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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It's a shame when certain mechanics are badly explained..

***( )( )

I did indeed play this scenario with Quentin, see his review below. I must say he aptly described this scenario, so there's not a lot for me to add. Instead I will disagree with some of other reviews below to give a different point of view as I believe this scenario deserves more than one star.

The biggest issue people seem to have with this scenario is the verbal duel. To some extend I agree: it's rather complicated. It will take a GM some time to explain them. That is only natural, but the problem is that the hand outs that come with the scenario are by no means able to give a quick overview. In fact, they only overcomplicate things and make it seem more difficult than it actually is. You should 100% skip these handouts as they're not helpful at all. Paizo should have realised that during the playtesting of this scenario. There's no excuse for that.

Instead our GM put some effort into this and made his own 1 page cheatsheet for the mechanics. That's two pages less than the handouts. This single page of paper combined with a short explanation managed to give us a decent understanding of the mechanics. That said, it still took us about 15 to 20 minutes to get ready for the debate as we had to figure out some of the numbers, as well as decide on a strategy to use. That's still less time than you would need when following the handouts. Needless to say we all asked our GM to put this cheatsheet on PFSPrep for others to use. If he does so, the whole verbal duel mechanic is still complicated, but much easier to understand and to subsequently put into practice.

That said, I'm not convinced it's the best mechanic to put in a scenario, especially due to circumstances. While it seems logical to bring diplomatic characters, it might actually work against you. You need to make a good impression, but at same time you also shouldn't. It's weird, yet true. The same can be said about bringing a Wayang. You're tempted to bring one, but I'd say the scenario might be more enjoyable if you don't bring one.

To conclude: this scenario is still enjoyable, but with some minor flaws. It does a great job at revealing the Wayang culture. The encounters are interesting and have some nice elements to it. The storyline isn't great and won't stand out, but it is still sufficient enough. It could easily have been stronger though. I'm also still not entirely certain about the verbal duel as it really comes down to proper preperation from the GM to explain it in a timely fashion. The handouts are utterly rubbish to use, so I hope that by the time you or your GM thinks of running this adventure, he can use the cheatsheet my GM made. If so, I think you and even new players will have a good time.


Verbal duels are too complicated for their own good.

****( )

(I played this together with TheDegraded. I expect his review soon.)

I have weird feelings about this scenario. The story is standard but decent. The fights are pretty cool, especially the last one. The mask system adds a lot of flair. But the verbal duel system really puts a damper on the scenario. The system itself isn't too complicated, there are just too many moving parts and little rules you need to keep in mind. But worst of all, it's terribly worded. A good rewrite would clarify (and simplify!) a lot of things. Our GM put great effort in making custom handouts, and they're much better than the ones supplied in this scenario (he said he's going to put them online). The main problem I see here is that it's a lot of effort for little to no gain. The fact that there wasn't anything really on the line made it worse. In fact, most of the scenario put up expectations that it failed to meet (details in spoiler box below). I did like the spin on it so that skill-starved people could contribute.

All in all, I had a great time. Some parts felt anticlimactic, but overall it's a fun scenario.

Anticlimactic parts:
This is the "verbal duel scenario," so many people want to bring their social characters with them, but the mechanics of that duel undermine that entirely.
This is also the "Wayang scenario," so people are aching (at least, in my group) to bring their Wayang characters, but it weirdly focuses more on the PCs being outsiders.
The story goes exactly how you'd think it'll go.


Don't bother.

*( )( )( )( )

The two reviews below mine say everything I was going to.


Even worse than I thought (was: absurdly over complicated)

*( )( )( )( )

I really like Ultimate Intrigue for intrigue based games.

PFS is NOT an intrigue based game and its an awful fit.

Putting in an extremely complicated and poorly explained subsystem in was a mistake. Changing that subsystem substantially changed the mistake to a disaster.

Compounding that disaster by having the story make no sense and rely on plot contrivances of the highest (lowest?) order makes things worse.

I really wish I could assign stars less than 0 to this.

I really, really, really hope no new player ever plays this. It would almost guarantee that they'd never return.

Edit:
So finally played this tonight. I actually had a fairly good time DESPITE the absurd mechanics but the debate mechanics were at least as bad as I thought they'd be. And given how awful I thought they'd be that is pretty damn bad :-(.

I'd prepared to run this before so I understood the mechanics going in so it was fairly simple to game the rules so at to minimize our rolls. But the whole thing was a completely absurd exercise in gaming rules to achieve a desired outcome DESPITE the rules trying to force us to succeed.

Note to players : Just grab the skill where you have 1 rank (ideally in a non class skill) and ALWAYS use that regardless of anything. Totally silly, very effective.

As others have pointed out, there isn't enough information to actually role play much of this, people didn't really feel like it after having spent some time figuring out how to game the rules. It was a mostly silly exercise in rolling dice and spouting silly nonsense.

As long as the players try to lose and don't have too many bards in the group (you certainly wouldn't want to bring social characters to a social scenario, would you?) they'll almost certainly lose. The whole time spent is almost certainly a total waste of time


Paizo don't seem to learn from their mistakes ...

*( )( )( )( )

[I just spent 45 minutes writing a review, only to have paizo.com time out on me and drop the review into the bit bucket when I tried to submit it. Let's see if I can recreate the gist of that review ...]

I thought with "Assault on the Wound" a few years ago Paizo had realised that introducing a whole new complicated set of rule mechanics as part of a four-hour scenario was a bad idea, but apparently that lesson has been forgotten. I'm a pretty fast reader, and reasonably quick on the uptake, but even I was glad that there was somebody at the table who got the whole picture faster than I did, and was able to guide me through the final step. My wife just threw up her hands in despair - it would have taken her well over an hour to read through all the handout material and assimilate how it applied to the character she was playing.

Apparently these new rules are to be found in "Ultimate Intrigue" (which, at the time of writing this review, isn't available in the PRD - good luck to any GM who doesn't own a copy of that book, but wants to find out a little more about what is going on). I can see how those rules could work well for characters built with an understanding of the rules, but they don't work anywhere near as well when they are retrofitted to a character built in the expectation of being played under different conditions. In particular, changing skills to be based off a different attribute is unfair (and, in my opinion, totally unnecessary in the limited context of a single scenario such as this). All that does is to invalidate the character build, which is quite likely to cause the player to feel some amount of resentment.

And, in case that wasn't enough, this is a Tier 1-5 scenario, which means it is quite possible that this is the first experience of PFS for some of the players at the table. I know that if my first experience of PFS had come from a scenario such as this one I may well have never gone on to find out just how much fun PFS play can actually provide.


26 to 30 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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