Pathfinder Tales: Guns of Alkenstar ePub

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by Ed Greenwood

In the Grand Duchy of Alkenstar, guns are both the duchy's most valuable secret and the means by which that secret is kept safe. For retired shieldmarshal Bors Gelgur—a down-on-his-luck drunk still pained by old wounds and memories—the roar of igniting powder is a thing of the past, and the constant adventure of policing the duchy something best left to the young and foolhardy. Yet when treachery within the shieldmarshals' own ranks starts costing good officers their lives, it's time to come out of retirement for one last escapade. Alternately aided and plagued by a sharp-tongued kitchen-maid-turned-gunhunter, Bors has no hope but to follow the corruption as high as it goes if he wants to survive.

From legendary game designer and author Ed Greenwood, creator of Elminster and the Forgotten Realms, comes a story of firearms and treachery set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

This story originally appeared as part of Paizo's free weekly webfiction series, and is available for free at

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***( )( ) (based on 2 ratings)

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Mediocre, Despite Interesting Setting

**( )( )( )


Guns of Alkenstar (available here) is definitely a break from the norm of the Pathfinder Tales line of free web fiction. First, it's one of the very few (if not only) pieces of fiction set in the nation of Alkenstar, where firearms reign supreme over magic and swords. Second, it's a six-part tale instead of the usual four-parter. And third, it's written by Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms! The story concerns agents of the Alkenstar government involved in political intrigue and assassination plots. It's full of action, though I found the individual parts rather repetitive. Greenwood definitely makes use of, and adds, to the world lore of Alkenstar. On the whole though, I found it rather flawed despite the interesting setting. I think it could be fine for readers particularly interested in Alkenstar, but otherwise could be safely skipped.


Gelgur, a grizzled veteran of the Shieldmarshals (government agents), is coaxed out of retirement by a senior member named Kordroun to assist in finding out who's been smuggling guns to the nearby country of Geb. Kordroun also enlists the help of a "gunhunter" named Ralice (I'm not 100% sure what a "gunhunter" is, but I particularly liked that she was given a more realistic body type than is often seen in fantasy fiction). Assassination attempts abound, and it feels like almost every chapter ends on the same sort of cliffhanger. Chase, assassination attempt, chase. There's some high-level political machinations going on that the protagonists uncover, but I found the plot rather confusing: there's too many characters for a short story and I couldn't keep track of them all. The use of doppelgangers felt rather cliched. And finally, I found the ending rather abrupt and unsatisfactory. I'll chalk this one up to a noble failure on Paizo's part.

Very enjoyable read

****( )

Excellent story with memorable characters. I appreciate characters with flaws - it makes them more believable. I liked this story because it has non-stop action and was unpredictable. The ending left me wanting a sequel. I would buy a novel based on these characters.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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