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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Apologies to the author, but...

**( )( )( )

...I'm going to screw up his nice 4-star rating.

The other reviews are right -- the "verbal combat encounter" rules are too much (about 8 pages of player handouts if I remember correctly). I got my "rule packet," started reading, and then... stopped. I thought, there is no chance of me reading through 8 pages in a timely fashion, and little chance of decent reading comprehension in a noisy game store, AND we still have to fit the game into a 4 hour window. No way.

Unlike the other reviewers, I feel that alone is enough to knock the module down to 3 stars. "But wait!" you might say. "You gave it 2 stars!" Yeah, well, that's because there is more bad.

The 3 wayang ceremony aspects were not fun (for me). Granted, the first (a fake combat) was a bit silly, and I enjoyed that. I took the role of the tactician know-it-all, and was leaping on objects to get higher ground, and spouting info about the enemy's stat blocks. It was cheesy acting amusement. But the actual fight itself wasn't much of anything, and nobody else at the table was bothering to portray the roles they were given. So most of the fun was just me amusing me.

The second ceremony "thing" was to do the verbal combat. This would be very fun with players who geek out on reading the system and knowing it well, and if you had a 6 hour time slot with a private/quiet place to play. I didn't want to geek out on the reading, and we didn't have a quiet place. So it just... was a thing that happened. Not much else to say about it.

The third ceremony was meh. Here's why:

Spoiler:
The shadow puppets concept itself was not my idea of fun. However, the whole "puppets are interrupted because somebody goes crazy and tries to unleash the ultimate evil" thing? Yeah, the module telegraphed its moves, totally predictable. And, entirely contrived. As it happened, I was just shaking my head because it felt like the module author just had to have someone be stupid so that the PCs could have a fight.

I'm also a little exhausted by modules that suggest a world-ending problem is at hand, but somehow 1st level characters can handily solve it. Really? Was it really likely to end anything if some ex-farmers with swords can end the threat?

I think if you are interested in wayang culture, you might like this. I think if you hear things like "you're going to put on a play with puppets" and you feel happy about that, then you might like this. I think if you could get the verbal combat rules beforehand, have them memorized, and just whip through that mini-game because you know what you're doing, then you might like this.

Unfortunately, none of that applied to me.


Good Setting Complicated Rules

****( )

While the Scenario overall is really interesting and intriguing, the debate rules are to complicated to understand in a few minutes.
Too many rules are bundled together.


You're the puppet!

*****

Spoilers: read at your own risk.

When our GM arrived at the shop, he asked if we wanted to do a knock-down, drag-out brawl, and if so, we were out of luck. I knew then I would probably enjoy this scenario, but I never could have predicted the extent to which I did.

To Seal the Shadow is an excellent balance of cultural exposition, interaction with new mechanics, and yes, combat. The reasons for visiting the wayang homeland integrate well with the overall storyline and do not seem at all contrived. Aspects of wayang culture such as puppetry and body art serve to enrich the narrative. The occasion of the festival actively encourages the players to participate.

The shining point of this scenario is the portrayal by the players as heroes of wayang history. Groups that enjoy roleplaying will find an extra layer of excitement at choosing their hero and striving to maintain his/her personality throughout the festivities.

Only the debate section is perhaps a sticking point. My group found the rules for verbal duels to be presented in a relatively simple manner to use and also to fit thematically with the heroes' personalities. The greater issue for some groups is that the topic of the debate is one hotly contested in current U. S. politics. Furthermore, the players must take on the more "conservative" or "nationalist" stance, opening the door for heated discourse. Talks of building walls and enacting travel bans dominated the stage. My group even had the obligatory "You're the puppet!" directed at the creatures based on Indonesian shadow puppetry, driving home the point that modern political debates are truly little more than verbal duels.

The combats were appropriately challenging, but did not seem to be the focal point, perhaps because the other interactions were incredibly well done. All in all, this scenario was well worth the time to play it, and it makes me thankful that Expanded Narrative is more available now. Thanks to Jason Keeley for his amazing work!


***( )( )

Interisting scenario, but additonnal rules are too long to run it in 4 hours.


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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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