Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-20: Fury of the Final Blade PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7–11.

Liberty's Edge faction leader Colson Maldris was so certain that Andoran's elites were ruining the country that he took drastic action, allying with the Gray Gardeners in a plot to kidnap several of them and bring them to Galt. Though the Gardeners promised Maldris that they would grant these individuals a fair trial and carry out any executions without the use of their infamous soul-trapping Final Blades, their word was not to be trusted. Now all of Maldris's kidnapping victims are scheduled to face the guillotine. Maldris has sent a desperate plea for help to the Pathfinder Society, hoping for aid in freeing his victims from this terrible fate. However, Maldris's efforts to lay the groundwork for a rescue plot have seen him captured as an enemy of the revolution.

Not only does it fall to the PCs to prevent an international incident, but the fate of this faction's leader also lies in their hands.

Contents in Fury of the Final Blade also contribute directly to the ongoing storyline of the Liberty's Edge faction.

Written by Lyz Liddell.

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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

PZOPSS0920E


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***( )( ) (based on 6 ratings)

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Galt... We meet again

****( )

I had fun with this one: I played this one up in the 4-player high tier and felt reasonably fragile, but in spite of this I felt like I was able to do a lot.

A setup in Galt is always fun/scary, and the follow-up on the previous adventure (Case of Missing Persons) is interesting. As expected, infiltration is part of the game in a country where the society is basically outlawed. What you have to infiltrate and what you'll encounter there is scary even for a high tier party: We were nearly in full panic mode when the GM told is what was going on, but weer managed to keep out heads cool. You will face some people and I was disappointed to see the way they're scripted:

Spoiler:
As if people are going to argue that they don't want to be saved, as they're facing the guillotine... Why?!

The final encounter felt strangely easy: High level parties should be able to face the odds that are presented here, barring severe flukes in the initiative rolls, but the opponent felt somewhat weak. Some classes are not really suited for near-lone opponents because they don't deliver the punch need against a high level party, even if they're thematically correct for the situation.

Despite these flaws, I genuinely enjoyed this scenario, which puts a party up against at least 1 iconic and scary enemy.


I'm giving it 5 stars, but I agree with those giving it fewer stars....

*****

This is perhaps the best gaming I have experienced in Pathfinder Society. Literally, this is the best module/scenario ever. 5 stars.

And yet, the other reviews here paint it as a TERRIBLE product. And to some degree, they are right. I'm going to explain how this is both the best & worst game ever. I'm going to spoiler most of this, but I'm going to leave the first part visible to players & GMs. That is: this is a TPK in the high tier.

If you play high tier, you are supposed to die, full stop. Just do NOT play high tier. Change your characters, bring in levels 7/8/9, stay low tier. If you do this, the game immediately switches from "unfair garbage" to "hey that was fun." And now we'll get into spoilers where I explain why, and I'll respond to some reviewers previous comments.

Spoiler:
Here is why the high-tier TPK'd or almost-TPK'd players in the previous reviews. Take your level 10 or 11 character, the one you wish to use in this scenario. Look at the hit points. Now, subtract about 20 or 30 HP. That's because the TPK fight will damage you a little, at first. OK? Character still fine? Now, subtract 140 points of damage. Is your character still alive & conscious? If so, you can survive the monster's special ability, which does a flat 140 points of damage if you fail the save. AND the saving throw DC is high. So the odds of failing are real. If you don't fail, an ally or two (or three!) will. Can you solo the fight against a creature that does 140 points of damage? If not, you're going to be part of the TPK.

Now, let's say your character is awesome, and let's say you meta-game against this issue and you all have protection, because you cheated. You'll still lose. Why? Because there are NPCs within range of that special ability that cannot survive it, and that means that even if you live, you'll lose all your prestige and essentially "fail" the game.

This is why people are upset with this product.

However, my games never had this problem. Why? Because we heeded the prior reviews and we all agreed to play low tier (both for the game in which I was a player, and the game in which I was the GM). Low tier has exactly zero problems! The monsters are tough, but not unfair. And the monsters have no guaranteed way to insta-kill the NPCs you are protecting. Much better!

Now let's get into some comments from previous reviews:

Quote:
"this one doesn't allow you to prepare at all, and you're thrust in unprepared into a deadly encounter."

