Pathfinder Society Scenarios: Debt to the Quah and Tapestry’s Trial

Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers I recommend you check out a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!

10-14 - Debt to the QuahPathfinder Society Scenario #10-14: Debt to the Quah is a Tier 3-7 adventure written by Adrian Ng. It takes place in Varisia’s Storval Plateau, in a sepulchre along the Muschkal River, and heavily features the Shoanti people and their culture. For more information on Varisia, the Storval Plateau, and the Shoanti, check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World GuidePathfinder Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends, and Pathfinder Adventure Path 10: A History of Ashes (Curse of the Crimson Throne book 4 of 6). Debt to the Quah features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 3Monster Codex, and Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Bestiary (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook it utilizes content from the GameMastery Guide  and Ultimate Equipment, and heavily uses the influence subsystem from Ultimate Intrigue. The influence subsystems and all of its relevant rules are included in an easy to understand Appendix at the back of this scenario. Finally, Debt to the Quah makes use of one map: Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Dungeon.

Recently the Shoanti people of the Storval Plateau were angered by the actions of the Pathfinder Society, when an over-enthusiastic Pathfinder raided and destroyed an important Shoanti burial ground — and then passed it off as Thassilonian. Angered (with reason) at the actions of this Pathfinder many Shoanti are calling for the expulsion of the Pathfinder Society from their lands (or worse!). This adventure tasks the PCs with attending a Shoanti council where they will need to return the grave goods taken from the site, and attempt to salvage what they can of the relationship between the Pathfinder Society and the representatives from the various Shoanti Quahs. More specifically, their goal is to earn a chance to fix the damage that has been done to the ancient Shoanti sepulchre, and make what reparations they can. This scenario doesn’t continue any ongoing storylines and isn’t connected to any factions. If you’ve got any characters who have played a PFS scenario involving the Shoanti people (such as #4-06: The Green Market, #8-22: Wrath of the Fleshwarped Queen, or #8-23: Graves of Crystalmaw Pass), now is a good time to play them. In addition, characters with other connections to the Shoanti, characters who have a respect for foreign cultures and history, and characters who are diplomatic, will all find something to be excited about in this scenario. Reckless, destructive, and rude characters are not going to excel in this adventure.

Michele Giorgi-Sklar
Kemchet Flame Stoker, chosen representative of the Sklar-Quah (Sun Clan). Illustrated by Michele Giorgi. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

First off: I love the premise of this scenario! As a student (once upon a time) of anthropology and archaeology, I adore any adventure that goes out of its way to add some semblance of reality to Pathfinder excavations. So, cleaning up after some shoddy treasure hunter? Sign me up! In addition, the Shoanti are one of my very favourite ethnic groups in the world of Golarion, so getting both in one adventure had me more than a little excited. Putting aside my biases, this is a really fun adventure. It has some useful handouts, lots of nice art, and an interesting cast of NPCs. Influencing the clans at the council meeting was both enjoyable and rewarding, but could be difficult for some GMs to run. It features seven important NPCs (Payah Against the Winds, Cousin to All, Kemchet Flame Stoker, Lake at Dawn, Memory Tender, Rollicks in Waves, and Togimal in Shadow), each of whom has their own personality, values, and pet peeves. This could get confusing for GMs and players alike. However, with some prep work (or great improv) this scene is going to be tense and exciting — a lot’s riding on it, after all! Repairing the tomb and the devastation wreaked there was very enjoyable for me, and the more… talkative inhabitant of the sepulchre was a really nice touch! The final encounter is quite a challenge, both for the participants synergy and for the encounter context. This battle is likely to cause some PCs to hesitate or stress, which leads to one of my only issues with this scenario. However, my relatively vague comments on it are heavier on the spoilers than I typically share, so if that makes you nervous skip the next paragraph.

If something is meant to be in a tomb that you’re restoring, but that something is hazardous to you, should you preserve it or destroy it? A nice dilemma! Unfortunately, this scenario doesn’t embrace that conundrum and has no notes on what should be done if PCs attempt to circumvent it instead of using more destructive methods. A bit of a missed opportunity, I think. Now, most groups will have no such qualms and leap into the encounter without issue, but for those groups who do show professional restraint, their hesitation could prove their undoing, and cause this nice challenging encounter to be too difficult. I’m curious to hear how this shakes out in play!

