereign Court

Running this one soon. Anyone know what that thing on the cover is? Doesn't look like any of the referenced monsters...


Have fun! The creature is a:

Wraith

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