Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-25: Betrayal in the Bones PDF

****½ (based on 5 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 12–15.

Using misdirection and misinformation, the Pathfinder Society has cornered a pair of its old enemies—a demoniac and an assassin—in the Five Kings Mountains. However, the two have taken refuge inside a sacred dwarven burial ground sacred to Magrim, and their desperate defenses have stymied the dwarves' initial assaults. It falls to a team of the Society's best agents to overcome these obstacles, avert impending blasphemies, and end these villains' treachery forever.

Contents in Betrayal in the Bones also contribute directly to the ongoing storyline of the Grand Lodge faction.

Written by Tom Phillips.

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Monster manual fight night

***( )( )

Betrayal is a combat scenario with a little bit of roleplay.

Your mission is to hunt down and exterminate two longtime foes of the Pathfinder Society who are trapped. This aspect of the scenario is really nice for those of us who have been around a while and provides some closure, which is great! Unfortunately, this is one of the only selling points of this scenario.

Each encounter, it felt like the GM opened the monster manual, placed an appropriate CR opponent on the map and said "Fight!". For seeker arc material, this just isn't good enough and was very disappointing.

Even the storyline was fairly mundane. There were no "Aha!" moments like we've had in previous seeker arcs.

The good part about this scenario, I guess, is that this scenario is fairly easy compared to the other level 12+ scenarios. We basically beat the scenario with 3 PCs (other two players were not very good) and except for the 1st encounter (when we realized they weren’t going to help), it was fairly easy.

The encounter with the assassin has the most potential to be memorable, but it highly depends on tactics and skills of the PCs, and the creativity of the GM. It also has the potential to be super boring, haha. Personally, although short lived, it was enjoyable and memorable (which is why this scenario is 3, not 2 stars).

”Detailed rating”:

Length: Medium (4 hours).
Experience: Player at subtier 12-13 (normal mode) with 3 greats PCs, 2 bad PCs.
Sweet Spot: TBD.
Entertainment: The lore was OK, the setting was average, the fights were nothing special. Having said that, there was nothing "wrong" per se about the scenario. (6/10)
Story: It was OK because of the lore. (6/10)
Roleplay: The skull and the assassin were short lived but good. (6/10)
Combat/Challenges: Just because something has big stats doesn’t make it a good encounter. (4/10)
Maps: OK. The map used in the first encounter didn't make a lot of sense to me, it was too open. (5/10)
Boons: OK. For Grand Lodge it's great. (8/10)
Uniqueness: Sorry, not exotic or interesting enough for 12-15. (1/10)
GM Preparation: TBD. I’m sure it was straightforward to prepare, considering the encounters.

Overall: You could open your monster manuals, have a few fights, and get a similar experience. (5/10)

Our PFS past comes alive


The information and opinions expressed above are shared by our 6 player table, who really enjoyed this at FlatCon today in Bloomington, IL. Most of the PCs date back to when the Pasha Muhlia al-Jakri was our faction leader for the Qadiran faction, so my take on the social encounter moment was totally at odds with what the Decemvirate thinks. You have to be familiar with 2-21 The Dalsine Affair to fully understand this. I will be petitioning the Decemvirate to reconsider their position on my former faction leader. Brief though the "social moment" may be, it mattered a lot to some of us. Great scenario - we played it in just under 5 hours with highly experienced players who all have played together before.

Awesome, scary, epic, and yet not overcomplicated


I was very impressed by last year's Seeker scenario, and this year does not disappoint either. I also played at Monkhound's table.

I like the epic premise of the scenario. It lends itself well to playing with characters that had gone mostly into retirement a long time ago, coming back to settle a score with an old foe. This is a good difference with the S8 Seeker scenario, which you really should have played a lot of S8 for. But that's hard with Seeker characters, those often have a lot of their levels in much earlier content.

I think the difficulty in this scenario is decent; there were quite a few scary moments, even for our powerful group, but we never felt that the author resorted to cheap mean tricks. The Hard Mode made things a bit harder in clever ways. This is not "the AI cheats with higher numbers", it's odd wrinkles that make it a bit harder to rely on standard tactics.

I suppose there could have been more socialization, but you can't do everything in one scenario. I liked the ethical considerations put into the mission briefing too. Although it's a fighting mission, it's not a murderhobo mission.

Great example of high level play.


I was one of Monkhound's players, see below.

This scenario is a great example of high level play. Some scary, unique monsters, cool challenges, everything. I wish I could be more descriptive, but it just works.

A fellow player lamented the fact that it was just mostly a dungeon crawl with one talky bit in between, she would've liked some more social stuff so actual roleplayers and skill monkeys would be rewarded. And while I agree, I think it's difficult to balance that at higher levels, while combats are just an easier way for players to show off their cool abilities, so I understand the decision. Still though, a bit more socialisation would've been nice, I think.

