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Smaar Janderfut

Hank McCoy's page

FullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 41 posts. 30 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 8 Pathfinder Society characters.



1 to 5 of 30 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | next > last >>

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Short, unimpressive, and lethal.

*( )( )( )( )

I am always appreciative of the effort and work it takes to produce a free printed product, so before I write my largely negative review, I wanted to express thanks for that. As always, Paizo products come with great visuals, layout, and ideas.

Let me get right to the heart of reasoning behind my low review, the end fight is just too difficult for most parties and in my estimation will result in a TPK or very frustrating outcome. Additionally, the final boss had feats which dictated the use of archery, but no bows were listed in her equipment, attacks, and was contradicted by her tactics which instructs the use of a melee weapon. This isn't necessarily bad, as she is an extremely difficult foe and misuse of feats actually helps the party in this case. On the whole, it's a mediocre scenario, with a overly-difficult final fight. My suggestion for improvement is for Paizo to always include a "scaling the adventure" side-bar and possibly the inclusion of more clues as to what the end fight will be so PCs can adjust.

As a Free RPG Day product, the purpose of which is to introduce inexperienced players or non-gamers to the hobby and to Pathfinder, this scenario falls very short. The role-playing options are few, the accompanying pre-gen PCs are complicated (for beginning players) or ineffective, and the end fight extremely difficult with a TPK likely. This leaves new players feeling over-whelmed by the rules, unimpressed with the story, and frustrated with their inability to succeed. If used in this way, I advise the DM to enthusiastically promote the use of the pre-gen paladin and make sure to pay close attention to the customization options at the end of each pre-gen. Reducing the difficulty of the end fight is strongly advised, ie, residual divine power of Sarenrae reduces DR for enemies & provides bonuses to saves & attack bonuses for the party.

As a scenario used for Pathfinder Society, it also falls very short. While players have the option to use the pre-gen PCs built using 15 point buy and under-equipped for their level, the scenario is very difficult for most players using their own characters. While there is fun in having the PCs design and carry out an ambush to catch an unknown killer, lack of attention to fleshing out this encounter creates a little extra work for the DM. As mentioned previously the end fight, is brutal. I advise DMs to help players after the first fight by using an NPC to suggest that players research or consult with informed NPCs about what type of creature it was attacking them and emphasize the the symbol one of the previous victims saw and what it means to fight creatures aligned to that symbol. This should go a long way towards helping the players gear up appropriately.

As a scenario used in a home game it also falls short but is probably the best use of the product. The average party level should be a little higher than listed IMHO and the DM should review the final fight to make sure his group is equipped to handle it and flesh out the investigation dropping more clues as to the foe they are likely to encounter. Even if the final fight ends poorly, follow the advise of the author and use the foe as a re-occurring villain.

Overall, the DM needs to do some additional work which is not required with other published adventures to make this scenario a success, but it is free so weigh that into your judgement. While the nature of the product dictates its length, it's not especially the best introduction to Pathfinder RPG or even the best module for experienced Pathfinder Society players. We Be Goblins and Fallen Fortress, also Free RPG Day adventures from Paizo, were much better introductions to Pathfinder RPG and offered a better experience for players.


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Average but hey, it's a free download!

***( )( )

Look, I can't really complain because I got this adventure on Free RPG day and Paizo still offers it as a free download to this day. Putting the adventure in that context helps to understand its design goals and make sense of its shortcomings. This is a free adventure and it's not going to be Tomb of Horrors or Shackled City level of epic awesomeness. However, for what it is, it's pretty decent and the production values that Paizo maintains are still some of the best in the business, IMHO. However, I have to be honest about the written content to help others evaluate its appropriateness for them and their intended use of it.

First off, this adventure definitely has a first edition feel to it because it's pretty much a linear, dungeon crawl with few role-play moments but a decent amount of action. My group used the 1st level pre-gen PCs for Pathfinder Society and a few of the combats ended up being one-hit wonders, and few lasted more than a round or two longer. The combats do increase in difficulty as the players progress which helps build the tension. And when the big boss fight arrived at the end, the combat proved to be a harrowing experience and more than made up for the previous warm-up fights.

