Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–03: The Bronze House Reprisal (PFRPG) PDF

2.60/5 (based on 21 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5–9.

A recent assault on the Pathfinder Society has renewed hostilities with the Aspis Consortium, and clues left behind point to one of its masterminds: the gold agent Maiveer Sloan. By infiltrating one of the Consortium’s artifact-smuggling operations, the PCs can sabotage their rivals’ criminal operations and send a clear message: No attack will go unanswered.

Written by Matt Duval.

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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2.60/5 (based on 21 ratings)

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Such promise, but ultimately deeply flawed

2/5

I played this together with TheDegraded, GM'ed by Woran. Although we had a good time together, there are serious flaws in this scenario.

Spoiler:

Act 1, getting enough evidence for a warrant: great. It makes sense, it's got some challenges because you're asked to do it in a particular way, and it has original opposition. Except that given how long the rest of the scenario takes, the GM should probably use timers to make sure this part doesn't take too long. In terms of content, you could fill about 50% of a normal scenario with this.

Act 2, infiltration: I think the house is really just too big. So many rooms to search, means you run out of OOC time, get hurried, make mistakes that you wouldn't have made. I also don't think the infiltration part is written robustly to work for less-stealthy parties, and some of the "advice" the NPCs give you is bad and should not be followed. I think newer scenarios like the Sun Orchid Scheme do a much smoother job of what is essentially a Heist. There's a real danger that the party wastes a lot of valuable OOC time figuring how to approach this.

Act 3, the talk: this part makes no sense whatsoever. You're supposed to question an Aspis agent and get him talking about topics which you as the players (if you've been playing S7 scenarios in order of publication) have no knowledge. So you don't actually know you need to be fishing for them. This part just makes no sense and should be completely rewritten, starting with giving you sensible instructions in the mission briefing about what to ask for.

I'm not going for one star because there are quite a few nice things in it still. I really dig the premise of the adventure, and the first part is really tight. It's just the end that's baaaaad.


Good idea, poor execution, dreadful end

2/5

I always like the idea of social-infiltration missions. It’s a part investigation and then doing something with the evidence or clues you find. The premise of this scenario is therefore something I’d enjoy: gather evidence of smuggling and link that to the Aspis in a sandboxsituation.

I’d say the scenario has three parts. First you need to investigate a dig site either by brute force, or in a more diplomatic fashion. It’s simple, but effective. The ruin itself will lead to some interesting discoveries and encounters. Add some interesting traps and you got a more than solid start.

The second part features infiltrating a certain location. It’s a good thing there’s multiple ways of doing that and the building itself is quite elaborate. However, there’s just too much going on, making it impossible to find it all. It feels a bit punishing. I mean, it’s supposed to be a challenge, but this is just a bit too much, especially given the (really) hard checks that have to be make. Then again, a case can be made that you’re not supposed to find everything anyway. You are supposed to work for it. From that perspective, I still think this a decent to good part.

The checks come back to haunt you once more in third part, the confrontation. This part is scripted as an extreme variation of a railroad, which is a shame given the rest of the scenario. By its very nature this is completely led by a GM and doesn’t allow for much, if any, deviation. You’re basically asked to role-play, but only by answering questions and dealing with certain situations in a very specific way.

To add insult to injury, the GM is forced to put certain clues together for the player and provide the players with theories and further clues to continue this railroad. Honestly, I dislike it a lot. I want to figure things out on my own and not have a GM tell me what every single thing means, let alone decide how we’re supposed to present evidence. This is a role-playing game, not a ‘this is how you’re going to role-play this part’. It’s too much of a railroad and too much information. In my honest opinion, a very, very disappointing ending of the scenario that started so promising.

Ignoring the fact that it will run (too) long, this scenario starts out great, but loses all its momentum. The final act was just a mess and that is solely to be blamed on the way it’s written in the scenario. The idea is great, but the execution was terrible. The majority of the scenario gives you a lot of room to approach things how you want to, but when you expect that same freedom, it’s taken away from you. I dislike that a lot and solely because of that, I can’t recommend it. If it was just the first two parts, you’d get 4 to 5 stars from me, but the end completely ruined all the fun for me.


Frustrating but potentially fun

3/5

I've both played and run this scenario.

