Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–19: Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts (PFRPG) PDF

3.50/5 (based on 16 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7.

Following a successful mission into the mist-shrouded and shifting Gloomspires, the Pathfinder Society sent another team to explore the tomb of the legendary pirate Sevenfingers. Unfortunately, this team never returned. The spires have momentarily halted, allowing a new team to brave the tomb’s many dangers, hopefully rescuing their allies in the process.

This scenario is a sequel to Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–06: "Hall of the Flesh Eaters".

Written by Tom Phillips.

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3.50/5 (based on 16 ratings)

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Ghostly Dungeon Crawl

4/5

Played high tier with four player adjustment with a group consisting of a Wizard, Psychic, Gunslinger, and Kineticist. Our group did fairly well and I very much enjoyed the creepy atmosphere of the Gloomspires throughout; if you liked Hall of the Flesh Eaters this is pretty much more of the same gloomy dungeon crawling in the same location. Where this scenario loses points is in the difficulty which starts out reasonable but challenging, and only gets harder with every encounter until the final room that is almost impossible without a character designed to counter it. Granted, the scenario does give the party the tools to succeed, but using them feels like a puzzle that only makes sense after you see the solution.

Encounter specific review for my group’s play through follows with a decent amount of spoilers, though I’ve tried not to just outright list everything in the adventure

Encounter Review:

The set up to this adventure is pretty straightforward, the last team to go into the Gloomspires never came back so the party is sent in as a rescue mission. The initial encounter on top of the spire is a nice callback to Hall of the Flesh Eaters, and although having played that doesn’t really effect this scenario at all its nice to at least see similarly themed creatures. Mechanics-wise its well balanced and might serve as a bit of a wakeup call to parties that aren’t used to expending resources early in an adventure. Our group of mostly squishy casters came out fairly battered and had to break out the healing wands immediately (everyone had fairly high Use Magic Device so healing wasn’t an issue despite not having a divine caster). We rescued the first member of the previous party, a paladin, almost immediately and though he had barely crawled out of the Gloomspire with his life and claimed to have been cursed we let him join us to help search for his companions.

Our group then trekked through the entire Hall of the Flesh Eaters dungeon off-camera, which again I thought was a nice touch despite not really getting to interact with the environment much; the creepy atmosphere is very well done and is probably the best part of this scenario. The next major combat encounter managed to ambush us and again eat more of our resources than expected, though this one felt well balanced to be dangerous and cause some long duration debuffs without being particularly overbearing. Our party opted to rest at this point before braving the rest of the dungeon as our spells were already running low after only two battles, and again several people needed a lot of healing wand charges.

The maze that followed (for which the adventure is named) was actually surprisingly well done in that it needed skill checks to navigate and took several hours between rooms, which made spell durations actually relevant. I can see how some people would view this as punishing, but I actually enjoyed the challenge of having to manage resources as opposed to the typical fire and forget nature of long duration buff spells. While our group didn’t trigger the maze hazard the GM later described it to us and I highly recommend using it at least once because it’s very flavorful despite not being overly dangerous.

The next combat marked a solid step up in difficulty, notably because the room’s environment prevents full round actions which seriously hampered our ability to do damage, particularly for the Gunslinger who couldn’t even use half their abilities. In addition, this also marked the point where the enemies were starting to become resistant to our attacks which slowed things down even more. That said, I still enjoyed this combat especially for the added emphasis it placed on movement and positioning which was a nice change from the norm. Again, the atmosphere was excellent, if a little lighter on the roleplaying that I would personally like.

It was at this point that we noticed our paladin NPC was acting somewhat strangely though after several botched rolls we couldn’t really determine why and chalked our suspicions up to him losing it a bit from having been trapped in the Gloomspire so long.

The next battle was again another step up in difficulty with enemies that were resistant or flat out immune to most of our attacks and a fear effect that forced some of our already small party to flee for the entire fight. This one is actually avoidable through diplomacy or perform checks, but the DCs are really high and one failed roll immediately starts combat. Our group made it through mostly because the Kineticist was able to at least damage everything and very slowly kite the enemies around the room while whittling down their health. Honestly I really wish this encounter had more of a social focus because the rest of the dungeon is already combat heavy. I do appreciate that an effort was made but not being allowed any leeway for failure means that even a dedicated social character can botch their first roll and start combat without any room for roleplay or even attempting other skills.

Finally, we got to the end and I’m gonna extra spoiler this because there are a few specifics I want to talk about. If you don’t want the final encounter very spoiled suffice it say that this is the point where the adventure went from difficult but fun to an almost impossible battle where you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose some PCs and very possibly TPK.

