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Pathfinder Adventure Path #38: Racing to Ruin (Serpent's Skull 2 of 6) (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #38: Racing to Ruin (Serpent's Skull 2 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 2: "Racing to Ruin"
by Tim Hitchcock

Finally reaching the port city of Eleder, the adventurers arrive with knowledge of the route to the lost city of Saventh-Yhi. But new rivals are also on the trail of the legendary metropolis, and soon the race is on to reach the fabled ruin and claim its unimaginable treasures. Will the adventurers ally with ambitious explorers like the treasure-seeking Pathfinder Society, the unscrupulous Aspis Consortium, the gold-hungry Shackles Pirates, or others on their quest into the jungle's depths? And what dangers will they face as they enter the Screaming Jungle, one of the deadliest wildernesses on all of Golarion?

    This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path includes:
  • "Racing to Ruin," a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 4th-level characters, by Tim Hitchcock.
  • A tour of the exotic and tumultuous port city of Eleder, by Tim Hitchcock.
  • A look into the calm and calamity of Gozreh, unpredictable god of nature, by Sean K Reynolds.
  • Bar brawls and noble quests in the Pathfinder's Journal, by Robin Laws.
  • Five new monsters, by Tim Hitchcock, Patrick Renie, Sean K Reynolds, and Neil Spicer.

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: 978-1-60125-273-9

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

Product Availability


Print Edition: Ships in 2 to 6 business days.

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

Non-Mint: Ships in 2 to 6 business days. This product is non-mint. Refunds are not available for non-mint products. The standard version of this product can be found here.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at webmaster@paizo.com.

PZO9038


See Also:



Product Discussion (74)
51 to 74 of 74 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Paizo Employee Creative Director

David Cummings wrote:

When I noticed Nyambe in the OGL section 15 (yes, I read that), I had high hopes that Paizo might put the open source Wakyambi elves in the Mwambi Expanse. Call me crazy, but I really like those crazy prehensile-tailed people.

I don't think those elves will ever exist except in MY Mwambi, but it's good to see the Pathfinder APs go further afield in OGL stuff than Tome of Horrors. Thanks!

david

We do like going "further afield" than Tome of Horrors for OGL stuff... but there's an unfortunate pair of reasons why we don't do this often.

1) A lot of OGL stuff is just unfortunately not good.
2) Of the good stuff that remains, an unfortunate amount of it is crippled content; the publishers made the monster stat blocks open from the size category to the end of the combat info; the monster's NAME is not open. This more or less is a dealbreaker for me, since without a name, there's no way to reference the monster and no reason to go with the monster's stats. Frustrating.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber

Luckily, the three best 3.5 era 3PP bestiaries (Tome of Horrors series, Advanced Bestiary, Book of Fiends) were done "right" and may Paizo long continue to use them !

Not to mention the stealth ninja "liberation" of dozens of WotC IP monsters in Tome of Horrors, something we should be eternally grateful to Clark P. for. After all, without it, Orcus wouldn't be ever available for Paizo to use :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Area B does not seem to come with a map.
It's pretty simple (three mostly static locations), however an approximate location in relation to Eleder would be welcome.

Regards,
Ruemere

PS. Two further potential issues with this adventure:

Spoiler:
1. Adventure does not specify which NPCs of rival factions are expected to survive.
2. There is no information on resources available to faction leaders - can they really support the characters?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

ruemere wrote:

Area B does not seem to come with a map.

It's pretty simple (three mostly static locations), however an approximate location in relation to Eleder would be welcome.

Regards,
Ruemere

PS. Two further potential issues with this adventure:** spoiler omitted **

Area B isn't on a map simply because we didn't have a map to put the location on; it's quite a ways off the city map of Eleder, but on the world map it'd be close enough so that "A" and "B" would mostly overlap. I guess we COULD have put in an arrow that pointed off one side of the Eleder map and said "This way to Area B" or something, though.

As for the spoilered questions...

Spoiler:

The adventure makes no assumptions about which factions survive, which ones the PCs join up with, and which ones they end up rivals too. That's all stuff that should develop organically in each specific game. The adventure assumes that all of the factions DO survive to reach Saventh-Yhi, though, because it's in the third adventure where the factions and their leaders get stats.

