Which are the 16 PP scenarios?


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4/5 Venture-Agent, Minnesota—St. Louis Park aka BretI

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I know that scenario difficulty can vary widely. I also know that some of them are supposed to be much more deadly than others.

The Bonekeep series is supposed to be amongst the deadly ones. What other scenarios are there where you are almost guaranteed a character will die? The ones that everyone should have their 16 PP ready for the Raise Dead.

I want to know so I can avoid them. I play PFS for the roleplay. With my deadly dice luck, I really don't want to play that type of scenario.

Lantern Lodge 5/5

Only the Bonekeeps are explicitly designed to be harder than others. They even include a disclaimer about it.

Everything else is pretty arbitrary. A few rolls one way or another can change a cakewalk into a fight for your remaining three or four HP (total, across a party of six characters).

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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Spoiler:
Bone keep
Kyle baird scenarios
Waking rune.
Dalsine affair.

5/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Someone always dies in King of the Storval Stairs.

Others which can be deadly - Waking Rune, Dalsine Affair, Darkest Vengeance.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Spoiler:
Sealed Gate.
Where Mammoths Dare Not Tread.
Thralls of the Shattered God.
Of Kirin and Kraken.
Weapon in the Rift.

Grand Lodge

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Spoiler:
The Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment - subtier 1-2

BBEG insanely strong for the subtier.

Dark Archive 5/5

Not everyone wants to know these scenarios:

These are scenarios I'm aware of that have a potential high degree of difficulty in combat:
The Sealed Gate
Darkest Vengeance
King of the Storval Stairs
The Waking Ruin

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Hilton wrote:
BBEG insanely strong for the subtier.

Unless you have a paladin. :) But that isn't really a 16PP scenario, it's just a Roll A New Pathfinder scenario.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Eastern Eurasia-Africa

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Spoiler:
Level 1 of Thornkeep

Liberty's Edge 3/5 Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

I found The Slave Master's Mirror deadly. But that was likely because we played up and I picked the wrong enemy to go toe to toe with.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

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Fortune's Blight.
Elven Entanglement's reputation is imo not entirely deserved.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Charlie Bell wrote:
Elven Entanglement's reputation is imo not entirely deserved.

Our cleric bit the dust on a lucky crit in the first battle, leaving the three remaining PCs to slog through to the bitter end. (Which should not have been a TPK but was due to misreading the table on the spells effects. I was just glad to be done.)

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

I didn't find Mammoths Dare Not Tread to be particularly scary. Then again, we outnumbered most enemies 3:1. We were like a travelling zoo, including a huge mammoth.

Grand Lodge 2/5

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Spoiler:
Level 1 of Thornkeep
Sealed Gate
Darkest Abduction
Thralls of the Shattered God (Welcome to Rappan Athuk!)
Rats of Round Mountain Part 1
Words of the Ancients
Severing Ties
Waking Rune
King of the Storval Stairs
Elven Entanglement (It can certainly kill unprepared players with little effort)
God's Market Gamble

Special Shout out to Among the Dead

Grand Lodge

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It depends on your character and party so much. I've seen a party wipe (actually half dead-half ran away) against a room of regular skeletons. I've seen multiple tables get through some of the "hard" scenarios with nary a scratch. That said

Generally considered hard:

The Sealed Gate
King of the Storval Stairs
Waking Rune
Dalsine Affair (more likely for 1 death than all)
Day of the Demon (worth it anyway)
Quest for Perfection 3
Bonekeep 1/2/3
Darkest Vengeance
Fortress of the Nail (specifically high tier - one massively mis-CRed monster IMO)
Kortos Envoy
To Judge a Soul pt. 1 (low tier is deadlier)
Silver Mount Collection
Valley of the Veiled Flame (worth it anyway, and highly party dependent - high tier is deadlier)
I'm sure there are more, and I tried to avoid ones where it's just a guaranteed roll up a new character.

That said most of those scenarios are worth the risk (IMO), there are a few I wouldn't do again as a GM or player, but for the most part if I could get into one of those tables I would.

