Pathfinder Adventure Path #49: The Brinewall Legacy (Jade Regent 1 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 1: "The Brinewall Legacy"
by James Jacobs
When a trove of fireworks falls into the hands of the goblins of Brinestump Marsh, the people of Sandpoint fear an explosive invasion. But there’s more afoot in the soggy wilderness than goblin hijinks and dangerous pyrotechnics. An investigation reveals mysteries and menaces aplenty, but also a treasure holding the answer to not just one of Varisia’s greatest mysteries, but a conspiracy spanning continents and empires. Can the adventurers piece together a puzzle that links the owner of a sleepy village tavern to the unsolved destruction of a fortress-settlement? And can they withstand the ancient forces and secret destiny that have waited for them for decades?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Jade Regent Adventure Path and includes:
“The Brinewall Legacy,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 1st-level characters, by James Jacobs
An exploration of the hinterlands surrounding the town of Sandpoint, a region that’s anything but peaceful, by James Jacobs
A look into the mysteries of the oni, cunning fiends that can assume humanoid forms, by Mike Shel
Murder in a distant land in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Dave Gross
Four new monsters by James Jacobs and Tim Nightengale
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.
So my players recently finished this Mod and having read a few of the reviews here I have little new to say.
This is an excellent Mod with a few flaws here and there, the four main npcs could use a little less background and a little more personality.
The caravan section of the Mod is the least eventful part but my players do seem to enjoy it (i think it helps that i dont linger too much, i just run a couple of encounters, do some trading and move on)
The Castle of Brinewall is awfully long and seemed to drag on, my players were rolling their eyes by the end and groaning when i described yet more door and rooms and baddies.
However that being said they loved the npcs for the most part and love the story, so everything is golden for now.
One word of advice I have for GMs thinking of running this Mod. Pregens could work well for you. I made pregens that were involved in the story: a Tien-Min Ninja whose back story included the death of the emporer and the revelation of the oni, two viking style characters that had hints of the event of the second module in their backstories (one has that his father was murdered by the main villain of the second mod) and two Varisian characters that had more of the initial setting in their back stories (one has a goal setup to become a Caravan master) and i gave all these pregens goals to encourage them to get involved in things as the story reveals itself, thing like the desire to travel or to lead or to run a caravan. It helps a lot, for one thing having a Ninja or a Samurai in the group means that all those lovely eastern style weapons dont get discarded simply because no ones has any proficiency with them. If your players dont like pregens (and most dont) consider dropping some hints on what classes might work better than others (for example most modules dont have any gear for Gunslingers)
The main concern I have in this Mod isnt the lack of npc personalities or the bits of the castle that drag on, those I can fix myself. My worry is that ive noticed that each of the APs ive read so far has a gimmick, merchant caravans, Kingdom rules and Sin charts.
When do we get to the point that gimmicks and such wear out their welcome? When do the gimmicks become the norm, thus expected and boring, and the Mods without gimmicks become the exception to the rule? Im growing concerned that Paizo is so caught up with making each AP 'unique and original' that they are forgetting to tell the GM what he needs to know about the NPCs personality or to put in more than a couple pages of material for one section (such as the caravan journey) then make the castle to long to compensate...or getting around to building encounters that use terrain, tactics and skills to make them challenging rather than just making combat monster min-maxed baddies and jamming them into the game (hence why ive began to wonder if these APs are designed for munchkins)
I know it's a little silly to be writing a review before running this in one of my games, but I can't help but feel that I have a decent understanding of all of the base problems and glories associated with it. So far I have this campaign planned and am REALLY looking forward to it, (though we need to wait a few months since it will be a sequel to our Rise of The Runelords campaign that we're currently running). Since it's my turn to DM next amongst my role-playing group I'm glad I got to run the Asian themed campaign since I indulge in that sort of thing.
To start off the beginning was a little disheartening at first seeing as how the party kind of has to meet up with the DM's help, but afterword the campaign really kicks off without much effort. The sandbox style of play in the swamp was really neat, and added a sense of wonder where, and what my party will do when they are roaming around in there. The encounter with the Goblins was interesting, but afterwords I had a little issue since I'm not sure if every group will be entirely ready to chase after skeletons when they were sent into the swamp to hunt Goblins. Though incentive to do so is provided I'm still thinking that complications may arise since it seems like a shot in the dark type of option.
Afterwords it seems like they kind of forced players into the caravan when the book even mentions more efficient alternatives, but none the less it gives reasons for it. The caravan encounters are nice since after book 2 of Serpent's Skull I don't think I could handle another extremely elongated random encounters section in a book. I have read all six Jade Regent books, and am really thankful for these rules later on. While I know I could just have a game without these encounters it just wouldn't give the thrills of a long and dangerous journey without some unknowns happening along the way.