Pros: some limited interesting RP, somewhat free-form sections, the possibility of a social TPK

Cons: Several sections appear to be "read the author's mind" in nature and are not intuitive to either the players or the GM. Skill check DCs are absurdly high. The secondary success condition is nearly impossible with many party configurations as it depends on having a series of specific skills in a series where you can't really get help from others. The level of preparation required for the GM is incredibly high for a 5-9 scenario - it feels in prep more like a particularly complex 7-11, but it doesn't feel commensurately satisfying in play.

Ultimately, I felt fatigued simply preparing it. I would have rather done pretty much anything else with my time because it took an investment of entirely too many hours just to wrangle the last two sections. The players burned through the first section very quickly, but the scenario slows to a crawl very quickly once you're actually in the Bronze House. As we got to the confrontation, it was clear that the players were exhausted and I had to tell them that there was basically an entire act remaining as they started to pack up. They seriously thought they were done at that point.

Despite getting the social TPK cost of 5 PP applied to all of them, the players all enjoyed the scenario and I had a good enough time, but I would not have interest in running this scenario again for the amount of effort involved.


Great Beginning and Middle, Weak Ending

4/5

The Bronze House Reprisal is an extremely ambitious scenario. I have GMed it at least four times at this point in a variety of settings (conventions, local store gamedays, home game).

Player Accountability - This scenario offers a number of ways of handling the situations involved. However, it also offers realistic accountability if players decide to commit acts of wanton violence while still providing several high-quality combat encounters for those combat-inclined. I've heard the scenario referred to as the anti-murderhobo scenario and I cannot agree more. I wish that this form of player accountability came more standard in PFS scenarios.

Traps - I wish that every scenario treated used traps in the way that The Bronze House Reprisal uses traps. It goes beyond boring tapped doors that deal hit point damage, uses player assumptions to its advantage and provides properly powerful traps in comparison to the information protected.

Stakes - This scenario is playing for appropriate stakes for a higher level season opener. There is a compelling reason for the PCs to engage with their mission and to want to do an appropriate job.

Combat Encounters - The way that the NPC/monster tactics are written is perfect. It provides the GM with a good sense of what's important to the NPCs and their general "tricks" while giving latitude to determine the best course of action. In addition, the mix of NPCs and monsters is enjoyable, as well as the inclusion of more neutral-aligned antagonists.

Investigation - The investigation itself is well-thought out and capable and straddles the thin line between providing too much information and making the investigation moot and providing too much information and making the investigation frustrating. In particular, keeping it so that PCs must discover much of the information first-hand instead of being able to Diplomacy or Knowledge (Local) their way out of things is both more fun to me as a GM and better storytelling (in my opinion).

However, the final encounter presents problems. It is a risky inclusion in this scenario, and I don't think that the risk pays off. The strict scripting is hard to adequately run or communicate to the players what they can or should be doing. It is, by its very nature, a GM-led encounter, which is awkward for any social encounter. In addition, it simply presents too much information and uses checks for PCs to "know" information that they hadn't been previously exposed to. It's a very very weird encounter.

In short, the first fourth-fifths of this adventure is one of the best PFS scenarios I've seen. However, the final encounter falls flat. If it wasn't for this encounter, I would list is as solid 5-star material. However, the ending's flaws push it down to 4-stars for me.


Had Potential, but Falls Flat

1/5

Others have already mentioned my problems with this scenario. It runs way too long, there doesn't seem to be a reasonable way to succeed at your mission in the Bronze house given the security, the Gnome mage in the first fight is way too buffed given that combat didn't seem reasonably expected by either parties, etc. etc.


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Community Manager

Announced (and heading your way Gen Con 2015)!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” -Marcus Aurelius

I really hope people enjoy playing and running this. I can't wait to hear the GenCon stories!

Thanks very much to John for giving me the chance to write it. :-)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Is this going to be Severing Ties Part 2, or are people who played Scions of the Sky Key going to see a lot of usefulness from a certain sword?

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4

RocMeAsmodeus wrote:
Is this going to be Severing Ties Part 2, or are people who played Scions of the Sky Key going to see a lot of usefulness from a certain sword?

Answering that is a minor spoiler so...

Spoiler:
The objective is not like Severing Ties p2, but I think a group could approach it in a similar manner and have a fun adventure. The objective and challenges should hopefully allow for a lot of discretion in your approach to solving them.

Hope that helps. Have fun!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As to your other question, well, I mean, you are getting revenge on the Aspis Consortium. I might imagine that sword would come in handy.

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