Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-03: On the Border of War (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5-9.

Brevoy may seem a united country, but its noble houses are ever on the brink of warfare while King Noleski Surtova struggles to keep the peace and prove his legitimacy. A neutral township's baron has died, and the loyalists of several houses have rekindled old rivalries while maneuvering for their respective lords to control the region. As the noble houses maneuver armies nearby in the name of "peacekeeping," the teeters on the precipice of war. Hostilities could spell the end of a famous ruin that the Society is yet to document, and Pathfinders must travel into the powder keg region to delay hostilities long enough to salvage and study the site. For the truly ambitious, it may be possible to avert the war altogether, but canny nobles as likely to see the PCs as pawns as mediators.

Written by Crystal Malarsky.

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

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****( ) (based on 5 ratings)

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Mechanically excellent, disjointed narrative

****( )

I give 0-3 stars for fluff, and 0-3 for crunch.

Mechanics: 3 Stars

The social mechanics in the beginning are actually a bit weak, but the dungeon and encounter design was excellent. The BBEG was incredibly dangerous and well supported, with previous encounters that actually weaken the PCs with ongoing conditions to soften them up.

The use of space and height also helped tie the terrain to the combat.

Fluff: 1 star

While it has its nice points and interesting PCs, the story of this mission hung together very poorly. It tried to pack in a lot of interweaving narratives and wound up losing all the threads.


Good but complex to run

***( )( )

I ran this online, my players are experienced and intelligent, which make some of the more complex parts easier.

I recommend this one, but maybe have a few veterens in the player mix to help speed things along. And certainly not one for a beginning GM.


Lessons Learned

****( )

#9–03: On the Border of War balances social encounters, skill checks, and combat very effectively—all while keeping the clock easy to manage. Paizo and Crystal Malarsky have clearly learned from past failures and successes. I found the scenario relatively easy to prepare, which was a relief with my busy schedule. It is a higher level adventure with plenty to keep in mind though, so even an experienced GM will be challenged.


Love this module, but so MANY things to juggle as a GM.

*****

On the GM forum, I just posted a note about how complicated one of the fights is. This module has a LOT of area effects that deal all kinds of weird damage. You could end up with 2 or 3 conditions on your PC from a single fight. Your GM could have to track 5 or 6 area effects with different saves per PC as they move around. So have pity on your GM, there is a lot to manage here.

ALSO, the GM who ran this module for me noted that it was a full social scenario followed by a full dungeon crawl scenario. In other words, if your GM is not rushing you, it's possible this could take almost twice as long as normal to get through. I just ran it in 5 hours myself, and to do that I skipped the optional fight, called one of the other fights halfway, and handwaved some social bits here & there to push forward. If your GM can run this faster than I did, praise them. However, if they can run it in less than 4 hours, squint at them and wonder what parts they skipped or glossed over.

OK. Having said all that, here's why I rate this 5 stars. It's totally fun. I actually drew out the town on a giant grid map -- a town that isn't shown in the product, but certain buildings are described and locations are given. I needed to do this not just for enjoyment, but also how in the world do the PCs interact with so many locations and NPCs without any visualization? So much would get lost & confused in the constant verbal barrage, so I added a map with minis and I think it helped. It was very fun for me at least. I hope the players liked it too.

In town you can meet a long lost ally from a previous season of Pathfinder Society. I was so excited to have a player at the table who actually took his character through the old scenario, so that they could be greeted warmly as old friends. It was enjoyable role play.

Also, if any of the players at the table have ever played through the Kingmaker campaign, they'll at least be familiar with the area, and some of the backstory. The backstory is good, and it seems to make sense with older products. However, as a GM I had to write out a lot of notes about the various noble houses and their origins/alliances before I could get it clear in my head.

After taking too long on the social side and still not having the full story, I urged the players on, toward the keep. The keep has a ton of stories to uncover, along with over a dozen skill checks just in the top level of the keep alone. Skill monkeys should be happy.

The lower level of the keep continues the skill checks but also turns violent. Here combat gets heavy. These are the fights with many status effects & a tough final showdown. However, if you've been indulging in the previous areas, you're going to be pressed for time in these final battles, and they're complicated too. Do not shortchange these encounters! They are actually good and very enjoyable if you run them right. Keep the game on a tight timer if you must. You need at least an hour for the lower dungeon, probably more. (If your group knows about using wire halos to show which minis have which conditions, and/or maybe table tents for status effects, it'll help. Also, bring height indicators if you've got 'em.)

Expect fights to be hard but not TPK-worthy. Expect skill checks to be hard but not un-achievable with work (well, my players missed some, but once they realized that they needed to put forward better numbers, they amped up and did OK with the rest of the checks). Expect social encounters to be hard if the party splits up (my group did), but easy otherwise.

Overall, this module seems... dare I say it... balanced. It's tough but most groups will survive and enjoy a few successes. It's varied, it has something for everyone, it's got a good story, you get to re-meet an old ally, maybe even there is a romance there somewhere... it's just awesome overall.

