GameMastery Module W2: River into Darkness (OGL)

****( ) (based on 5 ratings)
GameMastery Module W2: River into Darkness (OGL)
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A wilderness adventure for 4th-level characters.

A vast merchant consortium has a simple job for you—one that pays extremely well. All it asks is that you stand guard over one of its outposts for a few weeks until reinforcements arrive. The problem, of course, is that the outpost is in the middle of a vast and dangerous jungle and the natives seem intent upon putting an arrow in you at every turn. If the journey there doesn’t kill you, though, you might just learn what is worth risking your lives over.

This adventure includes all in information you need to send your heroes on a fantastic journey through the heart of the deep and mysterious jungle, including encounters with terrible monsters and hostile natives.

This adventure is set in the Mwangi Expanse, the largest jungle in the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting, but it can be easily adapted for use in any setting. For more information on this environ, check out the Pathfinder Chronicles Gazetteer.

Written by Greg A. Vaughan

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-075-9

GameMastery Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, OGL-compatible adventures for use with the world's most popular fantasy RPG. All GameMastery Modules include four pre-made characters so players can jump right into the action, and full-color maps to enhance play.

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Product Reviews (5)

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 5 ratings)

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Greg H. Vaughan, I presume?


Let me paraphrase this by saying I am strongly biased towards this adventure. Firstly, Greg's adventures have been responsible for more player deaths than any other adventures I have run (Including Tomb of Horros, and Tied with Castle Ravenloft). Second, I have always loved the jungle adventures of Indiana Jones, Dr. Livingstone, and others. Thus this adventure is right up my alley, but was not perfect.

All Aboard!: The adventure opens really well, with a rather dangerous and exciting encounter that brings the PCs to the attention of the questgiver. However, if your party is not the typical band of murderhobos (as mine was) then you will be hard presses to find motivations beyond greed.

Old Man River: The river journey was the meat and cheeze of this adventure. Our party took to it with gusto at first, but the module made a really good job at bringing to life all the hazards of river travel in a jungle to life. This wore our party out very quickly as repeated failures and delays, plus encounters where desperately fleeing was the only victory we could secure, sunk morale amoung the crew like a lead weight in water. It was fun in a mastochistic sort of way.

Darkest Mwangi: The ending of this dungeon was BLOODY MURDER on anyone who had a consceince. I admit that our party didn't really win this adventure so much as we escaped with our lives and a measely 50gp profit each. Yet I think that it was the type of ending that this adventure was ment to have, and left the players thinking more about the vast gulfs between cultures, environments, and morals just within the party, let alone between us and are multiple opponents. We weren't even sure if what we had done was right, which left us reflecting on this adventure for a long time afterwards. When an adventure can do that, then it's a damn good adventure. Awesome job!
But also, F(@% MISQUITOS!

Exactly What Is Promised

****( )

This adventure is dripping with flavor. From the start "On The Blood" all the way through to the heart of the jungle, it feels like a storied journey. Not only must the party contend with fantastic enemies, but piranah, mosquitos, and illness are omnipresent too.

The Good: As mentioned above, it's got great flavor. This is coupled with a neat fantasy approach to river travel (and all the complications that go with it), a neat and subtle underlying story, and a strong compliment of NPCs and encounters. My party was never bored playing it, and always eager to see what camce next. The writing is solid and the layout is generally good, though at times it became difficult to juggle the many small maps. The end is a great sandbox where each party can react differently to a confusing situation. I am sure players will surprise GMs with their solutions.

The Bad: While the end is diverse, most of the adventure is dedicated to a boat ride. This is the classic rail-road scenario: The encounters happen generally at preset times, and the PCs are under the command of an NPC captain. Now, this isn't too heavy handed and those encounters are interesting (it is what they signed up for!). But it did feel like the players were simply waiting for the next encounter as the boat moved along. Further, the ending is a touch anti-climactic, and likely ends with the PCs moving down the same river just came up.

Overall, I recommend the adventure and think it will please most parties.

Great but with some small issues.


I while not my favourite adventure released by Paizo this is a cracking wilderness adventure. There are a fair few things that could have been tweaked just a little bit to make it better. Personally I didn’t mind the whole make your own hook approach. It may not suit some DM’s but with Bloodcove being such a great city I will have no trouble getting the PC’s there.

The encounters while somewhat disparate worked for me. I can’t go into real details without spoiling anything but I felt it all hung together well, with a couple of really cool flavourful encounters. I also like the open ended nature of the final event although I think they really should have explained the options a bit more clearly.

So what are it’s issues? For one the monsters, the two new monster are both quite unimpressive. Worse neither of them is used in a particularly interesting way one is in fact just a random encounter. Also I felt Bloodcove needed more detail as it is amazing sounding city. I know it is due to the limited page count but still I think it could have done with further detailing.

All in all a real good module just unfortunately lacking in a couple of places which is the only thing that robbed it of a real classic. Still a great module that I recommend.

Excellent Ideas, somewhat lacking execution

***( )( )

Let me begin by stating that the basic premises rock! The adventure takes the party by a pseudo-steamboat up a tropical river, and forces them to content with all manner of unpleasantness on the way. The "feeling" is there, and a few surprises as well.

Why only three stars, then? Because it is not a very good adventure, truth be told. The encounters are disjoined, and do not neatly flow into a single narrative. The motivation for taking the "boat trip" is not as good as i would have hoped ("do it for greed, or have the DM come up with a better reason"). Likewise, the conclusion feels disjoined, and while i like the fact that there is no overdone happy ending, the options do not quite cut it.

This module is by no means all bad - but it is not on par with some of Paizos other offerings.

Solid. Exciting. Distinct

****( )

"Never get off the !@#$in' boat man!"

This episode is part Heart of Darkness and part African Queen. It summons elements of Apocalypse Now and immerses players quickly in a dark world that is its own and is clearly Paizo.

This created very memorable moments in play, and had two of my players so cranked up they could not sit down for the final three scenes.

Requires a strong narrative sense to run well, but a great tool in the hands of a veteran DM.