Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–24: Assault on the Wound (PFRPG) PDF

**½( )( ) (based on 38 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7.

The Pathfinder Society embarks on its expedition to the lost Sky Citadel Jormurdun with a small army of allies in tow, but they are not the only ones seeking the dwarven fortress. Two of the Society’s nemeses have rallied the fiends of Frostmire to crush the Pathfinders, hoping to buy the villains enough time to secure Jormurdun first. If the campaign is to succeed, the Society’s forces will need bold leadership. Can the PCs lead their motley army to victory deep in the Worldwound?

Content in “Assault on the Wound” also contributes directly to the ongoing storylines of the Silver Crusade and Taldor factions.

Characters can benefit from numerous boons earned during other Season 5 scenarios, so players are advised to bring other earned Season 5 Chronicle sheets to the event—even if those Chronicle sheets are assigned to other characters.

Written by Thurston Hillman.

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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**½( )( ) (based on 38 ratings)

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A failed experiment

*( )( )( )( )

At times Paizo decides to introduce or test mechanics in Pathfinder Society scenarios. This time they tried to do that with mass combat. Thankfully this wasn’t successful, because honestly once was already too many. While it is an interesting mechanic, it doesn’t lend itself for small timeslots. It’s vastly different from the ‘normal’ rules and thus requires a lot of preparation, and there will be a lot of downtime for players between fights/combats as not everyone will be involved. In our case we had people walk away from the table for 30 minutes to over an hour and they didn’t miss a single important thing.

I personally do not care about mass combat at all. It doesn’t interest me in the slightest, but I will still complain about it. I only saw one fight, spend 8 minutes on it, and that was basically all I did for the first two or three hours. Thankfully I didn’t mind that much since I wasn’t feeling great, but we can all agree that’s a lot of time wasted for people that might actually enjoy this sort of combat, or even worse, just want this to get over with.

The ‘normal’ portion of the scenario was more fun, but action economy really favors the players. The final fight can be very cinematic and that’s a nice bonus. It was much needed as we finally got to play our own characters instead of ‘pregens’ of sorts. We were rather lucky throughout that segment of the scenario and caught the evil baddie unaware, making it a relatively easy fight. Still, it was a nice end for the scenario that in all honesty failed to be a scenario, but also a nice conclusion for the overall storyline of the season.

That said, I will recommend players to stay away from this scenario. The majority of it is mass combat which is an acquired taste. It takes a while to explain and longer play out, with players waiting on their turn to do something. This can lead to long periods of time where you as a player have absolutely nothing to do and are forced to just sit there. For a homecampaign, this could work and the rules do make sense. For PFS however, this just doesn't work out.


Pretty good showcase of rules, but not for PFS.

***( )( )

(I played this.)

First of all, I want to get out of the way that I enjoyed this scenario. The mechanics are interesting and there's a fun challenge in here. As a showcase of what army combat can do, it's perfect, but this should not have been a PFS scenario. I'll get into more detail in the spoiler tag below, but the gist of it is that you shouldn't spring this on a normal group of players without preparing them first. My GM had great handouts we could use that alleviated a lot of clunkiness, but it's still a big chunk of rules to digest. And it takes a long time. If you get knocked out halfway through (which is very well possible), you'll have to watch other people roll dice for an hour until the combat's over. The mass combats follow each other quickly, but it still took way more time than it should've. While I did find it fun to command an army with different stats, they just didn't have that much versatility a regular player character would have, and loses out on a lot of immersion because of it. Still though, I enjoyed the time I spent with it and I like it as an experiment. But please, just stick to regular rules next time.

More in-depth complaints about army combat:
My main issue is that the "special armies" are more or less counterproductive. It's touted as a big thing that you've collected special boons, and the armies are a fair bit stronger than the regular ones. But the GM gets extra armies to compensate, but it's not a fair balance. More HP means nothing when three armies are attacking you simultaneously. We've tried to avoid the "murder-death-ball," as we fondly called it, but it was unavoidable. As soon as two or more armies join forces against a single opponent, there's no stopping them. You're outnumbered and unless you have great advantages, you can't get out of that fight without heavy losses.

