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Undead Painting

Mary Yamato's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber. 787 posts. 7 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.



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Great ideas, sketchy execution

**( )( )( )

There are a lot of big, neat concepts here; it may be worth buying as an idea source. Some good description, too. But it reads more like an outline than a worked-out adventure. This is especially problematic in part I where I almost have the impression that the PCs are supposed to sit on their hands rather than attempting to complete their mission.

The only part that is really worked out is the large multi-faction battle at the end, which would be excruciatingly difficult to run; and even here, if you approach it as a political problem, there's not enough material on the factions. (If you approach it as a fight, frankly, it's probably best for the PCs if they nuke all three factions indiscriminately, at which point the complex situation hardly matters.)

The module also indulges itself in a lot of heavy-handed NPC pushing of the PCs. It is not really a good idea to say "This NPC is too powerful for the PCs to fight, therefore they won't even try, therefore no stats are needed." Players don't tend to like this, and sometimes the hapless GM *will* need some stats. While you could argue that the PCs should be more careful, frankly if I were a careful PC I would refuse this assignment, as it seems well above the pay grade of the 9th-10th level PCs it is supposed to be for. So the PCs must be bold enough to do this, but lose that boldness at key moments--a difficult line to walk for both players and GMs.

I'm not entirely sorry I bought it, but I can't run it. Parts II and III might work tucked into some other adventure, if I ever need a short scenario set on those planes.


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Highly populous ruins

***( )( )

The PCs discover the ruined capital of their nemesis and confront him directly.

The scenery and settings of this module are incredible: the ruined city, the Runelord's spire high above the realms of breathable air, the Runewell itself.

The city has over 1000 inhabitants, though, and the module can barely hint at them. Unless the PCs stick perfectly to script, a lot of additional GM work will be required. (And at least one clue deliberately sends them off script.) The module also has (for Paizo) an unusual number of editing and logic errors.

The final defense of the Spire seems sketchy, and Karzoug himself is not as colorful as I would hope. Still, it's among the most playable high-level modules I've ever seen, and well worth the price just for the city itself.


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A classical dungeon with a few twists

***( )( )

I've tried repeatedly to post this: here's one more, much shorter attempt.

This is a classical dungeon with very strong writeups for the central NPCs: detailed, technically accurate, with excellent tactical notes. It fails to shine fully, however, because there is not much scope for non-combat interaction. One faction is confined to its quarters, two consist of people who have been more or less reduced to automata, almost all are described as uninterested in negotiation. A group interested in intrigue will require considerable GM reworking. The sin theme, therefore, is underdeveloped.

The adventure is much shorter than it looks (my group finished in 4.5 sessions) because several of the promised 7 dungeons are only 1-2 traps or creatures. The traps are inspired by Tomb of Horrors and were not appropriate for my group, but are fairly easy to remove.

The background material contains the usual items plus a too-short section on Thassilonian magic with one spell and one rune per school, and an outstanding background article on Lamashtu. This is truly a model of excellence in cult writeups--it gives details not only on the goddess but on the role of her priesthood in different societies.

Overall, this should be fine for dungeon-crawling groups, but others may find it lacking in spots. My player was particularly disappointed in the Greed dungeon, which should have foreshadowed Xin-Shalast but was utterly flat in play.

Mary


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Singing Goblins

****( )

A small town is menaced by goblins; the PCs must discover what is driving them.

Scenarios for very low level PCs are difficult to write. This is one of the best I've seen, despite some too-hard encounters late in the module. The goblins are given tons of color--goblin songs! goblin stunts!--which makes them both funny and menacing. The town's backstory is well detailed, and many colorful NPCs, some with attached vignettes, are provided. There is enough material that the GM can easily improvise further adventures in Sandpoint.

The later sections could have been toned down a little, especially for novice players: the lethality abruptly ramps up. The scenarios remain colorful and engaging, with a good range of foes. There is also some effective foreshadowing of the overall Adventure Path plot arc.

Supplementary material includes a detailed writeup of the town of Sandpoint, with locations, NPCs, and history. My group made excellent use of the history, but would have appreciated stat blocks for those NPCs likely to be PC combat allies during the scenario. There is also a short bestiary, mostly of creatures not present in the scenario, and a Pathfinder's Journal which we found physically difficult to read and completely dissociated from the campaign, thus not very interesting.

GMs will want to handle the later encounters with care, but overall this is a very solid start to the Pathfinder series. I will likely be reusing it as a starting adventure, or at least location, for subsequent games.


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Haunting

*****

A series of grisly murders are associated with the PCs' names, and they must act to find the real killer and clear themselves.

I don't think I've ever been so excited about a module while reading it: this one is complex, moody, coherent, and downright fascinating. I couldn't wait to run it.

In play we found the relentless horror (following close on _Burnt Offerings_ which was also fairly horrific in play) to be too much for the PCs, but this will obviously vary from group to group. I would have liked to see the backstory of the haunted house connect more tightly to the proposed solution. But the first half, ending in the haunted house, was still a terrific, scary experience.

The second half was a little weaker because the writeup of Magnimar is sparse, and the city locations are not used richly (only a few set piece locations). The promised political intrigue in Magnimar is left purely up to the GM. The final encounter was also dangerously hard for PCs of this level. Still, a colorful and memorable scenario, paling mainly in comparison with the first half.

Supplemental materials include a useful writeup of the cult of Desna, a bestiary, and a sketchy writeup of the city of Magnimar. I was disappointed in the latter, especially compared to the excellent Sandpoint writeup. It was mainly a high-level overview with little in the way of adventure hooks or specific locations. (Anyone using this module should be sure to download the corrected map of Magnimar; the one in the module is mangled.)

Despite my criticisms, I think this is one of the strongest modules I have ever seen. Its emotional punch is so strong that it may well have to be adapted to meet the needs of specific groups, but the raw material is all there, and it's dynamite material.


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