Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-13: The Lion's Justice PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7–11.

Devious schemes are afoot in Oppara, the glittering capital of Taldor. As the city delights in a public holiday, Lady Gloriana Morilla and her allies have learned of an impending plot that could throw the whole nation into chaos. The PCs are uniquely poised to collaborate with Taldor's secretive Lion Blade spies to intercept the culprits in what promises to be a defining moment in Taldan history.

Contents in "The Lion's Justice" also contribute directly to the ongoing storyline of the Sovereign Court faction. This is the last of several scenarios that also set the stage for and directly tie into the upcoming War for the Crown Adventure Path, and events in this scenario overlap with several scenes in the first volume, Crownfall.

Written by Thurston Hillman.

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

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An Exciting Event



I don't usually call out the cover art for PFS scenarios, but I have to give credit here: what an awesome image! Anyway, The Lion's Justice is a direct tie-in/lead-in to the War for the Crown adventure path and a scenario of special interest for Sovereign Court faction members. I played through it via PbP with a counter-intuitive character (my "caveman shaman", Gurkagh). I had an okay time playing, but reading through the adventure afterwards, I think it's actually a really good scenario that just happened not to come across so well with the particular group I played with. There are some interesting, creative encounters and the tie-in to War for the Crown is really cool and makes me want to run or play that AP some day.


There's a pretty involved backstory here that has to do with Taldor's government and nobility. The current ruler, Grand Prince Stavian III, faces a challenge from Princess Eutropia who is making a bid for the crown. But Taldor currently doesn't allow females to inherit the throne, so she's trying to get the Senate to pass a bill to end primogeniture. Seeing threats from various corners, however, Stavian plans to massacre his enemies in the Senate during a major event held there called the Grand Day of Exaltation. There's a lot more, as well: the Lion's Blades (Taldor's spy network), the Ulfen Guard (Stavian's personal bodyguards), Lady Gloriana Morilla and the Sovereign Court faction of the Pathfinder Society (which tends to favour Princess Eutropia), and then some particular other nobles. I can't summarise it all here, but suffice it to say that the PCs are stepping onto a rich tapestry of a storyline that has been developing in various adventures and sourcebooks for over a decade now.

The PCs assemble for their briefing with Venture-Captain Muesello at the Pathfinder Lodge in Oppara (disguised as a fishing shack!). Muesello has just started his briefing when Bjarte Trolltooth, a member of the Ulfen Guard, bursts his way into the room and starts shouting! Bjarte has become an ally of the Pathfinder Society after the events of a previous scenario (# 9-11), and he's now come with an urgent message: his employer, Prince Stavian, is going to murder everyone he perceives as disloyal in the Senate! Bjarte says he can't personally interfere, and Muesello says there's no way the PCs would be able to intervene without creating an international uproar--unless they got the Lion's Blades on their side! It's an exciting way to handle a briefing.

To enlist the Lion's Blades, the PCs travel to the group's secret headquarters, the site of a mission from # 5-11 (and there's a really cool bonus for PCs who played that one). The Pathfinders are told that the Lion's Blades can't get involved unless they have proof, and that to get it they should investigate the home of Earl Calhadion Vernisant, an ally of Stavian who has been holding suspicious meetings recently.

While playing, I assumed this was leading up to an intrigue-based mission involving disguises and bluffs to sneak into the house (Gurkagh's offer to disguise himself as the Earl was rejected by the group!). This part of the scenario actually turns out very differently, however. The PCs are greeted by the Earl's chamberlain. Unbeknownst to her, the Earl's staff has been replaced with agents of the evil Brotherhood of Silence (a group I don't know much about). When they see the Pathfinders arrive, the disguised evildoers try to poison them! The poisoning is handled well mechanically (doses are increased to raise the DCs, and suspicious PCs will be fooled by an obscure poison spell). On the other hand, scenes like this are harder to run in practice with the GM having to ask "so who's eating the cookies?" which is sure to get everyone thinking (and meta-gaming). Anyway, the whole sequence inevitably ends with a battle against the agents of the Brotherhood of Silence, all of whom have poisoned their blades as well. If you don't have a good Fort save, you could be in trouble here.

After defeating the would-be assassins, the PCs will find the evidence they need locked in Earl Vernisant's safe. The Lion's Blade promise to do what they can to halt the plot while asking the Pathfinders to head to the Senate to assist.

The first main sequence at the Senate starts with the PCs trying to burst into the main hall as they hear screams coming from inside. The massacre has begun! The PCs need to help everyone inside escape while simultaneously fighting a magus named Karina Deckland who has a grudge against the Pathfinder Society from way, way back in a Season 1 adventure! The tricky part with this scene is that the crowd rules are in effect, making it difficult to move around and making it so that area of effect spells are likely to kill innocents. I really like the encounter design, even though the battle was over before Gurkagh managed to get to it!

The big finale is a battle against Earl Vernisant himself and his resolute lion mount (pictured on the cover). In the right circumstances, this battle could be really tough--Vernisant is a cavalier with some good charging feats, and could spike massive amounts of damage. He's accompanied by three allips who likely target spellcasters. Alas, when I played it, Vernisant lost Initiative and one optimized PC knocked him off his mount with a 55(!) on a reposition check and another optimized PC effectively killed him with a single fireball that did 13d8+30 points of damage! The battle was thus over in a round or two. I wish players with optimized PCs could realise the damage they do to the game and to everyone else's fun sometime. But I don't hold this against the scenario--it definitely reads like a fun encounter.

