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Pathfinder Society Special: Race for the Runecarved Key (PFRPG) PDF

***( )( ) (based on 17 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Special designed for levels 1–12+

An ancient Thassilonian artifact has been unearthed in Magnimar and is to be auctioned off by the city government. In order to maintain good relations with those in power in the City of Monuments, the Pathfinder Society must obtain the relic without simply stealing it, although employing any other means necessary. It falls to the PCs to infiltrate the auction, sabotage the other bidders’ efforts, and call in favors from those in the Society’s debt to ensure the Runecarved Key (and the secrets it unlocks) belongs to the Pathfinders when the adventure draws to a close.

Written by Kyle Baird and Tim Hitchcock.

This scenario is designed for play in Pathfinder Society Organized Play, but can easily be adapted for use with any world. This scenario is compliant with the Open Game License (OGL) and is suitable for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Product Reviews (17)
1 to 5 of 17 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

***( )( ) (based on 17 ratings)

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Good close of season 4

****( )

I ran this scenario yesterday for The Degraded at a tier 5-6 table. And I agree with both him and Ascalaphus that this special is fun and is not as bad as some reviewers want you to believe.

Yes, there is some moral shadiness in the beginning of the special, but the table with the Paladin solved that admirably. After that there are several encounters that the players can either choose from or select randomly. At my table the players choose randomly and we had a good mix of role-playing, investigation and combat encounters.

The auction stays weird in my book: it took us GM's a bit to figure out how to do this and we choose to let the GM's portray the NPC's. I think that did not work as well as it could. After that there is a load of fighting. Since we might have spend too much time on the previous acts the fighting did not last very long, which is a good thing. If we had allowed for enough time for all the fighting at the end the RP parts would have been much shorter (and therefore less fun).

The scenario as written is a good closing of season 4, fitting with the theme of the season. It could have explained more regarding the involvement of certain factions.

I have played Year of the Shadow Lodge and GM'ed Legacy of the Stonelords and would rank Race for the Runecarved Key behind Legacy of the Stonelords and before Year of the Shadow Lodge. Paizo has improved their specials over the years!

A more detailed opinion on the acts, contains spoilers:

Act 1 (opening in the cathedral) is nice, but more exposition on the Key would have been nice. The characters are obviously interested why this macguffin is important, so give the GM something more to work with. I liked the sandbox nature of this act

Act 2 (ambush the aspis): I loved the look on my players faces when first the wizard appeared and a round later there suddenly was a charging bulette! (and I picked this tier because I had just the right miniature). At the paladin's table one of the characters made a forgery that stated that the consortium owed the Temple of Abadar a considerable sum.... (the Paladin did not know this)

Act 3 (weed out the opposition): great act, enough choice.

Act 4 (auction, chase and fights): auction is weird and we as GM's should have given more OOC explanation. The cultists in the cathedral are tough while they should have been a speedbump.

The chase was good, especially the advice to the GM's to be flexible with the skills used and that it is better not to tell the players what skill they can use

The assasin is tough, but she should be. We ran out of time because the speedbump took too much time, causing the focus not to be at the epic end fight but at the speedbump. I narrated the opening of the gates and explained that behind them the charging Heidmarch's came to the rescue


Lower your alignment expectations, then go wild

****( )

I too was one of the Dutch players who played this yesterday. I'd read the previous reviews and brought my "moral vacuum" investigator; in fact, our party was morally questionable. (Inquisitor of Gorum, Gorumite barbarian, Urgathoa cleric, Urgathoa investigator, "I can't believe you're lawful" LN bard that thought he followed Sarenrae.)

So, at first I was surprised at the amount of RP included; that's a tall order for a Special due to all the time constraints. In our case we'd planned for this to run in a much longer slot so that actually wasn't a problem. There was enough time to talk to NPCs but not to talk about everything; the adventure gives plausible reasons why you need to move on.

Then we come to the first mission, and we were all a bit surprised at just how ruthless this adventure is set up. Despite the party I just mentioned, we're not used to being quite this murderous, but we were on a "no witnesses" mission.

