Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-01: The Absalom Initiation

3.80/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1–4 (Subtiers 1–2 and 3–4).

A new era is beginning for the Pathfinder Society, with new recruits and new factions all excited to build connections and embark on grand adventures. The PCs are among these recruits invited to attend a welcoming party where they can meet both the old guard as well as the up-and-coming leaders. But the party's not all talk; the PCs learn of four exciting escapades in Absalom, through which they can kick off their adventuring careers!

This adventure's individual missions include numerous variations that make each play-through exciting and different.

Written by Lyz Liddell.

Scenario Tags: Repeatable

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

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Average product rating:

3.80/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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Not impressed


Too much sitting around while the GM makes secret rolls for you. Intro section drags on too long, with too many skill checks, before you get into the action. Though this is admittedly a continuation of late PFS1 scenarios front-loading too much of the same.

The way the GM rolled random elements basically hosed our party as it came out heavy on skills that party was not trained in.

On the whole, an unimpressive introduction to PF 2nd edition, and did not make me want to pick up the system.

Fun, but Long and Difficulty Inconsistent


Ran it once as a player and once as a GM, and my feelings about it both times are similar - although the adventure is a lot of fun, it is impossible to fit everything into a 4 hour slot (especially with new players) and some parts of the adventure are way more difficult than others.

The roleplay during the first segment was a large challenge for me as a new GM, because I am not familiar with any of the characters, and the adventure does not give suggested dialogue or really any pointers on what the characters would talk about. As a player, my GM was very familiar with Golarion lore and the PFS campaign, so he knew all the characters very well, but as a GM I found myself having to improvise these characters more than I would have liked.

The adventure states that each section should take about 40 minutes. This held true for the Party, Flotsam Graveyard, Petals District, and Westgate sections, but the Precipice Quarter section ran MUCH longer (and that was with omitting the optional encounter, too).

The skill check DCs in the Petals District section and one particular variation of the Westgate section are astronomically high for a party of level 1 players. The major problem I have with the Petals District skill checks in particular is that, due to the crit success/fail system, characters are mechanically discouraged from attempting checks they're not good at, but the Petals District checks are exceptions (because they still reward on failure). This is not intuitive and I found it difficult to encourage my players to attempt these checks while they were also racing against a hazard with damage (and a save DC) tuned WAY too high for a 1st level party.

I think if ran in a 6 hour slot and with the aforementioned DCs tuned down, this would be a super solid adventure, but in its current form, I don't think it was a great pick for brand-new groups.

Best Scenario with Janira


I have run this twice with four level 1 players, with the intent to do it again in the future. A solid scenario all around.

The socializing didn't seem to take very long for me. I don't think I botched it either. Didn't go more in-depth than the PCs should know, but dredged up some info on the guests for them to play around with. Guess it just depends.

I liked the encounter at the Blakros Museum: Multifaceted, with a place for everyone, and a foe with a fun weakness to tell players. "Cast light on the fighter's sword, go nuts." The fight can go anywhere between easy and catastrophic (mostly for the NPCs). I didn't like that things were occuring throughout the museum, visually nice as it was. I thought it would've helped to draw the whole map to display the experience, which I am awful at. And there was only the one use of the map, in a circular room.

The customization and replay value are good. Fights that can (and often should) be avoided are difficult, giving more chance for challenge.

Some pieces are traps for the GM that look fun, but clearly detract from the player experience and chance of success. Like one of the mob encounters that's harder to quell. It's fun to throw trash and chamber pots (and hazards still have their obscene to-hit from PF1 and SF, which combos with critical hits now). But it has lethal potential and is almost guaranteed to reduce their chance at the secondary success, because they have to resort to violence.

fun but flawed


As an early scenario for the new edition, this runs into many of the same troubles they had in the first scenarios of PF1. Namely that they haven't quite figured out how to balance things appropriately yet. DCs are all over the board from easy to impossibly high for 1st level characters. Fights also range from easy enemies to monsters that one shot players on a normal hit and instakill them on crits. Having only enemies that were immune to mind affecting led to one player calling it his "worst roleplaying experience ever."

The scenario is way too long, running at 5 hours with the GM skipping and rushing through sections to reduce the play time. Especially as a so called intro scenario, where extra time should be allotted for new players learning the rules.

However, if you can get past these flaws, the scenario itself is great. I had a good time playing it.

A home Run


I have both played and GMed this. I think that it gives a lot of great introduction content to both the Society itself and to our fair home city of Absalom. A clear PFS2 spiritual successor to First Steps.

The other reviews cover things well, so I will keep it brief.

Start your PFS2 career here!

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Rysky wrote:
Uh, all but 1 of the maps have copies for sale here on Paizo.

Yes, I saw that when looking around, but that's still 1 short from a full set needed. Also buying from the US for me, here in Sweden, absolutely sucks due to fees and shipping etc (it's possible, but is a hassle and costs a fortune).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Not really much to do there, it probably is cheaper to PDF + print.

Rysky wrote:
Not really much to do there, it probably is cheaper to PDF + print.

I just hope they will reprint it soon so it becomes in stock through the usual outlets again. Doesn't make sense to base current adventures and campaigns around OOP products.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Wolftame wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Not really much to do there, it probably is cheaper to PDF + print.
I just hope they will reprint it soon so it becomes in stock through the usual outlets again. Doesn't make sense to base current adventures and campaigns around OOP products.

The products are always available in PDF and we use custom maps in our products all the time. In fact, APs only use custom maps and they're our most popular keystone product.

We generally try to lean towards using in-print maps to make it more convenient for GMs who just want to buy and drop down a flip-mat, but if we have an out-of-print map that folks can still grab the PDF for, it makes more sense to use that than paying for a custom map we don't really need to be paying for and that's actually less convenient for our GMs.

Just get a flat TV and display the PDF map on it :P

That's what I do.

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