Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-11: The Pathfinder Trials

2.50/5 (based on 11 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for level 1.

Every year, the Pathfinder Society inducts new classes of recruits into their ranks. The three deans of the Society's schools, the Spells, Scrolls, and Swords, are responsible for ensuring that the new recruits have the basic skills and experience necessary to thrive in the field. PCs participating in this adventure will get to meet all three of the Society's deans and undergo their unique challenges, proving their worth and fitness to join the Pathfinder Society!

Written by Sean McGowan

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:

  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Wizard's Dungeon
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Arena
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Noble Estate
  • An updated version of this product was uploaded on March 18, 2021. GMs with the older version should download the new file.

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

    Product Availability

    Fulfilled immediately.

    Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

    PZOPFS0211E


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    1 to 5 of 11 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>

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    2.50/5 (based on 11 ratings)

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    3/5

    I played and ran this scenario before the revision as well. I really like the changes to the end-game which now doesn't feel like the Society consisting of mean idiots wanting to play highly dangerous (and probably really costly) pranks on some poor initiates who stupidly signed up for the trials.

    For GMs:

    The sword and scroll challenges could still use some more variety.

    I also disagree with the changes made to the drake encounter and the plush dragon scenario. They are almost impossible to fail now. So what if the players don't win all the time? They cannot die in the scenario, the worst thing that can happen is losing out on 1-2 treasure bundles. I think it used to be fair. Drakes are tough fights for lvl 1 characters. The fight won't always go their way, unless they try to work together on the tactics. Which is probably the goal of a trial like this. Cooperation, hm ?


    This scenario is a catastrophe for what it tries to be.

    1/5

    As a level 1 scenario it seems to be aimed at new players, but while 1 of the 4 parts is fine and has nice RP opportunities, the second part (spells) has a great setup (solve a situation with stuff given to you) the “solutions” teach the players things that DO NOT WORK within the rules. (Using stuff against a creature that is immune against it or using spells against illegal targets)
    The 3rd setup (swords) has a potential TPK in the first round of combat and RAW one encounter (the brooms) is impossible as they are immune against nonleathal which everyone has to deal.

    The final part not only has the betrayal but also this guaranteeing 2 hard back to back encounters which WILL kill new players.
    I can only warn against running this for new players, as they will get slaughtered and be taught completely wrong things.


    Two good trials and one recurring mistake

    3/5

    It's been noted already - but this throws out another boss enemy that's far too strong.

    This is a shame, as the other two trials are solid encounters. Scrolls rewards knowledge checks. Spells rewards problem solving. And then... swords. It starts promising, and then oof. There are going to be parties who get TPK'd before being able to move on that, I would put money on it.


    Poorly edited, story issues

    2/5

    I have prepped this and run it once so far. I should preface this with saying that my group come out with full rewards but that was very much down to luck.

    This is a poorly edited scenario with some significant issues, both mechanical and story based. I am not as critical as others have been, I think it can work but it needs careful preparation by a GM. Running this cold is likely to be a disaster. This is also not a scenario I could recommend for new players, it is simply too lethal in too many parts.

    Paizo really needs to get away from the idea of level+3 boss encounters, especially in low level adventures. They are deeply unfair and extremely lethal. Watching a PC get dropped every round by something that crits even the best armoured level 1 PC on a 14 isnt great.

    The betrayal at the end feels very forced and well outside the way the modern society has operated. The use of potentially expendable mercenaries getting killed for a small amount of pay as part of a "test" paints the organisation as pretty vile.


    Update: The sceanrio has been improved in several ways

    4/5

    I am not quite done prepping the updated scenario, but I can already say that the team has pretty much solved all the problematic issues, it is a triumph that a problematic scenario has been improved this much.
    Once I have run it, I will update this review again.

    review of the first version below

    Dishearteningly bad, maybe one of the worst scenarios I have ever seen

    TL:DR: I do not recommend touching this one as a player or GM until it had a substantial rewrite, it has the potential to scare away new players.

    This scenario has a lot of issues, some mechanical, but others are very much story-based, I would not want any new GM to try to run this one and I think this is exactly the right scenario for new players if you never want them to come back to org play.

    I very much agree with most of what the other reviewers have said and will not repeat their feedback here, but want to hammer home some story complaints ( the mechanical ones are no less legitimate, particularly since it teaches players ways to play the game that simply will not work in any other scenario and are only going to cause bad feelings somewhere down the line)

    spoiler:

    The Deans are lying to you, there really is no other way to phrase this, but the people who likely spend a long time training you, have just straight up lied to you and brought you into a situation that could kill either the players or someone else.
    How are those characters (players) ever going to trust literally any other Society NPC? And have you considered how much conflict this injects into every single briefing or the player/characters meeting another NPC Society agent in the field?

