Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-12: Breath of the Dragonskull

2.70/5 (based on 7 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1-5.

What began as a straightforward mission to escort the displaced Farheaven Clan back to their original homeland in Sarkoris is quickly beset with misfortune. The forest where the Farheavens live is burning, and they need urgent aid. But the Farheavens aren't the only ones in danger, and tensions and blame between the locals have almost risen to open violence. Meanwhile, the inferno's source rages unchecked. Can the Pathfinder Society diffuse this volatile situation and restore peace and safety to the region?

Written by Michael Sayre.

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Society Scenario Subscription.

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2.70/5 (based on 7 ratings)

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Ugh! So . . . many . . . problems . . .

1/5

NO SPOILERS

Ugh. I played through this at low-tier and was not a fan--I think it's one of the worst of the Season Ten scenarios. It's one of those scenarios that tries, awkwardly and unsuccessfully, to redeem goblins to get them ready for PF2. It has a "Pathfinder Junior" sort of tone, with no consequences and a simplistic plot. In my opinion, this one is safely skippable. They didn't even both to update the placeholder cover, which is maybe fate's way of telling us something . . .

SPOILERS!:

Breath of the Dragonskull is best understood as a product of a very specific moment in Paizo history. PF2 was just about to come out, it was going to include goblins as a core race, and some sort of justification had to be given for the radical change in setting lore that changed goblins from almost universally despised pyromaniac psychopaths to loveable, socially-acceptable scamps. Unfortunately, this was not a change that had been foreseen and developed over time, nor was it the subject of some sort of major story arc in an adventure path. Instead, all of the heavy lifting was dumped onto PFS Season 10--and that's why we have multiple scenarios in the season that suddenly include perfectly nice goblin tribes. It's frankly bizarre, as if learning that brain-eating zombies aren't so bad--you just have to get to know them! Breath of the Dragonskull is a good example of this issue, but it has several additional faults to boot.

The scenario starts with a briefing by Venture-Captain Jorsal. He tells the PCs that he's received a letter from the leader of a village called Mishkar in Iobaria. The letter indicates that the village is being threatened by raging forest fires, and urgently asks the Pathfinder Society for help. This scenario is a sequel to # 9-18, Scourge of the Farheavens, in which the Society apparently promised to aid the villagers of Mishkar. So, with little more to go with, V-C Jorsal arranges for the PCs to get teleported to the outskirts of the village.

When the group arrives, they see a town in chaos. Fire and smoke is everywhere, villagers and goblins are trying to fight the fires, but a troupe of centaurs seems to be attacking. Before doing anything else, the PCs have to deal with the centaurs--either through violence or diplomacy. They can then head to the village and help stop the flames from engulfing the town, or visit the (apparently nearby) centaur encampment. The choice seems an obvious one, but the scenario treats them as equally acceptable. Indeed, there are no consequences for going to the centaur encampment first and the town second--I guess the fires weren't that dangerous after all!

When the PCs go to the centaur encampment, they'll have a chance to parlay with Kaana Korag, their leader. It seems they're convinced that goblins have set the fires, and they want the villagers of Mishkar to turn the goblins over for justice. During negotiations, fires break out in the encampment and the PCs can earn some goodwill (and awkwardly dropped loot) by making some skill checks to help put out the flames.

When the PCs go to Mishkar, they'll be greeted by a cool bearlike eidolon of the village's "god-caller" (summoner) and meet goblins from the nearby Dragonskull tribe. Apparently, all it takes to save the town from imminent destruction are a few skill checks by the PCs. The leader of the Dragonskulls explains that they've always used fire to carefully maintain the health of the forest (by burning sick trees, etc.), but one day an old stone monument in their own village caught on fire and started burning everything around it. The PCs are asked by the leaders in Mishkar to accompany the goblin chieftain back to his village and stop the "burning stone" from spewing additional fire into the forest.

So the PCs head into the burning Finadar Forest. I thought the issue of smoke inhalation was handled well, as each PC has to make a check before each encounter or be fatigued. Encounters in the forest include wolverines and a chance to rescue a personality-free druid who was trapped in a "flame-shrouded bower." Dang druid, this fire has been raging for (according to the scenario) two weeks now--you really need to prep more create water and spam as needed!

Once they reach the goblin village, the PCs will realise that an ancient cyclopean monument was somehow reactivated and it's responsible for spewing burning skulls--essentially, small fire elementals. By destroying the flaming skulls and deactivating the monument, the PCs save the day. There is some potentially interesting negotiations afterward where the PCs are supposed to persuade the centaurs that the goblins weren't responsible for the fires. However, it doesn't really matter, because even if the PCs utterly fail on the Diplomacy checks, the centaurs grudgingly leave the goblins alone. Actually, one of the interesting things about this scenario is that the PCs aren't really needed--even if they fail on all the skill checks to put out the fires in the village or the encampment, nothing bad happens to either.

