Pathfinder Society Scenario #4-06: Signal from the Electric Laboratory

2.90/5 (based on 12 ratings)

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

A crystal key from another world? We should look into that. What could possibly go wrong?!

In studying a strange key made of metal and crystal, the Pathfinder Society has determined that it is receiving a distressing signal from a remote estate in mist-shrouded Ustalav. Other people in the area have been receiving the signal as well, but without the key, they have no way to interpret the strange messages and images. The Society must travel to Ustalav, investigate the source of the signal, and prevent the terrified populace from taking matters into their own hands!

This adventure is the first part of the two-part Crystal Key metaplot arc in the Year of Boundless Wonder.

Written by Letterio Mammoliti

Scenario tags: Metaplot (Boundless Wonder), Faction (Horizon Hunters)

[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: Haunted House
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Dungeons Multi-Pack
  • Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Society Scenario Subscription.

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    2.90/5 (based on 12 ratings)

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    Intriging investigative delve let down by poor map choices

    3/5

    Played this in Low Tier

    A curious assignment - trace a strange signal to a wrecked Ustalavan lab and determine what happened there and what may still be going on - leads to a good mix of investigation elements and combat. The plot(s) going on around the lab can get a bit complicated to parse out, and our GM noted the information layout of who knows what/which clue points to what wasn't as clean as it could be. But the story itself is a good one, and I enjoyed how there are a variety of methods the PCs can piece together the puzzle (finding clues, Knowledge checks, potential social encounters, and general player-deduction).

    Of course there's some combats to be dealt with too, and there is the scenario's greatest flaw. I actually like the monster and encounter designs themselves - the several different obstacles you encounter have a good variety to them while still having their presences make sense, and it could lead to a varied set of encounters.

    Emphasis on could, as the scenario's maps betray it hard. Paizo missions being written to use bland and over-used flipmats that make missions and fights feel 'samey' is nothing new (if it feels like more and more the map choices are getting irritating). But I don't think I've seen the 'map vs encounter' disconnect actively hinder a scenario more than this one before. Every single combat encounter the map choices actively detract from the design of the enemies themselves.

    Encounter details:
    The oozes are massive creatures...cramped in a single room even the dev clarification to knock out a side-room wall only slightly improves this. Without room to maneuver, its a single-choke point to even get through the door to hit them, while the incant can just keep launching Fireballs into the room beyond.

    Harpies' danger is their ability to fly and their song's chance to lure creatures away across the battlefield. So you fight them...in a small and ceiling-ed room where their mobility is fully negated.

    The possessed constructs have burst abilities and the main threat wields a reach weapon. So of course you fight them in a narrow hallway [ooc]one where depending on how you interpret the description of C4 and the mesh around it it may not be possible for the PCs to even be able to move around to try and pincer from the other side

    Together it makes the combats feel 'frustrating' rather than memorable. Which is a shame: the skeleton of the adventure is a good and fun one but the execution of the fights left an annoyed taste in the tables' mouths


    Interesting exploration

    4/5

    Signal is a combat scenario with a lot of investigation and story behind it.

    I thought the story in Signal was interesting, but very convoluted. We spent a lot of time asking the GM questions, trying to understand the story.

    I thought that the combats were well themed, interesting, and featured unusual creatures. Simple but good puzzle, completely optional.

    Again, I wish that Starfinder and technology would stop invading Pathfinder.

    Overall: A fun exploration into a house with a strong story and unusual encounters. (7/10)


    A fun scenario.

    4/5

    I played this on PBP. (With a very good dm)

    I have difficulty to remember details, so i was confused about the plot. I needed to reread it a second time to understand it.

    The fights were fun.You just need to be careful. And i played a rogue.


    Could have been better

    2/5

    Played and ran this scenarion, and I agree with a lot of what's been already said. Sadly, there aren't too many high level scenarios so when we do have them it's a real letdown when the scenario misses the mark.

    Spoilers:
    The scenario rewards 2 Reputation for Horizon Hunters and Radiant Oath factions, but the NPCs associated to each give players zero clues as to how they could earn that reputation.

    If the PCs open the box and fail the Will save, the scant bit of information sends them to an NPC who is suspicious of the NPC you're supposed to save. This meant that my party was suspicious of Lumna for the entire scenario... and the main mission turns out to be that they need to free them. This alone sets the tone for the scenario all wrong, and took me as a GM a lot more work to help the players understand that they should trust Lumna.

    Too many NPCs. 3 that give your mission (Evni, Kamenya, Ziri), 2 related to the mob (Saban and Kistur, who really could have been 1 NPC), and 5 in the manor (Revecka, Vilo, Narcela via 'phone', Lumna, and Gleam). Narcela is thrown in strictly to connect the scenario to the metaplot, but largely is a 'so what'. It's hard for the players to even care about these NPCs.

