Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–02: Six Seconds to Midnight (PFRPG) PDF

**½( )( ) (based on 38 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7.

A strange confluence of circumstances leaves the researchers of Uringen understaffed and in need of able-bodied assistants. Conveniently, recent Pathfinder Society experiments call for a rare reagent found only in that area, and the two organizations have negotiated a mutually beneficial deal. Can the PCs reach the secluded settlement in time to witness this extraordinary event—and handle the phenomenon’s aftermath?

Written by Liz Courts.

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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Has premise, doesn't deliver on it.

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(I played this.)

This scenario had a great premise, but it completely faceplants halfway through. The idea of a town that disappears at random intervals could lead to many interesting adventures, but the one that's chosen here isn't one of them. The leadup to it is fine; nothing amazing, but fun. Some fun stuff in town, for sure, but once that puzzle kicks in, everything's thrown out of the window. The entire scenario grinds to a halt and devolves into pure trial and error with increasingly frustrated players and GM. Our GM graciously gave some hints throughout, some of which were helpful, some less so.
In the end, we managed to solve the puzzle, but it took way longer than it should. A brain-teaser every now and then is fun, but players don't have enough information to complete this puzzle to properly tackle this sucker. A puzzle whose answer, in retrospect, is this simple shouldn't take more than an hour to finish. Then it's simply badly designed.

In the end, this scenario isn't a total waste, there's fun to be had, but be wary for (how ironically thematically appropriate) the timestopper in the middle.


Puzzle ruins it

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The premise for this scenario was great, it sounded like a perfect adventure for pathfinders.

I played this in high tier with 4 player adjustments under Ascalaphus with my lorewarden.

Locations:
A town that vanishes every so often, and now has a special event they expect based on calculations and high magic? Awesome!
The trip there was an interesting chase variant, and the people in the town were decently fleshed out.

Ruinous things:
1. The puzzle. As nearly always this puzzle too falls too much on player knowledge/ability than character knowledge/ability. Use knowledge/intelligence based clues more. Give players clues based on a take 10 intelligence check, or for having ranks in knowledge skills. I almost liked the way the clues were given out, but they should have been knowledge/int character based, not time frustrated player based.
2. Perception required before being able to roll knowledge skills. Perception is already the #1 skill to have in Pathfinder and this scenario penalizes you if you don't roll high enough. There was a lot of extra information and lore to be found, hidden behind a perception check.

fun things:
Nearly everything else.
The trip through the forest, where the witch used a black tentacles to hold a trap in place (creative solution).
Being able to play golf with the enemies (tactical reposition on a lorewarden against tiny creatures)
Crazy experimenting with portals (even though that turned out to take up more than most of our time)
Getting a peaceful solution with the "BBEG" thanks to a chronicleboon from a few seasons earlier


I like it less after actually running it

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I GM'ed this for Kurald Galain and a few others last weekend, and I'm rather disappointed myself.

I personally do like good puzzles, but this one wasn't written like that. There's no way for character skill to really help you. There's no feedback mechanism to let you know if you're on the right track. Although you can get more clues, those are pre-set clues. In this case my players were trying very hard to reason their way through but got stuck with a few false assumptions and I couldn't really help them away from those with the stuff the scenario gives you.

I wasn't so impressed with the combats either. In the case of the first combat (high tier), the 4-player adjustment ruined it.

Spoiler:
The idea being that the fey use the portals to give you a dynamic combat, running around. But the 4-player adjustment removes the enemy archers. If the party's not standing near to any portals, it's a fight between +3 to hit tiny few and 6-7th level PCs that can just kill them when they try to close in. And the air support really isn't fun; either it doesn't do enough or it does too much.
The second combat could be really cool but the monster died before it could do anything, and the PCs weren't doing any beyond the ordinary effective stuff to it. The next combat was more interesting because it plays a bit with the portals.

What I really didn't like: one of my players knew the solution to the puzzle because her boyfriend was prepping it for running the scenario later in the weekend. So she bowed out of that scene to take a break. But the puzzle took so long that eventually she just went to bed.

I was dismayed at how bad the puzzle went. I was aware it wasn't great but my players at first showed good spirit working on it, so I didn't want to start giving clues out too fast or anything. But I really wish I could've skipped it.

Was anything good? Well, the premise of the scenario. The town is nice, the backstory and the fey there are cool. I liked the tactical possibilities of the portals, but that just didn't really materialize.


Fey, time and portals

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Contrary to some (or most) of the reviews below, I actually quite enjoyed the scenario for the most part. Then again, a portion of it takes place in a town best described as 'An Alchemist's Heaven' and I was playing an alchemist, who specializes in knowledge Engineering. The whole idea of visiting that lovely place where there's a mechanical tower having issues, just suited her. I was on the edge of my seat as a player.

