Pathfinder Society Playtest Scenario #2: Raiders of Shrieking Peak

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A Pathfinder Society scenario designed for 5th-level PCs.

Although most of the Society's discoveries come from distant lands and enter through Absalom's harbor, some of the greatest discoveries appear in the metropolis's backyard. When an extraordinary relic surfaces in the nearby town of Diobel, the Pathfinder Society dispatches an agent to recover and transport it back to the Grand Lodge. That strategy fell through when the agent disappeared along the road to Diobel. The Pathfinders must learn what befell their comrade and recover the shipment—a task that will take them into the dangerous wilds of the island's interior.

Written by Luis Loza.

Release: This Pathfinder Society Playtest Scenario will be available for FREE on August 7, 2018.

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Fine as Playtest Material

3/5

NO SPOILERS

I ran Raiders of Shrieking Peak several months ago as part of a campaign that covered various little "odds n' ends" adventures (retired PFS scenarios, 3.5-era modules, etc.). An important caveat with the remainder of this review is that I didn't use the Playtest rules for the adventure--I just ran it as part of a regular Pathfinder (first edition) campaign for 5th-level PCs, substituting stat blocks and converting skill checks as necessary. Primarily then, I'm reviewing the story but not the mechanics of the scenario. And to that point, I guess I'd say it's okay. The Macguffin is just that, and the plot isn't going to win any awards. But it's a competent adventure, and does give some genuine choices between role-playing and combat in some encounters. Still, folks interested in setting lore, etc., aren't really missing out on anything if they don't play this one.

SPOILERS!:

The big Macguffin in Raiders of Shrieking Peak is the Inheritor's Clasp, a (potentially divinely-charged) cloak fastener that fell from Iomedae's shoulders as she attempted the Test of the Starstone. Through an over-involved backstory, a Pathfinder Society agent named Inisa Ardaali has obtained the Clasp and plans to deliver it to the Grand Lodge. But after her ship landed in Diobel, her caravan to Absalom was attacked--and now both Inisa and the Clasp are missing. The PCs are charged by Venture-Captain Valsin with travelling to Diobel and retracing Inisa's steps in the hopes of rescuing her (and recovering the Clasp). There's a very minor subplot of the Pathfinder Society trying to circumvent the Church of Iomedae when it comes to the Clasp, which is kind of fun (and surely makes things more interesting if there's a worshipper of Iomedae in the group).

The first part of the scenario takes places in Diobel, a fishing and smuggling town. GMs may find that the inclusion of Diobel in Towns of the Inner Sea is useful here. Essentially, the PCs need to make some knowledge or gather information checks to discover clues about what overland route Inisa may have left on and what dangers she may have encountered on the way. As part of the Playtest Rules, the scenario stylizes this as "exploration mode", but it's easy enough to replicate in PF1. (I do like the inclusion of false/incorrect information if the PCs critically fail a check) The PCs will likely discover a Pathfinder safe house in Diobel that was used by Inisa, and to which some members of her caravan returned to after it was attacked--they explain it was ambushed by minotaurs. The scenario does a good job of incorporating logical plot developments to keep the adventure moving even if the PCs aren't very good with the information gathering (while not making it meaningless at the same time).

The first combat encounter begins as the PCs follow the caravan's trail and find where the ambush occurred. A pair of minotaurs are still here--but Inisa and the Clasp are nowhere to be found. The PCs need to find the minotaurs' camp, which they can do through interrogation/persuasion or by following some tracks.

The minotaurs play an important part of the scenario's story. They're a tribe called the Gorebreathers, and they've been locked in a war with the forces of a powerful harpy named Ryolle who has taken up residence near the summit of Shrieking Peak. When the PCs find the Gorebreathers' camp, there's a fair opportunity to negotiate with the tribe (perhaps after a fun test of strength), though combat is also definitely an option on the table. Both possibilities are treated as equally plausible in the scenario, which is good adventure design. At the camp, the PCs will also find Inisa (either hiding nearby, or as a prisoner, depending on how long it took the PCs to arrive). Inisa says the Clasp was taken when the harpy's forces attacked the Gorebreathers and made off with most of the plunder they themselves had taken from the caravan.

On the road to the harpy's lair, there's a potential encounter against several ghasts and ghouls. This is written as an optional encounter (depending on how much time is left), and I decided to skip it when I ran it. Frankly, Raiders of Shrieking Peak can be pretty deadly with some poor rolls--not only do minotaur greataxes pack a real punch (especially on a crit), but ghoul/ghast paralysis and harpy mental subjugation can make for a fatal experience!

The final encounter against the harpy and her mentally-enslaved allies is fairly interesting. Ryolle's cave is protected by three 25'-tall watchtower platforms, so the PCs can't just run up and attack. Instead, they either have to trade missile fire or try to climb up to the watchtowers while under fire. From a tactical perspective, I have no idea why Ryolle had three watchtowers built in such close proximity to one another, especially without clearing the nearby treeline to provide better visibility. In any event, assuming the PCs triumph, they'll find the Inheritor's Clasp inside the cave and can return safely with Inisa to the Grand Lodge.

There's a good mix of combat, wilderness travel, role-playing, and skill usage throughout the scenario. I found it pretty easy to adjust for PF1 on the fly. I'm not sure if the potentially overwhelming combats are just because I adjusted it for PF1, or that difficulty level would also exist if done under the Playtest rules. As an aside, I'm not a fan of the artwork in the scenario--it takes the game into a more cartoony direction. Overall, I'm sure that Raiders of Shrieking Peak accomplished its original goal: providing an avenue to see how the Playtest rules worked in a PFS-type of adventure. I can't really blame it for not being more than that.


The Worst PFS scenario

1/5

The plot structure was poor, the skill challenges exposed weaknesses in 2nd editions mechanics and the final fight was tedious.



1 person marked this as a favorite.

Will these 5th-level playtest scenarios come with pregens?

Dark Archive

A wilderness scenario!
It seems a long time ago that we had one. :-)


I'm seconding the question about pre-gens. If we're running his soon after it drops do the players have to play 5th level pre-gens or must they build a 5th level character to play it? This is kind of important for promoting this for our event.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

4 people marked this as a favorite.

The adventure itself won't come with 5th-level pregenerated character, but there will be 5th-level pregens available elsewhere on paizo.com.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

I'm ordering maps and minis to run this at GenCon. Do we know what maps are needed to run this scenario?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Maps for Raiders of Shrieking Peak:

  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Battlefield
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Woodlands
  • A full-page custom map

  • This should be a fun one as well, can't wait!!

    Tom

    Dark Archive

    For ease of reference/ordering:

    Flip-Mat 1: Wilderness

    Flip-Mat 2: Forest


    Will we be able to build our own characters to test this scenario? If so, is there a document that guidelines this? (Mostly wondering about money and equipment purchasing.)

    Dark Archive

    Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
    SirChimera wrote:
    Will we be able to build our own characters to test this scenario? If so, is there a document that guidelines this? (Mostly wondering about money and equipment purchasing.)

    you will. There’s not a document, but John put a sticky post in the PFS Playtest forums detailing how to build

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