Most "non-standard" scenarios

GM Discussion

Hi everyone

I ran a few scenarios last year and from memory most include unique elements.
I am interested in what particular ones are the most "non-standard" with "standard" in this case being finding and killing enemies

Or am I completely off base in this question and is it true that most of PFS is quite non-standard?

For context my players really enjoyed Library of the Lion as it was so different to normal pathfinder and there was almost no combat (and you could take steps to ensure you reduced the chance)

This differs from, say, Glass River where there is seemed a little more fighty

A few also listened to an Actual Play of Blakros Matrimony and that is also a real breathe of fresh air.

So what scenarios really offer something different?

Dark Archive 4/5

Bid for Alabastrine

Grand Lodge 1/5

Oathbreakers Die from Season 10 might fit. Now there is some combat so if you're looking for a nearly pure social scenario Bid for Alabastrine wins.

Oathbreakers Die is unique in the sense there is a timeline of events that will occur without PC intervention. When and where they intervene and if they spot certain clues makes a large difference in hour things play out.


Tapesty's Trial
The Disappeared

Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Upper Midwest aka Silbeg

The Bronze House Reprisal can be done w/o combat.

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

The Stolen Heir is quite story-driven, even if not combat-free


They're not entirely combat-free but if you're looking for more investigative-style scenarios then you might find the following worth a look:

Scars of the Third Crusade
Treacherous Waves
The Twisted Circle
Portent's Peril

I'll second suggestions of:

The Stolen Heir
The Disappeared
Oathbreakers Die

These do feature some combat but also (imho) interesting locations and unusual characters to interact with:

The Overflow Archives
School of Spirits
The Frostfur Captives
The Shores of Heaven
Down the Verdant Path

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

School of Spirits was my first 'pacifist run' and I highly recommend it. With the right approach and GM leeway, you can likewise run City of Strangers non-lethally.

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

With a flexible-thinking GM and a party that thinks outside the box, I think a lot of scenarios are doable with much less combat than standard.

At some point John Compton commented that his typical goal as an editor is that a scenario contains some challenges that are best done without combat (they could be done with combat, but it's harder and you might miss out on rewards for making friends), but also to include some encounters that are almost certain to end in combat. Because a lot of people do enjoy combat, and if the non-combat solution is always the best, they'd be missing out on the fun.

So on the whole, most scenarios since about season 5 have a range of likely-to-be-nonviolent and likely-to-be-violent encounters. In my experience, to turn a likely-violent encounter nonviolent, the whole party has to be on board for the effort. It can be taking an unusual diplomatic route, or more of a heist "grab it and get away before the bad guys notice" thing. If the mission is to bring back X and X is guarded by Y, you can also get X by using a cunning plan to distract Y and snatch X and run really fast.

It's a whole-party effort because if even just one person isn't paying attention and just blunders into the obvious fight, then the plan probably falls apart. Me, I enjoy a good combat now and then so I'm fine doing half the scenario diplomatically but also cracking some heads. But there is also a special thrill to everyone working together to just do a clean steal without a fight.


TL;DR - you can make many more scenarios "nonstandard" like this if your whole party is stealthy and you have illusion and mobility magic and everyone enjoys playing that way.


There was a Sun Orchid scenario in level range 1-5 that was pretty much a PFS Ocean's 11 run. I don't remember the exact name.

Dark Archive 5/5 Venture-Agent, Ohio—Columbus aka Cirithiel

I nominate Murder on the Throaty Mermaid.

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

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RealAlchemy wrote:
There was a Sun Orchid scenario in level range 1-5 that was pretty much a PFS Ocean's 11 run. I don't remember the exact name.

7-21 The Sun Orchid Scheme

It's a really fun scenario.

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