As for whether or not they can support themselves or the PCs, at one point there was going to be a pretty extensive element of outfitting your expeditions, directly leading them, and managing their supplies. This was inspired by Chaosium's EXCELLENT adventure, "Beyond the Mountains of Madness," but the author decided to focus instead upon the adventure element of the adventure. As a result, we don't worry about supplies and whether or not the expeditions can function at all—after all, if they can't they don't go on the "race to ruin," and thus their involvement doesn't matter. If they CAN, then they DO get to take part in the adventure, and there's no need to bother with supplies and the like. Basically... this whole element is simply hand-waved because it's not really relevant to the adventure's focus.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Much appreciated.

I do not mind working within loose framework, it's just that when I do so, I tend to make assumptions as to what happens by default (unless PCs or fate intervenes).

Regards,
Ruemere


James Jacobs wrote:

We do like going "further afield" than Tome of Horrors for OGL stuff... but there's an unfortunate pair of reasons why we don't do this often.

1) A lot of OGL stuff is just unfortunately not good.
2) Of the good stuff that remains, an unfortunate amount of it is crippled content; the publishers made the monster stat blocks open from the size category to the end of the combat info; the monster's NAME is not open. This more or less is a dealbreaker for me, since without a name, there's no way to reference the monster and no reason to go with the monster's stats. Frustrating.

Yeah, it's pretty frustrating when the monster name isn't open content... or worse, they only open the stat block... no name or ecology.

david


Got my copy yesterday afternoon and haven't had time to give it the full once over (in fact, I just finished reading part 1 this morning), but I did read the fiction section. Good stuff!


What are the names of the five monsters and what are their CR (if James doesn't mind me asking).


I have read through the AP 1-4 and have a question on Racing to Ruin. It's a spoiler, though:

Spoiler:
Why are the Mzali rangers lawful evil? Just because they want to kick non-Mwangi out and purge Mwangi collaborators? By default because Walkena is Lawful Evil? Is there writeup anywhere that goes into this or Walkena beyond the text in Heart of the Jungle?

Did these rangers or guys like them make the gallows tree bodies into zombies? I don't see anything in their stat block that would allow it. Were the zombies deliberately created, say by a witch doctor traveling with warriors? Are the zombies just "natural"? Are they a byproduct of Walkena's being a mummy?

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor

Is it just me, or does the picture of Amivor Glaur on the cover bear an uncanny resemblance to Rob McCreary?


Hi guys, I'm re-reading the first volumes of the AP, and I've got a question about this "race". It's spoiler-y, so... here's the spoiler:

question:

At the beginning the group has to decipher Yarzoth's notes, and it seems pretty safe to assume they own the only copy. Also, they may clearly state to the GM that they are reasearching in secrecy (some players may really do their best to do so), and it's even possible that no NPC castaway survives from the Shiv.

That said, how come that everybody instantly knows they're looking for Tazion/Saventh-Yhi, and moreover, everybody knows exactly where Tazion is? Frankly, it's a pretty serious plot hole. The text only says that "rumors travel fast", a pretty weak statement. This could justify other groups tailing the PCS and arriving after them, but winning the race? Of course they need to know Tazion's exact location. For this to work there should be a plot hook, eg somebody stealing the notes, or a crooked librarian making some copies, or something.

Of course it may be that Yarzoth is still alive, or that an NPC knows everything about the "library use" (or even partecipates to it). Once the news are out, the GM can assume that the various faction spy each other out of every detail.

Yet, the whole thing is still pretty hard to justify, and I'm frankly surprised that the text does not go in more depth. Since the whole adventure revolves around the race, it would have been nice to set it up a little better...

So, what is your best idea? How would you set up the scene and justify the race?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

stepanxol wrote:

Hi guys, I'm re-reading the first volumes of the AP, and I've got a question about this "race". It's spoiler-y, so... here's the spoiler:

** spoiler omitted **

About the concern...

Spoiler:
We have no way of knowing how fast information about Tazion and Saventh-Yhi will spread in any one game, because that depends on how secretive the PCs are about that information. There's a good chance that some groups won't be secretive at all, while other groups won't tell ANYone. As for how the rest of the world finds out that the PCs know some important information, the more folks the PCs tell, be they fellow castaways, contacts among their faction, or just folks who overhear them talking... that's also something that depends entirely on your group.

