Today we’re going to look at Pathfinder PLAYTEST Society Scenarios and tell you what we thought. Currently, there are three of them available as a free download on Paizo’s website, so if you don’t have them yet you might as well pick them up! Each scenario is replayable. You may create your own characters for the intended tier (either created as level one for a tier one scenario, or created as level five for a tier five scenario). Unlike regular Pathfinder Society Scenarios, you do not need to earn enough XP to reach higher levels for the Playtest. If you don’t want to make your own characters, you can also head over to Paizo’s website and download the Pregenerated Pathfinder Playtest characters. All you’ll need to run these three scenarios (other than your characters) is the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook and the scenarios themselves. Each scenario is intended for groups of FOUR players (unlike regular PFS Scenarios which are intended for six) although each contains easy ways to scale up encounters for larger groups. 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. Once you’re done playing or GMing any one of these scenarios, be sure to head over to Paizo’s website and fill out a survey about your experiences. This will be used by the Paizo team to make the Pathfinder Playtest the best that it can be.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Pathfinder Playtest Scenario #1: Rose Street Revenge is a Tier 1 adventure written by Leo Glass, Thurston Hillman, Joe Pasini, and Linda Zayas-Palmer. It includes three short quests which can be played in any order, followed by a fourth quest which can only be played after completing at least one of the first three quests. Each quest should run between 40-60 minutes in length. Each quest you complete before heading onto the final quest will give you an advantage in the final encounter, so I highly recommend completing all three before heading to the final quest. Plus, it’s just more fun that way. The entire adventure takes place Absalom, although each quest is set in a different neighbourhood. Neighbourhoods featured include the Docks, Puddles, Precipice and the Sewers. For more information on Absalom you can check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Absalom and the Inner Sea World Guide. Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin begins the adventure by explaining that there’s serial killer on the prowl stalking the recently liberated slaves of Absalom! The killer’s actions have been sensationalized by locals and they’re now known as the ‘Rose Street Killer.’ The latest victim is a Pathfinder, and so Ambrus is sending your PCs out to investigate. He gives the group some fun player hand-outs, each of which contains a different lead. Then he sends you on your way. There’s time to rest between investigating each lead, which is nice for a change. Also, it should be noted that this entire scenario makes excellent use of sidebars to relay important aspects of the rules in a way that’s helpful, easy to understand, and is NOT overwhelming. It’s wonderfully done.
The first quest in Rose Street Revenge is entitled ‘Snippets‘ and is written by Joe Pasini. In this quest you’re tasked with investigating the Bloody Barbers, a thieve’s guild known for robbery, smuggling and murder. If they’re not guilty, they’re likely to know details about the murders, as they’re very well-informed. If you can find them, of course. This quest utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: City Streets and takes place in the Docks district. It was enjoyable, and had an interesting surprise which I’ll refrain from mentioning. It allows players to make use of a wide array of skills in order to obtain information on the Bloody Barbers (WAY more than I imagined would be helpful) which is really nice to see. Surprisingly, this quest can be accomplished without violence (although most groups are likely to get into a fight). I quite enjoyed it.
The second quest in Rose Street Revenge is entitled ‘Dragons‘ and is written by Thurston Hillman. In it you are to meet with a liaison from the ‘Sewer Dragons’ kobold tribe (longstanding allies of the Pathfinder Society). Your job is to find out if the killer has been utilizing the sewer systems — which is the territory of the Sewer Dragons. The liaison offers to give you whatever help they can as long as you help them oust a rival kobold tribe (the Dragon Sharks) that is encroaching upon their territory! You get to head into the sewers and fight alongside your kobold allies against the enemy. This scenario is a LOT of fun. It is filled with wonderful social interactions (particularly with Fazgyn!). I adored Fazgyn’s lessons on trapfinding which are not only funny and entertaining, but also serve double duty as teaching players how traps work in the Pathfinder Playtest. It also gives a nice introduction to Exploration mode, and helps showcase the importance of the Sneak and Search exploration methods. This quest makes use of the Pathfinder Map Pack: Sewer System. It was my favourite of the four quests.
The third quest in Rose Street Revenge is entitled ‘Puddles‘ and is written by Linda Zayas-Palmer. It takes place in the Puddles District and tasks your PCs with asking the Muckruckers (volunteer guards for the Puddles) for information, and following up on what they tell you. This quest has some fun social interactions, and wonderful artwork for a Muckrucker named Ziraya Al-Shurati. It has by far the most clues to the true murderer’s identity and involves the most ‘crime scene’ investigation, which is great fun. However, in an effort not to spoil the mystery’s details, I won’t be saying much more than that. It utilizes Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Haunted House.
The fourth quest in Rose Street Revenge is entitled ‘Haven‘ and is written by Leo Glass. It takes place in the Precipice Quarter (which was previously known as Beldrin’s Bluff). This is the finale of the adventure, and tasks the PCs with investigating an old safe house that the victims all used at one time or another. I’ll refrain from mentioning much more than that so that I don’t spoil the mystery’s end, but I will say that it was great fun, and certainly not what I expected! This quest utilizes Pathfinder: Map Pack: Ruined Village.
