Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-98: Siege of Gallowspire

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5–16, as well as Aid Characters (see below).

For a millennium, Golarion rested safe in the knowledge that history's most infamous lich, the Whispering Tyrant, was securely locked away. After a cataclysmic explosion sundered his prison, the Tyrant roams free once more. But he didn’t simply abandon his prison. Deep beneath the ground, behind nearly impenetrable magical wards, he has set in motion a necromantic ritual of extraordinary power. It's up to the Pathfinders to battle the Tyrant's guardians, break the wards, and stop the ritual that could make him unstoppable. Along the way, they’ll discover what secrets the Tyrant wanted to protect and keep from falling into his enemies' hands.

This scenario has two difficulty levels: Soldier and Champion. "Champion" is a considerably more challenging version of the adventure.

Aid Characters: Players can bring up to three additional characters of level 5 or higher to participate in this special scenario. Aid characters generate benefits to help other tables, and they can participate in special Aid Missions during the scenario. Players do not need all of their Chronicle sheets for their Aid Characters—they only need each Aid Characters' most recently earned Chronicle sheet.

Written by Brian Duckwitz

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A Fitting Capstone!

5/5

NO SPOILERS

Siege of Gallowspire is the conclusion to an eleven-year-long campaign, which is something incredible itself. The scenario offers two modes of play: Soldier (slightly harder than a normal scenario) and Champion (much harder than a normal scenario). There are also no four-player adjustments. An interesting feature unique to the scenario is that each player can bring three other PCs along as Aid Characters--these PCs aren't run in the traditional way but (off-screen) contribute to the success of the mission by taking a supporting role. However, Aid Characters can be put at risk and even die! I think the idea was to allow players to have a final send off to more than just one PC, but I tend to find aid mechanisms in these specials a bit clunky and usually unnecessary. Apart from that, the scenario is well-written and elegantly structured--even at 107 pages(!), it's easier to navigate than a lot of specials I've seen.

As the formal capstone adventure for Pathfinder First Edition, a lot of PCs are probably going to die (mine did--though he got better!). However, it's not a pure meat grinder (at least at Soldier level)--which is a good thing, because I still see a lot of life in PFS1 and plan to keep playing until I've experienced all of it. I got a chance to play Siege of Gallowspire with my half-orc paladin, Trokkus, at a Subtier 10-11 table at PaizoCon AP in 2019. It was definitely a memorable experience.

SPOILERS!:

As the name implies, Siege of Gallowspire ties into the events of the Tyrant's Grasp adventure path. The Whispering Tyrant (the legendary lich, Tar-Baphon) has finally escaped his fortress/prison at Gallowspire. However, he left behind a potentially devastating collection of unholy servants who are now conducting a dark ritual to create an army of undead to serve their master and sweep over the Inner Sea. Almost the entirety of the Pathfinder Society has been assembled to storm Gallowspire and stop this from happening.

In mechanical terms, the scenario is structured as having three substantive parts. In each part, tables will face a "primary encounter" which, if they win, counts as one success reported to the overseer. Once a certain number of successes are reported, the entire room moves on. There is a (real-life) time limit to each part of the scenario and if this is reached, the game advances as well but there's an impact on Chronicle boon rewards at the end. In addition to each part having a primary encounter, there are also two sets of optional encounters to be run at the discretion of the GM if their table is quickly mowing down the opposition. Each of these optional encounters also contributes a success to the overall part.

Part 1 is the general briefing and mustering. Unlike some specials which give the PCs some skill checks to do to accomplish minor tasks (and earn small advantages) while mustering, that time is taken up with filling out the Aid Characters sheets. The briefing, delivered by Marcos Farabellus and Siege Lord Wynsal Starborn, is short and straightforward. The stakes are clear. I do find it interesting how much the Pathfinder Society has moved into a general "do-gooder" group from its much less idealistic Season Zero roots. This seems to match the entire setting's gradual shift to a more black and white "good vs evil" morality from an original view that was much more cynical or realistic (depending on your point of view). Anyway, the actual mission into Gallowspire will be led by Venture-Captain Shevar Besnik and Silver Crusade leader Ollysta Zadrian.

Part 2 covers the Pathfinders' difficult approach to the crater that now exists after the prison was destroyed during the Whispering Tyrant's escape. Foul necromantic energies from the release have corrupted and altered the landscape and created a sort of unholy jungle. The primary encounter for each subtier is versus some kind of plant monster that's a couple of CR above the subtier. For my group, it was a tough battle that lasted longer than I expected and made clear to me that my poor paladin was outmatched! After the primary encounter, there's a role-playing encounter with Sarenrae-aligned orcs of the Burning Sun tribe.