3/5

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I didn't find Mammoths Dare Not Tread to be particularly scary. Then again, we outnumbered most enemies 3:1. We were like a travelling zoo, including a huge mammoth.

funny story

when I played it we had a char die - fully dead

the next round the same char died again - dead dead

the next round he died again - yes dead dead dead

and he walked away without needing a raise at the end, though some party members were going to need some new gloves

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

Spoiler:
With the wrong party, Risen from the Sands could easily be a TPK.

Hmm

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Spoiler:
Rebel's Ransom
No Plunder no Pay - *someone* is prerty much guaranteed to die in that one.

And how many times do I have to say it - it doesn't count as a death if you get breath of life :)

Dark Archive 5/5

You'll also have 2 negative lvls to deal with.

Scarab Sages

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Hmm wrote:

With the wrong party, Risen from the Sands could easily be a TPK.

Hmm

Such as the pregens included in the module...

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The first scenario that always comes to mind for me is #5-05: The Elven Entanglement (already mentioned), but only because of one encounter. I've GMed it multiple times, and played it once, and every time someone died, regardless of prep. High HP, High AC, High Saves, didn't matter.

My most memorable death while GMing it was...:

BBEG does its Round 1 thing.
Self-described "unkillable" Zen Archer says he'll make a Reflex save.
Rolls a 19, declares that he takes no damage.
I ask him, "What's your total save?"
He responds, "Oh, like, 30-something. And I have Evasion."
I ask him, "30-what?"
Turns out he failed, and so he took full damage.
Con dead before he even got to act in Initiative.
And he didn't have 16 PP, because why save PP when you're "unkillable" =P.

The Exchange

When I ran Entanglement it got crit on an AoO and died shortly after.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

16 pp ain't getting you back from thornkeep

Shadow Lodge 5/5

Depends. We only had to play 5PP for body recovery, since we weren't actually dead. :)

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

Nefreet wrote:

The first scenario that always comes to mind for me is #5-05: The Elven Entanglement (already mentioned), but only because of one encounter. I've GMed it multiple times, and played it once, and every time someone died, regardless of prep. High HP, High AC, High Saves, didn't matter.

** spoiler omitted **

Okay, so what is the point of scenarios like this? If even well-prepared characters can die and do nothing about it? Where's the fun? Why make a challenge so brutal?

Hmm

Lantern Lodge 5/5

Hmm wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

The first scenario that always comes to mind for me is #5-05: The Elven Entanglement (already mentioned), but only because of one encounter. I've GMed it multiple times, and played it once, and every time someone died, regardless of prep. High HP, High AC, High Saves, didn't matter.

** spoiler omitted **

Okay, so what is the point of scenarios like this? If even well-prepared characters can die and do nothing about it? Where's the fun? Why make a challenge so brutal?

Hmm

It's not that much damage, it sounds like Mr. Unkillable probably didn't have much in the way of Hit Points- -because why would you need them if you can't be touched?

The Exchange

Hmm wrote:

Okay, so what is the point of scenarios like this? If even well-prepared characters can die and do nothing about it? Where's the fun? Why make a challenge so brutal?

Hmm

YMMV

The characters present, how they play, how lucky their dice rolls are, and how the GM runs the scenario (and his dice rolls) can all drastically change how a scenario plays out.

4/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Hmm wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

The first scenario that always comes to mind for me is #5-05: The Elven Entanglement (already mentioned), but only because of one encounter. I've GMed it multiple times, and played it once, and every time someone died, regardless of prep. High HP, High AC, High Saves, didn't matter.

** spoiler omitted **

Okay, so what is the point of scenarios like this? If even well-prepared characters can die and do nothing about it? Where's the fun? Why make a challenge so brutal?

Hmm

Season 5 was more or less the start of an arms race that seems to be tapering off. Literally everything about that scenario was hell for me when I played.

Spoiler:
My least favorite aspects of any scenario are mandatory travel time between encounters and going in hot. This scenario had both, with the former being enough to end any 10 min/lvl buffs between each encounter. I managed to avoid the "going in hot" part by flying 35' up on my first action, which was literally just enough.

