Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-15: Tapestry's Trial

4.30/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 7-11.

Remembered as the Ruby Phoenix, the legendary sorcerer Hao Jin disappeared without a trace centuries ago never to be seen since. The Pathfinder Society has spent much of the past decade exploring her vast museum demiplane, yet in recent years the demiplane's very existence has begun to unravel, threatening to cast its contents into the void. The Society's leaders believe that only Hao Jin herself might be able to repair her creation, and a new lead at last reveals where she had gone: the realm of perfect law, Axis. As elite agents, the PCs must track her down and convince her to save the tapestry demiplane and all of the creatures that live there.

Written by Alex Greenshields.

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One of the Best!



I played Tapestry's Trial at low subtier using the four-player adjustment. Based on that, and reading the scenario afterwards, I think it's one of the very best of the season. The setting detail is fantastic, the story is smart and original, there's several opportunities for great role-playing, and the author anticipated that different groups would handle issues in different ways and therefore set up ways to accommodate them. There's not a ton of combat, so if your group is only about the hacking n' slashing, this one might not be the best. But for most groups, I highly recommend this one. It also provides a great continuation of a long-running PFS story arc that has spanned several seasons.


This is a meaty scenario. Following a lead from a previous scenario, the PCs are tasked with tracking down an incredibly powerful sorcerer named Hao Jin (creator of the eponymous tapestry and demiplane that hosts several communities pulled from Golarion). The Hao Jin Tapestry has been a major component of PFS storytelling for years, and in this scenario we finally learn Hao Jin's origins and motivations! The bulk of the scenario is set on Axis, the plane of law, and the scenario does a great job making that meaningful and flavourful (getting into fights or doing chaotic acts is a good way to get a PC detained for the length of the scenario, for example). The PCs discover something quite significant: a way to potentially rescue some of the communities within the unravelling demiplane. And in the end, they get to influence the fate of Hao Jin herself.

The "briefing" is very different than the norm. The PCs start with a letter (handout) from Sorrina Westyr of the Pathfinder Society that details their mission: travelling to Axis, finding Hao Jin, and learning if there's anything that can be done to save the inhabitants of the tapestry demiplane before it unravels completely. The scenario proper starts with the PCs arriving at the main temple of Abadar in Absalom, where a head priest uses a scroll to plane shift the group to Axis. Given how much content is in the scenario, it was a wise move to keep the briefing short.

The PCs arrive, quite logically, in a guesthouse for priests of Abadar. Some good role-playing (and skill checks) persuade the host that the group is on legitimate business. After some investigation, the PCs are told that Hao Jin arrived in Axis over 300 years ago, received a formal reprimand from the authorities in Axis (for her meddling in planar stability), and was effectively given a type of "house arrest" in the Empty Court--the former domain of Aroden! (intriguingly, even the gods apparently don't know how he died) Travelling to the Empty Court isn't difficult, and there the PCs will meet Eleven-Sun-Truth, an inevitable arbiter who sort of serves as Hao Jin's probation officer/case manager/legal advocate. Eleven-Sun-Truth is a fun NPC to interact with, and he explains a lot about the background of Hao Jin's stay on Axis.

But as Eleven-Sun-Truth leads them to the sorcerer, the PCs have their first opportunity to discover something strange--they're being scryed! Unbeknownst to them, they're not the only ones interested in locating Hao Jin's whereabouts. The night hag Aslynn (a thorn in the Pathfinder Society's side for some time) has sent one of her agents, 322, to find her as well. 322 is a really cool character that's hard to describe--she's sort of an experiment tormented by a unknown past and vexed feelings about her life as an operative for nefarious forces like Aslynn and the Aspis Consortium. 322's attempts to find Hao Jin is weaved through the scenario in a very smartly-plotted way.

The meeting with the legendary Hao Jin herself is handled in a perhaps understated way (though the artwork for her is great!). Hao Jin is a very matter-of-fact person. She's concerned when she learns from the PCs about the deteriorating state of the tapestry demiplane she constructed. She says that as part of her sentence on Axis, the authorities removed memories from her that would be vital to assembling a magical ritual to stave off the tapestry's total collapse (the removal was Axis' way of ensuring that she also didn't have the means to create another demiplane). These memories, stored in physical crystals called "engrams", were then deposited in a library on Axis. However, the library is open to the public and some were checked out and never returned! The middle section of the scenario then consists of the PCs tracking down the engrams. They can do this in any order.

One of the engrams is actually inside (and affecting the personality) of a robot-like kolyarut inevitable known as the Maker. The PCs find the Maker at a temple/tavern to Chaldira Zuzaristan (a gnome goddess of luck and mischief). I like how the scenario gives the PCs several feasible options on how to get the engram back: some difficult skill checks to persuade The Maker to return it voluntarily, the possibility of dislodging and stealing the engram, or a combat that's risky because it may draw the attention of the inevitables that patrol Axis looking for chaos.

A second engram is currently being "read" by a heresy devil in one of the libraries on Axis. The caretaker of the library explains that the heresy devil has long-overstayed his welcome (and legal permission to be there), and doesn't mind if the PCs take it back--as long as they don't damage the library. This is the one unavoidable combat encounter in the scenario. I like how the librarian was serious about not damaging the books--if the PCs use area of effect spells during the battle, they suffer some later drawbacks. It's nice to see indoor encounter "terrain" be more than just background colour on a grid. I should note, however, that the map chosen for this encounter (and for the one above, if it comes to combat) is *very* small for 4-6 PCs--some additional surroundings would be good to have on a map in case a battle spills out of such a small area.