Overall, I really enjoyed the topic, content, and execution of this adventure. It’s right up my alley, and I can’t wait to play it. I give it four out of five stars.

10-15 - Tapestry's TrialPathfinder Society Scenario #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial is a Tier 7-11 adventure written by Alex Greenshields. It takes place in Axis, a lawfully aligned plane. For more information on Axis and its denizens check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Planar Adventures. Tapestry’s Trial features creatures and templates from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 2Bestiary 5, and Monster Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: MuseumGamemastery Map Pack: Magic Academy, and might also use a blank flip-mat. In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, this scenario includes content from the Advanced Player’s GuideUltimate Magic, and Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion (although Heroes of Golarion  is not needed to run this scenario). This mission is not directly related to any Pathfinder Society factions, although thematically it aligns well with members of the Grand Lodge and Dark Archives.

This adventure tasks the PCs with travelling to Axis, finding the legendary sorceress Hao Jin, and attaining her help in repairing the Hao Jin tapestry, a powerful artifact and demiplane used by the Pathfinder Society for a whopping seven seasons of play.  This scenario continues the ongoing saga of the Hao Jin Tapestry, and any characters who have interacted with the Hao Jin Tapestry — particularly those who helped attain, defend, or protect it — will have ample reason to get involved in this scenario. It’s also a direct continuation of events from Pathfinder Society Scenario Special #10-00: Hao Jin Cataclysm, and Scenarios #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant and #10-13: Fragments of Antiquity. Although I won’t get into the reasons why (to avoid spoilers), characters who were involved in any of the following scenarios will find a familiar face/event or two seen/mentioned: #4-16: The Fabric of Reality, #5-09: The Traitor’s Lodge, #6-98: Serpent’s Rise, #7-09: The Blakros Connection, and #7-23: Abducted in Aether.  I highly recommend you bring along such characters (although not necessarily more than those who have an interest in Hao Jin and her tapestry). Finally, any worshippers of Abadar, Brigh, Chaldira Zuzaristan, and Pharasma will have a chance to visit or glimpse their god’s domain throughout the course of this scenario, which can be an awesome and fulfilling character moment.

Leonardo Santanna-TheMaker
The Maker, an eccentric kolyarut from #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial. Illustrated by Leonardo Santanna. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Planar adventures are tricky. Players need to feel like they’re someplace totally different — a whole other world — but not so much that it hinders play. NPCs need to be extra memorable, locations need to be extra unique, and through it all you need to try to distill a whole planar environment into a short amount of time and a few encounters. Players want to experience a plane — after all, it’s likely they’ll only go there once! This scenario does an awesome job of showcasing Axis. The place is at once understandable and completely alien, with cool environments, and a lot of fun NPCs. And by a lot, I mean a lot! There’s a whopping nine new NPCs to interact with. I really enjoyed the various social interactions, particularly the entire final sequence of events. Many of these social interactions and encounters have unexpected effects and consequences, some of which will even have effect past the end of this scenario (which is always a treat!). Of the various locations you can visit I particularly enjoyed The Floating Library, not only for its contents and librarian, but also for the view. PCs can literally see a few domains of the gods from this vantage point, which is a really nice moment. Although social encounters and big decisions are the major focus of this scenario, it’s not without its combats. Chaotic and unlucky groups could have as many as four combat encounters (or more if they continue to attract the ‘law enforcement’ of Axis), while other groups will have as few as one combat encounter. The battles that are included are enjoyable, and all have extra considerations and complications for player’s take into account, which is a really nice touch. Overall, I love this scenario. I think it’s going to be a satisfying, exciting experience, that has a lot of cool moments, and ramifications for further scenarios. I give it five out of five stars.

Thanks for joining us today. Tune in later this week for a look at this month’s new d20 releases!