I'm a Negative Nancy in this review, but there's really just a lot about it that irks me. The "goblins are great" ret-con, the safety rails everywhere, the story deficiencies, and more. It has the sort of plot and tone and lack of real danger or consequences that would make it a perfect fit for a sort of "Kid's Track" adventure designed for pre-teens. But for an adult, it just comes across as kinda dumb and cheesy.


Don't waste the 5 bucks

1/5

Goblin nonsense overshadows an otherwise paint by numbers snoozefest.


Decent adventure, with a few narrative oddities.

3/5

(I played this.)

This is a fun, short adventure. In the grand scheme of things, I have no major complaints, other than that it's kinda middle-of-the-road. Nothing exciting, but also not terrible. Just a decent adventure.

Small niggles:
- There's definitely some Goblin propaganda going on. That in and of itself I don't mind, but it's so heavy-handed and hamfisted that it's jarring.
- Water-quenching rules are needlessly changed for no benefit. It's not like you're learning a whole new subsystem for it, but the old rules worked fine. I guess these new rules allow for less table variation, but IMHO they just don't make sense.
Neither of these niggles directly impact the overall grade (I won't review-bomb this because of Goblin-positivity), but I do want to mention them, in case leadership and/or potential authors are looking through reviews.


Good, but not awesome

3/5

I thought this was a good, but not awesome adventure. My main issue is that it allows for you to diplomicize your way out of several fights, which I don't necessarily mind, but if you do this repeatedly then the adventure can run very short of the scheduled time.


Fire, Fire, Everywhere

4/5

I like that this scenario promises fire and gives it to you. There are some wonky mechanics with it that I thought were unnecessary for a low level adventure with limited character resources.

I got no problems with the new goblin direction. Always CE races has been an original sin of all Tolkien-derived fantasy and the sooner it’s let go, the better. This scenario does a good job of playing with those preconceptions and offering opportunities to resolve the scenario in many ways.

Also, extra points for some great art.


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Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Bear Squad will return!

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
JERRY WAYNE 073 wrote:
Could a member of the exceptionally fab and rad Paizo staff give us a glimpse at the map list for this adventure?

10–12: Breath of the Dragonskull uses the following maps:

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Michael Sayre wrote:
JERRY WAYNE 073 wrote:
Could a member of the exceptionally fab and rad Paizo staff give us a glimpse at the map list for this adventure?

10–12: Breath of the Dragonskull uses the following maps:

** spoiler omitted **

All the thanks for your fabness and radness!

Silver Crusade

Spoiler:
Chaotic Evil, pyromaniac goblins trying to stop a human town from burning down.

Sounds legit.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

idmonster wrote:
Spoiler:
Chaotic Evil, pyromaniac goblins trying to stop a human town from burning down. Sounds legit.

Please remember to spoiler your posts when talking about adventure content that is not included in the product description.

Spoiler:
Goblins have actually never been broadly categorized as chaotic evil; if you pop open your Bestiary the primary alignment for goblins encountered as threats is neutral evil, the alignment of sublime self-interest. The goblins of Iobaria also have the unique benefit of not having many other species to deal with, beyond the occasional centaur (who they largely hide from) or druid.

So, these sublimely self-interested goblins find themselves suddenly without a home as it is destroyed by fell magic and pursued by monstrous (to them, because horses are terrifying at almost a genetic level for goblins) enemies, flee until they come into contact with a frontier town whose population includes Sarkorian survivors who were chased from their homeland by demons after it was destroyed by fell magic. The goblins, not being idiots (goblins are just as smart as humans) know that they cannot defeat the humans and their giant bear god, nor can they continue to outrun the centaurs. Thus they do the only thing they can do: help the force that's not currently trying to kill them.

The humans, being refugees who have faced hardship, ostracization, and displacement themselves, choose to accept the goblins' aid in protecting their homes, because unlike the massive forest fire the goblins aren't actively destroying their homes, property, and livelihood.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

Added spoiler tags to a post.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Spoiler!:
I'm surprised the heavy-lifting for explaining the goblins PF2 ret-con has been placed on PFS scenarios, but I know you guys are doing the best you can in a pretty difficult situation.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Tile numbers for the initial encounter-

Tile Numbers:

Forest Starter Set(F00):32B, 33B, 29A, 15A, 02B, 01B, 40A

Forest Perils Expansion: 01B, 04B

Sovereign Court

Spoiler:
I don't see the big revolt against non-CE goblins. Golarion's a massive place with incredibly diverse groups even within races, after all! My players have loved these little guys in recent scenarios. Besides, fantasy's a genre where one of the most popular and well-known characters is a Chaotic Good drow, y'know? Sure, we're a long way from We Be Goblins in several cases in this season, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a retcon.

Treason's Chains:
All of my players have sworn fealty to Zig, man.

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