Pathfinder Adventure Path #32: Rivers Run Red (Kingmaker 2 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 2: "Rivers Run Red"
by Rob McCreary
With the heart of the Stolen Lands explored and the bandits who ruled there scattered, the long-contested realm finally lies open for pioneers and settlers to stake their claims. Amid the rush of opportunistic travelers, the PCs find themselves stewards over a new domain, tasked with the responsibility of guiding and guarding a fledgling nation struggling to grow upon a treacherous borderland. Yet the threats to this new nation quickly prove themselves greater than mere bandits and wild beasts, as the monstrous natives of the hills and forests rampage forth to slaughter all who have trespassed upon their territory. Can the PCs hold the land they’ve fought so hard to explore and tame? Or will their legend be just one more lost to the fangs of the Stolen Lands?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path includes:
“Rivers Run Red,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 5th-level characters,
by Rob McCreary.
Expansive new rules for running your own cities and nations, by James Jacobs.
Insights into the rugged faith of Erastil, god of the hunt, by Sean K Reynolds.
Pathfinder Ollix Kaddar and Phargas get themselves to a nunnery in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Richard Pett.
Five new monsters, by Adam Daigle, Rob McCreary, Sean K Reynolds,
and James L. Sutter.
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.
In my campaign we ended up switching out the city building rules for the updated version in Ultimate Campaign.
We also added more "kingdome events" to build a story for the region. Otherwise it turns into a hex cleaning campaign leaving the PCs high level and the kingdom undeveloped.
Blood Will Run in the Gutters Until...RIVERS RUN RED
Hello again all!
I dont have much new to say about this mod that hasnt already been said but I want to say it anyways if only to reinforce the message.
First of all I gotta say so far I am very much enjoying the Kingdom making system in the Kingmaker AP. I think its really the star of this particular module. Dont get me wrong, Im wary of gimmicks and have stated so in the past but building Kingdoms in RPGs has been an interest of mine for a long time and having some actual rules for it is lovely! Most of the time in rpgs things like this are played fast, loose and poorly defined... so its nice to actually have some structure.
That being said I felt the weakness of this mod was the quests and adventures and here's why:
The pcs in my game chose not to do several of the quests, since one of their number is a Druid and he felt that they were unjustified. We had this problem in the first mod too. Other quests were completed in ways not intended by the mod, for example the Druid talked to the giant Snap Turtle rather than fighting it. My problem with this is that as a veteran GM i knew what to do, a less experienced and less adaptable GM might have had a brain fart and frozen. Since there's no notes there he/she might have just resorted to stereotypical monster reactions. Now I know that I can as GM change whatever I need to, to get the job done! But I dont recall any such note anywhere in the book...
In my mind the problem with these quests is that the quests are written, for the most part, with the presumtion that the players are munckins that are just gonna kill everything for the money. Although some are written with more diplomatic solutions in mind and those ones are very good.
The final boss, the GIANT OWLBEAR OF DOOM, was wwaaaayyy to easy and not because of its stats! The Owlbear is too easy because its predictable and like many classic scenarios written up with the presumption the players aren't very smart it fails for that reason alone. My players reasoned that such a beastie has to hunt right? Once they found its lair they waited for it to come out to hunt and then the Druid flew in using bird-shape and blasted it, kited it back to their ambush and they slaughtered the poor beastie with it barely getting a swipe in! Talk about anti-climax!! The problem with this scenario is that it presumes the players are gonna fight it on its terms and that they love dungeon crawls! SILLY PAIZO when will you learn that terrain, skills and smarts win and write more encounters with them in mind!! For example why not make it a Giant Monster Manticore? Flight and missile weapons wouldve completely changed this fight.
The Troll lair... OMG the Troll lair was poorly written. The problem with the Troll lair is that its pretty much written up as a Dungeon Crawl... right down to the first few encounters being conveniently penalized on perception tests to enable the PCs simply walking in and fighting everything. This is silly because it rewards stupid munchkin players.
