Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-16: What the Helms Hide

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A series of four quests designed for levels 1-5.

Disagreements among the Pathfinders erupted into violence 300 years ago, spurring the Society's leaders to don helms that hid their identities and protected them from assassins. These ten members of the Decemvirate have remained anonymous to this day, but a recent discovery may uncover new information about this dangerous part of the Society's history. With a unique window into the past, it falls to the PCs to identify these original leaders and the secrets they buried before donning the helms—in the process helping to unveil a hidden threat to the Society.

What the Helms Hide includes four 1-hour adventures that send the PCs across the Inner Sea region to uncover the secretive Decemvirate's past. The series includes a finale adventure, but players can experience the other parts in any order.

Written by Calder CaDavid, Lysle Kapp, Kendra Leigh Speedling, and Nate Wright.

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

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3.20/5 (based on 5 ratings)

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A must play if you like Pathfinder society lore

5/5

I thought this scenario is a must play scenario, if you like Pathfinder Society lore and have been playing PFS for awhile.

I've been following PFS for years now, so it was great to learn more of the story behind how Pathfinder Society began.

Several scenes were memorable.

I just thought it was a terrific series of quests, very different from the norm. If you're not heavily invested in Pathfinder society, this might be average for you.


Great Premise, Poor Execution

2/5

NO SPOILERS

What the Helms Hide is a collection of four quests with a strong through-line and common theme. Together, they tell an important story about the Pathfinder Society. I took advantage of the quest format and played two of them with my rogue (Siegfried) and the other two with my fighter (The Shining Knight). Although I think the shared premise and backstory is great, the actual execution comes across as amateurish. I think this story was far too important to be handled in a freelancer-written quest pack, and should have been a traditional module designed for high-tier characters. This is an important adventure for lore purposes, but not really a particularly fun one to play.

SPOILERS!:

When it comes to the fictional history of the Pathfinder Society, What the Helms Hide is perhaps the single most important PFS scenario ever released. Tying in smartly to the classic The Wounded Wisp, it picks up on the idea that an early member of the organisation, a gnome named Eylysia, suspected that some of the first members of the Decemvirates had reprehensible records of deceit and betrayal. She set about trying to prove this, but barely managed to escape alive after confronting them--and was subsequently framed as having been involved in an "assassination" plot. In the four quests that follow, the PCs are charged by Master of Scrolls Kreighton Shane to follow some enigmatic clues that Eylysia left behind, in order to determine whether history has judged her unfairly or not.

The first quest, "Collection," has the PCs visiting the Jeggare Museum in Korvosa. There's a bizarre encounter where a swarm of "shrew flies" suddenly burst through a skylight and try to eat every plant-based object in an exhibit room. The actual encounter was actually pretty fun, as the PCs need to grab and protect the artifacts on display while simultaneously trying to deal with the swarm. It just seemed sort of random in appearance, which is the type of problem that could be dealt with through some early foreshadowing or exposition. There's a similarly weird situation with a spirit that has merged with a washboard (okay . . .) and starts ransacking another exhibit room--but it can be calmed with some skill checks. It all leads to an awkwardly written research phase that eventually results in the PCs discovering that a Pathfinder (and future member of the Decemvirate) named Helven Leroung ingratiated himself with the Shoanti but then betrayed them at the worst possible time in order to enrich himself and boost his career. The quest sheds some fascinating light on the Chelish colonisation of the area, and thus on early Korvosan history. But as an adventure, it's mediocre at best.

The second quest, "Autumn", takes place in the Arthfell Forest in Andoran. The backstory here is somewhat convoluted, but boils down to an evil Pathfinder (and future member of the Decemvirate) named Zaul Blystone hoarding real relics for himself while sending fake duplicates to the Society. Blystone hid one of his treasures, Autumn's Cowl, in the Arthfell and tricked a huldra into guarding it. Very little of this backstory comes through in gameplay, which essentially consists in asking a druid nicely for permission to enter the area, fighting some jack-o'-lanterns (I do like their explosion special ability), and then persuading the huldra into turning over the cowl. I guess the quest makes good use of the Forest Starter Set Flip-Tiles, but apart from that it falls flat.

Next up is "Dust," which takes place in Dwarven territory near Highhelm. At a cavern where the dwarves worshipped Droskar, a famed Pathfinder (and future member of the Decemvirate) named Veldrid Goldborough murdered the lot of them and stole most of their treasures for herself. Essentially, this is a brief dungeon excursion consisting of one trivial haunt (which has poor flavour and little in the way of game effects) and a battle against some goblins. I love the goblin song in the quest and that the goblins are portrayed in their traditional manner (PF1 forever!). There's a bit of role-playing at the beginning of the quest with some dwarf scouts. I'd classify this one as fine but forgettable, and probably the best of the lot.

