Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–12: Scions of the Sky Key, Part 1: On Sharrowsmith's Trail (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1–5.

Weeks have passed since Venture-Captain Nieford Sharrowsmith departed for the Bandu Hills, and having not heard from him since but learned of an Aspis Consortium expedition bound for the same destination, the Society and local allies have grown worried for the aging explorer’s safety. As the PCs travel south on Sharrowsmith’s trail, they must track the venture-captain to the ruins he sought while also dealing with the aftermath of his actions.

“On Sharrowsmith’s Trail” is the first scenario in the three-part Scions of the Sky Key campaign arc. It is followed by Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–14: Scions of the Sky Key, Part 2: “Kaava Quarry” and Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–16: Scions of the Sky Key, Part 3: “The Golden Guardian.” All three chapters are intended to be played in order.

Content in “On Sharrowsmith’s Trail” also contributes directly to the ongoing storylines of the Exchange faction.

Written by Robert Brookes, RPG Superstar 2014 finalist.

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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PZOPSS0612E


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***½( ) (based on 26 ratings)

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Sub-Tier Matters

**( )( )( )

I just finished this for the low tier and am getting close to finishing for the high tier PbPs I'm running, and it's pretty clear the high tier game is both much more challenging and fun. The low tier group basically waltzed through everything except the final encounter (and I even lumped the last two waves together for time and well to make it interesting).

Focusing on just the low tier game for now, as I have not fully finished the high tier. . .

ON the DM side of the screen, I felt that a lot of the mechanics to sort of ramp up the threat, both social and environmental hazards where too complex for what could instead have been a much simpler way of handling it, and the extra room could have been better used filling in some of the gaps and unexplained backstory. It's not that they are too bad or too complex, just why work harder instead of smarter?

I think the Challenges with the Praetor could have worked a lot better, essentially boiling down to "Ok, now show me you can flex your muscles", "Ok, now show me you can open a book", "good job, I think you will survive out in the bush".

I do also feel there was a missed opportunity here for Liberty's Edge and the captured slaves, but pretty minor. I was, however, extremely irked for my low tier players that the special Haversack reward was not open to them. It makes a nice little "trophy" item, and as someone that likes to collect these sorts of special items myself, it just rubbed me the wrong way that it's high tier only, particularly as it's probably the lower level character that would be most interested in purchasing it. It's already a pretty cheap item, so the special Glyph of the Open Road version should really be open to all.

One thing I also noticed, and this might just be a bit more evident due to PbP, is that after the 1st combat, but not including the waves in the final encounter, it really felt like it from one combat to the next to the next to the next with no actual break in between. In the sense that "Ok, you kill the ____ and have a short rest, healing up, and as you get back on the path to travel to your destination, roll Init. Ok, wew, take a minute to catch a breath and pass the wand around, oh, just as you finish that drink of your waterskin, . . . wait, what's that in the trees? Roll Init."

Might have been more interesting to have the bridge encounter happen before reaching Fort Bendu, maybe even within sight of some of the soldiers who then have a possible reason to suspect they are, oh gosh, dirty Pathfinders. While I like combat, I think evening it out a bit more would have been the better option, and I'll probably make that little change if I run it again.

Right now, I'm going with 2/5 stars, just based on the Low Tier play through. Once my High Tier game is finished and I discuss it with the players, I'll come edit this and adjust it.


It has problems.

***( )( )

I just played through this module, and it was rough. The combat was easy and not rough at all, but the skill challenges were a problem. It wasn't that we failed, but that we objected to even trying them. Some didn't make sense. After the game, my GM emailed me and asked me to tell him how to fix things, should he run it again later. Here is the text of the email I sent him:

Spoiler:
I'm not sure what tips I have for you. Let's see. I think you ran it well. I haven't read the module yet, so I'm not well-informed. (Some people said that module 1 GM text has lots of spoilers for part 2, so I'm holding off for now.) So far all I did was to open the gameplay forum and read along as other people played it. The problems seem to be endemic to the module.