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: Breath of the Dragonskull and Fragments of Antiquity

Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers I recommend you check out a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!

scourge of the farheavens - dolok darkfur - sebastian rodriguez
Dolok Darkfur from #9-18: Scourge of the Farheavens and #10-12: Breath of the Dragonskull. Illustrated by Sebastian Rodriguez. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-12:Breath of the Dragonskull is a Tier 1-5 adventure written by Michael Sayre. It takes place in Iobaria, beginning in the Starrise Spire of Nerosyan, before quickly travelling to Mishkar and the Findabar Forest. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary and Inner Sea Monster Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and includes content from the Core RulebookAdvanced Class Guide, and Ultimate Equipment. It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Tiles: Forest Starter SetPathfinder Flip-tiles: Forest Perils ExpansionPathfinder Flip-Mat: Forest Fire, and a custom half-page map.

This adventure tasks the PCs with protecting a caravan of Sarkorian refugees who are scheduled to begin a journey from Mishkar back to their long-lost homeland of Sarkoris (recently the Worldwound). The caravan has run into trouble with goblins, a forest fire, and centaurs, and need assistance so they can get underway. PCs will need to protect the caravan’s members, figure out what the heck is going on, and put a stop to it. Breath of the Dragonskull continues the storyline from #9-18: Scourge of the Farheavens, and features Dolok Darkfur and Nelket, with Jorsal of Lauterbury serving as Venture-Captain. This scenario involves a lot of interacting with the forest fire, so be sure to prepare your characters appropriately after the mission briefing. I loved the new characters introduced in this scenario — particularly Dragbog — and the various social encounters. There’s a lot of them, and they’re great fun. The battles are enjoyable and each is more complicated than it seems, which I was really happy to see. My only complaint is that if PCs manage to avoid some of the encounters (which they could), this scenario could pass by rather quickly. Overall I thought this was a really fun scenario. I can’t wait to run it for my family. I give it five out of five stars.

Kaana Korag by Tawny Fritz
Kaana Korag from #10-12: Breath of the Dragonskull. Illustrated by Tawny Fritz. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-13: Fragments of Antiquity is a Tier 5-9 adventure written by Sam Polak that takes place in the Hao Jin Tapestry. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 4, and the Monster Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario) and contains content from the Core RulebookAdvanced Player’s GuidePlanar AdventuresUltimate Combat, and Ultimate Equipment. This scenario heavily utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Arcane Library. It also features Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Falls and RapidsPathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Forest (although it’s unlikely you’ll need to run the encounter that uses the Forest Flip-Mat), and a full-page custom map. This mission continues the ongoing Hao Jin Tapestry storyline. Players who can speak Tien will be a great boon during this scenario.

This adventure tasks the PCs with exploring a library within the Hao Jin Tapestry to collect important documents and clues related to the fate of Hao Jin. But, this isn’t as simple as it sounds. PCs will need to deal with kobolds, traps, and mysterious enemies during their mission, in addition to navigating the library. I thought the library location was interesting and atmospheric, but quite complex, so GMs will want to take some extra time to familiarize themselves with it thoroughly. I really enjoyed the interactions with the Scalebreaker kobolds, although they’re quite brief. Particularly canny PCs may be able to gain some extra insights that will be useful for them later on. This scenario is light on combat, but heavy on hazards, so it balances out quite nicely. The final battle in this scenario was very exciting and could prove to be quite challenging, particularly in the lower subtier. In the hands of a clever GM it would be a blast to play. Overall I enjoyed this scenario, particularly the brief interactions with the Scalebreakers, but it will take a solid GM to really make it shine. It’s not the easiest scenario to run. I give it four out of five stars.

Bridge-and-Logs by Tom Ventre
Bridge-and-Logs, Chieftain of the Scalebreakers from #10-13: Fragments of Antiquity. Illustrated by Tom Ventre. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Thanks for joining me today! I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the new Pathfinder Society scenarios.

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Society Scenarios: The Shattered Shield and The Hao Jin Hierophant!

Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers I recommend you check out a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!

10-10 Shattered Shield
Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-10: The Shattered Shield by Leo Glass

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-10: The Shattered Shield is a Tier 1-5 adventure written by Leo Glass. It takes place in Rahadoum, a nation where religion is outlawed. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: BestiaryBestiary 3, and Bestiary 4 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). It makes use of the Pathfinder Core RulebookAdvanced Player’s GuideUltimate Equipment, and Ultimate Magic. This scenario utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Noble EstatePathfinder Flip-Mat: Museum, and a morbid custom map that looks pretty rockin’. This mission is of particularly importance to members of the Dark Archives Faction, and is very likely going to lead to other Pathfinder Society Scenarios (and tie in with the Tyrant’s Grasp Adventure Path, I’d wager).

