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We've been playing Giantslayer for about 7-8 months now and are in Book 3, about to head in to Nargrym's Tomb.
All five PCs are playing Dwarves from Janderhoff and members of the same clan -- all brothers. The Dwarven vibe has been excellent and that aspect of the game has made it truly unique. No other gaming group has felt like this one, ever. And after playing for going on close to 40 years -- that is saying something.
I have made some changes to the plot with the aim of bringing the Orcs of Belkzen back into the story at times as I thought they were extremely well done. Droja, the half-orc Oracle, is a fascinating character. I LOVE this NPC.
Giantslayer has been a blast and for our group has been as enjoyable as Kingmaker. It takes some time to customize all of this for your own players and what appeals to them. Maybe that's not the sort of thing that appeals to many GMs who want more of the work done for you.
I don't want to suggest I have done all THAT much to the AP, but I have made changes here and there to make it all fit a little better for my group and their tastes. It has been hella fun to play and run and is one of my faves. I happen to think that Tim Hitchcock's Forge of the Giant God is especially well done and calls back to his Kingmaker 1: Stolen Land in terms of its design. He's left enough open in the module that I can plop in a huge centrepiece custom designed explicitly for my players in one part of the Valley.
I won't berate people for liking what they like; but Giantslayer is an excellent AP and I think it will "find love" and its audience over time, in much the same manner as Carrion Crown has.
As far as I know, everything audible.com sells has DRM on it. Is this true of the Pathfinder audiobooks? (I avoid buying DRM-encumbered things whenever possible.)
Of course it's true. It's a digital product from Audible. It has DRM. It always will.
That said, Audible's an Amazon company and their software is available on every platform and every device. There has never been a problem I have ever had with Audible or in re-downloading a purchased novel (which is more than I can say for iTunes). Very few books are released on physical media these days, a fact which will soon be approaching "none".
So, there it is.
While I don't want to read too much into it, I think the lack of a response from Paizo staffers in this revived thread suggests that their initial response and feelings have not changed.
Consequently, I don't think we are going to get a "Dragon AP" developed by Paizo. Which is less than optimal, but far from terminal.
Just because Paizo staff are not terribly interested in doing one does not mean, however, that we are never going to get one at all. I think there is enough demand for a "lots of dragons AP" that such an adventure path will happen just the same.
So I was considering on integrating in Arwyll Stead into my Giantslayer campaign, when all manner of difficulties presented themselves with doing so.
Never mind the main plot, my problem is where the hell to put Arwyll Stead.
So it's time to be a bit pedantic here, because the overwhelming majority of the time, Paizo gets its topography right as it builds on to the MASSIVE imaginary land of Golarion. But this is not one of those times when it comes to Arwyll Stead.
The shifting locations and topography of some of the settlements and geography in this area - and even the name and length of a river - are inconsistent and require revision at some point.
Here's how we get to the (pedantic) problem...
On the original map of Golarion in the 3.5 Campaign setting, the River Esk and the Kestrel rivers do not exist. The Path river stops a good deal short of where its headwaters are now drawn.
Fast forward to when Belkzen was first detailed in the AP line - and we find it the subject of an article in Pathfinder #11 - Skeletons of Scarwall in an article by Jamers Sutter. A map is included in that article, and both the Esk and Kestrel Rivers are added to the geography as depicted in the Map of the Inner Sea Region that came with the 3.5 Campaign Setting.
At the time of Skeletons of Scarwall, Freedom Town is not located on the branch of the Path river at all, but appears to be in the plains, beyond the borders of Lastwall and not quite in Belkzen proper. A sort of no man's land. It's described as such, too.
By the time of the Inner Sea Map Portfolio, the Path River is redrawn again, this time to go right by Freedom Town which is no longer in the plains, but the town is moved to the shores of the newly drawn and lengthened Path River.
Giantslayer Vol #2, The Hill Giant's Pledge concurs with the placement of Freedom Town on the borders of the now lengthened Path River. Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes concurs that Freedom Town is within the boarders of Belkzen, but omits any reference to the river on the area map in that product. However, on the map of the town included in the same book at page 24, a map of the town is provided and the name of the river changes from the "Path" to the "Aren".
Daughters of Fury changes the topography again, by placing the town further up the headwaters of the now lengthened Path River. Yet somehow, Arwyll Stead is clearly described in the appendix to Daughters of Fury as being within the borders of Lastwall. Problem is, Freedom Town -- which is closer to Vigil, indeed, only two days ride from the town, is not within those borders. It's in Belkzen and this is discussed in the context of the politics of Chieftain Uldeth and the Empty Hand in Urgir.
So, one (or more!) of these things is wrong, or alternatively, the borders have changed and some event has brought peace and Order to Freedom Town. That would be a definite violation of a basic premise to Golarion's design where events in a given AP are not assumed to have happened and the mutually independent "Theme Parks" of each of the stores in the world have not happened and all is "at rest".
Problem is, the map in Giantslayer Vol 2 clearly tells us that Freedom Town is in Belkzen and beyond the borders of Lastwall. Indeed, the criminal scum of Freedom Town play a role in the 1st volume of that AP and its location within Belkzen is noted.
So, all by way of saying, I must conclude that this map of "where on Golarion" Arwyll Stead is located is messed up and just wrong.
Arwyll Stead needs to be closer to Vigil and on the Path River, or the Aren, or whatever the hell you want to call it - just near Lastwall's border so as to leave Freedom Town beyond it within the borders of Belkzen, as also depicted in Giantslayer, Curse of the Crimson Throne and Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes.
I suggest Arwyll Stead should be properly located on the Aren River (that name makes sense for that tributary), located essentially in the area under the letters "F" and "r" in the word "Freedom Town" on the one part Inner Sea Poster Map.
Pedantic note on Bloodtusk's Keelboat.
As presented, the Keelboat is a three decked ship, with a length of about 170' and a beam of 30'. It's a bit of a large sow for a river ship. Gunwales to waterline, it looks to be between 8 and 12 feet in height.
