Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–16: Scions of the Sky Key, Part 3: The Golden Guardian (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1–5.

Having bested the Aspis Consortium and recovered a powerful weapon, the PCs return to the Bandu Hills to delve into its ruins, confront the ancient guardian within, and find their missing venture-captain. Even greater secrets lie below, and the Pathfinders soon find that there is more to the so-called Golden Guardian than legends suggest. Are the PCs resourceful enough to survive the mounting danger and find Nieford Sharrowsmith?

“The Golden Guardian” is the final scenario in the three-part Scions of the Sky Key campaign arc. It is preceded by Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–12: Scions of the Sky Key, Part 1: “On Sharrowsmith’s Trail” and Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–14: Scions of the Sky Key, Part 2: “Kaava Quarry.” All three chapters are intended to be played in order.

Content in “The Golden Guardian” also contributes directly to the ongoing storylines of the Grand Lodge faction.

Written by Mikko Kallio, 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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Lore-delvers, enjoy!

4/5

I ran this adventure this afteroon at the high tier (hiya, TheDegraded).
I gave more detailed feedback in the GM thread to prevent spoiling too much.

Premise, 5: The expectations after part 2 were high, and the setup promises a worthy conclusion.

Combat, 3: Sadly, the first encounter is somewhat difficult to have work. The second combat is brilliant, and playing into the players' paranoia resulted in a hooked audience and exploding cheers. The challenge in the final combat is somewhat strange: If you perform too well in the Mechanics, the encounter becomes too easy.

Background/RP, 5: An absolute fiver here. The various encounters and the actual information to recover, makes the scenario a worthy ending for this trilogy, and a great follow-up on #6-00 Legacy of the Stonelords.

Mechanics, 4: The scenario's mechanics are fair and interesting, and rely on your party not being a bunch of murder hobos. The bonus you can get if you played an earlier scenario is also nice. The only downside I found, was that the final encounter can become somewhat underwhelming. It does not seem difficult at all to receive the (near-)maximum bonuses if your party follows the mission briefing, although this may be party- and sub-tier dependant.

Skills, 5: As in the previous part, there are not many skills that are not being used here. Skill & Knowledge monkeys, have fun!

General, 4: All in all, I really enjoyed preparing for this scenario, and running it did absolutely not disappoint me.
Highlights: The background it uncovers, and the second encounter. My players also cheered at one of the items you recover (and of course, I did as well!).
Downside: The final encounter can disappoint in the low tier, and/or if you do too well in the mechanics. If you dont, fight for your life!


A worthy conclusion

3/5

After two great parts, it was time to play the conclusion of this trilogy of scenarios today. Given how much I liked the encounters in part 1 and the NPC's as well as the chase in part 2, I was more than just curious to see what this instalment would bring us. I was not disappointed.

Just like the previous two scenarios, I felt that a party with a wide variety of skills gets rewarded. Where other quests only require two or three different skills, this series makes sure that every skill has a use. It makes your characters become more alive, which allows for great role-play. Add in some interesting NPC's – the 'pet' was a brilliant touch of flavor – and it instantly becomes fun to play.

The emphasis in this scenario is indeed on role-play, exploration and investigation. Like others mentioned before, you're specifically asked to act as an actual Pathfinder. While you can just go on a rampage and butcher everything in sight, you will get punished for it. As someone who gets annoyed by the whole 'kill first, maybe ask questions later' attitude, I highly applaud that.

As for the encounters, allow me to say that the first one was nothing all that special, but the second one had everyone at the table more or less scared senseless. The GM did an amazing job at setting the mood. He added little details that really set the mood excellently. We were all on the edge of our seats and when we finally confronted 'it', we ended up laughing so hard that everyone in the room looked at us as if we were insane.

That said, I felt like the final combat was a bit anticlimactic. The whole 'defense point' system behind the scenes really worked in our favor as my party had the maximum amount of points in the end. Granted, we had some great role-play that led to this situation and we got rewarded for it, but it did make the final fight too easy. If we had known about it, we may have intentionally made it bit harder and challenging for us.

