Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-05: Mysteries Under Moonlight, Part 1: Testament of Souls

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3-7.

Something ominous is afoot around Magnimar's famous monuments. The mayor hired an official investigator to get to the bottom of the situation, but the latter's methods have overlooked key evidence. Unable to secure the investigator's cooperation, a local governing body called the Varisian Council has turned to the Pathfinder Society for aid. The Pathfinder Society's efforts to cleanse the monuments and discover the source of their corruption are certain to stir up trouble as the PCs draw closer to a confrontation with a lurking evil force.

Testament of Souls is the first scenario in the two-part Mysteries Under Moonlight campaign arc. It is followed by Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-07: The Howling Dance. Both chapters are intended to be played in order.

Written by Alex Augunas.

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***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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A fun, if disjointed, romp through Magnimar

***( )( )

Disclaimer: I've run this scenario four times now, three in a convention environment.

Mysteries Under Moonlight, Part 1 can be fun, but it takes some work to get there. There are a number of set-pieces that, individually, are quite good, but as a cohesive whole fail to work together to create a consistent theme or experience. It works almost like a series of quests instead of a single scenario. When combined with Part 2, this decoherence becomes even more problematic. And like I mentioned, you as GM can work hard to make things fit together--but you really have to work. And if you want to make things work with part 2, that's extra.

First, there's some fun Magnimaran flavor:
The lord-mayor isn't getting along with the Council and the Chelaxians don't like the Varisians, because it's Magnimar and that's just how things work. But we only get hints that this is important--if you don't emphasize it, it gets lost in the players' notes.

This also plays into part 2:
Ichonvarde's motivation to turn on the party is very weakly presented here. We have the tools to do so, but the two parts are not well-integrated.

The first set-piece is comedic:
you've got the grumpy old inquisitor giving you a hard time as you interview various amusing witnesses who don't want to talk to you because the inquisitor's a jerk. The list of skills is extensive and slightly nonsensical, as most of these lists tend to be nowadays, and if you don't have time to play up the reasoning behind each and every one of those choices it's too easy for this encounter to become an exercise in "Well, if you'd like to get her to talk to you, try diplomacy, or intimidate, or for some reason perform (tuba), but not bluff this time for some reason. And if you try to intimidate you get a -6 penalty because he's gassy today." (Real skill checks changed to protect the innocent.) For this, this isn't necessarily a criticism of the author--PFS investigations have been slowly metamorphizing into this approach over the past several seasons. Mechanically, it has a lot of strengths. In terms of integrating it seamlessly into gameplay without having to step back and explain the metagame, it's frequently a problem.

Another complication is the number of NPCs in this section. You've got Davorge and Ichonvarde in addition to all the names you previously heard PLUS the witnesses. It would have really helped to have an indication of how Davorge interacts with Ichonvarde, if nothing else.

The cenotaph really wants to be horror:
It almost succeeds, but the various spirits don't support the theme well. Having friendly spirits, even just one friendly spirit, really takes the bite out of any horror theme. And this theme should only run between 45 minutes and an hour. Also, low subtier is a lot harder than high subtier, which was an interesting choice. Mummies are scary. Mohrgs are not nearly as bad.

The founder's flame is just straight combat, with a twist:
there's no real theme here outside of beating up on some fire elemental things. The haunt, though, was not well-described. I think I have some idea of how it's supposed to work and when these elementals are supposed to arrive, but I'm not positive, and I've run this a bunch of times. The language here could really stand to be cleaned up.

Ordellia's townhouse also maybe wants to be horror but ends up just being a fight:
There's no building-up of atmosphere; no sense of isolation; only a little horror, but most parties don't have a connection to Davorge since he only sticks around for a tiny portion of a scenario. They have no connection to Ordellia since she can only say 25 words per day and the players almost certainly aren't well-versed in Magnimaran lore. So there's no emotional investment; the PCs just end up fighting some stuff and silver starknives happen.

The conclusion has a lot of flavor that would have been useful at the beginning:
for example, meeting the mayor would have helped set the stage, and in fact one of my parties did that, but there's no real depth to him in the scenario; no real description. And the scenario is a bit poorer for not having his picture included, even though the art was created for earlier products.

Overall:
it's a bunch of really good encounters that don't fit together to make a scenario. Occult classes should have some fun; if you have a character who enjoys dancing, they should play it if they can. If a player enjoys Magnimar, they should have a good time with all the various call-outs. But none of them are integrated well enough into the whole for any of it to make sense to someone who doesn't come in with those advantages. This scenario would have been better-off as quests; that, at least, would have explained the disconnect between parts.


Great Writing; poor mechanics backing it up

***( )( )

Not a whole lot to say here because I don't know where this plot is headed but I think the idea of pursuing ghost stories in Magnimar was a concept that could have been realized in a much cooler manner than ended up happening. But the concept is so solid and lent itself to some great role-playing and some much needed opportunities for our local occult types to flex their seldom used class abilities.

That said the mechanics of the investigation boiling down to basically "roll a few skill checks" with veryblittle chance for the party to puzzle things out with their brains took the wind out of our sails.

The fights were interesting and LOTs of fun. Definitely some of the better mid tier fights.


My copper piece


Spoiler:
Interesting scenario. Mechanics of repeating skill checks of PC on NPC in investigation are rather unclear and unmotivated. Same checks on all three rituals - boring.


The City of Monuments is under attack!

****( )

Enjoyed both running and playing this scenario very much: Lots of things going on at iconic locations in the City of Monuments. The encounters were interesting and made sense. All the singing and dancing have the impression of a Halloween Musical episodes or something.

The thing I'll nitpick about, is that the mechanics for the rituals are interesting but need tuning: The DC's are pretty steep, and the success threshold is harsh for the number of checks you need to make. I also found it strange there did not seem to be any real kind of time constraint.


Grand Lodge

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

Well, as long as we aren't going into the Irespan...

Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Yay, it’s announced!

I can’t wait for you all to experience this scenario. It was a blast to write! <3

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

Oooo

The Exchange

Any word of what maps will be used in this one?

Paizo Employee Developer

5 people marked this as a favorite.

This scenario uses Flip Tile: Dungeon Starter Set, Map Pack: Village Sites, and a custom map reprinted from a campaign setting book.

The last map is:
the first floor of Ordellia's Townhouse from Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Undead Unleashed

Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

*squeeing intensifies*

The Exchange

Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:

This scenario uses Flip Tile: Dungeon Starter Set, Map Pack: Village Sites, and a custom map reprinted from a campaign setting book.

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks, Linda!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:

This scenario uses Flip Tile: Dungeon Starter Set, Map Pack: Village Sites, and a custom map reprinted from a campaign setting book.

** spoiler omitted **

And the specific tiles from Flip Tile: Dungeon Starter Set are, for the reference of anyone else that doesn't want to sort through things...

Spoiler:
07A, 11A, 29A, and 33A.

Would it be possible to include the information of which tiles to use somewhere in the scenario next time?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Lindley Court wrote:


Would it be possible to include the information of which tiles to use somewhere in the scenario next time?

This is something I was actually just considering myself. I'll talk to the team and see what the best way to incorporate those might be so we can see about including them going forward.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Good attempt at trying to kill my character, Alex, but you failed. Better luck next time. ;)

BTW, good adventure. I enjoyed it.

Grand Lodge

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

Looks like I got a table tomorrow. We'll see how they handle it!

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