I could echo a load of statements above but can add one really bizarre unexplainable thing. I’ve played Greyhawk for 2 years, Eberron for 2 years, Forgotten Realms for over20 and my home brew for a bunch in between.
I’ve been playing in Golarion since I first received Adventure Path #1 and the strangest thing happened: I remember stuff so easily. I remember names, locations and NPCs. I can rattle out stuff off the top of my head without constantly consulting sourcebooks or saying “you know, that guy…who builds the best ships” or “that place, past the desert…with the elves, you know”.
I’m no walking Golarion encyclopedia and I’m not getting any younger but for some reason I feel at home here and remembering names easily is just one small part of the magic.
We just finished up Skull & Shackles last night! I was waiting till then to respond to this thread. Having played it, I can say it left me with two impressions I never had from any other AP I’ve run, and I’ve ran six.
First, when we wrapped up last night it somehow didn’t feel like the end. The last book was over but there were so many things the group never got around to doing. Having the treasure side quests in the covers to hand out and with access to the support articles and the Isles of the Shackles book, there’s enough material to sustain a game for years. But on the medium advancement track it’s hard to sustain it all over the course of the campaign.
Second, this sucker has replay potential like none other. I could literally run this for two or three different groups start to finish and because of the sheer number of options, character interests and decisions it would feel like a completely new game each time I’m sure.
Now to your questions!
Not necessarily weak but not to my or my player’s liking. Books 3 and 5 have a scavenger hunt-like feel to them that I tightened up a LOT. I kept the basic storyline intact but streamlined a number of the situations and used these books more as toolkits than running them straight as-is. Otherwise the books were great. I find the criticism of including some ‘dungeons’ to go through as a bad thing is just strange. They’re towers and seaside forts and ancient ruins that fit right in with the story – there’s tons of seafaring action, so a chance to map some rooms is great!
>>Are there any changes you'd recommend to any characters or story elements?
As mentioned, read the books ahead of time and make notes as you go. Your group may like the running around gathering feel of books 3 and 5 and will need less work.
My only other hint may not apply to all, but you know on the really cool “hand-drawn” map of the Shackles in the Map Folio? There’s a giant whale with a fort on its back depicted. My group looked at that and all asked “what is that?!” I told them it was an old legend the maker of the map must have included. They weren’t buying it and I knew I had to find a way to integrate it into the game before the end. I pulled it off by using elements in the Kobold Press book “To The Edge of the World” and merging it with the island/tower adventure of book 5. Nuff said.
Also, check out this thread to look into getting a copy of the ‘director’s cut’ of book 6. It brings to light a lot of detail and situational elements they cut for size but it helps a great deal in prepping to run it.
>>Is the naval combat system good?
As written the ship-to-ship rules were not liked, because it didn’t engage the entire table. There’s a post here with advice we used that turned that all around however, and then the system worked just fine. Also, the fleet battles rules worked very well with only two house rule tweaks. We allowed different sized ships into the same squadron and had more criteria for when to make a morale check (in playtesting we had squadrons that got pulverized stick around and others that were untouched that fled because of poor dice rolls which seemed very weird).
>>Also, how does Skull & Shackles stand up against the other APs?
With that aside it’s a great AP in my group’s opinion that stands with the big hitters like Rise of the Runelords and Curse of the Crimson Throne.
In Shattered Star we have a grand adventure set in Kaer Maga, and I hadn’t run anything there in a couple of years. While recently becoming reacquainted with this city and its sourcebook, I realized for quick lookup purposes during play I needed an index of locations. The following text places the numbered location on the map of the city in the Shattered Star Map Folio to the page numbers in the source book City of Strangers. It also has small notes to jog my memory thus possible spoilers. I thought it might help to share here.
1. Reanimations (working class undead) 10
2. Palace of the Child-Goddess (Vudrani cult) 10
3. Last Rites (mastercraft undead) 10
4. The White Lady (undead brothel) 10
5. Thrown Bones (game hall and arena) 10
Also, I got a huge kick out of the “seen on a street corner” sidebar in City of Strangers, but I’ve wore it out over the years and needed some more. Here are 20, does anyone have any other suggestions?
A brown robed man chases another frantically through the streets, folk move aside but do not interfere.
A common man walks down the street grasping a talisman followed by a skeleton with a price tag stuck to his head.
A dog spooks a horse, which rears up, scattering a nearby group of goblins.
A dwarf gunslinger with a rifle over his shoulder stands on a soapbox asking any who pass if they're "with him to retake Urglin"?
A extremely blubberous man haggling with a vendor over a jar of leeches.
A gang of children walking quietly behind a boy on a pony wearing a high collar pretending to be a headless horseman.
A group of children follow a goblin snake down an alley.
A group of male and female streetwalkers argue loudly over turf and boundaries.
A half elf minstrel tunes a stringed instrument outside a shop called 'good cats'.
