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Completely Worth ItDM Jeff —
The cover art, captivating.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #73: The Worldwound Incursion (Wrath of the Righteous 1 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add Print Edition $22.99
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Strongest AP Start Ever?DM Jeff —
I just spent this past weekend reading this cover to cover and I was incredibly impressed. Amber needs more AP work. The overall attention to detail and making sure there were no loose ends will make this a thrill to run when I begin the campaign.
Every AP needs a strong start and this one was gripping. An excellent assortment of foes, I loved that exploring the city was left open instead of railroading and the NPCs have to be some of the very best of Any AP. I almost felt like I was reading a story and couldn’t wait to find out what happens next! The mood and grit of the campaign was evident but you got glimpses of hope on the horizon.
I also like the direction the inside covers took, ensuring you stick with the NPCs throughout the story and none of them get “shelved” when their part is over. The support articles were also really great and I like what the bestiary section is doing with the new demon and demon lord each book. Fantastic.
A Solid Undersea AdventureDM Jeff —
The Sunken Pyramid is an 88 -page underwater adventure/sourcebook for 7th level characters. In general I judge an adventure on two factors, a satisfying feeling after reading (akin to having a good meal) and the joy of the details in playing it. While I didn’t have time for the latter the former left me full indeed, read on.
Within these 88 pages is a detailed primer on running the adventure (including some great advice prepping for an adventure of this type), a mini source-section on the sahuagin race, a detailed gazetteer of the coastal town of White Moon Cove, and the adventure itself comprising of an underwater mountain of sorts with mysterious origins. As with all Raging Swan adventure material this one is built to make it as easy to run as possible for the GM, from the clear layout and detailed complete monster stat blocks, to helpful hints all throughout including random sights, monsters and discoveries. Because it’s an underwater adventure mainly, there’s a super 2-page section any GM running this type of adventure should have – every underwater rule collected in one place (from drowning to underwater combat, casting, depth dangers, etc.)
I appreciated the sahuagin write-up because part of the adventure is dealing with the absolute evil of these beings. We are treated to a primer on their society, religion, outlook on life and a nice note regarding their language. This goes a long way in portraying them in battle.
The home base of this adventure is White Moon Cove, a small seaside town with good folk. This is also a backdrop piece by Raging Swan but is included in this PDF in its entirety. A very complete and detailed description of the town is provided (with map). There are lots of named and personalized inhabitants and their motivations and role, and the current rumors and goings-on. The fact that the writers took the time to make it feel like a living place will go a long way in garnering sympathy from the characters, especially when a number of townsfolk are captured in a daring raid by sahuagin! They’re not the only ones with concern either; a merchant ship’s captain comes into port with news some of her crew were also taken! A number of possibilities to getting the PC’s out to the adventure location are provided (including the ship that is in port), and then it’s diving time! At first I was a little concerned the PCs would feel whatever they do they can’t prevent folks being taken, which is pretty much the case, but careful working by a GM will have a few taken into the sea as the characters wake up to the sounds of attack.
The adventure itself is the meat of the book and provides both a great glimpse into a sahuagin fortification and living space. After a little investigation reveals the entrance at the near top, they make their way down through four levels inside encountering more dangerous things as they go. Clearly labeled cave maps provided and each encounter has full stats (meaning everything the GM could want to know regarding the inhabitant or combatant). If this is your first Raging Swan adventure you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the details provided in each section, magic items aren’t just detailed, but all auras, knowledge DC’s and the like are given. Tactics for each area are sound if not basic, and sidebars help a GM run a section when a general alarm goes up. By the time the PCs get toward their goal of rescuing the prisoners (of which there are many), they uncover the full nature of the insidious plot and why captives were taken alive in the first place.
I did notice the same CR2 sahuagin stat block show up a lot early on, meaning some repeated combat rooms I’m likely to edit out when I run it. The layout of the caves does lead one to believe the party may wind up fighting a running battle with multiple rooms at once if they are very loud and chaotic to their approach. Luckily, there is occasional advice to determine what a foe will and won’t do with an alarm. Many of the creatures are already engaged in their own activities the PCs can take advantage of – it’s described very much as a living place, not just a static locale. There are also allies within that can aid the party, and a divided, tense political situation between some of their foes the PCs can take advantage of, and yet still I think this adventure is extremely challenging thanks to the nature of underwater adventuring. The story climaxes against a terrible foe that has become the focal point of this sahaugin tribe’s religion: a huge devilish shark that is much more than an ‘eating machine’, it speaks and has its own devious plots to weave.
The book ends with a nice section of new rules including monsters (including the aforementioned big bad) and magic items (including a sentient trident!). There are even six complete 7th level pre-generated characters provided!