Liberty's Edge

Spoiler:
Have to say, as a 5th level support character I wasn't very happy with To Scale the Dragon. It can easily be a player killer if you have a smaller (4 person) party and the big bad targets anyone but a full BAB character. Probably not as bad as most, as the big fight can be avoided if you're being careful, but we had a GM who didn't feel we should be able to succeed at this. He also decided the character's combat animal couldn't accompany him for the majority of the adventure, which probably has as much to do with my displeasure with the scenario as the scenario as written. Also, it's likely to only kill 1 character if it does, instead of a TPK.

It's Rats of Round Mountain part 1 though, that taught me just how high a CR they're willing to send at characters. Once again the fight's avoidable, but in a way that's hardly advantageous to the party. Definite TPK potential. Either way you solve the encounter, you might be unhappy about having played the scenario.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Charlie Bell wrote:
Elven Entanglement's reputation is imo not entirely deserved.
Our cleric bit the dust on a lucky crit in the first battle, leaving the three remaining PCs to slog through to the bitter end. (Which should not have been a TPK but was due to misreading the table on the spells effects. I was just glad to be done.)

Yeah I think if you survive the 1st round, you're probably going to be fine. But that first round is a doozy.

Do you remember that run of Feast of Sigils from Paizocon a couple years back? Maybe not a TPK scenario but gods what a suckfest!

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

I don't, and my wife is trying very hard to forget! :)

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Charlie Bell wrote:
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Charlie Bell wrote:
Elven Entanglement's reputation is imo not entirely deserved.
Our cleric bit the dust on a lucky crit in the first battle, leaving the three remaining PCs to slog through to the bitter end. (Which should not have been a TPK but was due to misreading the table on the spells effects. I was just glad to be done.)
Yeah I think if you survive the 1st round, you're probably going to be fine. But that first round is a doozy.

Elven Entanglement can be ridiculously deadly at high tier. Especially if you have time to play the optional (which pretty much requires a non-time-limited slot).

Why?:

Most parties will try to finish this in one day.
The first encounter will tear through a lot of resources even if you do not have any deaths.
The travel portion is another resource-eater.
The second encounter can be deadly to an unsuspecting party if the effects happen to overlap.
The optional isn't horrible unless a party member fails on the will saves vs. the spell-like, but again it can eat up resources.
By the final fight the PCs may be low on resources, especially spellcasters. Even with resources the fight is brutal if the GM uses all the options available to the NPC. And he's smart, so you should.

Silver Crusade

I can't believe no ones mentioned First Steps part 1 yet. It had it's own TPK thread for a while. Of course kind of hard to have 16 PP at 1st level. :-)

Party make up can have a huge impact on how deadly an adventure is. Some the scenarios mentioned above I don't recall having any issues with simply because we luckily had the right party mix at the table. Heck, went through Bonekeep 2 in under three hours with no deaths and minimal hp loss because we had the perfect party mix.

Grand Lodge 2/5

Yeah, Feast of Sigils, that's dangerous. My paladin got closer to death in it than in Bonekeep 1 or 2. Of course, he actually got killed in Bonekeep 3 but my point still stands. I didn't find Waking Rune dangerous but rather dragging.

4/5 Venture-Agent, Minnesota—St. Louis Park aka BretI

Thanks for all the replies!

I have successfully played some of the ones listed here, but not the ones that multiple people have commented on. In at least one of those cases, I had the right character for the scenario so it became a lot easier.

My understanding is that the deadliness of First Steps Part I is heavily dependent on how the GM plays the opposing group. The group isn't supposed to work well together as a team. If the GM plays them with good tactics, it suddenly becomes much more deadly than it should be.

Most of these I have not played, and many of them I will avoid.

Thanks and keep the replies coming!

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Downtime in adventures

Thats deliberate. 10 minutes per level or 1 minute per level buffs aren't supposed to be always on.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
BretI wrote:


My understanding is that the deadliness of First Steps Part I is heavily dependent on how the GM plays the opposing group. The group isn't supposed to work well together as a team. If the GM plays them with good tactics, it suddenly becomes much more deadly than it should be.

This.

Except for some lucky great-axe crits, the only reports I've seen of First Steps being a TPK, is when the GM did not follow the listed tactics. Usually involving a color spray on round one, which specifically is listed as a no-no in the tactics.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Nefreet wrote:

The first scenario that always comes to mind for me is #5-05: The Elven Entanglement (already mentioned), but only because of one encounter. I've GMed it multiple times, and played it once, and every time someone died, regardless of prep. High HP, High AC, High Saves, didn't matter.