Spoiler:

Okay, so first of all the final encounter really feels like it should have been two separate battles as each part feels like it would be a fair challenge for most parties, but together it’s just ridiculously overkill. The initial battle with the creatures in the room starts off with a bunch of incorporeal ghost things with fascinate auras that will potentially take several PCs out for the first few rounds, this is fair enough as fascinate isn’t that terrible of a condition. The real danger though is some kind of undead thing with a huge pile of HP a claw/claw/bite/grab combo, energy drain and at-will invisibility; this by itself would be a fairly tough final battle as it could stealth around and take out key targets while PCs were being fascinated and harassed by the minor ghosts. If this was all it was I’d call it difficult but fair, except you have to fight another final-boss worthy enemy at the same time.

As soon as the initial fight starts the paladin NPC betrays you, he’s been possessed by a ghost, our group kinda saw this coming but couldn’t really do anything about it. What makes the paladin/ghost so difficult is that you can’t actually damage the ghost while its possessing someone and every time you kill its host body it will immediately be ejected and get a free possession attempt on a PC. This is effectively unbeatable as it means the party has to kill its own members, whoever is next in line to be possessed has to make a fairly high will save to avoid it, and then the ghost has to be killed before it gets an action to try and possess someone else. Again, this would be a super hard fight by itself, but probably doable by most pathfinder groups, what makes it absurdly unfair is that you have to somehow fight both the ghost and the invisible undead grappling thing at the same time. As near as I can tell, you pretty much have to have at least one cleric for this fight, and more importantly, Protection from Evil for the entire party to prevent possession. All that said, this was not the worst, or even the most unfair, encounter I’ve seen in a Pathfinder scenario, it was just a very disappointing sour note to end an otherwise fun but difficult game.

Overall I found this scenario to be difficult, but still balanced to be fun and interesting while maintaining a great atmosphere throughout. The only real complaints I have are a lack of roleplay encounters and a huge difficulty spike at the end after a lot of otherwise well balanced encounters.


Welcome back to the Gloomspires

4/5

Overall I really enjoyed this as a continuation of the gloomspires story line and hope we get to venture deeper in the future.

Roleplaying - There is a possibility of multiple interactions, but its somewhat left up to the GM how well these play out. Depending on what actions the party takes these may be more or less fulfilling.

Rollplaying - While some encounters can be solved by non-combat means, there's certainly a challenge here for a combat oriented party. Unprepared Pathfinders may find themselves in trouble or facing a TPK. Especially parties in high tier that barely squeezed into that average player level, the last encounter may in fact be your characters last...

Mapping - There's a unique map for this scenario that I thought was presented fairly artistically to show you how large the Labyrinth was without overburdening the game with details. HOWEVER... Players are only going see how cool this looks at scale if their GMs have a large format printer, a normal color printer and alot of tape, or $20-30 to print it out somewhere.

GM Warning - This is a HEAVY PREP scenario. A lot of special abilities, NPC interactions, unique encounters/creatures, environmental effects, etc. DO NOT try to run this cold. Read the module, read the GM thread, read the module again and make notes.

Less then perfect - There are some issues that prevent me from giving a 5 star...
* The first encounter on high tier just didn't seem to fit with the theme and is *completely different* then the low tier.
* Stat blocks ahead... I'm all for unique critters, it keeps things interesting. But please consider printing all the stat blocks at the back instead of some inline and some at the back.
* Few minor oops's that have been corrected/addressed/clarified in the GM thread.
* It runs long... My high tier party filled the entire 5.5 hour slot we had at our FLGS.
* There's only a VERY MINOR link to the Hall of the Flesh Eaters for characters who had played it (read: text blurb in the intro). My PCs (and I) were hoping for a bit more...

Spoiler:
The boon effect from Hall doesn't really come into play much


Good Ideas, Messy Presentation

3/5

I ran this scenario recently for PFS and I must admit I was disappointed by the result. While the story, ideas, and enemies are all creative and interesting, the scenario is messy and sometimes unclear on how to handle certain situations. Information is poorly-organized, and excessive stat blocks for unique and variant enemies make some sections hard to read.

If you plan on running this scenario, I would recommend a hefty amount of preparation beforehand. Make sure you understand NPC interactions in each room, and read-up on all the effects and how they work ahead of time so you don't have to look it up later.


Punitive conditions for players

2/5

I think one of my locals said it best tonight when they described this scenario as "probably written by someone who as a GM hates their players coming up with creative solutions".

There's a lot of complexity in this scenario, and regardless of GM experience level, it's very difficult to fit into a 4 hour time slot. The villains are challenging, yes, but are still very "Skeletor-evil" and sadly not as interesting as they could have been. It was almost painfully obvious that "something was off" in the first conversation with the NPC present, which in all of our tables of this scenario led to PCs dealing with the "problem" immediately, eliminating having a babysitting mission / twist ending. The pirate leader is also given absolutely 0 agency beyond being a cookie-cutter enemy that, thankfully, some of our local GMs allowed to be talked down in the face of being obviously outclassed.