The fact that there's no way to get backup until you retreat only worsens this. We had a fight where I knew I was going to lose, but I had to stick it out to see if I could whittle them down somewhat for the rest of the group. And we had to watch someone else roll dice for way too long as she battled three armies on her own without us getting a chance to help out.

My most important critique is that the damage felt too swingy. I liked the idea of a defense stat that's both your AC and your damage soak, but I really miss having a separate damage die. This might've been just us, but if the enemy rolled well, it rolled really well, chopping away 10+ HP at a time. When you have HP in the mid 20s that's a lot. Two unfortunate rolls can wipe out an army way sooner than it should. This cuts both ways of course, and players can overkill enemies easily as well, but it still feels like the balance is off somewhere.

And finally, I think the rules in general are decent, but still needlessly clunky. Way to many knobs to turn on or off, dials to turn, and so on. I notice a trend in supplementary rules: more complicated than it has a right to be. Modifiers come and go, too many options to analyse or keep in mind, and things generally out of your control. A friend compared it to a very slimmed down Warhammer combat system, but I still feel like there could've been more slimming down. I get that they're great for additional options, but at some point enough is enough, and players can't absorb anymore.

So basically, my complaints can be summed up as "too many rules thrust upon you for little gain," and "could've been tweaked a little more." As far as complaints go, I guess that's pretty decent.


Godawful.

*( )( )( )( )

I once wrote a more in-depth review, detailing this scenario's many flaws. Seemingly that review has vanished somehow, so I'll remake it in a simpler manner.

It is the absolute least fun I have ever had playing a tabletop game. There is no element of this scenario that is executed even half-decently, and the concept was terrible to start.

I hope it gets retired.


An Interesting Mechanic That Should NOT Be In a PFS Scenario

*( )( )( )( )

Why oh why do PFS writers feel compelled to introduce unusual (and in this case, overly complicated) mechanics into their scenarios? If you ever get talk of doing this again, please just hush that noise.

I went into this game with such high hopes. However, the introduction of the mass combat rules took up a lot of the start of the scenario time. The running of the mass combat rules was underwhelming and about half way through all of the players at the table were verbally wishing it to be over. The rules are somewhat neat for a home campaign but they have no place in a PFS scenario. [If you have a home game then I'd try these rules out. They are neat for military campaigns and PC's with the Leadership Feat.]

Our GM was proficient and prepared. He did a very good job. He had all of the rules printed out. He had all of the armies printed out. He had run this scenario at GenCon. He explained it all quickly. In the end, it was the mass combat rules. One of the other players commented that she'd shown up to play HER character, not a 'pre-gen' psuedo character. I completely shared her sentiment.

The end combat was interesting but felt very tacked on after the long, drawn out mass combat waste of time.

The Silver Crusade boon came down to a dice roll that many PC's have no hope of making. I felt bad for the single Silver Crusade player in the group. If it had been a real PFS scenario then perhaps there would have been moments to conduct actions to influence the end dice roll. Of course, roleplaying held no role in this D20 check. Actually, there was no actual ROLE-playing in this scenario at all.

One the PLUS SIDE, it was a GREAT idea to have accomplishments of your PC (and your other PC's) have some influence on the game; albeit, in the worst part of the game. Having previous sheets give options, boons, or bonuses in scenarios is a good idea (and really about the only reason this scenario gets even 1 star).

You wasted hours of our time, Paizo!


Much nicer than I expected

*****

This one is all about the expectation management. I think many of the horror stories from other groups are from people who had no idea what they were going into. When you've been working towards this scenario with enough of an inkling, it's really nice.

So I'm going to be a bit more forward with information on what happens in this scenario, but I'll avoid thing I'd consider actual spoilers. In fact, I think the scenario is more fun if players do know these things ahead of time.

The cat is out of the bag: you're leading armies, using the mass combat rules, originally from Kingmaker and reissued in Ultimate Campaign. The scenario uses slightly simplified rules because you're not running a kingdom, too. Even so, if players have read through the Ultimate Campaign rules once, they'll be on their feet sooner.