Lines like, "Praetor Sylien refuses to correspond with me" are in the module text, as far as I can tell. You didn't ad-lib that. All the other GMs use that line. That line tells the players that Praetor Sylien has a problem with Aya, yet the module then requires (or nearly requires) the PCs to mention Aya when they see Praetor Sylien. Which is stupid. That's not your fault.

Similarly, the module has the tent town be hostile to Pathfinders, yet it then expects the Pathfinders to disclose their secrets to random guards in town. That's also not your fault -- the module author had some blinders on or something, and didn't realize the reaction some players would have. You heard us all saying, "let's not tell anyone we are Pathfinders; let's disguise ourselves." Right after that the guard is like, "disclose who you are and what your secret mission is." Uh, no. I understand that in the real world a CEO wouldn't allow a random stranger to come in for a "secret" discussion; the CEO would demand to know what the meeting was about. However, in the context of the module, the author just caused us to be secretive, and then punished us for being secretive. That's just dumb.

None of that is your fault. Nor could you run it better without circumventing the module. Hmm. Wait. Maybe you could have mentioned earlier that the guards will pass a sealed letter on to Praetor Sylien. But other than that, I don't know. As far as I can tell, you ran it exactly as the module author wrote it.

Here's another one. The module is for tier 1-2, so newbies. Yet Praetor Sylien asks us to prove that we are so competent that we are "worthy" of his help. We are newbies. We have no experience. So the way it's worded, what it essentially boils down to is that Praetor Sylien won't help anyone green enough to need help, but he will help anyone competent enough that they don't need help at all. Again, stupid. I am almost certain that the module author didn't predict players thinking like that. He probably just thought, "skill challenge here, yay!"

I like it more now that I had a chance to read other people's play-through. It's more clear who the names belong to, and what the chain of events is. One of the things I'm thinking of doing for the Shades of Ice trilogy is getting some printouts of the main characters and hanging them over my GM screen. My trilogy has the same theme yours does -- we hunt someone down, but don't succeed in the first module. So I have to keep them on track and aware of who's-who over 3 modules. It's possible that keeping the pictures visible with names underneath might help. But that's just a guess.

I'm really looking forward to part 2. I'm almost certain that Amersanus caused this whole problem. In fact, that was a severe temptation to go off the railroad. Since I believe that Amersanus is behind the whole "Pathfinders suck" thing, it was very tempting to wait somewhere for Amersanus, ambush him, and kill him. I'm sure that would have broken the module, but the module telegraphs "THIS IS THE GUY BEHIND THE PROBLEMS" a lot. So the module is kinda begging to be broken by players who want to short-circuit the whole disaster. So far, after having played only part 1, it seems like this would have been an excellent strategy. We would have stopped him from moving into part 2 and causing whatever trouble we are about to deal with.

Maybe there is a way to tone him down so that he doesn't object so strenuously to the Pathfinders looking into things? If so, it would make it less obvious that he's worried about us foiling his evil plan, which would in turn make it less obvious that he has an evil plan. Maybe you can correct that. Or maybe you have a script to follow...?


Good series

****( )

Just played through all three parts of this series at OASIS.
Each one has a good balance of requiring skills and diplomacy to succeed along with fighting.

You do get on the railroad a bit, but it is a fun and amusing trip to be on. The three scenarios come together well.


Made my group paranoid :)

****( )

Okay so yes this scenario isn't very challenging, especially for those running it at low tier, but it is a lot of fun. I ran this for our weekly PFS group at the store and after being briefed the party really only came away with two things:

1. There's this crazy old Pathfinder/Venture-Captain who needs rescuing.

2. This jungle wants to murder you so hard that your entire family line winks out of existence.

I found this pleasantly surprising since some of these people tend to be on the "meh, someone else will have the alchemist fire" side. Everyone who could came with necessary preparations and they had a relatively easy time of it. Has the potential to teach anyone not used to self-preparation the error of their ways while keeping the combat relatively simple. Does a good job of preparing them for part 2. I love the enemies used in this scenario too, just made them more paranoid. :)


Fun!

