Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-08—Tyranny of Winds, Part 1: The Sandstorm Prophecy (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-5.

As a repurposed prison, the Sandswept Hall Pathfinder lodge in Sothis is an imposing target for thieves, yet an enemy operative recently broken in, stole valuable property, and escaped into the sun-scorched deserts of eastern Osirion. The PCs are the best disposed to follow the culprit's trail. Be warned, though, for the Scorpion Coast is the battleground of powerful elemental tribes that have assailed Osirion's frontier with cruel sandstorms and deadly force for millennia.

Content in The Sandstorm Prophecy also contributes directly to the ongoing storyline of the Scarab Sages faction.

The Sandstorm Prophecy is the first scenario in the three-part "Tyranny of Winds" campaign arc. It is followed by Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-10: Secrets of the Endless Sky and Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-12: Caught in the Eclipse. All three chapters are intended to be played in order.

Written by Charlie Brooks.

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

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**½( )( ) (based on 11 ratings)

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Buried in the Sands

*( )( )( )( )

Take all the worst elements of adventure writing
Put them together and you have this module

Even a sterling effort by a well organised GM couldn't save this nonsense
I really hope the trilogy improves otherwise another 8 -10 hours of my life wasted


Poorly written and irrelevant to the plot

*( )( )( )( )

Although listed as a trilogy, this is really a set of three unrelated scenarios, written by different people with very little communication or coordination between them. Keep that in mind before you start.

This scenario starts with contradictory orders: a thief has stolen a society artifact, so you should hurry after her to recover it. But if you see any interesting ruins on the way, ignore your urgency, stop, and explore them. It should be no surprise that you spend the entire evening in these "interesting" ruins and have no chance to catch your quarry.

Turns out there are two tribes that have an unexplained prophecy and think you are The Chosen Ones (no reason given, and despite you being unknown low-level characters at this point). You can state that you're clearly not prophesied, but that's just what A Chosen One would say, right? So you have no choice but to enter an ancient ruin to prove that you're The Chosen Ones. This takes the form of three rather easy tests.

Then you run into an NPC, and the scenario expects you to murderhobo the sh*t out of her. You have no reason to fight, neither does she, and plausibly a few social checks should resolve the matter. But no, this is not allowed, you have to fight. Finally, you meet both tribes at the exit, they pick a fight with each other, and each expects you to murderhobo the sh*t out of the other tribe. Again, no reason to fight, you haven't even met one tribe before, and social checks sound like a reasonable solution. But no, it's mandatory fight time again. Oh, and it turns out you weren't The Chosen Ones after all.

If you're wondering how this relates to the seasonal plot, it totally doesn't. Neither the ruins nor the tribes reappear anywhere else, they're basically irrelevant. Indeed, the second scenario starts with the exact same situation: that thief has stolen the artifact, and you should hurry after her. This sidetrack hasn't accomplished anything.

To be fair, we have a fun group and a good GM, so it was a nice evening anyway. But this was despite the scenario, which is embarrassingly bad for season eight. It turns out the two "sequels" aren't much better, so do yourself a favor and skip the entire so-called "trilogy".


Disappointing and with many shortcomings

**( )( )( )

Due to circumstances I was unable to play this triptych earlier. It basically meant that Tyranny of Winds ended up being a sequence of scenarios I was looking rather forward to, especially given the planar vibe this season has. When I finally got a chance to play the first part last Sunday, I instantly signed up. Little did I know I’d end up being rather disappointed. I apologize in advance, but I’m going to be brutally honest in the rest of the review below.

The premise is okay. Someone stole something, so you have to track that person down. Now if you’ve played Through Maelstrom Rift, you’ll be a bit surprised if you find out who the thief is. However, that’s of later concern I suppose. First you have to make haste and chase the culprit. So far so good. But then you also get a side mission of ‘study and take note of interesting things along the way’. I’m sorry, but that instantly raised a red flag for me: how is taking rubbings, for example, supposed to help you to gain ground on that thief? It does not make any sense. Then again, I remained optimistic. Perhaps the two would come together.