A third engram was once held by a monk of Irori, but is now in the hands of 322. She lures the PCs to a part of Axis where violence is quite difficult because it's under magical calming effects. She offers the Pathfinders a trade: if they briefly travel with her to Skyreach (part of the Grand Lodge) and get her inside, she'll give them the engram they need and bring them back to Axis. A lot of scenarios would have this just be empty talk and make a battle inevitable (pardon the pun), but this scenario is serious about the possibility and provides for what happens if the PCs agree. Other options to get the engram exist, such as persuading 322 to hand them over or fighting her for them. The scenario does a really good job with making 322 a potentially sympathetic figure who can either be redeemed or destroyed.

For each of the engrams, when a PC first touches it, they get a sort of "flashback memory" to Hao Jin's early life. Through this device, the group learns about Hao Jin's origin. It's a compelling little story, told well. She gained a thirst to protect knowledge from destruction after accidentally burning down her own family's home and library (and effectively bankrupting them by the cost for a resurrection after she was killed in the fire!). However, a stunning detail is included in the engrams: the demiplane Hao Jin created steals a bit of the soul of every inhabitant when they die, and uses that power to perpetuate itself! Hao Jin's moral blameworthiness thus becomes complex and could create some excellent role-playing.

Once the PCs have all three engrams, the final third of the scenario consists (potentially) in Hao Jin's trial (the case having been reopened given everything that has gone on). The PCs don't have to participate in the trial (my group didn't, because we couldn't agree on whether she should be punished or vindicated), and if they participate they can argue either on behalf of or against Hao Jin--the scenario provides for both possibilities. I really love the inclusion of options like this--too many scenario writers try to railroad groups into one preferred outcome.

The trial itself is done very well. I've seen lots of "social influence" encounters in PFS/SFS scenarios, and this is one of the very best. Each of the three judges has a well-portrayed personality, the arguments and points of law discussed are interesting and compelling, the DC modifiers for different skill uses and role-playing are sound, the result could legitimately go in different ways, and the effects (on Hao Jin) are meaningful. This isn't one of those encounters that the PCs are automatically assumed to "win" (with whatever that means in this context). The upshot, however, is that whatever the outcome of the trial, by recovering the engrams the PCs have enabled Hao Jin to conduct the ritual--which she gets permission from the authorities to do at a later date. This thus sets up what is presumably the next scenario in this storyline.

As far as I'm concerned, Tapestry's Trial is an exemplar of high-quality, professional scenario writing, and PFS at its best.

Great scenario.


(I played this.)

This scenario is great. It's a bit heavy on the lore and hand-holdy, that's why it loses a star from me, but overall I have no big negatives. You come across a lot of strange things, which is wonderful, but becomes a bit fatiguing as you're trying to wrap your head around more and more events and NPCs. I was prepared for a more social scenario, but a lot of it was more "you go here, meet this person, get shoved to the next location." The whole scenario felt like it was on a moving walkway, rather than going at our desired pace. It went by just a little faster than I was comfortable with.

That said, it certainly isn't a bad scenario. I agree with a lot of the five-star reviews. I just think there's just a little too much content for your average PFS scenario.

Great for my wizard


At Origins I played #10-11, #10-13, and this one #10-15 with my tiefling teleportation/conjurer wizard. Everyone at my table knew what we were signing up for, and had very deliberately selected this scenario. I also had completed #10-11 with some of them, and #10-13 with others. So we weren't expecting combat (although all of us could and easily did handle the one nearly unavoidable combat) and were ready for skill challenges and roleplay. We got exactly what we wanted. It was terrific.

A Day Trip To Axis


I played this adventure at subtier 10-11 with four players. I have not run it.

I have a soft spot for a lot of parts of what this adventure presents. I love adventures that explore in any way the other planes of the cosmology. I always wish this adventures were a bit longer but in the framework of 4-5 hour scenarios I do really enjoy this adventure. These do rely a lot more on the GM for pacing and to fill in the portions of the city to make this feel like a full blown city rather than just a couple sites and people the party will visit in the couple hours.

This is a strongly social focused scenario with the latter portion of the adventure being entirely focused on social skills. The first set of encounters, taken individually, can feel a bit disconnected from the main plot, but are nice encounters within the planar city. However they are a nice way to give some of the background that helped me appreciate the final encounter.

I do agree that this is probably not a good scenario to present to a group that has no previous knowledge of the Hao Jin Tapestry. Without the background of those adventures I would have much less investment in the plot of this adventure.

Worst Railroad scenario ever


This scenario is terrible. It forces you to make decisions that are not going to work for any character in this game. If you play this, please put aside your thoughts about how Pathfinders ought to properly act. My entire table is literally angry about the way this scenario forced us into decisions. I'll avoid putting the details in, even under a spoiler, but I've rarely seen a scenario leave a table so angry.

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Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Gotta collect all them outer planes!

Liberty's Edge

So stoked that this is culminating in meeting the Ruby Phoenix herself!

Liberty's Edge

I suspect that we won't actually meet her in this. I suspect that dealing with her will either be a 12-15 or the 1st edition culmination multi-table.

Dark Archive

What maps are used?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

Maps appearing in this scenario:

This scenario makes use of the following maps. In addition, I recommend having a blank Flip-Mat handy, as there's a possible encounter that takes place in an open area.
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Museum
  • Pathfinder Map Pack: Magic Academy
  • Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

    *grabby hands*

    Shadow Lodge

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    The table of contents calls it Tapestry's Toil.

    Scarab Sages

    Folks, there is a slight typo on p. 6.

    Major spoiler for scenario:
    It states that it's a Hard Perception check to "get the feeling of being watched", but the scenario doesn't list what a Hard check for the subtiers might be. A Hard Perception check at subtier 7-8 is 28, and at subtier 10-11, it's a 33.

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