Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-15: Hrethnar's Throne (PFRPG) PDF

**½( )( ) (based on 18 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5-9.

The mist-shrouded Gloomspires have defied local seafarers and treasure hunters for centuries, but Venture-Captain Calisro Benarry has nearly unlocked the secrets of the spire where the dread pirate Sevenfingers hid his treasure. Great prizes beget jealous rivals, though, and the PCs must be prepared to fend off all others who desire Sevenfingers's riches—rivals both past and present.

Written by Tom Phillips.

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

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**½( )( ) (based on 18 ratings)

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TPK

*( )( )( )( )

I'm not one for sour grapes really and the GM really should have known better, but a scenario that hits a group of mainly 7th level players with a CR8+ and then annihilates them by tossing on 2 more CR 9s... doesn't deserve any higher.

Deets:
3 L7 (with 2 pregen newbies), 1 L8, 1 L9 survived about an hour before finally 2 Galvos and speed bombing nuked us. Never even saw the Spires. We could have handled the regular encounter despite newbie mistakes, but the Galvos were just a big middle finger to the players. GMS should NOT use them regardless of what the scenario says unless you have a full-up Maxed out party.


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The Devil's in the Details

***( )( )

Played low tier with an overly-optimized group that plowed through combats. So my sense of the difficulty of encounters was impacted by group construction. I enjoyed the story, and I'm enjoying digging through the Gloomspires, but there was something just "off" on this scenario. You're about to read some major negatives below - this is because those are the things that stuck out as hurting an otherwise solid scenario to me. I really wanted to like this one, and I did, but the negatives were that big of a hit to me.

If you're a player, expect this to be tough. If you're a GM, just don't be a jerk when running it; you don't need to aim for a TPK in certain encounters to make it fun.

(From here on out spoilers abound).

Thematically nearly everything about this adventure should appeal to me. The idea of a boarding action is exciting. I'm a sucker for dungeon exploration. I love interesting use of exptraplanar trips.

And when those things worked, they really worked. But the devil's in the details. In every case the execution was sub-par.

Let's start with the boarding action. This should be a real moment of excitement, but instead it felt forced. But why? Mainly because even though I'm willing to accept the Gloomspires have some strange obscuring mist effects, it bothers me that a) your ship is incapable of seeing theirs, while the converse is not true, and b) that apparently a full grapple and boarding action takes less than 6 seconds (as that's all the time you have to react to what's happening). This encounter is something I think many of us have been waiting for in Pathfinder, but instead it feels like a missed opportunity for ranged combat from the rigging, to the placement of the boarding planks. That's not to talk about the opponent you're up against and how quickly he can decimate your party.

Then there's the "worst-trap-ever". The face "trap" IMHO is poor writing at its best. The placement of the face, and the effect were nothing more than a major F-you to the players at the table. There's no benefit to be gained, and it penalizes exploration and wanting to know more about what's going on with the story. Seriously - this is my biggest pet peeve in all of Pathfinder Society - somebody shows up to a game day, and then is forced to sit more than half the game out. This could have been remedied by a lesser effect than a poorly worded (and more severe) feeblemind. This could have been remedied by a "fix" the next encounter in. This could have been managed by making stats a three, but allowing the player to continue to participate (which would still cause the effect of a bumbling idiot, and still make stat damage later on a real threat). But instead I watched one poor player sit and do nothing for the rest of the game. People do not show up to game days to sit on their behinds while everybody else plays (I'm looking at you harpy encounters).

The rest was good - encounters were in a little to tight of spaces to make them interesting - but the theme, especially the ending was exciting. I just wish that this one could have lived up to its full potential.


I ended the scenario casting confusion, got myself with it too.

**( )( )( )

So I've now played and run this scenario. It's really a fairly straight forward dungeon crawl in an eerie locale.

The first two combats can both be pretty difficult.

Combats:
The Tactics in the first combat are fairly bad (the alchemist who starts the combat doesn't pre-buff and instead uses them during combat) and the positioning of the enemies is contradictory with itself throughout the description.

Combat 2 - the mummies in both tiers are difficult, with a variety of special abilities that can be nasty, that said Bog Rot is particularly nasty)

The optional encounter in the high tier makes no sense as the enemies at best barely fit in the room.

The fourth encounter is fine, though in one tier it's severely hampered by the spacing of the map (also, it can potentially occur as a more difficult version of itself after the final combat - which is problematic)

The final encounter, not poorly designed but again severely limited by spacing.