Sadly, that’s not the case. Instead something happens and you are (mistakenly) seen as prophets by one of two factions. Which faction depends on a choice you made earlier. That’s an interesting twist, perhaps, but the scenario then fails to mention what you’re supposed to be the prophets of. That itself is rather awkward and does the storyline no good. That faction then tells you they can help you track down the thief, but only after you do a couple of tests for them to proof you’re the prophets. The scenario expects you to do so as well, which is in conflict with the notion of having to swiftly track down the thief. As a player you know you have to do this, while in character that’s rather debatable. Luckily you can justify it due to the side mission you’ve received, but it doesn't really sit well.

The series of trials are decent at best, with some clearly better than others. The first one is an interesting take on a certain skill, but is nothing more than just rolling dice. The second test features an interesting, albeit easy fight that features a pretty fun environmental effect. The third room is by far the best feature of this scenario. I’m not going to spoil too much, but we had a lot of problems having the animal companion (an axebeak no less) traverse this room. The fourth trial was, in our case, just a small role-play encounter which we completely managed to destroy with a diplomacy result of 46. That said, I think the whole concept of what is going on in that room is really interesting and I do hope to encounter that individual again in a later scenario.

After that there’s the obligatory final encounter. The other of the two factions shows up and you basically are forced to pick a side. You’ve not even met that party before and yet you must choose with whom you want to align. I’m sorry to have to say this, but that is absolutely terrible game design. When played as written, there’s no option to talk this out or to get them to stand down. There’s no further background you can use to base a decision on. There’s no tangible explanation why they even fight over whether or not a city should remain hidden other than ‘there’s a hidden power’. In short, you have nothing to go on except for the fact that you have a guide who has, at least so far, not betrayed you. I as a player and as a character would have flat-out refused to pick a side and I’m incredibly disappointed how this scenario ends.

The initial premise of catching a thief is okay, but apparently you’re forced to spend a bunch of time doing something else to proof you’re something that doesn’t even get explained. It’s like being told to make haste, but first you can take a trip around the world, visit relatives, spend some time on the beach and take care of some other chores. I’m exaggerating, but it’s the feeling I’m left with. In short: the premise does not deliver. The final encounter is in my honest opinion the worst I’ve seen in a long time in terms of context. Overall I’d say there are just many things that are lacking or disappointing in this scenario, though I somewhat doubt if it’s the author’s fault. It’s more as if the final editing removed a whole lot of (in hindsight mandatory) details.

That said I’ll try to remain optimistic though: I can see two things that are the saving grace of this scenario. First there’s the third test which can (and probably will) be hilarious. By itself that raises the numbers of stars I give this scenario by one. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there the fact that the other two parts of this triptych might actually be worth suffering through this one.


Just Not Interesting

**( )( )( )

Sandstorm is a skill based scenario with some combat and roleplay.

The story and scenario experience is just not that interesting. You’ll spend most your time making climb, swim, fortitude, and fly checks. Too much of the scenario was spent making skill checks for boons and the secondary mission, telling a story that no one cared about.

Skill checks where the result doesn’t really matter are not fun. So what if it takes me 10 minutes of game time to climb up a cliff face or swim across a pool? There was no real chance of dying, it just wasted everyone’s gaming time. There are numerous examples of this in Sandstorm.

For GM preparation, this scenario took more time than average to prepare and it wasn’t a fun read. The boons, primary and secondary missions, and faction missions were not straight forward and easy to understand. Please, do not make boons like this, please remove boons altogether if I need to make notes just to understand what should and should not be included. In practice I’m sure most GMs will just give their players all of the boons (which is my experience in general).

There were a lot of details in this scenario, I’m sure that GMs will make mistakes (particularly in A3 where the dangerous effect should only be 1 round until a new save is made). For GMs there were a lot of rules that needed to be looked up.

There are several sections and details that are not relevant to the scenario (Ex. Dazzled, the design around the Sandstone Source, talking about tea, etc) and by including them, it wastes the players time and the GMs time when preparing the scenario. This scenario already runs long.

The final combat was too easy.

Spoiler:
If the two powerful elementals are in the fight, they more of less cancel each other out, and even though they attack the lesser elementals, the only challenge to the encounter is really the lesser elementals. Sigh.

Some GMs will (incorrectly) force the players to make a choice at the end, which players dislike.

The scenario punishes the PCs if they aren't murder hobos in certain circumstances.