...and...

Quote:
"There's an investigation bit earlier, but it has little to no bearing on the outcome whatsoever."

So this is where I started to mutter, "huh?" as I read the previous reviews. The investigation, which supposedly does no good, is specifically there to give you information so that you can prepare for the deadly encounter.

When a reviewer says this:

Quote:
"Nothing significant comes of the investigations and it doesn't help your prison encounter at all."

...I have to wonder what in the world they did during their investigation. Listen, previous reviewer, this may bum you out to hear this, but I think your GM might have not read the product fully. I think you might have been ripped off.

The module specifically calls out that PCs can learn of the wards inside the jail, including an evil summoning circle!!! AND the PCs can learn that the jail is supposedly haunted. If PCs cannot put together that ghostly/incorporeal monsters are being summoned in and/or controlled by a magic circle, then the fault is not with this product. It borderline bangs you over the head with these hints.

The only issue? The hints are explained in the many paragraphs of text about the jail. So GMs have to actually read the paragraphs and know this, or highlight the text, or do something so that they know what they can convey to the players. Skimming means you'll miss this and ruin it for your players.

I want to make that more blunt: if you are the GM and you skim this product, you will miss a ton of stuff and ruin it for your players, and that will be your fault. Don't do it.

As another reviewer wrote:

Quote:
"there’s at least some chance that you can figure out what’s coming, and if you make the right preparations then the fight is significantly easier."

So, do a real investigation, scope out the jail, learn what you can, and prepare.

GMs, this next bit is for you: stop hiding/withholding information. When I first read the product, I saw that the PCs could learn about the magical wards, and I thought "There is no way. Even if they can, they won't." Think about this. If the jail is reinforced stone WITH LEAD LINING on the inner cells, as described in the product, and if Detect Magic/Evil/Undead is foiled by thick stone and/or lead lining, then what player on Earth would ever think to say "I scan with Detect Magic"??? It's useless. So nobody will ever learn of the wards and magic circle.

But here's the tip for GMs, which makes it more plausible. First, the lead is lining only the walls of the cells. The magic circle is outside of that. So Detect Magic and other things should be able to pierce the outer "normal" walls and see that evil magic, by one of two ways -- either the walls aren't thick, or there are tiny barred windows high up (say, 7' up) to allow airflow & sunlight inside. Also the exit door is made of wood which won't seal air-tight. A Message spell should absolutely wind its way through the door cracks.

You could ask for a Spellcraft (or Knowledge Arcana) check to know that Detect spells might work. No need to keep the players in the dark, if their characters might be very shrewd and might notice details about the construction.

As a GM, you must be prepared for players to find ways around the wards of the jail. And I don't just mean the lead-lined walls. One PC turned into an earth elemental. Well, the jail has nothing to protect against earth-glide. You could say that the lead lining is impassable, or that the reinforced masonry includes so much metal that an elemental cannot get through, but an elemental can punch right through lead, and can also dive down underground and then back up through the floors (note: the reinforced masonry is the walls not the flooring, so some plausible methods of entry may exist for earth-gliding or burrowing creatures). Earth elementals, tiny birds (if you agreed that there are small barred windows to allow air & sunlight in), incorporeal creatures, invisibility, and spells like Gaseous Form -- they all allow for entry/exit in various ways, so figure out how to deal with it. And "deal with it" might mean, "the players did something unexpected and invalidated the enemy tactics." That's OK. Figuring out what happens when the players get creative is very fun.

My players simply came into the jail with the key and a Gray Gardeners mask, acting like a guard with a prisoner. I was inclined to force this to fail, until the prisoner found a way to annoy the guards into throwing him into jail. The PCs had Message running, so they were able to stand outside the jail and get a detailed report of the layout and how freaked out the guards were about this magical/evil summoning zone.

The GM's job is not to bar stuff like this and force everyone onto a railroad. The GM's job is to use as much of the module text as possible, and stay on the rails when the players stay on rails, but if the PCs do something unusual that should work, then the GM should make sure that it plausibly does work.

Quote:
"They were able to escape with the prisoners and the final blade when there was only 1 door and we had the prison surrounded, and a spy network setup in the city. An entire mob gathered at the execution site before we even KNEW about the execution. Ridiculous."