As improbable as that seems for a river craft, that doesn't make the Keelboat, as presented, essentially impossible. But one thing does:
The mast is problematic. It just can't be that big. The mast is a traditional mast that is installed and made fast to the keel, bigger in size than a telephone pole below decks.
The problem is that as presented, the map depicts a significant 5' diameter on the Keelboat's mast suggesting something close to traditional mast for a vessel of that size, with a mast above deck of at least 60-80' and as much as 120' in height. And that's impossible for this Keelboat on this particular river.
The problem is the Voulge Bridge at Castle Everstand. That castle is detailed in Castles of the Inner Sea and the Voulge bridge spans the Kestrel river with a height of only 40'. The mast on the keelboat suggested by the drawing in Vol II of the AP simply can't fit under that bridge.
With a deck height of 8-10 feet above the water line and a foot or two clearance, the Mast can only be about 30' high. That's the height of a traditional stepped mast on a 27' sailboat.
So, pedantic details there (if you care) requires some rejigging.
More broadly, the lack of any details and interaction at Everstand in the module at all is a bit of a problem for me that I will be fixing. Everstand is a major location on the front line with Belkzen and the tale of Everstand's creation is a bit of an awesome bit of Golarion's history as set out in Castles of the Inner Sea.
The central castle keep was created on the spot to defend against the advancing orc hordes literally out of nothing; the defending soldiers at the crossing planned to draw two cards from a Deck of Many Things one of them had: the first draw was the Moon card (granting a wish) and the wish was used so that the next card drawn was the Throne (thereby creating the core keep of Castle Everstand, fully stocked with food, siege weapons and bristling with all manner or defenses. Caste Everstand easily held the day against the surprised invaders. The Orc raiders at the Voulge crossing weren't expecting a game of "Drop the Rock" where they were the Visiting Team that day. They failed miserably and Everstand, stood.
And it has ever since.
The point to take away is that Everstand literally burst from the ground, materializing out of nothing to act as a bastion for Lastwall's defenders. That's WAY too great a tale not to highlight it and give Everstand a more prominent role in the AP.
It's time for me to get to work on doing exactly that!
I ran a somewhat progressed Skreed against my group, expecting fully that Skreed would survive and withdraw form the Tomb ti fight another day.
I had planned for this contingency since the very start of the campaign. An all Dwarven party with poo ranged weapon power meant that the PCs were slow and unable to do much damage from range. I knew that Skreed would get away if he wanted to.
The problem was where the AP would go if that happened. I planned for it throughout and left myself with plenty of options. I think it is a more organic feel and should present no problems at all. Indeed, I'm happier with this result as it give me more opportunities to tinker and have Skreed evolve as a true nemesis. He'll be back - and maybe more than once.
This will, of course, impact on the river journey but that presents no long term difficulties either. I have a replacement for all of that planned and will draw upon Daughters of Fury and intrigue in Lastwall and Urgir to replace much of Melira. I'm very pleased with this direction, actually.
Well, looking at Giantslayer as a guide, I was just fine with the Orcs in that AP. If anything, what upset me a little was their total removal after the first 2 parts when they had worked so well and been provided some really strong non-player characters.
If there was anything which gelt a but off, it was in not providing ogres, trolls and mongrel Giants and with a more prominent roll in the first 2 volumes.
I'm an advocate for GMs bringing the Orcs back into Giantslayer's later volumes.
So if there was a Dragon AP, not everything has to be a dragon or even dragon-kin. I'd rather there were many more dragons and dragonkin than just end-bosses. I know that doesn't sit well with some people. I get it.
I'm speaking up for those who it DOES sit well with and I'm one of 'em.
That said, I can see many variations and racial types and even kick ass Wyvern or Drake riding uber-Kobold (or some other draconian humanoid) as a final villain in a Vol 1. Whatever.
My point: no need for any designer/developer to feel constrained. The vellum is indeed, quite blank on an AP that does not exist :)
Nope. We're back and spent a chunk of time on Saturday working on the new episode.
We're aiming for monthly releases. There will be an episode #21 in January. We're pretty sure we know what Vol 1 of what AP we will be covering, too.
Interview requests have on out. Waiting to hear back and confirm dates. (Holidays make that problematic for guests but easier for us.)
Yes, but people don't exactly feel enthusiastic about beating up on a hatchling or a very young dragon. Seriously, who'd feel heroic having killed a dragon that hasn't even reached 16 years of age?
I don't have the time right now to look through Bestiaries 1-5, modules, APs, Monsters of the Inner Sea, PFS Scenarios and the rest of Paizo's product line in an attempt to identify those monsters which reasonably fall under the banner "Dragons and Dragonkind". Perhaps I shall do so later this evening in a follow-up.
But off the top of my head, from Kobolds, Wyverns, Dragonnes, Drakes, Hydras, Chimeras, Draconian Humanoids, Jabberwocky, degenerate Dragons, and True dragons, and all variations thereof, my guess is that is one helluva long list.
And we haven't touched upon their allies, cultists, slaves, thralls, and masters -- let alone monsters that Paizo's staff could create as part of a "dragon and dragonkind" AP.
C'mon. Not having enough foes to fight in such an AP is so far from a credible or reasonable objection to same it cannot be taken seriously.
Cole Deschain wrote:
I'm not here to design a "Dragon AP" for Paizo. Assuming even that I could do so, that would be about the worst thing anybody could do. Paizo wants to be original. If it's not their ideas and they are not feeling passionate about them, it won't get done. Ever.
I do agree with your observation that the original Dragonlance was so epic because the entire setting was built for that specific campaign. That's hard to compete with in a plug 'n play setting like Golarion.
But I still think Paizo can do it. They certainly took much of that approach in "An AP all About -- and Featuring -- Giants" in Giantslayer.
Giantlsayer faced the same mechanical challenges in terms of threat level vs low level characters, too. It pulls it all off admirably. Like a proposed homage to Dragonlance, Giantslayer is itself an homage to Gygax's "G" series trilogy in some thematic respects, without aping it with anything more than feel-good, vague allusions.
If they can do that with Giants, they can do that with Dragons and dragonkind, too.