If your group is super secretive (like mine was in my Serpent's Skull game), then there won't initially be much for their competitors to dig into. But the fact that they were wrecked on Smuggler's Shiv and are soon thereafter helping to mount an expedition inland will get other groups thinking... ESPECIALLY if some of their fellow castaways return to their factions and blab. In this case, the other factions can easily mount their own expedition to Smuggler's Shiv to find out what the PCs found out. This'll put them behind the PCs by a few days, but then again, if the PCs spend several days in town recovering from their ordeal and crafting items and doing other things... those days get eaten up quickly.

In any case, since the exact ramifications depend so much on the specifics of each game, we chose to only lightly cover the topic so as to make it easier for each GM to go forward with however they need to go forward for their game.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Inference I drew is the very fact the PCs get rescued lets the cat out of the bag.

The PCs will almost certanly get off the island in a way that will pique the interest of the Sargavan government. If the PCs are then tight lipped about what they did and learned there, it'll only increase the incentive to see for themselves. Considering the level of intrigue in Sargava, it won't strain suspention of disbelief to say that once that happens, wikileaks is nothing compared to the Eleder rumor mill, and it'll be the subject of gossip from The Adventurer's Club all the way to the pineapple fields.

I plan to use this to set the stage for what Eleder's like by having the news of what they found actually preceeding their arrival, and them (hopfully to their suprise) being recognised in the street by passersby running up and asking them questions about it, or muttering behind their hands.


Asphesteros wrote:
Inference I drew is the very fact the PCs get rescued lets the cat out of the bag.

Yeah, but as I wrote above, the real problem is the other factions knowing the exact location of Tazion. The module itself implies that at the beginning they don't; that's the very reason why they vie for the PC's help (since in fact the PCs offer nothing more than that, being a low-level party with no experience whatsoever in jungle expeditions).

James, above, suggests that the factions can mount their own expedition to the Shiv. If they do that, of course they need no more info from the PCs (and in this case they are not even going to ask for their help anymore).

So, what really needs some work here is justifying the fact that everybody knows Tazion's location. You can have the notes stolen or copied from the PCs in Eleder, have the other factions mount their own expeditions to the Shiv, or a mixture of that (considering also that the factions can steal info from each other "off stage").

At the end, and at the risk of sounding a bit annoying, I still consider this part of the adventure seriously under-developed... APs are nice because they don't require a huge amount of work. Serpent's Skull is more open-ended than most, and that's something to commend it for, but it doesn't mean it can't help DMs consider and manage all options.

Andoran Contributor

stepanxol wrote:
Asphesteros wrote:
Inference I drew is the very fact the PCs get rescued lets the cat out of the bag.

Yeah, but as I wrote above, the real problem is the other factions knowing the exact location of Tazion. The module itself implies that at the beginning they don't; that's the very reason why they vie for the PC's help (since in fact the PCs offer nothing more than that, being a low-level party with no experience whatsoever in jungle expeditions).

James, above, suggests that the factions can mount their own expedition to the Shiv. If they do that, of course they need no more info from the PCs (and in this case they are not even going to ask for their help anymore).

So, what really needs some work here is justifying the fact that everybody knows Tazion's location. You can have the notes stolen or copied from the PCs in Eleder, have the other factions mount their own expeditions to the Shiv, or a mixture of that (considering also that the factions can steal info from each other "off stage").

At the end, and at the risk of sounding a bit annoying, I still consider this part of the adventure seriously under-developed... APs are nice because they don't require a huge amount of work. Serpent's Skull is more open-ended than most, and that's something to commend it for, but it doesn't mean it can't help DMs consider and manage all options.

Hey Stepanxol,

While I feel your pain, and yes I love to see more development... What the explanation all boils down to is word count and what it should be spent on. I needed to leave some areas gray (and up to the discretion of the GM) in order to give them more stuff which they can use to run the adventure. Its a matter of options the PCs will see and interact with vs options which make for great backstory or provide a viable explanation however may or may not be pertinent. Simply put- I felt there were too many possibilities/variables involved in determining who knows what to explore all of them in great detail.
When in doubt, I focus my word count on what the PCs will deal with directly.
I offer this- sometimes in life- things don't make sense and you don't know how they came to be... and you never find the answer.
I could be wrong here, however the PCs might never look for a justification for why the other people are headed to Tazion or might never find one.. its ok to let them speculate and give you their own theories because realistically, they're theory which they might never get an answer to.
Finally, the other groups might (like many explorers) simply be heading in the general direction of the ruins, having some idea of their proximity, but far from a precise idea of where they are located (which of course is sort of how I pictured it).

