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As written, the only thing of ANY importance to the plot is the finding of the Queen's broach. Nothing else is of any consequence to the plot of the AP.
In the Anniv Edition, there is a potential tie in with Gaedren's son, now known as Rolth Lamm in the Deadwarrens and later Seven Days to the Grave. Even that is a late addition to the AP the original never featured, where Rolth was an unrelated necromancer, a failed student from the Acadamae.
Nothing turns much on their relationship.
If the only tie-in to the plot is through a placed treasure, there are literally about 1,000+ 1st level adventures you could substitute for Gaedron Lamm. (And 900+ of them would probably be equal or better than Lamm's lambs.)
I stand by my views on Edge of Anarchy. You are entitled to your opinions of course.
There is no point in my repeating my views. I stand by them; if anything, I was far less forceful in my presentation and condemnation of the beginning of this AP than I really feel about it.
I cannot be any less clear than to state that I absolutely loathe the beginning of Edge of Anarchy. And yes, I think it is a design which is not defensible and not up to Paizo's standards.
As for XP... respectfully, no; it's not that easy.
XP is not a mechanical timer that merely tells you when to increase the power level of the party. If that's all it was, then it might be that arbitrary ad hoc experience is the way to go in every AP.
Many GMs do so. I have fallen back on it from time to time, too.
But at the end of the day, it is my players who remind me that ad hoc XP is a Very Bad Thing when used too often. And I confirm that view myself, when I am a player in other APs, when GMs try it there, too. I despise ad hoc XP as a player - and for good reason too.
If you as a GM prefer that approach, I have no qualms about your reaching that decision.
I must point out, however, that it isn't as easy as you suggest. Your view is premised upon the time you need to "tell YOUR STORY".
Respectfully, that's not what the game is about; or at least, that is only a part of what this game is about. The other part is that it's about the PLAYERS being able "to tell THEIR STORY" and to have their choices have an impact and believe that they are being rewarded for those choices. Once you go down the GM story railroad track with Ad Hoc XP only at the train station when you choose to give it, it's pretty hard for players to pretend they aren't on the GM choo-choo.
And that is the problem. When you reduce XP to ad hoc only, there are a large number of players who feel that they are on the GM Choo-choo. That their choices don't matter; that their failures and successes don't matter.
XP is a tangible reward system built into the game for over forty years and that reward system has a huge impact upon the enjoyment of the game by its players. It is one of the greatest reasons why D&D succeeds where so many other games have failed. To throw that to that wind puts the GM's story above the Player's needs and sense of satisfaction, agency and fulfillment.
And I am not sure that is something you can just hand wave away. In fact, I am very sure I won't do it and my players would not let me do it, either. They complain bitterly when they detect its presence in the game and I don't blame them for it.
I think that the best approach is to try and reach a happy medium. Design your encounters and story awards with more care so that the levelling happens at appropriate points in the story where you expect it; but that the thing can go off script and those events are not graven in stone. Sometimes, to get it back on track and provide appropriate challenges to players, you may need to just >>CHEAT<< on XP awards and CRs where it makes sense to do so. By increasing a challenge without increasing the reward by the correct mechanical amount.
Yup. Cheat if you need to, cheat long, hard and without remorse.
But like all cheating behind the GM screen -- once you get caught at it, the jig is up. So don't be so reckless as to get caught. You need design to go along with flexibility and story awards that make sense so that you aren't obviously leveling the party by GM fiat.
All by way of saying, there is no independent auditor who is going to come in to your game and say, "no, no, based on the adjusted CR of that combat, and number of foes that should have been 3,700 XP, not 1,200 XP. Change it RIGHT NOW."
Never happened at my table. Never, not even once.
So nobody's doing that. And if you deal with XP after the fact on a post via Facebook or in an announcement at the beginning of next session with an overall XP award, backed up by a notional breakdown if asked, then the players will have a sense they are being rewarded, without being fully on the puppet strings of the GM. And that's the key.
Like all GM fudging, its value-in-use is decreased greatly by talking about it. The social contract at the table is broken once you start talking about these things.
