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

3.70/5 (based on 7 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

  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Island
  • Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

    Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop

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

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    3.70/5 (based on 7 ratings)

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    Very strong adventure with one flaw


    Persective: GM'ed for 11 CP

    The atmosphere that oozes from the pages is amazing and gives you most of the tools you need to share the eerieness of the weird location the party is sent to. The lore integrated in the story is well paced and well placed. The challenges speak to the imagination, and the combat encounters are cool. The numbers related to skills seem fair even though they are a bit repetitive, but they do favour a larger party size.

    My only gripe with the scenario is a hazard where the requirements seem extreme. Strictly by the numbers, a level 5 party is very unlikely to meet the requirements to solve this encounter. I think GM's should be very careful running that bit.

    All in all I loved prepping and running this one, and I definitely would run it again!

    Great setting but structurally frustrating.


    (I GMed this.)

    I love the atmosphere of this scenario. The location, the art, the ambiance, it's all very evocative. Major bonus points for that.

    There's four big downsides, though. First, since it's part of this year's metaplot, you really only get a slice of a story here. Without knowledge of the story that's gone before, you'll be completely lost. I feel like other scenarios do a better job of telling self-contained stories.

    Second, even though you have free reign to explore the island, the adventure assumes you do things in a very particular order, and that order might not be immediately clear. I equated it to old point and click game logic, where you can't progress unless you use item F on object R to unlock door J, which is in another room altogether. Okay, it's not that bad here, but my players kept trying to do things that weren't possible at the time, despite it seeming plausible.

    Third, combats feel bad, IMHO. In both tiers the enemies mostly consist of debuffers that just make combat miserable. One or two are okay, but if the entire enemy team consists of things that force saves, it's gonna be a slog. This is mostly due to CP scaling, where more players means more identical creatures get added.

    My fourth complaint is technically a spoiler.

    There's a mechanic/minigame to help you in combat, but it feels like it's either poorly balanced or just not helpful in the first place. My players barely made use of the "help," simply because their own actions were just plain better.

    The scenario starts great and does some cool stuff, but it manages to sabotage itself in several ways, ensuring that I could not keep up the enthusiasm for long.

    This was wonderful!


    The setting, the atmosphere!
    I *loved* the visuals when playing this scenario and also when I got to narrate it later as a GM.

    It inspired me so, I even made art of the scenario after playing it!

    Simply wonderful.

    Unbalanced hazard that does not belong in pfs


    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). The last encounter mechanic made the enemies seem tougher than they were which was very flavorful.

    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))


    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

    In general, can we please stop using hazards above APL level? If you look at the hazard design table, their stats are already severely elevated. Even an APL hazard presents a challenge to the party by using extreme DC either to detect, to save against, or to disable. Using hazards above APL is just not fun for anyone.

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


    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 - all while multiple members of the party had nothing better to do than twiddle their thumbs). That one encounter was a terrible experience, and it left our party 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.

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    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.

    Paizo Employee 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

    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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