There are some default armies to use, but if you've played the right S5 scenarios, there are several boons that come into play in this scenario. There are quite a few scenarios in S5 that revolve around gathering allies for the PFS excusion into the Wound, and now is when you use them. The way it works is that you get the benefits if any of your characters have the boon, not necessarily the one you're playing in this game. The allies you got in a tier 10-11 adventure will also help you out.

Taldor's storyline in S5 is about gathering an army to prove that Taldor is still great. Now is your time to show off. If you have played most of the "relevant to Taldor" adventures of S5, it's a very kickass army. Another reviewer complained that you get hosed if more than one player uses the Taldor army; that's not quite true. Any additional Taldor armies are weaker than the first, but still relatively strong, and they work well together.

---

So you're going to do some army gaming. You're all going to lead an army and together you're going to beat the bad guys. The mechanics work like a fairly simple tactical boardgame (compared to say, Warhammer). Another thing that makes it different is having your friends at your side; when one of you is facing off against multiple demon armies pouncing on him, you all cheer if he beats them. It's kind of like the fun of working together in PC combat, but with armies. I quite liked it.

I imagine if I ran into this at a con, with no preparation, I'd hate it. But if you've been building up your Taldan generalissimo for a while now, it's a nice L7 mid-career climax. (The guy leading the mammoth lords wasn't disappointed either.) And I was pleasantly surprised at how well the mass combat rules actually work.

---

Apart from leading armies there's also some regular murdering going on. See that guy on the front cover? He's not going to have a good day. But he's gonna try to make you have a bad day too. The scenario isn't only leading armies, although that's the biggest chunk of it.

There's also a "monster" using another set of unusual rules. We didn't fight it, and later when I read the stats, I'm glad we didn't. I think those rules have some wrinkles, and it hits quite hard.

But side effect of having these high-Cha commander commando types is that we were able to disguise and bluff our way trough that.

---

There's been a tendency in S5 to show off new rules (mythic, performance combat, piecemeal armor...) that hasn't always worked well. In this case it works well, but you have to know what's coming, rules-wise.

I might use these mass combat rules in my own campaign as well, they're crunchy enough to give you options but simple enough that things keep moving.


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Webstore Gninja Minion

Announced for July!


Another Thursty adventure - I can't wait!

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I wonder who these old nemeses are and why they are showing up here? What is their agenda?

Or perhaps do they just want to...*puts on sunglasses*...put salt on the wound.

Liberty's Edge

If one of them isn't

Spoiler:
Tancred Desimire
I'll eat my hat. But then, they have often pleasantly surprised me...


My two cents, I believe the two old nemeses will be:

Spoiler:
Tancred Desimire and Thurl. And I imagine you won't actually encounter them in this scenario. That encounter will be in 5-25: Vengeance at Sundered Crag. Especially since I believe the scenarios are supposed to take place concurrently (in time).

Liberty's Edge

I forgot about the other guy's name UE. And I totally agree with your prediction. I thought this was going to be a Tier 7-11 for some reason. No way you'd face the actual recurring villains in a 3-7, right?


Derek Weil wrote:
No way you'd face the actual recurring villains in a 3-7, right?

I sure hope not! But who knows, maybe it's a suicide mission?

Silver Crusade

My money is on...:
Tancred Desimire and Thurl. If it's anything like Portal of the Sacred Rune, Vengeance at Sundered Crag will bridge season 5-6 together, and Thurl has connections to Numeria in his backstory.

Silver Crusade

Hrothdane, where did you find said backstory? I seem to remember seeing it somewhere, but for the life of me I can't find it now...

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

After an update from the Golem regarding this scenario, I think I need to preface the release with an offer:

I'll be at PaizoCon this year, so swing by to punch me in person.


Thurston Hillman wrote:
I'll be at PaizoCon this year, so swing by to punch me in person.

ISWYDT.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Thurston Hillman wrote:

After an update from the Golem regarding this scenario, I think I need to preface the release with an offer:

I'll be at PaizoCon this year, so swing by to punch me in person.

I'm running this, so I think I'll buy you a beer.