Once the group finally makes it to the end dungeon of Brinewall it was a massive dungeon crawl that seems like it most certainly will take several days to successfully clear out. To be honest I'm a little worried as of how long it will take to get my group through that dungeon so I'm almost wondering if I have to cut a few rooms out entirely to keep the game flowing.
All in all though there were plenty of good challenges, and at the very least this makes for great reading material. I will be playing this in a few months, and I have honestly never been so excited to play a campaign, but it is a little disheartening knowing how long it will take before the group actually manages to make it to Tian Xia since this is the only campaign that visits the continent.
First, before I start, I would like to say that this is the first time I have DMed anything. That being said, I did find The Brinewall Legacy to be a very fun, and engaging story; Starting off with a very simple adventure kickoff, and leading to a much more complex and detailed plot. Now that's not saying that the adventure is perfect. The second part was not enjoyable. Seeing as this is my first time DMing, I decided not to run the caravan rules due to still working to master the normal setting rules, therefor there was a lot more prep work needed for that second part, and compared to the rest...it fell flat. Even using what was presented for the caravan rules as a base, it still fell flat compared to the rest of the adventure. Despite that, I, and my players, enjoyed this adventure, and I am looking forward to continuing into the next installment.
For me this was a great beginning of a great Adventure Path. Me and my group just finished the adventure and we are just in the beginning of the next part. Below are my thoughts about the Brinewall Legacy.
Part 1, Fires Over Brinestump
I had mixed feelings about the beginning in Brinestump Marsh. First and foremost I loved the comeback of Sandpoint and it's citizens, it really brings back memories from Paizo's very first Adventure Path. Just seeing NPC's like Shalelu, Ameiko and the sheriff made my PC's day, which was nice to see.
One thing I thought was a bit dissapointing was the bleak start, it wasn't really bad but it could've been a more strong intro to Jade Regent.
The places in the marsh was well written, although my players weren't that interested in free- roaming at that moment, so it didn't turn out to a that great blast. There were two exceptions though: the Licktoad village and the skeleton encounters (including Tutsamu). It was almost adorable to see the player's reunion with the hilariously crazy little goblins, and they enjoyed every second of slashing oversized heads and setting huts on fire using the stolen fireworks. Also the skeletons were fun in an other kind of way, because they were really tough encounters for the PC's and provided a real challenge for the group. In their whole career they've never met skeletons (and their DR 5), and it was pure excitement for me to see their faces when they realized how dangerous DR can be at level 1.
Part 2, The Legacy's Lure
It was here the caravan rules were introduced. They gave more depth to the adventuring and both me and my players liked the amount of customization that they provided. Adding wagons, hiring people and spending caravan feats was quite a good time for them, and I think positively of that mechanic in Jade Regent.
In exception of the making of the caravan, this was the weakest part of the adventure. The part is a road trip crossing over whole Varisia, and the space given to it in the book is not even 2 pages. It feels like everything is up to the GM if part 2 will be fun or not. If well prepared, this might even turn out to the greatest part of the whole installment. If your not prepared for making a 500 miles journey interesting though (like I was), it turns out ugly. It is this that takes a star from my review, because if a that big event happens I would like the authors to write some more info and things about it. Sure, we've got the Random Caravan Encounters, but I don't think that they are enough for a that great voyage.
Part 3, Ruins of Brinewall
This was the most awesome part of the adventure. Both me and them had a great time in Brinewall, and my initial fear that the castle's enormous size would bore the PC's were gone with the wind. They learned to hate Kikonu very quickly because of his constant dimension doors, managed to get tricked into drinking poison by the quickling Buttersnips and the group's cavalier successfully charmed the hideous ogrekin Muthildah among lots of wonderful things. Unfortunately they barely touched the second floor, but that didn't really affect the fun factor of the last part. After a thrilling final boss fight (everybody had under 10 HP when they managed to kill Nindinzego) the PC's looted their own magic items (customized for them) and got the mysterious visions that marked the end of the Brinewall Legacy. Splendid!
After the adventure itself there were some other things written like an interesting article about the Oni, evil spirit demons from the other side of the world. Also there was a chapter about the Sandpoint Hinterlands and the monthly Bestiary with nice contents, nothing outstanding though. One thing I liked was the installment's Pathfinder Journal that's about Paizo's own chelaxian mascots Radovan and Count Jeggare and a mystery in the Dragon Empires. The author Dave Gross delivers a nice entry and I'm excited to read more from him.
Overall the Brinewall Legacy is a grand opening to Jade Regent, and I can't wait to see what more this Adventure Path has to offer...