You want me to be more specific than that? Nope. Not my bailiwick. I'm just checking the temp of Paizo's development staff seeing if there is any interest in their finding the "Moar Dragons" dial and turning it WAY up to "11". It has, after all, been quite a while since we asked. From their initial response, they gave it a lot of consideration about five years ago, too.
I appreciate that such a campaign might not be to everybody's tastes. But so what? That's not determinative. Iron Gods, Hell's Rebels, Hell's Vengeance and Strange Cthulhu were/won't be to everybody's tastes, either. Indeed, no matter what they do, they will have a swath of their fans say "Meh, I want [this other cool thing], instead."
That's the nature of the gig and their customer base. It has ever been thus.
I'm confident that if Paizo does a Dragon AP, "Featuring -- and about -- Dragons", that they will make it interesting enough that a broad swath of their customers will be very interested in buying it, reading it and playing it. YMMV, (and clearly does.)
Frankly, I don't think selling the idea of a Dragon focused AP to their customers is the hard part. I think that's a "no brainer", tbh. I think selling it to one of James Jacobs and Rob McCreary is the far more difficult challenge.
Because if neither of those guys are excited about it MORE than some other idea they have (and they have dozens of them) then it won't get done.
And to date, that has been the case.
Cole Deschain wrote:
I'm frankly bored to tears of the Dragon as BBEG or just before BBEG "special" encounter. We've had that in what is now narrowing in on nearly two dozen volumes of the AP and modules. It might even be MORE than that at this point.
I understand that to some people this is what they want. Well, if so, you have it. Countless times over, too.
Why can't we have something else now, for those who are interested?
I want a whole bunch of Draconian foes and themes and variations thereof. I want it turned up to 11.
Gimme a new and improved and better Dragonlance. There; I said it.
It was the first real AP, after all. I've played in WotC's 5E Tiamat homage and it's not recapturing that magic for me.
Bring that magic back, sans too much Choo-choo.
While not run in Chronological order, Azmyth and I have managed to run through:
(part of) Rise of the Runelords, Legacy of Fire, Council of Thieves, Kingmaker, Serpent's Skull, Carrion Crown, (part of) Jade Regent, Skull & Shackles, (most of)Shattered Star, (part of) Mummy's Msk, Iron Gods and Giantslayer -- with the last two underway right now.
And Curse of the Crimson Throne is on our immediate horizon.
The problem is simple: to really do these justice, it takes a looong time to run them. 1.5 years with weekly play, and 2-3 years with bi-weekly play.
Basically, unless we are playing in MORE than 4 APs at the same time (and the highest we have hit is 4 at once), Paizo is pumping more water in at their publication rate than we are pumping out at the same time.
And that's without getting much of a chance to play any stand-alone modules or very many society scenarios, either.
Paizo's publication schedule for adventure material is intimidating. There is more released than anybody can soak up and play. You need to pick and choose.
But, overall, that's a much better place to find yourself than the alternative.
I would concur with the idea of a seaborne exploration or colonization AP (Azlanti isles seems the best idea).
And I further agree that those who seek more piratey lovin' look to Freeport and Razor Coast, both of which support Pathfinder Pirates with a wide breadth of Pathfinder material. Mix that up with River into Darkness and Plunder and Peril, S&S1 elements and The Shackles, and ... well. You have an embarrassment of riches to draw upon, really.
So much so that Pirate campaigns are probably the most over-served genre in Pathfinder right now, with lavishly illustrated and top-notch 3rd party material, too. Written by many of the same freelancers who would write another AP in any event.
There are other itches which need scratching, I think.
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
RISE my Unthread Minions!! RISE!!
It's been 4, going on 5 years since the above quotes were written in this thread.
There were lots of meaningful comments by both Paizo editorial staff and several of the better known Paizo freelance authors, too.
The point to take away was that it had been seriously, very seriously, considered and there were reasons it had not happened and wasn't going to happen for quite a while, if ever.
And when James Jacobs says "nah, I really don't want to do it" I'm wise enough to figure out that discussion isn't going to end in a happy place.
It's been nearly five years. Giantslayer has shown us that there are no mechanical challenges to this that cannot be faced and that a whole lot of monsters of the same type might be fun. Lots of fun!
And Giantslayer opened the door as well to the Orbs of Dragonkind being a potential focus for such an AP as well. Maybe the BBEG isn't a dragon after all.
So, I'd like to insert a thermometer into the ear of the Paizo editorial staff and take their "Dragon AP" temperature again.
What about now? Are we there yet? Can we go there now?
All NEW Chronicles Podcast Episode 20 - The Dragon's Demand with Mike Shel
Available Now! Download HERE
Chronicles Podcast Returns from the Dead with an all new episode. Steel and Azmyth catch up on their games and campaigns and what they have been doing lately in the intro. We interview Ben Loomes, creator of Syrinscape as well as Matt Morton and Tobias Drewry of Mesa Mundi, publishers of d20Pro. Chronicles welcomes the return of authors Richard Pett and Greg A. Vaughan for a special spotlight on The Blight by Frog God Games. On the review, author Mike Shel checks in to discuss his unique 64 page stand-alone module "The Dragons Demand" in spoilerific fashion. To finish, Azmyth and Steel discuss the module with an in-depth (if not protracted) review. Brevity? Never! We stretch it out with 4hrs and 20 mins of podcast, cause that is how we roll!
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
They should be included in the zip files that contain the PDF of each book.
No, he means that he has purchased the AP books in store/Amazon and wants to buy the interactive maps PDF bundle which is normally for sale for $14.99 and should be ready for sale now. It may have been overlooked for some reason, or it may be that there is some new aspect of PDF maps which is changing Paizo's approach on this given RealmWorks licensing issues. I expect it has just been overlooked though.
I'll fire a message to a Paizo employee and draw their attention to this thread.
Oh yes it does. A dispel magic will first target and interact with the highest level spell then in effect. As a spell with heightened effect, that's a 9th level spell buff of enlarge person at CL20. In all but a mere handful of potential exceptions, that spell effect is overwhelmingly likely in this AP to rule the roost as the highest level spell effect when it is in effect. This may matter when the wielder interacts with a caster or when hit with a special weapon - like, a +2 dispelling morningstar, say.