Paizo Glitterati Robot

Now available!

Shadow Lodge

On the Chronicle Sheet, The Taldor Boon reads:
[Include 2 check boxes here] Legacy of Porthmos (Taldor):

That should probably be:
[] []
Legacy of Porthmos (Taldor):

:)

Grand Lodge Global Organized Play Coordinator

Please do not run this until July 4.

Shadow Lodge

That's odd. I'm guessing all those scenarios where not supposed to have been released yet?

I will not run them early, I honestly just saw new stuff and grabbed it, assuming it was just coming out. I can't see the release dates, but when does Scars of the Third Crusade become good to go?

Grand Lodge Global Organized Play Coordinator

DM Beckett wrote:

That's odd. I'm guessing all those scenarios where not supposed to have been released yet?

I will not run them early, I honestly just saw new stuff and grabbed it, assuming it was just coming out. I can't see the release dates, but when does Assault on the Wound become good to go?

Thank you for understanding. July 4th is a good date for the first time it can be run.

Grand Lodge

First #5-24 was scheduled for release July 30, then June 27 it was "available today." At the moment, it's not listed at all. Is there any information? I'm scheduled to run this scenario, not terribly soon, but would like to get my hands on it sooner rather than later.

Shadow Lodge

I'm kind of curious as well. Doesn't matter to me, as I'm not scheduled to run it until I feel like it :P, just wondering why it was made available, then removed, and can't be run until later?

Grand Lodge

This. They should have been held until July 4th for Paizocon.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

Huzzah, it's back up again!

Grand Lodge Global Organized Play Coordinator

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Huzzah, it's back up again!

This scenario is the suq. It haz no llamas in it ;-)

Paizo Employee Designer

Michael Brock wrote:
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Huzzah, it's back up again!
This scenario is the suq. It haz no llamas in it ;-)

Now Mike, it's not Thursty's fault that we switched the giant llamas for demons. That's just rubbing a salt on the wound.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Mark Seifter wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Huzzah, it's back up again!
This scenario is the suq. It haz no llamas in it ;-)
Now Mike, it's not Thursty's fault that we switched the giant llamas for demons. That's just rubbing a salt on the wound.

ISWYDT

Grand Lodge Global Organized Play Coordinator

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Huzzah, it's back up again!
This scenario is the suq. It haz no llamas in it ;-)
Now Mike, it's not Thursty's fault that we switched the giant llamas for demons. That's just rubbing a salt on the wound.

There is no excuse for not including atl east one llama that yells, "CCCAAARRRRLLLLLL" and enjoys the taste of hands.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

I guess I really need to include a millipede on the Moonscar...

Paizo Employee Designer

Thurston Hillman wrote:
I guess I really need to include a millipede on the Moonscar...

Only if you want to play the part of Abbott.

Grand Lodge Global Organized Play Coordinator

Thurston Hillman wrote:
I guess I really need to include a millipede on the Moonscar...

That's at least a start but it in no way replaces llamas with a taste for human flesh or depressed unicorns.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Meat conveyor! I vote for a meat conveyor!

Or a rift in space and time the ejects baby hands! Wait...I could've used that! Dangit! I missed my opportunity! Where's Paul?!

Shadow Lodge

I truly enjoyed the mass combat. It's kind of confusing at the beginning. I would love to see a few of these each season. Sure it takes away from roleplaying but that's ok, having something change every once and awhile is a good thing. Only thing I could ask for is to have have a super easy gimp encounter before the first real bad so how its supposed work can be visualized.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

I believe the first encounter is supposed to be the easy training wheels example to get you ready for the second (real) challenge.

Liberty's Edge

I spotted that there is a formatting typo on the chronicle; is the PDF expected to be updated in the next week or two? Or should we work with it as it is now?

Is there any chance of getting an easily-printable version of the first map with only the player-friendly markings and labels, i.e. one that can be blown up to ~A2 size?

Liberty's Edge

The tier is off. Two of the armies come from 7-11 missions and one other from 5-9. Even if all of the others were 1-5, the chances of still having your character in 3-7 after all this time is fairly remote. Also not sure why junior Pathfinders would be leading the charge... Oh. Wait a minute, what was the alignment of the Ten?

