Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-03: Captives of Toil (PFRPG) PDF

4.40/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5–9.

Two years ago, the Pathfinder Society concluded its extended campaign to find, reclaim, and explore the lost sky citadel Jormurdun. After ousting the vile demons and duergar within, the Society turned over control to their dwarven allies, who have defended the ancient fortress ever since. A recent raid by duergar slavers has captured some of Jormurdun’s dwarves, who have disappeared into the Darklands and bound for the cruel capitol of Hagegraf. Only the Pathfinder Society is equipped and able to launch a daring rescue into the lightless depths, intercept the slaver convoy, and save these dwarves from a grisly fate.

Content in “Captives of Toil” also contributes directly to the ongoing storyline of the Liberty’s Edge faction.

This scenario is designed for play in Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild 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.

Written by Mike Kimmel.

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Society Scenario Subscription.

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4.40/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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Straightforward scenario with solid mechanics


I ran this scenario last weekend at a convention. I picked this scenario because honestly the storyline looked like a bunch of fun. Travelling below earth, finding allies where you least expect them, defeating the bad guys and making a daring escape. Add a simple, yet great Liberty’s Edge side quest and you basically got this scenario in a nutshell. Based on that summary, I’m sure you will agree it’s probably a fun scenario.

After having run the scenario, I still say it’s a nice storyline. It’s quite a railroad except for the escape part, but it works. My issue though is the fact that there can be quite a bit of NPC on NPC action during encounters. While from a story perspective it’s nice and in the case of one of the allies is even potentially hilarious, it does have one issue: it can make the presence of the player characters feel pointless or make the fight underwhelming.

To elaborate on that: maybe it was my share of luck with the dice, but the NPC’s had a more than huge impact on the final two encounters. At some point I heard two of the players at the table wonder what was going on and if the NPC’s were supposed to solo the encounter. Of course it’s partially a reward for befriending that certain individual, but maybe it’s a bit too present during those fights. That said, they did enjoy what was happening.

My favorite part, other than a grippli trying to intimidate a fearsome huge monster, was the part where each player character individually had to come up with a plan and execute it. It’s a perfect way to showcase a character and his or her quirks. You can finally show that Craft (Clockwork) or Profession (Architect) or (Siege Engineer) are actually useful, contrary to popular opinion. You can finally showcase an actual character instead of just numbers.

I quite liked the scenario, though I fear the NPC’s might be a bit overtuned and too impactful. A bit more background on the mongrelmen would have been nice. Now it was just a short stop along the way, without any real lasting impressions. The Liberty's Edge storyline is excellent and the boons are great. I would recommend the scenarios to others.

Straightforward scenario with some neat set pieces


I played this a while back and had a good time. It's certainly a morale-booster for Liberty's Edge, you can work a little harder and achieve a sweeter victory for it. For the main fight we had some nice 3D terrain set up which really enriched it.

While there's nothing really annoying in it or any obvious mistakes, I guess maybe it just felt a little too straightforward. Do the thing. Get back again. I would have been okay with a few more curve balls. We were nicely in-tier but the final combat wasn't really that scary. As a result, we were in better shape during the getaway than the scenario seems to expect. What I was missing was the "out of control" feeling.

A fun, above-average scenario with a couple silly bits


I've GMed this and think it's a pretty solidly above-average scenario.

Strong points:

  • Lots of player agency--what you do matters
  • An obviously important task
  • Interesting fights
  • The potential for roleplay

    Things I didn't agree with or thought were less fun:

  • One of the encounters uses some particularly contrived mechanics--I don't like the "impress an NPC with a skill of your choice!" at all in this case. Although your mileage may vary. I can be a little persnickety about matching encounters with plausible mechanics. If silly mechanics don't wreck your immersion, you may not mind this at all.
  • The terrain inadvertently encourages you to fail a particular faction mission. There's no guarantee you will, but I thought it an odd design choice.

    Things to keep in mind:

  • Parties that successfully handle earlier challenges will find the difficulty in the final challenges almost negligible.
  • This is a particularly bad scenario for GMs who don't enjoy or are less proficient at improvisation, flavorful descriptions, and the like. You can make this scenario about as dry and uninspiring as you want, although the tools are there to make it more memorable.

  • 4/5

    The setting of this adventure is novel and very interesting but some of the mechanics are VERY stupid.

    nearly unavoidable fees at the beginning and too high Skill DCs with too sharp penalty’s for some races that are fairly unavoidable.

    I very much liked the aiding mechanics used at the beginning of the scenario and hope they will be used more often -> they very much help to get everyone to roll and stop the discussions about who has the highest bonus. The Fights were a bit easy, but I think the tactics are to blame here -> especially in the final combat encounter.
    The last skill encounter was very refreshing and exciting. The mechanic used there was very player centric and resulted in some of the most cinematic scenes in PFS I have ever experienced.


    Played this scenario at high tier. Party was Witch, Fighter, Hunter and Bard.

    An entertaining and enjoyable journey through the dark lands seeking to rescue captives taken by Duergar slavers. The scenario is fairly straightforward from point A to point B but without feeling too rail-roaded. The encounters are fun and suitably challenging. We probably found them slightly harder due to our party composition. Even so we had a good series of combat encounters.

    One of the nice elements for me was that certain actions modified how and when certain encounters took place which was a fresh addition to a PFS scenario. Certainly something I would like to see more of in the future.

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    Mike, I am really psyched to be scheduled to run this scenario at GenCon this year. It looks awesome! Can you send me a message telling me what minis and flip maps I should order to run a great session of this?

    Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    We're still relatively early in the production of this adventure, so it will be a while before we can provide a definitive list of maps and minis. Once that's ready, though, we'll post it here and/or in a Pathfinder Society blog.

    Thanks, John. I'll keep an eye out for that. Much appreciated!

    Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

    Maps Appearing in Captives of Toil:

  • Map Pack: Cave Chambers

  • I am running out of time to order minis before GenCon. I am assuming lots of duergar and dwarves. Any other thoughts on baddies?

    Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    GM Harpwizard wrote:
    I am running out of time to order minis before GenCon. I am assuming lots of duergar and dwarves. Any other thoughts on baddies?

    Recommended miniatures:

  • A male dwarf in heavy armor
  • ~6 duergar, including one cleric
  • Up to 2 bulettes (You'll want at least 1, though)

  • John, thank you very much. That was super helpful. I got them ordered and with some luck will be shipped priority mail to hopefully arrive just before I depart! I'm looking forward to running this!

    Paizo Employee RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

    GM Harpwizard, and anyone else running this: let me know if you have any questions, and I'm happy to answer, once I have access to the final download of course.

    Paizo Employee RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

    (But the best place for questions is the GM section of the PFS boards, or PM.)

    Erm, seems that the title is Captives IN Toil, not Captives OF Toil

    Ah, I see now that seems to be an old mistake. While the image above still says "in", the actual document says "of".

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