Part 3 is a long section of the scenario that sees the Pathfinders venturing into the catacombs underneath the crater. There are a lot of advantages (and risks) to be gained by using the Aid Characters. The primary encounter for each subtier is against either oozes or constructs (or both at the same time). For example, my subtier 10-11 table fought an augmented alchemical golem and something called "gravesludge" at the same time. After the primary encounter, there's a sort of skills-challenge to disable wards that Tar-Baphon had left that bar further descent into the heart of Gallowspire. Successfully bypassing the wards allows entry into the Silent Shrine, which makes good use of the Arcane Library Flip-Mat. There's a second primary encounter here versus monsters that aren't (as far as I can tell) really themed across sub-tiers. There's some free-form exploration here and a chance for PCs to get some "Clue Successes" by figuring out more about the ritual that is being conducted while realising that there's also a powerful holy relic (a statue of Chaldira Zuzaristan) hidden somewhere below.

Part 4 has the cool idea of alternative pathways for the Soldier and Champion tables. Soldier tables go with V-C Shevar Besnik to try to retrieve the relic, while Champion tables go with Ollysta Zadrian to disrupt the necromantic ritual.

The Soldier mission (which is what I played) was set in a cool underground canyon with cliffs overlooking a river of negative energy below. This is the big climactic encounter of the special, and the encounter is both epic as a descriptive term and in mechanical terms: each subtier faces a monster at least 4 CR over their level. At subtier 10-11, we fought a nasty advanced nightwing that made excellent use of its flying ability to make life hard for melee characters. I learned (with the "aid" of a very snarky player) why every PC needs to have ranged weapon alternatives. My poor paladin died in this battle, but in a suitably epic way, and fortunately I had just enough prestige to bring him back. It was awesome.

The Champion mission requires the destruction of a massive pillar that pulses harmful necromantic energies each round while lending particular advantages to its evil defenders (most significantly to stop cheese, the pillar makes the defenders immune to the dazing condition and makes their Touch AC the same as their regular AC--I wish there were more things that did in this in PF1!). These encounters are 5-6 CR over subtier! Champion tables at the highest subtier (15-16) get the choice to take on an even crazier challenge, which the GM is required to tell them goes beyond epic: and it turns out to be against the freaking CR22 Grim Reaper! Whether your PC lived or died, that would be a pretty cool story to be able to tell as a player.

To add to the epic, cinematic feel of the final battle, both Shevar Besnik and Ollysta Zadrian are killed. They had a fitting send-off, and I thought it was an effective story device.

After enough successes (or the time limit is reached), an earthquake starts to swallow the remnants of Gallowspire. Players can volunteer to have their PCs die in a suitably cinematic way if they want them to have a heroic (though narratively delivered) ending here. The conclusion text is short and sweet.

Overall, I really enjoyed Siege of Gallowspire. I probably would have been even more impressed if I had been playing since the beginning of the organised play campaign (instead of just the past few years) and if I had more invested in the Whispering Tyrant storyline. I guess one could say that the scenario essentially amounts to a dungeon crawl, with one scripted encounter after the other. Sometimes that would bother me, but for something like this, it seemed appropriate. I hope this scenario is something everyone who loves PFS gets to experience at some point.


An epic ending and finale

5/5

I can't believe there is only one review for this scenario.

The finale was great. It was epic. And the best special event I've played so far.

I played this at tier 12-13 at Origins.

Thanks for producing a great ending to season 1!


Certainty of death. Small chance of success.

5/5

A great story, challenging encounters, an epic final boss battle,
A fitting finale. If you only play one scenario this year this is the one.


Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

We're in the endgame now...

Grand Lodge

What’s the highest level an aid character can be? It doesn’t say in the description. Nor does it talk about what level of pregens you’re allowed access to if you don’t have enough for yourself.

Grand Lodge

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

"You can bring up to three additional PCs of level 5-20 to the game. These PCs are called Aid Characters. Aid Characters can generate more powerful aid tokens, and they can also participate in special Aid Missions."

"If you don't have PCs at the appropriate level, you can instead enlist the aid of 4th level NPC Pathfinders by using the iconic pregenerated characters. These NPCs aren't as capable as your own PCs would be, but they can still help out."

Link.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

This looks fantastic. Sadly, I'll probably never have a good opportunity to experience it.

Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm sure it will run in Play-by-Post; you could catch it then!

Paizo Employee Developer

Maps that Appear in this Scenario:

Pathfinder Flip Mat Classics: Woodlands (side with the river and the stump)
Pathfinder Flip Mat: Arcane Library (front side, with one big library instead of separate spaces)
Pathfinder Flip Mat: Wicked Dungeon (lava river side)
Custom Half-Page Map (from AP #142: Gardens of Gallowspire)
Custom Full-Page Map (new)

Scarab Sages

Is this a multi-table interactive? If yes, what is the table minimum?

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well that's an annoying set of maps.

Paizo Employee Developer

JohannVonUlm wrote:

Is this a multi-table interactive? If yes, what is the table minimum?

It is a multitable interactive for 5 or more tables.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

So is this scenario the grand finale for PFS 1st edition?

Grand Lodge

Feeroper wrote:
So is this scenario the grand finale for PFS 1st edition?

Yes.

Scarab Sages

Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
JohannVonUlm wrote:

Is this a multi-table interactive? If yes, what is the table minimum?

It is a multitable interactive for 5 or more tables.

