How many players for a scenario?

Pathfinder Society

Really basic question here, how many players are the scenarios designed for? I seem to recall reading somewhere that the first few seasons were designed for 4 players but at some point they switched over to 6 players?

My group is taking a break from CotCT while two of the players go to Korea for 4 months, and I was thinking of running some scenarios for 3 or 4 of the remaining players. If it's a scenario designed for 6 players, can I just compensate by running at a lower tier, e.g., if the APL is 10, run at the 6-7 subtier instead?

Thanks for any tips!

Silver Crusade 4/5 Venture-Agent, Ohio—Cincinnati

Easy peasy. The scenarios designed for 6 have a 4-player adjustment built in. If you have 3, add a pregen to the party. Every lodge has a Kyra dispenser in the closet.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Denmark—Fyn aka Oxzu

the scenarios in the earlier seasons were indeed written assuming a party of four players. around season 5 or so they switched to assuming a table of six players (and including an option for scaling down if there's only four players). Fortunately for you, this means that you can pick up any scenario, at it will be suitable for your group size :)

Excellent - thanks for the quick responses!

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

Scenarios from season 0-3 are written assuming a party of 4 PCs. They're legal to play with 6 PCs and 6 companion creatures, but not as much fun. Combats become too easy, or exciting set piece fights that hinge heavily on how many actions PCs can perform per round lose them oomph. Or the maps are just way to small and half the party can't even get to the fight. People dismiss some of them as being really easy, but when you play them with only 4 PCs they can be more challenging and a lot more fun.

Scenarios from season 4 onwards are written for 6 PCs, but have 4-player adjustments. In the ideal situation, the 4-player adjustment undoes whatever the scenario writer did to compensate for a 6-player party, because Pathfinder as a base game is designed around a smaller party than that. So if the writer gave the boss some extra bodyguards to protect him against the PCs surrounding them, in a 4-player party he'd lose some of those bodyguards.

It's not always so good though. It took a while to really figure out the best way to design 4-player adjustments, because they're also used to make a scenario easier for a 6-player party that's just a bit too weak to take on the full high tier but too high level to be really challenged by the low tier. So sometimes the 4-player adjustment doesn't really help a smaller-than-anticipated party very much.

Still, provided the scenario has a good enough 4P adjustment, playing with a small party can be a lot of fun. There's less competition for spotlight when there's only one tank, one controller, one skill monkey etc. And communication between players is easier if they have to get only 4 people onside instead of 6. So even with modern scenarios playing with a party of only 3-4 people can be as good if not better as with 6 people.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Azothath

the rules for PFS (see The Guide) allow 3-7 players.
Due to APL adjustments or scaling within scenarios, 4 or 6 players is the preferred number. It doesn't impact rewards but certainly the 'challenge' in the scenario. If you only have 3 players a pregenerated iconic is used to fill the 4th seat. Popular choices: Kyra(cleric of Sarenrae), Amiri(barbarian), Seelah(paladin of Iomedae), Enorah(arcanist), Quinn(investigator), Valeros(fighter), Crowe(bloodrager).

I'd agree with Lau on the review.
In general PFS scenarios are not deadly. 1 or 2 a year are difficult and it seems more random by author than planned by Paizo. The early year scenarios had more undead and more 'gotcha' railroading written into the scenario (PC's always get perception checks to avoid being surprised).

Each 'year' has a theme or story arc and about half of the scenarios tie into that in an way that impacts the story line and player experience. Some scenarios are part of a loose series and are probably best played in series with others scenarios sprinkled in. Blackros series is one. Magnimar is another. The fast way to figure this out is to go to pathfinderwiki and sort scenarios by location.
I will comment that technology is limited to specific scenarios and featured in Season 6. It's best if characters in that theme experience those adventures as otherwise it will be a dearth of charges/batteries. Only one scenario and one chronicle allows recharging. Aka chainsaws are great until you run outta gas.

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