Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–05: School of Spirits (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1–5.

Seven years ago, Pathfinders entered Absalom’s shattered Precipice Quarter in pursuit of a ruby ring but also rescued a strange survivor. She has since grown to adulthood and exhibited a rebellious spirit connected to the ruined school where the Pathfinders found her. The woman’s family has contacted the Society, hoping that its agents can escort her back to the haunted site and unravel the Drownyard’s relentless mysteries.

Written by Alex Greenshields.

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 28 ratings)

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Excellent Story and Characters

****( )

SPOILERS

Way back in Season Zero, there was a scenario titled Black Waters (# 0-06) which had to do with Pathfinders being sent to explore ruins on the edge of Absalom that collapsed during an earthquake years before in an area now known as the Drownyard. While there, the Pathfinders discovered the remnants of a school for children of the wealthy that had been submerged and buried--but within it, thanks to a ring of sustenance, was a survivor! Comatose but alive, eleven-year-old Junia Dacilane was returned to her mother Lady Dacilane, and the Pathfinder Society gained an influential friend. But that wasn't the end.

School of Spirits picks up the story seven years later. The scenario begins with a "walk-and-talk" briefing by the eccentric and always-entertaining Drandle Dreng. Dreng explains that young Junia has just turned eighteen, but her mother has become exasperated with the girl's insistence on being allowed to visit the Drownyard. Lady Dacilane has finally relented and given permission for her daughter to go, but only if escorted by Pathfinders. That's where the PCs come in, of course. The introduction to Lady Dacilane and her daughter, who now calls herself "J." and dresses in the style of an Eagle Knight of Andoran, is handled well.

The PCs have a couple of different routes to take when escorting J. to the Drownyards, but either route they take will find them encountering a group of toughs who take offense at J.'s appearance as an Eagle Knight (they're either Chelish marines or Qadiran hotspurs). The toughs are actually scared away pretty easily and aren't a challenge to defeat, but they're the trigger for a surprising revelation: a spectral apparition lurks inside J., and emerges to defend her! J. grudgingly reveals that the spirit of her deceased classmate, Grishan Maldris, lives on inside her (in game mechanics terms, Junia Dacilane is a spiritualist and Grishan Maldris is her phantom). In fact, Grishan has also been urging for a return to the earthquake's area because he has vague and incomplete memories of having left something important there in the magically-enhanced gardens of the Aboretum Arcanis.

Assuming the PCs agree to check out the Aboretum, they find it guarded by a tiny plant creature (a mandragora) calling himself Majordomo Pip. Pip can be persuaded to allow entry if the PCs are willing to each give up a drop of blood (something fairly creepy, which, disappointingly, did not tie into anything else in the scenario) or he can be fought (alongside some "corrupted cockroaches" at high-tier). Once they get past Pip, the PCs have one last obstacle before they find what Grishan has left behind. A ghoran (humanoid plant creature) druid named Khaya has recently taken up residence in the Aboretum after fleeing Nex, and thinks the PCs are gardeners who have come to harvest her! Again, this encounter can be handled diplomatically or result in combat. Either way, afterwards, the Pathfinders can retrieve a packet of notes written and then hidden by Grishan. It turns out that, when he was barely eleven years old, Grishan was recruited by his brother (a member of the Pathfinders) to spy on the aristocratic parents of the other kids in his class and report his findings to the Society. The notes take the form of three handouts and there's several links to what are (I assume) storylines from other scenarios, but the crucial bit is the discovery that Grishan's father was not an Adoren freedom-fighter like everyone always believed, but had assumed that guise in Absalom because he was really one of the nobles overthrown during that country's revolution. But even more vexing, Grishan's older brother knew of the deception--and that brother is none other than Major Colson Madris, the leader of the Liberty's Edge faction!

The PCs are going to have some hard choices to make, but first they still have their main mission to accomplish in escorting J. to the Drownyards. Inside one of the ruined school buildings is a haunt that forces PCs to relive being inside it when it collapsed. Haunts are good story-telling devices, and this one does its job nicely if the GM is willing to add some energy to it. But another menace lurks further in: the restless spirit of another of J.'s classmates, Cassiel, who has taken on the form of an allip (incorporeal undead whose ceaseless babble can drive listeners mad). Cassiel can be mollified to disperse, or destroyed: the choice is the PCs'.

The last encounter occurs as the Pathfinders are on their way back to Lady Dacilane's mansion. They're stopped by Major Colson Madris, who has heard of the mission, and wants to know if anything relating to his deceased brother was found. In other words, Madris knows his family's secrets might have been found. If the PCs admit having recovered Grishan's notes, Madris tries to persuade them to hand them over to preserve his (and Liberty Edge's) reputation. The scenario does a good job accounting for various possibilities here, and weaving those outcomes into the story (and the reporting conditions and boon sheet). I don't know how this storyline played out, but I have to assume the scenario was a major turning point in the fate of the faction. I especially like how the scenario instructs GMs to make sure any Liberty's Edge PCs are given priority in discussions about what to do.

Overall, the scenario has a nice, tragic feel with a really interesting moral decision to make at the end. I'm not sure about the plant creatures in the Arboretum, as they can come across a bit cheesy if not handled carefully. The writer did a great job with the personalities of J. and Grishan so that this isn't a "escort the annoying NPC around" type of mission. As I said at the beginning, it's not a combat-focussed scenario, but the plot and writing are very good. Following up on earlier scenarios helps avoid the "one and done" forgettable nature of some PFS adventures, and I think School of Spirits should be considered a success.