    The map is a real problem too. It's very obviously shoehorned to fit the scenario, and as mentioned doesn't even fit the combat encounter with the Roiling Incant and Black Puddings. Thankfully when I ran it the PCs opted to sneak in (and had a way to foil their senses) so I let them get in and get out because they did a Cool Thing. But the Incant and 1 Pudding I put on the map were in separate rooms. I know map art costs money, but I'd hope there'd at least be a check to make sure monsters FIT the space they're supposed to be in.

    The fights themselves are fine though. I like challenging encounters. The harpies were fairly easy (there was a Bard in the party, so that helped). The black puddings are tough but the Roiling Incant does interesting things. And the clockwork vessel was able to put a PC unconscious before they were able to win the day.

    Also, can we talk about how the PDF throws an error message stating, "Cannot extract the embedded font 'Alcoholica-Bold-SC700'. Some characters may not display or print correctly."? Ignoring the name of the font, how did this pass QA?

    I'm hoping that part two of this series connects dots to how this fits in the metaplot. But I won't be recommending this scenario in general.


    complex and some stuff that needs fleshing out, but interesting and challenging

    4/5

    I ran this one twice, once low tier and once high tier. I liked it on both occasions. It did require a bit of extra work, on timeline and ensuring players would have all the info in mind, as pointed out in several other reviews. That's part of the GM role, too, I think. It is nice when it is all fleshed out and ready for use, but it does happen that sometimes it is not.
    A challenge has been space management, as somewhat 'spoilingly' mentioned below. It makes for a challenging combat, even if long (in both low and high tiers). Particularly if the party does not have the proper means to deal damage.
    Overall, interesting scenario, interesting NPCs, requires some additional legwork from the GM and can be a bit long. A good one, even if not the best.


    1 to 5 of 12 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

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


    Always down for otherworldly technology.

    Dark Archive

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Wait.. It's REALLY continuation story of Sky Key (6 year PFS1) or am I confusing something?


    Vokialus wrote:
    Wait.. It's REALLY continuation story of Sky Key (6 year PFS1) or am I confusing something?

    Ustalav makes me assume this is

    Spoiler:
    Stasian tech, from Earth.

    The key described here doesn’t really sound like the Sky Key at all.

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    It's not the Sky Key, it's a new key :)

    Dark Archive

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Alex Speidel wrote:
    It's not the Sky Key, it's a new key :)

    *sounds of frustration*

    In that case, can you tell me how the case with the Heavenly Key ended after 7-00? I know there was also a scenario for lube for him in Season 7, but other than that, nothing.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Vokialus wrote:
    Alex Speidel wrote:
    It's not the Sky Key, it's a new key :)

    *sounds of frustration*

    In that case, can you tell me how the case with the Heavenly Key ended after 7-00? I know there was also a scenario for lube for him in Season 7, but other than that, nothing.

    I’m curious - what Sky Key stories do you think are left to tell? 7-00 has a fleeting mention of Jormurdun dwarves trapped in a bubble outside of time that’s never actually used, but I’m unaware of any other remaining loose ends.

    To be clear, I’d LOVE to resolve that time bubble idea and see some of Jormurdun’s folk return!

    Paizo Employee Organized Play Coordinator

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Map list updated.


    When is this up for sale? There's not much November left.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Just picked this one up - it’s a lot of fun, and has some really nice unexpected continuity! Excited to see its other half, as what’s here is really interesting.

    Spoiler:
    Follow-up on the doomed explorers in the Tomb Between Worlds, a renegade daughter of the Society’s hag rival, Stasian tech being used for both an Iron Man heart and a psychic Faraday cage, AND an alien from one of Liavara’s moons?

    Advocates

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Scenario Blurb wrote:

    A crystal key from another world? We should look into that. What could possibly go wrong?!

    In studying a strange key made of metal and crystal, the Pathfinder Society has determined that it is receiving a distressing signal from a remote estate in mist-shrouded Ustalav.

    I have at least 4 Society characters who are natives to the country and have credible claims as to the opposite, spread across both 1e and 2e

    (Please keep putting them in awkward and/or scary situations please . They thrive off complaining about Ustalav)

    Dark Archive

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    keftiu wrote:


    To be clear, I’d LOVE to resolve that time bubble idea and see some of Jormurdun’s folk return!

    Really off-topic...but Starfinder Society does feature dwarves still on the Search for Sky (I believe first mentioned in 1-09 Live Exploration Extreme).


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    The encounter at A3 seems a little tight.

    Spoiler:
    My table needs two large and two huge creatures in a 20 x 15 room, and it would be even more crowded with more challenge points.

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