Pathfinder Adventure Path #25: The Bastards of Erebus (Council of Thieves 1 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 1: "The Bastards of Erebus"
by Sean K Reynolds
The city of Westcrown is dying. Since being stripped of its station as the capital of Cheliax, the wealth and prestige of the city has gradually slipped away, leaving the desperate people to fend for themselves in a city beset by criminals, a corrupt nobility, and a shadowy curse. Can the PCs fight back against champions of both the law and the criminal world?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Council of Thieves Adventure Path, and includes:
"The Bastards of Erebus," a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 1st-level characters, by Sean K Reynolds
A gazetteer of Westcrown, the shadow-haunted City of Twilight, by Steven Schend
An investigation into the lives of tieflings, along with hundreds of fiendish variations, by Amber Scott
A deadly mystery of nobility and intrigue for Pathfinder Varian Jeggare and his tiefling bodyguard Radovan in a new series of the Pathfinder's Jounal, by Dave Gross
Six terrifying new monsters by Mike Ferguson, Sean K Reynolds, and F. Wesley Schneider
A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for characters of 1st to 3rd level. The Council of Thieves Adventure Path is the first to take full advantage of the new Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules, and works with both the Pathfinder RPG and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set.
Pathfinder Adventure Path is Paizo Publishing's monthly 96-page, perfect-bound, full-color softcover book printed on high-quality paper. It contains an in-depth Adventure Path scenario, stats for about a half-dozen new monsters, and several support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set.
As an introduction to the Council of Thieves AP, this adventure fails to impress. The first section is "have random encounters until you get bored", and the final section is terribly short. There are good ideas here, but they are buried by horrible writing and editing. It took our group of five players about 5 hours to play through the entire thing.
I'm playing in this adventure path and it seams to really require the PCs to be the heros and do what the NPC leader wants you to do (Sorta like a Shadowrun Mr. Johnson). Its fun but it would work better with a little lead in like maybe your spys from another nation or something.I've gamed with this GM many times so I think its more of the material than the GMing. It probably is one of those adventures with a ton of GM information that never (or almost never) comes out in play.
After having DM'ed this first module I have made some observations. It starts off great, but if you follow the rules as written then the escape has far to many encounters, none of which are extremely interesting. A little modification gives off a much better journey and the feel that they are rushing even more.
The next part is socially heavy and extremely difficult to run as there are 10+ NPC who will have to be introduced in one scene. That is to much for anyone to bite off in one go, but if you only use a few of these at a time it will be an awesome experience as everyone has a more or less plausible reason to there.
The event that follow is quite fun, and there are a few elements that make the encounter memorable, and the fact that you are rewarded differently if you act one way or another is awesome, and it is followed by a fun social encounter, we sure had a few laughs.
The fact that there are several "sidequests" that the PC's can follow if they like when they like, gives the feeling at it is an open world rather than a railroad plot. That these quests are more or less for the DM to decide makes them applicable at anypoint later in the adventure path and could be challenging at any level.
The final "run" has a few quite stimulating encounters, but for 3 level 2 heroes it was a bit to hard. They needed to rest during the dungeon and that was not supported by the adventure path. Even with a rest they only managed to complete the quest due to reduced amount of bad guys and good rolls on their part and bad on mine. The encounters however was great fun, and that guy who appears to be something else was awesome, the cleric trying to burn him and turn him. Awesome twist on an otherwise poor adversary, gave him that twist wile not making him overpowered.
The two main bad dudes are awesome, and fun to use and they gave some flavor to the fights.
All in all a good start to something that will eventually be great.
On a side note, the fact that it is an organization that reaps the fame rather than the heroes makes dealing with PC fatalities more easy as well as adding and removing them.
In 10 years of weekly D20 gaming I've never seen an adventure start as good as this one.
Characters get an opportunity to present themselves, then are clearly presented with their exiting goal, and then get drawn right into action while being forced to cooperate. It all fits together like clockwork.
There's so much win in this book it hurts!
Tell your players to come prepared with a 2nd level character on the first session though - they'll need it. Which is good: they love gaining levels.
The XP awards for completing story elements in the prescribed way are a bit awkward - but their result is great. Quick level-ups gives a huge sense of accomplishment, and you know the players love to tweak their characters. Now they get to do it twice :) Nobody likes to be left at level 1 at the end of a session. But in Bastards of Erebus that's all taken care of, even though the mechanism may at first seem a little awkward to a GM.
This AP is flat horrible. I was hoping to find an epic transition to the pathfinder rules system and instead discovered a work in progress that requires a lot of DIY tinkering to get it to work smoothly (Note: If I had time to tinker, I would run my own adventures =). I had to spend hours prepping not only the background but tweaking the adventure itself. Overall the storyline is simple, the transitions are choppy, and considering the setting, a bit difficult to rationalize the PC's motivations (Would you work for a resistance group that, in the first encounter, is raided by the dreaded Hellknights?)The only thing that saves this book is the back half which is very well crafted and worth the price of the AP by itself.