Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-20: Breaking the Storm: Bastion in Embers

2.80/5 (based on 11 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 5-8.

Seeking to free one of their own who has become possessed by a malign spirit, the Pathfinder Society’s masked leaders dispatch a group of senior agents to secure help from an old ally. Heading into the wilds of Sarkoris, a group of heroes must assist the Farheaven Clan in defending a ritual to cleanse a demonically tainted forest. Only by succeeding can the heroes recruit the clan’s leader to support the Society in restoring their possessed leader.

Written by Christopher Wasko

Scenario tags: Metaplot

[Scenario Maps spoiler - click to reveal]

The following maps used in this scenario are also available for purchase here on

  • Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Darklands Fire Caves Expansion
  • Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Forest Perils Expansion
  • Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Society Scenario Subscription.

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    2.80/5 (based on 11 ratings)

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    Tree mechs innovative and constant combat okay, but way too drawn out.


    I played this once (6 players, 25 CP, clocked in at 6h40) and GMed this once (6 players, 28 CP, clocked in at 5h13).

    So here's the good and bad from me:

    (1) Constant combat, as others have said. I'm okay with this, but a lot of people may not be. The problem comes in when there literally is barely any time for anything else. There's one segment that involves skill checks, but given how long the combat is drawn out, those three fights suck the oxygen from your timeslot. Especially if you are running/playing at cons (which was my experience both times) or racing the clock at a physical LGS and you know the store is going to close before you can finish. A lot of the drawn out combat came down to enemy positioning, and my player experience was so drawn out, I had to consult 2-3 other GMs and get tips on how to possibly condense my fights without dumbing it down. At the con I was running at, I had an upper limit of 5h, and with a 5m break I really had to bend over backwards to keep it as close to 5h as possible.

    (2) GM preparation. Even if the GM IS prepared, if players don't know what they are doing with the trees, the first two fights can consume an insane amount of time. I attempted to save time by controlling the trees myself; but I know in reality, properly briefed players would have enjoyed this mechanic more if they were acquainted with the mechanic and focused. I'll admit I faltered in this as a player especially given how tiresome the first fight was.

    (3) The final fight. Without giving too many spoilers, let's just say we have a VERY tight spot with potential for environmental damage and enemies that are extremely resilient. When playing, the "key" troll that "made her way" on the map...we had little chance of catching her just because of the sheer number of companions she had. Too many and too beefy. We were given nine rounds to stop the troll from evading us, and it took us dealing massive damage in that last round to simply survive. On the other hand, the group I GMed played extremely well and worked extraordinarily well together AND had some VERY solid abilities and rode their luck on the dice.

    (4) Skillcheck challenge. The rotation of folks and getting the aids you need. This was a nice break in combat, some players commented on how harsh a critical fail would be on you, but I felt probability was low enough this should not be a big deal and when one of the frontliners in the group I GMed got punished in this challenge, the rest of his team stepped up.

    That took me bending over backwards, constantly monitoring time, really overthinking my fights to save every second I could. In the end it was draining, and the group (the people) that I GMed and/or played with was literally the only reason I enjoyed it. I was exhausted in both games and especially so when I played (because it just took significantly longer and we had much worse with the trolls). My playing experience was significantly worse, we barely succeeded and our champions were the sole reason we did not get TPKed.

    This scenario had potential with the tree mechanics but the execution let me down. I've never felt more relieved to be over playing a scenario and this was what I felt.

    Just a long, dull slobberknocker of a scenario


    All the other reviews say everything I can about it. I wasn't mad at the scenario when it was done, but I could hear annoyance between players and the GM as we moved into hours 5 and 6.

    The only thing I might add is I feel like the novel mechanic to assist PC's could have been implemented better. A lot of players forgot about it, a lot of time was wasted on who it would affect, and sometimes it felt like it was not even helping toward the later stages of encounters.

    very complicated to run efficiently


    I enjoyed the scenario idea. But some of its building blocks will require a lot of time if the GM is not fully prepared and aware, has not given a hard real time limit to players to set up their tactical positioning; has a group of players not used to fast pace in the game.
    I played in a 5-player game that lasted almost 7 hours (same one as the previous review). Many reasons why this got out of control. But the game mechanics are definitely one of them.
    I ran it with a lot of preparation, and only 4 players (arguably very efficient gamers). Including some macros provided by one of them who had run it. It took just over 4 hours.
    But it is likely that many of the games will be 6 hours or more, and result in pretty unhappy endings.
    Overall, high risk of players and GM frustration. A pity as the core is interesting.

    Sure, we'll kill that ancient dragon for you, we're Pathfinders...