Overall, I really enjoyed Rose Street Revenge. It’s a great introduction to the Pathfinder Playest system and was a lot of fun. I give it four out of five stars and highly recommend it as the first Pathfinder Playtest adventure that groups should give a try (yes, I recommend it over Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn).
Pathfinder Playtest Scenario #2: Raiders of Shrieking Peak is a Tier 5 adventure written by Luis Loza. As previously mentioned, you do not need to earn enough XP to reach level five. Instead, you need only create your characters at level five. This scenario takes place on the Isle of Kortos. It begins in Absalom, moves quickly to Diobel, and from there heads out into the wilderness. For more information on Absalom, Diobel and the Isle of Kortos check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Absalom, Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Towns of the Inner Sea, and the Inner Sea World Guide. This scenario utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Classics: Battlefield, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Classics: Woodlands (twice) and a custom map.
A Pathfinder Agent by the name of Inisa Araali was secretly carrying an Iomedean relic by caravan from Diobel to Absalom when she was attacked. She sent Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin a very cryptic note about the encounter, and then went off to find the relic herself. Knowing that she’ll need help he sends you to find the survivors of the caravan in Diobel, who are shacked up in a Pathfinder safe house (although he doesn’t know which one). You’ll need to find the safe house, check on the people, find out all you can about the caravan’s intended route and the attack, track down the robbers (and hopefully Inisa), retrieve the relic and get it back to Absalom. This scenario introduces secret rolls, which is necessary for knowledge and gather information checks because a critical fail on the check will result in your players uncovering false information. It’s best, of course, if your players don’t know whether the information they’ve received is false or not. That said, secret rolls can easily bog down a game (particularly if it’s heavy on the knowledge checks like this one is at the start), so proceed with this method of rolling with caution. As mentioned, this scenario begins with a bit of investigation. I really like how thorough the Recall Knowledge and Gather Information results are set up (especially the false information for a critical fail). That said, there are no pre-made PCs to interact with during this part of the investigation (which is something I always enjoy), so that’s a bit of a let down. Such embellishments will have to be up to the GM. Social encounters with the caravan survivors are helpful, but not particularly memorable. Overall, I felt that the events in Diobel fell flat. From there the mission moves on and becomes quite combat and exploration heavy. It pits you against some nice classic enemies, inculding harpies, minotaurs, and ghouls, which I really enjoyed. I particularly liked the ghoul statistics. I also really enjoyed the interactions with the minotaurs. Overall, this is the Pathfinder Playtest Scenario I liked least. I give it three out of five stars.
Pathfinder Playtest Scenario #3: Arclord’s Envy is a Tier 5 adventure written by Liz Liddell. It takes place in Quantium, capital of Nex. For more information on Nex be sure to check out the Inner Sea World Guide. This scenario utilizes the Pathfinder Map-Pack: Village Sites, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Village, and a custom map. It features gnomish Venture-Captain Sebnet Sanserkoht who is officially my favourite V.C. EVER. She’s awesome. In this scenario you’re tasked with investigating the murder of an Arclord of Nex, and determining who should be given a recently discovered book written by Nex himself, which the Arclord was likely killed for.
This scenario did a really nice job of showcasing little bits of life in Quantium right from the start, with the many overly magical effects present in the local Pathfinder Lodge, right through to the golems walking the streets, and the strange politics of the city. It made use of a ton of rare races including ifrits, oreads, shabti, mercane, and even an invisible stalker you get to chat up at a party. It was awesome. The scenario itself begins with an interesting investigation. I particularly enjoyed retrieving the victim’s corpse from the foot of a massive patrol golem — without drawing the golem’s attention! I think this part would be a lot of fun at a table. That said, I do have one issue with the investigation. At one part you notice scorch marks on a wall which the scenario says you can identify as coming from a certain spell with the ‘Identify Magic’ use of Arcana. Except Identify Magic takes an HOUR (unless you have a special ability that shortens it to ten minutes). Now, that’s not to say that it’s not doable. I suppose some groups might spend an hour looking at a few scorch marks on a wall when there’s a lot of other stuff to go check out, but I wouldn’t. It’s just another use of the ‘Identify Magic’ skill use that feels way too long and time consuming. It’s one of my pet peeves of the Pathfinder Playtest rules, and I sincerely hope they shorten the time it requires by the time Pathfinder Second Edition comes around next year. Of course, this is a nitpick of mine regarding the rules, not the scenario itself. Moving on from the investigation there’s some fun social encounters, and some awesome character art (particularly for Ngasi!). The culprit you’re supposed to unmask is variable, which changes the clues that can lead you to them. That’s a nice option for a scenario that’s supposed to be repayable. I wouldn’t say there’s a LOT of potential culprits, but it’s certainly not static. The final encounter is quite complex, and includes different tactics and available spells depending on which Arclord ends up being your enemy, It’s going to be quite a climatic battle, I think. Overall, I thought the scenario was fresh, fun, and in a great location. I give it four out of five stars.
And that’s all for today! I hope you enjoyed checking out these scenarios with me. I know I enjoyed reading them. I’m quite excited to run my kids through the ‘Rose Street Revenge’ when we have a chance.
Until next time,