A targeted dispel magic will therefore potentially affect that buff first. It may preserve your other buffs from cancellation. Whether that is perceived a bonus or not is a matter of context, but it absolutely will matter.
It also affects duration for a spell cast from an equivocal source. In this case, given the stated text of the artifact itself, it does not have an impact. It's a CL20 item and the text says it last 20 minutes. Otherwise, for an ambiguous source, we'd be assuming contextually it was CL17 (the minimum level to cast a 9th level spell).
I'm just curious about Agrimmosh and I thought this would be a good place to ask. What is the purpose of the heightened quality of the enlarge person and to what level was it heightened? Are we to assume it's been heightened to 9th level? I've only read the first part of the AP, and I thought the heightened might matter later but I would like to know so I can plan to change it.
Duration and, more importantly, for dispelling purposes.
We are playing through Vol 1 now (8 sessions in) and I have listened through and prepared in d20Pro the first 2 AP volumes so far.
When I say "listened through" I mean it is because I have taken up as a habit of learning the AP by doing the following:
1 - Copy pasting out the entire text of the adventure and key NPCs pf each AP volume into its own Word file. I omit most of each stat block.
2- I do a search and replace of "f_l" and "l_i" removing the space Paizo inserts into these characeters in layout as Paizo addition of this extra space into between those two characters in their layout messes things up when processed by a Text to speech synthesizer.
3 - I save that all to a .doc file and then put it on my Android phone.
4 - I then use the free Android app @Voice to listen to it during my commute. I purchased a voice pack for Android made by Acapela Group that make voice synthesis software. I prefer "Lucy", a 30-something British woman as my reader. You may have other preferences.
5 - Play the books. Listen to them all. REPEATEDLY. Follow along with maps from time to time; listen to it with eyes closed at other times. Let it all come to you, absorb the overall plot and characters and choose the parts you want to emphasize to customize your AP run and smooth out the parts of Giantslayer you don't like - and emphasize the ones that do. Be Prepared. Have a plan.
The audio book preparation method has really had my overall understanding of this AP at a much higher level than a skim or read through I have used with other APs. It works VERY WELL for me. YMMV.
From all of the above, I have formed the following opinions about Giantslayer:
1 - Giantslayer is traditional meat and potatoes Western European focused fantasy. And that's A Good Thing.
Consider the overall production arc that precedes Giantslayer and that which follows it:
Reign of Winter - Planet Hopping and time shifting in Baba Yaga's Dr. Who Police Box;
Seen in the publication context in which it is placed, Giantslayer is the breath of normative Western European fantasy that many of us were craving. What makes Gorbacz dismissive is the thing which attracted me to it. It flipped my switches.
Now, that said, there are problems with parts of the AP from where I sit, what I want to run and what my players want to play. The nice thing is that its traditional fantasy makeup makes it easy to adapt.
I would agree with the observation that the Orcs were among the best thing about the AP. While I appreciate that this was the "Giantslayer" AP and not the "Orc" AP, I found that I really liked the Orc aspect of things so much I adapted the AP to bring the Orc flavor back in, especially in Vol 6. What can I say? Both Katrezra and Droja are amazing NPCs to me. I refuse to let them go with nary a whimper.
I've played or GM'd all 3 Dungeon era APs and 11 of the Paizo era APs. Over the course of that time, I have come to appreciate that every single one of these APs, without exception, is improved by adaptation by the GM and treating it as a base to develop a campaign from. While they can be run out of the box without too much tinkering -- they ALL benefit from tinkering more than a little.
In that regard, one of Giantslayer's strongest design elements is that its traditional Western European focused fantasy roots makes it the easiest to adapt. The authors have left large holes where that can be easily done and significant plug n play hooks are there to pursue if you care to. And if you don't want to -- you don't have to.
I have found Giantslayer to be great fun so far. A more thorough deconstruction and review is ahead on our podcast over the next 18-24 months. But suffice to say that if you are a fan of D&D and Pathfinder, there is a LOT you will like here and LOTS more that you can change to emphasize the things that you prefer while de-emphasizing the things you do not. It is not perfect; nothing is and there are many aspects I watned to change and have. But in that regards, traditional Western European fantasy is the most easily amenable to such home brewed adaptations. It's a significant strength.
It is a solid AP. Tim Hitchcock's Forge of the Giant God in Vol 3 is my favorite of the 6 installments, but 1 and 2 are close runners up after some re-jigging and buffing out of the necessary body filler.
Yes, the anvil is part of the forge and it is there in the Cathedral of Minderhal.
I think you will get FAR more out of it to run nearly the whole of the module though -- parts 2 and 3 together. It's very sandboxy and one of Tim Hitchcock's best, imo. The forge itself in its current state rather makes that a requirement before it can be used in any event.
Or, better still, run the whole AP. I am a big fan of Giantslayer, overall.
I use PDF Extraction Wizard (not SomePDF Image Extractor, which extracts a lower quality image from many Paizo PDFs). Image Extraction Wizard extracts the best .png in the interactive map.
You then follow the guideline here and use the Excel file at that page to resize your map (whether you use it in a VTT or not - the procedure is the same).
It works perfectly, provided that Paizo has not screwed up their map. Sometimes they do -- though they are FAR more careful about it these days. The older the AP gets, the more difficult they are to use on a technical basis when it comes to Fog of War and grid lineups on a VTT.
An interesting thread premise!
I will give a somewhat snarky answer to it, too.
Yes. It's called Carrion Crown and as it turns out, it has sold surprisingly well over the years, too. Many of the issues are sold out with others dangerously (and surprisingly!) low on inventory. And this has transpired despite the fact that the AP is acknowledged as having one of the flimsier metaplots and weaker connective tissue between each of the adventures of any AP (All of which are actually pretty damned good "Theme Parks" on their own, to the authors' credit).
Moral of the Story: Gothic Horror is evergreen and will always sell if done well.
Other Moral of the Story: Apply the same yardstick to "classic fantasy" and you will get the same "do well" result. It will be something that players enjoy playing and GMs will be happy to run. So yes, you probably can do as many have suggested here and it will work with a little elbow grease and re-imagining. How well will depend upon the tastes of the GM and his or her players, but yes, totally doable.