All-in-all it was a worthy conclusion to a great trilogy of scenarios, but in my honest opinion not as good as the two parts leading up to it.


Great for roleplay, terrible if you just want combat

4/5

I’ve both played and GMd this one, both at low tier.
I enjoyed the scenario for the most part, though it is light on the combat and is a bit of a weak ending to a three parter. Also, as I learned while GMing, this one is extremely frustrating to players that just want to kill everything.

Player perspective:

Spoiler:

In the group where I played we had a very well balanced party and between us we had almost every skill needed to progress.

The first encounter proved almost trivially easy as we had a couple people with diplomacy try and talk down the kobolds while one of the fighters crowbarred open a few side doors to get to them. The whole thing took maybe three or four rounds; we had quite a few spells that could have ended it even faster, but the mission briefing almost explicitly tells you not to fight the kobolds.

The second area was both hilarious and terrifying once we realized what the creature wandering around was. Again, we had someone with the right skills to pretty much bypass the encounter and allow us to search the rooms in peace.

The last area turned into an interesting standoff for a little bit until someone pulled out the macguffin from part 2. I really enjoyed the skill challenge in this area as well since it allows players to learn the dungeon’s backstory that is usually confined to the GM only.

The last battle was over in maybe three rounds, both because we’d used almost no resources in the rest of the adventure and because it gives you time to prepare so the enemies walk in to all the PC’s readied actions. There is a mechanic to get “defense points” based on your earlier actions in the scenario that lower the difficulty of this final battle, but even without any adjustment it’s pretty easy for even a moderately well prepared group.

GM perspective:

Spoiler:

The group I ran this for was ridiculously unbalanced, coming in with two summoners, an investigator and the Kyra cleric pregen.

The first encounter took ages simply because no one had enough strength to open the side doors, or enough points in escape artist to get through the cracks in the walls. One of the summoner players actually got visibly frustrated and angry, even threatening to leave the table because his pouncing claw/claw/bite eidolon couldn’t just rush the kobolds and slaughter them.

The second area the group pretty much just killed their way through, missing all the roleplay and story and even going out of their way to smash the place up after the frustration of trying to subdue the kobolds in the first room.

The third room almost turned into a complete bloodbath because the player with the macguffin from part 2 rolled terrible initiative and the others started attacking before they could use it. The skill challenge here was pretty much a formality since none of the players were very interested in roleplay or the backstory, between them they surprisingly had most the required skills though.

The final battle was again really easy, though took a bit longer because the PCs lacked the solid action-denial spells like sleep and color spray that the group I’d played in had used. Even so, the claw/claw/bite eidolons made short work of everything.

As a final note, I didn’t really have a lot of fun GMing this one, though I think that’s more because I had some really bloodthirsty players and not due to the scenario itself.


Overall, I think this is a very good scenario if you have a group enjoys roleplay and puzzle solving and it’s nice to see those things incorporated into a dungeon crawl. If you’re just in it to kill stuff then this one will be boring at best and a frustrating slog at worst.


Most Memorable Dungeon Crawl Ever!

5/5

I went in prepared for the run-of-the-mill dungeon crawl. What I came out with was "Hoo-Boy! Didn't expect any of that!" I didn't use any of the items I purchased beforehand for the usual dungeon crawl. Every member of my group had to rely on each other to get through this one. For some reason my GM for this didn't enjoy the scenario (Said it was a weak ending), but we, the players, had an awesome time! We were on the edge of our seats almost the whole game!


Murderhobos need not apply

5/5

I ran this scenario for a full table in the 4-5 range, and it was easily the best of the trilogy and rose up to one of my very favorite scenarios ever.

The amount of roleplaying, wide selection of skills in skill challenges, and variance in approach that the players can take through this dungeon all help to make the experience brilliant. The NPCs and encounters are fun and interesting, the map is gorgeous.

