Pathfinder Adventure Path #27: What Lies in Dust (Council of Thieves 3 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 3: "What Lies in Dust"
by Michael Kortes
In Westcrown, darkness brings fear and death, the night haunted by the spawn of a terrible curse. Striving to free the city from its decades-old blight, the PCs must reveal
a long-buried secret and a treasure locked away for ages.
Their journey will set them against the scum of Westcrown’s underworld, denizens of the haunted night, and the very forces of Hell itself, all in an attempt to rekindle the memories of long-dead spirits with stories still to tell. Yet what those souls reveal might prove even deadlier than the city’s midnight curse.
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path includes:
“What Lies in Dust,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 5th-level characters,
by Michael Kortes
Revelations on and rules for joining Golarion’s most feared law bringers,
the infamous Hellknights, by F. Wesley Schneider
Diverse and exotic treasures recovered from across Golarion by the
Pathfinder Society, by Craig Shackleton
The unfortunate return of Radovan’s gangster past in the latest chapter of the
Pathfinder’s Journal by Dave Gross
Seven new monsters by David Eitelbach, F. Wesley Schneider, and Hank Woon
A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for characters of 5th to 7th 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.
Not the most memorable of the Council books, but a nice bridge into the more intense second-half of the AP. An intriguing dungeon crawl with a few city-wide elements that were fun. I liked the flavor, and the players had a good time. Plot-light exploration and some cool enemies/items that we remembered long after.
One major concern though: There's an encounter in here that will skewer most parties unless they run like hell or have exactly the right spell or two to deal with it. Just beware. I had two player deaths on this one, and that was off-putting.
Overall, not bad, but not mind-blowing compared to some AP books.
We finished what lies in dust and everyone enjoyed every bit of it. Well almost anyway so I will start with the good.
The small side missions that are available in the start of the game gave the players a great brake from the one big dungeon way this adventure path loves (at least 2, 3 and 4 does). The side missions where a lot of fun, and everyone was stunned when a certain someone almost killed the melee powerhouse in close-combat after having immobilized the rest of the party in a cage. With the sisters I heard one of my players who hate monk as a class and a concept say those are the only monks I have ever enjoyed (sorry for paraphrasing Fenge).
The only bad thing I can say about this part is that the information the players got was not worth the effort. (not counting the stash, wow that was useful)
When they arrived at the BBD (Big Bad Dungeon) everyone was re energized by the small quests and where ready to explore. They enjoyed the traps and puzzles that where at first. There was however one problem, and that is properly the only real shortcoming of the dungeon. There is a “monster” that without enough foreshadowing comes and kills a player or two without any doubt. While I am not against killing a few players, it serves the purpose of making them feel mortal I think the timing for this encounter I not good. It is early in the dungeon where no one wants to leave the dungeon to raise a guy. My solution (at least the one I would use next time) is more foreshadowing of the dangers this creature pose.
Area B2, add a small similar creature with some of the same abilities as the bad thing with its own platform. Show off the abilities so that everyone thinks “I hope they did not do the same thing to that big one missing, and where is it now”.
The upper level had memorable encounters especially when the sorcerer picks up a cute doll and gets critically hit by inflict serious wounds leaving her with something like 5 hp after a surprise round.
The basement has this cool new game mechanic that scared the “s-word” out of the players. The finishing steps in the basement resulted in two casualties before defeating the major guardian of the level. This was a fine brake and the loads of cool elements that they had encountered before made this bearable and a good place for it to happen.
When they returned they went straight for the vault. All of the encounters that was down there even if similar had their own flavor (only enhanced by one of the big bad guys being a loved one by one of the players before “the accident”)
With regards to the writing it was alright, but there were quite a few bad production things like when they refer to something on the map that was removed.
All in all they were scared all the way through the dungeon and lost a lot of good people down there(and got them back after paying a load of gp), but everyone enjoyed it in the end with only a few sour feelings about that one encounter mentioned above.
Despite some neat ideas throughout the adventure, I find this Pathfinder disappointing in terms of presentation, with apparently rushed work and incomplete/missing information. I can only assume that 'What Lies in Dust' was flanked & repeatedly sneak-attack during production by the twin monsters of GenCon 2009 and an office move.
Whilst this might represent average or even good work for another games company, it seems to me to be well below Paizo's usual high standards. :(
This latest installment of the Council of Thieves adventure path comes packed full of awesome. While it is following in the shadow of The Sixfold Trial, it shines on its own merits easily. The Hellknight PrC is well written, the adventuring through Delvehaven is superlatively well written, and downright creepy. And, well, it's just incredibly tightly designed. Major props to Mr Kortes and all the other contributors. Thanks for the great work!