Last is "Witness," a quest I had a major issue with. The PCs are expected to perform a (poorly explained) ritual in order to display Eylysias's fateful confrontation with the three perfidious members of the Decemvirate featured in the previous quests. But instead of just witnessing the event, the PCs somehow . . . I don't know . . . inhabit . . . the bodies of Eylysias' allies in the battle. All of this took place four centuries ago, and it's not actual time-travel, so it's all rather pointless. When I played it, I also wasn't satisfied that there was much in the way of evidence that Eylysias was the "good guy" and that the Decemvirate members were the "bad guys", so I didn't participate. I couldn't see what the in-game point of the battle was, regardless, even though I understand the writer was trying to make the event more interesting by making it interactive instead of just expository in nature. The overall conclusion is also unsatisfying, as Kreighton Shaine and two members of the Decemvirate essentially give the PCs a "well-done" pat on the back with no particular insight into what, if anything, will change about the methods used to select the Society's governing authority.

A gamer really interested and invested in the early history and lore surrounding the Pathfinder Society would enjoy reading What the Helms Hide--it adds a lot, and what it adds makes for an interesting and exciting story. But the quests themselves do a poor job implementing this promising premise, and there are a lot of plot holes that just don't add up. I would recommend this one for hard-core fans only.


A Mixed Bag

2/5

The Good Stuff
1) 4 quests is the right number for a scenario like this and makes it easier to organize and run, especially as an intro to PF adventure
2) The 1st encounter has some neat mechanics and is a lot of fun. It challenges players in a way they generally aren't challenged.

The Not So Good Stuff
1) I'm not a big fan of having separate authors for each quest as has been done here and with other quests. It can lead to incoherence and contradictions. I think it would be better if all 4 quests had been written by the same person.
2) The story here is not really suitable for newcomers to PF and PFS play. Folks who haven't played PF before aren't going to follow all the ins and outs of PF Society history that is contained in this scenario. The story focus of this would have been better in a higher level adventure where the players are more likely to have a sense of the Society and its history.

All in all, I'm not a big fan of this adventure, particularly for newcomers. I'll continue to use Fallen Family, Broken Name as my "go to" evergreen as it has a solid, self-contained story that makes a lot more sense to people with little or no PF experience.


Good for a Quest, but overall pretty poor.

3/5

(I played this. Also, my GM was a bit brain-fried due to the heat, that might influence this review.)

I like what the scenario is trying to do, but I hate how it does it. First off, the good part. Making four Quests instead of five allows for more narrative per quest. In the old quests, you had one combat, a handful of skill checks, and that's it. Now there's an actual narrative arc in each quest, with more skill checks to be made across several smaller scenes. That negates the "one and done" feel of older Quests.

The bad news is... The story doesn't deliver. I can't talk about this without spoiling, so...

Spoiler:
The blurb (and the title, even) promises to reveal a big secret, but that's probably all a big setup for later in the season, or maybe even PF2. You learn THAT there is a cover-up, but not what that entails. I feel like I've accomplished nothing during this scenario. That's a terrible feeling to have.
I feel like if this scenario was advertised differently, I would've enjoyed it more, but now it just ends on an unsatisfying cliffhanger, without any payoff.

Aside from that, the GM was constantly muttering about bad editing, even worse than usual. I haven't seen it for myself, but he was flipping back and forth constantly to find the necessary information.

Overall, I liked this scenario for its mechanical execution, but as a narrative experience, I feel it fails to deliver what it promises. If you just want to roll dice and have a good time, this will certainly be it, but if you're into stories, meh.


My favourite PFS Quest series

4/5

What the Helms Hide is a Tier 1-5 repayable scenario that consists of four short one-hour long quests. “Collection,” “Autumn,” “Dust,” and “Witness.” “Collection” should always be played first, “Autumn” and “Dust” may be played in any order, and “Witness” is the thrilling finale. Each quest is penned by a different author and comes with its own player handout. Each has a chance for battle, a social encounter, and to uncover clues regarding their respective mini mysteries. Also, this scenario has a lot of great artwork in it!

The first quest, “Collection,” is written by Lysle Kapp and takes place in Korvosa’s Jeggare Museum. Here PCs will need to inspect relics discovered by the famous Pathfinder Helven Leroung and uncover clues about her history and character. You also get to delve into Helven’s relationship with the famous Montlarion Jeggare, for whom the museum (and much more!) is named. His descendant, Mercival Jeggare is curator of the museum and willing to lend you a hand. There’s a lot of information you can learn here, although groups are unlikely to get all of it, which I rather enjoyed.

