Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–20: The Sealed Gate (PFRPG) PDF

2.70/5 (based on 39 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7–11.

Following its efforts to set up a base camp in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, the Pathfinder Society seemed ready to mobilize its forces when Marcos Farabellus received troubling news: something dire had befallen the camp. What’s worse, these events resulted in the disappearance of one of the Society’s most valuable tools as well as two of its esteemed leaders. The PCs must investigate the ruined camp, track down the perpetrators, and recover a powerful relic to prevent this tragedy from ruining the entire expedition.

Content in “The Sealed Gate” also contributes directly to the ongoing storylines of the Grand Lodge and Silver Crusade factions.

Written by Kyle Baird.

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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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

PZOPSS0520E


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2.70/5 (based on 39 ratings)

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3/5

I'm kind of disappointed in the writing for this one, as I've seen some glaring plot holes that make no sense.

1.) They clearly remind players that when you enter the Tapestry, that you leave a planar eddie where you came in. It states to the players that all they need to do is enter that eddie and they leave the Tapestry and return to the material plane at the spot where they entered. So, if Zay and Li entered the tapestry, how can they not exit via their own planar eddies? There is no explanation for this, and it is clearly in odds with what they remind the players so that they, and the other pathfinders, can leave the Tapestry.

2.) Even more disturbing is the horrible way that Nikolai is presented. It is claimed in several places that he had fallen under the influence of the Alraune. For most of the scenario I assumed that this meant that it had some power over him that was manipulating his mind and making him more pliable. Having seen both stat blocks, the only thing I can see is the Charm Monster power, and having seen Nikolai's stat block, there is virtually no way that he would have failed the Will save to fall under its effect. So either the Alraune is great at mental manipulation, and therefore didn't need the spell like ability to control the venture captain, or Nikolai is just that pliable and arrogant that he easily fell under the manipulations of the creature because of his own arrogance. Either way, the whole thing makes no sense, and given that it is the entire driving premise of the scenario, it makes the whole thing tenuous at best.


Elite combat agents only!

3/5

This was a solid, hard-fighting scenario. Elite challenges for elite agents only - PCs who walk into this one unprepared will be destroyed, trounced, and annihilated (keeping pace with the author's reputation - be it deserved or no).

The reviewers prior to me cover a lot of the sort of things I'd go into already (which makes my review that much easier to write).

Leave yourself lots of time for this scenario! This scenario could possibly run up to 7 hours - the first fight (10-11 no difficulty adjustment) took the party I ran through it ~2 hours alone. Even with the party talking their way past 1.5 encounters later, we still ran close to 6 hours.

This is also one of the more challenging scenarios to prep as a GM in recent memory - lots of mechanics to know, lots of spells to know, lots of different monsters and tons of templates (plus one out of Bestiary 4, which was difficult since as of the time of this review that book is not on the PRD yet and I don't own it - luckily for me the Archives of Nethys are always awesome at getting stuff like that available).

Each combat is unique, which most of my players loved - if it wasn't for the first aid gloves from the PFS Primer, there would have been 2 PC deaths and several destroyed magical items.

A big thing for me as a GM, and my players as we talked about the scenario as I was handing out chronicle sheets, was with how much everyone was excited to be doing "a sequel to Where Mammoths Dare Not Tread!" only to have the scenario go in a totally unrelated direction after the first act. Even post-combat-afterglow from the combat-heavy PCs who loved the challenging fights, they were a little disappointed.

So, for me (always starting with 4 stars as my "base") -
+1 for the challenging and diverse fights and the availability of "hard mode" (something my players opted not to do, but the prospect alone got 4/6 of them really excited before I took a secret vote yea-or-nay)
-1 for the story issues
+1 for the use of PC-inspired (or so rumor says?) NPCs and Venture Captains in the scenario
-2 for the scenario length and the massive amount of prep required, including the use of many templates, and the use of multiple custom maps which weren't really needed - their layout did nothing to any of the encounters that took place in them that several different flip-mats or map-packs could have covered (which would make GM prep easier). Combat heavy PCs will likely enjoy the fights (unless they think that attacks that destroy equipment is a bad thing), but as a GM, I'm not sure if I'd want to run it again, and would never want to play or run it at a convention.