I believe that stupid players that like to run headlong into fights with no preparation and planning should get what they deserve. They should get killed... its really that simple. So heres my problem: The first couple of encounters would catch the Trolls with their pants down, I get that but what about the third one? The one with the Troll Hounds... which have scent... which would logically make it unlikely that the pcs can get any further relying on surprise to carry them...So why dont the Trolls alert each other once the Troll Hounds smell something that doesnt belong? Shouldnt the Troll there run off and tell Hargulka, the boss Troll? Wouldnt Hargulka gather his strongest allies and crush any intruders? That's what id do... so you know what? That's what I did!
My players survived tho and do you wanna know why? Cos Hargulka has a Necklace of Fireballs with heaps of charges and Necklaces of Fireballs have a tendency to explode when the guy carrying it fails a save versus a fire effect...and what do you use to kill Trolls again? And of course the dice always fail when you have the most to loose so BOOM!!
Now im not really criticizing the choice of placing the Necklace like that, in the end that made the encounter more fun. What I dont like about all this is the assumption that this lair full of trolls, hell dungeons in general are written this way so its not just this, are just gonna sit around waiting for the pcs to come to them. They all sit in their respective rooms doing nothing until someone comes in and that's silly.
In conclusion this Mods strength isnt in its encounters or its quests but the Kingdom aspects of it, nothing really interesting is to be found except that. This mod is really just a bridge to the next one, the events in it are all designed to set up later story lines (which is good) but it has no real story of its own! (Which is bad!). I feel like you could almost skip this Mod and go straight to the next one if it wasnt for level requirements.
That being said the Kingdom stuff is quite good so I give it an extra star, bringing the mod to a 'slightly above average' three stars.
Recession Review gave this a bump see link for that review at end
My review format is bullet points if you want to read a book, well read the book :)
The Good: -I feel like I've been waiting for good kingdom building rules my entire gaming career, this will also be under ugly its a love hate system.
-End villain is amazing if you steal ideas from DM_Dudemeister's thread, if not so so.
-Sandbox style which I still approve of.
-NPCs become way more interesting and critical as the PCs need them for the kingdom building rules which is a great story building tool.
-At the end of the day I had a blast running this despite its flaws
The Bad: -Hexploration gets really old and there's 3 more books of it.
-Candlemere is a waste of location opportunity, lose the story about the annoying kid and his priest friend and make this a real location.
-I end up disliking Erastil.
The Ugly: -Not for novice DMs, this book broke a GM I took over.
-The kingdom building system provided the base of the system I've been looking for without knowing it all my life a a DM, that said I have reworked it extensively as it wasn't nearly comprehensive or balanced enough. Maybe get the John brazier product if you're too lazy or use the system I posted....
-Unless you mod the Owlbear at the end is redundant as an enemy and king H makes no sense as written.
Overall: The kingdom building will divide most groups as some will love some will hate. Again you get out what you put in have to think of this AP as an outline, use the forums Luke...
As thrilled as I was to play in the first module, I was equally thrilled to turn our exploration into the background for our new nation. The interesting themes and threats continued, the fun of the explorations continued and bold new foreshadowing introduced lots of things to worry about for the future.
This book suffered from a couple of balance issues. While I mostly love the kingdom building, I agree with several other reviews that it quickly became too easy and yet was still a chore to micromanage appropriately. Nevertheless, I personally had a grand old time of it, making maps and plotting out cities multi-year development. Unfortunately, not all of our players enjoyed the system.
The second balance issue revolved around encounters. Many of the encounters were simply too easy, but then, out of nowhere, you'd encounter something mind-boggling difficult (TPK level) that just wasn't that well conceived. I'm specifically thinking of the evil fey (Dancing Lady) encounter.
Finally, this book continued the tradition of mostly silly or useless female NPCs rather than writing in any strong female characters.
Overall though, still well worth the play through.