“Autumn” is written by Calder Cadavid and takes places in Andoran’s Arthfell Forest. PCs investigate a sliver of the history of the Pathfinder Zaul Blystone. It has amazing art for an NPC, Adelyn Rhinon, which is my favourite art in the scenario. This is a fun quest although I do have one minor complaint. I feel like one of the characters gives up a bit too easily.

“Dust” by Nate Wright takes place in underground Dwarven ruins on the edge of Highhelm. There players get to dig a little deeper into the history of Veldrid Goldborough. I enjoyed the NPCs in this one and adore the art for Helga Silverbrew. She’s got such a great facial expression. I like enemies in this one a lot, and the…

Spoiler:
informative haunt.

The finale, “Witness,” is written by Kendra Leigh Speedling and was an absolute delight! It takes place in the Grand Lodge of Absalom and involves the PCs...

Spoiler:
enacting a sort of ritual to activate a secret cache hidden by the gnome Pathfinder Eylysia. As Master of Scrolls Kreighton Shaine and two members of the Decemvirate watch on, your players get to experience an important event from Eylysia’s past.

It's awesome. I loved the final battle and the revelations it uncovered.
Spoiler:
And Eylysia’s final line was SO good.

What the Helms Hide is a really great series of Quests. So great, in fact, that it’s my favourite series of PFS Quests to date. All of it’s component Quests were enjoyable, but its the finale that really ties it all together and makes it exceptional. Really well done from the whole team of writers.


Grand Lodge

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Best. Quest. Series. Idea. Ever.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

According to the description it seems that it supposed to be continuation of "Eyes of the Ten" or "All For Immortality", not quests :)

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Unless they take place in locations better suited to investigation by fresh, inconspicuous agents instead of Seekers whose faces are recognized around the Inner Sea.

Grand Lodge

Wow! Only 4 quests instead of 6? Is this replayable?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
roll4initiative wrote:
Wow! Only 4 quests instead of 6? Is this replayable?

This will be replayable, yes.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I wonder if the Helms hide . . . WORLD-THREATENINGLY BAD ACNE.


I'm very excited to see the quest format reduced to 4, to better fit the one hour per quest, four hours per scenario formula.

Now I wait for the map list....

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
JDDyslexia wrote:

I'm very excited to see the quest format reduced to 4, to better fit the one hour per quest, four hours per scenario formula.

Now I wait for the map list....

Grand Lodge

JDDyslexia wrote:

I'm very excited to see the quest format reduced to 4, to better fit the one hour per quest, four hours per scenario formula.

I am excited as well. I am also hoping it is a good set of quests to introduce to beginners.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Looks like i might be running this in april!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
JoeDapper wrote:
Looks like i might be running this in april!

UPDATE - I AM RUNNING THIS GAME ON 4/20!! ;)


JoeDapper wrote:
JoeDapper wrote:
Looks like i might be running this in april!
UPDATE - I AM RUNNING THIS GAME ON 4/20!! ;)

Any word on what bestiary will be needed for pawns??? I'd really like to step up my presentation.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

What are each of the quest names?


JoeDapper wrote:
JoeDapper wrote:
JoeDapper wrote:
Looks like i might be running this in april!
UPDATE - I AM RUNNING THIS GAME ON 4/20!! ;)
Any word on what bestiary will be needed for pawns??? I'd really like to step up my presentation.

You will have plenty of time to arrange this :)

It's out on wednesday 03/27 next week so you will have a better idea.

I on the other hand am running it on the 03/31 XD


It looks like the chronicle sheet has an error.

The Variable Rewards only has one column for gold, presumably for level 1 based on the range

Grand Lodge

Thaine Hepler wrote:

It looks like the chronicle sheet has an error.

The Variable Rewards only has one column for gold, presumably for level 1 based on the range

Dang. I never even noticed that. Everything's shifted over one column too. XP is under gold pieces and PP is under XP. That whole chart will have to get shifted down too because you'll need two lines for the boons.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

kevin_video wrote:
Thaine Hepler wrote:

It looks like the chronicle sheet has an error.

The Variable Rewards only has one column for gold, presumably for level 1 based on the range

Dang. I never even noticed that. Everything's shifted over one column too. XP is under gold pieces and PP is under XP. That whole chart will have to get shifted down too because you'll need two lines for the boons.

This came up in the GM discussion thread, and a fix has already been made. Once it’s updated on the website, we’ll let you know.