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
When I played this, the monster killed me in the second round but I was able to kill it in the third.

I have GMed it twice. No one died, but it was close.

I have heard of 3 times locally when this encounter has either killed or resulted in a TPK. After inquiring about each of these events, I discovered the deaths had been caused by the GMs not following the monster's written tactics (which do nerf its deadliness).

Not that I am accusing you of this. Just stating my observations.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵

Hmm wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

The first scenario that always comes to mind for me is #5-05: The Elven Entanglement (already mentioned), but only because of one encounter. I've GMed it multiple times, and played it once, and every time someone died, regardless of prep. High HP, High AC, High Saves, didn't matter.

** spoiler omitted **

Okay, so what is the point of scenarios like this? If even well-prepared characters can die and do nothing about it? Where's the fun? Why make a challenge so brutal?

Hmm

It was a brutal encounter, but there were interesting things going on. That being said, Munny almost bought it on his first action, but thanks to Moira and a Caydenite Cleric, he survived to end the encounter.

TOZ:
Munny also had a situation similar, but not as fatal, as the Zen Archer you described. After the things initial assault (it won initiative on a nat-20), Munny attempted to tumble out of reach before shooting. Got something like a 33, and missed! He goes down, 2 points from dead. But, he did provoke, freeing the bard (Moira) to dim-door the three of us to safety, so the cleric could heal us, and Munny could once again open fire. He hadn't even gotten the chance to draw Vera!

Tough, but winnable. Many people enjoy this sort of encounter... but some do not. I am probably somewhere in the middle!

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Hmm wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

The first scenario that always comes to mind for me is #5-05: The Elven Entanglement (already mentioned), but only because of one encounter. I've GMed it multiple times, and played it once, and every time someone died, regardless of prep. High HP, High AC, High Saves, didn't matter.

** spoiler omitted **

Okay, so what is the point of scenarios like this? If even well-prepared characters can die and do nothing about it? Where's the fun? Why make a challenge so brutal?

Hmm

I love roleplay. But I also love tactical play. The best scenarios for me personally, are the ones that allow for both.

This scenario is an example of 2 things:

1) They had just started to really go to the 6 player thing in Season 4, and were still refining it through Season 5. So some of the higher level Season 5 scenarios were very difficult.

2) Authors were starting to write with power creep in mind. I think that they really aren't doing that as much through Season 6 and 7 anymore.

3/5

Nefreet wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

was he like 7-8 but the subtier was 10-11?

(the situation in my anecdote)

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Jayne Munny wrote:

It was a brutal encounter, but there were interesting things going on. That being said, Munny almost bought it on his first action, but thanks to Moira and a Caydenite Cleric, he survived to end the encounter.

** spoiler omitted **

Tough, but winnable. Many people enjoy this sort of encounter... but some do not. I am probably somewhere in the middle!

It was Nefreet's story, but I actually had a similar experience.

Spoiler:
Funny thing, even my halfling rogue wasn't able to make that save DC on less than a 20. But I had brought my Holy Vindicator instead, and when the trample was done, he decided to bug the hell out. I don't recall exactly what happened, if I had Grace prepared or if he just tanked the AoO so squishier people could get clear. But he ended up in negative HP and had to Diehard his way into the air. The party cleric provoked and the GM landed a nat 20 on his 45-odd AC, then another 20 or 19 to confirm it. Suddenly our high level cleric that had put our 4 man team into high tier was dead-dead and I wasn't in position to move in and defibrillate with first aid gloves. We managed to survive that fight thanks to my wife's archer fighter putting down insane ranged damage in short order, but the damage was done.


Gary Bush wrote:
I found The Slave Master's Mirror deadly. But that was likely because we played up and I picked the wrong enemy to go toe to toe with.

That one had potential. I think it depended greatly on the GM and how they handled the plot gimmick.

4/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I didn't find Mammoths Dare Not Tread to be particularly scary. Then again, we outnumbered most enemies 3:1. We were like a travelling zoo, including a huge mammoth.