Based upon sales (and most specifically, AP stock they no longer have to sell), I would expect that Kingmaker is the most likely compilation hard cover, followed by Carrion Crown.
Remarkable that Carrion Crown has sold so well, but it has. Turns out, Gothic horror is a popular theme. Who knew?
Still, Kingmaker will be the next one. Count on it. They will need to make revisions and draw upon more of the features in Ultimate Campaign.
I cannot emphasize enough that there is a significant XP problem in Vol 1 of this AP that arises because of the way that Eel's End is designed.
If the PC's resolve Eel's End as a diplomacy/bribery encounter -- and lets' face it, that is what it is intended to be and how it SHOULD resolve, then there is NET ~7800 XP in combat that the PCs will NOT earn. So they won't ding 3rd level when the adventure expects them to, won't hit 4th when they are supposed to in the DeadWarrens -- and the whole XP situation unravels into a bit of a mess.
You need to crunch the numbers and figure all of this out. (And the way to add encounters is through largely role-playing events and a heist with a modest Story Awards, i.e., context without too much combat.)
I'll explain how I deal with XP - which isn't ad hoc but FEELS ad hoc to the players in the first half of the AP so it unspools as planned.
My point: things aren't as bad as they seem on the XP front at all. There is a lot of slack due to Eel's End. It's probably best to assume combat does not occur there at all and to plan to resolve it as a social roleplaying encounter worth 1,500 XP - and that's it.
No, I ended up changing WAY too much (not just in the Vol 1, but in the AP itself in terms of villans reasons and so forth) - and then this past ten days at work has been unpleasant.
I would like to get something out this weekend.
I did run part of the new add-on to vol 1, a costume ball at Palace Arkona based on much of the Demonskar Ball as inspiration and it worked out pretty well for those who are into a role-play heavy session (if not, then not). I'll be adding all of the Founding Festival Masquerade in to the text.
Also done: 16 new campaign traits, 2 new battlemaps.
Yes, I will. My notes were made for me and were consequently sketchy, but I've started to expand on them in order that others might make more sense of it all.
I hope to have the changes to Vol 1 ready in a week or so. There is a butterfly effect that carries through the other volumes which will take me a great deal longer to work out, but Vol 1? Absolutely. I'll put a link to it on this part of the boards when it is done.
Note: My notes reflect extensive changes I made to the AP itself in terms of altering the main villain and the motives for all tht follows. I'm not a fan of the inevitable spoilers that otherwise flow from an 8 yr old AP. I'll try to break out the changes so that a GM can use the document a la carte - take what they want and leave the other changes behind.
Hopefully, my players will exercise restraint and not look at it. It will ruin their run for them if they do. *sigh*
Another note, for those who use Herolab, I have purchased the "GM Only" content for Curse of the Crimson Throne Anniv Ed AP and I am finding it very useful.
Most of my players are very experienced and tend to blow through most combat encounters as written with ease. Only you as a GM can best gauge how much to beef up encounters to provide the proper challenge to your players' PCs. Every group of players is different. I find I have to boost mine significantly; YMMV.
Having the encounters in Herolab via purchased content greatly facilitates my being able to revise statblocks and boost encounters quickly. As I also use Herolab's tactical console to run my combats, this is a great method for getting it all in there quickly. Lastly, I use a VTT to run my game and having the encounters in a form I can (mostly) revise and then export in D20Pro format saves me countless hours of work.
Short strokes: if any of this sounds like you, get the CotCT Anniv Edition "GM Only" content from Lone Wolf. It's worth it.
To be blunt? Significantly rewrite the beginning volume of this AP.
As written, it starts in a strained and rushed manner, the encounters in the Old Fishery are FAR too easy, there's just no motivation or reason to care about it -- ANY OF IT -- and it's all over before it even starts. Later, the XP point curve in Eel's End is potentially 100% utterly broken if the PCs resolve it via diplomacy (as frankly, they are intended to do). Above all, the PCs are not provided with enough opportunity to care about Korvosa, the Crown as an institution, or the Queen as a person. Story wise, it's a failure.
It's just a crappy introduction. There's no point in pulling punches. I think it's substandard work.