A knight in shining armor asks folk who can heal his friend while holding a broken long sword.
A little girl clings to a doll with a gem embedded in its forehead repeating "five more shall rise" while rocking back and forth.
A male and female orc working a street shop selling scorpions and antitoxin.
A man with his lips sewn shut tries to describe a straw to a drink vendor.
A pair of men cut the bonds on a lizardfolk and try in vain to explain it is now free.
A shoanti shaman wags her finger and scolds a group of shoanti warriors nearly twice her size.
A tall human on bended knee professing love to a blushing gnome maiden.
An unarmed female cleric of Iomadae walking down the street with a floating male tiefling close behind.
Clerics of Abadar and Asmodeus share a meal on a balcony discussing the finer points of a document on parchment.
Something runs down the street so fast it is but a blur, nearby awnings and papers go flying.
Street vendors hand out free samples and goods to a group of Duskwardens.
Here are a bunch of freebie tables we posted on messageboards and came up with "after hours" to share with Paizo and En World: LINK
I’m returning after my post above because I remembered something. Carrion Crown - and filling in the blanks between books in an otherwise really great campaign.
Between each book, which took part in vastly different locales, there were days of travel with no real support. You just "Indiana Jones’ red-lined" it across the landscape. This may have been by design, but what it made for was more GM work than I’m used to. Before the game began I needed to put a map of Ustalav in a drawing program, map out the different locales noting which book they were in, then individually research what was between them so I could run a satisfactory game (my players like to stop and smell the roses at times).
If each book in Carrion Crown had taken the map (no new cartography required), just blown up the section between that book and the next, then included some ideas for interesting encounters that were not necessarily monster or combat related, this would have saved me a ton of time. Instead between each book I combed Rule of Fear (an awesome book), but even it wasn’t able to go “close up” regarding some of the travel assumed.
Someone else on these boards kept asking about a campaign “road map” and this was the first AP where I really felt like those 6 pages per book could have been used to help a GM connect the books together a little more.
I certainly don’t expect pity, I am a hard working GM who doesn’t mind the research put into my games, it just seemed for some reason that my time should have been better spent than connecting the adventures. Certainly, even if a GM is just running the one adventure a few extra incedental encounter or bare-bones town ideas wouldn't hurt!
I haven’t chimed in on this before too much, but it seems Paizo’s stance on this has become more fluid, so I shall reiterate that I think the AP’s would be better off without the fiction.
• My wife reads the novels, but not the AP fiction. Why? She just says they’re too short for her to get fully into.
• Episodic, sometimes by different authors. I won’t even start reading them until I have all six issues in a set. And the AP’s I don’t plan to run I don’t read the fiction at all.
• Hit or Miss. A few I’ve tried starting but after the first one or two lose interest because I see I’m not getting anything out of it to help me run the AP. As GM I’m interested in them as part of the AP I’m running. If it seems to be just set ‘somewhere in the area’ or for flavor it’s not as important to me as if it was more, I don’t know, “targeted” toward the AP?
CASE IN POINT: if the fiction for Shattered Star was all set in Magnimar dealing with different locations in the city, describing them, the mannerisms of the people or giving me GM fuel to use, that’s one thing. The story starts in Riddleport, which is neat, but the AP doesn’t even go there (uh, spoiler?)!
So what’s become of it? After Kingmaker’s fiction (which had a really funny part dealing with nuns) I haven’t read any installments since, and only a handful before that. In prepping for my games it hasn’t added value to the adventure, the core reason I subscribe.
1) If the 6 pages were GM fodder I would even be more interested in “fiction”. Get this: I would be more inclined to read the fiction if in Shattered Star there was an adventure set in and around the city watch of the Arvensoar. Meeting some characters (not even in the AP!) getting the ins and outs, the architecture, splendor across to help my own descriptions. Heck, even if each chapter explored a mini transaction in 6 different Magnimar locations, like “a day in the life” would be better. And they wouldn’t have to be in the AP, just something extra for me to use.
2) A couple of more monsters that would be in the area but do not necessarily show up in the AP would be better suited to this, my tool as a GM, than the fiction.
3) GM advice. Sometimes this gets a paragraph or two in the foreword and I relish it! Anything regarding liner notes, things to watch for, alternate workarounds, etc.
4) And finally, if in general the editor’s have a conundrum where they have to cut something the author wrote for the adventure due to space, I would sure appreciate that in the AP than the fiction.
To summarize, I don’t think the fiction is not quality work, it just doesn’t suit any purpose the way every other page in the AP does (directly supporting me, the GM, to the adventure).
Thanks Paizo for listening.
The flip mats are now printed on thinner stock and I'm not sure that I like the change.
Someone gave the amazingly done flip mats for Thornkeep a lower review based on the thinner stock too but I can’t figure out what the concern is. I took out an older mat and compared them; the new ones are obviously thinner but seem just as sturdy overall, work the same and have great art. They actually lay out a little flatter on the table too. I’m not disagreeing with you per se I just wanted to know what your concern is.
