Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-10: Tarnbreaker's Trail

3.30/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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

Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen has set out the call for a group of Pathfinders to compete in a race known as the Balgirdtrek. Taking place in the Land of the Linnorm Kings, this race is an annual event that includes participants from both the Varki and Ulfen people of the region. Bjersig hopes that by having the PCs participate, they might not only bolster the Society's reputation in the Saga Lands, but also document this exciting event. Although the Society has the organizers' official permission, some of the Ulfen competitors in particular see the Pathfinders' participation as an intrusion on their time-honored pastime. The true challenge of this race is not monsters or villains, but the harsh nature of the grueling marathon itself.

Written by: Steven Hammond

Scenario tags: Repeatable

[Scenario Maps spoiler - click to reveal]

The following maps used in this scenario are also available for purchase here on paizo.com:

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

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Average product rating:

3.30/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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Thod covered most of it in their review

4/5

My dad ran this for us at home before he ran it at the local playstore. My friend and i played it with just 2 people. We were like team Two House lol except we were Two Casty Bois. Needless to say, casters entirely simplify just about everything. Even 2 players could just about duo the entire scenario and still get first place with almost no changes. The only thing that really changed was that for the bear fight, he used its lowtier hp and high tier damage (of vice versa) and still just us 2 players basically duod it. However we were just a test run so he could get a grasp before the big day at the store with a table of 5 or 6.

He said while the scenario claims it has different playstyles, theyre basically the same every time. You only really chose 1 of a handful ways to run it but its essentially the same every time. It was still really fun and a good GM makes it so much more fun. Creative players also make it more fun.

Btw when my friend and I played it, while we were both casters, we still did all the challenges/checkpoint things as written and got lucky with almost no hard fails.

Another thing to note. Maybe rewrite it a little so that familiars and animal companions can ONLY "AID" you on the challenges. Of course people will go with flying familiars or climbing/swimming familiars/animal companions in society, and those ones just entirely pass some of the challenges.

However minions summoned, such as summon fey, shouldnt be disqualified from replacing a player because that's a spellslot being used, a somewhat limited resource, and that's a pretty creative solution to some of them (like getting the bell off of the deer things? i used summon fey 2nd level to summon a Grig which used invisibility and could fly, it went and got the bell. my friend used wild shape (or animal form i think) to turn into one of the deer things and just nibbled the bell off himself lol. these are creative and good examples of spellcasters bypassing something that would otherwise be basically impossible for them to do as written but also doesnt entirely trivialize them, my dad still had us do a stealth and/or thievery check with a small bonus to get the bell by our ways)

dont get me wrong, as a repeatable this is great and has lots of good opportunities for roleplay (but not necessary) and is pretty fun.


Not exactly an adventure scenario . . .

3/5

The scenario was almost a scenario of my favorite sort -- a man vs nature story, that offers interesting skill challenges, and demands inventiveness.

But, except for one unavoidable combat encounter, there was no feeling of risk for most of the scenario. And that's because all of the challenges are essentially part of a carefully monitored track-and-field meet being carefully overseen by rangers and woodsmen who make sure the PCs are "fit enough" for the next challenge.

Responsibility was not on the PCs. Threat did not hang over the scenario. There is some effort to raise tension by dropping hints about the combat encounter -- but as every scenario has at least one combat encounter, it didn't add any feeling of suspense.


A clash of roleplay, editing and Pathfinder 2e rules

3/5

I GMed this scenario yesterday for an experienced group. Please let me start with the positive: I (as well as the group) had a great time. This scenario is a great roleplay opportunity. Alas it is let down severely by editing.

Issue 1 The race itself is impossible according to CRB:

At least according to the CRB. You are supposed to travel 200 miles through difficult terrain in less than 4 days. According to the CRB you can travel 48 miles through normal terrain per day assuming an overland speed of 60 feet.
The 200 miles is only ‘fluff’ – but if I run as written then no party ever should finish the race on my table. Especially as you get disqualified if you travel overnight.
Game wise you can hand wave it as it doesn’t matter – but this is an issue for a PFS scenario where you are not supposed to handwave / change anything.

Issue 2 We don’t have yet Ultimate Equipment 2e:

There are several items you are supposed to have and should buy. I found them all in Ultimate Equipment 1e – alas Ultimate Equipment doesn’t exist yet.
Game wise you can hand wave it as it doesn’t matter – but this is an issue for a PFS scenario where you are not supposed to handwave / change anything.

Issue 3 Either the text is wrong of the Maths is broken:

I have the suspicion that they mixed up PP and success. According to my Maths it is close to impossible to not win the race. I cheated my group out of 24 PP after reading how it is supposed to work. You need 8 PP to win. You can find a whole write-up here
I calculate that an average skill of zero (untrained / no bonus) for each skill check still gives you more PP as needed to win (this is tier 1-2). My assumption is that there is a limit of 3 PP per day and that a whole set of PP should be success. But this is a huge assumption and alters what is written drastically – a complete no-no in PFS play.
This doesn’t even take into account possible ‘autowin’ options via spellcasters.

So – back to where I started. I think this scenario has huge potential. Issue 1 is not game breaking – most players / GMs will likely never notice that they ‘break’ the rules. Issue 2 will disappear over time as more material gets published. Unfortunately, writers can’t assume what works in 1e will work in 2e (yet). This leaves issue 3. In my view this needs an errata.
As PFS GM I should not be forced to bend rules, break rules, improvise to make a scenario possible / fun. I could write this sentence less severe by saying I just roleplay – but wanted to ensure it is clear what I think is wrong. In my view it is clear what the writer intended and the whole idea/concept is great. But it was let down by implementation of details.

edit: I forgot one bit: This scenario is not mount friendly. This is an overland race - so don't expect you are at an advantage if you have a mount as you aren't allowed to ride it.

edit2: Issue 3 has been acknowledged and an updated pdf has been promised. I will remove issue 3 once that has happened - which likely will be after Christmas now. Kudos to a quick reply from Paizo !! They just rolled a 1 on timing which isn't their fault ...