    Initially I felt really intrigued by the trees and the tower defense mechanism, I very much enjoyed the first two fights. Then our team got unlucky as we didn't get some items from the camp (interestingly they have some random leftovers which just happen to be useful at the final fight), and we didn't manage to learn anything about the trolls beforehand. So we went into the last encounter blind, knowing that we had no way to kill all trolls in time. Hence we engaged the final boss directly in the tunnels which proved to be impossible with our resources already depleted by the previous battles. We didn't have the right spells to fight the trolls. And we TPKed. After SEVEN hours. (Five players.)
    When I ran it yesterday I blocked off the tunnel with the trolls (as their main mission was to stop the players from stopping their boss) and Clouded Quartz spent the first rounds digging undisturbed. The party also critically succeeded on the scouting checks and they got the items from the camp and they did manage to get the most important recall knowledge info before the battle. They didn't have the right spells though. They were not even close to getting past the other trolls when Clouded Quartz reached the camp, and the battle proved to be challenging nevertheless with some characters going down and others having difficulties manuevering. We finished playing after SIX AND A HALF hours. (Six players.)
    All in all the mechanism itself is interesting but the design is flawed. The final fight is way too difficult for an average random party composition (Clouded Quartz herself is a beefed up version of a lvl6 creature AND she's a full caster, I don't even understand where that CR9 is coming from). The trees are interesting but they require a lot of time, player discussions at the beginning on what kind of trees to plant and where, tree management during the fights, players keeping forgetting about them etc... This scenario is not viable to be run as it is written now. I would probably make the first two fights shorter by adding less enemies and making them move towards the camp more agressively to build up a sense of urgency in the players. And nerf the final fight obviously.

    The most engaging and tactically dense combat gauntlet in all of 2e Society.


    First off, a caveat for my 5*s: I am rating this scenario for what it is, and not what it does not try to be: a challenging and unique combat experience. This scenario has barely any roleplay at all, and little to no world building; however, if you evaluate the scenario on what it is trying to be rather than trying to evaluate it using a standard rubric, I believe the scenario is one of the funnest pure combat scenarios this season has had so far.

    This scenario contains a unique mechanic mechanic to aid the party that, although a little hard for players to understand at first, makes for a unique set of combats with a twist not normally seen in PFS. After a brief explanation and tactics period, the mechanic runs smoothly and added a lot to the encounters when I was both playing and GM'ing the scenario. The mechanic skews the encounter balance upwards due to the additional support for the players, which allows for combats with higher encounter levels than normal. That said, the encounters all feel well balanced (at least at high tier) and come off feeling tactically complex rather than unfair or easy. Additionally, the objective for the scenario adds an additional stress point to the fights, which both helps push the intensity of the situation and gives GMs an out to fall back on to avoid outright killing players if any PC is dropped.

    In both of my runs of the scenario as a player and a GM, I (or the party I ran for) had a blast and found the scenario perfectly balanced for tough combats that were fair to the players in spite of their challenging setups. It may be the most tactically dense scenario in all of published Pathfinder Society 2e so far, so if you're looking for a scenario with engaging and unique fights, there aren't many that do that job better. That said, I do object to this scenario being called Part 1; it does little to advance the Metaplot as a whole through its non-existent roleplay, and I can say with absolute certainty without having read Part 2 that nothing in Part 1 that is relevant couldn't be easily recapped in a single sentence. Implying it needs to be played before the rest of the three parter feels a bit misleading at best, but that small gripe aside, I find the scenario to be one of the best from this season.

    Additionally, I'd like to address some concerns raised by user P.B.'s run, as it feels like their experience may have been helmed by a bad GM rather than any fault of the scenario.

    Potential GMs, take notes:
    Encounter 1: For a party of 4 with Average Party Level 6, there is no feasible way they should be facing 5 level 5 enemies. Assuming the number was not rounded up or down, APL 6 should be 12 Challenge Points, which is 3 CR5's and 1 elite CR5. My best guess is that the GM either miscalculated the group's CP (14-15 would have had an additional CR5) or was treating the challenge point adjustments as if they were cumulative. This is not how the scenario is intended to be played.