I like the rest of the AP a lot. I think Seven Days to the Grave, in particular got all the editorial love as it was being developed in the Pit between Wes and James J.. Problem is, Nick Logue's installment is one of the weakest introductory volumes in any Paizo AP ever written. I am sure there were VERY good business and practical reasons for this at the time (It was developed as Paizo's new incarnation as a business was being founded and RotRL and Golarion was taking up much of JJ's time, too) and I do not blame anybody for how Edge turned out. It was a very stressful time at Paizo. It was doubly difficult trying to get vol 1 written before the Guide to Korvosa was complete and having a Vol 1 to an AP written from outside of Paizo must have been a great challenge at the time. The fact that Seven Days to the Grave is so much better underscores this. Nick Logue is a great author, too; however, this just isn't up to his normal quality.
Still, the proof is in the pudding and I think Edge of Anarchy needs a substantial rewrite to make the grade as it is not otherwise up to the quality I have come to expect from Paizo. Its deficiencies are not addressed in the Anniv Edition.
Accordingly, in my own campaign, I have almost completely rewritten it. That was the right choice me me and my group. It may not be for yours -- but from where I sit, Edge of Anarchy is the part of the AP which demands heavy revision the most.
James Jacobs wrote:
Alternatively, you can just change the True Villain™ of the AP. Most of the best APs have red herrings, Lieutenant style henchmen and other personalities that provide context and a fabric to enrich the AP. They also serve as a large pool within which to bait and switch out the villains and protect your players from having had their game plot "spoiled".
CotCT has all of that and more. With a little work (and maybe a lot of work depending on how far you want to go with it) you can tweak some elements of the AP so that the whole thing is significantly altered by the end -- yet still flows seamlessly throughout most of that AP as written. A little goes a long way.
I have already put in a fair bit of work to doing just that including significant changes to the first volume of the AP and I expect it will all go off more or less swimmingly. YMMV.
I think one of the principle questions in any Starfinder AP which is vastly more important than any specific plots or locations concerns the FEEL of the adventure and its impact on the "head space" taken up by game in the minds of its players, namely:
1 - Is this Pathfinder(D&D) in SPACE?; or
One of these has a decidedly FRPG feel to it. The other feels like a Science Fiction game with fantastical elements. That is a crucial difference in how the game will be approached by its players.
I think the decision to remove clerics from the game and instead leave them as mystical agents speaks towards Paizo's intended direction. This is NOT going to be D&D in SPAAAAAAACE.
Aspects of this impact will grow out of the Art style of the game. In this sense, the overall Art Direction is probably more important that many of us realize. There are a number of directions that Paizo can take with this, and yes, I really do think that it will have as large an impact on the viability of the game as much as any mechanical design element to the game.
Star Wars? Star Trek? Warhammer 40K, Lynch's Baroque designs in Dune? Stargatesque Egyptian feel? Firefly's "Space Western"? Dark Matter? Killjoys? Yadda yadda yadda. I could go on and on (and on).
Early indications suggest a Firefly / Killjoys approach. I think this the most likely, tbh.
There are many directions that this can all go in. It's touch feely nebulous and difficult to summarize or encapsulate absent the finished product -- but we'll know when it is in our hands what kind of feel the artistic direction in the game and its adventures and maps points us toward. Together with the tone of the adventure path itself, that will set the tone of Starfinder going forward in ways it may be difficult to change in the minds of the players.
And yet, changing up the art style from AP to AP may allow Paizo to cultivate a number of sub--genres within the "SF" sub-brands that Paizo can run with in the future.
The most important thing about Starfinder is its AP.
Frankly. I don't much CARE about the system. I know it will be mostly familiar and it will have some cool things and some not-so-cool things. Ooooh; Aaaaaah. Whatever. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I'll enjoy most of it. But it isn't all that important in the final analysis.
There have been literally DOZENS and DOZENS of SF RPGs in the past 40 years. People buy them. Most people don't end up actually playing them. Those who do play them tend not to have long campaigns with any of these systems. For the most part, SF systems have a role in gaming groups: they are filler RPGs. They are the games that are played for some limited period of time in beteween D&D or Pathfinder campaigns. Yes, all of them.
