Pathfinder Adventure Path #44: Trial of the Beast (Carrion Crown 2 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 2: "Trial of the Beast"
by Richard Pett
The rampaging abomination known as the Beast of Lepidstadt has been captured! Yet rather than destroy the monster for its countless murders and untold crimes, the city council demands the creature receive a fair trial. Upon traveling to Lepidstadt, the adventurers find themselves caught up in the anger and investigations surrounding the Beast’s judgment. Soon it’s up to them to discover whether the legendary monster is truly a killer or merely the instrument of some greater evil—and either way, whether it’s too dangerous to be allowed to survive.
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Carrion Crown Adventure Path and includes:
“Trial of the Beast,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 4th-level characters, by Richard Pett
An investigation into the secret society called the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, by Brandon Hodge
Revelations on the faith of Pharasma, goddess of birth, death, and fate, by Sean K Reynolds
Terror upon terror for Laurel Cylphra in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by F. Wesley Schneider
Four exciting and deadly new monsters, by Rob McCreary, Patrick Renie, and Sean K Reynolds
Each monthly full-color softcover 96-page Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and 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.
Finished running this last night, this adventure is a good blend of various styles and should appeal to most DMs and players. The concept is a great hook and got my players involved as they took on the defence of the Beast. For the DM the challenge in this adventure is striking a balance between mob hysteria and the fact the city is educated and still has an almost slavish respect for legal tradition.
The investigation and the villains in the first half are great. Where this adventure begins to lost a bit of its steam is in the last half while the party looks to locate the Beast's creator. The last encounter while memorable is pretty railroady. My group enjoyed it as I did open up some options (finding a few adamantine weapons and or distracting the opponent to loose the prisoner). Overall another high quality module.
...but the result wasn't as good.
Let me start with saying that I had, most likely, given it 3 Stars if it had been a seperate module instead of a part of carrion crown. Not because being part of CC makes it bad but because for me as a player it didn't seem to fit in with the bigger picture.
But as is I could not help but wonder "Why are we wasting our time here instead of hunting the whispering way?"
That sums up one of my main concerns: Character motivation. There is, really, none given.
Other problems I had with the adventure:
- Too much railroading.
- Too much time pressure. After some time we had to start using massive ressouces to keep going. Like lesser restoration spells and a bought scroll of napstack that eat up nearly all of our scarce cash.
- As someone else rewied:
WAAAAY too skill roll intensive on the first portion. It just became annoying.
This book is what would happen if Frankenstein's monster got his day in court. This book is mostly an investigation but there's plenty of combat and tons of roleplay, especially in court, for the characters to experience. I loved the urgency of a time limit and if you manage to complete the investigation you will enjoy learning the truth behind each crime.
1) I still love anything to do with Ustalav. This time you're in Lepidstadt, home of the world famous university.
2) You meet a circus troupe of "freaks" known as the Crooked Kin. They are portrayed with dignity and as being afflicted by real disorders. Our GM had us watch the movie "Freaks" to prepare for meeting the Kin, which I also highly recommend.
3) Yet again, the plot is interesting and pulls you along to the end of the book. You are allowed more hints about the Whispering Way and transition easily from the first book to the second.
1) I think the themes inspired by other media blended well except for a clumsy cameo by what could only be the Candyman later in the book.
2) Perhaps we didn't investigate every tiny detail (our GM later told us we found everything but who knows) but there are still unanswered questions about the crimes. I can only hope there will be tie-ins later in the AP.
There is much to love in the second book of the Carrion Crown Adventure Path, but it’s impossible to convey just how goofy the whole experience is. I suppose I can attempt it, though.
Richard Pett and the other writers appeared to have two goals in mind when writing Trial of the Beast. The first was to create a lawyer simulation adventure, pretty much beat for beat a copy of the Nintendo DS game series Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, while the second was to create a horror scenario about Frankenstein’s monster. I’m not sure if these two disparate elements were ever meant to be placed together in the same adventure, but just like Frankenstein created life out of random strips of body tissue, Pett cobbled a game that is both fascinating and fun (if not really all that scary).
I’m a huge believer that the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system is best suited for two different types of game sessions: investigations and dungeon crawls, and Trial of the Beast offers up both in spades. The first half of the book was the attorney simulation portion, where the PCs play the role of a detective determining what crimes that a hulking golem has committed and defending his role in court. It’s strange that Pett decided to turn the story of Frankenstein into a courtroom drama, but hey, it works. The second half of the game involves a pretty epic dungeon crawl, viciously deadly and likely to kill characters, with lots of traps and terrain challenges. Both halves of the game almost felt like its own adventure and took about 8 sessions to complete (16 sessions overall)
Time is of the essence in all books of Carrion Crown, which adds quite a bit of suspense to the festivities here. Unless your group plays really regularly, though, this momentum can easily be forgotten, as first the group will experience many, many sessions of mostly roleplay and investigations, and then many, many sessions of only combat and exploration. When asking my group what they did and didn’t like about the adventure, the biggest comment was that the game would have felt more satisfying if it was written in a way so that both parts (the dungeon-delving and investigating) could be more throughout the entire book, balancing it out so players don’t get bored. Also, there was one battle about halfway through the book that turned out to be perhaps the most frustrating combat session anyone had ever experienced. The terrain in this battle consisted of a three story room and creatures that could create darkness and had climb speeds, and the whole experience left the group frustrated and exhausted. I played it out about how it was written, but I felt like I should have simplified the tactics a bit for player enjoyment.
Despite these complaints, I felt like this book was something unique, and overall I think this gamble paid off and created an extremely memorable and fascinating experience. I also prefer this game over The Haunting of Harrowstone, as that one had a lot less humor and surprises to it. If your players would love to play through just a good, old-fashioned murder mystery with a twist, Trial of the Beast may very well be the perfect backbone for your adventure experience. I’m excited to begin book 3.
Has very strong roleplay and hack and slash elements. Both sides of my group enjoyed it, until the end. The fina; battle is a huge let down, as is the battle in book 3. I use map tools, so I'm mostly just programming stuff in, and if its really horrible I usually notice when I'm running it;) It looses an entire star because the boss battle is not very well designed, and effectively makes the PCs cheerleaders. Anyway, if I could do anything over, it would be the boss battles of book 2 and 3, and rewrite them myself.