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Mammoth

Lord Snow's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 2,121 posts (2,122 including aliases). 46 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 1 alias.



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Unexciting

***( )( )

I was set up to like Empty Graves, since the concept seemed cool, but I was disappointed to find out this adventure is just not exciting enough for me.

First, it has some serious issues. The biggest issue I can see is that the AP is not structured well to make the plot of this adventure work. Many PC parties that went through the first adventure could be a bunch of greedy adventurer types, or maybe archaeologists, or many other things - most of which are not the kind of people to stick around in a city where hordes of undead threaten to devour the population.
Worse than that, the adventure assumes that the PCs will help. But - why would an archaeologist who's only in the city for the dig sites be willing to stand in the front lines of defense for what is to him a foreign city he's not attached to? And it gets worse, too, when authority figures in the city go as far as insisting that the PCs face terrifying outsiders summoned by the good guys - just to prove they are worthy of helping. I'm sorry, but any well roleplayed adventurer would just shrug and say goodbye at that point.

A second glaring issue in this adventure is that it's going to be the easiest cakewalk most players ever experienced. As a GM, I learned the hard way that swarms of weak creatures can not hope to challenge even a suboptimized group of PCs - I tried shoving 7 CR 2 creatures at my 5th level party, and didn't even manage to make them break a sweat. The designers of this adventure, though, appear to disregard that - most encounters consist of numerous VERY weak foes. Groups of CR 2 critters are just not going to impress 4th - 7th level characters.

Other than those flaws (which I consider to be very serious flaws), there's just not much in the adventure that grabs me. The previous adventure in the AP was well executed but ultimately aimless - this one feels the same (but getting one less star because that's a bigger issue in the 2nd adventure in the campaign). There's simply stuff that's happening, and the PCs react.

Compare this to Curse of the Crimson Throne. In that AP, while the players also knew very little of the plot of the campaign by the end of the 2nd adventure, they were deeply integrated with current events and had things to keep track of and care about. They were denizens of Korvosa so they cared about the city. Something was clearly up with the political situations, what with the shocking events at the end of part 1. Thus when something really serious is discovered by the end of part 2, the PCs and the players are in a position to care and get invested. Here, it's just doing random mini delves and solving a problem for a city most characters might not even care about, and the hook that's set by the ending to pull you into the rest of the AP is almost nonexistent.

So far I consider this campaign to be the weakest Iv'e seen in years from Paizo. It lacks any sense of direction and the story telling is very loose. While both the first adventures are truly solid, and could be fun to play, they fail to be part of a larger story, and thus fail to excite.

The support article on the gods was O.K - some cool new art and a nice list of deities, however space constraints result in very bare minimum amounts of info on the gods, so all in all it's not as good as the usual good articles I'd say. The bestiary is really good - every single monster is a hit this time around, and I'm excited to find spots for those monsters in my game.


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Dragged down by lackluster premise

***( )( )

Site ate my review, annoyingly, so I'll write a shorter, bulletpoints version.

* The premise of the adventure is boring as hack. In the half city, half necropolis of Wati, local authorities allow adventuring parties to delve into some of the city's many tombs and ancient, undisturbed locations. The PCs do explore those tombs, one after another, with no surprises or changes of pace, everything going in a predictable manner.

* The adventure has literally nothing to do with the plot of the APs. Even in previous APs that had first adventures mostly used to set up the parameters of the story than the story itself, it least there was always some pivotal moment near the end of the adventure that helped to start the overall plot going. Think Second Darkness, if you've had the chance to play or read it. Here, however, there's one tiny detail the players might not even notice, that hints that something that's maybe important may have happened (someone entered a tomb before them and took something from it). In short, no relation to the overall story.

* The execution, given the weak premise, is surprisingly good. Each of the three dungeons feels very different from the other two, and the variety keeps things fresh even if, in principle, this adventure is about the same thing happening three times.

* There is very little roleplaying built into the adventure as written, though some of the stuff makes for good jumping points for the GM to add stuff of her own. However, if you expect Shattered Star levels of roleplaying within a dungeon, you will be disappointed

* Very nice new monsters (living scrolls? yes please!)

Overall, when I'm reading the first installment in a new AP, I'm looking for something to grab me - and here, nothing did. that is because the premise itself, which I find bland and unexciting. That's not a good sign for a new AP, I'll tell you that. However, I'm sure the adventure will be decent fun to play through, hence the 3 star rating.


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Lacks shine, and isn't epic

***( )( )

So, here we are the last adventure of the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path. Our heroes are now as powerful as a PC could ever get in the game, boasting 20 character levels, 10 mythic tiers, several artifacts and a way higher wealth than any normal 20th level PC should have. They already bargained with a demon lord, spoke with a goddess and delved very deep into the Ivory Labyrinth. They single handily turned the tide of the current crusade on their own (by blowing up the warpstones), conquered their own fortress... that is quite the long lit of achievements. Having done all those things already, one can expect the last adventure in the path to be absolutely insane, epic and huge in scope.