For some groups they are too long; for others (though a smaller number) they are too short.
But what these are, in reality? Is exactly what they need to be. They are, by any objective standard that counts, almost perfect.
Pathfinder AP is the life blood of a company that lost its license to print Dungeon and Dragon Magazine. And in the course of doing so, and having no business at all -- these guys looked at the possibilities and rolled forward without laying off a single staff member.
How successful was that? The AP line is an evolutionary step in adventure design which is now at Issue #100. That's a design that has stood the test of time -- and then some.
That is a serious milestone in this business. And it IS a business.
What makes a product so overwhelmingly successful that a full color 96 page book with custom artwork and the highest production quality levels in the business can lat for #100 consecutive issues? The answer is: commercial success.
What you see before you every month is that and more. It is successful because it is what it needs to be in order to BE and remain a success.
And these are a commercial success. Each adventure in each issue of PF AP is as long as one developer can manage to develop over the required time span. They simply can't go longer. The APs are as long as they need to be in order to fill a production schedule based on 1 issue a month, 2 APs a year because those are the commercial subscription realities in the business in which they are engaged. And it is that monthly subscription that made everything here on this website possible from the get go -- and it continues to keep the lights on.
If they were making stand alone adventure books from scratch without a deadline, we probably would see a *somewhat* different design.
But they aren't and we don't. Adventure Paths are a commercial product, meant to fulfill a customer demand and roll out within a tightly constrained production schedule. Stray off the edge but a little and it is a cash flow nightmare in the offing.
And one other thing. In the more than 41 years that have now passed since the Original D&D was created? In all that time, through every edition of the game that has ever been made?
Pathfinder AP is the most detailed, longest running and most commercially successful module line for any RPG ever released. Ever.
Seems to me that whatever Paizo is doing? They are doing it better than even they expected -- and better than any of us ever dreamed they would, Once Upon a Time, whether a fan in the business or a professional manufacturing or selling RPG products.
The cancellation of Dungeon Magazine was my darkest moment as a fan of D&D since 1977. Nothing else made me as angry or as bitter and disappointed as a fan as that event at the time.
And while that remains true, it also turns out that it was the best thing that ever happened to me as fan of the game too. It just took a while for that to reveal itself. And it was the best RPG thing that ever happened to you, too.
I am not saying APs are perfect (though at the time of its publication, issues #26 was as close to perfect as they ever got, imo). God knows I criticize and deconstruct every single AP I play or run after the fact. (It's my sub-hobby within my RPG hobby.) But I do that with such seriousness only because I enjoy them all and the product line so very much, and appreciate everything they represent about the game.
We have never, ever, EVER had it so good. It's never been better than this.
Here's to issue #101-200. Salut!
^But in time traveling, you aren't leaving the setting, just moving to another part of it. (And in The Terminator scenario, you aren't even doing that -- the villains are.)
In the other thread on this specific topic of time travelling/historical APs, James Jacobs sees it this way:
James Jacobs wrote:
Neither direction is interesting to me. We didn't put 10-some years of work into a campaign setting to not use it.
So, when JJ is of a different view, I'm 100% sure that his view is going to be the way he sees it.
Probably a more persuasive argument against time traveling is more elegant: if your setting is so poor in potential adventures that you have to leave it in order to tell a great story, you've got bigger problems that maintaining a timeline.
There are plenty of potential stories within Golarion as it exists right now.
I still want to see a Kingmaker II though. Not sure where or what; but that's my preference.
James and Erik did state several times that a time travel AP is not on the cards - these usually go off the rails right away as players set out to alter their favorite area of setting history instead of following the main plot. I guess they're speaking from long experience there ;)
Pretty much, yes. In all but some very limited circumstances, the time travel AP doesn't work that well.
Though to be fair, there were a number of factors concerning this and seeking to alter the timeline was but one example of a problem.
The other main problem was creating supporting material for the age in which the events took place. A whole lot is needed for a very limited purpose. The editorial staff at Paizo went nuts just trying to get Tien Xa ready for Jade Regent. Now you want to change the entire Inner Sea Setting? Uhmmm... no.
It was with that in mind that the only time travel AP I suggested was Quest for Sky: An Ap that takes place mostly entirely below the surface of Golarion after Earthfall, where the main protagonists are Dwarves or, at the least, are in service to the Dwarves who are at war with the Orcs.
There really is no history of Golarion to change during this period. The surface, such as it is, is controlled by the Orcs. There are no other surface dwelling civilizations of note. It is yet millenia before Thassilon rises. The Dwarves will eventually win, the dust from Earthfall will recede and Golarion will emerge from darkness. No individuals are named in the period so nobody is fated to live or die. It is Golarion's Dark Age - literally.
The main maps for such an AP are mostly all Darklands underground maps and that keeps the lid on where the players can and can't go so it is a very contained setting in terms of material.
So, maybe a Quest for Sky would work.
Same cannot be said for a variety of other ideas though. Before Earthfall? (problem - PCs try to avert it). Near when or just after Thassilon arises? (problem: PCs mess with Runelords). Or more than a century ago (Problem: PCs try to save Aroden, Arazni, et al).
It is problematic in all be a few radical examples. Generally, as it is the difference in the culture of Golarion that makes the past attractive, it is difficult to do one that makes sense without the inherent weaknesses.
KingMaker II - Old Azlant
Rumors of the arrival of a bold Seafarer returning with tales of discoveries in the Far Western Ocean have been building for months. The variants on the tale seem numberless, but they all contain the same promising seed of truth: the ancient ruins of Old Azlant have risen from the depths of the Ocean as if rising from time itself. Grand treasures and artifacts of unspeakable power await those who are bold enough to seize the opportunity and explore these Shattered and sunken Lands of Old Azlant before they slip beneath the waves again to be lost for 10,000 more years. Or before somebody else gets there first.
