I played a one shot as a 5th level swashbuckler the other night and had a blast. I was hoping to find something more to contribute but it was balanced in with the other characters, was fun to build and run, and I’d play it again. I would petition to remove Fly as one of the skills you use Panache points on and replace with Sleight of Hand or Stealth or something but not Fly.
Also, I don’t know if this is a deliberate side effect or a feature but it was really easy to build because the class was focused enough and you knew what would make him effective so there was no option paralysis – feat selection was basic and fast.
My initial reaction is: no way is it a dud. My girl’s group is running through the very final part of book 1 tonight, it’s been 6 sessions to complete, and they’re loving it. I think Snows of Summer is a great start.
That being the case, there’s two important things to keep in mind. I’ve got 33 years of GMing experience and I hide railroad tracks very well, and these girls haven’t played so long as to have bee jarred by such things as going on quests to get items, it all makes sense to them and every new encounter, landscape, and cool visual in general is met with great excitement (and this whole AP has that in spades).
So yes to each his own but I’ve run at least two other APs that were nowhere near as much fun as this has turned out to be so far. This also comes from someone who when I first heard the PCs were going to earth swore I’d never run it!
I like what I call dungeons with a purpose. So do my players, unless it’s a dungeon within a dungeon (like a corner section where for whatever reason you have about 12 rooms all with a different number of the exact same creature). It feels like a necessary XP boosting tool. I always GM, and I’ve always edited dungeons down, but it started to be very regular with Shackled City and I've never looked back; I award XP when they need it not when they kill stuff.
So the standard fare since 2007 is I put the level map in a drawing program, reading through the module as prep and just cut out the rooms that are boring, empty, or when I see a pattern emerging of the same creature over and over again. It’s work sure, but it’s not just for the players. Giant or repetitive dungeons are just as much a pain to GM as they are to play through for my folks.
As a side note the only Adventure Path I never had to edit a single map for was Kingmaker. Short, targeted dungeons are the best.
Edit: Rappan Athuk and Slumbering Tsar are megadungeons done right. By listening to the writes of Emerald Spire talk at GenCon, Paizo’s going make this one super.
I just wrote a review of this book. Overall easily 5 stars. I think the scripted beginning was the best way to go content wise, every GM will have a different approach. I may actually run a mini adventure in the city first before even going through that scene to make sure the party knows what they lost.
And I didn’t hold this against the story or author and I haven’t seen it anywhere else but there seemed to be more editorial word mishaps in this AP than I think I’ve ever seen. They don’t ruin the story but in reading I got tripped up nearly every other page by a sentence needing deciphering. I think between necessary rewording and the end editorial result something got missed and needs to have more attention, a book this good deserves that.
Regardless, what a great read!
So I usually only buy Pathfinder things from Paizo. But when picking up a gift for a friend in a FLGS yesterday and faced with the dreaded minimum credit card purchase, I looked around, and found this deck.
I don’t know what I initially read but I was under the impression it was just quest cards for some reason. What a great surprise to find out it’s everything in the module, quests, monsters, NPCs, and the equipment found therein. This makes it a nice complete package for running the module and is a great little add on. Well done mixing the cards up like this. I hope others in the new module line get the same treatment.
My first session of book 1 was last night – and these maps proved invaluable! The players loved them it made descriptions and set up of the encounters fast and they look really good on the table. Outstanding work! Thank you!
The package arrived over the weekend for me, it made my week. I can say for certain this was indeed worth any wait (and yeah, I was one of the original backers of Sinister). Gorgeous books, sturdy with great art and organization. I can’t wait to run this campaign. Frog Gods for the win!
Does anyone know where a good close city map to represent Urglin would be? Back when I ran Curse of the Crimson Throne I found one in Dungeon Magazine that worked great, but I have forgotten the issue.
Captain Marsh wrote:
One thing is to encourage players to be better audience members. When it's not your turn, enjoy the show - don't look for other entertainment outside the game.
When I GM I make sure that a certain bar is set. The players who are ready to go when their initiative comes up get the benefit of the doubt during rulings. I also respond to said actions with equal enthusiasm.
If a turn comes up and someone doesn’t know what to do I suggest “aiding another” if they think they have nothing to offer, I then ask for an action in 10 seconds, then I automatically delay them in combat. This happens a few times and then it doesn’t happen again.
If it’s a city situation or just role-playing I do quick cut scenes between players and their NPC’s, switching back and forth sometimes at random so you’ll never know when you’re up again. Conversations rarely last longer than a minute or two before switching. Roleplaying the NPCs using a good voice can draw attention to the encounter even if you’re not the one interacting.
