Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-05: Call of the Copper Gate PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-7.

Alarm bells blare throughout the Pathfinder Society's Grand Lodge as chaos reigns in one of the vaults below. The PCs must venture into the vaults to put a stop to the mysterious incident. They quickly learn, however, that what has happened in the Grand Lodge is almost certainly not an isolated event. It falls to the PCs to follow this disruption's trail, a mission that puts them on a collision course with mysterious forces that wish to unleash horrors from beyond reality upon Golarion.

Contents in Call of the Copper Gate also contribute directly to the ongoing storyline of the Dark Archive faction.

Written by Christopher Wasko.

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

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Open the Gate!



I played Call of the Copper Gate with my vigilante (shh!) character, The Shining Knight (a.k.a., Siegfried). I have to admit, I didn't have a lot of fun, but I think that was mostly because the GM frankly wasn't very good. In reading the scenario for the purposes of this review, it looks like a really solid adventure that makes great use of previous PFS scenarios and continues a long-running subplot. For PFS lore aficionados, this is a must-play scenario. For others, it has a good mix of combat and role-playing, and features some creatures and concepts from later in the bestiaries that may be unfamiliar.


Call of the Copper Gate is another adventure involving the long-running saga of the Blakros Museum. Before it was a museum, it was the estate of a powerful wizard and astrologer named Ralzeros the Overwatched. Ralzeros became obsessed with the endless expanses between the stars and the unfathomable creatures thought to live there (the Dark Tapestry) and created an extradimensional observatory to watch them. He reinforced the door to this observatory with a mystically warded copper gate linked to three magic beacons to alert him to danger. In past scenarios (going as far back as Season Zero), the Society has become wrapped up in the dangers presented by the legacy of Ralzeros the Overwatched and its effect on Imrizade Blakros as well as the museum's current curator, Nigel Aldain. Call of the Copper Gate involves these key elements and a servant of an Outer God!

The initial "briefing" is a fun and fast start, as the PCs are in the Grand Lodge when alarms sound and Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin and Paracountess Zarta Dralneen rush around the corner, agitated and arguing. One of the vaults below the Grand Lodge is suddenly being overrun with magical plant matter presumably being spewed from one of the arcane devices stored there. Zarta persuades a reluctant Valsin to let the Dark Archive handle the emergency, and she enlists the nearest Pathfinders she sees (the PCs) to follow her into the vault. There's no time for questions, no time for Knowledge checks, and no time to prep--it's straight into danger! It's a great change of pace from the way scenarios normally start.

The vault is filled with fungal strands that are hard to move through and coated with toxins harmful to living creatures because they aren't native to this world--they're from the foreboding planet Aucturn! And more, an "Aucturn Shard Golem" (a variant junk golem) is in the chamber as well, protecting the device responsible for bringing it and the fungus into the vault: a magical beacon (one of the three Ralzeros created to protect the copper gate to his extradimensional observatory). The Shining Knight rushed in to smash the beacon to pieces and would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for meddling kids a GM mistakenly thinking the scenario didn't allow it. In a nice story addition, Zarta takes part in the battle (though if she has to do everything, the PCs get fewer rewards, which makes sense).

Zarta recognises the beacon as something the Society purchased recently from the Arcanamirium (the largest school of magic in the Inner Sea) and says it was one of three. She suggests that if this one has malfunctioned, the other two could as well, and sends the PCs off to find them and place them in special warding containers. At the Arcanamirium, the PCs face the most fearsome foe of all: bureaucracy! I really like it, as dealing with a large institution can be enormously challenging. The PCs eventually find their way to journeyman wizard Maren Fuln (from # 3-07) conversing with a denizen of Aucturn named Nggith-Tsa. This part is handled really well. There's a lot of information to be gained from Nggith-Tsa before an (inevitable battle), and the scenario is detailed about how conversational strands affect the fight to come. I'm not explaining it well, but suffice it to say, a well-prepared GM will find themselves well-supported by the scenario here. Like Zarta, Fuln will also participate in the battle.

With two beacons secured, the PCs learn that the third is in the Blakros Museum. Once the PCs arrive, curator Nigel Aldain reports that intruders broke into the basement and have taken Imrizade Blakros prisoner. Nigel joins the PCs in the assault (I like how he tells them he's learned to start preparing combat spells every day given all the previous problems at the museum) where they learn the culprits are cerebric fungi and a psychic worshipper of Nyalathotep (with bad art) named Fylzilka. (I liked that the longer it takes the PCs to bash down the door to the basement, the longer Fylzilka gets to buff--trade-offs like that make for a game where actions matter). The beacon is spewing Aucturn's poisonous atmosphere into the room, so the rare PC who has prepared gust of wind will feel very clever! Imrizade is unconscious from wounds, but if healed, will also participate in the battle. It's nice to see key NPCs be more than just plot- and RP-fodder and instead feel like active participants.

