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Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-07: Salvation of the Sages PDF

****( ) (based on 25 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7-11.

For millennia an order of scholars known as the Jeweled Sages catalogued the wisdom and lore of northern Garund's greatest minds within crystalline artifacts. Though these sage jewels have recently resurfaced, so too has the new generation of sages learned that something else dwells within besides ancient memories. The entire order gathers where the Jeweled Sages truly began in order to confront their hidden past, purge an ancient evil that has haunted them for ages, and define the future of the Scarab Sages faction.

Contents in Salvation of the Sages also contribute directly to the ongoing storyline of the Scarab Sages faction.

Written by Matt Duval.

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Product Reviews (25)
1 to 5 of 25 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 25 ratings)

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Flavorful, fun and challenging Scenario

*****

Played this last weekend at a local store. Party was Magus 11, Ranger(Archer) 11, Wizard 11 and Bard 10.

At least two of the combats could easily have gone against us if we were less prepared/made poor choices.

That said, this scenario was so much fun. Challenging combats, combined with fun RP stuff like do we really want <redacted> to come with us? I don't care on this character because I've not interacted with him.

The final fight was amazing - try this, nope can't do it - hey, who has skill x, go do that one while we keep the <redacted> occupied. Reminded me of an MMO raid boss.

Highly recommended, but at least on high tier, make sure you can handle hard combat & have a skill monkey as some of the DCs are pretty high.


Epic conclusion to the Scarab Sage faction.

*****

I have run this twice, will be playing it in less than a month via play-by-post, and have discussed it ad nauseum in the product and GM discussion. There isn't much else to be said. You will either hate this for the unfair odds, or love it for the incredible challenge. I choose the latter.


Challenging and Excellent

*****

Having read some of the negative reviews, I really would like to put in my 2cp.
This is not an easy adventure. Nor should it be, as the capstone of a Faction. I played it at low tier, and I ran it at high tier.
When I played it we had:
8 Bard (archaeologist) Scarab Sage
8 Bloodrager (arcane)
7 Paladin
7 Pregen pyrokineticist who had never played a tabletop RPG in his life.
Run by a good GM who communicated very well and was prepared--and even he missed a rule (I think--but it was irrelevant)
At low tier with 4 player adjustment, we destroyed the first encounter in three rounds. Our GM jokingly considered removing the 4 player adjustment.
The end fight was difficult--as it should have been. Oddly enough, we actually LISTENED to the text our GM read, and THOUGHT about it. No one died. No one got close. We were still scared to death!
We achieved both prestige points, full treasure, and all boons but one. Needless to say, my Scarab Sage PC is delighted.
I SUSPECT the reason other recent reviewers are so angry is that they either:
1) Are SUCH EXPERTS AT RPG that this adventure didn't fit their preconceived ideas of what an adventure should be, and they didn't know how to handle it or,
2) The GM messed up in communication or rules handling.

GMing isn't easy. It's all about communication. Did the players hear you? How do you know they did? Ask them to restate what you just said to them.

Over communicate.

Great adventure! I recommend it to all our coordinators, Venture Captains, etc, and look forward to running this adventure several more times.


Wow, quite a dust-up here in the reviews, and in the GM forum.

***( )( )

When I played through this, I found this scenario/module to be tough, but unremarkable. I never reviewed it, as it was neither very good, nor very bad. However, this product is known to cause TPKs. Some people are very upset about this, and they've flooded the GM forum discussion of this product with complaints. In addition, there are a handful of 1 & 2 star reviews here that are all from the same group of people, lumped within a few days of each other. With all this anger directed toward the product, I went back to look over it, and see if I missed something.

After all, my group played through this just fine. My PC went unconscious once, so it's not like it was a cakewalk, and I certainly was nervous that my character would die. However, I didn't feel like it was unfair. So I looked into it. It turns out, some of the complaining isn't valid; some "problems" are mostly manufactured drama. However, it also turns out that some of the complaining is dead-on accurate. Let's see what the module actually did right & wrong.

1. It tricks the players with deceptive text

Spoiler:
False. There is a section on page 8 in which the read-aloud text states: "That monolith empowers the dead. One of us will aid you in disabling it." Some are flagging this as "deceptive" because it implies that players should use the Disable Device skill to stop the monolith, which apparently the complainers tried to do, and failed. However, that is a problem with the GM, not the module. The module provides 3 ways to disable the monolith:


  • 1. Knowledge checks (arcana, planes, or religion)
  • 2. Smash it (hardness 8, HP 150)
  • 3. Disable Device @ DC 25 low tier, DC 30 high tier. That's right on page 9 in the trap listing.

It would appear that suggesting the monolith can be "disabled" is true after all. Players can interpret it as "please use Disable Device" and that works, or they can interpret it broadly, asking, "What does disabling it entail?" If they do, it would seem that the 3 options should be revealed to them.

2. The final fight broadly damages PCs for even doing simple things like drinking non-magical alchemical brews such as antitoxin or antiplague.

Spoiler:
False. Some GMs on the GM forum discussion are suggesting that they have to deal damage to PCs for drinking alchemical products because the module penalizes PCs for "casting spells or similar effects." Some have interpreted "similar effects" to mean anything that has a boost or buff effect, such as drinking Soothe Syrup, or Antitoxin, etc. However, the module text itself prohibits such broad penalties. It says on page 15: "The PCs can assist with the ritual, though Amenopheus warns them that the ritual’s nature means casting spells, activating items, or even consuming magical draughts could have dangerous side effects—he suspects any entity that can possess a sage jewel could as readily hijack another magic item or magical process, putting such bystanders at risk."