    Page 16 is honestly a bit shocking and is likely a great argument to retitle this into Aspis Trials, the Deans have hired some Caligny to beat up/weaken the players, which is already unpleasantly close to torture/hazing or something some secretive spy organization would do to test their agents (which is not how the Society gets portrayed these days, and not how some of the factions are described).
    The real unpleasant part is that the players have a really high chance to actually kill one of these, and considering their death throes ability and that NPCs normally do not get to use the dying rules, they are usually just dead, though a timely breath of life from one of the deans would likely save most creatures..... that is not the case here.
    So they accept that the players will kill their mercenaries... that does sound more like the Aspis Consortium.
    Tactics that tell the enemies to escape are usually just making the fight easier, by triggering a reaction, I rarely see enemies escaping though giving up can work, however that is not how the encounter is written, and as a bonus point, they do not speak common.

    Letting players learn how the Darkness rules work these days is not a terrible idea, but without a way to cast it or move a higher level continual flame effect, interacting with this iteration of Darkness is pretty tough, especially since they can cast it at will.


    I remember situations where a fresh release could have benefitted from some clarifications before I would personally want to run it or suggest it to fellow GMs, but in this case, I would prefer this one getting removed from circulation until it had a substantial rewrite to fix most of the issues.


    1 to 5 of 11 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
    Paizo Employee Webstore Coordinator

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Announced for May! Product image and description are not final and may be subject to change.

    Dark Archive

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Wait is this finally multiple table special were things don't end up going wrong or is this regular con special? :O


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    So this is convention-only? Shame.

    I assume we'll find out which conventions will have it?


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

    Will this scenario never be available to the general public, or is it just exclusive until some time next year?


    What's going to happen to this now that PaizoCon is cancelled?

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Online tables?

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Rysky wrote:
    Online tables?

    It'll really depend on a lot of factors. This special was written with some, I'll call them "performance pieces" in mind, and we haven't really had a chance to see yet how much effort it's going to take to transfer this format to a virtual experience, or whether that kind of experience is going to do the things we want this adventure to do.

    That's not to say we're not going to consider it or that it's not going to happen, but what a special looks like in a world where we don't have in-person conventions (particularly this specific special) is something we thought we'd have more time to consider and plan.

    Grand Lodge Premier Event Coordinator

    What is the reason for the $7.99 price tag?

    Scarab Sages

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Performance pieces, eh?

    Sounds like a BLAST! I'm totally up for helping that happen online if it can. Otherwise, I look forward to helping up in physical space.


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    So this is *only* for level 1 PCs?

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    caps wrote:
    So this is *only* for level 1 PCs?

    Correct. This adventure is essentially "Society training day", set in between initiation to the Society's colleges and graduation into full Pathfinder agent status.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    So I'm confused.

    It was slotted to be released in May 2020, but because of life events, it got pushed back to Octoberish. Now it's saying May 26. What's the story behind this scenario?

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Yrrej86 wrote:

    So I'm confused.

    It was slotted to be released in May 2020, but because of life events, it got pushed back to Octoberish. Now it's saying May 26. What's the story behind this scenario?

    It is indefinitely delayed until such time as we start having in-person conventions again. So the release date is projected for the next round of conventions, but until COVID is under control in the US, we can't guarantee when it will release. There are components of this adventure specifically tailored for meat space that won't translate to online play.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Card Game, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

    I would suggest that "The Pathfinder Trials" incorporate elements of the trials of Organized Play folks getting this scenario to table. There's a whole meta thing going on here that could be humorously exploited.

    Surely, real-life "Pathfinder Trials" have already happened with Venture Captains, agents, and developers adapting to online conventions.

    Do it!


    Michael Sayre wrote:
    Yrrej86 wrote:

    So I'm confused.

    It was slotted to be released in May 2020, but because of life events, it got pushed back to Octoberish. Now it's saying May 26. What's the story behind this scenario?

    It is indefinitely delayed until such time as we start having in-person conventions again. So the release date is projected for the next round of conventions, but until COVID is under control in the US, we can't guarantee when it will release. There are components of this adventure specifically tailored for meat space that won't translate to online play.

    I appreciate the reply. I haven't heard anything about it until just now. Thanks!

    Grand Lodge

    Sliska Zafir wrote:
    I would suggest...

    As far as we know, the scenario is already done and ready to release. The only thing holding it up is the isolation. They usually don't make changes, especially not significant development changes after a product is completed.

    RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4

    Sliska Zafir wrote:

    I would suggest that "The Pathfinder Trials" incorporate elements of the trials of Organized Play folks getting this scenario to table. There's a whole meta thing going on here that could be humorously exploited.

    Surely, real-life "Pathfinder Trials" have already happened with Venture Captains, agents, and developers adapting to online conventions.

    Do it!

    I would be perfectly happy to write an unofficial supplemental addendum doing just this, if Michael, Linda, James, and all other Paizoians involved would care to provide me with stat blocks for their real-life selves. ;-)

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

    I have a convention coming up in Febuary. (On Heart weekend)

    Will this be available then?

    Grand Lodge

    Any news regarding this scenario?

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Managing Developer

    15 people marked this as a favorite.

    When we concepted The Pathfinder Trials, we planned for it to be a new-player friendly interactive that introduced key aspects of Pathfinder Society lore, releasing early in the PFS Second Edition campaign.

    But then the pandemic happened. Instead of leaving this intro scenario on ice for an ever-increasing amount of time, we're going to convert it to a non-interactive scenario, to release as one of our two January scenarios. It will still be a level 1 repeatable adventure.

    The Exchange

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    With a very 'have my cake and eat it too' mindset, I'm glad to see The Pathfinder Trials finally get released...but I hope the original concept of a new player interactive gets revisited when we're all allowed in the same room together again.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    I am totally in favor of this!

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

    Huzzah!

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Cover updated.


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

    I'm confused, is this now #2-11 as stated on the product page, or #2-12 as stated on the new cover?

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    2-11. We didn't bother updating the mockup cover a second time; the final cover will have the correct number.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Cover and map list updated!

    Grand Lodge

    Can a PC have a scenario or two under their belt (still at 1st level) and play this?

    Grand Lodge

    I found my answer in the recent blog:

    PFS Blog wrote:
    We took the time needed to turn this product into a repeatable scenario geared towards new players and experienced (but still 1st level) Pathfinder players.

    Dark Archive

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    :'D Don't tell me that corona made us miss out on plush dragon prop... That would have been awesome


    It looks like this scenario uses Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Noble Estate rather than Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Castles Multi-Pack.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    Cronax wrote:
    It looks like this scenario uses Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Noble Estate rather than Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Castles Multi-Pack.

    Thanks for pointing that out! It looks like the maps used were updated after I published the map list, my apologies. The list has been updated; for reference, this scenario uses the following flip-mats:

    Spoiler:
    Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Wizard's Dungeon
    Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Arena
    Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Noble Estate

    Dark Archive

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Has anyone corrected the treasure drops for this scenario? Reading the third encounter it says you get 1 treasure bundle for completing the first 3 waves (there are only 3 waves) and another 1 for completing the final combat. Even worse, the final encounter says you get 1 treasure bundle for each of the 4 combats that take place, but you only run 1 of the first 3, and then the final 1. So, it seems like there is no way for players to get all of the treasure bundles, which just seems to be written so wrong.

    Grand Lodge

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    This was a fun module, but that last combat is a doozy. I can see it scaring away some new players to have that deadly of an encounter in a system they may just be learning for the first time.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    The PDF for this adventure has been updated. If you have already downloaded this file, click the "Problems downloading this file?" link to fetch a fresh version from the server.

    Changelog:

    Spoiler:
    Corrected the Treasure Bundles section to properly award Treasure Bundles

    Liberty's Edge

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    This is a worst 1st level adventure I have ever seen. Good concept, but 1st level characters are subject to massive damage, even with non-lethal damage.

    TPK the party on the final fight, should have lost a character to massive damage.

    I would have given 0 starts if I could have.

    Dark Archive

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Gary Bush wrote:

    This is a worst 1st level adventure I have ever seen. Good concept, but 1st level characters are subject to massive damage, even with non-lethal damage.

    TPK the party on the final fight, should have lost a character to massive damage.

    I would have given 0 starts if I could have.

    I would assume though that given :
    the deans intervening when characters would die that PCs in that situation would stabilize before death. TPK is kind of impossible because if character would somehow die, the combat would end.(though I do think it would be better if scenario just explicitly said "character can't actually die in this combat because of something on background" since deans intervening when combat is about to have lethal consequences can be interpreted as "if PC dies, deans immediately stop combat", but that'd be silly since someone is already dead then)
    Paizo Employee Designer

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    CorvusMask wrote:


    RE: Interventions

    Response to previous spoilered content:
    The adventure was originally conceived with the dean's intervention being a literal assumed thing that was happening in an open game room, with e.g. Farabellus leaping into the fray to shield a PC from an incoming attack or Kreighton Shane using Battle Medicine to heal up a wounded player, all with accompanying LARP components in place for the event to be a big interactive special. I expect some of that struggles a bit with the scenario's pivot to a more standard adventure format.
    Owner - Fan Boy Three

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Well... that adventure is, without a doubt, the single worst Pathfinder Adventure I have ever played.

