Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–12: The Twisted Circle (PFRPG) PDF

2.80/5 (based on 31 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-5.

A magical war between the archmages Geb and Nex left the landscape between their nations scarred and wracked by magical anomalies—a barren stretch known as the Mana Wastes. During the conflict, their generals also created countless weapons and defenses that pushed the limits of magic, yet most of these were destroyed in battle or lost forever. Recent investigations suggest that some of this ancient power is at play in an insular town outside Alkenstar, but there the trail runs cold. Can the PCs uncover the truth while braving the residents' eccentricities?

Written by Jon Cazares.

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2.80/5 (based on 31 ratings)

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Mysteries to unravel


Got to play this last week, and have now purchased and prepping to run. Overall this was a great experience as a player - a fairly conventional mission turns into something else entirely, and even with good Knowledge checks up front, there are surprises in store. I found myself pulled into the story, and kept flipping back and forth between who I believed the "bad guy" to be until quite late. It plays on some popular tropes without being predictable... or is it?

I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars because it does look like it will take a lot of prepping to pull off effectively as a GM, and that sort of time doesn't always work for Organized Play. The plot is complex, and requires several different NPC personalities to be portrayed. Our GM did a great job and the scenario really shone, but I could see how a less-RP-focused GM could make this fall flat. Following are some GM thoughts as I prep.

First off...:
We get an Outer God in PFS! Happy dance! I hope this is a sign that the stars are nearly right... I played it with a 1st-level PC, and I think this encounter will become a defining force in his development.

The initial combat was easy for us but flavorful, and helped remind us of the setting. This threw the village into sharp relief when we got there and everyone was healthy. We played with a group of 7 due to a walk-up, and also had three archers or gunslingers, so the big bad was not as terrifying as it could have been. We also didn't do the thing at the end, and so avoided a fight.

So much for a GM to work with here! The Sheriff's tone can really set the PC's course - he is the key NPC to develop a personality for. This is what will take the prep time - there's the Sheriff, the doll, the alien entity, the various plants, and the various townfolk, who all need to seem different to the players. I can't wait to run this!

It's nice to visit this area of Golarion, since we haven't spent a lot of time here. A lot of the detailed backstory has no vehicle to come out, though - it's enough to try and convey the more limited local story of the town and the townsfolk and what is going on with them, plus the agent that the PCs are sent to find and what happens to her. GMs should probably use every opportunity to present tidbits of information to the players so they can solve the mystery - especially if the party lacks one or more Knowledge skills.

Overall, a great scenario, although perhaps more suited to play-by-post (where story can really come out without the pressure of a time slot) than regular play. Will run this one several times to make use of the higher prep required.

Scenario Writers Need To Understand Something


I'm sure the author thought they had this fantastic idea for a "mystery" scenario...and then went and made it too mysterious.

This is the problem I have with scenario writers: they sometimes rely on their own play experience when writing them. We've all heard the maxims about the right gear to have (always have a way to fly by level 5), the right skills to take, etc. But when you, as a scenario writer, make them critical (and sometimes make-or-break) for a scenario-you do the players a disservice (especially at 1-5).

Yes, it should be spooky in the Manna Wastes and the village. Yes, it shouldn't be super easy to try and figure out just what is going on with the village...but to make it almost impossible without just the right skills/equipment is just annoying.

A real time waster


The investigation was too open ended, so many of the PCs' creative solutions ended up being being pointless and had no impact on the final outcome.

Broke scenario?


So we ended up killing the flying thing the first time we saw it, so the GM said we broke the scenario cause it couldn't lead us away like it was supposed to, so he made something up to help us get to the cave.

The swarms are killer, GM said that the torches were to help us fight the swarms, but that didn't work since you couldn't attack the swarms with them, and he didn't know how the torches were supposed to help us, so he just made something up, since we had very little we could do against them, hence why we focused the other guy and dropped him fast.

We didn't have anyone that could use the speak with plants so we just had the scroll and we used it on the tree that wouldn't talk with us. It's annoying that it says to follow the rules and not sneak out or carry weapons but the GM said the scenario expected us to get our weapons back and to sneak out at night.

Also we were supper lucky that one guy had a decent knowledge check at a +8, otherwise we'd have known absolutely nothing and not had any way to find anything out.

An investigation that is overly reliant on specific capabilities.


I GM'ed this scenario earlier today and I had fun. It's a nice mixture of memorable encounters with opponents and NPCs alike, and a decent investigation with some extras. However I have to echo the sentiments of some of the reviews below and what has been written on the forums.

You see, the scenario features two distinct and separate storylines. For a GM it's obvious how these come together, but for players that's just different. You really need to use a particular spell multiple times to figure out one of them, and you likely won't have the means for that as a party. It's a shame really as it adds a lot of background to the scenario and enriches the scenario as a whole. You can do without for sure, but it's a bit too good to pass up on. Having that spell be more readily available can only be recommended to other GMs running this scenario.

I'm also a bit saddened that there's also a major focus on a single knowledge skill. Without having that one in the party, this scenario will be rather hard to comprehend. I don't mind having a certain area of expertise be important throughout an entire scenario, but I feel like it's a little overboard. That said, it's a double-edged sword. You need it maybe too often, but it also adds a lot of flavor to scenario.

Even though I quite liked it and would love to run it again, it's a bit too reliant on certain skills and spells. I'm worried that a party without access to them will struggle too much to understand what's going on and will thus not enjoy it that much. A party, on the other hand, that has that skill and that particular spell, and who also likes to role-play a lot, will love this scenario a lot and will certainly appreciate the story it offers. It's too much of a hit or miss for my taste I'm afraid.

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Announced for December!

Nifty! I've wanted to know more about Alkenstar for awhile now....

Grand Lodge

The Twisted Circle scenario #7-12 was very enjoyable it captured the weirdness of the Manna waste.
The Twisted circle is very atmospheric and creepy. There are lots of chances to role play. The scenario has a moral dilemma. It is best played by a varied party to figure out the mystery. If all you want to do is hack and slash and be a murder hobo this scenario will force you to look outside the box.
This scenario was refreshing change from many of the scenarios I have played and this one I will remember.

Shadow Lodge

Sadly this product isn't meant for as a scenario. Not made for 1-5, should be for 3-7. To quote someone, "This scenario is a lackluster an investigation with unbalanced poorly planned encounters. It's too reliant on a specific skill set and class abilities and doesn't give any workarounds. I was very disappointed with the scenario at first level.. felt like we got no where.

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