A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7.
Venture-Captain Bakten's past lives and the history of northern Tian Xia are interwoven, and with the PCs' assistance he has uncovered a troubling legacy secreted within the mountains of Zi Ha. It is up to the Pathfinders to ascend into the ice-capped mountains to unveil the crimes of past generations and save one of the region's greatest heroes.
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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I had mixed feelings about part I of this series, which heavily railroads players to set up part II. The second part didn't work so well for me either.
The opening encounter... yeah, cuz getting completely bogged down in environmental effects is truly fun. Also, you get punished if you didn't play part I right before it.
Next... interesting people and places, underwhelming fight. Setup to do funny things, but it's more straightforward to just kill them.
Oh, yay, more controller fights.
Oh, yay, even more controller fights, but this time with tactics that don't match with the placement on the map. The tactics are literally impossible to execute with the scripted placement of the PCs on the map. I can see that the author had a fantastic confrontation in mind, but the NPCs' tactics work so badly that it doesn't go anywhere. The NPC that's supposed to be helping you does random things that are completely useless due to the order in which it does them. The enemy starts casting spells that you're not in range of.
The only thing saving this from a one star is that the story has the potential to be nice, if the GM conveys it well.
Karma is a challenging combat based scenario with a horror theme.
I thought the encounters were extremely well designed and unique. The setting was evocative and dripping with a nasty horror theme.
The only downside is that we took 5.5 hours and we didn't finish the last encounter. Having said that I think that was partially because one encounter lasted an hour (GM cheated) and the party was weak.
The ally in the last encounter needed to have flexible powers because as written, she didn't help at all. But the thought and imagery were certainly cool.
Karma can get deadly, especially if you don't play part 1. Then again part 1 is deadly. /shrug
Length: Long (5.5 hours). I think we skipped the optional encounter.
Experience: Player at Subtier 6-7 with 2 powerful characters and 4 average characters with low levels.
Sweet Spot: TBD.
Entertainment: I loved the design, the setting, and the tactical combat encounters. (9/10)
Story: Finally we knew what was going on, but unfortunately it wasn't discovered, we were just told at the start of the scenario. (7/10)
Roleplay: None or little. Didn't matter however, the setting was enough. (1/10)
Combat/Challenges: Unique encounters. Will depend on GM since they have latitude. (10/10)
Maps: Custom maps worth printing in color! (10/10)
Boons: Great. (10/10)
Uniqueness: You don't see many scenarios where combat tactics actually matter. (8/10)
Overall: It was nice to have a scenario that featured encounters where tactics actually mattered... a lot. The scenario gave the GM room to be creative with tactics as well. It lead to a very fun combat experience.
If you are not an expert on Occult Adventures expect lots of lots of prep time on this. Far more than its worth.
And then you run into the issues that, once again, Paizo just doesn't follow its own rules. The stat blocks are wrong, an entire encounter relies on a creature doing something that it cannot legally do, etc.
I enjoyed playing it but I am NOT enjoying prepping it. If there was time, I'd back out of running it.
A moderate challenge with mainly combat to possibly 2 very tough combats. As this adventure is in Tian Xia someone in the party needs to speak tian. A well rounded party or combat oriented party coming from part 1 should do fine. Some Occult Adventure material but a good smattering across most classes. Most things should become known to the party as NPCs help fill in the blanks and are downright helpful. Need I say play part 1 then part 2...
In play (with a sub-optimal party of 4 at Lvl 6-7, one spoke tian) at one point most PCs had less than 10HPs and one was at -9. A confluence of spending resources (about $450), player luck, and NPC help carried the day. Almost lost about $716. Full gold & 2 PA.
Home Game: Main NPC Bakten/Sharaheen gets off way too easy. Sharaheen should ask the PCs to go back and help fix the problems they caused in Part 1.
GM eyes only!:
Engagement: Moderate to High. NPCs fill in the blanks about most motives from part 1. This is a job with combats.
Plot Development: Good. Clear location based A-B-C-D plotline. Players given combat and a little sleuthing. Players can make choices which make things more difficult.
Roleplaying: Low. Most NPC interaction is combat or filling you in on motives from part 1.
Challenge: Moderate to High. PC choices play a critical role in how hard this is and really bad choices can make it go to very hard.
Complexity: Moderate. GMs need to know how to run arcane and psychic casters, monks with ki pools... It would have been nice if an NPC could choose an action but it just went round by round as described. Illumination rules aren't that hard.
Chronicle: Good. Lots of different things (occult, alchemist, ki pool, martials, divine, arcane) with a tian flair. Prayer beads at reduced cost, book, scrolls, wand from Ult Magic with limited charges.