Thanks Linda, but I have to follow-up. On her blog post for convention events, Tonya posted:

Tonya Woldridge wrote:
For those of you not traveling to any of the conventions listed above, both Starfinder Society #2-00: Fate of the Scoured God and Pathfinder Society #10-98: Siege of Gallowspire are available after August 4 for conventions running 3-concurrent tables.

So can we confirm 3 or 5 as the table minimum? It makes a big difference for our smaller local conventions between being playable or possibly skipping it. As the capstone scenario to 1st ed, I'd love for it to be more accessible than a 5 table minimum.


Can this be played with a pre-gen as your primary character? I'm new to PFS and expect I will have a level 2 or 3 character by GenCon, where I hope to play this, but unlikely to make level 5.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It has been said you can play a 7th level pregen.

Paizo Employee Developer

JohannVonUlm wrote:
Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
JohannVonUlm wrote:

Is this a multi-table interactive? If yes, what is the table minimum?

It is a multitable interactive for 5 or more tables.

Thanks Linda, but I have to follow-up. On her blog post for convention events, Tonya posted:

Tonya Woldridge wrote:
For those of you not traveling to any of the conventions listed above, both Starfinder Society #2-00: Fate of the Scoured God and Pathfinder Society #10-98: Siege of Gallowspire are available after August 4 for conventions running 3-concurrent tables.
So can we confirm 3 or 5 as the table minimum? It makes a big difference for our smaller local conventions between being playable or possibly skipping it. As the capstone scenario to 1st ed, I'd love for it to be more accessible than a 5 table minimum.

10-98 has a 5-table minimum. A three-table minimum is a great baseline for convention accessibility, and it’s what you’ll see for Starfinder Special #2-00 this year. However, some of the mechanics added to 10-98 to make it a more satisfying finale for the entire campaign, such as the Aid Character mechanics and the difficulty options tied to branching objectives, require more tables to support.

Scarab Sages

Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
JohannVonUlm wrote:
Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
JohannVonUlm wrote:

Is this a multi-table interactive? If yes, what is the table minimum?

It is a multitable interactive for 5 or more tables.

Thanks Linda, but I have to follow-up. On her blog post for convention events, Tonya posted:

Tonya Woldridge wrote:
For those of you not traveling to any of the conventions listed above, both Starfinder Society #2-00: Fate of the Scoured God and Pathfinder Society #10-98: Siege of Gallowspire are available after August 4 for conventions running 3-concurrent tables.
So can we confirm 3 or 5 as the table minimum? It makes a big difference for our smaller local conventions between being playable or possibly skipping it. As the capstone scenario to 1st ed, I'd love for it to be more accessible than a 5 table minimum.
10-98 has a 5-table minimum. A three-table minimum is a great baseline for convention accessibility, and it’s what you’ll see for Starfinder Special #2-00 this year. However, some of the mechanics added to 10-98 to make it a more satisfying finale for the entire campaign, such as the Aid Character mechanics and the difficulty options tied to branching objectives, require more tables to support.

I appreciate the answer Linda, even if it's not the one I was hoping for. Five tables can be hard for a smaller local convention to meet.

Grand Lodge

I've notice at both Origins and GenCon that there are not tables for characters level 9 (or 14). There are 5-6, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13, 15-16. What should I do if my character I want to run will be 9 at that time?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Characters at level 9 and 14 may play in either the sub-tier below or above. For this scenario, it is recommended that they play in the sub-tier below given that Soldier is slightly harder than normal and Champion is effectively hard mode.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
Spoiler:
Custom Half-Page Map (from AP #142: Gardens of Gallowspire)

Spoiler:
Can we get clarification on which map? I'm guessing page 24 or 32.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I no longer regret failing to get a Champion ticket at GenCon.

The Exchange

Had the pleasure to play this at Paizocon over the weekend in the 15-16 champion tier. The scenario is a more than worthy send-off to the first edition society campaign with memorable fights at all levels.


Much like the scoured stars now we know why there's no high level pathfinders anymore...

Paizo Employee Webstore Coordinator

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Price has been updated from $4.99 to $9.99 to reflect the extra time, effort, and resources that go into creating interactive specials.


I'll ask - is there a boon or gold reward difference between soldier and champion level on the PFS chronicle? Historically there has not been a difference other than "I did it Hard mode!".

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

There is no gold difference, but there is a boon that can only be earned in Champion mode.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Much like the scoured stars now we know why there's no high level pathfinders anymore...

the smart ones already took a deskari job...


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Which one

Spoiler:
from AP 142, what page?
Grand Lodge

Just ran this at a convention and good gravy was this an insane ride. Surprisingly only three permanent deaths. Two of them happened in the Champion mode high tier. Bonkers scenario.

Grand Lodge

What's the time limit on this scenario? Planning for a convention slot.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

What conditions must be fulfilled to get access to this scenario?

Liberty's Edge

Answered above that it is a 5 table and requires RVC ok.

Dark Archive

Unavailable? What gives?


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Hm, yesterday this said "will be available tomorrow", and now it's unavailable.

Paizo Employee Webstore Coordinator

1 person marked this as a favorite.

All fixed :)


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Finally! Only 2 Scenarios missing now. (Well, 5 PDFs actually, with The Sostice Scar having 4 versions...)

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