Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-14: To Seal the Shadow (PFRPG) PDF

**½( )( ) (based on 34 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-5.

To most, Mount Shibotai's devastating eruption was a footnote in Tian history. To the shadow-bound wayangs who settled the jagged crater in Minata, the volcano was the reason they inhabited Golarion at all. In their de facto capitol Inahiyi, the wayangs host an annual festival to commemorate the catastrophe that brought them into this world and forced them to ally with their neighbors against a common threat. On especially auspicious anniversaries, the wayangs invite foreigners to contribute to the ceremony, and the Pathfinder Society has negotiated the privilege of having its agents observe the sacred ceremonies as these outside participants. This is no mere anthropological opportunity, though, and the PCs may be all that stands between their world and an unspeakable evil.

Written by Jason Keeley.

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

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**½( )( ) (based on 34 ratings)

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Just Awful

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Started off pretty good...and then the mechanics nation attacked. If you're a sadistic GM that likes torturing your players this is great! Print only one copy of the 5-page rules to really watch them squirm!

Seriously though, that mechanic is no joke.


Beautifully crafted story marred by too many mechanics

***( )( )

There is so much to this scenario that is right, that it is a darn shame the wrong brings it down. I have played this scenario with my wayang cavalier, and read the scenario to prepare for running it in the future.

The plot is laid out in a sensible, if transparent manner. Each stage gives plenty of chances for interaction with the NPCs and exploration of the themes of wayangs. There is enough combat to suit the tactical players and built in characterization for the fights. (Being directed to be unpredictable and confusing was very enjoyable for my CN cavalier.)

The problems come from the vagueness of the story and the maligned verbal duel rules. There just isn't space to give enough fodder for the players to work with, a fault of writing constraints, and the inclusion of dense mechanics cuts that space down even further. Players need to be prepped for this scenario, a practically unforgivable sin for an adventure that needs to be accessible to players just walking up to the table for the first time. Assault on the Wound benefited slightly from not allowing 1st level characters and was still a black mark. To Seal The Shadow is stained even further by lacking that compensation.

I love this story. I hate the hoops required to enjoy it. This is one of the few scenarios I honestly never want to run.


Very poor choice of subsystem

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I'm torn. The scenario is kind of fun, with some fun NPCs. The first combat has been interesting, GMing this twice and playing this once. The mystery is not all that much of a mystery, but the encounters end up being fun. And, it's a social, don't-kill-everything kind of scenario, which I like.

All else considered, I'd probably give this 4 or 5 stars.

However, then there's the Verbal Duel subsystem. It's a disaster. Mind you, the subsystem itself is kind of interesting and fun. It'd be great for a home game. But, (a) it's too complicated in an absolute sense, and (b) it's WAY too complicated to stick in the middle of a PFS scenario that we're probably trying to squish into four hours. What's more, the scenario stacks more complication on top of that by requiring you to lose, but not too obviously.

(Aside: I managed to get through it by simplifying the verbal duel rules. I didn't require everybody to recalculate all of their skills, and I replaced "edges" with generic rerolls that can be used by the whole party. I let them roll their skills as is and use any of the skills listed for a tactic without worrying about assigning each skill to only one tactic. I then didn't tell the players all of the mechanics. I gave them a qualitative sense as to how things were going, but I kept track of the numbers. This helped a fair bit -- we came in and were able to get going without *too* much pain and confusion as players tried to figure out a whole new subsystem that's needlessly complicated. My changes didn't really adjust the feel of the system, because exchanges and the tactics of the verbal duel remained intact. It was just a simplification. It probably gives the players slightly better bonuses for the tactics, but it's worth it for the simplicity.)

Run as is, all the players have to do a whole bunch of gratuitous recalculation of skill bonuses for their character. Sure, sometimes for some characters there's not much, but for some there is. It brings the game to a screeching halt as everybody starts to do arithmetic. And, then, there's everybody trying to wrap their heads around this subsystem.

