Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–21: The Sun Orchid Scheme (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1–5.

With the power to vastly extend life, the sun orchid elixir is one of the most prized items in the Inner Sea—and as a result one of the most dangerous to transport. After his shipments of sun orchid elixir vanished without a trace two years in a row, the ruler of Pashow is desperate to ensure that his next delivery goes off without a hitch. In order to test its security, Pashow has hired a team of Pathfinders to execute their finest heist and test the convoy’s defenses. Are the PCs up to the challenge?

Content in “The Sun Orchid Scheme” also contributes directly to the ongoing storyline of the Sovereign Court faction.

Written by Nicholas Wasko.

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****( ) (based on 12 ratings)

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Results depend on GM

*****

I have GMed this multiple times and played it once.

I would recommend you play this under a GM that focuses on story and is comfortable filling in the details as you go. There are some very fun role-play situations possible, and characters are encouraged to come up with their own infiltration job descriptions. Every time I've GMed it, at least one character has taken advantage of that opportunity.

As a GM, it is a lot of fun as you get to see how different groups approach the situation. Unfortunately, it also takes quite a bit of preparation in order to run it cleanly. You can find the materials that a friend and I put together here.

I do think that the mooks on the last fight for low tier are a little bit too much of a challenge for that tier because of their high AC. Some groups will have no problems, others will suffer from flurry of misses. The boss is actually quite a bit easier to take down than the mooks.


Now that's a heist!

*****

I played this first, then GMd this.

I love a roleplay heavy scenario, so this was right up my alley. I love the freedom it gives to players to approach the heist as they see fit. It means even if you're skill light, you can still contribute, as proved my cavalier when I played it, and the lvl3 rogue in the high tier when I GMd it.

Creativity certainly gets rewarded. The freedom of choosing how to do things might be a bit daunting to new players, but will be a breath of fresh air to veteran players.


A wonderful scenario

*****

I, personally, had a blast playing this scenario. We ran it as an 11th hour game on Sunday after GenCon with a GM who had spent most of the convention running it and a couple of players who were replaying it. The bit of a tone of irreverence helped keep the game feeling light and fun, which actually helped as opposed to hindered my experience. I think that lended to some more... creative solutions in the scenario.

I was, admittedly, definitely playing a more skill monkey esque character: Gnome Aetherkineticist. It definitely helped. That being said, everyone felt like they could have been useful, due to creativity in how they played their characters, even the more typical skill-less types. Dice rolls just weren't always in their favor.

I like the idea of this scenario as a 1-5. To me, in Society play, level seems to be a bit more of a metagame-esque function. Sure, lower level characters are a bit more green, and higher level are a bit more veteran, but it seems like the content really scales well across levels. So a test heist on a secured "artifact" sort of deal helped make my character feel important, even at level 3.

Overall, I really enjoyed the scenario. There were definitely some intense moments, but I had a blast going through it. Definitely worth playing.


Con-vooooooyyy

****( )

Perspective: GM’ed once. 3.75 stars.

This is a pretty fun Mexican train robbery. Spoilers ensue!

First off, stealing from the caravan carrying the fabled Sun Orchid Elixir is so, so, sooooo not a [1-5] tier mission. [7-11] would be more appropriate. Protecting one of these artifacts with dogs and long swords is stretching credibility, so with that slight impediment, let’s give it a red hot go anyway.

The Heist rules are heavy on the word count and heavy on the skill checks, but the writer has done a fantastic job in adding just enough detail to give each day of working infiltration enough flavour to be memorable and interesting.

The various magical security measures surrounding the prize are creative and memorable too! The problem is they seem a little bit too weak as they wear kiddy gloves. I rack this up to this mission being the wrong tier and the renowned squishiness of low level PCs. It would have been great to see real dangerous protections surrounding the prize which cannot be overcome unless you have creative/prepared players or success in infiltration. For future heists, I’d like the original protections to be bulked up a bit to make the infiltration more important.

I also think that some of the rewards for successful infiltration are a tad strange. For instance, I think that learning about the use of dancing lights is actually far, far more important than going out for a night on the town with the guards and learning humiliating secrets about them. It’s weird that the higher reward is worth less than the middle tier reward.
I did have one PC who was playing a low intelligence Paladin who had nothing to do during the infiltration section as he was too worried about creating complications for his party members (or his class abilities). It was a mistake to make 2+int skillpoint characters in PFS – something needs to address this.

So this scenario is the first attempt at something new, and despite an initial handicap about wrong tier, it does pretty well!
With some extra checks and balances set in place, I think heist rules could end up becoming an exciting new staple of PFS adventures. They need to be clearly identified, so we don’t have low skill point PCs getting bored for 75% of the scenario then leaving butt-hurt reviews.


An utter joy to play

*****

I had the fortune of playing this scenario last week and I can say I’m rather surprised by the reviews and ratings thus far. I know everyone has his or her own opinion, but I personally think 3 stars does not do this scenario justice.