YES, this is true. This is what I was saying. This problem is not with the product so much as it is with GMs who are too rigid or who are scared to do anything other than exactly what the product's author mentions. If a GM is so nervous about this that they force the players actions to be invalidated -- even though PFS rules talk about the opposite; the players being able to invalidate the module text -- then that GM is not following the spirit of the rules. The rules say "don't change monster stat blocks," but they do NOT say, "players can only choose 1 path and no other ideas will work."

Also, to address the quote that I just... quoted... I would like to note that in my game, the players put a spy into the jail long before morning. The correct answer to this is not, "No," but instead, "Okay, time to figure out what happens." They got to see Colson getting moved. They got to see the Final Blade being loaded onto a wagon in the dead of night. The module doesn't expect this, of course, but it also doesn't bar this. So now the PCs went on a raid against a wagon moving down the street, and ended up fighting both the final fight and the guards of the jail at the same time. This is allowed in Pathfinder Society. GMs, do not be afraid to deal with your players coming up with cool ideas that circumvent the expected "normal" play through.

Quote:
"And then we had a finale where the success is based on one die roll."

Just.. FYI... this isn't in the module. I'm looking at it now and the final fight can be solved a lot of ways. Yes, you can indeed do a battle of speaking (your Diplomacy to counter the enemy's speech) and try to disperse the crowd. In some sense, that would be simple skill checks to win. However, you have TEN rounds to make this happen,¹ and if it's not working, you can certainly do anything else you think up! Fireball every damn citizen that comprises the mob. Murder the evil leader who is working them up. Even try to destroy the Final Blade! (Note: there is a post on the GM forum that suggests that the PCs are not supposed to be able to destroy this blade. However, previously Final Blades were artifacts that had 200 HP and 20 hardness. While that's VERY sturdy, it's not impossible to break.² A GM might consider that as an option too. Conveniently, when a Final Blade's hit points reach zero, it releases all the souls it has captured, including some that attack. This is a perfect time to trigger the banshee jail monster fight, if the players managed to bypass that! Or just say it broke and call it good.)

¹ = It is possible that a GM would see "you have 10 rounds" and, knowing that Diplomacy takes 10 rounds to activate (your character "must speak for at least 1 minute" before getting to roll a Diplomacy check), give the players just ONE check to avert disaster. However, the product does NOT follow that rule. It's a mini-game in which you can make a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check as a standard action. You get ten tries to talk down the crowds, ten skill check rolls, and that's per person. Or, cast spells, start fighting, attack the guillotine, whatever.

² = Actually, this is pretty difficult to defeat. Your player with the adamantine weapon will cheerfully suggest that the weapon ignores hardness, and go to work destroying the Final Blade. However, adamantine weapons ignore hardness of 19 and lower. The moment an item has hardness of 20 or more, the adamantine is outclassed and can no longer ignore the hardness. So the PCs in your game will need to do a TON of damage on each hit, to bring this monster of a machine down.

All in all, I think there are a lot of cool outcomes for this adventure. Don't let a lackluster GM rob you of all the good options you can try here. It really should be a great time, and a wild rescue.


No story, just designed to TPK

*( )( )( )( )

If you wanted proof that later scenarios want to kill player characters - this is it. When you have high tier games, you are allowed to prepare - you have to be, and you'll prepare for certain situations. No one is prepared for every single situation - it's not possible. But this one doesn't allow you to prepare at all, and you're thrust in unprepared into a deadly encounter.

While difficulty may be understandable, what isn't forgivable is the fact that concept and story are thrown out of the window to create a deadly encounter designed to kill. There's an investigation bit earlier, but it has little to no bearing on the outcome whatsoever.

I've not written a review before even on other scenarios that I thought were weak, but this one absolutely outraged me. Not just because of player characters dying but because it was for stupid reasons which have no regard for the story or roleplay. I've played most scenarios now (over 260) and this is by far, the worst one in existence.

Spoiler No.1:
The investigation at the start which of course, takes time, gives the players nothing much to go on at all. If it has no effect on the story, why bother putting a massive section on it? Nothing significant comes of the investigations and it doesn't help your prison encounter at all. It's just a waste of time.