The choice of using an overly complicated subsystem, and then pile an additional complication on top of it, was a big mistake. It's a big ugly sore thumb in the middle of what otherwise would have been an interesting scenario. As a result, this bumps my review down to two stars.


Our VC, implicated in yet another human sacrifice scandal

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Well, that was sort of the vibe we had after the mission briefing at least. I've got mixed feelings about the scenario. On the one hand I had a fun afternoon with friends so it's certainly not all bad. The story itself is okay, and the challenges are flavorful. And there's the fun of visiting an exotic location.

However, I think it leaves a lot to be desired. The story is very predictable, and the flow of encounters felt a bit formulaic to me. Do X, then Y, then the inevitable twist Z which everyone could predict exactly when it would happen and what it would be. It's a sort of B movie vibe really.

I found the fights to be too easy. Over too soon, opponents with no endurance. Which left little time for the story of the fights to unfold.

As for the debate, the system is way overcomplicated for what you actually use it for in this scenario. I am interested in looking it up for my home campaign now because I like non-combat challenges that are decided in more than one high Diplomacy check.

In summary: not a bad scenario for the players, but requires a lot of prep from the GM to be able to handle the new mechanics smoothly. And given the simplicity of the scenario, the amount of study required is quite out of proportion.


21 to 25 of 34 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | next > last >>
Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Moar Tian Xia!

Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

This sounds poised to do for the wayang what Red Harvest did for the nagaji. Nice!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm so happy the Wayangs are finally getting some love. I really hope it shows us a bit of how worship of Lao Shu Po, the Old Rat Woman, effects Wayang culture.

With all the Wayang characters there are in central Illinois these days, I am betting this scenario will be quite popular around here.

Silver Crusade

Soooooon....

Dark Archive

But my wayang is already level 9...

Paizo Employee Editor

9 people marked this as a favorite.

To set the mood, I wrote this scenario by only the light of a candle made from wax produced by bees that never saw the sun and exclusively pollinated the Nicandra physalodes (commonly known as the shoo-fly plant) while listening to The Smiths. The bees have since died, and my life expectancy has yet to be fully determined.

I hope you enjoy it!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I am excite. ^_^

Sovereign Court

Hi.

Very good an interesting scénario.

But, the rules for the second reenactement are awfully long to explain.

I'd give to my players a summary of the rules 30 minutes before the beginning and we can achieve the scenario in four hours.

If i run it again, I'll plan it to 6 hours, because this part can offer a lot of roleplay and it's a shame to skip it.

Thanks Jason and too bad for the bees.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Alexander Augunas wrote:
This sounds poised to do for the wayang what Red Harvest did for the nagaji. Nice!

It did exactly that and cranked hot-button political issues up to eleven.

Paizo Employee Editor

Hidesako YAMAMOTO wrote:

Hi.

Very good an interesting scénario.

But, the rules for the second reenactement are awfully long to explain.

I'd give to my players a summary of the rules 30 minutes before the beginning and we can achieve the scenario in four hours.

If i run it again, I'll plan it to 6 hours, because this part can offer a lot of roleplay and it's a shame to skip it.

Thanks Jason and too bad for the bees.

No, thank you!

It is a bit of a complicated scenario in places. Sorry about that, but I just can't do things the easy way!

Without spoiling anything, GMs might want to brush up on Ultimate Intrigue's verbal duel rules...

Lantern Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I tried to prep this for a game tomorrow night but have failed. There is a whole set of complicated new rules that I am unable to understand, let alone try to explain to the players. I hope other people have better luck.

Scarab Sages

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

I have a negative opinion of a scenario that spends 10 pages (almost half of this 25 page scenario) on a unique encounter and rule-set. I am prepping this adventure to run and am very annoyed that I am spending the majority of my time reading this one-off ruleset from Ultimate Intrigue (a book I do not own, that is not even on the Paizo PRD yet).