I guess I will just have to go with Plan A and use my armies to conquer Absalom now that I'm out of tier.

Paizo Employee Developer

EricMcG wrote:

The tier is off. Two of the armies come from 7-11 missions and one other from 5-9. Even if all of the others were 1-5, the chances of still having your character in 3-7 after all this time is fairly remote. Also not sure why junior Pathfinders would be leading the charge... Oh. Wait a minute, what was the alignment of the Ten?

I guess I will just have to go with Plan A and use my armies to conquer Absalom now that I'm out of tier.

In response:
If you have the boons on any of your characters, those boons apply to whichever character you bring to the table.

Also, Marcos Farabellus explains why there aren't a lot of high-level Pathfinders on hand to lead the armies when he gives his mission briefing.

Hope that helps.

Liberty's Edge

I didn't see any notes about the usual A, B, C, or D checkboxes from the reporting sheet in the Conclusion. Did I miss something?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

I see a lot of polarized reviews, it averages out to 3, but most of the reviews are 1 or 5, and from reading them I suspect the 1's wish that 0 was an option. It seems to break down to love/hate mass combat == love/hate the scenario. Beyond the boss fight are all the encounters mass combat, or is there a mix?

Liberty's Edge

It's all mass combat except for the last encounter (boss fight), but my players loved the mass combat dynamic. Everyone at the table had a blast!

Shadow Lodge

It is absolutely a love/hate of mass combat rules.

My particular objection is that mass combat means you're not really playing your character (outside of their Charisma modifier) for several hours. You can certainly roleplay "Mammoths! Charge!" a few times, but it starts to get old for a lot of players quickly. Some tables are spending 3 hours on mass combat. I know some of the PaizoCon tables didn't do all the mass combat engagements due to time restrictions (such a single token one for flavor) and it's possible those are the ones actually getting higher reviews since less time is spent in mass combat.

And the mass combat rules are a bit clunky because they don't favor holding strategic locations, so you'll see a lot of tables that simply group up as one large army and run around... typical strategic war-gaming places strategic emphasis and rewards from holding locations. The scenario could've been written with some of this (i.e. simultaneously achieve these 3 goals) which would've allowed more tables to experience more variety (as 6 armies would need to split into 3 armies each composed of 2 players or such).

(To be fair, there's two other parts that will garner love/hate responses as well, but I won't mention those here since that are spoilery)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

Ick, that actually sounds uncool, I recently scrubbed the mass combat rules from my Wrath of the Righteous Campaign because it definitely took the PCs out of the spotlight. At the same time, this is a module that sorcerers and bards can laugh at all the folks who dumped Charisma.

Shadow Lodge

The impact of a PC's charisma is somewhat negligible at least at the times I've seen this scenario in play.

The PC armies are rarely routed (usually hot dice mean an army is straight destroyed, and a routed army with 3hp left isn't really much of a factor anyway), and folks don't generally shift tactics such that a morale check is required.

When I ran the scenario, the PCs with the hottest dice were generally the strongest. How hot your dice are matters a lot more than usual in mass combat because damage dealt is the excess in which the OM roll exceeds the DV. When I last ran the second engagement, my dice were rolling very well and the PC army's were grouped up and I grouped up the demon armies in response. PCs were focus firing demon armies, so the demon armies had responded by focus firing PC armies. When running the demon armies, you'd likely attack whichever PC army is being reckless and employing raging brutality, which essentially means their DV may be like 12. With a handful of armies (say 4) all attacking that reckless PC army, if you roll a 14,16,17,19, you're looking at a destroyed PC army the first round.

Sadly, I'm not generally a fan of mass combat since in order to enjoy it, it requires the players to run their armies in a mechanically suboptimal fashion and to create situations on the battlefield ("Oh! My army doesn't need any help with these demons, why don't you go after those others on that hill there...") that are beyond those the scenario presents. Once one army groups up into a "mega-stack", the other army should follow and then it's just a bunch of fairly uninteresting rolls until it's resolved.

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