Afterwards, there were a variety of missions to choose from. We did several and had fun with them; many of them allowed us to pick an approach that suited us. A huge difference from the video-gamey way Blood Under Absalom was written. In many cases, you didn't actually be as evil here as some other reviews suggest.

Then we come to the auction. It was entertainingly acted out between the NPCs, but the mechanics were obscure and we didn't feel like we had any real way to influence the outcome. Besides;

Spoiler:
After someone won the auction; I'm not quite sure who; cultists burst in and steal the Key, you chase them down and take the key; so all the maneuvering before that is voided

The fight that came after was rather weird;

Spoiler:
At our 8-9 tier, it seemed the cultists only had battlefield control spells, but not really anything to do once they had some control over the battlefield. So we got hit with a cloudkill, sleet storm, glitterdust, stinking cloud and web, all in 2 rounds, but after that they didn't really bring anything to do with it.

The chase was over quickly because we could trivially overcome the obstacles and the GM was being sensible about them; but that's what you get with level 7-8 characters with haste and flight available. Fruitcarts aren't going to stop them. Then we came to the final fight and that was quite interesting too.

---

All in all it was fun, but with some flaws. What is missing most is a bit of exposition on why this key is so important. We're being told to set aside all morality to get it; why is it worth that? A halfway decent explanation would go a long way towards compensating for the forced "evilness" of this adventure.


An enjoyable and role-play-heavy Special

****( )

The Dutch Pathfinders ended up playing this special this Sunday with 7 tables. It always surprises me to see so many people show up and Explore, Cooperate and Report. Oh and have fun. That too is important. For me this was my third special. I had previously played Blood under Absalom and the Legacy of the Stonelords. For the purpose of comparison, I will quickly recap my opinion on those two. Blood Under Absalom was just a meatgrinder and that I don't consider fun in the slightest. The Legacy of the Stonelords, on the other hand, offered a wide variety of everything and this made every character feel useful.

That's fun and all, I can hear you say, but I'm not here to read your opinion about that. So how does this special compare to those two? Compared to Blood Under Absalom, this special is far, far better, but I'd say it's a bit weaker than the Legacy of the Stonelords. The thing is that this special, like others have pointed out before, requires your party to do some things that certain alignments would simply not do. And while a lot of skills can be useful, it's really centred around diplomacy and a bunch of talking to solve things.

Now I personally enjoy that – I was happy to play my mesmerist as she's build for these sort of things – but it is not to everyone's liking. If you're not into talking a lot and prefer to outwit your opponents in terms of martial prowess and tactics, this is maybe not for you. The few 'you have to fight these' encounters are pretty challenging though and can easily cause some casualties if you're not careful.

That said, the variety of encounters and 'quests', really was a pleasant surprise to me. At the end of the day, I felt like every small thing we did, had a significant impact on the development of the auction. Speaking about the auction: that was the weakest part. While it was a nice touch, the mechanics didn't feel easy enough to wrap my head around and it doesn't really help if there are 7 tables and 7 'NPC's' shouting at the same time. It's just too messy for my taste.

All things considering I can only say that at the end of the day, a lot of facets came together into a nice story and that I personally had a great time. Objectively, I rate this as a solid 4 stars since there are some aspects that are a tad problematic for certain players and groups.


Walk away,

*( )( )( )( )

I wouldn't recommend running this, or even organizing it.

This special is BAD, after Gencon I decided not to participate in any more specials because of this scenario.

Mike Brock told GM's before the event not to go easy on players, I can't figure out why. I think I had an average party, and could of killed them really easily with even the lower tier creatures.

I dont really have anything positive to say about any part of the special. Almost every part would get hammered.

So I will start with the positive things. At gencon the GM's got some flipmats and I think a chase deck.


Look at your character sheet. . .

***( )( )

If anywhere on there it says Paladin or even Lawful Good, take that character sheet and walk away from this scenario.

Its a decent scenario but it exists on the far shadier side of the Society and the law. This scenario, if successful will cost a Paladin 3 pp, you'll gain 2 pp for the mission and spend 5 pp for an atonement at the end, no way around it with anyone who has a decent understanding of the paladin code.

With all that said, this scenario would be an absolute blast with pretty much any other neutral, chaotic or semi-good character. Well built scenario, good combat, good "inquisitive-ness".


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