    Additionally, the chances of the CR5's destroying the trees with their opening volley seems suspect at best. The CR5s are not supposed to actively target trees with their spell and are explicitly told to prioritize targeting the players, only including trees in the AoE if it would not interfere with targeting players. Additionally, if the trees were placed that closely together, there is no arrangement of trees where no fewer than 2 trees would have resistance 5 to the damage caused by the spells, assuming there is at least one blue tree in the mix. (Any GM should assume that their Routine has activated at least once in the rounds directly prior the combat, as their routine goes off in every 6 second interval.) The trees can pass their saving throws on 40% odds vs an average damage per spell of 21 (16 for resistant trees) or 10 on a successful save (5 for resistant trees). Trees without resistance would require 2 failed saves and a third hit to be completely destroyed, while those with resistance can successfully tank average damage from 4 or 5 AoEs if they only fail two saves. The likelihood of any trees being blasted by this many fireballs is already unlikely due to their combat tactics unless the GM opted to use Block Initiative for the assailant and rolled well, and even then the chance of this happening without going against the creatures' combat tactics seems unlikely at best. This seems to me like either very bad player tactics, very bad GM preparation of the scenario, or a mix of either and absolute garbage luck, none of which I feel comfortable blaming the scenario for. As a result, this turbobotch of an encounter effectively destroys the balance of the scenario by removing the mechanic it was balanced around entirely in the first round of the first combat. No wonder your experience was terrible. Any GM's looking to run this scenario, do not make this mistake.

    Lastly, the idea that the scenario doesn't heap the energy required to deal with the final fight onto the players before hand implies that either A) your party has trash skill selection, or B) your party never bothered to recall knowledge on the monsters and didn't piece together WHY the scenario opted to give you an absurd number of Sound Burst scrolls and Acid Flask vials beforehand. Again, not something I can blame the scenario for here, considering passing Dragbog's skill check gives each PC that passes it 3 Sound Burst scrolls and passing Jaldans checks give each passing PC 4 moderate acid flasks.

    Lastly, keep in mind this scenario will run long. Having to explain the mechanic and plan tactics for the first combat will eat time, and the tactical complexity will likely take this scenario to the 5+ hour mark easily. That said, I find the time spent well worth it. Props to the Mr Wasko, after this scenario and the absolute banger of an repeatable that is Lost on the Spirit Road, I'll be definitely looking forward to the next scenario you put out.

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    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Announced for May! Product description and cover are not final and are subject to change.

    Silver Crusade

    Looking forward to run this one at Paizocon Online ^^

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

    Cover and map list updated.

    I'd post a 1 Star review, but the neither Safari nor Opera are showing a link to write a review.
    The scaling and tactics on this seem quite poor.


    The GM seems to be forced with 2 options:
    1) Take the most favorable interpretation of tactics.
    2) Simply write off the secondary success condition.

    The first will make things very long and quite possibly kill multiple players. The second speeds things up and probably avoids PC death.

    My table's GM chose option 2 as they were kind. I'm running in a few weeks and will let the players decide by asking them if they want to risk a TPK or not which will determine how I run it.

    We had plenty of healing, but simply failed the initiative roll in the last fight. The only PCs to see the boss where the ones that started in front. 4 rounds later, we were simply doing mop up duty as boss was out of LOS on round 1 with trolls blocking the exit before anyone acted.

    The GM slipped and told us the tactics, but we didn't try walking into the middle of the lava just to get LOS back assuming it wasn't around the corner before we acted. I do not blame the GM as their actions were perfectly valid based on the tactics a written.

    Dark Archive

    Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Kalador101 wrote:

    I'd post a 1 Star review, but the neither Safari nor Opera are showing a link to write a review.

    The scaling and tactics on this seem quite poor.
    ** spoiler omitted **

    Eeeh, I always think its better for players to actually read scenario before reviewing it (like even if GM is good GM, GM interpretation, party composition, random dice luck, etc, all have part in how player experiences the scenario), but if you do want to review the scenario, just put ( 0-Breaking-the-Storm-Bastion-in-Embers) in th url bar. Thing about review tab is that it disappears often when there is #number of post at end of url. If that doesn't work then just spam refresh button until it shows up. So for example if it reads ( 0-Breaking-the-Storm-Bastion-in-Embers#4) there is pretty good chance that review tab has disappeared.

    ...Yeaaaaaaah, website needs bit updating x'D

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    I was originally supposed to run the scenario 2 weeks ago, so I was fully prepped on the scenario while playing.

    Dark Archive

    Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Kalador101 wrote:
    I was originally supposed to run the scenario 2 weeks ago, so I was fully prepped on the scenario while playing.

    No objections from me then :D Though I think your gm managed to review it first x'D

    (I think I know one of other players from that table too since I think I heard discussion on this scenario in local scene and description of events sound familiar)

    Liberty's Edge

    It is great the jpegs of custom maps are included in the download. But Roll20 has a max size of 10 mb and one of the custom maps is 11 mb. So not really a time saver.

    So PLEASE be aware of this limit for Roll20 when making the pictures. Otherwise, it is really not very helpful.

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