The first portion, in the forest, was fairly straight forward and honestly not that interesting. It felt like a little out of place, but in the end it's worth it if you were a good Pathfinder. The city and the tower, were fun. The portal-mechanic was nice and created some hilarious role-playing, as one might expect when there's a curious gnome alchemist around, but also offered some interesting strategic options. The final encounter(s) and fight were interesting as well. At this point I have to admit we nearly aced every knowledge check possible, which really helped us understand what we were dealing with and what was going on. That extra information really adds on exponentially and I fear people might miss out on a lot of important information.

What they will not miss out on though, is that puzzle. I still don't understand it, but it was too difficult and unnecessarily timeconsuming. Thankfully while I had a blackout of sorts, the other players of the table managed to solve the puzzle eventually through a combination of brainstorming out of character, help from the GM and the always useful-yet-dangerous tactic of 'well, lets just do random things and see what happens'. I honestly think that this puzzle forces the players to think too much out of character and also takes too long to figure out. Even the additional clues weren't that helpful. All this puzzle achieves, is to lose any immersion present, which is a shame considering the way the tower is described.

As the alchemist, I'm a little biased towards liking the scenario, for that class will love it. As a player, I liked the atmosphere, use of portals and the different uses of time throughout the scenario. The puzzle however was a disappointment. It's doable, but overall has a negative impact in my opinion for reasons mentioned before. I do think I'd recommend it to other players, as long as they enjoy challenging puzzles and aren't time-constrained.


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Community Manager

10 people marked this as a favorite.

Announced (and heading your way Gen Con 2015)!
...That author seems a little shifty, though.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Cool looking forward to it Liz!

Sovereign Court

Had never heard of Uringen so had to look it up on the wiki. What a strange and facinating place!

So uh... how it is pronounced?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Cool ! I guess i will spend the entire scenario looking for hidden ninjas.

Community Manager

Draco Bahamut wrote:
Cool ! I guess i will spend the entire scenario looking for hidden ninjas.

Ninja are not going to be your problem in this one. >.>

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is going in my queue asap. Can't wait to unleash it on my players.

Silver Crusade

I'm running this 5+ times at Gen Con, Liz. If you want to swing by and see how it's going, just look for the jolly roger flag I always fly at my table when I'm GMing.

I've already got accents picked out for several of the NPCs, and something fun for "ze sack" too!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sounds like Iron Maiden on time lapse.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Pawns Subscriber

What height is the clockwork tower? Height of the individual floors? I'm hoping to build a to scale model for when I GM this scenario later this month.

Community Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.

My thoughts when I was designing the scenario was a standard 10 feet per floor, with the belfry twice that.


Zaister wrote:
Sounds like Iron Maiden on time lapse.

Spinal Tap does Iron Maiden.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I solved the puzzle!

Paizo Employee Assistant Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

The 4 player scaling for one of the encounters is missing. The following is an official addition to the scenario, which will be included in any future modifications to the PDF.

Scaling:
Make the following adjustments to the Nithra's Fury encounter to accommodate a party of 4 PCs.
Subtier 3–4: Remove one of the quicklings from the encounter, and reduce each quickling's number of doses of poison to 1.
Subiter 6–7: Remove one of the quickling cutthroats from the encounter, and reduce each quickling's number of doses of poison to 1.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Yay for updates!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

So, judging from the reveiws, people seem to like this scenario except for the puzzle.

I'm thinking of using this for a non-PFS game. If I do, are there any changes that could be made to the puzzle to make it work better for my group? Is there an obvious flaw that just needs to be corrected, or is the entire premise of the puzzle off-base?

Thanks!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

From the GM discussion, I think an indication of progress would be a good thing to add. Everytime they take a correct step in the solution, have the clocktower chime. (Especially if you've primed them by mentioning there is no bell or chime mechanism visible.) Then when they make a wrong turn, reset it back to the start. A puzzle with no feedback about right or wrong is highly frustrating.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

@Tamago: well, people are also pointing out that the combats in the scenario are poorly written, and that the plot sets up an interesting location (the disappearing village) and then does absolutely nothing with that. So no, it's not just the puzzle.

The puzzle itself has two major problems. The first is that the PCs don't actually get enough information to solve it, and have to rely on assumptions, trial and error (this is why people suggest a progress indicator, but the underlying issue is simply that the required information isn't there).

The second is that it's a huge immersion breaker. In character, the puzzle has no reason to be there, and the PCs have no reason to believe that hopping through portals will somehow get the plot going. There's no roleplaying involved; it's a strictly mechanical experience (i.e. a "soup can puzzle").

There are several cool fey-based scenarios in PFS, e.g. the Sanos Abduction, or the Pallid Plague. I recommend using one of those instead.

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