It's not.

While the previous adventure ended with a rescue of a corrupted herald from the Ineluctable Prison, this one has the heroes going to... a brothel? a smithy? the entire first half of the adventure feels like a low-mid level romp with higher CRs tacked on. The second half of the adventure fairs slightly better, as the PCs DO journey to the heart of the worldwound. However, it still feels like just a dungeon crawl with bigger monsters.

I mean, where is the crusade in all of this? where are the howling hordes of demons clashing against the raised spears of row upon row of knights in shining armor? where do the PCs get to show the world just how awesome they are?

This adventure is a serious miss, as far as I'm concerned. It is so small in scope (or at least feels that way) that it cannot possibly convey the epic feeling of the events taking place. Worse, the adventure is composed as a string of encounter areas, with VERY little in the way of describing the larger picture. It seems like everyone is dormant, nonreactive, waiting to see if the PCs will do anything.

Much like the 6th adventure of Curse of the Crimson Throne, this one is too constrained to do justice to the story being told. It has a rather unique opportunity to tell a story only such powerful PCs can participate in, but chooses to tell it like a much more tame story, holding back from unleashing any sort of real craziness. The craziness is entirely on the crunch side - very tough high level opponents. The fluff, however, is severely lacking.


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A very cool abyss adventure

*****

In "Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth", the PCs are caught in what my be one of the biggest stories ever told in an AP - the demon lord Baphomet lured Iomedae's herald into a trap, kidnapped him and corrupted him, and is no holding him prisoner. Iomedae herself addresses the PCs and requests that they help free her herald.

As an individual adventure, this is really, really cool. And the adventure is written in a way that capitalizes on the kind of high level adventuring it requires. We get an excellent description of Bephomet's realm, and the long dungeon crawl the adventure culminates in, The Ineluctable Prison, is the coolest yet in the AP. There's something awesome about seeing all those CR20 or more encounters, and I imagine playing through them will feel appropriately mythic.

Having said all those good things and given the adventure the high 5 starts rating it deserves, I do have a caveat or three. Firstly, as was hotly debated in the product description forum, I feel the section of the adventure that handles talking with Iomedae was a major spoof. Another small issue that I have is that the story doesn't really make sense - Baphomet is insanely angry at the PCs, but fears to confront them because of his vulnerable state - however, he knows full well that the PCs will be trying to free the herald from his Ineluctable Prison. Yet for some reason, instead of summoning a screaming horde of a million fiends to defend it for him, he... does nothing? seriously, he is inactive during the entire adventure, even though it is said many times that he is angry and looking for a way to get revenge at the PCs for all the trouble they caused him.

The greatest issue I have with this adventure is that it feels like the side quest - the main story of the campaign is forgotten and pushed to the background, and the PCs run off to do a mission that, while certainly accomplishes something great and important, also has nothing to do with the larger plot of the campaign. After the 3rd adventure, that was just a huge waste of time, and the fourth adventure, that also put the PCs far away from the action, I feel that a large oppertunity to play up the crusade aspect of the story was missed. Hopefully the last adventure will compensate for that, but for now it kind of feels like the PCs are away from the action running errands for most of the campaign. Compare to, say, Curse of the Crimson Thrones, where the PCs carry the torch of the plot from the second adventure all the way to the 6th, and what they are doing is always the crucial, necessary next step. That was a much better constructed story, in my opinion.

But, still, despite some problems that I have with the structure of the campaign as a whole, Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth is one of the coolest adventures Iv'e seen in a long while, and it makes me hope that the next one would be even more awesome.


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Into the abyss

****( )

In this fourth part of the campaign, the PCs finally leave the material plane behind and hop head first into the abyss - one of the most horrible realms in all of existence.

Of course, the PCs are not yet high enough in level to survive the more hostile locations in the abyss, but luckily for them, their mission sends them into the Nightmare Isles, realm of the Demon Lord of Juvenile Fantasies, Nocticula. In their quest to stop the production of a special kind of crystals that make demons into mythic versions of themselves, the new heroes of the crusade must brave infernal jungles, a beautiful city that hides it's terrible nature behind a fanciful yet dangerous facade, and even a meeting with the Demon Lord herself!

The mid part of the adventure is certainly the strongest. The possibilities for unique adventures in the capital city of the Midnight Isles are endless, and the players will be responsible for taking the initiative and getting things done by themselves. The later part and the early part, though, are standard dungeon crawls, albeit truly high powered ones - the PCs are quit the little menaces by this point.

All in all despite the unique setting the adventure feels rather bland, and no particular thing about it really stands up above the rest. I suspect that the fact that it was written by two different people had to do with it. It still looks like a ton of fun to play, and is perfectly serviceable as a part 4 of a campaign.

It is a bit annoying how unimportant the PCs mission turns out to be, though. They stop the production of the super crystals, and process to meet, like, 70 mythic demons in the next adventure. If there are so many, surely preventing the creation of the crystals barely matters.


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