I only wish that the defense point mechanism were not quite so generous, but in the end that did not detract from my, or the players' enjoyment.


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Webstore Gninja Minion

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Announced for March!

Sovereign Court

Should this be 15 or the listed 16th scenario? If it is 16th, why the missing scenario?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Likely its because they announced all 3 parts at once, while the 15th scenario will be announced later.

Paizo Employee Developer

That's correct. We announced the three-parter all at once. Information about the next scenario or two should be coming up in the next couple of weeks.

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

I hope that everyone who plays this scenario enjoys it as much as I enjoyed writing it. :)

Writing an adventure about exploring ancient ruins allowed me to play with some classic themes and combine them with fresh ideas. If you like a bit of mystery, action, and roleplaying, this one's for you! :)

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Was there a reason why this three-parter didn't all contribute to the storyline of the same faction, like Destiny of the Sands did for Osirian/Scarab Sages?I thought that had been one of the best uses of factions in scenarios to date, and was looking forward to seeing it continued.

I was *really* looking forward to an in-depth exploration of the Exchange's dealings in Garundi...

(I mean, I'm still looking forward to this, because the three-parters are always great fun...just not quite as much as I had been.)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

@pH: If you haven't already played it, try "By Way of Bloodcove". It's got a much more Exchange feel to it (and the boons to match). It also leads very nicely in to part 1 of this adventure (even though it's the higher subtier). We coincidentally played By Way of Bloodcove at 3-4 and then moved on to Part 1 of Scions at 4-5... definitely the "right" way to do it - but it could be done as a "flash back" to the past if you have a regular group, or a "oh, cool, I know what happens there!" if you play with randoms.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Serpent wrote:

I hope that everyone who plays this scenario enjoys it as much as I enjoyed writing it. :)

Writing an adventure about exploring ancient ruins allowed me to play with some classic themes and combine them with fresh ideas. If you like a bit of mystery, action, and roleplaying, this one's for you! :)

I've had an absolute blast running parts 1 and 2. The chase scene in part 2 is the best use of those mechanics I've ever seen.

Really looking forward to running part 3 on saturday.


Anyone know why it's unavailable.....? This morning it was available today....now it's unavailable

/unhappy face

Scarab Sages

I hope it's available first thing in the morning, I have it scheduled to run tomorrow and it's the last time I can run games for my store for two months. I'd hate for my players to not get to finish this chain up.

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Release dates are more like...guidelines.

Paizo Glitterati Robot

Now available!


Only managed a quick flick through it so far, disappointed not to see a boon for those who complete all three parts. Frankly the Blade of the Open Road could easily have been removed for it given they are likely only of interest to a very small percentage of players.

Scarab Sages

Page 6 has a cut and paste error from #6-15: The Overflow Archives.

Spoiler:
The information box is titled "The Kitsune's Gambit" for the defense points which is the same title used in #6-15 for the Kitsune.

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

skyshark wrote:

Page 6 has a cut and paste error from #6-15: The Overflow Archives.

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks for catching that! I haven't played #6-15 yet and was wondering what it was and how it got there, but that explains it. I hope everything else looks ok!

-Mikko


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Overall I'm happy there isn't a boon that needs all three parts to work. Those types of things can be cool, but sometimes the payoff for that heavier investment can also be only of interest to a few types of characters (the Quest for Perfection series jumping to mind). Given the choice, I'm happier with a multi-parter whose story has a very tight throughline like this one does.

(Also, this scenario does incorporate other chronicles in a really cool day. I'd be thrilled if Paizo kept up things like that moving forwards.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There seems to be an issue with the price of one of the items on the chronicle sheet:

Spoiler:
The Blade of the Open Road seems to be priced at about 10,000 more GP than a +1 Bane Longsword should be, even accounting for the enhanced survival check bonus for wayfinders.


Has an official response to what appears to be an error in the price been posted someplace? If yes, I apologize and am not finding it when I do a search.


I'm also looking for any updates on the price of the Blade of the Open Road!!

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