Pathfinder Society Scenario #9–14: Down the Verdant Path PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1–5.

Few dare tread through the ancient groves of the Verduran Forest, and those who do settle in these woodlands tend to stay close to their communities. Mystery and danger rarely deter agents of the Pathfinder Society, however. When the semi-retired Pathfinder Falbin ventured from his home deep in the wood, he came across an unexpected pocket of flourishing growth and summer weather in the middle of the wintery forest. He fears that this disturbance is the work of a cabal of druids whose mayhem the Society ended six years ago. Have the druids returned to wreak havoc, or are other forces at play?

Contents in "Down the Verdant Path” also contribute directly to the ongoing storyline of the Concordance faction.

Written by Scott Sharplin.

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Product Reviews (5)

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

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Fun and imaginative.

****( )

(I GMed this.)

This scenario simply works. There's no weird rules or subsystems to track, it simply tells a story and has fun with it. The author obviously has a creative mind and isn't afraid to be weird. Pretty much every NPC and enemy can be interacted with and fights can be solved through alternate means, if you know what you're doing. Environments are interesting and varied without being overly complex.

I wish I could be more descriptive, but there simply isn't a lot to say if everything is this good. While I usually reserve five stars for scenario's that go the extra mile, don't take this four-star as a critique of "it could've been better", it's still very much worth playing.

Awesome for Roleplaying


I'm not going to be wordy or fill this with spoilers. I just want to say that after reading this scenario I don't think I have been this excited to run a scenario.

Ample opportunity for any pc to roleplay their character. And use skills creatively to resolve an encounter. And the boon is I'm my opinion awesome. Along with the super fun flavor that is added at the end.
I would love to see more scenarios that encourages Roleplaying as much as this one does.

OP fights

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So, the people I played with, and others I've talked to who have played the scenario, all agree that the fights are not suitable for level 1 characters. Both groups had casualties and had to quit early, a rare event in that experienced circle. There were some poor rolls, sure, but the stack of hazards and overall CR in the encounters really require some more hit points than a lvl 1 character (especially any arcane caster) is going to be bringing. It was to the point were we discussed if this was intended as a 3-7 scenario, poorly reduced to fill some 1-5 quota. I'll give it two stars for the setting, which is somewhat interesting.

Best. Scenario. Ever.


So firstly, Disclaimer: I have not played or GMed the previous three scenarios related to the Concordance. As such I went into playing this without any feeling or knowledge related to the NPCs contained herein, what-so-ever.

So, since I had no predispositions towards the NPCs you meet at the start of the scenario. I had quite a fun time talking and interacting with them. I thoroughly enjoyed the events that accompanied the NPC coming along with the party, and felt they were more than simply "window dressing" as it were.

As for the "side-quest" that the person who reviewed this before me alluded to. It took my party all of a single question to the NPC who gives said "Side-quest" to know that it was definitely the main quest. The question seemed obvious to many of us at our table, however I can imagine that varies from table to table. Especially dependent on how much the players want to interact with the NPCs present.

I had a great time with this scenario, it is, as my title states, the best pathfinder scenario I have played or run IMHO. I can-not wait to run it as a GM for my players in the near future and see how it goes for them.

TL;DR, If you are a table of players who do not enjoy talking with and interacting with NPCs. This is likely only a 3 star scenario. However, as I highly endorse anyone interacting with the characters as more than simply exp fodder, I will give the stars as it applies to me. 5/5

Some problems, some great stuff.

***( )( )

So, in another Pathfinder Society product (9-05, Call of the Copper Gate) a reviewer wrote this under his objections:

"First, the initial assumption that the PCs are going to obey Zarta Dralneen, instead of arresting, killing, or snubbing her. This is a half-loved, half-despised character, and should not be giving direct orders to regular Pathfinders." OK, take that review text, swap Zarta for Jamila and poof, you have a review of this product.

Yes, the Jamila from the Tyranny of Winds trilogy, the Jamila that betrayed Pathfinder Society, stole artifacts, caused deaths, and ultimately needed Pathfinders to bail her out -- that's the person here, giving orders. Also, she's asking everyone to convert to the new Concordance faction.

Essentially, a possibly hated figure is jauntily, happily trotting along with the group, making bets and joking. For my character, I viewed this NPC as a total thief & betrayer. I never felt that the authors of those previous products rehabilitated her character very well. I spent most of the game trying to get her removed from the adventure, and failing (it's railroaded in, she has to follow along). If you loved her, this will be a delight for you. If you were neutral about her, this will be a delight for you. If you think she deserves a hearty punch in the face, well, prepare to fail your mission.

OK, enough of that aspect. Let's tear that band-aid off and be done with it. Ouch.

Once over that hurdle, what's the basic summary here? What does this product bring to the table?