When I play (which is nowhere near as often), I try to show good manners and set an example. I scan over my feats, skills, equipment or spells. Is there something I have that’s not used often that can be used here? I watch the combat so I know where everyone is. I listen in so if another player has a question I can help them look up a rule or remind them how something works. I collect tiles or minis that have already been used and hand them to the GM to keep the table clear.
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.
Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
Thanks so much, Jeff. I much appreciate the time it took you to write your review. It's much appreciated. To the booze cabinet!
It's very deserving of it, I appreciate the time you both took to make this a really solid adventure! And yes my review was also of the full version.
Similar to my thread with a Kaer Maga Index, here is an index for Magnimar City of Monuments
:again with notes to jog my GM brain thus the spoiler tag. Enjoy!
No, I’m very ashamed to admit the first time I saw that back in a Pathfinder Society scenario I thought the exact same thing. I then purged the thought from my head and went with Kathleen Turner. :-)
Not that it’s a bad thing but there is no real “starting level”. It’s real old school. There’s encounters ranging from level 1 to level 20+ If you can tackle it, way to go. If you can’t, run away and return to fight another day.
My group just completed its 15-month Skull & Shackles AP last night, on National Maritime Day. :-)
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.
Jason Nelson wrote:
If you're already starting book 6 it may be a bit late to be offering extras, but if you're interested in seeing the original manuscript, email me at
Email sent, thank you!
Folks will always have something poor to say, but as expected, Creighton, you responded the way you run RS, with thought and class. I happened to write a few reviews for RS that in my opinion deserved 5 stars, an apparent criminal offense.
I’m not a big fan of the idea of PDF publishers in general because you can’t tell at a glance who’s really taking it with a passion and who’s just sitting around in their underwear at a computer claiming to be a ‘publisher’. However, since the Pathfinder RPG came out, I’d say 5 PDF companies (out of nearly 3 dozen?) managed to score some of my dollars after very careful consideration. Raging Swan was one of them.
When I wrote some reviews for products I really had a need to get my opinion out on came to Creighton’s attention he asked if I’d like to review some of his stuff. He didn’t know I already had a handful of RS items! Instead of slobbering all over the keyboard, I picked a very small handful of items from his selection I knew I’d use or find immediate use for. Is it any surprise then that they garnered high praise? It just so happened they delivered what they promised with a writing style and approach that reminded me of reading stuff back in the old days of 1e. I used them at my table and they were of great help, thus the ratings.
Did I start getting worried it would look like I was somehow paid off? No, as I said I already had some of RS’s offerings. I intend to purchase some more.
Many on this thread have stated similar responses that I agree with so to sum up: they were items I knew I’d immediately enjoy or use, and it was my opinion they deserved recognition. A 5 star review of a 10 page PDF product does not mean it’s the same value as the Tome of Horrors Complete or something, but that’s an animal of a different color.
When I feel many PDF companies are just spitting stuff out I thoroughly enjoy my RS purchases and review material and use them each week in some capacity. Creighton is doing darn good gaming work.
Great overview, so glad it was fun! I'm running a group through this AP and we're just getting book 6 underway. It's funny because up until book 5 your overview read fairly similar to how our group gamed, and then because of campaign developments, required a lot of rearranging of books 5 and 6 so it's quite off from what you experienced.
Thanks for sharing this!
Razor Coast and to a slightly lesser extent the Skull & Shackles AP are both perfect for Sandbox Play. And if not Maritime, then you can't beat Slumbering Tsar, agreed.
When put in context, especially compared with other PDF publishers, Raging Swan shows their good gaming roots and takes the time to do quality, fulfilling products. So I think these are deserved!
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 love tweaking monster stats here and there if it makes good sense. I consider it a part of the game and the fun of being GM. The players that even guess I do this think it’s great and keeps everything fresh. I even have a 1-page PDF from Super Genius called 10 Monster Feats taped to the inside back cover of all my Bestiaries.
Brian E. Harris wrote:
Haven't seen a deck, but Toolbox/Ultimate Toolbox from AEG is pretty darned fantastic, and one of the writers has posted extra stuff for it here on the boards a few times.
Nice of you to say Brian, and yes, I'm one of the authors and project manager for the Toolbox books!
Welcome back to the game! I know what you’re talking about. In 2nd Edition TSR had made these huge decks of encounter cards that had nearly everything you needed right there: location, opponents or traps, treasure or continuing storylines. You could run a whole campaign just using them (and back in the day I did).