Since a potion is a magical item, of course it would be dangerous to use. However, sunrods, antitoxins, and all other similar alchemical products are non-magical and as such, they do not qualify as "magical items or magical processes," so they can be used without penalty.

3. The final fight is a TPK, the opening fight is a TPK, the module is brutally hard.

Spoiler:
True. Surprise! There are some actual problems here. There are valid concerns. The one cited by many is that during the final fight/ritual, it's possible that the PCs will be exposed to 30d6 or 40d6 damage, with no saving throw. And... they're right. This is in the module. It asks that the GM allow PCs to make 2 sets of skill checks for the ritual, and that the GM track the number of times the players failed to hit the DC by 5 or more. So for example, if the PCs failed to hit a DC of 33 but got a 31, then it's close enough to be ignored. However, if they fail to hit that DC of 33 because they got a 26 then that needs to be tracked, because that's 5+ points below the DC. It's a "big" failure as far as the module is concerned. For each such failure, in the high tier the PCs will endure 5d6 damage.

If you have a full table, 6 players, and each player does both checks, that's a total of 12 checks. If the checks all fail by 5 or more, that's 12 x 5d6 damage. That's 60d6 damage, as a worst-case scenario. That's 210 points of damage on average (360 max if you're rolling hot) -- pretty much the game ends here. If this happens, everyone wraps up and goes home.

I've read the product multiple times to find a way to correct these naysayers, but it turns out they're right. Some other GMs have suggested that the moment someone fails a check you should immediately issue 5d6 damage, so that the group gets it in smaller doses and can opt out before they die. However, that isn't how it is worded in the product. It advises the GM to track the number of failures, tally them up, and then issue the damage. This is of course devastating.

So how did I survive this when I was a player? First of all, the GM described the seriousness of the ritual, and the danger of magical items/spells being used near it, which already set us on edge. So when the GM noted that our first option was to not participate/help with the ritual, 1 player took that option. He waited outside, and was considered by our GM to be free of any blast zone (though he obviously didn't give that away until after everything was over). Second, the GM advised us that Aid Another was allowed and that Taking 10 was allowed. He made it clear that if we were not good at the needed skills, we could still use Aid Another to help a team member to get "big numbers." The GM did not say that we needed big numbers (although we did indeed); he merely said that Aid Another would help us get bigger numbers whether we needed them or not. This is of course a way for the GM to lead us without disclosing much of anything. With the idea of using Aid Another planted in our minds, we discussed who would lead, who would Aid, and then made our rolls.

Why does that matter? Because it turns out that the module states that using Aid Another does not count toward failures, even if the PC does in fact fail to Aid. So! Our setup was: 1 team member waited outside, 2 team members did Aid Another, and 3 team members led the skill checks. Therefore, the most damage possible for us would have been 30d6 if each leader failed both times (that's 6 failures x 5d6 = 30d6). However, we didn't fail 6 times. We failed 2. Thus we endured 10d6 damage, or about 35 points of damage. That was survivable, even for my low-tier character playing up to the high tier. With 4 remaining successes, we got the minor boon from the ritual, as well. There was a greater boon, but we didn't have enough successes, and that was fine.

As mentioned in my heading for this section, the opening fight is very deadly as well. It is 3 or 4 CR above the PC's level (for example, in tier 7-8, this monster is CR 11), which is already considered "epic" difficulty as per the rules on balancing encounters. Then the module also adds a hazard -- grasping graves. This is a CR 4 hazard, which would be negligible except that along with the hazard the module adds reduced visibility. The hazard itself also adds difficult terrain and might grapple PCs, holding them in place and dealing damage. This happens while the CR 11 (low tier) monsters are approaching and attacking. This should add at least 1 extra CR which is not accounted for in the module's calculation of CR. So in the low tier, this is PCs level 7 or 8 fighting a monster/hazard that is probably CR 12, if fully combined as suggested. That's a +5 CR fight -- so deadly it isn't even listed as an option in the encounter balance table.

To be fair to the module, it does give the PCs 1 of the sages as an NPC to help them. This may help in the fight. However, as we can see from the other reviews, it didn't always help enough. Lots of groups TPK'd -- at the beginning, or at the end.

Overall, I didn't have a problem with this module. However, it appears that was partly due to luck or just-right performance in certain areas. I also have no characters in the Scarab Sages faction, so much of my game was a ho-hum "wait and see what the Scarab Sages people do" affair. Nothing stood out. Others clearly had vastly different experiences, but for me this was middle-of-the-road, so I'm giving it 3 stars.


Great Scenario, but DEADLY

*****

I ran this the other day at a city con and loved it. A fitting end to any faction level multi-season spanning event.
The scenario is likely the most complex I have ever seen so I recommend only high star GMs with plenty of prep time (i.e. 2+ weeks) run it to ensure everyone has a good time.
Advice to players: Do not be afraid of every little thing. Your characters are high-level seasoned adventurers. Act like it. My table wiped because my players were afraid of every little thing and refused to even enter several rooms after just looking in from the doorway. If you (the players) do not explore everything and engage those critical thinking skills, then the end will be very bad for you. As in, TPK bad.
For players and GMs that are well prepared, get ready for an epic scenario that will provide one of the best boss fights you will ever encounter.


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