I dare you to go through that scenario again without that damn zoo. Most of the encounters can be quite nasty if they get the chance. And I might've run the last encounter a bit tame by accident. >_>

EDIT: Also,

Scenario spoiler:
Quest for Perfection 1. That boss hits like a truck, especially after the false sense of security from what came before. My players breezed through the scenario, only to be splattered in the final fight.

Sczarni 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Connecticut—Manchester aka Cpt_kirstov

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Another tough one:
Severing Ties - it has the most kills in the state here, and its a 1-5

Scarab Sages 4/5

Andrew Christian wrote:
BretI wrote:


My understanding is that the deadliness of First Steps Part I is heavily dependent on how the GM plays the opposing group. The group isn't supposed to work well together as a team. If the GM plays them with good tactics, it suddenly becomes much more deadly than it should be.

This.

Except for some lucky great-axe crits, the only reports I've seen of First Steps being a TPK, is when the GM did not follow the listed tactics. Usually involving a color spray on round one, which specifically is listed as a no-no in the tactics.

Well, the scenario does say they have prepared their tactics. Looking at the tactics, though, they just didn't prepare very well.

First Steps Part 1:
Keep in mind, too, that the encounter starts with an Obscuring Mist. I've played this any number of times where the GM did not have that happen.

First Steps 1 wrote:
Other people take this shortcut as well, and the group of thug adventurers blends into the crowd until throwing the alleyway into a hazy fog by casting of obscuring mist. Once that happens, the common citizens flee, leaving the alley clear for both groups to deal with each other.

If you actually use the mist, then it stops a lot of the first round shenanigans. No Color Spray on round 1. No Ledford charging for a greataxe crit. Round 1 turns into a lot of moving up and trying to find people, and on Deandre's turn, I usually have her shout at Halli to "Get rid of that blasted mist!" So Halli spends a standard dismissing the obscuring mist instead of casting a spell at the PCs.

Also, for the TPK aspect, nothing in the scenario says that the gang is bloodthirsty. They just want to rob the PCs. If they knock everyone out, there is no reason to have them CdG the party. Especially a group of new players. I'd have them take the important items and flee. There was a crowd of people nearby, so somebody can wander by and see that any down PCs are stabilized. There's really no excuse for TPKing a group in First Steps unless Ledford crit-kills everyone. Causing the group to fail part of the mission and miss a prestige point? Sure. Ledford outright killing someone? It happens. But a TPK is excessive.


I found season 4 as a whole deadly.

The traitors lodge is dangerous as well.

As for 1st steps part 1. When I Dmed that on alone trounced the entire party. I had the other enemies bicker and bad rolls from the PCs with solid rolls from the one bad guy went through them like butter.

But no one outright died. The bad guys did not seem murderous so I felt finishing off the PCs would be wrong.

I feel that if the PCs get defeated killing them is not always the best choice. I often have them get captured or robbed, and then left.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Funny. Pallid Plague high tier (6-7) hasn't been mentioned. A 28 fort save on a disease can be brutal, especially when it requires two conservatives saves (so you better make your first as it does con dmg), no nearby town has a caster high enough to remove it (need a lvl 8 or higher), and nearest town with one is more than a few days travel (you will die first). So better hope you can make the save with a plus five from antiplague.

4/5 Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro aka Zoomba

From my own experience, I've had or seen 3 scenarios with death as a player (two of which featured half the party killed), and killed two PCs as a GM:

Spoiler:
Dalsine Affair
Cultist's Kiss
Waking Rune

Ironbound Schism
Six Seconds to Midnight
(this one ironically had the death occur in neither of the two arguably most dangerous encounters, but due to the wrong PC triggering the morale condition for a specific tactic at the worst possible time)

I also was part of a very near TPK in

Spoiler:
Voice oft he Void
at low tier, where we were ultimately saved by one more character making a vital save by 1. (stupid thing with stupid wand :p)

Silver Crusade 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

I had a surprisingly bad experience in:
our recent Slot 0 of Blood Under Absalom. Level 2 dwarf in full plate vs. monk with 4 uses of Scorching Ray
nearly cost me 16 prestige I totally didn't have.

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