So, overall, solid - 3 stars.


Great Scenario

5/5

GMed 10-11, normal 6 players

This is a fantastic scenario, but be prepared to spend a good amount of time prepping it to make sure you have all the details. There are a few missing pieces right now that will be edited shortly I'd imagine (number of creatures in one encounter). The poster below summed up the abilities fairly succulently but I would add.

My opinion:
To go to the worldwound, and end up facing a creature that MADE this place ghost town's spawn, is a great story. I was expecting incorporeal undead from the stories, and I personally chose Frost Giant's home. It was very unexpected, and I loved the incorporation of PC Seekers into the story. I enjoyed the encounter with the NPCs, and, and despite easily having the appropriate social skills, my players were slightly challenged as to what to do with them when they got there.

The combats were challenging, but completely scalable and the tactics of most of them were far less severe than they could be (especially the final encounter).

The other reviewer was unhappy that PCs are forced to sit out due to save or suck mechanics, but in high level play, I hardly see how this is unfair, and at least they get saves each round to act, rather than being forced out of entire combats.

The optional encounter is amazing, but I didn't have time to run it when I ran it. I'll probably run it again just to get the opportunity.

The one critique I would have is the ooze encounter is particularly weak, and could have used a more challenging ooze in the upper subtier. Also I wish when I'd GMed it I had been more liberal about what stopping PCs from attacking meant with wall of thorns, as I could have (and should have) shut the PCs down much harder than simply making them fly around it.


Very Baird

4/5

We played this with three players and a pregen, high tier, non challenge, and I have not seen the scenario.
This scenario was enjoyable in a challenging way. There wasn’t much more to the scenario than encounters, though, so if they fall flat or that isn’t what you are looking for I’d avoid this one. I thought the plot would relate more to the overall story arc but it kind of felt a bit arbitrary. Overall though it’s a solid scenario that I don’t see being anyone’s favorite, really.
First Encounter

Spoiler:
The teleport right into an encounter thing is kind of uninspired and showing the players the location and then still ambushing them seems a bit of a “gotcha” moment. The actual encounter type is one that I’ve heard complaints about where you are inundated with saves and can easily end up just sitting watching others play. Features the first of two effects that target your items, which players might see as “unfair.” The faces people make when you tell them something is targeting their items is something to see, though.
EDIT: I don't mean to say PCs should never have to face control effects but having three is about the limit of good taste. Save or die effects are fine in moderation, a scenario that just chucks them at you until one sticks is a different matter, for example. At some point why not just go for the gusto and have there be dual cursed oracle variant demon pugwampi riders too.

Second Encounter
Spoiler:
The traps seem at odds with the monster, is it supposed to be nonlethal or what. This time you have a persistent control effect, so hope you have not one but two good die rolls in your future or, again, you get to sit and watch others play. I personally loved having an excuse to walk out of the fight but there will certainly be people who don’t feel the same

Third Encounter
Spoiler:
I really don’t like the tapestry as a plot device because it just seems like carte blanche to throw random things at you. Anyway this features another teleport you right into an encounter mechanic although the encounter itself was not particularly noteworthy. Plot wise it featured two competing interests, both of which seemed shoehorned in and didn’t relate to the overall goal. At the sight of the monkey men things I got excited looking back to my first chronicle for the character, Azlant Ridge, but there was no connection.

Fourth Encounter
Spoiler:
We did not actually fight the pathfinders (we were 3 CHA based casters each with a different social skill) but were told after that it was possible. I guess this is supposed to constitute a roleplay moment.

