Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-21: In the Grandmaster’s Name PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-7.

Two old allies-turned-enemies have taken shelter in a nigh-unassailable sanctum, yet the Pathfinder Society is committed to capturing them in Absalom's name. Rather than risk Pathfinders' lives in a reckless assault, the Society has turned to a different tool: misinformation. Both fugitives rely on intelligence provided by Grandmaster Torch, and Society operatives recently intercepted Torch's latest team of agents. Now it's up to the PCs to pose as the Grandmaster's employees, rendezvous with the fugitives' agent in Druma, and pass off forged documents that will spook the criminals into abandoning their sanctum. It should be easy, but what Druma lacks in marauding monsters, it more than makes up in deadly debts, old promises, and powerful kalistocrats.

Contents in In the Grandmaster's Name also contribute directly to the ongoing storyline of the Grand Lodge faction. Background events leading up to this scenario also appear in Season 4 of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild.

Written by Jenny Jarzabski.

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

PZOPSS0921E


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

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A great sandbox heist, but one complaint.

****( )

This is a great sandbox. My group had fun roleplaying then had a challenging encounter at the end.

This scenario runs fast, but that is ok because after the tense session it was ok to finish early.

The complaint is a spoiler, skip it if you are going to play this scenario.

The complaint:
Edited due to discussion in the discussion thread: Some of the gold rewards are slightly disconnected from the mission.

Much of the gold rewards comes from plundering Amynta's home.

Amynta is an enemy of our enemy and the team has no direct reason to consider her an enemy, she is just caught in the crossfire of the Society conflict with the Grandmaster. From what we discovered of her, she would also make a great ally if recruited to the Society.

The only reason my character had to plunder her home was theft as a crime of opportunity. Commiting crimes of opportunity are not in character for most of my Pathfinder agents. The information we gathered on Amynta suggested that she would compulsively investigate to retaliate against slights, giving my character further incentive to not further provoke here by stealing anything more than her prisoner.

I had no more reason to steal her stuff than I had to steal from the bartender at the start of the scenario.

During this scenario the gold rewards rewarded indiscriminate theft. Indiscriminate theft tends to be the first habit I need to break when a new roleplayer joins the local PSF community. We have been trained and I train my players that rewards come from being good pathfinders: focus on the mission, Explore-Report-Cooperate, bypassing an encounter through other means than combat is ok; this scenario undermined some of that training.


Cool setup but just not enough here.

***( )( )

I played high tier with a diplomatically tooled party. I liked the setup but we finished in under 2 hours. When the gm told us we were done with the scenario I was shocked. It felt like there should have been way more to do.There’s just not enough here to fill a slot.


Played with the Author as our GM and it was... Awesome

*****

This was the first time playing a scenario in which I found out the GM was the actual author of the scenario. First, I want to say that she is an awesome GM and with what I took from the scenario, she knows her stuff when writing scenarios for pathfinder first edition. Although this scenario may tend to be heavier on the role play side with more face time than attack time, you can murder hobo this scenario to what may be a bad decision. A quality GM can easily use some freedom of movement with how the players decide to attack this scenario. I may not be a fan of Starfinder but I will definitely be on the look out for more of her scenarios because of how much I enjoyed this one. I may be biased because she GMed it herself but what can I say.


Creativity gets rewarded

****( )

I’ve said this in reviews before, but simple pathfinder missions don’t exist. This time you’re tasked to meet someone in a tavern. That couldn’t be easier, you’d think, but in the end you find yourself snooping around a mansion, doing a heist, saving a stranger and traversing a labyrinth with some surprises. If that doesn’t get you interested in this scenario, I don’t know what will!

Seriously though, this is indeed reminiscent of mission impossible, like the review below mentioned. There’s a plethora of ways you can gain entry to the mansion, many different guises you can take and as always the option for subterfuge or a flat-out assault. The choice is yours if you want to be nice or not. In my case I ‘accidentally’ made the lives of the servants a living hell because me ‘helping’ made things worse. Players referred to my shenanigans as worthy of being in Home Alone. In the end the servants cried and left the mansion. My character just stood there with a gigantic grin on her face. It was totally worth it.