Conclusion: I have to admit I went in a little skeptical, as underwater adventures have had a difficult time impressing me. This was soon allayed as I read sections that answered all my nagging questions: How do the sahuagin transport air breathers to their caves? What effects do I need to be aware of when running the adventure? What makes this more than a hack fest? All these are answered and dealt with. White Moon Cove is a great town that’s sure be a spot the characters can revisit again and again. The adventure is a little combat heavy early on but eventually boils down to a design involving moral choices, demanding tactics and smart play. The best part is it feels complete. Grab the core rulebook and play, this adventure has everything you need to run it successfully. Very well done. I was provided a full version copy for review, but I will easily find a way to insert this in my Razor Coast campaign.
Lots of Quality, Colorful EncountersDM Jeff —
Wilderness Dressing: Travelers is a collection of personalities your player’s characters might meet while travelling from here to there. It’s for the GM’s who relish little encounters to add verisimilitude to a journey rather than say “Ok, you travel a few days and you get there”.
Hechfolk and Hirelings is 14 pages, but the meat of the PDF covers 7 pages. Over 2 pages each are percentile tables with 75 total encounters spread over the sections which include: “Peddlers, Merchants and Traders”, “Bards, Minstrels and Troubadours” and “Mercenaries, Sellswords and Freebooters”. On the 7th large is a B&W drawing of a female NPC that’s not bad at all.
Each entry isn’t long, but it is enough to give you a solid mental picture of the situation and motives of the NPC in question. Each supplies a name and recommended basic stats (alignment, gender, race, class and level) and then a solid description followed by basic motivations or activities. Sometimes these traits are interwoven to tell the story of the NPC. They’re excellent sparks for the imagination and give you enough to go on to form a basic personality very quickly.
While percentage tables are provided I think this would serve me better to plot out the route and hand pick a few along the way, as naturally not every NPC will be useful for ever occasion. In this way, the book suits its purpose perfectly. One thing that was pleasantly surprising was how rich the author made some of the descriptions even with just a few words. Nice touches like the actual names of a few songs a wandering bard has written or a treasured or favored item or even notes on growing up so you know how they chose their profession are sometimes included. A small number are more basic, allowing a GM to stretch their creative license with nothing but the simplest of description and a single, small hook, but there are only a handful of these.
For a nice touch, sometimes there’s even little interwoven plots, one NPC entry will mention another with a possible connection either as ally or foe make the encounter even livelier. I liked that a lot.
Overall how can you not appreciate loads of encounters to make overland journeys more interesting for 2 bucks. It’s a steal, does its job perfectly and was fun to read. I purchased this for use in my Shattered Star game.
The Attention To Detail is AmazingDM Jeff —
I’m not entirely sure I can offer more than what the other reviewers here have said, except that while reading it in its entirety through this weekend I got quite a rush of nostalgia that few other products this day can emulate. It’s made for our current beloved Pathfinder Roleplaying Game but read and felt just like something out of AD&D.
The fact that you don’t just fight the same types of creatures room after room, the interesting treasures to be found, factions to play off of and secret history to uncover make this a real gem. Not to mention, this book loves the GM. Each room is provided with every conceivable detailed answer to questions a GM or the players may have about the environment.
It’s a dirty, gritty dungeon crawl that offers a dynamic location; with information so well defined as you read you get a complete feel for the major shakers and movers and how they all interact. The only real difference from real early modules where there was absolutely no rhyme or reason why some of the creatures or things would be in the same complex, this not only gives all plausible reasons and explanations but then actually executes it and pulls it off!
Not to mention a big collection of nine pre-generated player characters using classes and rules from the Core Rulebook and Advanced Player’s Guide. Speaking of stats and crunch, the monsters are all fully statted out so no flipping through the bestiaries, and game rules throughout and provided every step of the way (including the magic detection DC, school and strength of aura for all magic items!).
The whole location feels real, monster tactics and responses to different adventure tricks and attacks are explained throughout. Each location, from the tower, donjon, and the dungeon / crypt levels beneath also have a random detail chart and encounter charts to make them more alive. The maps are not necessarily artistic but pull off the old-school vibe very well and are perfectly functional and easy to follow. Throw in a bunch of good art (including scenes to show the party), player handouts, and potential allies from both rescued folks and monsters and you got an adventure to keep a group of seasoned vets enthralled.
At the same time: beginning GM’s pay attention. You can do little better than this module, that caters so well to organization and provides everything you need to run the encounters in a nice, clear format that’s a snap to navigate. Well done, bravo! I was provided a copy for review.