Final Encounter
Spoiler:
This encounter seems like it can go a few ways based on how the gm reads its abilities. It features multiple attacks all with grab and constrict almost encouraging strange attack-grab-constrict-drop shenanigans. Again, it features a passive save or sit and watch aura (and a quickend glitterdust?). It seems like the effects should break on everyone affected if any are damaged but I could see that being easily overlooked leading to problems. I haven’t seen the scenario but I hope it points out the way it intends to be run to prevent any undue confusion and/or deaths.

Plot
Spoiler:
I say the plot almost felt arbitrary since we are saving this base camp… from some plant that literally just happened to spawn on the camp. The blurb mentions saving some notable npcs but they just pop back out at the end and are never really involved in a meaningful way. This is the first mention of Amara Li Ive seen since she retired but it just feels like a name drop since shes not relevant at all. I also thought we were going to have to track down and collect the key rock things but, coincidence, they happened to be right with the BBEG. I went out of my way to play this on the character I played Mammoth Lords with expecting a connection but this scenario really could have taken place anywhere and with anyone.

Faction
Spoiler:
We had a silver crusader but ended up doing grand lodge inadvertently (its not really out of the way). Its an acceptable faction mission that doesn’t seem tacked on and offers some player choice.


36 to 39 of 39 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | next > last >>
Webstore Gninja Minion

Announced for May!

Silver Crusade

I stand ready.

Grand Lodge

I cannot wait. I bet Kyle Baird and Paizo's staff have quite a challenge for us with this one!

Grand Lodge

Kyle's back, maybe for another deadly scenario?

I'm a bit disappointed by the blurb to be honest, I thought this would be the scenario where the Society would at last explore Jormundun.

Paizo Employee Developer

They can't explore Jormurdun until they lead their army from this base of operations to its gates. Then they have to actually gain entry into the chambers within. One step at a time!

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

By "the disappearance of one of the Society’s most valuable tools" do they mean Drendle Drang?

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

They certainly don't mean he's one of the esteemed leaders...

Grand Lodge

Yep, going to use this one to level my druid to 12. Should be fun, Kyle Baird always writes a nice adventure.

Liberty's Edge

Really wondering what tool we lost and who the esteemed leaders are.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Worst-case scenario (and with Kyle, you know you want to plan for that): Aram Zey, Marcos Farabellus, and the Hao Jin Tapestry?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Nari Burnsong wrote:
Really wondering what tool we lost and who the esteemed leaders are.

Tool: Trusty Buddy

Leaders: Mike and John

Dark Archive

Kyle Baird wrote:
Nari Burnsong wrote:
Really wondering what tool we lost and who the esteemed leaders are.

Tool: Trusty Buddy

Leaders: Mike and John

NOOOOOOO!!!! Not Trusty Buddy!

Really looking forward to this one, Mammoths was awesome, and I'm interested to see how it follows up.


Damn. Kyle wracked up a body count with a level 1, we're going to need a bigger cart if he's writing 7-11s....

Paizo Employee Developer

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Damn. Kyle wracked up a body count with a level 1, we're going to need a bigger cart if he's writing 7-11s....

How do you think he started his writing career with PFS?

Shadow Lodge

John Compton wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Damn. Kyle wracked up a body count with a level 1, we're going to need a bigger cart if he's writing 7-11s....
How do you think he started his writing career with PFS?

WITH BLOOD! (and Caubo's tears)

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

There are some extraneous words in the blurb, which I have bolded below (IMO they should be removed).

Scenario Blurb wrote:
Following its efforts to set up a basecamp in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, the Pathfinder Society seemed ready to mobilize its forces when the Marcos Farabellus received troubling news: something dire had befallen the camp. What’s worse, these events resulted in the disappearance of one of the Society’s most valuable tools and the disappearance of two of its esteemed leaders. The PCs must investigate the ruined camp, track down the perpetrators, and recover a powerful relic to prevent this tragedy from ruining the entire expedition.

Base camp is not a compound word, it is two separate words. It sounds like the original draft read, "the Pathfinder Society received troubling news..." and 'Pathfinder Society' was replaced with 'Marcos Farabellus' without removing 'the'. You could also change "and two of its esteemed leaders" to "as well as two of its esteemed leaders".