There's very little background story here, and the plot is almost non-existent until the very end. The choice of creatures was logical and varied which helped to maintain the interest of the party. And lastly, the quantity & quality treasure (especially on the Adventure Chronicle if it's being used for Pathfinder Society) makes it worth the work.

In the hands of a good GM that takes time to spice the game up by supplying a stronger, character-related background, and flesh out the dungeon by emphasizing the danger of an unstable tower on the verge of collapsing, this adventure could truly blossom beyond it's humble beginnings. Normally, this is where criticisms about the job of a published adventure is to provide the background and spice, but it's a free product so those criticisms carry less weight (or if you choose to purchase the print copy at least you'll have advanced warning).

On a side note, if you are planning on using this for Pathfinder Society, it's really best used as an introductory game, as there is no Prestige Award and no faction quests provided for existing PFS players.


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Good finish to part 1

****( )

This adventure was more combat focused and linear than part 1 of the series, however, the PCs still must interact with prominent & re-occurring NPCs although they don't figure prominently into the meat of the adventure. More than other multi-part adventures, the two parts of this one complement each other not just in finishing a story, but also in player activity. Players who aren't as interested in role-playing may have been bored at times with the first part, but they will find their interest in combat satisfied here. Played back to back, these two parts form a strong coherent whole providing time for varying styles of play.

Many of the NPCs which were introduced in the first part reprise their roles here to guide and direct the players. As before, many are memorable and unique enough to help the players make a strong connection to the city.

Combats were varied and balanced with some being standard fare, while others made good use of interesting NPCs and tactics. Initially, combat encounters seemed easy, however others were more of a challenge and that helped to keep the PCs on their toes. Only one of the faction missions really stood out, and while the others weren't particularly noteworthy, neither did they feel out of place or tacked on without connection to the story.

Overall, it was a solid module and while it was lacking a strong plot & role-play, it works well with the first part to provide a strong finish. I definitely look forward to future adventures set in Kaer Maga.


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Great role-play and personality

*****

While it's not required, reading City of Strangers will be very helpful in fleshing out Kaer Maga and makes for a much richer environment for the players & GM and I'd definitely recommend it. As part one of a two-part series establishing a feel for the city for this adventure makes it easy to maintain player connection to the city for part two. And because many of the faction goals require a bit of investigation within various districts of the city, making the setting memorable was a natural outcome of the players' desire to fulfill their faction quests. This is a great example of how faction goals can be used to guide player action while creating a stronger connection to the campaign setting.

The adventure itself had great pacing between combat and role-playing encounters while allowing everything to flow together logically and smoothly. Combat encounters were well balanced, although somewhat average tactically. The inclusion of some interesting weapon choices helped make them more fun. The real highlight for this adventure was that the PCs were able to meet & interact with several prominent NPCs in the city. Even interacting with minor NPCs that had short but unique personality descriptions became fun and eased the workload of the GM to create them on the fly. Characters that have a high charisma score or well developed personalities will really be given the chance to flex those attributes in this adventure.

Although I'm of the opinion that many Pathfinder Society adventures are somewhat of a rail-road due to time constraints and single-session style, this adventure definitely felt more open ended than others. That open-ended feel worked well with this setting in particular to highlight the uniqueness of the city while requiring the players to interact with the sandbox. Anything that encourages my players to do more than react to combat scenarios makes for a great game.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this adventure and the icing on the cake is that it becomes a great way to introduce an significant, ongoing storyline that stretches beyond itself or its sequel.


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Good quality, concise without over-doing it.

*****

The hard card stock is a huge bonus over other pretty much every other GM screen I've used and it contains regularly used charts for referencing skills, common combat modifiers, common conditions, item & weapon breakage, and XP rewards. I have used other GM screens that included flaps for everything from random weather charts to ordering pizza toppings and while I find them thorough in their presentation, sometimes it took as much time to flip through the flaps for that one chart as it did to look it up in the book. Personally, I think most GM screens all have a certain amount of similarity in them, but the heavy cardstock used for this one definitely gave it an edge.


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