It's degrees of difficulty with all SF based RPGs. These are inherently difficult games to run. If you run an improv game, the scope of a single planet it usually too big to "wing it", let alone a galaxy -- for all but the most Iron of GMS. The options are unlimited and the available material is always too thin. Even if it's the Spinward Marches.
In the whole HISTORY of SF games, the only thing that comes CLOSE to a series of good interlinked adventures on which to build a lengthy SF campaign was a 3rd party product for Traveller, FASA's Sky Raiders campaign. (Legend of the Sky Raiders, Trail of the Sky Raiders and Fate of the Sky Raiders by the Keith brothers).
Written for Traveller in the early 80s, Sky Raiders tried to do for Traveller what GDQ1-7 did for AD&D. A valiant attempt, but Sky Raiders was still modest in scope and size and it lacked nearly all of the details that we would think essential for a "real" AP by today's standards. Still, it was a worthy attempt. Raiders of the Lost Ark in space, essentially.
That's IT. In forty YEARS -- that is IT.
I suppose you could point to WotC's Web Only Dawn of Defiance campaign for SW:Saga Ed too. DoD meant well -- but lets face it, it was severely limited by a non-existent budget. It had its moments, but it was simply not a serious professionally produced product.
So why all of this gushing about this that and the other rules aspect of Starfinder may be of interest to some -- I don't care. I DO very much care about the AP though. That is going to make or break this game.
And the fact that Paizo is doing it fills me with hope and, at the same time, sadness. Think about how many awesome Star Wars APs we would already have if Paizo had got that license instead of FFG. *sigh*
Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
They didn't announce a summer Pathfinder hardcover at PaizoCon. Dunno if they did at GenCon.
They did not. There is also some uncertainty and potential shuffling of the "Encounter Codex" - though nothing definite there.
In fairness, the Gencon hardcover they did announce is the one I expect they want to get the buzz. And that's Starfinder. For all we know, that is the Gencon "Pathfinder" hardcover.
captain yesterday wrote:
Fast track same as Rise, I already asked, not sure about the rest though. :-)
On the XP point breakdown, at the end of Edge of Anarchy, if the PCs do everything, they will ding 4th at the conclusion of the final encounter if on the medium track (Which is what they are supposed to be in accordance with the intended design).
Admittedly, if the Fast Track is used and Eel's End is resolved through roleplay, the PCs should then ding 3rd after the Shingle Chase and before the Dead Warrens starts.
My reason for doing the breakdown was to figure out how much slack there was in the design for additional encounters, and switching to medium track and adding a 5th PC, whether I could expand the 1st volume significantly by adding in ~15,000-25,000 XP worth of CRs.
Answer: YES. Assume Eeel's End is resolved via roleplay and that there are 5 PCs instead of 4, all progressing on the Medium track, you can then add 25,000+ XP to Vol 1 safely.
I was looking through Vol 1 Edge of Anarchy last night and broke down the XP point awards and the point in the adventure where the PCs "ding" to the next level.
Going strictly by the book and not including bonus XP arising from any encounter which does not explicitly specify it, there is a very real problem with the XP awards in this Volume of the CotCT AP.
Essentially, the problem arises from the different possible resolutions of all of the encounters at Eel's End.
Should the PCs stick with the premise and bribe Devargo and resolve the whole matter peaceably (indeed, as the bag of gold they are given by Cressida explicitly suggests as how they are supposed to resolve it) the PCs will earn only 800 xp for this segment of the adventure -- instead of the roughly 11,600+ they would otherwise earn if they just kill everything and everyone, instead.
Seeing as there are only a touch over 36,000 XP available in all of Vol 1 to earn, this is a significant potential oversight as it will leave the PCs at 2nd level
in the Shingles Chase (DCs in the chase may then be a problem) as well as in the Dead Warrens, up to and including the encounter with the Necrophidius (which can then be deadly in their DCs vs paralyzation).
Question: Has there been any tinkering with the XP points specified in CotCT anniversary edition? What about the assumed progression track? Medium or Fast?
And cheaper still at Amazon.ca at $68.68 with free shipping. Which I expect you knew and you prefer to shop at Indigo for some reason (which has it at $69.37); however Indigo.ca also offers Plum points if you are a part of that loyalty program, so there is that.