The biggest issue I have with the scenario though is you're told to go into a place and loot everything. There's nothing to loot, there's almost no checks for gaining any real meaningful info (outside of the GM adding things), there are a lot of rooms with nothing. It's just a lot of dead space versus the amount of map.

All in all it wasn't a bad scenario, but it left me confused about what I had just seen, and whether or not it was a good scenario, especially after I felt like the opening sequence set me up for a more exciting scenario than the rest provided.


Not fun.

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Here is how the first minutes of the game started, for my level 8 bard (archaeologist):

Spoiler:
  • GM: "You're on a boat, at sea. Position your minis below deck."
  • Players: We positioned our minis.
  • GM: "A giant ballista missile smashes a hole in the ship, enemies pour in. First enemy gets 3 attacks on you, dealing a total of 65 points of damage."
  • Me: "I'm dead."

Total play time: 4 minutes. Total actions taken: zero.

As I made ready to leave, one player hinted he might have First Aid Gloves or some other magic. I waited, and was able to come back, and the game continued. (Thank you, fellow player!) However, the game didn't relent. In order to survive as other members started falling down, I had to go invisible and do minor support actions, as my "good" options would have endangered me and I could not withstand even a single round exposed.

OK, back to general info. Pretty quickly I decided for myself that I was going to treat this module like a Bonekeep module. That is, the author made it deliberately hard (in the high tier, at least) and is hoping for a body count, so to counter that, it was time to burn through absurd amounts of expensive buffs. Riffle scroll of Communal Energy Resistance? You bet, who cares that it's 700 GP -- I need the 20 ER. Mage Armor, on the off-chance that we encounter ghosts? Yes please. Spider Climb? Yes. Use everything.

I won't say what the next encounter involved, but I will tell you that all I could do was to remain on the walls/ceiling thanks to Spider Climb, as even a single round in combat would have insta-killed my character, again.

The penultimate encounter: we thought it was the grand finale (as it was huge and 3 PCs were a single hit away from death), but then the BBEG pulled punches and we did something that really bugged me:

Spoiler:
We made a bargain with the guardian. We promised that we would not let a special prisoner go free. Then we met the prisoner and he explained that everything we needed could only be had if we freed him. It became clear and obvious that freeing him was a success condition and/or prestige point. So the only way to "win" was to break the promise we had just made. As a neutral bard who just wanted to flee the overpowered death-dungeon, my character went along with it. However, as a player, it left a sour taste in my mouth. I sometimes play paladins, and I would have refused to free the criminal in such a case, costing the rest of the table prestige awards.

I really enjoy that kind of conflict in a home game where there is time to explore options and work with players, but in a PFS game where you have only 4 hours and your actions cannot be explored any deeper than "cross that boon off your chronicle sheet because you screwed it up for everyone else," it seems pretty bad, man.

In the end, while I suspect that other people might have an OK time with this module, I did not. I feel that the encounters were swingy and imbalanced, potentially with multiple places for a TPK. I feel that the enemies were so completely tuned to go toe-to-toe with the party's barbarians and melee brutes that support classes just get sidelined or obliterated. As it stands I cannot recommend this product.


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Liberty's Edge

Back to the Gloomspires, hooray!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

And my Gloomspire ranger is in tier!


I'm waiting in anticipation to find out how many fingers sevenfingers really has.

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

6 people marked this as a favorite.
roysier wrote:
I'm waiting in anticipation to find out how many fingers sevenfingers really has.

Twelve. Major upset—nobody will see it coming.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
John Compton wrote:
roysier wrote:
I'm waiting in anticipation to find out how many fingers sevenfingers really has.
Twelve. Major upset—nobody will see it coming.

SPOILERS!!!!

My experience has been ruined by this early reveal. >:-(

<snicker>


John Compton wrote:
roysier wrote:
I'm waiting in anticipation to find out how many fingers sevenfingers really has.
Twelve. Major upset—nobody will see it coming.

Darn you. Where's the spoiler warning?! :D

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I this a sequel to 6-06 Hall of the Flesh eaters and 7-19 Labyrinth of hungry ghosts?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Yes.

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

1bent1 wrote:
I this a sequel to 6-06 Hall of the Flesh eaters and 7-19 Labyrinth of hungry ghosts?

Confirmed. It is.


Chronicle has a ring of protection +2 for 4000g. I'm assuming this is a miss-print.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Correct.

From a different scenarios GM discussion. (Spoilers, be warned.)

Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
That's a typo. When we intentionally offer a reduced price on a Chronicle sheet, we'll call it out specifically.

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