Pathfinder Adventure Path #56: Raiders of the Fever Sea (Skull & Shackles 2 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 2: "Raiders of the Fever Sea"
by Greg A. Vaughan
Bound for adventure upon the pirate vessel they’ve taken as their own, the heroes face a sea of dangers as they chart a course to become true Free Captains of the Shackles. But life as a pirate doesn’t prove any easier now that they’re in command, as deadly sea monsters, the corpses of drowned scallywags, and raiders from the deep rise to oppose them. When a most unusual map falls into the adventurers’ hands, they have the chance to change their fate in a single daring raid. Is it the heroes’ destiny to be the next victims of the merciless waves, or will fortune smile upon them and spur their rise as the newest and most infamous pirates of the Shackles?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path includes:
“Raiders of the Fever Sea,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 4th-level characters, by Greg A. Vaughan.
A gazetteer of Golarion’s many oceans and seas, and an exploration of the various aquatic races that inhabit them, by Adam Daigle, with Patrick Renie, F. Wesley Schneider, and James L. Sutter.
A journey to Butcher’s Rock and deadly cyclopean prophecies in the Pathfinder’s
Journal, by Robin D. Laws.
Six new monsters, by Jesse Benner, Mark Moreland, Steven D. Russell, and Greg A. Vaughan.
Each monthly full-color softcover 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 world’s oldest fantasy RPG.
After the somewhat brutal first book which allowed for little freedom, this was a major breath of fresh air. My players have long wanted to play with their own ship. Having the freedom to explore, visit towns at will, and set their own pacing is lovely. The NPCs in the early and middle portions of the adventure are intriguing and memorable, and the combats are mostly better scaled difficulty-wise than in the previous installment.
This book is also stuffed full of iconic pirate-themed goodies, and some creative and memorable encounters as well. Nothing in this book is mind-blowingly bizarre or original, but it gives the players lots of room to forge their own story while progressing toward some more challenging encounters.
Definitely in the better-half of the AP books I've run, and worth every penny.
Raiders of the Fever Sea can be described as a non-traditional adventure, but in a very different way from The Wormwood Mutiny. Much like the previous volume in this path, it is an event based adventure with a mid length dungeon crawl finale. Unlike it, it is extremely open form and loosely defined. Players are given almost unlimited freedom to roam the Fever Sea and do as they see fit (though not to head into the Shackles, leaving my copy of Isles of the Shackles to languish for another adventure). Whatever direction players choose to go, the material could be trivially adapted, allowing a very free form experience while still staying within the confines of the adventure. The writing, art, and layout are all top notch, but I think that can be assumed of Adventure Paths at this point.
The only complaint I would have is that, with so much material to present, some of the scenarios leave little space for alternate approaches. Ships to plunder appear only at GM fiat, and the only system for dealing with them is fighting the captain (no offering of terms, no overwhelming the crew, no forcing a surrender). There is an event that hand waves an obvious option as simply "too difficult," despite enemies easily accomplishing the same thing later. There is little explanation of the main plot to the PCs, leaving GMs to craft their own way to make it seem like anything other than a series of coincidences. None of this breaks the adventure, and I'd rather have more material than long lists of "What if" scenarios and information dumps, but I feel the balance could have been better.
Despite this, I whole heatedly recommend the adventure for anyone interested in a pirate sandbox. Perhaps not an excellent choice for those that want a more traditional adventure, or one that presents options for anything other than straight piracy, but even then it could be an interesting read with some useful ideas.
Let me say, this is a fantastic continuation of the Skulls & Shackles Adventure Path. The adventure itself is well written and should seamlessly move the players along the intended path without the players feeling railroaded. It has plenty of different encounters to separate it from the Wormwood Mutiny and yet maintains the story thread for excellent continuity.
One snag for me is that I only own the three Bestiaries and Corebook. There are references to a number of books that I don't have. This won't be a problem for folks who have these other materials.
Another snag is that Paizo puts out so many good maps, I wish the encounters took place for use with their premade flip maps and map packs.
The last and least of the snags, is that I wish all monster stat blocks were included rather thn referencing their page number in the Bestiaries.
All in all, I highly recommend this adventure. I've really enjoyed reading it and look forward to running it!