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

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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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Portal for PFS

4/5

I ran this for a group of experienced PFS players, including some of my regular GMs and my VC. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the players said they did too.

First off, let me admit a bias: I really enjoy GMing the fey. They're great for messing with players (which I know players find frustrating).

We had a seven-strong party (due to a mix-up with invites), run at tier 3-4. In the end, no one was in any great danger of getting killed.

The core of the module is puzzle-solving. It needs plenty of prep to get the hang of the puzzle before running the session, so be warned. And if your players hate puzzle-solving, they aren't going to like the scenario.

Initially, my players were nervous of the portals and avoided them, but eventually got the hang of them, even using them in combat (though not as effectively as their enemies). That didn't make it much easier for them to solve the puzzle, and while they worked out through much of the problem themsevles, they did need the final clue. That lost them a boon - and once they had worked it out, they kicked themselves for not having realised the final piece of the puzzle.

They also failed to impress their guides, losing perhaps the nicest boon I've seen in PFS.

They did, however, manage to achieve both primary and secondary mission objectives without a hitch.

After the session, I played "Still Alive", from the first Portal computer game. Those who knew got a chuckle from that (and explained it to the others).

The pros

It's an atmospheric scenario, and very well written. It draws heavily on the previously published Guide to the River Kingdoms, working in the background very well, without making that guide absolutely necessary to play.

The premise is great. Time shifts, teleportals, fey, all welded together relatively seamlessly. There's a lot of thought gone into helping players solve the puzzle, but a declining level of rewards for how many clues they're given. I also enjoyed the method of giving them clues. It's very well thought out.

There are some stunningly good boons on offer, but they are difficult to achieve. That's as it should be - boons should be worth having. And I liked that most of them weren't tied in to the success conditions.

The cons

The module loses a star because it's not readily apparent that travel through the portals is random, nor is there a built-in randomiser. I ended up printing out the town and tower maps, scribbling reminders of how the portals worked on them, and labelling portals to make it convenient for rolling a die to find out which a player pops out in.

There's also one portal missing from the village square map. That doesn't have any real impact on the scenario, but hey.

Those who like to extract battlemaps and print them out will find the portals won't come with the maps, leaving you to add them in Illustrator or with a pen after printing.


Good Setting - Terrible Puzzle ruined the fun

2/5

Player A: "At least you never have to play that scenario again."
Player B: "Thank God."

That was the reaction of two of my players today and sums up the overall feeling at the end of the scenario.

The setting is vibrant and full of imagery and the basic ideas behind the clocktower and portals are fun and exciting.

The puzzle sapped all the fun out of the adventure. The handout is poor. The clues are poor. The solution is poor. The players did eventually get the solution after receiving all the clues, but by that time the fun was gone. Multiple players had effectively given up at that point and just wanted the scenario to be over - so the diplomacy at the end never really got going.

One of the possible BBEGs is an archer in close quarters using swift action bane on a weapon. Bane + 3 attacks = Character killed in one round, then surrounded and stomped because there's nowhere to go. That is not a fun final combat for anyone. The other combats in the scenario (low tier) posed no threat at all and were wiped out almost instantly.

The scenario gets a second star for the setting being interesting and vibrant and I liked some of the NPCs. The combats were blah and the puzzle is unfortunate.


Interesting but with issues

2/5

I ran this today and have a few comments/observations about the module.

The Good:

The premise behind the module is interesting, you are off to a strange location to do what pathfinders are supposed to do. The town is interesting and it has some NPC's to interact with although I would have liked some more information on each NPC to help run them.

There is a nice balance between combat and social interaction. Murderhobo's are going to struggle a bit in this one and miss out on some gold and possibly prestige.

The Bad:

There is some information missing in this. I needed more information on the town, how big is it, what can be bought there, where does the unstuck half of the town go, lots of little background details that my players had questions about. In addition there are some more important pieces of information which are lacking. The entire first section with the Travellers is poorly written/edited with contradictory information on timings. In addition the 4 player adjustment is missing for the final encounter which nearly caused my group to be wiped.

The Ugly:

The Puzzle. OK, some scenarios have puzzles, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. This one just doesn't give you much information to allow you to solve it. The "handout" seems to be actively misleading and I struggle to see how anyone could come up with the solution just from the Handout, even if they had achieved all of the clues from exploring the tower.

EDIT: I was the GM for Pauls group. They negotiated with Henbane and therefore fought Nithra as they left. It is basically a guaranteed ambush giving the natural abilities of the opposition. The dangerous elements also all have high initiatives meaning they all went ahead of the PC's giving them 6 attacks before a single PC had acted. Two people were pretty much out from the very start in a 4 player group.


Lots of fun until the ending

2/5

I mostly quite enjoyed the scenario. An interesting location, a chance to do some roleplaying, an interesting set up and situation, a fight that was different from the norm

The puzzle got frustrating after awhile. There really seems insufficient evidence to solve it before you get some of the hints. And even then it is very easy to get it right but still not fail it. We were playing online, admittedly, that IME tends to make puzzles a bit harder.

The final encounter was awful. It felt quite unfair, especially since there wasn't a 4 player adjustment (which is clearly just wrong. By far the most difficult encounter without a 4 player adjustment?). Talking to the GM afterwords, it also felt like we were basically punished for not being murder hobos :-(. Paizo really has to learn that encounters where there is a very substantial chance that multiple PCs go down before they can even act with next to no chance of doing anything about it just are NOT fun. It was only by the grace of the GM that it wasn't a TPK.

What would have been a 4 or 5 star scenario barely made it to 2 stars because of that last encounter


Really enjoyed this one!

4/5

My players figured out the puzzled with only 1 clue, even though my wife and I thought it would take more than that, so I guess my players were just smarter than me.
The forest encounters were difficult to pull off, and as a result, no one got the boon. It might have just been a 4 player adjustment thing, but there didn't seem to be enough time.
Overall, really well written and interesting NPCs. They had to flee the BBEG #1, playing down. She was pretty brutal. But having a +0 to a will save doesn't help, either, as one of my players discovered.
At any rate, they all had fun. I would not recommend that an inexperienced GM run this without THOROUGH prep. It can be complicated.


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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.

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 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?

Thanks!

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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