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Harsk

Lord Fyre's page

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32. Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 5,309 posts (5,605 including aliases). 2 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 3 Pathfinder Society characters. 4 aliases.



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On the wrong foot …

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This review is about the Bastards of Erebus adventure, not the AP as a whole.

Bastards of Erebus fails both as the launching of the Council of Thieves adventure path and as an adventure in its own right. While I am willing to forgive the the conversion issues; there are several MAJOR problems with the story itself.

Spoilered for those individuals who intend to run this AP (including myself).

Spoiler:

  • The first problem starts before the adventure, with the CoT Player’s Guide. The provided “campaign traits” simply suggest little to no motivation for the heroes to want to accomplish the tasks of the Bastards, let alone the AP as a whole. The adventure attempts to fix this by requiring that the heroes must have a problem with the way the Westcrown is run, but that leads to the next problem.
  • Janiven Kay’s speech, two or more battles with the Order of the Rack Hellknights, and the introduction of Ariel’s group all imply that the heroes will be part of a resistance movement against House Thrune. Unfortunately, this is not what the AP is about at all, so this sets up a “bait-n-switch” almost as bad as Second Darkness.
  • As a side note, the battles with the Hellknights in this adventure ruin the buildup that the Hellknights had received in both Rise of the Runelords and especially Curse of the Crimson Throne. This adventure sets the Hellknights up as "keystone cops." Also, fighting the Hellknights in this adventure creates a dissonance with The Twice-Damned Prince where the heroes are expected to ally with the Hellkights.
  • The titular "Bastards of Erebus" gang seem to pop out of nowhere in “part 5” of a six part adventure. As they have done nothing to the characters, nor have any of the crimes in the city even been mentioned before now, so why would the heroes want to fight them? Worse, if any of the PCs are Tieflings themselves, these PCs are – if anything – going to be sympathetic to the Bastards.
  • Beyond that, the support articles are fine, though I wish that the included monsters in the AP installment’s Bestiary were more used in the adventure itself.

    All in all, I find myself needed to re-write this entire installment.


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    What Could Have Been ...

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    Heroes Wear Masks – Avalon Games
    PDF only, 208 pages & 1 page of legal information. The download includes both the normal version of the game and a “printer friendly” version.

    Heroes wear masks is a Super Hero Genre modification for the Pathfinder Role Playing Game.

    The artwork varies in quality from quite good to very poor. For some reason, the authors elected to put a fancy boarder around every page, which seems like a waste of space.

    Positives
    It uses character levels, experience points, hit dice, armor class, etc. Most of the skills and feats from Pathfinder are also carried over, but some (such as Extra Mercy modify powers that no longer exist). Several new skills and feats that modernize the setting are also introduced, such as Drive and Investigate, There are four “races” (Human/Enhanced Human/Mutant/Strange Visitor) as well as six “classes” (Acrobat/Brick/Combat Expert/Detective/Energy Manipulator/Super Human). For advanced play, there are also three “prestige classes” (Mastermind/Super Hero/Super Villain).

    For the GM, it also uses challenge ratings to help balance encounters as well as access to creatures from the Bestiary that actually fit in the genre, like dinosaurs, animals, demons, etc. There are also a few NPC specific classes (Assault Trooper/Henchman/Police Officer/Thug).

    Negatives
    This games really wants some more tables, such as a summaries of all the available powers, feats, and skills with a short description of what the feat/power/skill does (see pages 114 to 117 of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook to see what I mean.) This would enormously help in creating a character. Likewise, a couple of examples where the writers walk us through the (somewhat complicated) character creation process would also have been very helpful.

    Characters should have been given an innate base damage and innate armor class. Right now, unless the hero buys a specific power, they are doing 1d3 base damage, so the character is better off grabbing a weapon. Likewise, character will end up equipping armor. In the comics, most heroes (and villains) fight with their fists and wear skin tight spandex (and even less if they are a female).

    Player Characters are not “uber” enough, especially at low level for the intended “feel” of the game. The art and text definitely appears to be striving for a “Four-Color” vibe, but the game works better for gritty “Iron Age” campaigns the period during the late 80s/early 90s when violent anit-heroes came to dominate comics. One way around this, would have been to start the PCs above 1st Level, but with the “sample adventure” being written for 1st Level characters, that does not appear to be the author’s intent.

    I do note that with the four “iconic” heroes, they wrote them up at 7th to 9th level to make them super enough to fit their genre roles.

    All, in all, Heroes Wear Mask fails at its primary mission – allowing players to be Superheroes (villains) in a Comic Book adventure.



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