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Just to respond to a few of the points raised in this thread:
..."So if giants couldn't be the primary foe in this adventure, we needed to replace them with something else, and that something else was orcs...Now we might have been able to delve a lot deeper into the themes surrounding orcs, half-orcs, racism, and a human city in the middle of orc territory, but that would have moved the theme away from that of Giantslayer.
While that may be, 1/3rd of this AP deals primarily with Orcs, and it is the first part of an AP which sets the tone - and the theme. Players experience the theme as they play. And I promise you, for the first 4 months to 1 year of play? The theme is not going to be Giants, no matter the name of the AP. The theme from the players' perspective is "the Orcs of Belkzen".
That more than merits the attention from where I sit, notwithstanding the subject matter of Vols 3-6.
I appreciate your point; please consider mine and how it is perceived by players who don't get to see the AP from 40,000 feet. They eat the AP one encounter and NPC at a time. My bet is that for a VERY long time during play, this Giantslayer AP "tastes like Orc."
Regarding some of the other specific topics brought up, it is important to realize that Trunau was fully detailed in a Campaign Setting book, Towns of the Inner Sea, published in 2013. And many of those things were established there: the town's view on half-orcs, the relationship between Sara Morninghawk and Agrit Staginsdar, hopeknives and how and why they are used. These were not things included in the adventure for any "messaging" or political correctness or tokenism. They were included in the adventure because they were a part of the setting two years before this Adventure Path came out.
I am aware of that. To be clear, the same-sex relationship was not the part that got me; the relationship between a Dwarf and a half-orc was the part that seemed to pass without comment when one might have been offered. The dwarves of the Mindspin Mountains have "racial hatred" as one of their default special ability when dealing with orcs, yet we get Sara and Agrit as spouses? That merits some comment I think, but not because of the gender issue.
As for hopeknives, I understand those were also mentioned before in the Inner Sea World Guide's entry for Trunau initially. This could have -- and imo, should have, received more and closer examination, and a mature questioning, frankly. What does this all mean and how does it fit?
The entire concept is plainly extremist and fanatical. It's definitely interesting, I grant you that -- but it has many implications the AP does not attempt to develop. Hopeknives are either 1) Nutty and unjustified or 2) Logical & justified. If it's #2, that makes the treatment of the town's half-orcs pretty much wholly at odds with this desperate view, hardened philosophy and the whole symbology of the hopeknife. It's a very hard sell otherwise.
Towns of the Inner Sea tells us that Trunau treats half-orcs well, but also implies that they are the product of rape. And that their children survive the event of getting raped in order to carry those children to term. So they would sooner kill their own children rather than have them be raped by orcs (even if they survive it), but they embrace the bastard off-spring of such couplings? Even when they appear to be monstrous and are clearly non-human?
Does that make any sense? Really? For some, sure. For most? Not Really, no. I think it is necessary to admit that extremism is practiced by extremists.
It is also a very difficult thing to accept if Hopeknives can be reasonable and justified while their attitude to half-orcs is the subject of a sidebar going very much the other way at p. 20 ("Half-Orc Witch Hunt"). Canonical only goes so far.
I thought the realistic way to deal with this was for the PCs to discover, through Brinya, that Rodrik secretly considered the hopeknife to be a symbol he despised. That's why he lost it -- he hates wearing it. The poet in him considers it to be a symbol of Trunau's intolerance and hatred and fear. (Contrast against his forbidden love for Brinya, "Other Side of Contempt" poem, et al). I would also have also used the fact that Rodrik and Brinya had exchanged hopeknives as a sign they had married in secret, without the consent of the father -- an act consistent with the entry for hopeknives in Inner Sea Towns. That could have been developed further in the investigation, but appears left unexplored. (Perhaps that was a space limitation issue.)
Still, instead of exploring the mixed meaning of this symbol, what it means and implies, it is reduced to a McGuffin relating to a "receipt", the need for which in a such a small town is a most improbable plot device.
While I appreciate that these sorts of conundrums seem small, in the context of the adventure as presented in Vol 1, a great deal of time and effort is spent by the PCs thinking about and investigating this hopeknife and what it means. And yes, suspecting the half-orcs and if they are to be trusted or rounded up, and if so, how. The players are not just going to breeze over this stuff.