Some Thoughts on Season 9's The Shores of Heaven Scenario (Spoilers)


Pathfinder Society

Scarab Sages

I played this scenario recently with my cleric and I liked it! It was my first time visiting the plane of Heaven and I always wanted to play a game where this was possible. While the scenario did a good job portraying Heaven as the stereotypical celestial bureaucratic realm, I felt that Paizo watered it down a little too much for PFS in a few ways that could of made it unique. From what I have read about the planes, most have qualities that affect it such as special gravity, magic rules, etc, but this was ignored when our party went to Heaven. Since Heaven is a strongly aligned Lawful Good plane, you will receive a +2 bonus to INT, WIS, and CHA for each alignment step you match and -2 if you do not. This was not acknowledged at all given my character is Lawful Good along with the paladin and we received no bonuses on our diplomacy or knowledge checks.

I felt the various archons you encountered in the plane should have reacted more strictly to the PC's personalities and alignments. Yes archons will treat non evil creatures politely, but they are still quite a judgmental lot and even the chaotic character's in our party should of been eyed suspiciously.

I also felt that the writer of this scenario should of added a little section for the GM to use if a character in the party worships one of the Empyreal Lords and especially Winlas since you enter his domain in the scenario. It felt odd knowing that my cleric, who worships Winlas and plans to become a mystery cultist, was just sidelined and ignored despite how devout and fervent he is to Winlas and how deeply respected the Empyreal Lords are in Heaven. I even roleplayed how happy and reverent he was the entire time, but there was nothing the GM could do to acknowledge it. I was not expecting my character receives the red carpet treatment (He is only level 4 after all), but there should of been something in the scenario that GMs could use for rp purposes.

Overall, I liked the scenario and would like more of these that require trips to other planes. I just wish they would stick to the rules that applies to the planes. I am sure if we traveled to the Positive or Negative plane we would be subject to its dangerous environment.

The Exchange 3/5

Seems you had a very different experience because when I played my true neutral cleric with an evil aura had like -8 total to certain checks and they sternly told me to change my ways.

Scarab Sages

Ragoz wrote:
Seems you had a very different experience because when I played my true neutral cleric with an evil aura had like -8 total to certain checks and they sternly told me to change my ways.

Which is unfortunate as it seems the PFS scenario's punish you when you do wrong but not really reward you when you do right. It makes sense that since you had an evil aura you would receive negatives to interact with Heaven's residence, but I find the fact the Lawful Good characters did not get any bonuses or even acknowledgements for staying the righteous and lawful path discouraging.

The Exchange 3/5

The good characters in the party had the bonuses.

Scarab Sages

I wonder if it has something to do with the tier? Maybe playing high had those affects as we played the scenario low since we had a lot of level 1s.

4/5

Starcomet wrote:
Since Heaven is a strongly aligned Lawful Good plane, you will receive a +2 bonus to INT, WIS, and CHA for each alignment step you match and -2 if you do not. This was not acknowledged at all given my character is Lawful Good along with the paladin and we received no bonuses on our diplomacy or knowledge checks.

This is not how strongly aligned planes work. You only get negatives if you don't match the alignment. You do not get bonuses if you do.

At least according to the core rules on such things.

Scarab Sages

Oh my mistake then! But that still draws into question why the chaotic neutral party members did not receive any negatives?

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, France—Paris

I was very close to perfect. Lawful-aligned, Lawful good patron, great diplomacy and etc. but had a penalty because I was only neutral and not good. Seconding EvilMinion in saying there are no bonuses on being in accordance to Heaven's conditions.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix

Starcomet wrote:
Oh my mistake then! But that still draws into question why the chaotic neutral party members did not receive any negatives?

He should have. The LN and NG Hunters were taking penalties in my run. The second run actually had characters seeking atonement spells to eliminate the penalties. Some even kept their new alignment.

Scarab Sages

Hmm maybe the GM decided not to include the negatives since we were running low tier and he did not want characters to have difficulty with the skill challenges?

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

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Starcomet wrote:
Oh my mistake then! But that still draws into question why the chaotic neutral party members did not receive any negatives?
He should have. The LN and NG Hunters were taking penalties in my run. The second run actually had characters seeking atonement spells to eliminate the penalties. Some even kept their new alignment.

Wait, we could have had atonement cast on us while in Heaven to avoid the penalties? Typical lawful good do-gooders not to mention that during the briefing.....

I personally didn't enjoy this adventure. I do give credit to the writer for taking pains to make sure there was a good balance of physical and mental checks.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix

I thought it was a perfectly reasonable idea, as there would be plenty of angels with cleric casting falling over themselves to redeem those who were not on the goodly path. And Heaven's Shore is a large mercantile district, so it meets the qualifications for purchasing spellcasting as far I saw.

The Concordance 4/5 ** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Kansas City

Interesting, I hadn't considered that. It didn't come up in either run I've done (and I'll note that I GM'd Gary's table), and if the scenario had called it out I'd have certainly mentioned it as an option.

That being said, having done some research, I think there's some nuance involved in going along those lines.

Atonement typically costs 2PP unless it's to restore divine class powers/features (we'll come back to that in a minute). That seems cheap to me; willfully changing alignment should have more behind it than "I want to avoid some penalties in a single scenario."

PFS Guide p 23: wrote:
A character's ability to spend Prestige Points is dependent on her being in contact with the Pathfinder Society or other members of her faction, and unless noted otherwise, the Pathfinder Society and most factions tend to have agents, contacts or headquarters in settlements with at least 5,000 people.

However, I feel it's strongly implied in the scenario that the Society doesn't have a formal presence in Heaven considering the extraordinary efforts expended to bring the PC's there in the first place. Based on that I'd rule that prestige couldn't be used to pay for spellcasting services in Heaven's Shore. Atonement is CL5 (x10gp = 50 gp) plus a 500gp material focus. That's kind of a steep price at low tier but within high tier character budgets for the most part.

Now, coming back to losing divine powers: Let's say a cleric of Gorum (CN) wants to do that at my table. It seems to me that Atoning to LG would "grossly violate the code of conduct required by her god" and as a result lose her spells/class features. Is that worth the -4 penalty on one session's worth of checks? If said cleric decides to go through with it anyway? Assuming you want to atone to recover your class abilities you have to incur the additional costs (switching the alignment back is free, but atoning an intentional transgression requires 2500gp of material components for the pennance (though in that case I'd allow prestige to be used on the assumption the PC returns to Absalom to seek out the appropriate cleric).

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix

Keep in mind that the focus is not full cost. (Something I missed in my playthrough, where I waived the price of the focus.)

Spellcasting Services wrote:
If the spell has a focus component (other than a divine focus), add 1/10 the cost of that focus to the cost of the spell.

As for changing alignment needing to have more behind it, the players could just as easily say "I change alignment to XX". At least with atonement, there is a mechanical avenue to explain it.

Given that the scenario offers a completely free shift at the end, I see no reason to force the PCs through hoops during the scenario.

The Concordance 4/5 ** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Kansas City

Ah, so 100gp (50+50) not 550gp (50+500)...that's a bit easier on the low tier character's budget!

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix

Not exactly. The formula is 10 X Minimum CL X Spell Level. So 10x9x5=450, plus 50 for the focus.

I allowed those who could afford it to purchase the casting, then get refunded if they used the boon.

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