Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-10: The Shattered Shield

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-5.

When news arrives that one of the shards of the holy relic known as the Shattered Shield of Arnisant have been put up for sale in a Rahadoumi auction, the Pathfinder Society is highly skeptical, particularly since all the shards of the shield are safely accounted for, enshrined in the nation of Lastwall's capital city, Vigil. However, the Society's sources have confirmed that the seller does indeed seem to have a powerful magical relic identical to one of the shards, so the Pathfinders have sent a team to investigate. What secrets might be uncovered in this nation where religion is banned? And who besides the Pathfinder Society and their allies in Lastwall might be seeking the purported relic?

Contents in The Shattered Shield also contribute directly to the ongoing storyline of the Dark Archive faction.

Written by Leo Glass.

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

PZOPSS1010E


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Absurdly overcomplicated

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I can't really add anything new to the existing reviews, I just wanted to help see how many 1 star reviews this scenario can get. And, quite frankly, I NEEDED to vent after this monstrosity

The whole thing is absurdly over complicated and it makes no sense when you play it and even less sense when you read it later.

Its far too deadly, especially for a tier 1-5 where new players are a very lively possibility.

Making it undead all the time and making those undead tougher with a b*!$!&&! disease that makes undead far tougher without raising their CR is just more bad writing.

And the railroad tracks are just crazy stupid on this one. Vaguely sane PCs would just acknowledge failure and go home long before the end.

Not to mention the whole "Your in the CAPITAL CITY of a country with what you're told is a VERY good law enforcement force but they need level 1-2 characters to save the day?"

This feels like it might once have been a decent module which then got totally cut in production. Its too long, too much happens, it all makes no sense.

Or maybe Paizo just wasn't paying any attention because everybody was way too busy with PF2


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This is one of the worst scenarios I've ever played. Alas. The main claim - silly and illogical reactions of the majority of NPC. We played scenario for 6 hours, most of the time spent in polemics, and then gave up. Rating of 1 star is quite appropriate.



I want to like this scenario. And I kinda do. It's just good ideas, but poorly written, with bad or absent mechanics, in a heavily railroaded scenario.

I had fun, players had fun, but it doesn't mean it's a good scenario, since most of the time was laughing at the scenario, not with it.
Not saying "DON'T RUN THIS!" - just saying, be prepared to do a lot of work and handwaive lots of inconsistencies and hope players don't question the plot >.>

SPOILERS!

Spoiler:

The first encounter in the desert had good mood setting and was really foreboding.
Problem is that the mechanics are just time wasting, and there is no challenge in them. The encounter, while it ties into the story sorta later, is a completely random "you just happaned to run into a person that may be of great help to you later."

The second encounter while waiting to get into the city is sorta comical but kinda fun. We had fun when the TSA confiscated the party's holy water bottles.

Third encounter. The idea is fun. The mechanical exectuion is weird. Stuffing the plotguffins into the manor was really crude and the combat in high tier can be stupidly deadly. Our party also failed 3/4 saves. Luckily, they all rolled just 1 round for paralysis duration, and managed to kill the thing.

The fourth encounter. Why is she there. What for. Just... Why. And not to mention that the GM is given just about zero tools for actually running the bidding. Prepare to do kinda lots of the work.
Thing here is... The players might manage to kill the boss here. And if they do, they are rewarded with the final fight being 2-3 times as hard as it would have been if they hadn't killed the boss here, plus, set up in such a way that they are likely to (accidentally, without knowing) destroy one of the boons on the chronicle sheet.
The adventure is literally set up so that if players over-perform earlier, they are punished in for it in the end.

The last part would be interesting except that the adventure is pretty long, so expect players to just look at you stupefied as you speed them through the weird dungeon, with them not knowing what's happening. There won't be time for the optional encounter.
And then the boss fight.

The boss presents a game to the players. The game is effectively: "Heads, I win, Tails, you lose." If the boss is alive, there's no challenge because a party of 4-6 charaters will gang up on a solo caster before it can pull of ANYTHING. They might get a cool boon if they don't have zealots in the party.
If the boss died earlier, there's still a caster, but it's accomppanied by a CR 7 melee monster, and if the players kill This caster, they lose a boon. Horrible design.

To emphasize - scenario is written in a way that punishes parties that perform too well in a certain part, and it punishes them pretty heavily (in my opinion). A GM can fix it by "preventing players from out-performing" but that shouldn't be needed in a scenario.


The Shattered Narrative

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This scenario, which was written by an editor, was the most poorly edited scenario I've seen since Library of the Lion.

The players are penalized for not asking about a meaningless activity in the opening crawl.

The auction is not given enough narrative attention.

There is too much content. This should have been two scenarios.


Unbalanced

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The other reviewers have done a great job at describing the short comings of this scenario (and there are many). I don't normally write reviews but I feel like this scenario needs a PSA.