The ripple of the rumors builds, until it is as if a tidal wave breaks over the nations of the Inner Sea and Distant Shores. The wealth and power of Old Azlant is there for the taking by those bold enough -- and lucky enough -- to find it. It is a new gold rush as Explorers the world over descend on the Isles of Old Azlant to find this fabled Risen City and secure its wealth and power.
In the dimly lit back of a disreputable tavern in Riddleport, the PCs save the life of a crewman from the ship that first claims to have found the Azlanti ruins; their reward is a map to the island on which his ship found the ruins.
All they have to do is get to the island, explore it, find the ruins and secure its treasures... before anybody else does...
That is the premise for an Exploratory campaign -- one of Hexplortation and ultimately, Colonization -- set in the shattered remains of the islands of Old Azlant. The competitors will be explorers from Cheliax, The Shackles, Arcadia and other Distant Shores.
Essentially, Kingmaker II: Atlantis.
And let's get real, all these AP's are railroads; you either have to accept that or don't play them.
The social contract at the table is that you play the adventure that is presented by the GM, that much is true. And yes, some of those obvious plot hooks are what you are intended to follow up on in any AP. That also is the social contract at the table. I agree with you wholeheartedly on this point.
That said, there is a qualitative difference between some of the stick and carrots that are deployed in these APs vs those that manifest in others. Some of them, (aspects of Second Darkness and Legacy of Fire, say) are MORE "railroady" than others (Skull and Shackles, Giantslayer, Kingmaker, say).
There is a point where when you get whisked off into another pocket plane without a chance to sell or buy more stuff for a volume or two that you can say, yes, "that's too railroady" without over-reaching.
I think it is fair to say that in RoW the pocket plane/ world shift device is used in a manner where the PCs do not even have the illusion of voluntarily throwing in with the social contract and that can affect players' enjoyment of the Adventure Path.
Sometimes, it is a matter of presentation. You might be eating the same steak presented on a fine china plate, a steak board, and a garbage can lid. Same steak, very different platters.
If you say it doesn't matter as the steak is the same, I put it to you that you need to eat out more often. :)
I made a lot more changes than this, but I liked some of the things you did. I had not considered the explosives and silence spell and the blowback. I really like that one.
I placed the note in the fireplace in Skreed's room, destroying part of it and created a charred handout for it. It still conveys about 2/3rds of the contents in its original form. I found that was more than enough (and it was).
I completely deleted the idea of the receipt. I though the idea of a receipt in a medieval town of 600 was just *silly*. I refused to do it.
I had already changed the race of Sara (indeed, her identity and her current status - she became the PCs dead dwarven Aunt and tying up her affairs was the reason the PCs are in Trunau in the first place). There is no receipt at all. The PCs, all dwarves, could tell that the hopeknife was not dwarven forged. Given the timing of the death of their Aunt and how long she had served as the smith in Trunau, the PCs figured out that the hopeknife used to kill Rodrik had to have been forged in the past 4 weeks. That was all that was necessary to set them off bird-dogging down that road of inquiry without the awkwardness of the receipt. I hate "Elephant in the room" clues like that in any adventure, especially using a means as modern and out of place as a "receipt".
I had Brinya and Rodrik not engaged, but actually wed in secret. I also changed Trunau to be overtly racist and Jim Crow in their treatment of half-orcs (the "Tainted") so that was outrageous and downright scandalous. It also created a subplot and Red Herring over whether Rodrik was killed by his Father; even after that was ruled out, whether Brinya could claim Rodrik's Harp as her inheritance became a matter the PCs aided Brinya with. Jargrin sold the harp before the real hopeknife was retrieved from the Plague House in exchange for wine and brandy used to solemnize Rodrik's funeral pyre. That sort of mean and pettiness was just the sort of thing that I knew my players would react to through roleplay as Brinya was left preggers and destitute by Jargrin's actions. (Rodrik's harp is in the possession of the merchant from Lastwall that may be rescued in Part 2 (the one with the platinum scales) and that created a further subplot about its recovery and potential return to Brinya.) Jargrin is not sympathetic at all. He's not evil - he's just a patriarchal bigoted ass.
I made significant changes and introduced an intro encounter in media res against orc raiders attacking a farmouse far beyond the Town walls. That attack was later tied in to the secret assault on the town and explains how the orcs were able to reach Trunau in secret. I also fixed up the signal fires and why it was so important that they be lit in a way that made good sense in the context of Trunau.
I changed many more things -- HUGE changes, really, -- concerning Daktani and Katrezra and their relation to Droja in Vol 2 and how all of that fits within the Orcs of Belkzen. I'll go through all of this on the podcast when we review this in detail (and we will!). Suffice to say it was a change that was designed to solidify the role of the Orcs of Belkzen throughout this AP as having importance and not only in the first 2 volumes. It's a bait and switch I was unhappy with. I'm bringing them all back throughout the tale and especially in vol 6.
Every AP has its hidden gems for NPCs, those who might not be intended to be central figures in accordance with the outline -- but the module author makes their own and it just "clicks" anyway. After reading through Giantslayer several times now, I have decided that the Giantslayer AP's Diamond In the Rough NPC (for me) is clearly Droja. She is a perfect foil for a GM and she is GREAT to roleplay; I have her accent and motivations all figured out (Droja's orcish patois accent channels the Witch in Pirates of the Caribbean). She sticks with the heroes as long as they will have her -- and she has her own agenda. I have elevated her role in the AP considerably. Many of the major changes I made to Vol 1, 2 and later all relate or tie in to Droja.
I'll explain later in some detail on the podcast. I expect we will get to it in February, 2016.
Thanks for your post especially the idea about the explosives. I think that one is rather brilliant. I would have definitely used it had I had the chance to.
I went looking for my LEgacy of Fire barbarian, Kyrano 'Ghu at 1st level. I couldn't find him. Here he is at 8th level.
He was almost always enlarged (from potion) during any combat. When enlarged, raging and hasted, he routinely did 100+ points of damage a round at 8th level. He could take enough damage that whatever he fought died *long* before it was a real threat to him (or anybody else).
His damage output was *ridiculously* high. At the end of the AP, we was at 248 HP, AC 28 and his damage output was well over 225 points a round. He convinced Azmyth and I that barbarians were just plainly unbalanced.