On the surface, because religion is outlawed in Rahadoum, bringing a cleric, paladin, or other divine caster on this mission is a really bad idea, but actually… that’s only half true. Yes, religion is outlawed in Rahadoum, and playing a divine caster will be a challenge. There will be social repercussions, and you’re likely to run into trouble with the law. However, these interactions are very well-handled in this scenario with the addition of ‘Legion Points,’ which are a measure of how many legal infractions the Pure Legion has caught you committing. The punishments are clear, and you have plenty of opportunities to lower these totals throughout the scenario. You’re not going to be executed, or immediately kicked out of the scenario or something equally drastic. As long as you play your divine character with some subtlety and caution, you should come out alright. As a nice bonus, there are quite a few obvious benefits to bringing that divine caster along. Players who take the time and try their best to navigate this difficult political landscape will find their efforts were worth it. It’s a gamble. Although I don’t recommend you bring a divine-heavy party to this scenario, I don’t condemn their use either. If you’re up for the challenge, go for it!

The Shattered Shield tasks the PCs with heading into Rahadoum and attending an illegal auction that deals in religious relics. There they’ll need to obtain a shard of the Shield of Arnisant, which was once known as the Shield of Aroden, and was used to battle the Whispering Tyrant. This shield is supposed to be safe in Vigil, but all signs seem to show that the shard up for auction is legitimate. Of course, as with any good scenario, acquiring the shard will be harder than it sounds.

Zaashakar Tom Ventre
Zaashakar and Vaultkeeper from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-10: The Shattered Shield. Illustration by Tom Ventre

There’s a lot to like in this scenario. It has a lot of interesting social and skill-based encounters. There’s one very weird illness going around that’s used to great effect. The mission briefing with Venture Captain Obo was very detailed, with plenty for roleplay-oriented players to riff off of. I particularly enjoyed how the Pure Legion was portrayed. This scenario did a great job of humanizing them, which was nice to see. The adventure allowed for some deviation from the assumed path, with alternate allies and differing methods accounted for. I really, REALLY liked that. It’s rare to see in published products, particularly of this length. I also really enjoyed some behind the scenes bits with Nulalla, which most players will be curious about but aren’t likely to discover completely. I loved the situation that Torvad Shalzadin and Inusi Mendalari find themselves in. In addition to being dynamic and a little suspenseful, clever PCs will be able to glean a bit of information about this scenario’s main villain from the witnesses. The final location PCs visit in this scenario was super morbid and different. I really, really liked it. And the map for it looks great! Finally, I adored the main villain’s… pal. It’s both horrible and adorable. Just awesome.

That said, there are some downsides. The auction itself was a bit of a let-down. Although there’s some interesting people to interact with, and some cool things to bid on it’s unscripted, and the notes are scattered over a few pages. This is inconvenient for GMs, and means that the auction is unlikely to be a showstopper. Which is a shame! I LOVE a good auction in my Pathfinder. Events are also a bit overly convenient. Not a trait unique to this scenario, but it is more obvious and heavy-handed than is typical. Particularly with regards to the connections between the estate and the auction guests.

Finally, villain tactics. This scenario’s villain is an odd one. Don’t get me wrong, I love her. Seriously. She has flaws, hang-ups, quirks, obsessions, and goals which both haunt and drive her. They affect her tactics and reactions. Unfortunately, it’s not depicted in a way that everyone — GMs and players alike — will necessarily notice. And if you don’t notice? She comes off seeming rather stupid. Which is… unfortunate. And as cool as the final location is, the ending has the potential to be incredibly anticlimactic. I like the premise, and it works for the character, but if certain events occur a lot of players will just be left shaking their heads and asking: ‘That’s it?’ Not really the reaction you want at the end of a successful mission.

10-11 Hao Jin Hierophant
Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant by Jessica Redekop.