The labyrinth mechanics were also annoying - even with a check of 30+, it still takes the PCs an hour (minimum) to travel from encounter to encounter. Especially at the low tier, that's very punishing, as all but hour-per-level buffs and effects wear off after each encounter. At the high tier it wasn't too horrible, except when a check in the mid-to-high 20s left the PCs with a 4 hour trek for one of the trips.

I will say that the banquet hall was very amusing and was easily my favorite part of the scenario. Watching a rogue, a paladin, and a spiritualist try to aid another to "perform" to free their brawler friends was a great moment.

The penultimate encounter was confusing for one of our younger GMs, who made a judgement call that even though none of the PCs could do the specific performance the scenario required, that making the knowledge check and several very high (30+ diplomacy) checks was sufficient to avoid an unnecessary combat.

The final room is potentially a death trap for a party of players who aren't very much on their "A" game and/or optimized. The persistent conditions for the locale shuts down several character build-types, and unless the PCs bring specific items/weapons to the scenario...that final fight could lead to the PCs ending up like the previous Pathfinder team to enter that space.

Speaking of which - the story and boon from "Halls of the Flesh Eaters" led several people in my area to bring those specific PCs to this scenario...only to end up with one extra paragraph of intro text for their trouble. As far as I can tell having played it and then read it afterward, the boon from #6-06 has absolutely zero applications in #7-19.

Interesting premise, 1 star.
Great haunt/scene, +1 star.

Unfortunately, that's about all I can rate this one at. I may be alone in this, and if so that's okay, but I was really not a fan of this one.


Genuinely upsetting

5/5

Perspective: Played high tier, have not GM'ed.

This is one of the few Pathfinder scenarios I've played where my character was in constant fear of death and genuinely just wanted to escape the horrible situation. She felt like she'd been plunged into something hellish, far beyond her abilities. The horror starts slow but gradually ramps up higher and higher with every step into the labyrinth. By the last room, you'll just want to salvage whatever remains of your mission and run for your life.


11 to 15 of 16 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next > last >>
Community Manager

Releasing at the end of the Month!

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yesssssssss! Back to the Gloomspires!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Hey, pretty sure my Gloomspire agents are in the right tier for this!

Shadow Lodge

Nice. I have yet to cross out that boon.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I might have run Hall of the Flesh Eaters last week if not for the download issues. Maybe I'll reschedule it. ^_^

Grand Lodge Contributor

Nice! Tier 3-7, perfect!!


WOOOOHOOO Gloomspires!

Sovereign Court

Sweet, I liked the Hall. I was waiting for this :)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I totally called that this would be a thing.

Liberty's Edge

Alas, my gloomspire agent is now level 15, so I'll have to bring someone else. I'm super excited for this!

Scarab Sages

YES! I loved the last adventure, and have eagerly been awaiting a return to the Gloomspires.As an added bonus my Gloomspires character can still play this!

Community & Digital Content Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Now available!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The two new scenarios aren't downloading for me. Other files are downloading fine.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The two aren't even personalizing.

Community & Digital Content Director

I think I can see the problem causing the download issues, but unfortunately cannot rectify it myself. I'm bringing it to our tech team's attention to address, and hope to be able to provide an update soon (likely not tonight).


Also having the same problem. Been trying to download them both for a couple hours now. Ultimate Intrigue downloads fine, but the two scenarios won't.

Sovereign Court

Download problem :(

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Yup - pretty clear we still have a problem. Considering when I'm running this next I'm wondering if we have an ETA update.


MisterSlanky wrote:
Yup - pretty clear we still have a problem. Considering when I'm running this next I'm wondering if we have an ETA update.

Heh problems always seem to happen when I plan to run a session for a brand new scenario.

I scheduled a new scenario last month - BOOM Humble Bundle disruption...
I scheduled a new scenario this month - BOOM broken personalizer...

If it happens again next month I'm going to feel Desna has cursed me.

Dark Archive

jcg wrote:
MisterSlanky wrote:
Yup - pretty clear we still have a problem. Considering when I'm running this next I'm wondering if we have an ETA update.

Heh problems always seem to happen when I plan to run a session for a brand new scenario.

I scheduled a new scenario last month - BOOM Humble Bundle disruption...
I scheduled a new scenario this month - BOOM broken personalizer...

If it happens again next month I'm going to feel Desna has cursed me.

That evil and vile Desna will never help you.

Only the glorious and almighty Asmodeus is capable of bringing happiness to someone.

Community & Digital Content Director

Our Tech Team has put in a temporary fix so folks can now download this new scenario, but are still working to isolate the root cause and get it corrected. Sorry for the inconvenience there folks!


A question

Spoiler:
1• Would a PC's animal buddy trigger the ghost bites just by walking in the maze? This would pretty much automatically kill them, since the minimum travel time is 1 hour.

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