Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–06: You Have What You Hold (PFRPG) PDF

3.40/5 (based on 13 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7.

As an act of retribution, an enemy of the society begins hiring river pirates to waylay Pathfinder boats bound for the crusader nation of Mendev. Unless the Pathfinders can track down the party responsible and put an end to their piracy, the raids may spell the doom of the society’s ambitions to the north.

Content in "You Have What You Hold" also contributes directly to the ongoing storyline of the Sczarni faction.

Written by Sean McGowan.

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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3.40/5 (based on 13 ratings)

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Unsatisfying Mix of Genres

3/5

NO SPOILERS

I played You Have What You Hold with my Oracle of Groetus, Makras Vekker. It features a couple of interesting story elements that don't really fit together well. It's also not particularly challenging. That being said, it's certainly playable, and most participants should still have an enjoyable time.

SPOILERS!:

You Have What You Hold ties into the Season 5 "Year of the Demon" storyline, which involves the Pathfinder Society trying to support the containment of the Worldwound. Apparently, in earlier scenarios, the Pathfinder Society has skirmished with Razmiran, which has responded by secretly hiring bounties on all Society shipping along the Sellen River. Several Society supply runs have been intercepted as the scenario begins, and something has to be done about it or attempts to support Mendev in containing the demons of the Worldwound will fail. This is where the PCs come in, with a briefing by dwarf Venture-Captain Holgarin Smine in the River Kingdom's city of Tymon. The mission is a simple but logical one: the PCs will be the bait, and when pirates attack their ship, they both repel the attack and figure out who's behind the attack and where the attacks are being launched from. The first bit of the scenario is a (potentially) really fun and open-ended role-playing/skill exercise where the PCs try to make themselves look as inept, drunk, or otherwise harmless as possible so any lurking spies will feel encouraged to attack once the journey starts. Best of all, the better the PCs are at looking harmless, the more they'll be underestimated and the easier it will be to survive the ambush because fewer enemy preparations and resources will be used.

The ambush encounter takes place at a bend in the river as the PCs' barge travels slowly upstream. The pirates consist of a few CR 1/2 mooks, one or more low-level fighter/rangers, and (potentially the most dangerous threat) a druid and his alligator animal companion. It's still a pretty easy encounter, and I think in my group the enemies were defeated before the two ships were even within "repel boarders!" range. It's okay, but I think river piracy was handled better and more flavourfully in # 0-17: Perils of the Pirate Pact.

The location of the pirates' base can be learned through interrogation, or (conveniently) a map found aboard their ship. The base is the manor house of an abandoned plantation in a swamp a few miles away. I like that a variety of options and consequences are given for different ways the PCs might approach (stealth, disguise, full frontal assault, etc.). There are several rooms in the manor house, but only a handful of occupants--more mooks plus a cleric of Besmara named Deremin. An average group of PCs shouldn't have any troubles. Here, they'll learn what's really going on. Deremin is a gladiator-turned-pirate who works for one of the Blooded (elite gladiators from Tymon) named Helkit Silverbane. Helkit has hired Deremin to target Pathfinder shipping. Although the PCs don't yet know why Helkit is out to get them (because they don't know the connection with Razmiran), they do know something has to be done about her because she could easily hire more pirates to continue the attacks.

When the PCs get back to Tymon and discuss the matter with Venture-Captain Smine, he says there's only way one to proceed: the PCs have to publicly challenge Helkit to a gladiatorial contest in the arena and defeat her to prove to everyone that messing with the Pathfinders brings consequences. When the PCs find Helkit, she accepts their challenge immediately and sets the terms: she and her trainees will take on the PCs as a group in the arena. The resulting match has some potentially interesting elements (sand pits and a very stripped-down version of performance combat for small bonuses), but for the most part it plays out like any other combat wherein beating the bad guys is the only goal.

There's a lot about this "gladiator match" story element I didn't like. First, Helkit has retired from fighting and middle-aged. Does the law of Tymon really require her to accept a challenge from any goobers off the street no matter what? You'd think the PCs would at least have to work their way up through the ranks to become "Blooded" themselves in order to challenge her. Second, V-C Smine is taking a pretty huge risk in having a recently-assembled group of Pathfinders challenge what's supposed to be one of the best gladiators in all of Tymon. It blurs the idea that Pathfinders are primarily "seekers of secrets" and not necessarily the biggest and baddest warriors around. Third, by making victory against Helkit so likely, the aura of "The Blooded" in Tymon sort of falls apart. If a group of random PCs with little to no teamwork can win in the gladiatorial arena, why have those schmucks been training for years? And finally, I think if the gladiatorial nature of Tymon was going to be be a part of the scenario, it should have been the major element. The scenario tries to mix a pirate theme with a gladiator theme, and the effect is that neither is handled well.

All in all, You Have What You Hold isn't a terrible scenario--it manages to do some interesting things. Still, some of the storyline elements don't work and a really interesting part of the River Kingdoms (Tymon) isn't used well. I guess I'd conclude that it's fine as long as you don't think too hard about it.


Get to the Good Stuff

2/5

Hold is a combat based scenario.

Hold is really hard to rate since we only got through the first 1/2 of the scenario. We never even got to the good parts of the scenario, the scenario is too long. Part of the problem was party size (4) and the fact that 2 of the players didn’t really know their characters, but still I felt the length of this scenario was a problem in a 4 hour slot.

Maybe I'll replay this scenario one day with a better group, a faster GM, and more time.

Overall: I wish one of the 1st two encounters were dropped so we could get to the good parts. (5/10)


3/5


A rather enjoyable scenario

4/5

The description of the scenario does it no justice. While it is accurate for the first parts of the scenario, it also omits a portion of the scenario. Of course that's to prevent giving the plot away, but by doing so it also makes the scenario appear more boring and uninteresting than it actually is. Behind this stale façade is an action-packed thriller of a roller-coaster, a ride that is more than capable of entertaining a group of adventurers whether they're experienced or not, even though the plot itself is a little predictable.

From the moment you embark on this adventure, you will find yourself on a journey that takes you from one scenic place to the next. Each of these places differs from the others and this in turn makes sure that every encounter is unique, while still allowing for different ways of solving certain situations, be it diplomatically or not. The fights can certainly be rough, especially the last one can be quite unforgiving, but they're still fair.

What I in particular liked and would like to point out, is the way the various locations are described in the scenario. In my opinion this is masterfully done and helps places seem alive and real, as if they're characters in their own right. Simply put: the descriptions in this scenario are superior to most other scenarios.

Combining all the various aspects, I would certainly recommend this scenario to players.


pirates and gladiators

4/5

Season 5 was the year of the additional rule sets. This one was performance combat. A solid all around scenario, if a bit combat heavy.


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Webstore Gninja Minion

Announced for October 2013!

Silver Crusade

I ao wish we had this coming out by Pirates Day; but hey looks like a great scenario to run for next year's Pirates Day. Rock on!


Sean rocks I really look forward to this.

Grand Lodge

Have the October scenarios been delayed?

Silver Crusade

It's up now.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Chris I look forward to what you have to say in this thread tomorrow at noon!

So what is the Future like?...;)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4

Dragnmoon wrote:

Chris I look forward to what you have to say in this thread tomorrow at noon!

So what is the Future like?...;)

Man, Paizo staff get time machine access? BEST JOB EVER.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

But tomorrow never comes...

Reggie


Dragnmoon wrote:

Chris I look forward to what you have to say in this thread tomorrow at noon!

So what is the Future like?...;)

It's not the first time I see this. I guess it's a kind of preprogrammed task...

Digital Products Assistant

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Present and Future Chris say: Now available!

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