Spoiler:
In the case of Iyasset, she wants you to kill Qiarah. My PCs were so disgusted by this suggestion, even when later prompted with convincing her to leave the Sandflow Source, they ignored Iyasset altogether and lost substantial gold and attitude. If they hadn't switched to Elsharon they would have lost almost everything.

”Detailed Rating”:

Length: Long (4.5 hours) and I was completely prepared with pre-drawn maps and notes on everything from environment effects to skill checks. I even skipped some of the pre-amble at the start.
Experience: GM with 3 pregens and 2 OK PCs, 1 strong PC at subtier 1-2.
Sweet Spot: Subtier 4-5 in my opinion, the combats will be more challenging.
Entertainment: I personally had fun with the NPCs, which is the only part I enjoyed. (4/10)
Story: A basic uninteresting story. (2/10)
Roleplay: As written the NPCs are jerks and could be unlikable and/or boring. (4/10)
Combat/Challenges: Most of the encounters are complete pushovers and not interesting, but one of them can be deadly (if played incorrectly). (5/10)
Maps: Better than average. (8/10)
Boons: Too complicated and not useful enough to be worthwhile. (1/10)
Uniqueness: Another trial scenario. Yawn. (1/10)
GM Preparation: Not fun. I’ve prepared tier 7-11 scenarios that were less complicated and a more enjoyable to prepare than this.

Overall: An uninteresting story wrapped in skill checks that eat time but are inconsequential. (3/10).


*****


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Community & Digital Content Director

Announced for November!


This is very interesting are there going to be a set of three part scenarios that go with Earth and Water as well?

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

David Neilson wrote:
This is very interesting are there going to be a set of three part scenarios that go with Earth and Water as well?

In Response:
Each of the elemental planes features in several different scenarios, and we're providing a roughly equal amount of screen time to each. In some cases—as is true for the Planes of Air and Fire—a lot of that spotlight occurs in multi-part series. Earth and Water have some unifying themes, but they're currently scheduled as independent adventures. I find making too many multi-parters makes adventures difficult to schedule, so I endeavor to limit it to adventures that really call for that treatment.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Something about that first sentence seemed a bit wrong to me while reading and after some consideration i guess there´s a "n" too much in "broken in" if i´m not mistaken.

Sounds like an exciting scenario!

The Exchange

Hayato Ken wrote:
Something about that first sentence seemed a bit wrong to me while reading and after some consideration i guess there´s a "n" too much in "broken in" if i´m not mistaken.

Or a missing Present Perfect auxiliary verb "has." Though in that case "stole" needs to be changed to a Past Participle as well. Given that the rest of the paragraph is in the present tense I'd go with the second option.

Liberty's Edge

I'm scheduled to run this a few days after it's released; is it possible to get advance notice of what maps it uses?

Liberty's Edge

Paz wrote:
I'm scheduled to run this a few days after it's released; is it possible to get advance notice of what maps it uses?

Just a polite *bump* on this, so that hopefully I have enough time to order any flip-mats I need...

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

Paz wrote:
Paz wrote:
I'm scheduled to run this a few days after it's released; is it possible to get advance notice of what maps it uses?
Just a polite *bump* on this, so that hopefully I have enough time to order any flip-mats I need...

#8–08 Maps:

There is only a full-page custom map used in this adventure. There are no Map Pack or Flip-Mat products featured.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks very much John!


I hope one day we'll get a Superdungeon involving the Scorpion Coast and Rovagug. After all, the Rough Beast does have a cult of worshipers in Osirion who would just love to release a new Spawn of Rovagug. :D

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Looking forward to prepping this one over the weekend!

Scarab Sages

Just Received an email whit my Order : 4153822.

But nothing in my download, so frustrated to wait.

Sovereign Court

awesome, Charlie Brooks!!


any weird maps i need to know about before i buy. Just so i have time to get them

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

As per John's post upthread, no, depending on your definition of "weird".

Shadow Lodge

I find it odd that there are no reporting instructions in this scenario. I can't find any information directing GMs to report which tribe the players side with, or if they negotiate in one encounter where that is a very valid option:

Qiarah:
I would think the decision to negotiate or attack Qiarah would have important consequences based on which tribe the players side with.

Am I missing something?

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