*****

Ran this scenario for the fifth time last night. Despite the number of times I've run it in the last month or so, I still have a ton of fun with it! Universally, the role-playing part at the beginning always goes over well. Maybe it's a local thing, but my players seem to love "giving it" to a certain NPC as much as he "gives it" to them. This is one NPC that I can get away with doing soooo over-the-top. :-)

Unlike others, I've not had a problem making the encounters interesting/challenging. My players loved the novelty of some of the rarer creatures.


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Webstore Gninja Minion

Announced for January!

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

I've really enjoyed working on this scenario. Writing it involved channeling the spirit of old Lucas Arts Indiana Jones adventure games (Fate of Atlantis, specifically) as well as the 1930's flick Stanley and Livingstone. There's also a dash of Skull Island vibe from King Kong, too.

I've had a great time collaborating with Mikko Kallio, Mike Kimmel, and John Compton on this three-parter, and I'm looking forward to hearing people's impressions on it once it is released!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Now to figure out which of my characters will brave this trail.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Now to figure out which of my characters will brave this trail.

The brave ones, duh.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Right, the stupid ones. Got it.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Robert Brookes wrote:
I've had a great time collaborating with Mikko Kallio, Mike Kimmel, and John Compton on this three-parter,

Likewise, Robert! Can't wait to play/GM this scenario!

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Is this one still on track for the 28th? I only ask because I have it scheduled at a con next weekend and I am hoping I didn't make a foolish mistake. Ha ha.

Paizo Employee Developer

The ShadowShackleton wrote:
Is this one still on track for the 28th? I only ask because I have it scheduled at a con next weekend and I am hoping I didn't make a foolish mistake. Ha ha.

I foresee no reason why this would not go out on Wednesday as scheduled. Please be mindful that scenarios tend to go live around the end of the business day (Pacific Standard Time), so be sure that is part of your calculations.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Ok awesome. Thanks John.


Is there going to be a trilogy-boon for those who play all three scenarios with the same character?

Paizo Employee Developer

FranKc wrote:
Is there going to be a trilogy-boon for those who play all three scenarios with the same character?

This is a strong possibility, but I am not able to confirm or deny this until I have finished developing the third adventure.

Sovereign Court

Where is it?

Shadow Lodge

Soon.

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

We're at now-now.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I love the new format! It's going to make GMing so much easier for me. Thanks to the entire development team for making this happen!

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just saw the art! KOBOLDS! I love it already!

Now we just need a "We Be Kobolds" intro module and all will be right with the world.

:)


Don't get me wrong, I love me some kobolds. I'm sure its a fantastic adventure, but, the cover looks like "Jar Jar the Barbarian"...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

GMd this scenario last weekend at low tier and had a load of fun. Best part ever was the

Encounter:
Party encountered the KRENSHAR and did a knowledge check. After a successful role they asked about special attacks. I told them and they said "thats the lamest special attack ever!" I proceeded to frighten 1/2 the party and all of a sudden it wasn't so lame:). Also had fun with Kobold Blade.

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

I'm so glad you and your group had fun!

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

I was at a local hobby store today and had a conversation with a PFS GM who was really happy with the layout changes starting in this scenario. He had high praise for the inclusion of monster statistics in the back of the scenario!

Shadow Lodge

Robert Brookes wrote:
I was at a local hobby store today and had a conversation with a PFS GM who was really happy with the layout changes starting in this scenario. He had high praise for the inclusion of monster statistics in the back of the scenario!

Except for the one spoilered right above.

Scarab Sages

Um... The Exchange faction members make a choice that obviously affects the faction, but do we actually report this choice? There is no A/B in the scenario itself. :\


Just got this, running it with my party on Thursday. I'm going to sneak in Aerosmith song lyrics whenever I talk about Sharrowsmith...

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