With the third beacon in safe hands, the present danger is over--though the lure of the mysterious copper door remains (perhaps for a future adventure?). Zarta asks the PCs to do additional research and write a report on the beacons for her, which is a neat way of allowing them to make a Knowledge (arcana) check for their Day Job if they wish. In the end, I thought Call of the Copper Gate was an excellent continuation of the Pathfinder Society's involvement with the Blakros Museum. Someday, it might be a fun idea to run these scenarios in order as part of a mini campaign.[/spoiler]

Not a horror scenario


I GMd this last night for a group of 4 on low Subtier without adaptation for 4 players (because: Swashbuckler 3, Fighter 3, Witch 7, Vigilante 6). While prepping this scenario I already thought that the low Subtier would be a lot easier than the high subtier for players of the respective levels. And this is exactly what happened. But let me go into more of the details.

Getting Started
I liked the beginning of the scenario. I just had the players lounging in the Grand Lodge when the alarms began, and had them witness the talk between Zarta and Ambrus. Then Zarta saw the PCs and just wrapped them up and took them to the vault, giving exposition on the way. I love these kinds of beginnings where the players are just thrown into the scenario :)

Encounter A

Just the description of the vault made my players apprehensive of the whole situation. However, vigilante and witch were able to manouver the terrain easily and started to try to disable the sphere. In this time, the fighter distracted the swarm golem (not doing a lot of damage at all, but also not really bothered by it HP-wise, and easily managing the saves for the ability damage) and the swashbuckler also managed to reach the beacon. And of course he just smashed it in 2 rounds and that was that. So:

The Encounter had a very atmospheric start, but was way too easy. Then after the encounter, a lot of exposition, a lot of rolls to study the artifact, and Zarta healing a little before running off. Sadly, this broke the last remaining creepy and dangerous atmosphere that was left. So on my players went to the Arcanamirium.

Encounter B

After bullying the clerk to give them the location of the two remaining beacons, the went to Maren. He did not let them in, and they were to imparient to wait the 5 minutes Maren told them to wait, so they broke down the door. My players were also not inclined to talk to the strange summoned creature which was asking even stranger questions (even after Zartas and Marens request they do so), so again, they just easily killed the creature (in 1.5 rounds), packaged the beacon and ran off to Blakros Museum. I do not know what I could have done to motivate roleplay in this case, and I was not able to create any creepy or dangerous atmosphere. My players also missed any information that could have been given to them by not asking any questions to either the creature or Maren. Anyway:

This Encounter war intended to introduce more lore about the copper gate and the imminent danger of it being opened from the other side, possibly letting out unknown dangers. This was supposed to instill fear into the minds of the PCs. But in my opinion this failed due to the creature being too weak. In a true cthulhu-esque manner, why not have the creature just suck the answers to its questions out of the PCs heads, if they do not want to interact with it, and leaving behind damage and some information? This should create the necessary atmosphere, a feeling of danger and helplessness in the PCs.

Encounter C
This optional Encounter was all right. Just a little pinch of flavour instead of just more exposition by the curator of the museum.

Actually experiencing the creatures which the players later get told were "sown" by a strange mutant from the basement gave them a little more sense of urgency.
So, nothing bad to say about this encounter.

Encounter D

I liked the idea of the room slowly filling with poison, forcing the players to actually think about where they could move and stand and still breathe normally. Sadly, this idea was foiled by the quite low saving throw against the poison. Over the 8 rounds of fighting only six of the 32 saving throws were failures (and two of those were by the lion they summoned), so mostly my players simply ignored the poison gas. The Grioths were each down in one hit and within the first three rounds, and it only took so long because two of them kept their distance to use their spychic magic. They were useless. Why even put them in this scenario? The final boss was... too weak as well. Since my players opened the door in time, he only had shield and his alter ego as buffs. And since all previous encounters were so easy, I decided for him to use his first round to cast his scroll of fly, so that the whole thing would at least be a little harder. That was a very good decision. Instead of circle stomped to death in two rounds while not being able to do anything (casting while in close combat never works), he was able to shoot some spells, do quite a bit of damage, and actually be threatening. Besides this, my players only checked on Imrizade once, saw she was stable, and then forgot about her and leaving her in the poison gas... Anyway:

This Encounter was - once more - much too easy. I get the feeling that this encounter would have been at an appropriate difficulty on the high Subtier, where the boss can do some crowd control by himself. And when designing an encounter with an environmental hazard, then it should be able to actually be dangerous instead of just having basically unfailable rolls every round. Again, this was an encounter which just did not feel in any way creepy, dangerous or atmospheric in any other way.
inspiration for changes:
Why not have the BEG stand behind a force barrier where the PCs can observe him preparing the gate for opening while he tells them that he is looking forward to the things that will happen when it opens, tell them that in a few seconds the gate will open and laugh at their helplessness. And all the while the Grioths sneak up on them while they are distracted. But of course the PCs can dismantle/smash the devices powering the force field, and defeat the BEG. But then, they have to reverse the preparations done to open the door, and this could be a final challenge, maybe a puzzle. That would have had an atmosphere of danger, creepyness and urgency, instead of yet another "go there, smash, and be done".

What story? Nothing interesting there.

The players get next to no story besides a little, very vague information about some gate which is maybe about to open or not and is linked to the Dark Tapestry. Thats it.

The idea of having NPCs aid the PCs in fights is nice, but in my opinion this was not implemented very well. None of these NPCs are stupid, but still the PCs have to ask nicely or pressure them into actually helping them, using a Standard Action. This basically meant that my players just ignored them, because the fights were easy enough without help.
That said, it was nice to see some environmental hazards built into the fighting encounters. They could also have been a little more dangerous so they would actually be hazards, but it at least forced my players to think a little.

The whole scenario was very much too easy for a horror scenario dealing with the Dark Tapestry, at least on low Subtier . This is maybe because Pathfinder in general is a System where the PCs heroic heroes, while in the classical Lovecraftian stories the protagonists are usually more helpless in the face of an ancient, over-powerful evil. But still, why use lovecraftian lore and creatures in a manner where they are absolutely no threat? It was a serious let-down for my players. This prevented any kind of horror-atmosphere and made the scenario a "go somewhere, fetch stuff and kill everything that you encounter"-scenario. No caution needed, no roleplaying required.

Good combat encounter


Copper is a horror scenario with complex, punishing, and challenging combat.

The story was completely forgettable, so if you don't like interesting combat encounters or your character is suboptimal, skip this.

Copper features some very interesting multi-phase, environmentally challenging, punishing, complex fights.

My party was only average and although we finished it, I believe there was some softballing, and the GM could have easily TPKed us.

Besides the combat, this scenario doesn’t have anything else to offer. No story, no roleplay, no atmosphere. Other combat scenarios, like Elven Entanglement, had these intangibles.

Overall: If you like interesting combat encounters that are more challenging than normal, you might like this (7/10).

This isn't an adventure, but the prelude to one.


(I played this.)

I did not like this scenario. The combats and the challenges were fun, but the story is purely sequel-bait. We get tasked with finding three MacGuffins, but there is no information to be obtained what they do, only that they'll be important later. Then out of nowhere a baddie appears we're supposed to care about, but we don't. This whole thing feels like a season 1 scenario, where proper rules weren't really codified yet and writers could do whatever. I guess it'll be important for later, but as a stand-alone adventure, it feels really lacklustre. I'd go into more details about it, but I simply can't muster the enthusiasm.

Confusing to GM.


I am a newer GM (only 1 star) but I found this scenario very difficult to GM.

There are so many different boxes of information for each encounter above what is normally required and so many 'if this then that... and if this different bonus'

See MAJUBA's post about this to see more details... but yeah a very poor scenario as a whole IMO.

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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Did they move the museum into the lodge? Sounds awesome!

Sovereign Court

Curious to see if its external interfence akin to 9-00 or if its just improper storage techniques akin to the constant Blakros issues.

Imhrail wrote:
Curious to see if its external interfence akin to 9-00 or if its just improper storage techniques akin to the constant Blakros issues.

If it is what I think it is then its from Season 8.

The Exchange

Are you doing the map list for this scenario?

Maps used in Call of the Copper Gate:
  • Pathfinder Map Pack: Magic Academy
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Museum
  • 2 custom maps (18 x 20 and 24 x 16)

Grand Lodge

MadScientistWorking wrote:
Imhrail wrote:
Curious to see if its external interfence akin to 9-00 or if its just improper storage techniques akin to the constant Blakros issues.
If it is what I think it is then its from Season 8.

May link with S00-05——>S01-35——>S02-11 then——>S03-07

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