Hope that helps,

Tim


There is a complete, very high-resolution (6300x7874) map of Golarian embedded in this document (Its the route to Taizon map, which shows just part of it). Oops!

No wonder these PDFs can be so slow to open, especially on iPad.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

hello_monty wrote:

There is a complete, very high-resolution (6300x7874) map of Golarian embedded in this document (Its the route to Taizon map, which shows just part of it). Oops!

No wonder these PDFs can be so slow to open, especially on iPad.

We've talked to the art department about that, and they should be better in future.


Now that I've complained about the image resolution being too high, let me complain about it being too low :)

The maps in the adventure paths are beautiful. I love to extract the images and print them out full size for the table. Theycome out a bit blocky, but generally look good enough, except for the full pagers, which are too low a resolution to enlarge to 1"x1" size without looking pretty shabby. This is a shame because they are such awesome maps, I want to share them with my players.

I wish there were some way you could make higher resolution map images available to subscribers.

Thanks for all the great content.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I have a question regarding the title of this adventure. I'm wondering in which sense the word "ruin" is used here. Is it a race to the ruins of Tazion (i.e. ruin = remains of an old city) or is it a race into someone's (the party's own?) ruin (i.e. ruin = doom). The singular in the title points to the second meaning, but the first one would make more sense to me.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

HelloMonty wrote:

Now that I've complained about the image resolution being too high, let me complain about it being too low :)

The maps in the adventure paths are beautiful. I love to extract the images and print them out full size for the table. Theycome out a bit blocky, but generally look good enough, except for the full pagers, which are too low a resolution to enlarge to 1"x1" size without looking pretty shabby. This is a shame because they are such awesome maps, I want to share them with my players.

I wish there were some way you could make higher resolution map images available to subscribers.

Thanks for all the great content.

Our maps are not created at sufficiently high resolution to do that--they're actually reproduced at pretty much full size in the finished volume. Having them created at 1"=5' resolution would not only be far too expensive, but the additional time required by the cartographer to do that would also make it impossible to have a single cartographer for the entire AP.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Zaister wrote:
I have a question regarding the title of this adventure. I'm wondering in which sense the word "ruin" is used here. Is it a race to the ruins of Tazion (i.e. ruin = remains of an old city) or is it a race into someone's (the party's own?) ruin (i.e. ruin = doom). The singular in the title points to the second meaning, but the first one would make more sense to me.

Some things have more than one meaning. Whether "ruin" has one meaning or two might depend on how your gaming group does with the module!


my whole question is a spoiler but I couldn't figure out how to start a thread for the product as the 'start a discussion' option directed by teh messageboards doesn't appear to exist. Really hope someone can answer this for me!

Spoiler:
=Encounter C in racing to ruin has the players take a 'shortcut' through a mine. However, the players are supposed to be trailblazing for a full expedition including caravans etc. The mine is shoulder-depth flooded. Why on earth are the players supposed to choose to take this path? My players are almost certainly going to choose to take the longer path because as far as i can tell, within about ten minutes of going into the mine it would be blatantly obvious that it's foolish to continue.

Be grateful for any advice to help me rationalise this IC to the players.

Paizo Employee Developer

dunklezhan wrote:

my whole question is a spoiler but I couldn't figure out how to start a thread for the product as the 'start a discussion' option directed by teh messageboards doesn't appear to exist. Really hope someone can answer this for me!

** spoiler omitted **

Be grateful for any advice to help me rationalise this IC to the players.

For future reference, each volume of an AP usually has its own "GM Reference" thread in that volume's forum. Racing to Ruin's GM Reference thread may be found here.

To answer your question:

Spoiler:
The level of water in the mine varies between knee-deep and shoulder-deep, so most of it wouldn't be impassable, even to caravans. Once the PCs have cleared the mines of danger, it would be relatively easy for the caravan behind them to construct stronger bridges to cross the deeper sections in the mine. While this would take some additional time, it would still be less than taking the long route around the hills.


Thank you so much Rob, I tried and tried to find a forum that wasn't on the product page itself, I really did. I searched, I browsed... Sorry. My Paizo.com-fu is weak :)

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