I agree with Nomadical below. Creative players will get rewarded and role-play should be encouraged. If you don’t and just want to get things over with, I can imagine this scenario can be run in roughly three hours without players missing out on anything. I do think it misses something extra though. The final encounter didn’t really feel like a worthy end to the scenario. Other than that, it was a highly enjoyable scenario that I’m looking forward to run myself!


Mission Impossible - The Classic TV Show!

****( )

Someone call Ethan Hunt. It’s time to go all Mission Impossible in Druma. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pose as agents of Grandmaster Not-Appearing-In-This-Scenario and deliver the forged documents to an agent of his evil allies. But be warned, should you be caught, the Society will disavow any knowledge of your activities. Good luck!

I ran this during three morning sessions at PaizoCon just before its release to the general public. I also had the opportunity to meet and chat with the author more than once during the con. I like it very much, and I’ll certainly run it again.

Let me begin by saying that it runs fast. Really fast. I’m known locally for generally running scenarios quickly, but this surprised even me. The slowest of my three parties (two low-tier, one high-tier) finished in 2 ½ hours, the fastest was right about 2 hours. The slow groups engaged in one combat, the fastest group (the high-tier one) managed to even avoid that. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of opportunities for other combats, but all of these groups looked at the situations and elected to either social-skill their way around them with lots of fantastic role-playing, or come up with creative solutions to the challenges. Their play styles reflected the old Mission Impossible TV show with its emphasis on deception and misdirection versus the current film version which is just a series of explosions and combat. (Note that attendees at PaizoCon may not reflect the experience level of average player groups. I had at least one 5-star GM plus at least one other VO at each table.)

It’s one of those scenarios that lends itself to a certain type of player and group. Highly social and creative players will have fun with it; and while a murder-hobo may well enjoy the available fights, they may not enjoy the final outcome that can occur from engaging in too many fights – nearly the equivalent of being disavowed!

As much as I do like this scenario, I’m only giving 4 stars for two reasons. I felt like it needed a bit more to it. Maybe another encounter or two, or a chase scene (look at #8-19 Treacherous Waves for a really good chase), or something else to fill out the time. Given how fast it ran, it clearly needed something more. It would also have been nice if it had used a standard Paizo Flip-Mat or Map Pack instead of a full-page custom one which also likely required creating and drawing a separate hedge maze from scratch.

One last note. The author has a “day-job” in the industry highlighted in the scenario (no, not International Secret Agent.) Her experience in that field added a nice amount of verisimilitude and ambiance to the writing. I enjoyed running this, and I’m looking forward to her next scenario.


Grand Lodge

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

Bwahahahaha! Excellent, it's Severing Ties all over again!

Sovereign Court

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

But... but... I don't have any half-orcs. It'll be super easy to tell that I'm not one of Grandmaster Torch's subordinates.

Grand Lodge

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

Crud, you're right. My half-orc leveled out of this. (And would have been super perfect as a former bodyguard of Torch.)

The Exchange

"Arrrr. It be a bit out of my seas but I've experience in these things."

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Whoops, sorry folks. In writing up this product page, I accidentally labeled it a Tier 1–5 adventure. This is, in fact, a Tier 3–7 scenario. I'll put in a request to get the product page updated with the correct information.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

John Compton wrote:
Whoops, sorry folks. In writing up this product page, I accidentally labeled it a Tier 1–5 adventure. This is, in fact, a Tier 3–7 scenario. I'll put in a request to get the product page updated with the correct information.

It not only advances the Grand Lodge faction, but I bet there are a few Players (if not characters) out there with an axe to grind with Grandmaster Torch!

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Three things:

1) DRUMA LODGE! DRUMA LODGE!

2) Half-orcs for the win! The Blues Brothers need to do this mission.

3) Will this mission help us reconcile the Torch of 9-00 with the Torch of 9-04 and 9-07? I am still reeling from the difference between the two.

A Tale of Two Torches:

The Emerald Sage

Spoiler:

The Torch of the Scarab Sages Arc is complex, but he's a reasonable ally -- albeit one you might want to be cautious with trusting fully. You sympathize with his past, and understand why he went dark. Also, he's obviously matured and grown since becoming a sage.

The Terrorist Nut Job

Spoiler:

The Torch of Assault on Absalom is a "Wha-a-a-at?" for me. The only thing I could think of to explain him allying with demons and assaulting innocent Absalom civilians is that he temporarily lost his mind due to the Black Moon's whispering in his head. But there's no indication of that in the later Scarab Sage episodes.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

A Tale of Two Torches

The Grandmaster reveals that it was all a ruse.

