Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-17: Dreams of a Dustbound Isle

3.50/5 (based on 4 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 5th- through 8th-level characters.

Pathfinders stationed at the Grand Lodge have been experiencing strange shared dreams. The dreams reveal a mysterious island surrounded by dust and shadows. In the dreams, someone is trapped. They’re calling for help. And someone—or something—doesn’t want them to leave.

Investigating the dreams, the Society has learned a way for its agents to enter the strange, shadowy, dreamlike landscape. Fearing the dreams represent a larger threat, and with no time to lose, the Society sends an experienced group to investigate.

Given all the catastrophes at Pathfinder Society lodges these days, it could always be a trap. But someone is in there, and they need help. Besides, what Pathfinder would turn down the chance to explore a dream world which may, in fact, be real?

Dreams of a Dustbound Isle is part of the ongoing Absalom metaplot arc in the Year of Shattered Sanctuaries. It is the third of four scenarios in the arc, which began with Pathfinder Society Intro: Year of Shattered Sanctuaries and Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-06: Struck by Shadows. The arc will conclude with Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-19: Mean Streets of Shadow Absalom (Levels 7–10; July 2022). While playing the scenarios in order enhances the narrative of this four-part story arc, it is not required.

Written by Matt Duval

Scenario tags: Faction (Radiant Oath, Verdant Wheel), Metaplot (Shattered Sanctuaries)

[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: Bigger Island
  • Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Society Scenario Subscription.

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    Average product rating:

    3.50/5 (based on 4 ratings)

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    Unbalanced hazard that does not belong in pfs

    3/5

    First of all, I really liked the ambiance of this scenario. There's a lot of mystery and things need to be figured out without relying on skill checks, which is fun.

    The encounters were reasonable although ymmv (played in high tier).

    It's not heavy on npcs you can talk to, but the one you can is flavorful.

    Now, the hazard was not fun at all. ((Spoilers))

    Spoiler:

    First of all it starts with immobilizing the party and escape DC required rolling extremely high. Some party members plain had no chance to escape at all.

    Next, it deals AoE damage so entire party gets hit every round. But the icing on the cake is that it requires two specific skills to disable that have to be expert or higher. Given that typical specialization is 2 skills for each PC at this level, there's a good chance none in the party has them at all.

    But surely the dcs are low for those two skills? Well, surprise: they are set at level 10 for one and level 12 for the other skill. And you need multiple successes. It took our party 6 rounds with constant AoE healing to get out of that and even gm said it was not fun at all since all GM needs to do is roll the same AoE every round.

    I don't know if that's one particular hazard or a problem with pf2 hazard design in general but I wish the designers kept in mind the random nature of pfs and at least gave the option to use something common like physical attacks instead


    The Good, the Bad, and the Sky-High DCs...

    2/5

    I played this scenario during Gencon with a GM that seemed pretty capable. I believe our party had a barbarian, rogue, bard, cleric, and ranger (so a pretty good balance of skills and combat-capability overall, if I’m remembering correctly).

    On the positive side - the story was set in the dreamlands and had some interesting planar mechanics that were fun to utilize. The combats were against fairly-unique monsters for PF2 and were even somewhat challenging. There was also a bit of room for roleplay, exploration, and psychedelic dream shenanigans that called back to previous metaplot material and characters.

    Likewise, this scenario finally started to make some sense of Season 3’s Onyx Alliance metaplot (which I’d argue has been fairly convoluted and disappointing up to now).

    That typed, I have not been a fan of Season 3’s Onyx Alliance metaplot at all. Paizo seems intent upon presenting the Alliance as a bunch of bumbling buffoons that pose no serious threat whatsoever to the Society whenever they show up in a scenario (similarly to how they’ve treated the Aspis Consortium at times in the past). This adventure doesn’t help the Alliance’s reputation that much, but it does at least imply that something else may have been going on behind the scenes. The scenario also builds up for the reintroduction of a villain in PF2 that I really loved back in PF1, so I’ve got my hopes up that the story will improve by Season 4 at least (which is when I suspect we’ll finally be able to deal with this particular reoccurring PF1 villain).

    Now then, you may be asking why did I rate this scenario 2-stars and not more? Well, there’s only one real reason for that. At one point in the scenario, you have to deal with a particular encounter. Said encounter requires you to make skill checks with DCs that are bordering on “Incredibly Hard” in order to defeat/survive said challenge. When I played this scenario, it took us over an HOUR to complete the challenge, because only one member of our party (which was fairly balanced, mind you) even had a chance of getting a success on the challenge without rolling near-to, if not, a nat 20. To make matters worse, the challenge required you to make multiple successes in order to defeat it, and if you failed to defeat the challenge, you could potentially have multiple PCs die within a number of rounds. I docked this otherwise 4-star scenario two whole stars because it’s not fun to be struggling for survival against a non-combat encounter, and especially when you’re rolling well (and we were rolling well in our case – but just not well enough to beat the sky-high DCs, FOR OVER AN HOUR). That one encounter was a terrible experience, and it left our part drained mentally and spiritually for a while afterwards. I hope that Paizo learns not to make their DCs so high in the future. It is not fun, and only wastes needless time and player energy.


    Overall a good scenario with some very high skill DCs

    4/5

    The overall flow and story of the adventure are amazing and the fights are good without feeling too easy or too hard (played at 19 CP).

    The only thing that prevents me from giving the scenario the full five stars are the DCs for some skill checks and save DCs. Without someone who is at least expert and has some decent attribute bonus on some skills, they seem to be pretty much impossible. DC 30+ just isn't really doable otherwise.
    Doubly bad due to the fact that most classes that use occult magic (which is a big part here) don't have the correct main attribute for the corresponding skill!


    a great scenario, building up to a great end to the season

    5/5

    Things have been brewing all year long and the fog is at last starting to lift. The scenario is well built and flows nicely from a GMing point of view. The story is exciting and I can't wait for the next / final instalment (3-19).
    I ran it with 27 CPs. Challenging encounters, skills checks are not bad, even if they may seem a bit repetitive. The scenario offers some interesting puzzles for the players, who need to pay attention to what is said and happens. Maybe worth handing over as GM some notes with these elements in writing.
    Overall, another great scenario in Season 3. I enjoyed running it and I think the players (all of them experienced) enjoyed playing it.


    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Announced for June! Cover and product description are not final and are subject to change.

    Grand Lodge Pathfinder Society Developer

    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    At long last... the final pieces are falling into place.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Cover and map list updated.

    RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    The art is crazy good in this one. The

    art:
    ghost ship
    I'm going to use anytime I need one in other adventures!

    I hope people will find mystery and otherworldly wonders amidst any danger in this dream world. Lady Luck be with you, Pathfinders!

    Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Removed a post for harassment

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