I want to focus on the mechanical aspects of the scenario and what I feel are some significant balance issues.

The Lodge:

At the very beginning of the scenario, there is an obscure Intelligence check that if the PCs don’t make, they lose money on their chronicle sheet. Not only is it obscure, but the DC is ridiculously high for a level 1-5 scenario (DC 20). That means that a group that has a character with an intelligence of 20 in low tier only has a 25% chance to pass the check or the group loses money.

The Estate:

This was almost a TPK at my table. The high tier, 4-player adjustment is not at all balanced. The gold-clad mummy stat block that is in the scenario is shown as a CR 5 creature (just like a regular mummy) except:
-It has 24 more HP (84 not 60)
-Its paralyzing aura is a DC 19 instead of a DC 16 (3 out or my 4 players failed this and were paralyzed with fear)
-It has fire resistance of 10
-The only saving grace with this creature is with the typo in its mummy rot (it could be intentional, but it feels like a typo). The stat block seems to combine the effects of mummy rot with scenario disease Aurum Death. The onset is listed as 1 day instead of 1 minute, and it says it can be cured by two consecutive saves as an optional alternative to using remove curse and remove disease within 1 minute as with mummy rot.

As I have already mentioned the 4-player adjustment is not balanced for this scenario. All it does is remove one festrog from the encounter. It does nothing to de-buff this 84 HP, 19 AC, fire resistant, terrifying mummy, that has DR 5/-. The only reason my players did not get TPKed was because one of them could summon zombie meat shields which absorbed around 80 HP of damage. (Oh, and the mummy has a +14 to hit with its attack (with power attack) so it only needed a 5 on the dice to hit any of my players)

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that while this fight is going on, the estate is on fire and that fire is growing each turn, and there are NPCs that are trapped in a room with only one exit which is, of course, blocked by fire. The mechanics of the fire are also strange, and no allowance is made for slower spread of the fire for 4 players.

At the end of it all, 3 out of my 4 players were infected with mummy rot (thank goodness it was not the 1-minute onset version thanks to the typo mentioned above).

If the party can survive this encounter, there is enough time for them to rest and the remaining encounters are easy by comparison.

The Auction House:

The 4-player adjustment for the gold-clad necrocraft at least gives the creature a penalty to its attacks and damage. It still has 80 HP and DR 5/Good with some SR and resistances but my players were able to use the environment to trap the creature in the nearby hallway thus giving it a significant penalty. That said they still had to throw another 70-80 HP of zombie meat shield at the creature to prevent them from getting wiped. This creature is listed as CR 7 and it felt like a much easier fight than the CR 5 mummy from earlier.

The Gambling Den:

The final boss is laughably easy should the PCs decide to attack her (which why would the PCs agree to help her in a clearly dark and evil ritual?). There is no 4-player adjustment for this encounter and it isn’t really need since my group of 4 players was able to drop her in less than 2 rounds.

If you are thinking about running this scenario, and you have not read the other reviews, I highly encourage you to do so before deciding to run this for your players. (Particularly in high tier)


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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Hey, back to Rahadoum, THAT can’t go wrong...


Can't wait! Any word on which, if any, flip mats will be used with this one?

Dataphiles

Is this planned to be available soon? We've scheduled to have this played at my local hobby store December 20th!

Grand Lodge

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

This scenario is a December release, usually the last Wednesday of the month. Since that is directly after Christmas, it may release early or it may not. You should schedule a different scenario for that day.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

I'm not sure why this is listed as a November scenario (#10-08 and #10-09 were our November scenarios). This is intended as a December release. I'll see about getting this corrected.

We're getting December scenarios wrapped up a little earlier than we would most other adventures largely because we need everything finalized and queued to go live on the website before much of the office empties for holiday travel. As usual, though, December scenarios become available on the last Wednesday of the month, which this year would be December 26th.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Prepping and reading this was a joy. I have the perfect ratty old fairground teddy for the poppet :-)

Also, maps since I didn't see it posted yet.

Spoiler:

Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Noble Estate
Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Museum
One Custom Full Page map

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Matt Duval wrote:

Prepping and reading this was a joy. I have the perfect ratty old fairground teddy for the poppet :-)

Also, maps since I didn't see it posted yet.
** spoiler omitted **

How did this game end up going for you?

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Michael Sayre wrote:


How did this game end up going for you?

Gonna spoiler just in case, but in general, had a very fun time!

Spoiler:

The antagonist was very colorful, the PCs really engaged with several of the NPCs they met, and the buildup encounters did a good job of getting the paladin really gung-ho against the villain. It felt like an Indiana Jones story with a nice mix of intrigue, subterfuge, and combat; I was imagining the Cairo scenes in Raiders for much of it. I don't want to get too into spoilers in the product thread since there's a lot of stuff that happens that has fun surprise value [particularly one cinematic moment], but I enjoyed it and I think the players did too. I had a couple minor quibbles but overall a great addition to season 10.

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