In Serpent Skull, I tried a dwarven fighter, lucerne hammer wielder, just for kicks. That was not quite as foolish as Kyrano - but he was close.
In both cases (barbarian or polearm fighter), the greatest exploit in the game is the near continuous use of potion of enlarged person in combat. There is no other CL1 magic item that is that DIRT cheap that is that effective at **all** power levels of the game. Anything that good is TOO GOOD. It should be banned, imo.
I'm running this with my online group and am frustrated by a lack of maps for several areas of Skirgaad such as the Drake Caves, Mess Hall and Winter Wolf Warrens. Have others come up with good alternatives?
Do you have the poster map folio? That provides you with a fairly good idea of what they should look like in terms of elevation, relative size and basic layout.
Has Ingrahild be cured of her madness/curse?
If no, Ewigga bides her time and savors the cruelty of it. If she has been healed, Ewigga should curse her again - on the sly.
Giantslayer - Dwarven Delve
All five of my players PCs are Dwarves from Janderhoff. All are from the same clan. This concept for a PC party is something we have kicked around with doing for many years but this seems to be the time to actually try it. The Giantslayer AP is our "Dwarven Delve"
Malakai Redrock - Ftr 1/Paladin (StoneLord)1
All of the PCs are Lawful Good, except for Horardric the Rogue; the black sheep of the Redrock clan is Chaotic Neutral. Still, the "Dwarven way" of seeing things has predominated over any particular trite LG alignment role-playing. We're going all-in on the Dwarven feel in every respect.
Players speaking in "fake brogue" indicates that their character is speaking in the Dwarven tongue, not common.
The plan was to start all PCs as either Ftr or Ranger and then diverge from that point to branch out into the character's chosen class.
In terms of flavor, the Dwarven theme has worked out very well so far. There is a different backstory which explains their presence in Trunau, added clan obligations, family politics and so forth.
I think everybody is quite pleased with the Dwarven Delve so far.
Free Starting Team Feat
The fighter baseline for all of the Redrocks went further than martial/armor proficiencies. They got a free team feat out of it, too.
Each of the Redrocks was given a free "team feat" to start in addition to their normal starting feats and traits. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, after much debate and weighing the pros and cons, the players ultimately agreed they would choose "Shake it Off" as their beginning team feat.
As a free team feat, "Shake it Off" may prove to be the one selection which will prove to be too powerful. We're giving it a few more sessions to get a feel for how it will play out during actual play during extended combat when it may come into use. That has not happened yet and may not for some time, tbh.
They may receive another team feat at 4th, 8th, 12th and 16th, or not. We are playing this "team feat" experiment more or less by ear.
Very Dangerous over Short Distances...
The other wild card is how the reduced mobility of the PCs will play out during combat. With every PC being reduced to a movement speed of 20', that aspect of things may well have pernicious consequences.
For those GMs familiar with the conclusion of Vol 1, that may be a battle where the 20' range limitation will hit a stone wall. We'll see.
Pt II of Vol 1, The Siege of Trunau begins next session!
There is no doubt that the primary purpose of the Forge in Minderhal is to resize weapons and armor. You are absolutely correct about that.
I do think, however, that while the Forge is aimed at providing the PCs a resource to resize weapons and armor (after they reach a level when one of them probably also knows teleport and so can make use of that resource as a matter of GM "hand waiving" later on in the AP), the Forge also speaks to the idea of the PCs using it to craft items, generally.
The lack of any central city tied to the adventure as a place to purchase and sell goods suggests that the PCs will be resorting to the craft magic weapons and armor and wondrous items feats more often in this AP than they will do in most of them (table variation of this tendency across groups of players is admittedly high I think).
Still, my point is that there is no lottery issue here with Gorum's Thorn. Its bonus ability to trip a giant on a crit is not accidental and it emerges usefully only in the later half of the AP through crafting, if at all.
The weapon is not evil, is not aligned and there is no reason why a paladin cannot use it per RAW -- and no good role-playing reason why they should avoid using it, either. Its additional benefit to followers of Gorum is there to deny that bonus to most PCs while making it useful for a role-playing purpose to bribe General Karrguk, who is multi-classed as a cleric of Gorum for just that reason, I think.
I would also point out that Gorum's Thorn is intended to act as as blueprint for PC use (with modification of the deity involved) after they secure and reactivate the Forge in Minderhal and have the resources to craft their own weapons. So I think you are giving something early that is meant to be secured by the party later -- and as a reason to activate the forge (which others have complained appears to be irrational).
You might consider this and put it in the hopper.
So Silvermane, the Elven druid who was a member of the Council of Thorns, the one who SENDS you to the Vault of Thorns can use a longbow, but the fact there are magic arrows there seems inconsistent to you?
The only member of the Council you meet can use arrows... (Elves can use longbows; druids or not).
Gorum's Thorn is a +1 keen Greatsword. The trip on a crit is mostly neither here nor there. It's a keen greatsword. If you crit with it, the target is likely dead, tripped or not. At least at this stage of the game. Giants do not become frequent enemies until after Steelhand's Tomb.
And there is nothing which prevents Gorum's Thorn from being wielded by any party member. Indeed, the main fighter is certain to do so.
It is also a weapon that if offered to Karrguk as part of any deal will ensure that the Twisted Nail will betray Grenseldek.
Karrguk is a cleric of Gorum; it's expressly in the text. And Karrguk will betray the party, too, so the deal won't have to be made. Only promised and it makes complete sense to buy Karrguk's loyalty with such a promise - and Droja knows it.
There seems to be a very great deal of hand-waving involved in setting up the PCs into being interested in Skirgaard, in travelling there and in arriving at the hit and run tactics phase of this campaign.
As written, it feels very rushed to me.
It's a huge gap in the AP, which, on reflection, I'm okay with. However, I think a great many GMs would benefit from some more hand-holding and express direction in seamlessly flowing the AP from Vol 3 to Vol 4 or at the least, more discussion here as to how all that was done.