There’s one other quibble I have with this scenario: penalties. As with any Society Scenario, there’s many opportunities where not discovering ‘X’ or accomplishing ‘X’ can cause your PCs to lose out on some of the gold rewards on their chronicles. Usually accomplishing those tasks is easy, and it just sort of happens as you play. In this scenario that is not necessarily the case. Some are harder to get than is typical. Most groups won’t get full gold. In fact, some groups will miss out on gold two or three times. Now, on the one hand, I like that it’s not a given you’ll get all the rewards this scenario has to offer. It’s refreshing. But, this scenario might have gone too far in the other direction. If too many players miss out on too much of the rewards, they might even feel like they’ve been unjustly penalized.

Overall, I ended up torn on this mission. I love how Rahadoum and the Pure Legion was handled. I also enjoyed the large number of social and skill based encounters. The villain was flavourful, different, and had some serious quirks — all things I adore. Heck, I even liked her doorman. On the other hand, players are likely to come away from this scenario feeling confused over enemy tactics and behaviour, and the ending has the potential to be a let down. In the end I decided to give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Hao Jin Tapestry by Robert Lazzaretti
The Hao Jin Tapestry. Art by Robert Lazzaretti.

Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant is a Tier 5-9 adventure written by Jessica Redekop. It takes place in the Hao Jin Tapestry, an artifact that acts as a gateway to a demiplane that the sorceress Hao Jin created to store her greatest treasures. Things like magical objects, temples, places, and even people. The Pathfinder Society won the Hao Jin Tapestry seven years ago at the Ruby Pheonix Tournament, and have made heavy use of it since. This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 5, although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario. In addition to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook it makes use of  content from Occult AdventuresPlanar AdventuresUltimate Equipment, and Ultimate Magic. It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Forbidden JunglePathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Swamp, and a custom map.

The Hao Jin Tapestry is unstable. Unravelling, one could say. This scenario tasks the PCs with heading into the demiplane, checking out an ancient Tian site, and getting out with whatever lore and treasures they can before it’s too late. It’s a sequel to this year’s interactive special Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-00: The Hao Jin Cataclysm. In the new year this story will continue with Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-13: Fragments of Antiquity, and Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-15: Tapestry’s Trial. If you’ve got characters who have had a hand in acquiring, exploring, or protecting the Hao Jin Tapestry in the past, now is definitely the time to bring them out! Also, if you’ve got characters with knowledge of Tian Xia, who can speak Hwan, or who can magically communicate in other languages, they’ll be used to great effect in this scenario.

Lin Fen Hai by Michele Giorgi
Lin Fen Hai from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-11: The Hao Jin Hierophant. Illustration by Michele Giorgi.

This scenario begins in Absalom with an announcement from two members of the Decemvirate! This is followed by a more typical mission briefing with the oread Master of Spells Sorrina Westyr. From there it quickly moves into the Hao Jin Tapestry’s demiplane. There the PCs will get to explore the ancient Tian village of Onhae, which would once have been found in the jungles of Chang Liao. The PCs main goals are to collect a sample of a rare flower from the area, and to learn all that they can about the traditional religion and culture of the people of Onhae, the Sunsu Godae. Happily, there’s still people in Onhae. This should be a cinch! …But, it turns out they’re not practising their traditional religion anymore. They have a new leader, Lin Fen Hai the Hao Jin Hierophant, and a new god who we’ll just call the Ruby Pheonix. Interesting! Your players will get to navigate this newly changed political environment in order to accomplish their missions, all while the Hao Jin Tapestry frays around them, causing unnatural events, magical malfunctions, and planar breaches. It’s an interesting mission to say the least. Similar in form and tone to some previous adventures like… #3-21: The Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment and #9-12: Shrine of the Sacred Tempest.

RubyPhoenix Hao Jin Cataclysm
The Ruby Phoenix.

Onhae was an interesting, rich little village with both and ancient past, recent history, and current changes. Sussing out this places many secrets looks like an enjoyable challenge. Their new religion was awesome! Haha. So good! Although a lot of this scenario was social encounters and skill checks, there are some battles to be fought. Each of these encounters is well written and has interesting flavour and tactics. There’s also some neat planar malfunctions going on you get to interact with. Overall, I really liked this scenario! I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for taking the time to join us today! I hope you stop by later this week when we take a look at the newest Starfinder Society Scenarios!

All the best,

Jessica