Spoiler No.2:
WHY, in an ordinary prison, in an ordinary town, are there extraplanar beings controlling a banshee, and are in charge of the prison? Just overpowered, horrific monsters there again to just kill players, nothing to do with the actual plot. Having killed the Extraplanars, the Banshee wailed and killed most of the prison guards and the prisoners. That is completely illogical for a prison setup. And how exactly are these beings controlling the banshee? No explanation given.


You’re high level - be ready to reach for some of your less commonly used tricks

****( )

I enjoyed playing this mod but I can see how some of the potential problems that other reviewers describe could easily become trouble. I think the key issue is that it’s a 7-11 mod, so it asks you to accomplish some challenging things, and fight some difficult fights. On the other hand, you have 7-11 level characters, so you should have a pretty diverse collection of tricks to throw at your problems. If you have the right sorts of tricks, then things can go pretty smoothly. If you don’t have the right tricks (or if the one character that has the right trick gets whacked over the head at the wrong moment) then things can be very rough.

For example, the one reviewer describes a near TPK. That fight is tough. If you have a couple of characters that are bad at making that kind of save, or have trouble punching through that kind of DR and resistances, then it can be really tough. On the other hand, there’s at least some chance that you can figure out what’s coming, and if you make the right preparations then the fight is significantly easier. It’s going to vary a lot from table to table.

Another thing that went a little differently for my party was that we didn’t have a good face character for doing diplomacy and knowledge: local during the information gathering part of the scenario. We did have some magic that helped us with scouting and observing before we rushed into danger. I’m not sure how much to credit flexibility of the scenario vs. flexibility of the GM but we were able to do some amount of making up for what we didn’t have with skills and powers that we did have. I do feel like there were some interesting links to characters from other scenarios (which I like to see) but we missed some of that due to not having a very socially savvy party.

I’m actually thinking of using a GM Star to play this again. I felt obliged to play my high level Liberty’s Edge character the first time through. I think playing my Arcane Trickster, who has the social skills we were lacking, would open up the opportunity to try some different tactics and I’m curious to see how different things might go. We’ll see whether or not I come back agreeing with the reviewer who said this scenario is too railroad-y.


A Complete Railroad

**( )( )( )

Blade is an investigation scenario with combat and a little roleplay.

Blade is a very bad "epic finale" story arc for Liberty's Edge, especially when compared to what other factions are getting (Salvation of the Sages). Salvation is satisfying, this sucks and is only slightly better than Rivalry's End (the last scenario of the Shadow Lodge).

In terms of railroads, this scenario had the saddest, most pathetic railroads in it (which was perhaps the GMs fault). Maybe we didn't do things "as intended" but we:
1) Magically lost 6 hours of time "because of the story".

More examples of railroad (spoiler):

2) They were able to escape with the prisoners and the final blade when there was only 1 door and we had the prison surrounded, and a spy network setup in the city. An entire mob gathered at the execution site before we even KNEW about the execution. Ridiculous.

All the work we did in part 1 felt like a waste of time.

And then we had a finale where the success is based on one die roll. The chronicle is railroaded as well, with a predetermined outcome.

Sorry, this was disappointing. I feel there is bias against Liberty's Edge with everything from Madris' stupid decisions, ineptness, your ability to save him, and the quality of this scenario. My character was Silver Crusade so that didn't bias me.

Detailed Rating:

Length: Medium (3 hours).
Experience: Player with 6 above average PCs at subtier 7-8.
Sweet Spot: TBD.
Entertainment: Was OK until there was railroad after railroad "for the plot". (4/10)
Story: Very basic and not what you call epic. A little twist. (5/10)
Roleplay: Some depending on your approach. (6/10)
Combat/Challenges: The first encounter is probably too hard (I think our GM softballed, one will save only) and the last encounter was too easy and success was based on initiative. (5/10)
Maps: Good. (7/10)
Boons: Compared to scenarios like Salvation, bland and not great. (3/10)
Uniqueness: There aren’t many rescue missions. (8/10)
GM Preparation: TBD.

Overall: The biggest railroad I've played yet and a disappointing arc conclusion for Liberty's Edge. (4/10)


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Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Major Indiscretion strikes again...

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

"Unfortunately, my life path does not allow me to lend aid in rescuing him. I wish him the best of luck on his."