Sovereign Court

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I love that the maps included in a scenario is part of the product description now!

My players had a lot of fun in the last PFS race scenario, and this one looks even more deadly. Always looking forward to more Ulfen material.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
KitsuneWarlock wrote:
I love that the maps included in a scenario is part of the product description now!

Plus 1!

So helpful in evaluating whether or not to pick up the scenario.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Agree, map links are wonderful. Can easily order if needed and be prepared. Thank you.

Shadow Lodge

Is this scenario supposed to only award 4 fame and 2 reputation at the most?

Thanks in advance!

Dark Archive

Just wondered about that topic, too. Isn't it supposed to provide 2 fame and 2 reputation for each, primary and secondary goal?

Grand Lodge

It is 4 and 4. There is a comment that clarifies this on the GM forum thread.

Shadow Lodge

Thod wrote:

It is 4 and 4. There is a comment that clarifies this on the GM forum thread.

Do you happen to have a link? I also think it's supposed to be 2 and 2 for each, but given how the text is written, and repeated, as "2 and 1" I wanted to check.

Thanks!

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
CanisDirus wrote:
Thod wrote:

It is 4 and 4. There is a comment that clarifies this on the GM forum thread.

Do you happen to have a link? I also think it's supposed to be 2 and 2 for each, but given how the text is written, and repeated, as "2 and 1" I wanted to check.

Thanks!

I was certain I read it on the GM section of the society - but the thread where I thought it is doesn't answer it. Now I'm confused if I took a question for an answer or mis-remember the place where I read it.

On a different note:
The PP and success calculations seem to have been warped during development. It has been acknowledged that this part is wrong and that they will issue a corrected pdf. Unfortunately due to Christmas that might not happen before next year anymore.

For more details - my OP showing that something is off (my Maths isn't 100% either - one trial can't be done multiple times to gain PP). But the important replies are the second and fourth reply by Michael Sayre - organized play developer.

https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42vv4?pfs2-110-PP-vs-success-Maths-completely- off

Liberty's Edge

Thod wrote:
CanisDirus wrote:
Thod wrote:

It is 4 and 4. There is a comment that clarifies this on the GM forum thread.

Do you happen to have a link? I also think it's supposed to be 2 and 2 for each, but given how the text is written, and repeated, as "2 and 1" I wanted to check.

Thanks!

I was certain I read it on the GM section of the society - but the thread where I thought it is doesn't answer it. Now I'm confused if I took a question for an answer or mis-remember the place where I read it.

On a different note:
The PP and success calculations seem to have been warped during development. It has been acknowledged that this part is wrong and that they will issue a corrected pdf. Unfortunately due to Christmas that might not happen before next year anymore.

For more details - my OP showing that something is off (my Maths isn't 100% either - one trial can't be done multiple times to gain PP). But the important replies are the second and fourth reply by Michael Sayre - organized play developer.

Link fixed


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Thod wrote:
CanisDirus wrote:
Thod wrote:

It is 4 and 4. There is a comment that clarifies this on the GM forum thread.

Do you happen to have a link? I also think it's supposed to be 2 and 2 for each, but given how the text is written, and repeated, as "2 and 1" I wanted to check.

Thanks!

I was certain I read it on the GM section of the society - but the thread where I thought it is doesn't answer it. Now I'm confused if I took a question for an answer or mis-remember the place where I read it.

Perhaps you mean Linda Zayas-Palmer's post in this thread. It's a thread for different scenario but I think the intent is that this is the standard pattern for all scenarios.

Shadow Lodge

I suspect you're right, Iogsig.

In the mean time, Michael confirmed our shared suspicions in the thread Thod started here that the rewards are indeed 2/2 per success condition.

Grand Lodge

logsig - that is likely what happened. I read the post for 1-06 and in my mind must have applied it to 1-08. Luckily as CanicDirus pointed out - it has now also been confirmed by Michael for 1-10.

Shadow Lodge

I'm just hoping the numbers issue Thod identified gets its fix soon, seeing that we're now about 2 weeks past when it was originally noticed.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

CanisDirus wrote:
I'm just hoping the numbers issue Thod identified gets its fix soon, seeing that we're now about 2 weeks past when it was originally noticed.

The updated file should have been uploaded; let me know here if you're still not seeing it.

Liberty's Edge

Michael Sayre wrote:
CanisDirus wrote:
I'm just hoping the numbers issue Thod identified gets its fix soon, seeing that we're now about 2 weeks past when it was originally noticed.
The updated file should have been uploaded; let me know here if you're still not seeing it.

Does Paizo still send out emails when products have been updated? Those were a helpful metric for noting when things have been fixed.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Arnim Thayer wrote:
Michael Sayre wrote:
CanisDirus wrote:
I'm just hoping the numbers issue Thod identified gets its fix soon, seeing that we're now about 2 weeks past when it was originally noticed.
The updated file should have been uploaded; let me know here if you're still not seeing it.
Does Paizo still send out emails when products have been updated? Those were a helpful metric for noting when things have been fixed.

Yeah, my understanding is that one should have been generated when the update was pushed through.


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

How come no upcoming scenarios for 2020 are listed so far?

Shadow Lodge

Michael - I never got any emails about this scenario being updated (just learned about it by watching the threads on the PFS boards). I had some new questions based on the update which I also put over there, too (don't want to be bothering you and Linda in multiple places when I already hate bothering either/both of you at all to begin with...).

Thanks for the work on this!

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