Well, the summary is that you are summoned to a region because, as the title implies, things are getting too verdant there. People are worried that something has gone awry magically. So you head out to investigate, with the betrayer in tow. During your investigations you'll have a couple of encounters that the betrayer won't help you overcome at all, you'll be asked to aid someone with a side-quest that isn't relevant to your quest at all, but you'll meta-game and know that you have to do the side-quest to achieve your main quest goal, and so you will, and then you'll win. Get those prestige points, baby!

OK, now without sarcasm and with more detail:

You'll find a verdant area and fight monsters, while Jamila just moves out of the way and leaves you to deal with it on your own. I am very happy I didn't play this module with a particular friend of mine. He has a military background and pushes this concept of "dereliction of duty." The idea is that if you are faced with a danger/challenge and you shirk away, you may find yourself on the dangerous end of a gun, as your commanding officer gives you the option to engage in combat or die. This friend of mine would be murdering Jamila the moment she walks away from the encounter.

For GMs, this might be an excellent reason to not force her to attend. I haven't read the module, but she does have a partner who also attends: Falbin. Perhaps he is the only one needed here, but I don't know.

If the players at your table do not care about "dereliction of duty" then they won't care when Jamila backs away. They'll understand that meta-game dictates that she leave the fight to the PCs, and so the players will carry on fine.

However, that brings me to my last spoilered point. The meta-game. Later in the game, a gnome is going to ask to get his/her blues & indigos back. It sounds silly, sounds like maybe it has to do with the "bleaching" that gnomes sometimes experience, and it doesn't seem tied to the mission at hand. Unfortunately, it totally is. So the players have to meta-game. The realistic response to the gnome's request to "get my colors" should be "Hey, thanks for the side-quest, but we're on a mission right now, so maybe later." In fact, this is what my character said. Instead, you're supposed to wink-wink, nudge-nudge -- we all know that this is the real plot, so dive in.

If you're a GM, please try to find a plausible way to tie that side-quest into the main quest. Yes, it's cute & whimsical, but it also comes across like a distraction. Any connection would make the players feel more inclined to say yes.

So, let me close with some positive comments. I think the fights have the potential to be interesting. I think being able to negotiate out of a couple of the fights is also interesting, although the DC to do this wasn't something my group could achieve. (I'm surprised there can be any check at all, however. By the rules, Diplomacy takes a full minute (10 rounds) of talking before you can make your roll to win someone over. Typically, 10 rounds is long enough for a combat encounter to run its course. At that point, the Diplomacy check is redundant; everything is already resolved. So allowing fights to be swayed by 1 or 2 rounds of talking is impressive.)

Lastly, there is a mechanism in this product that can separate the party members and force them to have to fend for themselves for a short period of time. I found that to be exciting. I would like to run that as a GM, and see how various groups handle it. Overall, this is a 5 star product if you have no hangups and can just go with the fun. However, I was badly hung up on the villain that we had to obey in this product, and badly hung up on the "silly side quest that is actually your main quest" subplot. For me, issues such as these pull the rating down to a 3 star product. I cannot wait to see how others rate this.

Oh, one last thing. It might need spoilering, but it is one of those things that could make some people really upset, so it needs a warning up front so players can opt out. In another scenario from season 9, there was a big push about a lesbian married couple that figured prominently into the game. Some people hated that, some loved it. Well, here there is a gender identity "thing": a character is going to be called a him or her by the players, and then the NPC is supposed to say, "Sorry, I'm non-binary." For us, we had to figure out what that even meant. Once we "got it," it sure felt like someone was pushing an agenda. I'm not going to rate the product up or down for this, but YMMV.

Aw hell, here's an edit:

I'm starting to think that the Paizo team is suffering from a disconnect from the fans. And no, I'm not talking about making an issue out of gender in what should be a product focused on fantasy sword & sorcery. I'm talking about Jamila. Over in the product discussion, someone wrote, "The Concordance? Those despicable thieves who didn't have the courtesy of trying to speak with us before they attacked us, stole from us, and then needed our help to bail them out of their stupidity? The rest of you may trust them, but I would trust a Spawn of Rovagug first."

I have to admit, this is now the 3rd or 4th time this season that Paizo has dropped a controversial jerk of an NPC onto the players, and some players are having a legitimately difficult time with this. I'm really starting to wonder if maybe players should just start murdering these villains hanging out in the Pathfinder lodges, accept some mission failures, and send that word back to Paizo. Is Paizo aware that we don't view these characters positively? It feels like Paizo loves them and thinks they're beloved. Hey Paizo: they're not beloved anymore. You can't have them put Pathfinder Society in danger and think that all the players are going to be forgiving. Your products are starting to be unenjoyable when you do this. Please think about this. At the very least, you need to have a contingency in the modules for what to do when the PCs predictably want to shank your reviled leaders.