James Jacobs wrote:
And of course, it's a relatively open campaign - especially in the beginning of both volumes 1 and 2. There is nothing which prevents a GM from adding such elements to the AP as they may wish. I plan to do exactly that in the first half of the Edge of Anarchy to suit my own campaign's plans.
FWIW, I had never read or played CotCT for these past 9 - going on ten years as I always wanted to leave playing it an option. Having resolved to run it, I have been reading the first two volumes all week (for the first time!)
I definitely can see the changes over the years in writing and editing styles as well as the refining of the development process. "AP Creation Skill Levels" are certainly not static at Paizo. For one thing, the readability level of CotCT (at least as initially released) is quite a bit behind the curve of the standard at Paizo over the past 4 years (say). (It's not even close, really.)
While I suppose this will come off as a criticism, it's not meant to be. There's no way that you can devote your lives to 11+ years making APs and NOT get noticeably better at it.
captain yesterday wrote:
Well, the PDF is generally only available 30 days after it ships, which would put the release to pre-orders somewhere near the end of August.
But given that the additional profit from direct sales on the Gencon floor of such a book would provide Paizo with 30,000-40,000 Good Reasons Why this book should be available at Indy on August 4, I'm feeling somewhat sanguine about its presence there, just the same.
Will Curse of the Crimson Throne - Anniversary Edition be available at Gencon 2016?
Is there any indication when it might ship to those who pre-ordered it? Before or after Gencon?
Given that Vol 1 of Strange Eons is not going to be ready for release at Gencon this year, I'm not as certain as I might have once been that Curse of the Crimson Throne will be there.
Bill Dunn wrote:
Another thing to look into might be ways to tailor equipment. Get rid of the heavier armors and weapons of a heavy-armor age in favor of rapiers, cutlasses, and lighter and piecemeal armors. You may need to come up with more ways to increase the ACs of PCs that might otherwise be well-armored as they level, but I think it'll help preserve the feel of a musketeer atmosphere.
Agreed; I do need to make some more armor bonuses available from non traditional sources; however, I am hesitant to do too much to overtly force such a choice upon a player. Then it really IS a restriction and that's not terribly cool. It's s@**ty to face that in a game. Players rebel from it and that understandably leaves a bad taste in a player's mouth.
At the same time, I can also grant bonuses to PCs maneuvers and acrobatic choices, perhaps through the use of the Harrow Point bonuses that can be applied to Swashbuckler Derring-Do skills. Spend a Harrow Point for an automatic 6 result (roll again to get the second die bonus, say) on the Derring Do class ability will strongly entice the PCs to stay in light armor, rather than punish them for not doing so. I think that's preferred course in the first Volume or two of the AP.
Of course, when the bad guys are frequently armed with pistols and the occasional musket, the benefits of Plate Armor in a touch AC world diminish rapidly, depending on the range the bad guys are engaged at.
That said, I really do NOT like the high reload possibility of black powder weapons in PFRPG as it breaks historical reality for me too much. I'm okay with that on the PC side and perhaps with exceptional NPCs for play balance reasons. I get it. Still, I just can't have warriors and mooks reloading and firing cartridge based pistols every round though; it galls me. So I will do some work on this to limit reload times on the bad guys in order to retain a Flashing Blades & Musketeers feel to the game and avoid a Six Guns n Sorcery feel which comes with rapidly reloaded pistols which are supposedly "black powder". Then instead of D'Artagnan vs. Blackbeard, you end up facing Billy the Kid and his Colt .45. No thank-you.
That's just it - it's not a concept the players do not want. If they want a Wizard character -- they make one. This just gives them all a common united touchstone.
We did this in Gianstslayer with everyone rolling a Dwarf from the same clan, each a brother of the other. (Speaking in Dwarven at the table became an exercise in the players speaking with their best fake Scottish brogue). The Wizard was 1st lvl ranger/1st level Wizard and leveled as Wizard from there. Same with the Cleric, Rogue, Paladin, Monk (unchained) and Ranger.