I have one small nitpick, which I'll put behind spoiler tags, as it's about the final boss.

Final boss:
My only complaint is that the final boss is encountered right after a five-foot hallway. That, combined with a Dimensional Lock, meant that it was difficult for us to properly engage the final boss.

I think this is a great scenario. It's properly challenging without being mean, combat-wise. I just wish non-combat-specialised (i.e. skill monkeys) people were rewarded a bit as well.

Closure... Part 1


Perspective: GM'd this last night for a 6 player 12-13 subtier with Hard mode (ranged Magus 12, bomber Alchemist 12, support Shaman 13, dim. dervish Monk 14, feint Rogue 14, melee Hunter 12). Be warned that this is a reasonably dangerous scenario to begin with.

So, once again, the Society is after one of its more dangerous enemies that just won't stay dead. The scenario is true to what we know of previous encounters with him: Expect a challenging dungeon delve. As an added bonus, depending on player decision, closure for one of the factions from the past.

I thoroughly enjoyed the setup of most of the encounters, some of which are upgrades of classic encounters that manage to be surprisingly dangerous without 'cheesing' it. The boss encounter felt satisfying to run, and the players had to really fight for their victory.
A lay-out recommendation that I'd be interested to see followed up for such complicated combats though, are all passive effects (e.g. environment, auras, constant area abilities, etc.) summarized in a table in the encounter block or something like that, instead of hidden within a monster stat block in the appendix.

I must also compliment the hard mode setup for the scenario. The choice to not simply add more enemies, or add spiteful abilities as was done in the past (season 4 or 5), but with interesting additional (in some cases reasonably scary) abilities that will cater to an expert party without creating a feeling of resentment.

But be warned that this scenario, even without hard mode, will probably run long.

Silver Crusade

I’ll just have to put him down again.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

This definitely sounds exciting! And it's awesome to see some Seeker content for characters experienced with the events of past seasons. ^_^

The Exchange

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Modules, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Daaaaaang yo.


Now to pick which seeker goes - the one with an axe to grind with the Demoniac or the one with the axe to grind with the KILLER of his original faction head...

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
eddv wrote:

Daaaaaang yo.


Now to pick which seeker goes - the one with an axe to grind with the Demoniac or the one with the axe to grind with the KILLER of his original faction head...

Star replays, my friend. Star replays. :)

Scarab Sages

I realize this is Grand Lodge storyline, but it's in my ancient homeland! I think I have to check this out.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.

An exasperated sigh from somewhere in the vicinity of Port Peril.

"Just had to go 'n hide under a bleedin' mountain...couldn't be bothered t'think of us sea-farin' folk who have t'leave their ships behing and trudge ashore t'go shoot a or three..."

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Who let Tom Phillips write a scenario outside the Gloomspires!? Get back to your post and finish up your series!!! I need to know what happened to Sevenfingers!! *Whip cracks*.

(I'm totally kidding by the way, I'm sure this is going to be awesome, I just hope I can actually get a character to seeker tier for this.)

Sovereign Court

Need the services of a mountain dwelling assassin hunter? Because he's been itching to avenge a certain faction leader since one of his earliest adventures...

Shadow Lodge

p cool. That Beggar's Pearl boon has a purpose now.

I think I got a Grand Lodge Stonelord in the wings that just got a purpose as well.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Any news on the Maps for this scenario?

I'm scheduled to be running it shortly after the Scenario comes out, so I want to make sure I have everything ready!

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Maps for Betrayal in the Bones:

  • Flip-Mat: Twisted Caverns
  • Map Pack: Evil Ruins
  • A custom full-page flip-mat
  • Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
    John Compton wrote:
    Maps for Betrayal in the Bones:

    Thanks John! You're the best!

    Love the seeker material!

    Grand Lodge

    Are there any scenarios that people would recommend playing before this one for backstory purposes?

    Shadow Lodge

    WitchesBeCrazy wrote:
    Are there any scenarios that people would recommend playing before this one for backstory purposes?

    I've yet to play it, but the information suggests...


    The Demoniac is either Tancred Desimire or Venture Captain Thurl:
    #4-09: Blackrose Matrimony (Tancred)
    #4-13: Fortress of the Nail (Tancred)
    #5-00: Siege of the Diamond City (Both)
    #5-09: Traitor's Lodge (Thurl)
    #5-25: Vengeance at Sundered Crag (Both)
    #9-00: Assault on Absalom (Thurl)

    The Assassin is Pasha Mualia-Al-Jahim (apologies on spelling):
    #2-21: The Dalsine Affair
    #6-11: The Slave Master's Mirror

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