I hope running it goes well. I have printed off 6 sets of the Player handouts for the players to pre-read this alternate rules. I also find that this rule-set is being used in a non-standard way additionally frustrating and unnecessarily complicated.

I think this could have been handled with a half-page of skill checks and Role Playing commentary. I would rather spend this encounter & game-time role playing basic concepts and a few skill checks, then get mired an overly mechanical setup.

The remainder of the adventure looks straightforward, and the story is good. I will post a review after running it with real players.

I am highly tempted to Kobayashi-Maru this (scrub the whole encounter rules and re-write it myself to be something simpler), if that wouldn't set such a bad precedent for others.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

For GMs that do not have Ultimate Intrigue, the extra rules can be found here.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

With all respect due the author and editor of this adventure:

A few years ago, I got a chance to play "Assault on the Wound," and I thought that the mass combat rules, and in particular the "swarm of tieflings" rules were promising mechanics that belonged somewhere else. It might be fun to build a character who's good at mass combat, and then let him or her shine. It's awful to run a mass combat with inappropriate characters shoe-horned into it. It's fun to be powerful enough that masses of low-level humanoids act like a swarm. It's awful, awful, awful to be at a similar level to those enemies, who cannot be defeated until the last of them falls.

This scenario feels much the same. There are campaigns, and characters where "verbal duelling" is appropriate. And in particular there are situations where "try to look like you're winning, but actually lose" might be a valid option in a duel. (You're an envoy for a pig of a king, He expects you to persuade people to do X, which you really don't want to do...)

Let's contrast that to "Midnight Mauler" which introduced the chase mechanic. Normal PCs can participate in chases, and they can have a lot of fun. The mechanic doesn't have to be adapted to characters who weren't built around running after people.

So, I went into this adventure expecting very much to like it. I've had a Wayang ninja since you needed a special boon to play one, and she's been pining to find out information about her background. It was going to take something pretty awful to get me to dislike this scenario.

I dislike this scenario.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

How is adding verbal dueling that much jarring in contrast to the normal formula of having face characters/Diplomacy rolls?

Shadow Lodge

Because it's a dumpster fire of a ruleset?

Chris Mortika wrote:
Let's contrast that to "Midnight Mauler" which introduced the chase mechanic.

The chase rules were also s%#~ on a shingle. It took two seasons to get decent chases.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

*shrugs*

I like verbal duels and chase mechanics.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I like the new chases. Not the originals.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I like the new chases. Not the originals.

Which chase rules are The Original Cherry Vanilla ones and which ones are the "New Chase - Different Formula, Same Great Taste" rules?

Silver Crusade

Ran this days ago, going to play it today.

Getting ready to run this one was unpleasant, I think I made the scenario a fun experience for my players... but frankly that was mostly me trying to be entertaining despite the scenario.

We had a couple of players with only a couple of scenarios at the table, and frankly, I was very happy, that we didn't have a player with no previous PFS experience at the table.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Which chase rules are The Original Cherry Vanilla ones and which ones are the "New Chase - Different Formula, Same Great Taste" rules?

The Midnight Mauler versus The Merchant's Wake.

Liberty's Edge

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Which chase rules are The Original Cherry Vanilla ones and which ones are the "New Chase - Different Formula, Same Great Taste" rules?
The Midnight Mauler versus The Merchant's Wake.

Let us not forget the OG chase rules as presented in Curse of the Crimson Throne, my personal favorite.

[hipster]
I was a fan of the chase rules before they were cool.
[/hipster]

:P

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
graywulfe wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Which chase rules are The Original Cherry Vanilla ones and which ones are the "New Chase - Different Formula, Same Great Taste" rules?
The Midnight Mauler versus The Merchant's Wake.

Let us not forget the OG chase rules as presented in Curse of the Crimson Throne, my personal favorite.

[hipster]
I was a fan of the chase rules before they were cool.
[/hipster]

:P

The one in CotCT is the only chase scene I've gotten to play in.

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