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

"He'll have to trick some other schmuck into saving his ass. I'm retired."

Liberty's Edge

"I always liked the Halfling better anyway!"

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

... wtf did I just read?

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

On the other hand this does give me an excuse to rampage through Galt, so yay!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Was I wrong in thinking that the whole reason Maldris brought them to Galt was because of the Final Blades?

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

He'd probably like you to think that, but I wouldn't trust him on it.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

That's a damn shame. I'm too busy with other missions to be bothered.

Liberty's Edge

"A fellow Pathfinder in trouble? Of the Edge? We should make ready to go rescue him! Gamin! How are we for a road trip?" inquires an eager young man imagine someone akin to Jonathan Frakes sans beard.

From the hip of the well-dressed and charismatic performer, a metallic voice sighs.

"Rae, we're Seekers now. We can't just take whatever little mission the Society gives us, we have to do the big important things. It's a shame, I hope someone steps up to help the guy, those Final Blades are total arsewipes from what I hear!"

Liberty's Edge

THUNDERLIPS! stares at the scenario description. Witnesses report he was still there several hours later.

Ain't gonna lie...:
probably not gonna care one way or the other on this one

Liberty's Edge

*Sigh* "Yes, yes, I'll be there for the Major. I will do my utmost to sway him from his current deviant path. In the interests of Liberty's Edge, it is best that we present a unified face, after all. It is my prayer that he will listen to those who saved his life."

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Shosuro Satoshi wrote:
*Sigh* "Yes, yes, I'll be there for the Major. I will do my utmost to sway him from his current deviant path. In the interests of Liberty's Edge, it is best that we present a unified face, after all. It is my prayer that he will listen to those who are about to save his life."

Know when you have the best bargaining. It doesn’t always work with fools but it helps.

Liberty's Edge

Rysky wrote:
On the other hand this does give me an excuse to rampage through Galt, so yay!

Are you joking? Galt is the only place that has the right idea! Wrong target, though. We need to shift their focus to Cheliax. The only good non-halfling Chelaxian is a dead one.

Liberty's Edge

Colson dammit. Course am gon'ta stand wit ye. We all make our mistakes: burn a few villages near Andoran, join in with ol' Darsielle du Moire, etc. It's how wez own up to dem that makes a man. Or one offem watzamacallits...wimmen? Pesky brain-box not good innit.

And I yam purdy anxious fer stabbin' to boot. Heh, boot. Watta way to stab! *idly wiggles his blade boot*

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Any possibility on finding out what flipmats and/or other mapping accessories will be used for this scenario. Thanks.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

So this was just added to my account for PaizoCon, but it shows as not available yet - do we have an ETA for that?

Liberty's Edge

Oops. I mean, what did ya think was gonna happen?

The Exchange

Does anyone have the map list for this scenerio?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

The Town Square flipmat is used, along with one customer map


Dot.


This is stupid. The Monsters don't fit the scenario at all.

MAJOR SPOILER:
WHY, in an ordinary prison, in an ordinary town, are there EXTRAPLANAR BEINGS CONTROLLING A BANSHEE, AND ARE IN CHARGE OF THE PRISON? Just OP, horrific monsters there again to just kill players, nothing to do with the actual plot. Having killed the Extraplanars, the Banshee wailed and killed most of the prison guards and the prisoners. That is a totally logical setup :P Utter nonsense

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

drwho188, did you read the handout in the scenario? It might illuminate the reasons.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
drwho188, did you read the handout in the scenario? It might illuminate the reasons.

I don't think I got that handout. Plus, it's still ridiculous. Those beings brought in - there's literally no reason for them to be there, or how they're kept under control. Golems I would understand. But these enemies - it's just ABSURD.

Shadow Lodge

Spoiler:
my head cannon is that they re turncoats who sang to the prosecutors


Spoiler:
The Pakalchis are in league with Citizen Dread, the chief Grey Gardner. They are controlling the undead creatures although how is unclear as they have no way of doing so.

As drwho's GM he got unlucky as the group killed the Pakalchis first. The entire party had death ward from a void kineticist so they ignored the other threat and when the last one went down it sang out. It didnt help that their wizard was unconscious from wisdom damage.

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