Which parts?

All of them. Now that he has his sage jewel he plans to enact the ultimate plan - turning the Grand Lodge into a Dickensian Playhouse while the big wigs are off chasing the enemies of the society.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

How about a Torch for All Seasons?

Grand Lodge

@John -- Is it possible to know what maps we'll be needing for this? Going to be running this at a convention next month so we're hoping to learn what maps we'll need to order beforehand so that they're more likely to arrive in the mail on time.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My half-orc Grand Lodge character has exactly one scenario left at Level 7! Perfect!

Liberty's Edge

Nice


I know Paizo folks are rolling into convention season, especially with PaizoCon coming up, but any chance we can get the maps list for this one?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Maps for #9-21:

This scenario has only a custom full-page map, though it's handy to have a spare Flip-Mat or clean side on hand in case a particular encounter spills off-screen.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just wanted to pop in and drop some clarifications for GMs prepping this scenario. Since this advice contains some minor spoilers, I've tagged it below.

In the Grandmaster's Name:

1) In the hedge maze encounter on page 15 the final sentence before the stat blocks for the living topiaries says "If the PCs do not succeed on at least 2 of these checks, they spend 1d4 additional hours lost in the maze, and Amynta Irel arrives with her entourage a er the PCs face the encounter in area B." This should actually refer to the encounter in area A14. There was a last minute change making the wine cellar part of the main estate instead of its own area, which caused the hedge maze to change from area C to area B. The party should not encounter Amynta until they have met Emilia in the cellar.

2) The portion of the hedge maze shown on the included map is simply the estate-side entry for the maze. The maze itself is much large than would conveniently fit on a standard battle mat, so GMs are encouraged to draw or describe portions of the maze as necessary and appropriate for any combat encounters that may occur.

Thanks everyone!


Michael Sayre wrote:
I just wanted to pop in and drop some clarifications for GMs prepping this scenario.

Thanks.

Clarifications always appreciated, especially before the scenarios drop!
Looking forward to running this one.

Silver Crusade

Michael Sayre wrote:

I just wanted to pop in and drop some clarifications for GMs prepping this scenario. Since this advice contains some minor spoilers, I've tagged it below.

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks everyone!

That's a rather major change! I was worried the scenario was going to last less than an hour


Dot.

Shadow Lodge

Hmm wrote:

Three things:

1) DRUMA LODGE! DRUMA LODGE!

2) Half-orcs for the win! The Blues Brothers need to do this mission.

3) Will this mission help us reconcile the Torch of 9-00 with the Torch of 9-04 and 9-07? I am still reeling from the difference between the two.

** spoiler omitted **

The Terrorist Nut Job
** spoiler omitted **

[/spoiler]

Could it be that simple? Could one of Torch's escape plans have been a simulacrum-type thing that backfired and is now going around as Evil-Torch and doing terrible things while Good-Torch is concentrating on Sage things?

Sovereign Court

Played this last night. Had great fun. My only regret is that my character who actually has Profession: Sommelier is long-since retired.


Hey, I'm copying my review into here so that it can be discussed.

Do you agree? Do you think I'm out to lunch?

Gold rewards:
Much of the gold rewards comes from plundering Amynta's home.

Amynta is an enemy of our enemy and the team has no direct reason to consider her an enemy, she is just caught in the crossfire of the Society conflict with the Grandmaster. From what we discovered of her, she would also make a great ally if recruited to the Society.

The only reason my character had to plunder her home was theft as a crime of opportunity. Commiting crimes of opportunity are not in character for most of my Pathfinder agents. The information we gathered on Amynta suggested that she would compulsively investigate to retaliate against slights, giving my character further incentive to not further provoke here by stealing anything more than her prisoner.

I had no more reason to steal her stuff than I had to steal from the bartender at the start of the scenario.

During this scenario the gold rewards rewarded indiscriminate theft. Indiscriminate theft tends to be the first habit I need to break when a new roleplayer joins the local PSF community. We have been trained and I train my players that rewards come from being good pathfinders: focus on the mission, Explore-Report-Cooperate, bypassing an encounter through other means than combat is ok; this scenario undermined some of that training.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Spoiler:
She was a dick, and was possibly going to murder a man for stealing from her.