There could be *easily* be a half-dozen or more game sessions getting from the end of Vol 3 to the start of Vol 4; I guess it depends on the GM and the group and their play-styles. Some prefer and demand a more natural and organic flow to APs where others are more prepared to metagame it.
What did other GMs do to bridge this gap?
Cool. If this could dovetail off the edges of the old swamp flip-map, it would triple the utility for me.
Seeing as I have been screwing in GIMP with the Swamp Flip mat attempting to do just exactly this, I concur.
The product has long since been designed, created, developed and probably even printed by now. I guess we will soon see the results.
Piccolo Taphodarian wrote:
I am still digesting this volume of the AP after 4 read throughs; however, it is my favorite so far -- by a great margin. I also think it is Tim Hitchcok's best outing since Kingmaker Vol 1: Stolen Land.
The sandboxy nature and two set piece dungeons are wonderfully mixed in with a regional adventure hex crawl which has great promise, provides great opportunity to customize and to bring the setting -- and the villains -- to life. And it all hangs together, too.
As the nature of what the Giants are doing with the human tribute (Flash to indelible scene of Mom being eaten in Attack on Titan) the role of humans as food is underscored in this volume to a dark and pleasing degree. The politics here is outside of the borders of this Valley. Within it, with a few exceptions, you are Giants or you are food. That has a clarity and a singleness of moral purpose that I found refreshing. And finally, it was DARK and GRITTY.
An ogre is going nuts near tearing apart a Crofter's Cottage near Shinnerman's Fortune because she can't fit up the stairs to reach a crying human baby and the smell of it is driving her mad with hunger. LOVED IT.
Are we crystal clear on the motives of the party and the bad guys now?
Tim Hitchcock's signatures are contained throughout the module. The backstory to Stilgrit, the mother of Spiders, is classic Hitchcock. His villains always have reasons for what they do and who they are and his writing style has affected all the other Werecabbages when it comes to NPC backstories. Stilgrit's is a little over the top, but it's the effort he puts in that is noteworthy. Every GM and adventure author can learn something about NPC and story design by reading that.
The cracked femurs in the fire, the bodies stacked like cordwood, the cadavers hung from hooks in the butcher's lair, the nods to PCs that cast speak with dead and what they uncover from using it, the descriptions of useless gear or odd loot that has a value -- but also has a purpose -- all of this stuff is dark, well thought out, and fiendishly delightful.
If you can't roll 1d6 in Z11. Cathedral Chapter House after a successful Perception DC25 wondering with some excitement what the PC found and how you will describe these wonderful "garbage" non-garbage items in just the right way -- you aren't a gamer I want to play with.
Area N, "Abandoned Mines"? You have 8 or 9 months in the real world to build in motives, rumors, and backstory into your campaign to make finding the Abandoned Mines a highlight reel moment with connective tissue and real importance to your players and their PCs and your campaign. The Giants worked the mines until they couldn't reach farther; the Dwarves dug deeper until they abandoned the mines, too. What did they find when they dug too deeply? What lurks there and what treasures does it now guard? Why do your players care and how does this all fit in with their individual character's stories? You have more than HALF A YEAR to work this in and make it count. Don't drop the ball! Do your job, damn it.
If you can't use the Mines Map Packs and make that fit within your own Giantslayer AP and unspool all of that into one of the highlights of Vol 3 - turn in your GM card because you just aren't trying hard enough.
So, setting aside a discussion of the motives for reactivating the Forge to a separate thread/post, I loved this volume of the AP and I found it called back to the Kingmaker AP in a strong and functional way, while providing great hooks for GMs to customize and make this major installment in the AP the crown jewel of the Giantslayer AP.
On the plus side of things, our Gianstlayer session last night featured the introduction of our 60" Bravia Electronic Battlemat.
The game is played primarily in the SF Bay Area and the GM is remote to the game over Skype, with battlemat feedback in real time over Twitch.
The battlemat is controlled/revealed through the use of d20Pro, although the game is otherwise played normally by rolling physical dice and announcing results in the ordinary way.
What do the maps looks like on the electronic battlemat? Pretty sweet. Here is one of the attack in Event #2 by the Young Diseased wolves within Trunau.
The Soundset Editor that is being developed now (and with a projected release next month) should make it much easier to grab and pluck various elements from their back catalog and develop custom sets for APs not formally covered by the current offerings.
It's doable now without the editor of course.
It's not perfect as a soundset specifically created and assembled for an AP of course, but given the very robust offerings for Rise of the Runelords which features a great many ogres and giants already, you should have few problems in cooking up exacting soundsets and moods for the Giantslayer AP, say.
I'm quite excited to be using Syrinscape in our games. It's a great product and I think Paizo backed the right product with this one.
Our Dwarven Delve is sent in a darker, grimmer, and grittier version of Golarion. Where Trunau is overtly racist, class ridden, and divided. Where Jim Crow is in effect for those with "tainted" blood despite their heroic efforts and self-sacrifice. Where bigotry, prejudice, pride and jealousy is palpable and real -- and where rape and abortion are pressing ills and social issues which everybody fears and nobody talks about above a whisper - but which entangles all, just the same.
It's also the place where some people fight back against this entrenched order, where they still believe in love, honour and justice. A place that they would rather believe in a better world despite the evidence; where they would rather live on their knees and hope that mercy and deliverance exists somewhere, somehow than slit the throats of their own children and call it bravery.
It's the no frikkin Gnomes, no hopping bunnies and no Sunny Days and Blue Skies version of the Giantslayer AP. :)
I would suggest that the easier default source of all foreshadowing in this Volume and, indeed, to introduce the Storm Tyrant earlier into the AP is not so much through RP discussions with Silvermane, but through the Oracle Katrezra.
Katrezra is the blind LG Orc prophet, who one or more gods have decided to make use of as their hotline to the world and provide Katrezra with glimpses of the future that are as obscure, prophetic and clear/unclear as you need them to be. It's a built in trope. Use it.
All the more reason to use the Vault of Thorns pocket dimension change to the plot as I posted above. As a plot device, it eases and forgives a multitude of sins... It allows for bulking up of encounters where needed, too - both before and after it is triggered, as the GM can eyeball at the time.