Try not to play this somewhere that has a tight schedule. Try not to rush. Try to play with a GM who can act out various NPCs well. Try to avoid a GM who railroads. Try to get all the info or much of the backstory. Have fun. It's a good time.

One more thing, for GMs:

Spoiler:
The inn/tavern in town, which Lander is staying at, is un-named in this product. I called it The Bearded Frog. I hope you also call it that, just because it's awesome. The innkeepers were Hal and June, husband and wife. Hal treated Lander sort of like a "whale" or big spender, and wanted everyone to leave him to his (expensive) wine. However, June hoped the PCs might have some advice for the young noble. Have fun!


Brevoy Ahoy!

*****

Played this at Gencon in the low-tier. My character was an Aldori Swordlord from the region, so I was eager for this scenario going in.

The Society has interest in a ruin languishing near a Brevic town that is the focal point of a conflict between rival noble families. The primary interest is to get into the ruin and recover anything historical from it before war breaks out over the disputed territory, stopping the war being a secondary concern.

The first section of the adventure involves gathering information in the city, both about the keep as well as the nobles feuding over the town. If you've played Horn of Aroden, a familiar face is even present (older and wiser than he was during that scenario). A couple of our group had played Horn of Aroden, so we had a great time roleplaying this scene as well as with a number of the other contacts. The party is given the option of siding with one of the families or siding with neither, and every option provides a unique bonus. We found the two primary parties unwilling to bend at the time, but some cryptic references to an old accord that stifled conflict in the past led us to visit the ruin before continuing negotiations.

The first combat was straightforward and not too difficult (though both sides spammed crits throughout the battle back and forth).

Upon reaching the keep, there are a number of skill checks to gather historical information from the ruins. As somebody familiar with both Brevic history and the lore of Golarion, I found this section to be very interesting, but I could see the series of information dumps being a bit trivial to more casual players.

We skipped the optional encounter due to time (we roleplayed a lot in town).

The final two combats went fairly quickly, but neither of them were pushovers. The boss was a rather unique enemy that embodied much of the hidden lore of the place.

I found this scenario to be thoroughly entertaining, though I will admit my bias towards the setting greatly enhanced my experience. My one knock on the adventure was that both of the feuding nobles came off as rather unsympathetic, so there really wasn't any incentive to side with one over the other besides the material promises they offered us and the Society at large.


Sovereign Court

The usual request for a list of maps?

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

BREVOY

:D


Great to see a new adventure set in Brevoy.

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

I am posting in most of the discussion threads for Gen Con adventures, noting which published map products appear in each adventure. Note that a final list is not yet ready for this adventure. Once we’ve locked in those maps in the development process, I’ll post an update here.

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

Maps Appearing in Pathfinder Society Scenario #9–03: On the Border of War:

  • Flip-Mat: Flooded Dungeon
  • Map Pack: Road System

  • Any chance we can get a list of monsters, since we just have a week left to get minis before Gen Con?


    Ok, I ordered what I need to make a winged Cyclops in a dress (I hope). Thanks.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

    Ah hell, I recognize that.


    or it could be a hala demon?


    I think the description has a couple missing words. I think it should be
    "the region teeters on the precipice of war."
    and
    "canny nobles are as likely to see the PCs as pawns as mediators"


    If you have a group of 4 actors that love acting their characters (think of it as some kind of ...role....play ...and not stat crunching) then this is a five or six hour game, & 10/10.

    We didn't Fistfull of Dollars or Yojimbo the scenario. We didn't kick in the Romeo and Juliet formula.

    But we wanted to. Ok. I wanted to. Badly.

    We stuck to the mission.

    However hard it was not to cut loose and Sandbox.
    Great game. Not enough time. And we hadn't the right skills for the job. (Not that we couldn't think of work-arounds.)

    Dark Archive

    The possible to obtain boon "House Orlovsky Steeds" offers a 'mount trait'. It says that mount traits were introduced in the Pathfinder Companion: Knights of the Inner Sea. I happen to have this pdf and there are no mount traits in it. So where can I find information on this type of trait?


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Sensai Karma Kai wrote:
    The possible to obtain boon "House Orlovsky Steeds" offers a 'mount trait'. It says that mount traits were introduced in the Pathfinder Companion: Knights of the Inner Sea. I happen to have this pdf and there are no mount traits in it. So where can I find information on this type of trait?

    Check the inside of the back cover. Page 35 in my PDF.

    Dark Archive

    shaventalz wrote:
    Sensai Karma Kai wrote:
    The possible to obtain boon "House Orlovsky Steeds" offers a 'mount trait'. It says that mount traits were introduced in the Pathfinder Companion: Knights of the Inner Sea. I happen to have this pdf and there are no mount traits in it. So where can I find information on this type of trait?
    Check the inside of the back cover. Page 35 in my PDF.

    Thank you

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