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Pathfinder Adventure Path #37: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv (Serpent's Skull 1 of 6) (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 14 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #37: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv (Serpent's Skull 1 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 1: "Souls for Smuggler’s Shiv"
by James Jacobs

Only the Strong Survive

A deadly storm shipwrecks the passengers and crew of the Jenivere upon infamous Smuggler’s Shiv, an island off the coast of the jungle realm of Sargava. If they’re to have any hope of escaping the notorious pirates’ graveyard, the survivors will need to band together to outwit the isle’s strange beasts and legendary menaces. But can the PCs unite the swift-to-squabble castaways, especially when several seem to have mysterious goals of their own? And does Smuggler’s Shiv hide secrets even deadlier than its desperate denizens?

    This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Serpent’s Skull Adventure Path and includes:
  • “Souls for Smuggler’s Shiv,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 1st-level characters, by James Jacobs.
  • A detailed look at the personalities marooned on Smuggler’s Shiv, by James Jacobs.
  • Revelations into the history, ways, and world-spanning schemes of the serpentfolk, by Clinton Boomer.
  • An introduction to the wisdom and dangers of the jungle in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Robin Laws.
  • Five new monsters, by James Jacobs 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.

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-254-8

Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Sanctioned Content
Souls for Smuggler's Shiv is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild.

Download the rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheets — (495 kb zip/PDF)

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

Product Availability

PDF: Will be added to your My Downloads Page immediately upon purchase of PDF.

Print Edition: This product is out of print.

Non-Mint: Unavailable This product is non-mint. Refunds are not available for non-mint products. The standard version of this product can be found here.

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Product Reviews (14)
1 to 5 of 14 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 14 ratings)

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Serpents Skull

****( )

This was a pretty sweet module! I just finished running it and I loved the flavor of it. However, that said there are a few problems, some of the battles have combos that are nigh on impossible to escape unscathed. The darkness plus paralysis in the caves of the mother and the sheer numbers of the cannibals left my players party in shambles. I love how it sets up the rest of the campaign and the NPCs were very fun to play. My players even managed to keep two of them alive. So I'd say with a little tinkering to make some of the encounters less deadly, this is a great start to an AP.

Excellent adventure... Stand alone or as part of the path


This is an excellent adventure where the players felt like they had complete control over their own destiny. It does take a significant amount of work and role play skill from the GM. So if you're a lazy GM or your players don't care about story there are better options for you. But as far as a sandbox style adventure that is capable of standing on its own this was excellent.

as for the puzzle that everyone says was so difficult I simply drew a stick figure picture of the hieroglyphs that are described in the book. Made the puzzle very easy for my players because they could actually see the pictures instead of having me try to describe them to them.

Great Start


This is one of the best AP books of all time.

- Great get the party together hook
- Amazing setting
- Sandbox style adventure leaves room to play

- There was a tricky puzzle that my players had a tough time figuring out

Overall its just doesn't get better than this. My players loved it for its sense of mystery, menace and suspense. I can't wait for this to become PFS legal to get a chance to play it and run it more.

This AP is HARD


Spoiler potential ahead, so be warned.

My players and I (the GM) loved this book. Having played through Kingmaker and experienced the sandbox style they presented there, I can safely say Souls for Smuggler's Shiv (SfSS) balances that sandbox exploration feel with what I think Kingmaker lacked - a good sense of progression. Certainly you can go around the island and kill off random encounters and animal lairs and explore shipwrecks, but you very quickly pick up on the hooks of a plot and an idea of how to progress it at the pace the players want. And trust me, they should pace themselves, because this AP is hard as hell.

The DCs are a bit too high here and there (Swim and Climb Checks of 20 at level 1? Knowledge DC 25s?? DC 30 Perception and Escape Artist checks???) but that's easily tweak-able. The Cannibal camp really ramps up the difficulty if they're not careful, and Mother Thrunefang was an almost TPK if you run her as it describes tactically. Also, 6 skeletons vs a level 1 party with minimal means of dealing bludgeoning damage is extremely deadly; proceed with caution. Endure Elements is a must have (luckily there's an NPC with the capability to cast it if the PCs can't), and I even threw in the rules about getting lost, which made for some desperate (and fun!) struggles in the island. All this, combined with the dangerous wildlife, gives a very visceral feel to the deadliness of the Shiv, and my players and I loved it.

The mystery as to how they got there and why is also a fun little game we had, and any GM worth his/her salt should take time to read up on each of the NPC castaways and play them according to their personalities. Gelik and Ishirou remain two of the more memorable NPCs they encountered, mostly because both of them gave them the most trouble. Jask was almost immediately helpful when the paladin convinced everyone that he was innocent, Aerys was also convinced to be more helpful especially after they got the berries, and Sasha got her animal companion but unfortunately contracted Red Ache early on and was mostly incapacitated for the adventure (I plan on detailing her further in the coming books).

The "Campmaker" rules were a little too gamey for my tastes, but it worked out after we assigned roles and started getting back into roleplaying. Trying to win over the favor of the NPCs was quite fun as well. Overall, a very fun AP, especially if they're looking for a challenge. I highly recommend it!


*( )( )( )( )

This AP has some cute ideas but falls very short of proveding any real entertanment. Dozens of high DC saves with horrible effects, and skill check DC's that are nearly impossible if not total min/max. Oh and several encounters that can only be described as blood baths. Darkness + paralysis= TPW. We played with experianced gamers (20+ yrs each) and suffered 2 TPW and a total of 10 PC deaths!

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