This scenario can roughly be cut in three segments. The first segment is having a finite number of days to investigate two areas, but with a sidenote that every day is different. This does indeed, like others have mentioned, mean that if a party wants to get all the information, they will have to split the party and deal with 6 different encounters.

Now, that sounds like a lot, but it is not that bad. You’re basically given a situation and asked how your character would act in that situation. It gives you as a player a chance to showcase your character’s unique aspects. Things like having put points in obscure professions can actually help you out, and that alone makes this a fun scenario for me. It’s a really fun approach to gathering information and investigating certain areas for clues. It’s pretty well done, especially since there can be mishaps and escalations.

The second portion of the scenario is the heist itself, which is influenced by how well you did as a party during the first segment. Again you’re more or less given a situation and some advise, but the way you want to execute the heist is entirely up to you. Once more you’re given a lot of room to come up with creative solutions and I’m sure that every heist will be different. After all, you’re only limited by your imagination (and a specific amount of gold).

Lastly, the third segment. I won’t spoil too much. I will say however that I agree with those before me when they say the class of the big bad evil person is a bit awkward. That’s not to say I don’t like it, but it’s a rare sight. Still, it works and is a nice change of pace. The tactics for that fight are quite simple, yet effective. It really forces players to make a split-second decision and it will have consequences.

In the end I can only say that this scenario far surpassed my expectations. The combats are nice, but I particularly fancy the sandbox elements. The heist was a nice touch and the investigation portion is outstanding. Every day and area is different, forcing you to come up with new solutions every day. The only downside to that is that a party of 6 will require a significantly longer time investigating than a party of four as every member has to explain and motivate their actions.

Finally, I would have to explicitly mention that this scenario requires a lot of attention and preparation from a GM. That’s not just because it’s a sandbox at times, but also because there are a lot of different scenarios to keep track off and hints to be distributed. Even the final boss is a relatively rare sight, meaning you might have to learn a class just for this scenario. In the end it’s more than worth it. A GM who prepares well and who can do a good job improvising will love this scenario, as will his/her players.


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Silver Crusade

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Looks like I should re-watch Ocean's 11, 12, and 13 before playing this ;)

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Looking forward to running this!
But is that really supposed to be on the 'clean' map?

Spoiler:
The secret door on the Sun Orchid Transport map is clearly marked....

Also, since there isn't a specific map for Section B, can someone recommend one?
I realize one isn't 100% necessary, but players might expect one.
Thanks!

RPG Superstar Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Amanda Plageman wrote:

Also, since there isn't a specific map for Section B, can someone recommend one?

I realize one isn't 100% necessary, but players might expect one.
Thanks!

Ideally the encounters in area B shouldn't need a map, but if you need to jury-rig one then I'd recommend either Flip-Mat: Country Inn or Flip-Mat: Watch Station, repurposing the rooms as offices and storage sites for construction supplies and the central courtyard serving as the primary build site for the transport.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Nick Wasko wrote:
Amanda Plageman wrote:

Also, since there isn't a specific map for Section B, can someone recommend one?

I realize one isn't 100% necessary, but players might expect one.
Thanks!
Ideally the encounters in area B shouldn't need a map, but if you need to jury-rig one then I'd recommend either Flip-Mat: Country Inn or Flip-Mat: Watch Station, repurposing the rooms as offices and storage sites for construction supplies and the central courtyard serving as the primary build site for the transport.

Sounds like a plan!

Ideally, it shouldn't need a map, but table psychology being what it is, players tend to be a bit more attentive when there's a map on the table. ;-)

Silver Crusade

Just got my GM assignment for GenCon, and I'll be GMing this 4 times. Not having played or read it yet, I don't know much about it.

I notice the comments here and in the reviews mention heist mechanics from Ultimate Intrigue. This has me worried, since I don't own that book, and it's not on the PRD, and I really don't want to have to buy it, given how much money I'm already spending to go to GenCon. Is everything necessary to run this included in the adventure, or will I need to read the heist stuff from UI to get all the details?

RPG Superstar Season 9

Fromper wrote:

Just got my GM assignment for GenCon, and I'll be GMing this 4 times. Not having played or read it yet, I don't know much about it.

I notice the comments here and in the reviews mention heist mechanics from Ultimate Intrigue. This has me worried, since I don't own that book, and it's not on the PRD, and I really don't want to have to buy it, given how much money I'm already spending to go to GenCon. Is everything necessary to run this included in the adventure, or will I need to read the heist stuff from UI to get all the details?

Don't worry, you won't need Ultimate Intrigue to run this. The Heist chapter is less game mechanics and more of a tool to help GMs to outline adventures based on "Ocean's Eleven" style heists. This scenario is an example of using that tool to generate an adventure.

Grand Lodge

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

The Heist rules are more like guidelines. :)


I'll be running this five times at GenCon, sounds like fun!

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'll be running this scenario on roll20con, so I have some things that not so clear for me.

spoiler:
Where is a trapdoor on the floor in location D1?

Sorry for my english. ^^

Grand Lodge

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

You may be able to find the answer in the GM discussion thread.

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