Grand Lodge

There are two wands awarded at the end of the final quest. Any possibility the chronicle sheet can be edited to add these two items? Otherwise, it's pretty pointless to mention them.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Thaine Hepler wrote:

It looks like the chronicle sheet has an error.

The Variable Rewards only has one column for gold, presumably for level 1 based on the range

As John mentioned, we have a fix in process for this, but while that gets sorted out these are the correct gold rewards:

10–16 Gold Chart:

Quests
1) L1: 125, L2: 175, L3: 300, L4: 400, L5: 500

2) L1: 225, L2: 350, L3: 600, L4: 800, L5: 1,000

3) L1: 325, L2: 525, L3: 900, L4: 1,200, L5: 1,500

4) L1: 425, L2: 700, L3: 1,200, L4: 1,600, L5: 2,000


Michael Sayre wrote:
Thaine Hepler wrote:

It looks like the chronicle sheet has an error.

The Variable Rewards only has one column for gold, presumably for level 1 based on the range

As John mentioned, we have a fix in process for this, but while that gets sorted out these are the correct gold rewards:

** spoiler omitted **

Thank You for the update.

With any luck it will be fixed before I need to print the sheets this weekend.


Is this available for replay with level 1 characters only?

Grand Lodge

That is correct.


Fantus1984 wrote:
JoeDapper wrote:
JoeDapper wrote:
JoeDapper wrote:
Looks like i might be running this in april!
UPDATE - I AM RUNNING THIS GAME ON 4/20!! ;)
Any word on what bestiary will be needed for pawns??? I'd really like to step up my presentation.

You will have plenty of time to arrange this :)

It's out on wednesday 03/27 next week so you will have a better idea.

I on the other hand am running it on the 03/31 XD

How did it go for you? Table of six finished it in exactly 4 hours. Collection took 2..and i had to hustle the rest. I should have curbed some of that first encounter.


What about the gold rewards? I dont get the table of chronicle sheet it said something like this

Variable Rewards: The gp, XP, and Prestige Points you earn on this Chronicle sheet are based on your level and how many of the quests you complete. Until you play an adventure other than What The Helms Hide, you can continue to play the other quests and earn greater rewards—even over multiple sessions. Circle the name of the quests you have completed and check off the appropriate influence boxes below. Before beginning a different adventure, calculate your rewards for this Chronicle sheet based on the table below. PCs that have selected the slow advancement track receive half of the gp, XP, and Prestige Points listed below

And there's one table with:

Nº quests: 1 --- Gold Pieces: 125 ---- XP: 1 ---- PP: 1 ---- Other: Some stuff
Nº quests: 2 --- Gold Pieces: 175 ---- XP: 1 ---- PP: 1 ---- Other: Some stuff
Nº quests: 3 --- Gold Pieces: 300 ---- XP: 1 ---- PP: 1 ---- Other: Some stuff
Nº quests: 4 --- Gold Pieces: 400 ---- XP: 1 ---- PP: 2 ---- Other: Some stuff

----------------------------
This scneario can be played for Tier 1-5 characters, so i think if a group of level 5 play all 4 quests get 400x5(level) gold pieces? The average of my chronicles sheet 1-5 in tier 4-5 it's around 1800gp

Cause if it's just 400 pieces for 4 quests at that level and get 1 xp point those players will have so much less gp of others players in those levels.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Danscath wrote:
What about the gold rewards?

Michael Sayre posted the Corrected Gold Chart in the GM Discussion Thread.


Is there any "A", "B", "C", or "D" reporting for the scenario? I can't seem to find it.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ballistic101 wrote:
Is this available for replay with level 1 characters only?

I know it's a bit late, but the text of the scenario says:

Quote:
What The Helms Hide can be replayed for credit, but the credit must be applied to a different character each time

It says nothing about replaying with only level 1 PCs.

Grand Lodge

Michael Hallet wrote:
Ballistic101 wrote:
Is this available for replay with level 1 characters only?

I know it's a bit late, but the text of the scenario says:

Quote:
What The Helms Hide can be replayed for credit, but the credit must be applied to a different character each time
It says nothing about replaying with only level 1 PCs.

Considering every other series of quests requires it to be replayed at 1st level, it’s a good assumption that unless it’s specified otherwise, chances are this one conforms to that rule too. Beyond that it’s a John Compton ruling.


Scenario: 10-16 have 2 SUBTIER (1-2, 4-5).
How the reward changes for PC out of subtier:
if 5 lvl goes in 1-2 subtier.
if 1 lvl goes in 4-5 subtier.

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