Great follow-up, great stand-alone

****( )

While having played 0-06 Black Waters does help and give PCs a connection to the main NPC here, not having that scenario on a character does not prevent anyone from feeling empathy for her. My only gripe is that the drownyards should have been more of a focus.


*****


Great Scenario!!!

*****

This is a well-written scenario and an excellent follow up to 0-6 Black Waters. I GMed this scenario and I rather enjoyed the scenario was written so that it can be played favoring combat or favoring social interactions. My group chose a nice mixture of both and we had a great deal of fun.


One of my favorite scenarios so far.

*****

I've run this scenario a few times as a GM, and it's a favorite every time. I love that they allow options for all types of characters (combat heavy or those that prefer the diplomatic routes). The NPCs are memorable and the reveals from the Player Handouts are awesome. If you're not strong at role-playing as a GM, the primary NPCs can be a little challenging, so definitely give them some thought and a good read-over before you run it. It will make the game that much better for your group.

I haven't had a group walk away disappointed with this scenario yet, and that's saying a lot. It also brings in a monster element that doesn't seem to be common in PFS scenarios, but is in Adventure Paths. For players who only have a lot of Scenario experience, it touches on some new things AND teaches them how to handle a potentially lethal encounter. This information is amazing for players who will go on to play in full-length Adventure Paths, and for GMs who will be running those games.

I will run this any time someone in my area wants to play it. I'm really glad this was one of the first scenarios I ever ran as a GM. I have no regrets about my experiences with this one, and it's remained a strong favorite for many of my local players.


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Community Manager

Announced!


Oooooo! Sequel to Black Waters? Awesome!

Silver Crusade

Six years since I delved that sorrowful place. May my lady not take those who go in my place.

Grand Lodge

Dude! I just ran Black Waters for the first time and now there's a sequel?! Sweet!

Sovereign Court

I hope a certain individual runs this for our PFS chapter ;)

Shadow Lodge

I loved Black Waters. One of the better ones with a lot of flavor and potential to add your own twists. Fun story, interesting NPCs, and can be very short to run.

I'm trilled that there is finally a return to the area and I hope it lives up.

Silver Crusade

A memorable scenario this one was.

Paizo Employee Community & Digital Content Director

This product's release has moved to tomorrow, August 27.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Season 0 is still legal...that is surprising. I wonder if Black Waters is worth doing as a prequel.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

The answer is YES.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The answer is definitely yes. This adventure incorporates many elements from Black Waters.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Wondering when this scenario will be available for download, since it was supposedly available for purchase yesterday. Anybody know what's going on with it?

Community Manager

Now available!

Shadow Lodge

Left out in the cold again. :P

Shadow Lodge

?

:(

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Got it now.

Silver Crusade

Black Waters was a lot of fun. I should GM it again before doing this one.


Fromper wrote:
Black Waters was a lot of fun. I should GM it again before doing this one.

IMO, the coolest experience would be to intentionally grab a group of players expecting to go to School of Spirits and have them build characters with the idea that they are fresh-faced young recruits, running Confirmation and Black Waters and a few other adventures that are fun for low levels, and then have them "age up" the characters for Season 7 (assuming they started in Season 0, so add +7 years), perhaps gradually with 1 year for every scenario after Black Waters (making School of Spirits their 10th, so they play in subtier 4-5) or just all at once at some point.


Listen, just do what I do, say "We were too close to the Scepter of Ages. Just roll with it."

Seriously though I am looking forwards to this scenario.

Shadow Lodge

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Fromper wrote:
Black Waters was a lot of fun. I should GM it again before doing this one.
IMO, the coolest experience would be to intentionally grab a group of players expecting to go to School of Spirits and have them build characters with the idea that they are fresh-faced young recruits, running Confirmation and Black Waters and a few other adventures that are fun for low levels, and then have them "age up" the characters for Season 7 (assuming they started in Season 0, so add +7 years), perhaps gradually with 1 year for every scenario after Black Waters (making School of Spirits their 10th, so they play in subtier 4-5) or just all at once at some point.

I don't know, I've always found The Confirmation boring and underwhelming. Silent Tide and Blakros Museum Scenarios (minus Silver Mount), though would be a pretty epic run.


DM Beckett wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Fromper wrote:
Black Waters was a lot of fun. I should GM it again before doing this one.
IMO, the coolest experience would be to intentionally grab a group of players expecting to go to School of Spirits and have them build characters with the idea that they are fresh-faced young recruits, running Confirmation and Black Waters and a few other adventures that are fun for low levels, and then have them "age up" the characters for Season 7 (assuming they started in Season 0, so add +7 years), perhaps gradually with 1 year for every scenario after Black Waters (making School of Spirits their 10th, so they play in subtier 4-5) or just all at once at some point.
I don't know, I've always found The Confirmation boring and underwhelming. Silent Tide and Blakros Museum Scenarios (minus Silver Mount), though would be a pretty epic run.

The idea was to emphasize the fact that these were fresh recruits on their first missions. Replace with any other scenario you prefer and you could even call it their confirmation! :)


I ran Black Waters last week, so we can run this follow up in the near future.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I just realized that this scenario was submitted for a 2016 ENnie. Thanks to whoever did that!

ENnie Website

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