So it should read:

Following its efforts to set up a base camp in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, the Pathfinder Society seemed ready to mobilize its forces when Marcos Farabellus received troubling news: something dire had befallen the camp. What’s worse, these events resulted in the disappearance of one of the Society’s most valuable tools as well as two of its esteemed leaders. The PCs must investigate the ruined camp, track down the perpetrators, and recover a powerful relic to prevent this tragedy from ruining the entire expedition.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Meh. Words are hard.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Thanks for the catch, greysector!

Silver Crusade

Ack! Just noticed the release has been pushed back from Wednesday to Friday...

Say I was scheduled to run this on Sunday...should I inform the event coordinator that we'll need a different scenario, or do you think the Friday release date will stand?

(and I'll hope that Kyle's writing is clear enough that I can figure it out and prep it in a 24 hour time span) :P

Thanks, and sorry to bother.

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Running this in three and a half weeks. Can't wait to add some more notches to my GM screen. I'll send a portion of player tears as tribute to Baird the following Monday.


Mike Bramnik wrote:
(and I'll hope that Kyle's writing is clear enough that I can figure it out and prep it in a 24 hour time span)

Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions.

Silver Crusade

Kyle Baird wrote:
Mike Bramnik wrote:
(and I'll hope that Kyle's writing is clear enough that I can figure it out and prep it in a 24 hour time span)
Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions.

Will do - thanks! Looking forward to digging my teeth into this one (and then its teeth into my players)!

Shadow Lodge

*finishes his first read-through*

Dude... just... wow. *rubs hands together gleefully and looks around for a suitable vial for player tears*

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm kind of disappointed in the writing for this one, as I've seen some glaring plot holes that make no sense.

1.) They clearly remind players that when you enter the Tapestry, that you leave a planar eddie where you came in. It states to the players that all they need to do is enter that eddie and they leave the Tapestry and return to the material plane at the spot where they entered. So, if Zay and Li entered the tapestry, how can they not exit via their own planar eddies? There is no explanation for this, and it is clearly in odds with what they remind the players so that they, and the other pathfinders, can leave the Tapestry.

2.) Even more disturbing is the horrible way that Nikolai is presented. It is claimed in several places that he had fallen under the influence of the Alraune. For most of the scenario I assumed that this meant that it had some power over him that was manipulating his mind and making him more pliable. Having seen both stat blocks, the only thing I can see is the Charm Monster power, and having seen Nikolai's stat block, there is virtually no way that he would have failed the Will save to fall under its effect. So either the Alraune is great at mental manipulation, and therefore didn't need the spell like ability to control the venture captain, or Nikolai is just that pliable and arrogant that he easily fell under the manipulations of the creature because of his own arrogance. Either way, the whole thing makes no sense, and given that it is the entire driving premise of the scenario, it makes the whole thing tenuous at best.

Paizo Employee Developer

morbon wrote:
1.) They clearly remind players that when you enter the Tapestry, that you leave a planar eddie where you came in. It states to the players that all they need to do is enter that eddie and they leave the Tapestry and return to the material plane at the spot where they entered. So, if Zay and Li entered the tapestry, how can they not exit via their own planar eddies? There is no explanation for this, and it is clearly in odds with what they remind the players so that they, and the other pathfinders, can leave the Tapestry.

In Response:
The issue that those two ran into was that their connection was disrupted when the tapestry moved (in addition to the disruption of the arcane foci stabilizing the portal they were creating). Thus far the Society's travels into the tapestry have involved the artifact staying on one place the whole time. When the alraune carried off the tapestry, it appears it made Zey's and Li's respective eddies disappear or be disrupted.
Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Brought 'em back alive, every one of them.

Dark Archive

If you take out the reviews from people that complained because their characters died, this is actually a well-liked scenario...YOLO

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It's a scenario for REAL Pathfinders™.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Why is the prices of magic items wrong? Do I use the price in the book or on the sheet?

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