But I know of no encounter deck in today’s market. The Pathfinder GameMastery Guide and books like Ultimate Toolbox have tables with loads of mini encounters in them to spark your imagination. Also there are PDF’s from Raging Swan Press that have mini encounters in them, like their “Dungeon Denizen” series.
The... scarcity of comments for parts 5 and 6 is sort of... odd. Or does everyone modify these parts beyond recognition ?
We’re halfway through book 5. I too was wondering if many didn’t go off the beaten path. I was tempted myself. I ran a lot of little side treks. I have a whole host of maritime adventure material plus the very well written Guide to the Shackles (which itself spawns tons of ideas). So I wanted to use them in the sandbox vein of “let them sail where they may and the currents bring them adventure”.
But…sometime toward the end of book 3 I realized I wanted to stick closer to the AP’s storyline even if modified here and there, rather than spending the whole campaign with them sailing about terrorizing the shipping lanes. Book 3’s hunt for the traitor carrot-and-stick approach turned me off so much I cannibalized most of the stat blocks and locations with other stories attached. Did they still uncover proof of a traitor? Yes. Did they eventually decide to run the Captain’s Regatta? Yes. They conquered the Island of Empty Eyes, threw the party and loved the chance to sway votes at the Pirate’s Council, which I never saw coming. There’s a lot of really great stories in here, just getting to them is an exercise in modification!
Now, in the thick of book 5 there’s more of sailing around to put together pieces of the story puzzle. And I again cannibalized many stats from this and twisted them into their own tales. This book isn’t running very much at all as the writer intended, I’m sure, but by the end I’m confident the story will still be intact. They’re already gathering a fleet and are getting ready to face Harrigan.
The whole idea of going to get a legendary weapon going into the home stretch is a fairly common staple of the AP’s and it doesn’t usually meet with approval from my players (too video-gamey I suppose). So I stole liberally from Open Design’s To the Edge of the World adventure and merged it with the island of the Black Tower to make it more dynamic. They love it.
To sum up, after the awesome start and set-up of books 1 and 2, and with groups wanting control of their own destiny when presented with the open seas, I bet there are plenty of groups who go their own way. After all…pirates.
OK, I’m in. I wasn’t going to, but when I read that the final product in stores will no doubt be $75 anyway, pledging $80 to make it happen seems fair.
As an aside, I’m also pledging specifically because there are not 50 or more ridiculous stretch goals. Bravo.
A quick question about the map book still available from the Frog Gods: I’ve read about a ‘Battlemap Book’ that contains 1” square maps for miniatures of 16 of the locations. However on the Frog God site for sale is something called the ‘Map Book’ – and I don’t need just the maps from the product gathered together. Is the Map Book the Battlemap Book or are these different items? Thanks.
kid america wrote:
I'm looking for more of the Star Trek explore the galaxy rescue and alien encounters RPG versus the gloom and doom Star Wars/Warhammer 40K galaxy where someone always has there boot on your throat RPG.
I get what you mean – and for this you want something with grit – like Alternity. Can’t be recommended highly enough for this…or at least the concept. The game play was really neat back in the day, but after nearly 14 years we’ve been spoiled my much faster moving game engines.
That said (and I might lose my gaming license for this), when I want to do gritty sci-fi role playing I use Alternity’s setting but use the d20 Modern & Future rules. They still work great for my group.
Are there enough dungeon tiles to do the biggest room?
In the main box, yes. Not every stair or wall necessarily but the floorplan dimensions? Yep.
I already planned to work this in during the Shattered Star AP I'm running in a few months. Now I can't wait to get the chance, if it plays as well as it reads and you folks say!
Reviewed, after finally getting to run this chapter in the AP. The final section should play out in tonight's game. I thought with all the discussion around the Razor Coast and Freeport Kickstarters and nautical games in general, the usefulness of this installment as a stand-alone product could not be ignored. My players loved it.
I’ve been doing this ever since the scenarios started coming out. Just cut back a little on treasure as you see fit for each scenario. I tend to just do it on the fly. It works great!
Hi! Just a few items:
Try to avoid maps with huge maze sections, or ultra tight up-over-end levels players can’t follow.
Complicated stories are fine, just be sure to leave extra clues for players to pick up on and find so they stay focused – a complicated story is wasted if they can’t follow it.
Try to avoid the combat grind. Similar monster combat encounters over and over or monsters just to pad an area. Combat after combat can drain both characters and players.
Nothing irks me more than to read a whole paragraph that tells me a room is empty. Either it’s full or empty. Letting me know the room once had a great purpose but is now empty is a waste.
I’ll try to add more as they come to me.