The fact that they could not reach a theoretical capstone 20th level is neither here nor there in an AP than tops at 16th level or so anyways. So it's really not a limitation, as such - not at all.
I considered (but dismissed) the idea of Amateur Gunslinger as it does not equip the PCs with the same baseline of acrobatics and combat maneuvers I am deliberately trying to emphasize here. The idea is to heavily promote and reward Grit/Panache from the beginning throughout all aspects of early play. Trying to move away from stereotypical heavy armors and towards swashbuckling stunts from the get-go by everybody is the idea.
One of the problems of doing this, however, is that to be moderately good as even a low level Gunslinger or Swashbuckler requires an emphasis on stats that other classes often do not emphasize or use. I have decided to go with a 25 point High Fantasy build to improve this and ratchet up the cinematic feel. (We usually use 15 or 20 point builds for PCs at our table). All the PCs will be human with some claim to a pretense of an aristocratic background in Kervosa (whether as nere-do-wells or bastards is another matter; but at least good enough to get them into the Kingsguard.)
You are choosing to see it as a "restriction". In practice, it isn't and my players who have all gone through on the Dwarven side of this all understand that it is focused instead on giving the PCs a common identity and sense of belonging as a group in order to change the AP and make it its own thing.
This was extremely successful in Giantslayer -- so much so that it was no longer the Giantslayer AP -- it became our Dwarven Delve. The AP was about the PCs Dwarven identity -- not the identity of the foes they faced. It has been remarkably successful, exceeding my wildest hopes and expectations, frankly.
If I can be even HALF as successful as that here, I would be happy. But make no mistake, this is about changing the fundamental nature of the AP so that is is all about the PCs as the Heroic Kingsguard of Korvosa and changing the tactical approach by each player to the battlefield (at least in its early stages) to go full blown swashbuckling in terms of maneuvers. That's the goal. It's not about running an AP where the emphasis is on who their foes are, or even about their individual classes they choose to play through the campaign and level up as they go. It's about the PCs as a group.
I know it can work extremely well as I've seen it firsthand. The question is whether this particular schtick will work in this particular AP.
In preparation for the release of the revised CotCT next month and our new AP campaign of CotCT, I have been reading the older 3.5 versions of this classic AP.
One thing I am concerned about is differentiating the campaign in a tangible way from the many other PF APs we have played (or are playing). We have played (or are playing) 14 of Paizo APs so far. That is a LOT of Adventure Path play over the years. One of the major problems we have run into is that there is an emerging "sameness" that had been developing after playing so many of them. So we have gone the extra distance over the past few years to try to address that emerging sameness issue. Most of our attempts have been working rather well, actually.
In that regard, my thought for this AP to change the feel of the campaign is to strive for a Musketeer Era feel to the game in terms of promoting derring-do, acrobatics and swashbuckling play styles during combat -- and for cultural assumptions out of combat during roleplay and court intrigue. The PCs would all be drawn from an elite Kingsguard Unit, (an imagined offshoot of Sable Company) dedicated to protecting the life of the King.
The Grey Maidens, as a nascent Queensguard will therefore become the arch-enemies of the disbanded and soon-to-be-outlawed Kingsguard.
More controversially, gunpowder would be introduced to the campaign at all levels. The intention is not to turn this into the Wild West, but a late 17th Century France take on Korvosa.
Each of the PCs would start at 2nd level, each having their 1st level as either Gunslingers or Swashblucklers (Players can spcifiy an archetype within that if they wish) they then move into the regular chosen class at 2nd level for the rest of the campaign as play begins.
We would not level up any PC until that point in the AP when the PCs are intended to "ding" 3rd level. We went with a very similar approach in our All Dwarven Giantslayer run (all PCs were dwarves and started as 2nd level with their 1st level as a fighter or ranger) and this has worked out extremely well. To the extent that any of the early encounters are underpowered against 2nd level PCs, that's trivial to tweak encounters in an upwards direction.
I am still reading through CotCT and my opinion on the viability of a Musketeer take on the AP will be informed by reading as we go on, but does this sound particularly wise or unwise to any of you at first blush, given what is to follow later in the campaign?
I am greatly interested in your thoughts and opinions on this spin on CotCT.
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.