The epilogue is more interesting than most. The purpose of the Grand Day of Exaltation is to raise a single commoner to the nobility. Stavian killed this commoner to start the massacre, but the PCs can chip in to have the main raised from the dead. If they do, they earn a vanity boon that allows them to retire (if and when they're ready) in the man's home village. I like this story touches like this. As a (or the?) capstone for the Sovereign Court, members of that faction also get a cool boon--the chance to become a member of the Taldan Senate!

Overall, I really like The Lion's Justice. Even though I never knew much about Taldan politics, the AP it links into, or the goals of the Sovereign Court, I could feel the excitement of everything the scenario was leading towards. The encounter design was interesting and original, and it felt really cool to be part of a big event in the setting.

Fun Scenario with Many Callbacks


I ran this scenario at a convention (after having played it a few weeks prior) and enjoyed this. It was more fun for me to GM than play even. It's a great lead in for War for the Crown, but also has several fun callbacks to earlier scenarios (which, sadly, none of the PCs had played with their PCs). My only significant gripe would be the massive map (used near the end) which, although fun, isn't terribly conducive to convention play.

Epic! and *so* cool!


(Yes, the title is a Steam Powered Giraffe reference)

Normally when I get newly released PFS scenarios as a Venture Officer, I download them and scan over them a bit, looking at which maps they use, how long they are, and how neat the art is. This has been useful for my local GMs as it's enabled me to give them head's up about scenarios that are longer (#8-25, #9-07) than others, or ones with complex custom maps (#9-06) that might require more prep-time. I also do this to try and partially sate my curiosity while simultaneously allowing for the possibility that I'll maybe be able to play a new scenario before GMing it!

In this case, well...after my jaw needed a manual assist in order to close after several minutes of drooling at the cover art, I started skimming. I couldn't help but catch some of the sidebar headers, which made me grin even more as I considered the callback possibilities hiding here. By the time I found the "big" map, my will saves had failed me - I went back to page one and just started reading the scenario cover-to-cover, prepping to GM it immediately - I couldn't resist!

The Lion's Justice does not disappoint! Thrilling story hooks from the moment the PCs get into the briefing, well-written dialogue that is straightforward but doesn't feel like it's "railroading" the party, call-backs all the way from Season 1 that do fit the story, challenging combats that are very well balanced for tier 7-11 PFS play, and (a personal focus of mine when writing scenario reviews) a truly epic plot that the characters can learn during play (rather than only being able to understand by reading the GM material)!!!

This scenario ticks every single box for me as a GM and as a player (who was fortunately able to bring his Taldan Cavalier to play in it a couple of weeks after GMing it). When I GM'd this, I also incorporated art from Book 1 of War for the Crown and created a playlist/soundtrack to enhance the atmosphere! The Lion's Justice is, for me, such an exceptional scenario that it is totally worth the extra effort!

The Lion's Justice is, far and away, my favorite of Season 9 to-date and easily a contender for one of my favorites of all time!

Great Capstone


I played this tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it. Seems to be packed full of flavour for Sovereign Court. We just eeked into full on high tier which, as a level 9, left me feeling more than a little nervous. A very lucky burst of radiance at the end pretty much guaranteed us victory fortunately.

I will leave a more detailed review once I have run it. It definitely went right up to the top of the list of scenarios I want to run.

Sweet story.


So I thought this scenario was great. Super cool story and fun stuff going on. But there was something that kinda really bugged me.

In one part the only way to succeed is with a SUPER high trained only skill DC and have no alternatives and have it cause a loss of gold. That's just really upsetting. It's so high that people that are good at the skill have a large chance of failing.

Grand Lodge

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

So. Back to Oppara once again.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Visualize a sensible adult sitting alone in their home. Now imagine that same adult chanting "THURSTY!" *clap clap clap* "THURSTY!" *clap clap clap*

I don't know what brought this on, but the hype is undeniably real. I trust this man to destroy both me and my characters.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
So. Back to Oppara once again.

Surprised we're even allowed within a hundred miles of that place.

Silver Crusade

Eagerly awaiting John’s maps post; running this in March

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

Dean HS Jones wrote:
Eagerly awaiting John’s maps post; running this in March

Oh, sorry! I think I missed this question.

Maps appearing in #9–13:

  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Noble Estate

    This also makes use of a very large custom map borrowed from an upcoming Adventure Path volume. I recommend picking up a product like Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Basic in order to draw a big hunk of it all in one go.

  • Silver Crusade

    John Compton wrote:
    Dean HS Jones wrote:
    Eagerly awaiting John’s maps post; running this in March

    Oh, sorry! I think I missed this question.

    ** spoiler omitted **

    Thanks, John!

    Shadow Lodge

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Well isn't this a trip down memory lane...

    Grand Lodge

    I gust play this one and it was fun to go throw someone house. Gust don't send me the cleaning bill. LOL

    Shadow Lodge

    Just in case my review didn't make it quite clear...


    Well done, Thursty!

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