Louis Agresta wrote:
I'm on it! AND now I've just posted my $110 pledge, the first time I ever backed a Kickstarter project; this is a recipe for amazing. Thanks again!
Golarion is the most racialy diverse campaign my players and I have ever known. For the first time in my 30+ years of playing, folks are actually putting great thought into they type of human they are, not just 'human'.
It makes for a better game, and Paizo's done it.
Here's how my DMV campaign went a couple years back:
Into the Haunted Forest
I also watched the first 10 episodes of the series Deadwood for town flavor and based the mayor off of Gene Hackman's character in The Quick and the Dead.
Good question! I was really thrilled by the megadungeon and flip-mat news, but no one in our house does MMO's. If I can't get it on its own, that will be a shame. We still wish Goblinworks and Paizo all the best success with it but we're just not computer gamers.
DM Jeff wrote:
I have a great interest in tracking down a sound file of a possible song coming from Windsong Abbey to play while the players explore...
Well, look what I found! Complete with sound file and all.
I have to admit from the hints dropped regarding this I feared real interest. I'm only in the first dozen or so pages of this document and I really, really like what I see. I get it now, epic but not necessarily level 21-30. Sooper Genius.
Remember when I said "If it's the 3PP I think it is I rejoice for Nic's good fortune and can't wait to jump back on this bandwagon."?
THIS is EXACTLY the 3pp I hoped would get it. MAGNIFICENT.
BEHOLD the mighty and oft-craved for Table Of Contents!
I've been a little pain about this regarding previous products in this line and the chronicles series, but the new format has a table of contents each a I really, really appreciate.
Once again Paizo perks up and listens - three cheers to the Pit!
Part the first:
After listening to my wife rant out loud for minutes on end about the magazine cancellations I said “Well, we have about 3-4 months of our sub left, and we can convert it to their new thing Pathfinder. It’s supposed to be like both Dungeon and Dragon rolled into one. “ My wife: *sniff*”OK…”
Part the second:
In the ‘Paizo is still undecided’ thread, which I read wide-eyed and hit refresh throughout the workday to follow, I finally posted “Enough is enough. You ask our opinion? If you stick with 3.5 I will make all future gaming purchases through your store. You’ll have earned my eternal loyalty.” That has stuck to this day.
Part the third:
My players: “So you don’t want to even try 4th edition?” Me: “Not at all. Now, you all have your characters ready? Good. Let me tell you about your home town of Sandpoint…”
No matter how that 1075 number may dip over the years for whatever reason, I’ll gladly remain one, because while I’m aware of my loyalty to Paizo…my players and I directly benefit from their loyalty to us and the game we love.
While clearing out some old files I came across something I intended to send in to Dragon Magazine back in 2000 but never did. It floated around a few web sites over the years.
It's the chart for players to roll on when they get to a city. While the wizard studies and the cleric pays homage, here's what the others can do to keep busy and entertained.
1-2: Collector. Increase your collection or work with merchants to help appraise others collections. Your interest could be anything from ancient weapons, to gem-encrusted jewelry or old outdated game pieces. Collect a unique item as a souvenir.
James Jacobs wrote:
And all this said... there's no reason why anyone can't just keep using kuo-toa in their home games if they like them.
So say we all. ;-)
How nice of you to ask, I was seeking a good segue to lead into this!
I am running the same set of adventures, and realized the same thing. I am filling the 'in between times' with adventures and leads from the Necromancer Games book "Glades of Death". Print copies might be hard to come by but the PDF is for sale.
There are 3 or 4 adventures in there that just reek of locations directly in Darkmoon Vale, like the Wolfrun Hills and Darkmoon Wood. Just a little name changing and they're good to go.
It's written for 3.5 and so there is minimal work to adapt them.
Ernest Mueller wrote:
My main gripe with the Grey Maidens is where the heck do they all come from - apparently there's enough of them to replace the Sable Company and threaten the Guard itself. How many hot swordswomen willing to get roped into such a scheme can there be anyway?
OK, my group is halfway through Scarwall, and up till now I've been able to explain just enough of it away to avoid this very question from the players.
We're all pretty sure Ileosa didn't get them from a modeling agency. So...assuming the Queen isn't just so charismatic to have a few hundred good-looking swordswomen surrender their life and features to this cause, here's what I assumed.
* All the former concubines of the king were recruited first.
So, now we have some #'s to think on. Now, how were all these savvy women pressed into this?
Take a look at the article on the crown of fangs in Pathfinder 12. It has a mega charm monster ability three times a day.
So, assuming it's a combination of playing on their sense of duty, really catchy brainwashing, and some charm magic for good measure, you can kind of start putting it together enough so players just accept it.
My only pondering these days is what happens to them after Pathfinder 12 if the Queen is tossed out. Interesting times ahead.