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

2.60/5 (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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Okay...but with a major snag


This scenario was kinda fun. We had a new player at our table, the GM was doing an excellent job of setting the scene and making sure we had fun without getting murdered. However, there were two things that made this scenario very very difficult.
Number one is the Twigjacks. Our new player nearly got killed by a barrage of splinters to the face. It was kind of annoying, if not terrifying. Still, I think that is less of a scenario issue and more of a slight balance issue. If we had been higher level or better equipped, we wouldn't find the Twigjacks so annoying (by the way, hope that doesn't spoil anything).
The second issue is the much bigger game-breaking problem: the puzzle section. I don't want to spoil anything, but this puzzle was so obtuse, with bits and pieces that seemed to have been left in from an earlier draft, but now felt out-of-place and downright confusing. This puzzle took up a huge chunk of our group's play time, and, in the end, it was solved not through our cunning or lateral thinking but because one of our players had GMed the game not too long ago and held our hands through the solution, though he made of point of saying he didn't want to just give us the answers.
If the puzzle made more sense, or rather any sense at all, this would have been an interesting and challenging scenario, but it was downright broken as it is.

Cool premise, abysmal delivery


The premise of the scenario is really cool, with fey and portals and time travel. But wow, does it ever fail to deliver.

After the intro, it starts with a boring trap encounter, then some nice role-playing in an interesting location that unfortunately doesn't answer many questions about itself. Then we get a series of easy and underwhelming combats. This is followed by a tedious immersion-breaking puzzle that took us nearly an hour to get through. And finally, two very difficult combats but in a frustrating way rather than a challenging one. You know, the kind where you get dropped before you can act, or can do nothing round after round because you can't target the enemies.

The twofold issues with the puzzle: first, in-character there is no reason to do it at all. It doesn't make sense that jumping through a series of seemingly-random portals would make a wall of force disappear, and more sensible solutions (e.g. Dimension Door) are arbitrarily disallowed. Second, there is not enough information to solve the puzzle, so you have to rely on trial an error. For an hour. Portal 4, then 2, 5, and 3, then 7? Doesn't work. 3-8-9-1-5-2-4? Nope. 2-5-3-7-4-1-4? No again, keep trying. I am seriously baffled that anyone thought this was a good idea.

Tldr, it's a railroad of encounters that range from dull-but-easy to dull-but-hard, with a horrible puzzle in the middle. Definitely a scenario to avoid.

Really enjoyable, with a couple of issues


I've GM'd this, but not played it.

If I could give this 3.5 stars, I would. It would have been a 4 star, except for a couple of things.

The Good:

*The use of fey creatures was a treat, especially making an entire scenario around them. We don't see nearly enough use of the fey.
*This scenario features a nice blend of investigation, skill use, and combat, so there's something for everyone.
*If (big 'if') the players can figure out the puzzle for themselves without help, it's a nice sense of accomplishment.
*The use of an erratic clocktower is a nifty alternative to the usual wizard towers, tombs, and ruins.

The Awkward:

*This scenario runs LONG. In fact, my table ran out of time and had to cut the final encounter short with a little player ingenuity and creative GM-ing.
*The Puzzle. Now, I'm not one of those people who hates puzzles, or who hates this scenario simply because it contains a puzzle. The puzzle is actually *really* interesting, and my players were able to solve it with limited assistance. But, some players just aren't 'wired' for the kind of problem-solving skills this puzzle called for, and there really wasn't any way around the puzzle.

Suggestions to improve future puzzle experiences:

*The puzzle would have been easier for the GM to understand (and thus able help the players understand) if an actual diagram or flowchart of how the puzzle should be navigated were included, in addition to the text-based solution.
*Any time a scenario contains a puzzle, it should also contain some way of dealing with the puzzle other than solving it. It would be reasonable to have the 'easy way' result in a diminished reward or something, but a puzzle that MUST be solved to continue the adventure is a bottleneck- something adventure designers are usually advised to avoid. In this case, the added clues to be written on the back of the handout helped, but it was still a bottleneck.

AVOID!!! (unless they Write out the Damm Puzzle)


This is Proof that Paizo does not playtest these things, or even pass them around the office for a few opinions.

The story was nice in a way, but it felt like jumping into the middle of a book and reading only one or two chapters. Too little background given.

The Encounters were so so, but Our party would have lost a prestige had the Wizard not cast Summon Monster right off the bat and rolled a 3 for how many giant frogs he summoned to eat the Fey in the clock tower.

The Puzzle was the worst, It ended eating up so much time we had to cancel our second game. The Puzzle requires the players to use Meta-knowledge, end even when you figure it out it boils down to one thing: "TRIAL AND ERROR"! S!$*ty waste of time. Adds nothing to the story or the game, it is simply a worthless time vacuum.


Player Review

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this one. I find Fey kind of "meh", so the fact that it seemed built around highlighting the Fey was likewise "Meh". I generally consider it bad writing when the NPC's seem to be there to out-spotlight the players, but I'm not sure just how true that is in the scenario as a whole, as I haven't run it.

The puzzle was, how do I say this,. . . a clusterf#+#.

I really didn't care for the encounters much. Not particularly interesting, but very frustrating for the layers (not characters), which is kind of true for the scenario as a whole. It's ok, but for the players it's mostly frustrating. I'd say the big bag was the one sort of interesting stand out, but it just didn't last long enough to be as cool as I (we?) had expected. We had to be pushed a lot to try out the portals, and so I finally caved for the DM's sake, and every single time rolled poorly, showing it was just a poor idea, (sort of like casting a sleep spell on yourself and willingly failing the save so you can sit there while others do stuff and rounds tick by). Yah, that was fun.

I think the major issue, though, was just how lacking the scenario was on basically anything about the town/area at all. Or, you know, all the information that a player might ask that would be pretty pertinent to the scenario. Like what are First World Fey Circles, and why do I care? How are they significant, and then out of nowhere, they become significant, but not explained at all.

It's kind of worth it for a fairly meaningless romp, (diplomacy or attack rolls, whatever), for a fairly cool Chronicle Sheet, but not terribly memorable besides a lot of frustration.

I do recall our DM commenting on how surprised he was that the entire party kept pushing to know what the deal was between the two mayors and wanting to try and deal with that, but basically had to tell us out of character that that was outside the scenario. I guess this one wasn't playtested too much, as the obvious things just where not included or even avoided.

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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 Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition 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.

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.

Shadow Lodge

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 Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sounds like Iron Maiden on time lapse.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Pawns, Rulebook 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 Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case 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.

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 Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case 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?


Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case 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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