Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-19: Mean Streets of Shadow Absalom

3.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 7th- through 10th-level characters.

In the conclusion to the Year of Shattered Sanctuaries, the Pathfinder Society sends some of its most capable agents to Shadow Absalom, a twisted reflection of the City of Lost Omens that exists on the Plane of Shadow. There, they make new allies, confront old foes, and get a glimpse of things to come.

Mean Streets of Shadow Absalom is the last of four scenarios in the Absalom metaplot arc in the Year of Shattered Sanctuaries. More information on this arc, and the other metaplot scenarios, can be found here. This scenario concludes the Shattered Sanctuaries metaplot as a whole, but players can still enjoy the earlier scenarios and other arcs after they've played this adventure, as each arc tells a separate, smaller story within the broader Shattered Sanctuaries narrative.

Written by Amber Stewart

Scenario tags: Metaplot (Shattered Sanctuaries), Faction (Envoy's Alliance)

[Scenario Maps spoiler - click to reveal]

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

  • Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Dungeon Starter Set
  • Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Society Scenario Subscription.

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    Average product rating:

    3.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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    I really enjoyed running this one

    5/5

    I have a lot to praise about this one, I really like the art and that it gives the players a chance to interact with a lot of NPCs.

    This one really deserves a longer review, but I forgot before... I will update this very short review once I have the time to do so.


    You Call This A Finale?

    2/5

    I played this scenario via play-by-post, and since the game stretched out over roughly a month, my enjoyment of the game may have been affected by that. Anything I liked/didn’t like was drawn out a lot longer, and it made some scenes better or worse. Also, I have only played this scenario as a player, and have not prepped it to GM.

    SOME SPOILERS AHEAD

    In any case, I’ll start by noting that this season has been my least favorite season of PFS so far (in either PF1 or PF2). The Onyx Alliance has been the most disappointingly inept bunch of moustache-twirling chickens-with-their-heads-cut-off I’ve ever had the displeasure of facing off against in PFS ever (beating out even early season Aspis from PF1). This scenario did not help improve my opinions of them either. They still seem incompetent, and even the dramatic potential of building a truce between the faction and the Pathfinder Society is mostly explained away by the magical (and confusing) return of one notable NPC.

    The true bigbad of the season is pretty cool at least, but you only start to battle their minions in the mission leading up to this one, and you never get to truly face the villain herself. Thus, this season finale doesn’t feel like much of a finale at all. Instead, it ends up feeling like the middle book in a trilogy, where things have been built up – but the payoff is still well out of reach. Season 1 had you fight a demi-god, Season 2 had you stopping an apocalypse – but what do we get from Season 3? We get to fight a LIEUTENANT and get teased for a real showdown in… Maybe? Hopefully? Season 4? Blargh. This finale left me very underwhelmed from a story-driven standpoint…

    That typed, I do agree with most of what P.B. brought up. I don’t know about the final encounter being too dependent on crit fails/successes. That didn’t come up in my playthrough, and it’s possible the GM might have hand waved it.

    For all my complaints, the scenario’s greatest strengths were its local Shadow Absalom flavor, interesting NPCs, and excellent character art throughout. Shadow Absalom felt truly unique, and I’d like to see it get more scenarios and be further fleshed out in the future.

    Going back to my complaints though, the scenario was indeed front-loaded with roleplay – and as I was playing a character who had no people skills (and also since the scenario seemed to only ever call for a small pool of skills to impress the NPCs in the first place) – I was mostly stuck twiddling my thumbs for all the first half of the scenario. Then when we finally got to some actual combats, they were all fairly forgettable. None of them were challenging, the enemies didn’t start in very strategic positions (for instance, in two fights consecutively, the mages were not hiding behind their buddies), and the combat maps were small, cramped, and practically barren. I thought that we’d at least get a unique and interesting map for the final encounter – but nope, it was just more generic gray dungeon tiles…

    Overall, while the setting’s flavor was notable and really cool, everything else in this scenario felt like a letdown. That’s why I give this scenario 2 stars. It would be 3 stars if it wasn’t also supposed to be a season finale…


    A bit uneven but thematic

    4/5

    Overall, a very thematic and appropriate conclusion of the season. Visiting Shadow Absalom is like the market scene in Hellboy 2. Everything is unusual and fascinating.

    So why 4 stars? Well, a few things that made it less than spectacular for me.

    1. The adventure is very frontloaded with rp and skill checks, but in the end devolves into just a series of encounters. That makes it feel uneven imo.

    2. The optional objective is not very clear and, unless the pcs poke every single npc about it, very easy to miss. Feels a bit unfair to lose TB and faction rep over an obscure objective.

    3. The final encounter seems too dependent on crit fails/success. It also lacks any optional mechanics to make it more memorable unlike the end of Season 2.

    Overall, it's definitely a solid scenario but there's room for improvement.


    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

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

    Silver Crusade

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Yay! Amber!

    Paizo Employee

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Amber Stewart extraplanar adventure? Yiss!

    Grand Lodge Pathfinder Society Developer

    4 people marked this as a favorite.
    Dustin Knight wrote:
    Amber Stewart extraplanar adventure? Yiss!

    Yiss indeed, yiss indeed. *steeples fingers*

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

    Should we expect this one to get pushed back to a Gencon premiere? The scenarios that were supposed to release a few days before Paizocon were pushed back so they could have their premiere at Paizocon. I'm just wondering if this one is going to get similar treatment since the listed street date is 1 week before the con.

    I'd be ok with that, honestly. I actually like the idea of having scenarios premiere at major cons.

    Just my pair of coppers.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    RobertTHEPerylous wrote:

    Should we expect this one to get pushed back to a Gencon premiere? The scenarios that were supposed to release a few days before Paizocon were pushed back so they could have their premiere at Paizocon. I'm just wondering if this one is going to get similar treatment since the listed street date is 1 week before the con.

    I'd be ok with that, honestly. I actually like the idea of having scenarios premiere at major cons.

    Just my pair of coppers.

    Nope; Gen Con gets the Year 4 launch "early" so that's their shiny exclusive.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Cover and map list updated.

    Dark Archive

    Huh, she looks friendlier than I remembered, then I remembered she didn't have portrait in 1e

    Horizon Hunters

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

    My review on this scenario after just running it:

    Spoiler:
    It was fun up until the final fight. There's a lot of atmosphere for Shadow Absalom (An actual map would have been great though), and the skill challenges were challenging, though having something other than cha and int checks would have helped the party feel more included.

    My party did very well in combat, they even killed the boss in one round. However, they took 6 rounds to kill the animate dreams. Please stop putting mass amounts of incorporeal creatures in your scenarios, it is not fun, even with Ghost Touch runes. Some good alternates for scaling would be different enemies, applying Elite to the boss, or even a Weak version of the boss, seeing as there are 13 children to use.

    Also on the topic of beating the boss quickly, there's no failsafe for Marcien dying. 1/5 of his max health is 32hp, while my party is regularly hitting 40+ on crits. On top of that, he was bleeding and on fire, so even if he went into Dying he likely would have still died. The scenario assumed he lives, and an overzealous Barbarian can totally end his life without even trying. There's nothing that even acknowledges this possible situation.

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