A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7–11.
Despite several promising developments on the front lines, it’s increasingly clear to the Pathfinder Society that fighting its way across the entire Worldwound would prove far more costly than approaching the Sky Citadel Jormurdun from the west. What it might gain in ease of use, the society lacks in an established basecamp, so the PCs must travel to the Realm of the Mammoth Lords to win over the locals and secure a beachhead—all without falling prey to the area’s powerful megafauna, savage demons, and relentless barbarian tribes.
Written by Jerall Toi.
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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I played Where Mammoths Fear to Tread recently via play-by-post. It's not really a spoiler to say that the scenario is set in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, so I was super stoked to play my "caveman shaman" (Gurkagh, my favourite PFS character) finally returning home. I don't think the GM was excited by the idea as I was, but that's okay! I had a decent time. Anyway, reading the scenario for the purposes of this review, it strikes me as a pretty standard PFS experience: a good mix of combat and role-playing, some connection to the season storyline, and no glaring faults. I wouldn't necessary put it high on the "to play" list, but I imagine most groups will walk away satisfied with the experience.
Season Five of PFS is the "Year of the Demon", with a storyline involving the search for a legendary dwarven Sky Citadel that must be located somewhere near the demon-infested Worldwound. As Marcos Farabellus and Aram Zey explain in the briefing, the Pathfinder Society has decided it needs to move its base camp for this major expedition to a new site in the so-called Realm of the Mammoth Lords. The PCs are to act as scouts to locate the best location for this new base camp. Knowing that negotiation with the native Kellids may be important, the PCs are given several trade goods that can serve as gifts to sweeten diplomatic efforts. (The trade goods have different mechanical effects depending on when and how wisely the PCs deploy them, and I liked this little touch.) Aram Zey teleports the whole group from Absalom to a spot just outside the Kellid settlement of Tolguth (a long trip!) and then leaves them to their own devices after giving them a magical signalling device to use when they've found a suitable location for the new base camp.
The first encounter occurs as the PCs are making the short walk to Tolguth. They see a vrock demon being chased by a dinosaur! It's either really fun or a bit too on-the-nose, depending on your tastes. The PCs can just watch how it all plays out, or intervene, taking the risk that both combatants will turn on them. My minor quibble is the use of the Forest flip-mat for this, which is both overused and doesn't really fit the "prehistoric jungle" vibe we're to understand this area of the region has. In any event, what's important here is whether the PCs impress several Kellid hunters hiding in the area and observing the scene. If the PCs prove themselves to be mighty combatants, they'll have an easier time persuading the Kellids to take them to Tolguth as guests instead of threats.
Tolguth is given just a little bit of description. I would have liked to have seen more to flesh out the settlement even further. The PCs' job here is to convince the tribal elders to give suggestions on plausible campsites. There's no way to fail here (the only question is how many of the trade goods will have to be used). The elders suggest three options (n sheltered cave network, a natural spring, and an abandoned border town). The main obstacle, the elders explain, is that all three areas are in lands claimed by the Red Winters, a small Kellid tribe that is known to be hostile to strangers.
After the PCs have explored a couple of the potential camp sites, Red Winter scouts will find them. There's a fair chance this encounter can be resolved peacefully, but arrogant PCs may find themselves in for a fight. If it is handled diplomatically, the scouts will lead the PCs to the nomadic Red Winter caravan to talk to their leaders. The gist here is that the Red Winters will only give permission for the Pathfinder Society to occupy one of the locations if the PCs prove they are worthy warriors--and this requires the slaying of one of two different types of demons in the Worldwound! (the scenario does allow for PCs to just try and wipe out the Red Winters--surely an evil act--and bypass the whole demon-slaying part)
The journey into the Worldwound may be interrupted by an (optional) encounter with undead skeletal mammoths and their ghostly riders. Tracking down one of the needed demons to slay is pretty straightforward. To my recollection, the combats were fairly challenging and enjoyable. Once proof of success is returned, the Red Winter tribe gives permission and the PCs can select which campsite they think would be best (their choice is one of the reporting conditions, so perhaps it influenced what happened in later scenarios).
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I don't really have anything bad to say about Where Mammoths Fear to Tread. On the other hand, there's nothing that really jumps out to me as super original, clever, or exciting when I think about or read through the adventure. Perhaps my melancholia is simply channeling Gurkagh's realisation that you can never really go home again.
I wish I could give this more stars because I love the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, but I cannot.
Most posters below already pointed out the weak points of this scenario.
- Runs long because of enormous statblock combats
- Railroad decision of the big choice you're supposed to make
However the rest is quite fantastic, from the moment you arrive until you conclude the scenario, the realms are portrayed really well.
Minor nitpick here, the Mammoth Lords have followings, not tribes. Shoanti and Mwangi have tribes.
Anyway, I played this with Ascalaphus, TheDegraded and a few others under GM Quentin Coldwater and I personally had a blast.
I timed this scenario to be my Hunter/Mammoth Rider's last scenario before becoming a Seeker and it was awesome to just go home for a mission for the last time. The Zoo (as after the first combat everyone had a pet of some sorts) was fairly effective and we managed to avoid most nastyness from the enemies. It also helped that we had aerial surveillance and thus could choose our battlegrounds.
All in all a very solid scenario, but it requires co-operation from the party and the GM needs to be well prepared.
Quentin ran this for TheDegraded and me (and others; you'll probably see a Damanta review too eventually).
I'd been looking forward to playing this one with my roc-riding inquisitor alongside Damanta's mammoth rider for a while now. He was level 11, I was level 7. Since we played high tier, I was a bit on edge, since I'm very melee oriented and chronically low on HP.
I was both pleased and a bit disappointed by the scenario. It does a good job with awesome, weird and just icky monsters. You really don't want to give them any opportunity to do their thing, because that's gonna be nasty, or painful, or both.
While we brought fairly little control, it was still rather easy to gain control of the situation. Due to having eyes in the sky, a healthy dose of paranoia and good Perception (who doesn't?) we didn't suffer surprises and were able to start every fight pre-buffed to some degree. We got to choose who the monster engaged in melee, the monsters didn't get any choices.
After dying while playing Storval Stairs the week before, maybe my difficulty sense is just a bit askew.
The story was fairly simple but if you don't have too much time but do have nice scenery, that still works. I did however see Quentin struggle just to find the information for each scene. The RP could've gone more smoothly if the GM information was better presented, I think. But on the whole the RP was fairly intelligent, with some room for arguing your case and not just bashing someone over the head with your high Diplomacy score. (Although we had that too, of course. We're not stupid.)
- Setting is nice
- Opportunity for RP
- Big, loud, nasty monsters
- Tactically easy (big numbers but not brilliant tactics)
- Messy to GM
- Thin story
It might go up to four stars if I like it when I run it.