Pathfinder Adventure Path #31: Stolen Land (Kingmaker 1 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 1: "Stolen Land"
by Tim Hitchcock
A Realm to be Tamed
Enter the Stolen Lands, a wilderness claimed by nobles, bandits, and beasts alike. Into this territory the fractious country of Brevoy sends its emissaries, tasking them with subduing the lawless folk and deadly creatures that have made it a realm of savagery and shame. Beyond the last rugged frontier stretches the home of voracious monsters, capricious fey, wily natives, and bandits who bow to the rule of a merciless lord none dare defy. Can the PCs survive the Stolen Lands, bring their dangers to heel, and lay the foundations of a new kingdom? Or will they just be one more fateful band, lost forever to the ravenous wilds?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Kingmaker Adventure Path, and includes:
“Stolen Land,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 1st-level characters, by Tim Hitchcock.
A gazetteer of Brevoy, a country of ancient grudges and noble rivalries, by Steve Kenson.
New rules for turning exploration into a different kind of adventure, by James Jacobs.
A new misadventure for disgraced noble scion Ollix Kaddar in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by James L. Sutter.
Five new monsters, by Ed Greenwood, David Hill, Steven Kenson, Rob Manning, and F. Wesley Schneider.
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.
First of all let me say that I agree with most of what the other reviews have had to say regarding this Module so far. However I have to add something I feel has not been discussed yet.
There are, in my mind, two really big problems with this module:
1) I wouldve liked to see a NPC designed to be a possible Ruler for the new Kingdom introduced in this module. My group is having trouble deciding who should be the Ruler and I would have appreciated seeing Paizo's suggestion. None of the NPCs provided really makes a good choice, I suspect because the assumption has been that a pc will do the job, but my group doesnt seem to want that so I geuss I have to make my own...
2)The encounters are a roller coaster ride of difficulty. I understand that random encounters are meant to be well... random, but why are there so many encounters with CRs above 3 on the table? I just counted and on a table with 22 encounters all up there are 7 with a CR of 4 or higher. Thats a roughly 1 in 3 chance that your first level party of players will be screwed over randomly for no good reason!! I would suggest multiple tables with encounters scaled on level, so that the pcs never run into anything to far above their ability and then get TPKed... Or at least that if there is only one table that the encounters are kept within a 2 CRs of the expected level of the group(1-5 since the pcs are meant to be level 3 at the later parts of the Mod rather that the CR 7 troll encounter i see on the table), really most of the encounters on the table should be CR 3 so that they are challenging all the way through the Mod.
I resorted to running predetermined 'random' encounters, normally I wouldnt have bothered with random encounters very much. Random encounters lead to random pc deaths. A pc dying should always be a dramatic thing, not cheap and meaningless. In other words, heroes should die fighting villains not random trash filler mobs and there are no respawn points!
Next id like to discuss the final encounter. To put it simply it was a good encounter except for the Stag lord himself, hes too cheesy and too high CR even with the modification for being sickened. He wasted one of my pcs in the first round he joined the fight. His Helm is just to convenient, too perfect for him. He has more magic items than any other npc in the mod, hands down. Quite frankly hes obviously overpowered simply to make him hard when he should have been either included in the main fight and powered down to match or removed from the fight entirely and placed elsewhere.
So in conclusion this Mod is good, its a great idea. Especially the sandbox approach. The Kingdom idea is really good too, though that doesnt really come into play til the next Mod. However I would warn GMs thinking about running this Mod to be very careful, youll want to pay attention to your players and measure their abilities. You may need to scale back some of the encounters and make your own 'random' encounters if you dont want to TPK your group. You may also want to modify existing npcs or too add in your own, so that pcs have more choices for recruits in the next Mod! This could mean a lot of work when half the point of an AP is that the work is meant to be done for you by the publisher. Forewarned is fore armed.
The thing that really worries me is this: is this just another Mod/AP designed for min-maxed characters and munchkin players? The Jury has not decided yet.
My review format is bullet points if you want to read a book, well read the book :)
The Good: -Great first encounter.
-NPCs are well written with rich backstory.
-Sandbox style is interesting and feels homebrew which is good.
-Rewards are balanced yet cool.
-First act hints at many mysteries, which is great.
-Tickleback, nuff said.
-End boss fight can be a puzzle and easy or an epic encounter, good fun design.
-Amazing forum community if you are a GM and want to customize your own spin.
The Bad: -Hexploration gets old and a bit of a grind.
-Bad random encounter roll can absolutely murder everyone.
-Ally NPC Jhod is poorly designed.
-Dire Boar adventure and a few other side treks feel about as WoW as you can get.
The Ugly: -Not for novice DMs, the DC is too high for you go with a railroad save your sanity.
-Those great pieces of backstory are never really exposed to PCs as written.
-Smart players have too easy a time.
Overall: There's allot to love, plenty to complain about I give a neutral 3 star rating based on the fact that this AP is for the most part entirely what you make of it.
One of the best adventures I've ever played through
Stolen land introduces an open-world sandbox exploration with plenty of adventure and perils to keep anyone interested. From the first read of the player's guide to the opening plot hook I was involved! I loved the exploration, the simple, but compelling motivations and the obvious but not overdone threats.
The only thing that keeps this book from a 5 star rating is the lack of strong female NPCs. As with many fantasy products, the game designers seem to have felt that they need to keep it "realistic" or "historically accurate." In any case, there's only one female protagonist and she's quite cliche. Fortunately, our DM made a few changes and improved things.
Overall though, I liked the concept of the sandbox exploration so much I want to add it to every game I ever play in. I'd even play through Kingmaker again just for this.
I'm gonna try and make this brief. I LOVE this adventure path. The location is great, the encounters are fun, the kingdom building and random events is refreshing and enjoyable (at the start), and the story is one that allows for so much GM embellishment, while not requiring much.
The Bad:It's just too damn easy. I have a group of middling skill and minimum powergaming, and they just blew through pretty much everything in it. It's reasonable that the beginning encounters are easy, but it just didn't get challenging enough without my intervention. The kingdom building also became tedious and wasted time after we obtained more than two cities. There are, however, rules to make it simpler.
Get this book and see it through if you're tired of railroads or you just wanna explore. I promise you'll enjoy it if you give it a chance.
For 30 years I've been DMing D&D, Top Secret, Star Frontiers, ShadowRun, GURPS and more recently EclipsePhase. Always I have tried to find a way to give my settings the 'feel' that there are lots of options without having to necessary write tons of material that I will never use.
I also have advanced players that can smell a linear adventure at the first reading of boxed text or NPC monologue. One of my more demanding players is in a party doing this 'path'. I can tell you that most younger, least experienced DMs/players won't appreciate this work, However, it is great for experienced groups that want options and lots of material that they don't have to even use or follow a script on.