    From now on I am playing Field Commissioned Agents. Because I don't want anything to do with any of those characters, in any adventure, ever again.

    hahaha what jolly japes.

    I cannot imagine who thought this was a good idea. People are going to buy this BECAUSE IT IS LEVEL ONE. Because it literally screams 'new players start here'.

    And literal screams is what they will hear

    Dark Archive

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    I very much agree that when you think about it:
    hiring mercenaries who have real chance of getting killed and putting players in (simulated) danger even if GM interprets is as players being unable to die IS pretty messed up for group of archaeologists.

    Scenario is written from perspective of "Well mechanically lethal combat is harmless if PCs can't die." Which from in universe perspective doesn't really work out ^_^; Its similar to certain scene in Wrath of the Righteous where writers didn't think that a character would come across badly if players take lethal damage everytime they fail a quiz

    I do think though there is no need to be spiteful towards characters(or writers. Because when you say things like that, it really sounds like you are being spiteful towards devs), I kind of treat society stuff like comic books: When there comes issue that doesn't make sense compared to overall, take it with broad strokes.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

    I have to say that this scenario was really enjoyable. AND, when I played it, my 24 hit point fighter got dropped in 2 hits in that final battle. Yeah, it's tough. It's supposed to be. If it's NOT challenging players lose interest. If your players want everything handed to them easily, well that's an issue for another conversation.

    I enjoyed both playing and running this scenario. Players have to get creative and work together to overcome each challenge. Not every character will be built to overcome everything, so, again, players have to cooperate.

    That's my pair of coppers, take it or leave it.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    5 people marked this as a favorite.

    This product has been updated as of March 18. This is a significant revision which changes a number of encounters and brings the scenario more in line with what we believe the Pathfinder Society represents. GMs should download and use this new version and discard the old file.

    Changelog:

    *Reduced difficulty of several combat encounters, made one encounter optional
    *Modified several skill-based challenges to provide more routes to success and fix issues with the usage of spells
    *Removed betrayal element, made other tweaks to the way that Pathfinder Society leadership treats agents and others they work with

    Dark Archive

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    I just want to thank the Organised Play team and developers for listening to the concerns, taking them seriously and somehow finding the time to make changes, which I know cannot have been easy and probably involved some hard decisions. Your willingness to hear feedback and act on it when needed is deeply appreciated and with these changes the scenario really shines as a great intro to Society play now, thank you all for your work and the efforts you take to ensure that players get the best experience they can. <3


    Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    Alex Speidel wrote:
    This product has been updated as of March 18. This is a significant revision which changes a number of encounters and brings the scenario more in line with what we believe the Pathfinder Society represents. GMs should download and use this new version and discard the old file.

    Does this mean that GMs who ran this previously should go back and change the reputation reporting if

    Spoiler:
    their group survived the first fight in part 3 but not the second as the second fight is entirely optional?

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Manager

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    alttprules wrote:
    Alex Speidel wrote:
    This product has been updated as of March 18. This is a significant revision which changes a number of encounters and brings the scenario more in line with what we believe the Pathfinder Society represents. GMs should download and use this new version and discard the old file.

    Does this mean that GMs who ran this previously should go back and change the reputation reporting if

    ** spoiler omitted **

    No, we are not changing anything that happened. There is no way to evenly apply the changes to all games played under the older version. As a replayable scenario, players can play the updated version and get the updated rewards.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Managing Developer

    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    I'm glad to see the response folks have had to this revision, and I hope it runs much more smoothly at all of your tables.

    The revision wasn't just the work of OP developers; it also took the efforts of Alex and Tonya, as well as editors, art team members, project management, and customer service. I appreciate the hard work everyone put in to make this possible. A revision on this scale isn't something we can undertake lightly, but this scenario's unique circumstances of production combined with its role as an introductory scenario made it worthwhile.

    Dark Archive

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Holy crap, didn't realize this got a revision :O I think it is email worthy

    But yeah, hopefully revisions help scenario and also turn reviews into more positive direction ^_^; I didn't find scenario as bad as most of the reviews, but I definitely saw were they were coming from, so I'm now interested in seeing how they fixed the glaring stuff

    Dark Archive

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Wow, there are indeed lot of great changes, both difficulty wise to feel less punishing to newbies but also in making society much MUCH more friendly with less hazing involved :'D

    Grand Lodge

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

    The hazing should definitely be left back in 4709/4710. The Society has grown past that.

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