As to the rewards, none of the entries say the PCs must take the items to earn the gold. Each one says if the PCs do not search the room or find the items, they get gold reduced. As long as they find everything, they earn the rewards even if they take nothing.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Gold Rewards and Theft:

As TriOmegaZero notes above, the Rewards entries are very firm in the PCs only having to discover or identify valuables, not take any of them. Doing the former still results in the full gold reward. Further, several encounters involve a significant reward just for bypassing certain NPCs. Stealing shouldn't be necessary, and we payed special attention to ensuring that in development.

I've heard reports from a recent convention that GMs were regularly giving PCs 0 gp for having stolen nothing. Don't do this to your players.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

In addition to TOZ's blunt but not inaccurate statement

Spoiler:
Amynta was in fact engaged in extremely criminal activities including kidnapping and a planned murder
it sounds like there may have been some additional confusion as to the rewards themselves.

For a quick run-through:

Reward conditions:

Area A1 only requires that you defeat or bypass the guards.

Area A2 only requires that you resolve the situation with the majordomo or defeat the guards.

Area A4 only requires that you search the library, not loot it.

Area A5 only requires that you search the majordomo's room, not loot it.

Area A6 only requires that you search Amynta's room, not loot it.

Area A12 only requires that you search the kitchen, not loot it.

A14 only requires that you locate the items (though admittedly, this one is easier to mistake as requiring you to take the items.)

Area B does not provide any gold.

The rewards sections for all of the encounters in this adventure were written in such a way that you should not have lost gold for choosing not to loot, as we were very aware that this adventure might already feel dicey for characters playing paladins and other extremely lawful characters.

A bit more about the loot structure:
Since most of the areas contained key items that could be of high value to the right buyers, like Chef's Cookbook or the journal detailing information about Emilio's family crypt, and because the conclusion and boons mention that Amynta's rivals are very pleased by her missteps, we felt there was sufficient justification that searching the relevant areas could reasonably result in comparative compensation from the Society or otherwise interested parties, which is why entering the rooms and searching them (or otherwise resolving conflicts, such as with the majordomo) was the only requirement for receiving the appropriate gold.


Gold reward:
Regarding the kidnapping and a planned murder; During my single playthrough (which is the smallest sample size) her behaviour came across as vigilantism and was perceived in a positive to neutral light. This coloured my impressions.

I withdraw any general complaints and apply them only to rooms A5 and A6 specifically: These rooms are not related to the mission objective, or an objective that we could imagine the Society having (such as the journal detailing Emilio's family crypt). A group that really strives for the flawless heist is going to miss out on these rewards (930g in high tier), at no fault of their own. The group does not need to steal from these rooms (searching is enough), but once they discover the valuable Journal hidden in the library they have no reason to search those rooms unless it is to steal (we got the impression that the library was where any information valuable to the Society would be hidden and defended).

Why is this a problem? Why does this bother me? It is ok to lose out on gold. It is ok to gain partial or no prestige, and to fail to aquire boons. In this case it feels like players that try to complete a focused heist and succeed at it, are going to get a penalized. Strangely if this was a crypt or a plane shifted museum we would have gone out of our way Explore those last two areas (even if the life of a prominent family's daughter hung in the balance).

What about this heist made players stop Exploring and focus so narrowly on the mission? Is that a good or bad thing?

If you had a point above that I did not respond to, it is because I agree, or my mind has been changed, or I made a mistake. If it looks like I'm moving my goalposts here, sorry, I'm trying to figure out exactly why I have a complaint here. That means that I'll be abandoning any goalposts that are wrong.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I concur with Livgin.

Spoiler:
Searching those areas is not relevant to the mission if the PCs search the most obvious area first. Penalizing characters for not being thorough for its own sake encourages a culture of metagame procedure that is bad for roleplaying.

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.

While playing this it definitely seemed like taking all the silverware was needed to get full credit. If that's not technically so by the terms of the encounter reward conditions - well, for a player it does look like it. You can only go on for so long about expensive silverware before we think we're playing Many Fortunes 9.0

The premise of this adventure seemed to be to be smash and grab: get the guy out of there as fast as possible because you don't know when momma is coming home. A group that's hyper-focused on the main objective, is being thoroughly professional. It's a bit sad if that means you lose out on neat stuff.

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